With Games Workshop stepping up efforts to more heavily utilise the likes of Planetstrike, Cities of Death and Apocalypse, we have seen a spike in available rulebooks in recent years. From the on-going Warzone series to codex supplements, the latest of which was the Imperial Fists focused Sentinels of Terra.
Containing more lore than basic rules, it was obviously directed to try and flesh out the first founding chapter and the events surrounding its major character Captain Lysander. Handled by a team of writers, the book’s lore was headed by Matthew Ward. Best known for the 5th edition Codex: Space Marines; he is one of the few writers to unite the majority of the fandom in a single opinion of any work.
His presence in the book is evident with such decisions as impressing upon the reader that the Imperial Fists are a “zealous” chapter who “never gave up the Great Crusade” and who are permanently on crusades, scattered across the galaxy. Ones that are unlike the “other forces of the Imperium (who) fight and die in order to preserve mankind’s holdings.” This is made clear with every major or detailed battle in the book has them on a crusade, and largely skipping over any of the siege conflicts they are supposedly most adept at. Strangely the words “Black Templars” never turn up once, even when discussing the chapter’s successors.
Still, much of the Imperial Fists’ lore is fleshed out with moments such as this:
“999.M41 From the Ashes to the Fire
As matters transpire, the 3rd Company does not stand idle for long. Warsmith Shon’tu and the Daemon Be’lakor, united in their desire to see Abaddon’s Black Crusade upstaged, launch an attack on Holy Terra itself. Emerging from a Warp rift that appears in the centre of Phalanx, the unholy allies aim to corrupt the mighty vessel to their purposes and use it to bombard the Emperor’s Palace.
Under Garadon’s direction, the newly-formed 3rd Company fight with a determination that belies their inexperience, and the accessways and halls are soon choked with the broken corpses of Daemons.”
Hang on, that sounds a little familiar. What was the villain’s plan in one of the few Black Library novels to feature the Imperial Fists in a prominent role?
Curiously similar. Both are set on the exact same date no less. Still, the codex does cover many other battles in depth such as the events of the battle on the Endeavour of Will, another of Counter’s books. A conflict that sees Lysander fighting against an Iron Warriors force aboard a Chaos corrupted vessel and introduced to us Shon’tu, the Warsmith who serves as a major villain in the codex. The battle ends with the corrupted ships destroyed via being dragged into the Warp.
Oh wait, no it doesn’t.
There’s no mention of the battle, and the closest event involving Lysander has him fighting elsewhere against a Tyranid Hive Fleet. Still, in its place this we do have many new events such as the Fall of Malodrax which features Lysander fighting against an Iron Warriors force led by Shon’tu on-board a Chaos corrupted vessel. Oddly, similarly to the above story, both end with Shon’tu escaping after losing the majority of his forces and his vessel disappearing into an unstable Warp rift. Still, these are only individual instances even if they might sound oddly similar to the small handful of Imperial Fists related stories published in past years. It’s not as if a major plotline which runs throughout the book is oddly identical to one of them.
The supplement codex tries to cover an interesting plot arc, which covers the majority of the book. One focusing upon Lysander being demoted and forced to train a new generation of recruits to replace those lost under his command. You know, now I think about it that sounds more than a little familiar as well. What was the plot to Sons of Dorn by Chris Roberson? Oh yes, Captain Taelos being demoted to command 10th Company and train a new generation of neophytes following guilt over the losses of forces under his command.
Still, that can only be a coincidence surely. Where is Taelos in the codex? He doesn’t exist. There is no record of him having ever served the chapter, and in fact there are new characters that take his rank. Furthermore, none of the above stories are even mentioned in passing no matter their impact. Several major changes to the canon render nearly all Imperial Fists stories completely at odds with this new lore, such as the removal of Chapter Master Pugh who was heavily involved in many of their novels. The character is killed off decades before any of them take place, meaning they could not possibly have happened.
As a result we have a new codex that shares some very similar story elements with the handful of Imperial Fists related novels. Yet at the same time have specific changes, which manage to make all of those it shares similarities with non-canon. Odd this could have escaped editors, especially when so many recent novels have been written to directly tie into new releases and promote them.
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