Connecting With Characters – Garviel Loken Part 1

Welcome, 40K fans, to a series of articles I am writing about some of the deeper aspects of Warhammer 40,000.

These articles are a thought exercise, and by writing them I hope to improve my thinking about 40K and its fiction (and maybe about much more). Topics in this series will be wide-ranging and will not shy away from moral or philosophical issues that some may consider sensitive or even controversial. I would rather risk the conversation, so while you or I may not agree, I look forward to hearing why. Consider yourself warned for lore spoilers as well. Also, check the Tactics Corner for more great articles on gaming in 40K!

Audio/video version here

Loken for Relatable Characters

If you were asked who the “main character” of the Horus Heresy story is, you’d be hard-pressed to find an answer that could cover the 50+ novels of the Horus Heresy story. It is, after all, so incredibly vast and covering so many different characters that there’s no real way to say that one character is the main one in all of the stories. Some might say Horus since this is all titled after him. Some would say that it is the Emperor since all of the heresy’s conflict is done in support of or in spite of his dream for humanity. For me, I choose Garviel Loken.

We’ve talked before about the humanity of the Adeptus Astartes and on how instead of transcending humanity the Space Marines of the various chapters and legions (and their primarchs) are instead concentrated humanity. Inasmuch as having ‘regular’ humans in the stories acts as a sort of ballast to even out our perspectives on what Astartes are capable or not capable of, it is nevertheless the case that there are characteristics and traits that those characters among the ranks of the Space Marines have that we all can relate to in one way or another. Pride, loyalty, strength, hubris, humility, hatred, loss, betrayal, kindness, purpose, purposelessness, anxiety, hope, and faith are all attributes that these characters carry in varying degress.

Loken has experienced each of theses emotions and has taken all of the journeys (and perhaps even more of them) that all the other characters in the Horus Heresy have. He was there at the beginning of the Horus Heresy, fresh-faced and naive to the dangers of blind trust and betrayal. He stood up to the wrongs in his legion as they began, and was ultimately betrayed by those he loved and revered above all. He fell into a pit of madness and isolation, consumed by the consequences of betrayal. He was brought back from the brink of insanity by those who knew his heart. He journeyed to reclaim his sanity, eventually facing the source of his trauma, and confronting it with honesty. Even as the story draws close to its end, he continues to feature as a relatable, engaging character who we have known from the beginning.

Of all the Astartes characters in the Horus Heresy who I love and am a fan of, such as Raldoron, Sharrowkin, Meduson, Yesugei, Bjorn, and many others, Loken is one who I can relate to on a personal level. Loken’s journey from naivete through trama and into individuation is what makes him the best and most relatable character in the series. For these reasons want to do a multi-part series talking about the psychology of Garviel Loken’s journey, and how it represents a realistic human journey of growth, recovery from Trauma, and individuation.

An Ongoing Conversation

This week’s introduction is a bit lighter than my normal philosophy articles because I want to make sure I have enough time to prepare properly. Hopefully, when assembled together the articles in this series will for a nice backbone for my thinking, but I will say that I appreciate in advance all the holes people will likely be poking in my points. I hope to learn a lot from it, and hopefully, I can do a good enough job to make it enjoyable for all of you as well.

If you found this interesting, please check out my page Captain Morgan’s Librarius. This is the space where I test these ideas in their first drafts, and also talk about all the other parts of the hobby that I enjoy from painting, community, gaming, and all the rest. My Facebook page is also the best place to converse with me about this and many other topics in 40K. I post regular hobby progress updates there, like this miniature I recently worked on:

I also have a YouTube channel for video versions of some of these articles. Likes and shares are appreciated. I hope you enjoyed this week’s read, and I’ll see you again next time!


And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!



About Chris Morgan

40K philosopher, LVO Judge, Chief Librarian of Forge the Narrative, Blood Angel enthusiast extraordinaire, and slayer of traitors, xenos, and heretics; I'd rather be playing 30k right now or neck-deep in a good book. Follow me on my FB page - Captain Morgan's Librarius

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