Henry Zou

From 1d4chan

Henry Zou is an Australian Black Library author, apparently of Chinese descent. Intuitively, we can assume this makes him one of the space communists, though the only one with a bad accent. Also note that he is certainly not Chris Wraight. He was a reasonably talented writer who was unfortunately (although entirely due to his own actions) declared Excommunicate traitoris by the staff of Black Library for reasons discussed below.

His writing is known for intense and gripping battle scenes, his characters and plot writing were just okay, although exploring some reasonably interesting territory. This made him, as a writer, above average given standard fare for most writers that come out of Black Library if you exclude their top-tier writers. Like many authors who write for Black Library, he got a few novels and short stories in before he disappeared into the aether.

On a side note both carnibales (the insurgent force in Flesh and Iron) and the Ironclad along with the Blood Gorgons bring great opportunities for modeling traitor IG and CSM respectively. The Blood Gorgons, Astartes traitoris of the "Cursed founding" aligned with Chaos Undivided have some pretty neat and unconventional backstory and characteristics, and Zou did quite a good job of fleshing out a non-First Founding chapter and it's unique practices and politics.

Whilst Aaron Dembski-Bowden became the new golden boy, although Mr. Zou popped up from time to time (he has a short story in Mark of Calth, for instance).

Sadly, Zou fell from grace after it was accused that Flesh and Iron contained passages plagiarized from a contemporary American soldier's memoir, House To House. (Zou was clearly inspired by House to House and incorporated some elements. While some authors do this all the time, the bad part was that Zou was too blatant about it in places.) When this was discovered Black Library was sued. Either as part of a settlement or because he opened the company up to legal trouble, BL dropped Zou and he has been purged from their records; his author page has been deleted and all of his books are no longer in print. The only trace of him not purged are his two short stories that were published in multi author anthologies, and a couple preview pdfs that someone de-indexed but didn't fully delete.

BL may have forgotten that the Imperium doesn't exist yet, they're not supposed to emulate it.

The Books[edit]

Emperor's Mercy is about an inquisitor running around the sector, followed by his two henchman and a sexy French inquisitrix, trying to keep a step ahead of Chaos-worshiping space pirates (the "Ironclad") trying to seek out the Old King of Medina, a mythical superweapon that turns out not to be as mythical as was first thought. Also, a general of the Imperial Guard with a Napoleon complex tries to upstage and outdick an Inquisitor Lord, so you know how this will end for the general. Rather than handling the way any Inquisitor Lord would have in any other novel would have, the =][= guy tries to play it cool (we're saying the outcome you guessed at takes a while to get to rather than done immediately). The Blood Gorgons Chaos Space Marines also make a small appearance. While not the best portrait of the Inquisition, the novel is still fun to read, if at least for the battle scenes and trying to figure out what the Old King of Medina is.

Flesh and Iron has an Imperial force on a backwater swamp world are trying to put down a Chaos insurgency that calls itself the "carnibales" (because part of their practice is ritual cannibalism, geddit?). The force is composed of a regiment of a littoral naval force (highly reminiscent of the "swift boats" of Vietnam and evocative of the general atmosphere of that war for the U.S., terrifyingly elaborate enemy tunnel complexes, Maoist type insurgent tactics backed by a few ideologues, and all; it also helps that all references to this regiment's homeworld are thinly veiled references to the US State of Louisiana, seriously their capital city is called Norlens.) Along for the ride is a combined heavy armor/mechanized infantry regiment, and a single (suborbital) fighter pilot (if you're familiar with the American military or even NATO forces generally, think the venerable A-10 Warthog, beloved by ground troops of all kinds but a sort of neglected stepchild of the U.S. Air Force.) Also-rans include the honest-to-God blue-sea naval force (yes, you heard that right, naval as in riding on water, not the warp—a facet of warfare that's under-explored in 40K); and turns out it's all headed by an evil Ecclesiarchal cardinal, backed by his personal force of Sisters of Battle. Through the book, littoral space Cajuns (depicted much like Vietnam-era U.S. soldiers who, while being badass, just plain don't give a fuck) roam through the jungles heroically getting shot to death, eventually by both sides. In our M3-era parlance this military detachment would probably be Marines, but not of the superhuman Space variety. Meanwhile, the mechanized infantry and cavalry sits around doing fuck-all; and the blue-sea Navy repetitively gets themselves blown to shit under the cardinal's trollfaced orders until they can complete their objective thanks to the protagonists.

The evil cardinal spends time abusing his minions, and presumably looking in the mirror to twirl his mustache and work on his evil laugh when he's offscreen (no, seriously, the guy is a complete asshole, it quite represents all that is wrong in the Imperium, think of a petty version of Goge Vandire mixed with Tomas Beije.) This is complete with more than a bit of an allegory against colonialism and the excesses of European powers in—yep, 'Nam, among other places. His SoB retinue are, it's vaguely hinted at, probably having Vandire-era orgies, because he told them that not doing so is heresy. In the end the evil cardinal turns out (SPOILERS) to be evil. Most tragically of all, (MAJOR SPOILERS), his evil winds up driving otherwise good folks into the arms of Chaos, and then the Blood Gorgons show up and wreck his shit. Not as planned. Although maybe just as planned, from someone else's perspective; there are a lot of allusions to the worship of hope and change, after all. There is an extra surprise which connects this novel with Emperor's Mercy and gives a whole new significance to the title Flesh and Iron.

Blood Gorgons is about the Blood Gorgons. Go figure. It explores some pretty interesting aspects of the chapter and includes some actually fairly exciting Chaos v. Chaos action. Also, there are Dark Eldar poking around, too. The books goes to lengths to show that Chaos Space Marines, badassitude aside, can come surprisingly close to bro-tier with how well they don't mistreat their slaves and put a value on things like camaraderie and honor. Despite that, their chief sorcerer (who is a dirty double-non-heretic) betrays the Chapter Master in the book's prologue, to take his place as the start of the wider scheme to betray the Blood Gorgons for his own gain. (Yet another piece of evidence that psykers shouldn't be allowed to be chapter masters.) The story then takes them to one of the Blood Gorgons' recruiting worlds, which is under attack by a Nurglite warband. It then follows the main protagonist, a Blood Gorgons line marine, with his Dark Eldar on a leash, which turns out to be disappointingly devoid of homoerotic tension. Then the thing that happens to the Cardinal in Flesh and Iron, happens to the sorcerer and his buddies: Blood Gorgons make a come back and wreck shit. 2 out of 3 victories, not bad when compared with some other chaos forces. As a bonus, the cover art was so badass, the Blood Gorgons became the cover boys for the Chaos Space Marines for a whole edition.