Sunday, February 12, 2023

Stories told by Monsters

What the Clonelord and the Jackalwolf can teach about Narrative Therapy

The following is a 13-part analysis of three Warhammer 40,000 novels through the lens of Narrative Therapy. I wrote the analysis originally in 2018 and have now edited it in such a way that I can finally present it more accessibly on this website (instead of tagging a shady PDF download in my Twitter feed).

Narrative Therapy is a psychological school of thought that looks at people as homo narrativus: beings that define themselves and the world around them by the stories they tell about it and themselves. From this basic idea comes a framework for therapeutic practice, which seeks to help people alleviate suffering and further personal growth by assisting them in changing the way they "narrate" their lives.

The novels that I chose to analyse in relation to this framework are three novels by Josh Reynolds: Lukas the Trickster, about the titular ne'er-do-well Space Wolf, and the first two novels of his Fabius Bile-trilogy, Primogenitor and Clonelord, about the exploits of the former Chief-Apothercary of the Emperor's Children.

My original goal for this analysis was four-fold. For starters, it should present these Warhammer 40,000 stories to inclined readers from an unusual and hopefully interesting perspective. It was also an experiment in finding new meaning in these stories that, at first glance, can seem like little more than pulp entertainment (nothing wrong with that), but oftentimes have much more substance and nuance to them than a first glance reveals. I also liked the idea that this might, in reverse, be a way to introduce readers of 40k fiction to the world of psychotherapeutic theory and offer an accessible introduction to an interesting sub-sector of psychological thought. Last but not least, I also just wanted to know whether I could actually do it and manage to write such an analysis all on my own.

Because the analysis in the end became quite long, I'm splitting it here into 13 parts (plus a page of References) so it's easier to digest and simpler to navigate.

Click here to start reading Stories Told By Monsters with Part 1.: Introduction


Here is a full table of contents that allows you to quickly skip to each part of the analysis. Because this was originally a single text, the different parts build upon each other, so I recommend reading them in linear order.

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