Sunday, 21 November 2010

Book Review: Soul Hunter by Aaron Dembski-Bowden

The Night Lords form an uneasy allegiance with the Black Legion in order to assault the valuable planet of Crythe Primus. The Imperial world puts up a stern defence, but the biggest obstacle to success will be the disunity and mistrust between the two Legions. Will their covenant last long enough for them to succeed in their mission?


I approached this book with mostly mixed feelings towards Aaron Dembski-Bowden's (ADB from now on so i dont have to keep checking the spelling) work. I'd read his first novel, Cadian Blood, and found it to be rather disappointing, although this was likely due to the hype that had surrounded it upon release and the way it was mismarketed as a Cadians vs. Zombies book rather than what it actually was.
But i had also read his short story, One Hate, which to be frank ranks as one of the best pieces of Space Marine fiction published thus far by the Black Library. So i was curious upon reading Soul Hunter to see which way his work would lean this time.

Following the (mis)adventures of a warband of Night Lords Chaos Space Marines, ADB does something few Black Library authors have achieved: he has given us a group of characters that are at once vile and certainly evil, but also rather likeable, dare i say even more likeable than the average loyalist marine. The normal level for Chaos Space Marines outside of the Horus Heresy books are a batch of frothing lunatics who like stapling babies to their helmets, whereas ADB has given us a group who are far more three dimensional in their characters. And no matter your personal tastes you will likely find yourself rooting for them rather than the staunch defenders of the Imperium.

The book also reveals the infighting present amongst the Traitor Legions and the Night Lords view of the others that sided with Horus, to say they are unimpressed with Abaddon and his lackeys is an understatement. ADB also provides a few hints into the mindset of the Night Haunter and his final days before his assassination by M'Shen, some of which provide unexpected revelations about Konrad Curze and his legion.

As usual, ADB's prose is exceedingly well written. His battle sequences, particularly the climatic events at the end of the novel, are superb and really draw you into the action and leave you rushing to finish the final 30 or so pages.

All this and it sets up a mystery for the next novel to continue as well.

So colour me impressed by ADB's second novel. He's improved upon the flaws present in Cadian Blood and is rapidly establishing himself as one of the best authors when it comes to tales of the Astartes. Definitely recommended.


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