This is flat out my favorite book set in the Warhammer 40,000 universeand one of my favorite all time military sci fi novels What makes it work so well is how Aaron Dembski Bowden turns the stereotypes of the 40k universe on their ear The protagonists are Traitor Space Marines of the Night Lords Legionan army of superhuman warriors genetically engineered from the worst dregs of a criminal planet, who later betrayed humanity in a galactic war Soul Hunter is set centuries after that betrayal, and tells the story of one company of the Night Lords as they struggle to survive and bring down the galaxy spanning human emperor.However, though they are unquestionably evil, the author makes each of his protagonists a complex, fully fleshed out character with believeable and even sympathetic personalities Dembski Bowden is really good at making the Night Lords much ambiguous and totally different from the stereotypical brutes you d expect He also takes a fascinating look at the lives of the prisoners and slaves serving aboard the Night Lords ship Though slaves, their skills are so desperately needed by their masters whose infrastructure is slowly rotting away after centuries of war that the slaves are respected and almost treated as comrades.It s really fascinating and turns the trope of Chaos Marines as predictable, demon worshiping, cardboard cutout villains on its ear The terrific characterization, description combines with a few first rate battle scenes for a crackerjack novel I ve read it reapeatedly and will probably do so again soon The sequel, Blood Reaver is very good also. A fun dark read I absolutely loved it Of all the Marine books out there, there is very little literature wise in the way of the Night Lords except for short stories and the like We had Lord of the Night and then along came Soul Hunter.For any fans of the Night Lords these are a must read, not only does it immerse you into the action early on but you get an affinity with First Claw and their own private thoughts and battles You get the impression that they might not like each other all that much but when it comes to working together they work pretty well as a team even if one of them is slipping into the madness that is the Blood God You also get an insight into life for the humans who live in the vessels underworld and how they live day to day as slaves for their Night Lord masters I was surprised to see that for humans they are treated quite well by their masters and not, perhaps as one would expect for a traitor Legion to be using them as sacrifice or cannon fodder.Aaron Dembski Bowden has taken the Night Lords and brought them into line with the books on the Ultramarines, Blood Angels and others, they may be damned but they have burst into the 40K world and announced their intention.they have come for you if the rest of the trilogy is as good as this then the Night Lords are here to stay.Dominous Nox Well, after taking way too long to get to these, I ve finally finished Soul Hunter The first novel in the Night Lords trilogy, also one of the most highly praised novels to come from Black Library ever, and man was it good The whole novel was absolutely fantastic, ADB s phenomenal world building and characters really shine through in this one with First Claw at the front and center, with loads of wonderfully done side characters and cameos from Septimus, Talos artificer to the big man Warmaster Abaddon himself , they were all done with an insane amount of skill to make their characters really bleed from each page The action was extremely well written, and the terror really oozed off of every page when our boys in blue went hunting.I think one of my favourite parts of the novel was how much it showed away from the glorious front line and the False Emperor s Angels of Death We really get to have a pretty detailed and lengthy glimpse into the life of a Chaos Warband, and there s not a lot of glamour From killing and raiding for survival, to making a tactical withdraw out of the system to ensure you live to fight another day From the bridge full of enslaved officers to the black market down in the near pitch black of the depths of the Covenant of Blood, the novel was immensely enlightening, and thoroughly enjoyable. 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 AJ Shadowhawk is our newest book reviewer on staff here, and he starts off on TFF with a wonderful review of Soul Hunter by Aaron Dembski Bowden I hope you ll all welcome AJ and make him feel at home CP One of the most intriguing and unusual novels from Black Library, Soul Hunter will challenge your perceptions about life as a Traitor Astartes The Founding FieldsI have read precious little of the published work of Aaron Dembski Bowden, limited to his Horus Heresy novel The First Heretic and his short stories in the first two Space Marine anthologies and the Horus Heresy Age of Darkness anthology Up until I picked up Soul Hunter and its sequel Blood Reaver at Games Day UK 2011, I was fairly impressed with his work There is something about the quality of his work, the style, the characters, the setting, the unexplored concepts that is highly evocative and suitably tight in its execution.Truth be told, I was never interested in the Night Lords novels until very recently and my friends kept asking me to give them a chance Of course, after reading his Horus Heresy work, I was really looking forward to seeing how he tackled a proper full length 40k story Short stories only get you so far.So it was with a fair bit of excitement that I picked up this novel and started reading through it My first reaction after getting through the first few chapters was one of surprise and not a little disappointment.I think that is a case of buying too much into the hype surrounding the novels Everybody praises Soul Hunter as one of the best BL novels, the reviews are stellar, the author himself is lauded all across fandom, and even has a cult following that would like nothing less than to have him be the mover and shaker in the Horus Heresy stories yet to be told.And that really threatened to ruin the book for me and I nearly put it down because of how simple, straightforward and slow it seemed.But I am glad I stuck through with it I knew a little about what to expect in terms of the plot since I find spoilers so irresistible.But you know what I enjoyed the novel I certainly have mixed feelings about it but it is one of the books which I will happily read again and again for the sheer entertainment value.The Night Lords are a legion that has never really had any major screen time until Aaron came around They featured in Graham s prequel short story Chains of Command for his Ultramarines novels, and they featured in Lee Lightner s first Space Wolf novel, Sons of Fenris In the former, the Night Lords undertake a tank assault while in the latter they use misdirection and traps in a city battle Two different cameo portrayals and two very unsatisfying outlooks on the legion If there is , I have yet to get around to reading any of it.For me, Soul Hunter challenged my perceptions of the legion I d always seen them as vicious, murderous, Raptor loving Chaos Marines Those last two words are important Chaos Marines The Night Lords are anything but They are also not Raptor lovers like most people believe them to be While the other eight legions gave themselves over to the Chaos Gods, the Eighth Legion remained separate from that inevitable corrupting influence, succeeding for the most part.They are also not the well off, living the high life type of Traitor Marines I thought all Chaos warbands are They are something totally different and Aaron does a great job of portraying that aspect of it He hammers it at you again and again until you accept it and then a bit I don t say that with any disrespect however and I laud his efforts at making it so crystal clear again and again.It is needed.The once proud legion is now split off into warbands, scavenging off their dead enemies, allies and brothers alike They are losing direction because their Primarch s guiding influence has been lost to them Bereft of purpose, they have been reduced to brokering deals with others powerful than themselves for what amounts to scrap Some among the splintered legion do not even care about staying true to the Night Haunter s visions They are all out for themselves.All except for the First Claw of Tenth Company Talos, Cyrion, Xarl, Uzas and Mercutian the newbie There is a very clear vibe throughout the novel that First Claw is just tired of the state of the legion, and their company in particular Numbers are at an all time low, their Captain is a maniac, too much infighting in the company and so on.Things need to change, sooner the better.But that is not all the novel is about We get a very human perspective into the shadows and darkness legion in the form of Talos servants, his artificer Septimus and the company s new navigator Octavia, as well Septimus interactions with the other human crew of the company s strike cruiser Covenant of Blood So we don t see the legion just from the Space Marines points of view, but from that of the regular humans as well.It makes for a very nice and unusual narrative that I must say I find unique in the current offerings of Space Marine centric novels for precisely that reason This approach is very common in the Horus Heresy series as well.Although unlike the Heresy novels, where I am getting slightly bored by the constant human perspectives in nearly every book, it is refreshing in the mainstream 40k novels It makes for a very gloomy, dichotomous and engaging reading which on a lot of reflection I find that I actually quite enjoyed When I first finished reading the novel I didn t like it, but having thought about it, my feelings were unfounded.What makes Soul Hunter a great novel is that it challenges you at every turn It forces you to accept that not all the traitor legions and warbands are coloured with the same heavy brush stroke of They are evil Chaos worshippers It forces you to accept that sometimes even the elite Space Marines sometimes do not get to fight on their own terms with a proper execution of their trademark doctrines It forces you to accept that not all Space Marines, whether good or bad notice I don t say good or evil , actually act all the time like Space Marines Cyrion is perhaps the best example of this and he is my favourite character in the entire novel for his witty quips and comments.In that same vein, Aaron s dialogue is also very good and as someone who struggles quite a bit with it for my fanfics, it is also educational to a degree All the characters, whether it is Talos the Prophet, Uzas who is slowly falling to Khorne, Cyrion the smart ass, Captain Vandred the Possessed or Octavia the newly inducted against her will servant, they all have their unique voices They act like how they should, and they talk like they should They are each different from each other, with different mindsets, different ideologies, different perspectives, and Aaron gets it all across very clearly.The theme of shadows and darkness is also quite prevalent throughout the entire novel, and it makes you feel like you are walking into a house of horrors, except one where your own friends are dangerous than your surroundings I felt spooked at times for sure.The only main criticism that I can really apply to the novel in all honesty is the slow pace of it, even during the action scenes There is an attitude in the novel that things will play out in their own time and that there is no reason to rush the ending I am not a fan of that I can see that it is necessary for the narrative but I still don t enjoy it I like my adrenaline pumping scenes too much, which is why I found the last third of the novel with its boarding actions to be the highlight of the novel I wish it had been expanded upon a bit.C est la vie.If you want a change of pace from the other Black Library books, if you want to experiment with your reading, or if you are a fan of the Night Lords, I recommend this book It is definitely one of the must reads of Black Library fiction and it showcases than The First Heretic just why Aaron is as good as he is Not to mention that the trilogy has just started with this one and these guys are going to back in no time at all when I review Blood Reaver next.Score wise, I will have to give the novel a 9.5 10 Originally, after having just finished it, that score would have been quite a bit lower But like I said, this book forced me to really think about why I didn t like it and it ended up that I actually did like it It is a very thoughtful novel, so than most other Space Marine novels and it works very well in it s favour The epilogue is also grand, setting the stage for the eventual showdown. This is my third time reading this book, which is saying something Dembski Bowden is one of the most consistently good Warhammer 40k writers, and vary rarely do I come across something of his I don t like or enjoy.This is mostly due in part to his grasp of engaging characters Soul Hunter is no exception He brings the Night Lords to life, breathing a menagerie of complex goals, ideas, wants and dislikes into each character They become than simple astares killers or a traitor legion, but rather, the reader gets to understand WHY they do what they do and why Night Haunter chose the path he did Aaron also does a fantastic job with side characters as well, which just adds to the entire novel, drawing the reader in From the Void Born to even the rapists sent to take out the thunderhawk gunship by the Black Legion, each has a certain care given to them that brings them alive on the page, and adds to the sorrow of their loss, or the joy at their death.My only issue with the novel is how much importance is laid upon the Soul Hunter We see him being confided in by the primarch, we see how revered he is by his brothers due to his gift, and we see just how special he is It takes away from him as a character though, as he s not some rank and file warrior, or even a skilled sergeant No, he s something far, far important, which almost cheapens him to me but, that could just be me It s almost too Mary Sue for me, and anyone who reads my reviews know I highly dislike characters who are blessed Still, it doesn t play too much of a role within the story, I just found it took away from it.In the end, I still enjoy this book, even on the third reading The writing is well done, the way events pan out are handled well, and in the end you get exactly what you want out of the story Anyone who likes the Night Lords but wanted something than base killers should read this book It does a fantastic job of showing chaos space marines as than simple heretics, but rather people who made a choice Well worth the read. If you like wh40k novels this one is absolutely worth reading Nicely written and from very interesting point of view which is not that well shown in any other sources. I think this might be because this book was over hyped, but it was a bit of a disappointment for me I enjoyed it quite a bit, Xarl and Cyrion are fun characters and there were some moments that made me laugh out loud Aaron s prose is easy to read and I burned through the book easily But it felt strange to me, some stuff felt brushed over too easily, especially their fight with the Titan and the sudden heel face turn of a character which seemed to come too fast and out of the blue The pacing seemed off to me too and the book kinda just endedIt felt incredibly rushed and anti climatic It seemed to end just as it was beginning to me, but it is the first of a trilogy so gotta give it leeway in that regard Not just that but Talos just didn t leap off the page for me, not like Kauyon did in Talon of Horus In fact in comparing the two books it s really easy to see ADB has improved so much between these books in almost every way although I didn t like Master of Mankind which kinda contradicts this for me The story didn t quite have a too well done plot, it felt like a bunch of set pieces roughly stitched together without enough coherence orconsequences Butagain it is the first in the trilogy. great book
Is a well-known author, some of his books are a fascination for readers like in the Soul Hunter book, this is one of the most wanted Aaron Dembski-Bowden author readers around the world.
- 416 pages
- Soul Hunter
- Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- 23 March 2017 Aaron Dembski-Bowden