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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-09-15, 08:26 PM Thread Starter
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Default Talking about Aaron Dembski-Bowden...

Oh God-Emperor, this one will be long and hard...



You see, I'm HUGE fan of this guy, he's my favorite writer in the Black Library. I've began to read the BL production by reading Soul Hunter.

When I registered on this forum, I swear to God-Emperor I didn't knew he was registered as well, and when I learned that, me, a Thirthy-five year father of three children, giggled like a fraggin' little school girl, so forgive me if I seem to be lacking some objectivity.

Where do I begin ?

I love the way he write his characters, I love the way he writing action. He's not as much over-the-top and epic than let's say... Dan Abnett, or Graham MacNeill when he's on a good day, but he combine some of their best writing trait.

Don't get me wrong, I love Dan Abnett, and I love Graham MacNeill, but ADB just come first in my list.

One of his best writing feature, I will say, is the depth of his characters, mainly his protagonist. ADB has the trick to put you under their skin, in their soul, and make you understood why, they are who they are. They aren't unidimensionnal characters, they have a background, they come from somewhere. They are being of soul, flesh and blood

He give the WH40K universe a soul, and thus, some kind of credibility.

Another of his trait is his ability to give the antagonist of his novels some credibility and awesome attitude. With some rare exceptions, they are awesome : Just reread the Ultramarines in Betrayer, the Genesis Chapter and the Marines Errant in the Night Lord trilogy, and you will find them awesome. They aren't just jobber who are just there to take blow and being trumped by the protagonist.

They show their qualities, even Abaddon in Soul Hunter is quite impressive, for all his smugness when you double-think of it.

Another of his strong point is his women. God-Emperor the written women of ADB are just gorgeous characters ! They are lovely, sometimes frail, but they are never helpless, they are always interesting, they are never stupid archetype of princess in distress. They try to take their fate unto their own hands and don't wait to be rescued by the guy. Even Cyrene, who's an non action girl, is a character able to move battle hardened veteran like Argel Tal and have an insight that give more power.

Beyond that, has ADB writing has any flaws ? Well, I will say yes but that is the kind of weakness that is not really that bad.

You see, I'm a firm beleiver that most of authors, writers, storyteller have, at the core of their soul, only one or two real story to tell. One thematics that will shape all of their story and will be echoing unto all of their works.

The story that haunt ADB writing is the fate of true human struggle in the Warhammer 40K, and the struggle of the soul between two kind of absolute. The anarchics and amoral power of chaos, and the blind, cold, sterility of the imperium.

Like Argel Tal have said in Betrayer, there's no good side in that war and each characters of ADB is trying to stay human and keep some personnality in this titanic struggle : Hyperion of the Grey Knight and his brash need of being recognized by his pair, Argel Tal who find himself more and more estranged from the imperium and his own chapter, Talos Valcoran, who wanted to be a hero so much he blinded himself to the worst side of his own legion. Iskandar with his love for his sister...

Even Jago Sevatarion, who hide his real me, his psyker ability for the love of his legion and Primarch.

They all struggles, fail or succeed to prerserve their individuality, their humanity in this titanic inhuman and uncareful struggle imposed on their son by abusive fathers figures.

They all share this same thematic, and so the story ADB wrote aren't always that original, but truly, I don't care because they are written that good.

Another one would be that he's not that good on writing aliens. I mean, the only aliens I've seen in his work is the Eldars from the Night Lord trilogy and the dark eldar huntress from the claw of Horus. Maybe he's not interested, but I've had to admit that writing convincing alien is difficult, and that between the former eldar craft world and Nefertari, there's a serious leap in quality.

His last take on BL, the talon of horus, did disappoint me a little. Maybe it was the pacing of the story, maybe I wasn't in the mood. (I confess I had to read Betrayer and the First Heretic twice to really enjoy the novel.)

But anyway, each time a new novel of ADB is announced, I quite have some trepidation, and Master of Mankind make no exception.
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-10-15, 02:00 AM
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Talon improves on re-reading. Not that it's bad or anything, it's great. But I agree with a vague sense of dissatisfaction on first reading, compared to his other works. I think I was distracted by the piling up of specialness of the main character (He's Xander Caine! He's the guy who tried to stop the Rubric! And made Magnus kneel! And has a pet daemon-wolf! And a vampire not-girlfriend! And his sister's a naked computer! And everyone thinks he's awesome!).
I think I was also a bit bothered about the empty and disconnected tone, unusual for an AD-B title. But then on re-reading I realised it was either completely intentional or just a logical by-product of what are strongly drawn characters of a certain sort in a certain plot; people who are lost and failing, but who either don't know it yet or refuse to admit it, until given new purpose. Especially considering the POV of the narration. The subtleties became more appreciable and the tropes that act as the framework became much more comfortable.

He's a highly skilled, thoughtful and passionate writer I hate even having anything even vaguely negative to say about, as his work has been so enjoyable and touching, and I liked your write-up. I would say that, as comparatively strong as his female characters are, I'm slightly over his main (male) characters all having a (female) confidant or foil. It's not objectionable and he does wonders for female representation compared to most others, it's just that I'm kinda bored of the 'child-man and mother/lover' thing. I'd quite like Aaron to do a novel with a female lead, I think that'd be great. As you said, his main characters are all excellent (including Khayon, who I kind of slagged off above) and his take on a woman protag in this setting would be excellent.

To reiterate, negative things only came to mind to have some sort of counter-discussion, I think his stuff is largely outstandingly good.
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-10-15, 09:50 AM
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Legion and The First Heretic are my favourite BL novels, and Betrayer is possibly up there too but I want to read it again to be sure. I love what he did with the Word Bearers and World Eaters when they'd had some shoddy treatment (particularly WB) before he took them on

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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-10-15, 10:25 AM
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I would actually consider Betrayer weaker than TFH, which I enjoyed much more. I do agree on most of your points. A weakness I've started to see in his writing though is that his characters have started to look much the same in many aspects, just in another name and skin. But in Talon he changed that again. But he still have the stronger stories, he puts thought into the writing and you can see that he really cares to get everything right.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-10-15, 11:24 AM
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Betrayer is the finest novel in the Black Library Catalogue.

I've yet to identify the flaw in Abnett's writing. He will have one, but I'm able to enjoy his writing much more so than any other writer in the Black Library (with the exception of Gordon Rennies Gothic War, and maybe a select few of CL Werner which are roughly equal novels, but neither author consistently to the same level).

If a writer is able to keep me engaged, enthused and involved in both story and characters, then they're pretty good. From shorts like Lord of the Red Sands (possibly the greatest insight ever into Angron within a few dozen words.



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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-10-15, 11:26 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by forkmaster View Post
I would actually consider Betrayer weaker than TFH, which I enjoyed much more. I do agree on most of your points. A weakness I've started to see in his writing though is that his characters have started to look much the same in many aspects, just in another name and skin. But in Talon he changed that again. But he still have the stronger stories, he puts thought into the writing and you can see that he really cares to get everything right.
Yes, exactly.

I forgot to point this in my post, but one things you can see is that the guy has an immense respect for the universe he's writing, and trough that, to the reader, and that's just awesome.

It's not some kind of shallow fanservice who try to pandering to the fanbase, it's really a respect that is absent in many novels, and that's making A LOT of difference in the reading experience.

Last edited by Doom wolf; 05-10-15 at 11:38 AM.
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-11-15, 08:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vaz View Post
Betrayer is the finest novel in the Black Library Catalogue.

I've yet to identify the flaw in Abnett's writing. He will have one, but I'm able to enjoy his writing much more so than any other writer in the Black Library (with the exception of Gordon Rennies Gothic War, and maybe a select few of CL Werner which are roughly equal novels, but neither author consistently to the same level).

If a writer is able to keep me engaged, enthused and involved in both story and characters, then they're pretty good. From shorts like Lord of the Red Sands (possibly the greatest insight ever into Angron within a few dozen words.
Betrayer is good, I can't deny that. But I have always had a hard time to relate to the World Eaters, despite the effort ADB put into making them interesting. I simply enjoyed seeing Lorgars fall and rise more than Angrons demise, but it's a matter of different taste, so I'm not saying you're wrong.

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Yes, exactly.

I forgot to point this in my post, but one things you can see is that the guy has an immense respect for the universe he's writing, and trough that, to the reader, and that's just awesome.

It's not some kind of shallow fanservice who try to pandering to the fanbase, it's really a respect that is absent in many novels, and that's making A LOT of difference in the reading experience.
No no, it's not fanservice as he is faithful to the universe and tries to expand it.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-11-15, 02:39 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by forkmaster View Post


No no, it's not fanservice as he is faithful to the universe and tries to expand it.
Aw sorry, I think I didn't make myself understoof well.

What I define as fanservice is not what ADB does.

To me, Fanservice is some gratuitous apparitions of characters for the sake of it. It's showing some characters without any other reason than please the fanbase.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-13-15, 06:24 PM
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A praising thread!

Lol. Like the author and his ambition. My one gripe about the author is how he views the Heresy. Keep in mind, I think he has actually done great things with that mentality, however, I'm not sure if it will keep the series in check.

If you listen to some of his youtube videos and at times him posting and conversation with his fans, he describes the Heresy as a war in which the traitors lose and even seems to state that its a losing war. As such, he writes his novels in a way where the traitors are losing the war even before they reach Terra. In my mind, I believe its a bit premature for the authors to show this in the novels. Ever since Istvaan, there has been much disappointment in the way that the traitor legions have been displayed. They have been displayed as self destructive and incompetent.

This is certainly one way to create the fate of the traitors. However, it seems farfetched that these traitor legions would have been such failures and then successfully reach Terra and defeat the Palace's defenses.

I do not envy any writer or writers in that matter who have to write the success of the traitors in these battles to come. Because now, you have to show the traitors being successful and accomplishing major tasks in what should look like the traitors have all but defeated the Imperium.

The series will be an absolute failure if the reader doesn't almost believe the traitors will win the war.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-13-15, 08:16 PM
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^ Interesting comment. Possible civil war in the Alpha Legion, splintering of the Emperor's Children and Night Lords, World Eaters losing their leader (to a degree), Thousand Sons taken a battering by the SW and stuck in the Eye... the other legions seem to be doing okay though? The Word Bearers have no doubt taken big losses but the Iron Warriors, Sons of Horus and Death Guard should be okay

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