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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Soul Hunter by Aaron Dembski- Bowden (Mild Mild Spoilers)

To my mind at least, there are two giants of Black library fiction, two guardians of the passage to excellence, two writers whom all fluff writers aim to compete with.

Dan abnett, a man who can twist a plot like a knot, putting most writers to shame with the intricacy of his story telling, the detail of his characters and the maturity of his language. The Eisenhorn series, exemplifies his fantastic characterization, a gripping tale impossible to put down, charactors real enough that you know them inside out, Cherubael haunts us, the tragedy of Bequin and Eisenhorn's love and desire held apart by what they are, so underplayed by Abnett, yet still able to be used as a knife in our hearts.

The other, Graham McNeill, who gave us Fulgrim and A thousand Sons (for me, the best of the Horus Heresy). His ability to describe is spellbinding, his words dance along a page, metaphors of such exemplary delicacy as they can make you cry at their beauty and laugh in wonderment at the skill it took to create. For me, he is on a whole new level of writing, his description vivid and colourful.

Aaron Dembski - Bowden's Soul Hunter has been hailed by many as his bid to join these two collossuses of Warhammer Fiction, has been hailed as a magnificent book. Yet has he done enough to join them?

In a word, no. Soul hunter is a fantastic book, a brilliant read and well worth the money you spent to place it upon your book shelves. The characters are fantastic and the plot nippy and interesting. The gradual degradation of the Night lords, their slow fall to chaos, is artfully done if a little cliched, the interplay between the squad despite there personal tribulations witty and engaging yet it does not match Abnett's own artful style, his ability to manipulate the reader this way and that at a whim.

The language is engaging, the description though occassionally underdone for my taste (I love description and consequentially adore McNeill) still well done, whilst the maturity of his language and his ability to manipulate the pace of his tale, truly showed me the deep chasm in talent between your average fluff writer and a true author. Yet his descriptions were not the staggering perfection of McNeil, his lines did not make me stagger back as some did in A Thousand Sons.

The story is clever, the remenants of night Lords 10th company, depleted by war, deprived of resources and men struggle under the guidance of their leader, The Exalted, an astartes no more, a creature in the throe of chaos and Talos, the prophet, noble, strong, resisting the influences of the dark Gods that threaten to overwhelm him, forever staying true to the father, the primarch he loved and lost.

There journey aside the thralls of Abbadon's black legion is indeed a thrilling and gripping tale, well recited with occasional spurts of wit that made me laugh out loud, the awakening of the dreadnaught in particular was inspired and completely unexpected.

In particular the success of this novel was the characterization night lords, beings of terror, of mystique and fear, and in particular the first few pages from Septimus's point of view were some of the best dramatic writing, I have ever read, sucking me into the story and encapsulating the human view of the dark lords, even for one that has been a thrall so long, the solemn terror that surrounds them.

The author truly showed a flair for characterization, with each of the charactors being described fully, their nuances exemplified along with their position within the tale. The exalted in particular, the air of mystery that surrounded him due to the description that was built up slowly and carefully, was indeed exemplary, though i felt Abaddon's charactor differed too much from the Horus heresy.


Indeed Abaddon has had millennia of pressure, leading the luna wolves through failure and redemption, crusade after crusade as the prodigy of all the chaos gods yet i did not feel that burning aggression, that feral anger that always burned within him at the beginning. Maybe it had been tamed a little, but i felt the insane, barely contained rage within Abaddon should and would never die.

The failings often marred by the enthralling style and inspired plot came at the end. The sudden change in the exalted's charactor, from minion in the thralls of chaos, devotee of the black legion, to loyal night lord came too quickly and it seriously jilted the flow of the story and left me wondering what happened to that prick. As a whole the end, and the battle at the end seemed rushed, hurried as if our author had only just realised he had 1,000 words left to finish the novel whilst the scene at the end seemed displaced and disjointed, as if it had just been stuck on roughly and rashly.

Overall Aaron Dembski Bowden most definitely impressed me, his novel, though not having the finesse of Abnett, or the linguistic skill of McNeill was almost a hybrid of both of them. His style mixes the two and intertwines them in a way that I have never seen by any writer before. His characterization was detailed and his writing style engaging and bearing a maturity I have not seen in the majority of black library author. Hence I can indeed see Dembski-Bowden becoming one of those giants, a giant that mixes both of there styles and in synergy eclipses them.

Rating: 8/10
 

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Though I finished said book far to long ago for me to gauge the accuracy of your review proper, and indeed produce one myself, I feel this is perhaps the most detailing and overall summaritive review of Soul Hunter yet written by the deviants of Heresy. Seriously, mate, you`ve impressed Bobss this Afternoon. :victory:

I agree the finale is somewhat rushed, and the almost miraculous metamorphasis of ''The Exalted'' is perhaps portrayed somewhat badly; but none-the-less, I thought the Abaddon, his retinue of Jaestarian Terminators (The ''Kneeling with difficulty emphasises Ezekyle`s dominance) and overall the reprecussion`s of the capturing of a Penal-World to be believable and dare I say well-done.

Yeah, ADB certainly --thus far-- span`s the void between Abnett and McNeil, possibly slanting towards Abnett`s style the more? (As I would say Kyme slants towards McNeil more...)

Overall, great review mate; I almost feel like a dick for leaving Cleansing now:laugh:
 

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A good review and a fair one. However there are two points that I disagree with.

The Exalted did change quickly but I dont believe he changed. He just realized the implications of what he was getting into, and that Abaddon wouldn't hesitate to spend his life in a useless action. He didn't really change, he just realized who he was better off with.

And Abaddon's rage is still there. Only this time he is in charge, he doesn't have Horus to shield him anymore. He has to be diplomatic as well as wrathful otherwise none of his plans will ever work. His rage is still there, its just not the only thing he has anymore.
 

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The Exalted did change quickly but I dont believe he changed. He just realized the implications of what he was getting into, and that Abaddon wouldn't hesitate to spend his life in a useless action. He didn't really change, he just realized who he was better off with.
I don't know Lord of the Night, everything he supposedly feared came true in the novel; perhaps it was less of him realizing who he was better with and more that he really had no choice.

His greatest piece of influence on the ship is gone, his authority and word ignored, a rival again and again showed him up.

He might not have been much of Vandred, but what more could the Despoiler give him when others were already poised to rob it from him?


Overall interesting review deathbringer, and I do agree that this may be one of the longest ones I've read about it.
 

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description whore
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I do agree that this may be one of the longest ones I've read about it.
not sure if this is a compliment or not :biggrin:

On the exalted's change. I just felt it was written too suddenly, I have no criticism over why he changed, it was just such a huge transition in such a short time, chaotic prick to good guy in 5 words. It was too much too quickly for me and it disturbed me.

On Abaddon perhaps I am too harsh, just for me, he wouldn't have taken half of the shit Talos gave him, I know he needed him, but there was no real sense of anger, no twitches, no snarls hastily stiffled.

Alterior motive aside, abaddon, to me, always was a brawler and a barbarian warrior, times change but there is part of you that always stay constant. I didn't get any of that from ADB's depiction

In case anybodies interested, the next reviews i do will be a thousand sons and the ravenor omnibus, along with in the non black library novel, The gathering storm, the newest in the Wheel of Time series.
 

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On the exalted's change. I just felt it was written too suddenly, I have no criticism over why he changed, it was just such a huge transition in such a short time, chaotic prick to good guy in 5 words. It was too much too quickly for me and it disturbed me.
I agree, and raised something similar in another thread, whereupon ADB put me straight about it. The Exalted did just realise which was the winning side, and jumped aboard, but ADB decided to show, rather than tell.

Good review, by the way.
 

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I know this is relatively petty blow, i liked the writing, I liked the characters and until the near end was really enjoying the 10,000 years of :angry:ing experience counting for something with a mention towards questions like gene seed but there was one flaw.

As a chaos player it was very depressing to read. The Warmaster is incompitent, the night lords barely have the resources to carry on and are basically scavingers now, the black legion needs friends so badly they'll forgive shooting each other and oh yes we lost the war seemed to be the plot.

It was full of twists and turns and character development but this made me feel like giving up. Whats the point anymore? We don't have the resources, organisation, tactical ability or purpose to go on without a war failing and us shooting each other.

Oh, Curnze never loved you and the Talon Master wasn't salvation he was just a coward.

Dear God if anyone can convince me otherwise I am so willing to listen. It was a good read but I can't face the casualty reports long enough to find anything worth fighting for.
 

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Thats just for the Night Lords, who aren't truly Chaos Marines. The rest of the Legions are doing better, not great, but they are doing much better. The Night Lords have no homeworld anymore, no new Daemon Worlds, and their supplies are limited. Its meant to show you how overwhelming the odds against them are.
 

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Thats just for the Night Lords, who aren't truly Chaos Marines. The rest of the Legions are doing better, not great, but they are doing much better. The Night Lords have no homeworld anymore, no new Daemon Worlds, and their supplies are limited. Its meant to show you how overwhelming the odds against them are.
Heh, I will vouch for that; I do believe one of the main theme`s of Soul Hunter was the lack of munitions for the Astartes, servitors to perform the myriad tasks neccessary, serfs to crew the Covenant of Blood/Thunderhawks and the general lacking of apt numbers of Night Lord`s within the ''Claws'' (Or was it Talon`s?) reducing the functionality of 10th Company, and how this somewhat forced the son`s of Curze to seek alliances with the more disdainful Traitor Legion`s, and pacts with the Ruinous Powers. I thought this was perhaps the strongest point of Soul Hunter, defining the now Post-Heresy welfare of fragments of the Warmaster`s treachery.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
The warmaster is hardly incompetent, admittedly he over deployed his forces and then the blood angels arrived early but had they not they would have found him entrenched thousands of new minions and titans surrounding his defences.

Only talos told him to retreat of all his prophets and sources and by that time one could say he was in too far to pull out and abandon the cause.

He was unlucky to say the least whilst 3 hours, wouldnt have been enough time to pull all his forces back to their ship. Plus he probably counted on the exalted's skill in naval warfare to help pull his fleet through.

As for the nightlords, indeed they are in the shit, but other legions are high in number, i would fear to face the thousand sons if they came out en masse, their primarch at there head
 

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Well, when you put it that way its kind of inspiring, no hope of ever winning but like they said, they fight against all odds simply because they're right and to stop would admit defeat. The other legions fight for revenge and have the warp itself to call back the dead and even create new materials in some books. The purist Night Lords don't need that, they don't need to strike out in force, one night lord in armour that squeaks humorously can bring fear to a guard regiment from which it will never recover and when it matters most, they falter before the legion and their allies.

Casualties be damned, Chaos can take it! I'm off to re-read it!:grin:
 

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Only read this of Aaron's books so far, but it definately is good read.

Loved characters, story, writing style and his attention to detail. I think Gavin thorpe has similar attention to details during fighting or machines as Aaron does. This novel also addressed things ive been thinking that how these chaos marines are supplied all these years. And as he wrote Night lords are in deep trouble.

Especially too loved Night lords and their servants had fantastic relationship. Although these were slaves but they were mostly treated with respect as they were valuable assets to ship. One of best books of BL i have read.
 

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What I'm most interested in knowing is: is this book a worthy successor to Simon Spurrier's Lord of the Night? That novel carved respect for the night lords so deeply into me that I'm contemplating having Ave domine noctis tatooed on my arm.
 

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What I'm most interested in knowing is: is this book a worthy successor to Simon Spurrier's Lord of the Night? That novel carved respect for the night lords so deeply into me that I'm contemplating having Ave domine noctis tatooed on my arm.
Yes Soul Hunter is definitely a worthy successor, and perhaps even eclipses Lord of the Night. And that would be quite cool, ive sometimes wondered about having the Night Lords skull tattooed on my arm.

And its Ave Dominus Nox, Hail the Lord of the Night!. That line just sticks with you, its that awesome.
 

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Ever the near raving fanboy eh? Its a good novel, it has its many strong points and a few weak ones; but other than the main characters being Night Lords you simply cannot compare the two.

Personally, always found the review giving it a perfect score was terribly biased and over-inflated. I would never even rate my favorite Black Library novel more than a nine, since nothing is perfect nor should it be. I agree with deathbringer's rating, eight of ten definitely, nine of ten maybe.
 

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each of us have our fanboyish feelings about certain authors. LotN's just happens to be ADB and his Night Lords. I feel the same about Abnett, and his eclectic list of characters from the Gaunt's Ghosts series. I've already determined that my first born son will be named Ibram. then i can call him Bram, or perhaps even Brambo. :biggrin:

CP
 

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Commissar's right. Everyone's got at least one author/writer or whatever that they feel fanboyish about.

And I didn't give Soul Hunter 10/10 because its about Night Lords. I gave it 10/10 because I earnestly felt that it deserved a 10/10. I particularly enjoyed that the battle was only the backdrop for the story, it didn't focus on gigantic battles and tons of shoot-outs against the Imperium but rather focused on the Legion and their story.

Plus not diverting to the loyalists at least three times every chapter was nice. The Word Bearers series was good but it had quite a lot of parts devoted to the Imperial Astartes just as much as the Chaos Astartes. Soul Hunter kept its attention firm on the Night Lords and their servants, giving only a paragraph to the loyalists. After all you dont read a Night Lords novel to read about Blood Angels.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
Indeed robert jordan is my weakspot, that man could do no wrong in my eyes, may he rest in peace.

Or lee child, jack reacher was made for old spice adverts, to those that havent seen said adverts..... to youtube NOW!


In black library i think it has to be Abnett, he is truly the master of characterisation, my weakspot has to be Ravenor's central entourage, a bounty hunter, gymnast and a bloodthirsty telekine... yumsies :eek:k:

EDIT: As far as 10/10 goes, i agree with reever, nothing is perfect, there are low points in every book, robert jordan tends to go on a bit, lee child, tends to be a little unrealistic, a sort of bullets cant touch reacher thing, admittedly even if they do, they merely glance off his awesome musculature but i can accept that
 

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One of my favorite BL books....but...my intitial reaction to it was "ADB cheated".

I thought I was reading a book about Chaos Marines. I was prepared to step into the minds of a Traitor Legion. What did I find? People who showed compassion, restraint, disdain for the ruinous powers and contempt for those who served them? er...where did I go wrong?

The book didn't explain enough why the Night Lords weren't 100% pure Chaos-lovers (I had to look that up elsewhere).

So while I should have had to deal with cruel, insane, chaotic Space Marines (as anti-hero as anyone can get - very hard to write) instead I got a peak at a bunch of Marines who are a bit rough around the edges (mines the crazy one who talks to himself), but aren't really portrayed any worse than any other non-Ultrasmurf SM. The book could just as easily have been about a group of stressed Space Wolves working off a nasty hangover.

Again, I loved the book, and I loved reading about the difficulties the Chapter has had to live with post-heresy: lack of supplies, recruits, etc.

But it did not feel like I was reading a book about Chaos Marines.

That said, I haven't read any other BL book (so far) from the prespective of Chaos Marines, so maybe this is just how its supposed to come across.

I definately am looking forward to more of ADBs writing though. :victory:
 
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