Aaron Dembski-Bowden

Don't worry. None of this blood is mine.

“Our city. Our world.”

I saw on a forum the other day, that someone said “Here’s a link to Aaron’s blog: he’s nothing like the other BL authors.”

That’s pretty ominous, right there. My blood, it ran cold. Maybe that’s what Marketing are always on about when they say I should behave.

So, right. Yes. To business.

Tired of the orks and their bullshit, Grimaldus aimed heroically down at the floor.

Helsreach is out today.

That sort of sneakalised up on me.

I’m not in a particularly good headspace at the moment, and part of that is tied to my beloved publisher, Black Library. I’m behind on deadlines (Breaking News at 11, right?), and finding it hard to focus on work, due to something I’m furious about behind the scenes. It sort of makes everything else taste like crap, and I have intense trouble with my temper when it comes to letting things go, even if they have nothing to do with me. Don’t ask what it is, I won’t bring it up again; I’m just trying to provide an overview. In short, I’m gutted I’m missing a close friend’s birthday party this weekend, and niggles I should be able to ignore are getting under my skin.

I’m sure it would all be solved if I could just speed up, but the days of me easily churning out 3,000-4,000 words in well under 10 hours are well and truly gone. And I’m sort of okay with that, honestly. I write all the better for it.

So. Helsreach.

The first review I’ve seen for it is killer, and doubly interesting because it’s by someone who hasn’t read a 40K novel before.  Behold: http://www.njoe.com/2010/04/16/a-galaxy-not-so-far-away-review-helsreach-by-aaron-dembski-bowden/.

My friends, guildies and countrymen who’ve read Soul Hunter, with no experience of the setting, have mentioned a few concepts and scenes where they struggled to understand exactly what was going on. Usually, this involves the warp, which is one of the defining characteristics of 40K, and one of the cooler aspects that sets it apart from a lot of other sci-fi. But it’s definitely a difficult idea to wrap your grey skulljunk around, because even after all these years, the setting’s most hardcore fans can’t agree on how it behaves. Of course, being Chaos, it can behave however it likes, but whatever. You know what I mean. It’s some high concept jazz, right there.

Helsreach, by comparison to Soul Hunter, is going to be a little more accessible, for better or worse.

But I wanted to cover something about what’s between the covers, because Helsreach was a very difficult book to write, it came out nothing like I’d expected, and I want to explain a little about why.

This information is a month or two old, and has done the rounds on various forums in the meantime, but it still sums up my thoughts on the process and the book that came out the other side.

Overall, honestly, it was a difficult book, and the characters are difficult to like. Conversely, I think it’s quite easy to respect them.

The coolest thing anyone has said about the book so far was this:

“While I don’t play any of the GW games, I read a lot of their material and I’ve always liked the Black Templars. While I don’t claim to be an expert on any of the Space Marine chapters, I am quite well read on the actual Templar Knights and I know my s**t when it comes to the military and in particular the airborne infantry.

 

I really enjoyed it. The Templars are some serious dudes and I think you captured that very well. You captured the military ethos very well, and although Space Marines tend to me a lot more extreme, the way you’ve portrayed the brotherhood side of it was fantastic.”

And honestly, that’s one of the most enervating, inspiring things anyone has ever said about my work.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to experience something 24/7 to be able to portray it convincingly in fiction. If you did, fiction would barely exist. And it’s easy to be misled anyway, like, say, being told someone is a race driver/soldier/travel agent and then giving their their descriptions of races/battle/booking plane flights extra credence, despite the fact they’ve never actually driven in a race/seen combat/sent anyone on holiday. “Your focus determines your reality,” said that guy in that piece of shit film.

This’ll be pretty long. I won’t hunt you down and kill you for not reading it.

***   ***   ***

Re: Helsreach

1. Everyone who has read it so far has either liked it, or loved it. What I’m seeing mostly is that people who don’t like the Black Templars as a Chapter, seem to really struggle to like most of the characters, because these guys are absolutely unforgiving, inhuman, cold-hearted knights. They’re the only Chapter that is still on the Emperor’s Great Crusade; they never defend – they always attack, so they don’t play well with other Chapters all the time (especially the humane ones like the Salamanders); and they’re the ones that ritually chain their weapons to their armour, so they never drop them. That’s not saying they’re the best, but it is saying they have a very different mindset to other Chapters – because they do. Hitting a Chapter’s unique perspective is a big part of Marine writing. And these guys are unbelievably hardcore, so Templar fans have loved it. But the people who prefer, say, Guard novels or less militant Chapters have tended to like the writing style, but not the characters so much, because they’re prototypical Templars. Grimaldus especially – he’s not a particularly likable guy.

2. For research, not only did I get photocopies of absolutely everything GW had in the archives, as well as using my own copies of Codex: Black Templars and Codex: Armageddon, I also spoke to one of the guys (on more than one occasion) that had written most of the official BT fluff published. And despite all of that, I’ve still seen one or two references here and there on forums, where people say “THIS HAS TO BE IN HELSREACH OR THE AUTHOR IS AN IDIOT”, and those thing aren’t in there (and never would have been) because Minor Point X never once showed up anywhere in all of the BT lore I read. You see that kind of thing mentioned about any book, by any person, in licensed fiction, and the advice is always to ignore it. The difference is, I actually care. I love the fluff, and go to a lot of trouble to include everything I can. (Really, my office is wallpapered with photocopies from GW’s archives.) So things like that always make me curious about a book’s reception.

3. The writing style is… different. With the greatest respect to a lot of BL’s back catalogue, I haven’t enjoyed a lot of it (same as I don’t enjoy a lot of sci-fi and fantasy overall), because a good chunk of it is – in my opinion – action pulp aimed at teenagers. I’m not trying to bite the hand that feeds, here. I know the American market is different to the UK one, and I’ve butted heads with various BL insiders on more than one occasion, with none of us giving ground, about how they underestimate their readership.

(Note: They’re a lot more informed than me, so maybe I should shut up, but fuck me if I don’t just love the sound of my own self-righteousness. I’m actually learning to drop this bone of contention and let another dog take it – as I said, this was all originally written a chunk of time ago.)

So, y’know, action pulp. There’s nothing wrong with that, I just don’t aim to write that way – and say what you will about pretension and delusions of grandeur, I don’t think I do write that way. Neither do several of the other authors who do hired gun work for BL.

I knew I was writing what was essentially a summer blockbuster action movie, since it was a Space Marine Battles book, and try as a I might, I’m not a fan of summer blockbuster action movies. I think Michael Bay makes boring films; the various X-Men/Wolverine films bored me to death; and 300 was one of the few films I’ve almost walked out of, because I found it so dull. That doesn’t mean there’s no violence or action (there’s plenty – even more than Rynn’s World, several people have said) but the struggles aren’t always defined by bolters and chainswords. What I found much more interesting was the way Astartes relate to each other and to humans, and the way Space Marines react when they’re locked into a situation where they’re not going to just deploy, win, and leave, like they usually would. They’re trapped there, and they’re going to die.

In that vein, people going into Helsreach and expecting a victorious crusade of ork-killing awesomeness are going to be disappointed. It’s a tale of how the Imperium almost loses a massive hive city, day by day, inch by inch, and the invaders pay for every road in blood. Grimaldus isn’t a young, cool and handsome god of war. He’s a knight wracked by internal conflict, who has been exiled to die a very worthless death on the surface of Armageddon, while his brothers are getting all the glory in the orbital war, led by High Marshal Helbrecht. He begs not to be left behind – the story is about how he comes to terms with it, and how he deals with the people of the city who keep expecting miracles from him and his small handful of knights. He inspires them, sure. He has some great speeches, and they see him as a hero. But he’s a difficult hero. He doesn’t understand the humans, and he’s bitter at being sent to Helsreach.

I talked about this on another forum, last week:

I think Helsreach is probably the deepest look into the Astartes mindset – at least that I’ve read, and I’ve read most of BL’s books – with regards to how they deal with humans. As a Chaplain, Grimaldus is essentially as austere and removed from humanity as a Space Marine can possibly be, to the point where I wrote him as essentially autistic. Especially in the first-person sections.

I think it made him unlikable just as often as it made him likable, and cold just as often as it made him sympathetic. In dealing with abandonment, friendship, the death of his ‘father’, the disrespect of his brothers, and human emotion and relationships – he was essentially, like you say, a child. Not childish, but definitely naive to a certain degree. Astartes aren’t good with humans, after all.

Insofar as Helsreach had a ‘point’, it was to present the most ruthless and distant type of Astartes, of the most uncompromising Chapter*, and show how different he was from humans. F’rex, half the time when he’s talking to Andrej, he doesn’t know how to respond to certain jokes or questions, so he just says nothing at all. He doesn’t understand how people can fall in love in war, or why their brains allow them to focus on such things. He doesn’t even understand how or why the more humane Chapters fight to defend the people of the Imperium, when he’s still fighting to expand the Emperor’s domain.

He didn’t even come to Armageddon to defend the people. He came there because he was told to go there. The people irritate him; they get in the way, they get killed, they keep demanding things of him when he’s expecting nothing more than a glorious death worthy of his Chapter. If anything, the most emotion he shows to humans is when they annoy him by their constant demands on his time. But he doesn’t hate them, he just… has no capacity to understand them. He lacks empathy for any other living being that’s not tied to his duty.

Which is why the only real bond he forms outside the Chapter is with the princeps of Legio Invigilata, who has spent countless years cut off from real human contact, floating in a coffin.

* – The Black Templars are the only Chapter still fighting the Great Crusade as originally laid out by the Emperor and primarchs, and they chain their weapons to their armour so they don’t ever, ever drop them. They’re also the closest to Legion size, and very much carry the flame of those ancient days with them.

 

I have to admit they’re pretty much the most uncompromising bastards out there.

April 17, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , ,

29 Comments »

  1. I’m gonna buy this book and all others youve written once Im done with the Gaunts Ghost series (I started kinda late with The Founding only last fall and now Im on The Saint). By only reading this, I like the way youve portrayed the characters as ruthless, something I have work on myself in my own writings. Best of luck with the work and that your brain straightened itself up again.

    Comment by Forkmaster | April 17, 2010 | Reply

  2. Don’t be too hard on yourself dude. Your shits good. You know some of those shoulders you stand beside are pretty big right? I mean, you’re rubbing with Dan Abnett, Graham McNeil and Jim Swallow… hang on… thats sounds so dodgy.
    Kudos dude. It’s a bugger when the words won’t flow and your behind where you should be but don’t let that bother you. I’ve read all your BL stuff so far and i’m impressed enough to have Helsreach on pre-order – something none of the other authors can claim.
    Keep up the good work man.

    Comment by Catalyst1980 | April 17, 2010 | Reply

  3. I think the mind of a space marine is more interesting to read about than his bolter, and its great to see someone set out to explore that. Can’t wait to read the book.

    Comment by smn806 | April 17, 2010 | Reply

  4. Ah, that’s a priceless post man.

    Comment by RobAshLionWhite | April 17, 2010 | Reply

  5. Like I said on Facebook, I don’t think BOLS got it. You should’ve included more tournament relative fluff! Christ, if they did have such a good rumour mill, that RSS feed would be out the door.

    Yet again, I’ve got another fortnight to go before this comes out on Amazon. After all, I only ordered it last June…

    Pity you can’t make it to Nik’s tonight, but what with the volcano and all, you’d have had trouble flying anyway.

    Deep breath, let as much of it go as you can, and then write some melee combat until you calm down.

    But, yeah, a good review from a non-Warhammer nerd really shows that Black Library should be expanding their audience and stop catering to the fan-boys so much.

    Comment by G | April 17, 2010 | Reply

    • I’m curious, what’s the Issue with BOLS?

      Comment by Tom | April 17, 2010 | Reply

    • Pft. BoLS’ rumors are lifted from DakkaDakka/Warseer.

      You’d be better off leaving Dakka or Warseer up in firefox tabs or Dakka’s new mobile “lite” on your phone to get rumors.

      Comment by Nick Risley | April 18, 2010 | Reply

  6. ” I think Michael Bay makes boring films; the various X-Men/Wolverine films bored me to death; and 300 was one of the few films I’ve almost walked out of, because I found it so dull.”

    Damnit, it’s stuff like this that makes me love you even more man *sniff*. er.. in a totally manly, heterosexual *cough* non-gay *cough* way that.. ok, moving on.

    Seriously, I actually did walk out of 300. So far I have one other buddy who understands my dislike for the movie and what I think of people who rave about it.

    I friggin can’t wait to read Helsreach. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the other stuff you’ve written for the fact that it is very obviously from somebody who gets and respects the background. It’s not sci-fi with some copyrighted names thrown into it. It gives 40k verisimilitude.

    As for BOLS, yeah..

    By the way, please tell Dan Abnett that he writes badly next time you see him. Apparently this isn’t simply opinion. I felt it’s probably rather important that he knows this. I’m not sure how he’s going to cope with this new information, but he’s just going to have to find a way.

    Comment by Tarislar | April 17, 2010 | Reply

  7. Please accept my sympathy for the current situation with how you feel, I won’t try and give any advice, just a quote [possibly a paraphrase or I may even have made it up at some point.]

    “As with all things, this too shall pass”

    I’m sure the book is good and I’ll make sure I pick up a copy sometime.

    On a more positive note; [sort of] I’ve seen you mention a couple of times about how you’re not a fan of the majority of books… Are there any [non-BL] that you have enjoyed and DO recommend?

    Comment by Tom | April 17, 2010 | Reply

  8. Bad headjunk sucks…..I can atest to that one. I hope that you find something to put a grin on your face….though don’t kick Loken, he’ll probably eat your face while you sleep in revenge….and I suspect waking up with half a face it’s a good thing.

    As to Helsreach….I don’t think it will do as well as Soul Hunter (nearly committed a mortal sin, punishable by nasty death and typed Drinker in there….I’d have killed myself over that one….thank god for the delete button).

    Why? I can’t really define why but My gut says expectation simply because it’s Black Templars, it’s Grimaldus, it’s Helsreach, it’s Armegeddon. In fact I fear all Space Marine battles books may suffer a shade of this to one degree or a other. That’s not to say I think they’re all and will all be crap, I just think they won’t shine as much as other books or author’s work.

    Comment by Xhalax | April 17, 2010 | Reply

  9. I just got done commenting about this on Heresy, before i read your post. I had mentioned on the forum that I felt that Grimaldus was written slightly autistic, as i didn’t want to sound to sure about things. But now that i see you wrote him that way on purpose! whew… i’m glad when my assumptions are right. lol I’m about 3/4 the way through it right now, as i’ve been reading Book of Blood along with it (btw i love At Gaius Point) and have had to give equal time to both books. Oh, and could Space Hulk have been more of a boltergasm!? jesus… anyways, i’ve really enjoyed Helsreach so far. The scenes at D-16 West with Jurisian are epic in a subtle way. they made my skin tingle.

    Dave

    Comment by Commissar Ploss | April 17, 2010 | Reply

  10. Sounds like another masterpiece. I’m going to have to get myself a copy fast. I’m having some trouble myself writing a Space Wolf scout and it sounds like your take on this particular chapter would lend itself well to understanding a member of a chapter with little interpersonal ability.

    Just to let you know, I’m in the middle of writing a review of Soul Hunter for bscreview.com, I’ll ruin the ‘suspense’ by telling you that I fell in love with the book and am trying to contain my gushiness (not really a word) long enough to write a respectable review. Just one point though, a reticule is a ladies handbag…a reticle is a gunsight. Just thought you should know.

    Comment by Phillip | April 17, 2010 | Reply

    • Negatory, sir.

      reticule [ˈrɛtɪˌkjuːl]
      n
      1. (Clothing & Fashion) (in the 18th and 19th centuries) a woman’s small bag or purse, usually in the form of a pouch with a drawstring and made of net, beading, brocade, etc.
      2. (Physics / General Physics) a variant of reticle

      Also: http://thereticule.com/

      Also:

      » The noun reticule has 2 meanings (no senses from tagged texts)
      reticule — (a woman’s drawstring handbag; usually made of net or beading or brocade; used in 18th and 19th centuries)
      reticle, reticule, graticule — (a network of fine lines, dots, cross hairs, or wires in the focal plane of the eyepiece of an optical instrument)

      My grandfather said reticule, and he taught English at Cambridge. Thus reticule it stays.

      DEFIANCE.

      Comment by aarondembskibowden | April 17, 2010 | Reply

      • Fair enough, however, reticle has only one meaning. Reticule has two. Personally I’d want to avoid the confusion. I mean was Talos aiming his handbag? Talos doesn’t strike me as the ‘Accessorize’ kind of Night Lord🙂

        I might mention it in the review along with your rebuttal🙂

        Comment by Phillip | April 17, 2010

  11. Tired of the orks and their bullshit, Grimaldus aimed heroically down at the floor.

    Sadly, he was utterly unaware of the white Icelandic ToxCloud of Ashey Deathness falling from above.

    Also; I listened to Throne of Lies. Nice.

    Comment by James Swallow | April 18, 2010 | Reply

    • See….that just teasing Mr. Swallow!

      *pouts*

      Comment by Xhalax | April 19, 2010 | Reply

  12. It was just amazing. I’ve also read Cadian Blood and I have to admit, you do the setting justice, kind sir.

    Comment by viktor | April 18, 2010 | Reply

  13. I am glad that an author is taking the time to get into the psychology of a space marine. I have read so many space marine books that are all shoot’em up, blast and stab, slice and dice shallow adventures. I enjoyed Soul Hunter because it showed the psyche of the chapter and it sounds like that is what you accomplished in Helsreach. I have not gotten my copy yet, not till the 28th in America, but it looks like you took the time to create a novel that truley depicts the Black Templars. No offence to any other authors but Sons of Dorn and Rynn’s World were just too shallow and like you said “With the greatest respect to a lot of BL’s back catalogue, I haven’t enjoyed a lot of it (same as I don’t enjoy a lot of sci-fi and fantasy overall), because a good chunk of it is – in my opinion – action pulp aimed at teenagers”. I agree 100%. But enough kissing your ass. Keep up the great work, thanks for the novels, and cant wait for The First Heretic.

    Comment by Ben D | April 19, 2010 | Reply

  14. About half way through reading, loving it! Gripping stuff and a little more than just a battles book I think. There is some real quality here, I think Grimaldus is a perfect depiction of his role and you can repect and like that, even if you wouldn’t go out bowling or something with him.

    In terms of the BL issue and it niggling at you, you have to refocus on what you first found awesome about the whole thing and keep that in your head, otherwise it may lead you to do something rash… and from a purely selfish POV, it would mean no more cracking books from you!!

    D

    Comment by Dragunov | April 19, 2010 | Reply

  15. Hey Aaron: I read the extract up on Black Library, and I have to say, I haven’t looked forward to a space marine related book this much since I can’t remember.

    As far as your Black Library work so far, you have definitely made a fan for life.

    Comment by Joe Wright | April 20, 2010 | Reply

  16. That was my comment from BnC… I meant it in a good way. So no need to believe Marketing was right. Your personality makes you more interesting then the other writers. However, I am glad you don’t have the story of your laptop’s death on this new blog.

    MoD

    Comment by Jonathon | April 23, 2010 | Reply

  17. Just wanted to pop a comment on here to tell you that I really think it’s awesome that you write Space Marines in relation to human characters. For me that’s what made Soul Hunter such a good book, and I can’t wait to get my hands on Helsreach.

    Also.. you can write funny exchanges between marines, after all, they know no fear. Not no sense of humour.

    Comment by Rachel | April 23, 2010 | Reply

  18. I just recently finished reading ‘Helsreach’, and by pure coincidence I stumbled across your blog the very same day by way of a truly impressive six-degrees-of-separation process. Discovering your blog was a completely unexpected but delightful surprise, as it’s rare for readers to have opportunity to thank the authors of good books for a job well done. So thank you!

    I read ‘Soul Hunter’ and ‘Helsreach’ in close succession (are you a very prolific author or have I been very slow to pick up recent 40k publications?) and it was a rare treat to enjoy two great 40k books right after one another, and compare my first-hand impression of the stories and characters. I hope you won’t mind my sharing a few rambling paragraphs about the books (I’m known for being incredibly verbose – please stop me when I start to bore you!)

    First of all, I must admit to this: I liked ‘Soul Hunter’ better than I liked ‘Helsreach’. Or maybe, to be exact, I found ‘Soul Hunter’ the easier read; the characters were engaging and fascinating, the story evolved effortlessly, and the plot twisted enough to keep my interest tightly hooked. Also, I’m a hopeless Night Lords fangirl at heart, and you really managed to nail that particular Night Lords mentality just right. To really understand how much ‘Soul Hunter’ grabbed me right from the first page, I would mention that I got ‘Soul Hunter’ and ‘A Thousand Sons’ at the same time, read the first twenty pages of each – and proceeded to finish ‘Soul Hunter’.

    ‘Helsreach’ was tougher for me to finish. Maybe it’s because I found the Black Templars characters as unapproachable and aloof as you wanted them to be (you’ve certainly done a great job of conveying your take on the Chapter); it was difficult for me to identify with Grimaldus, though this did change somewhat over the course of the book as his character developed. Or maybe the book actually demanded more of me as a reader; since the main characters did not reach out to me or made any effort to bridge the gab between my world view and theirs, the book required me to set aside a fair number of preconceived ideas to experience the situation from their point of view and gain an understanding of their frames of mind.

    The Black Templars have always been a difficult Chapter for me to relate to; I guess we all have some Chapters we like and some we don’t. However, you’ve managed to actually make me – if not like – then certainly respect the Black Templars after reading ‘Helsreach’ (it took William King three books to warm me to the Space Wolves, so this is no mean feat). The turning point was the brief conversation between Priamus and Bastilan after the Salamanders’ exit; that’s when I finally grasped the spirit of the Black Templars, why they differ from other Chapters. I suddenly understood why Helsreach left them bitter and disappointed. After that, I felt a much deeper connection to Grimaldus and his Chapter, and by the end of the book I felt that not only had he developed as a character, but I had also developed as a reader. That was a novel realisation.

    If I should mention the one aspect of your writing that I find most impressive, it’s that you manage to be true to your characters. They’re not caricatures or stereotypes, they’re actual people. After reading ‘Soul Hunter’ I had come to respect the Exalted, which I’d never have guessed when I first met him in the book, and I had even warmed to Uzas, after spending the first 250 pages wishing he’d die already. Septimus is probably one of my favourite characters in any 40k book (please don’t pull a Dan Abnett and kill him in the next book because of this!) and even Abaddon was refreshingly original. In ‘Helsreach’, the minor characters also stood out to me, especially Andrej, whom I absolutely loved, Father Tortellius, who gained my respect as he underwent a serious bout of soul-searching and personal growth, and Princeps Majoris Zahra (I noticed you actually had a couple female Titan commanders – that’s a first in any 40k book, as far as I know, and a lovely surprise!)

    Actually, writing this, I’m realising that you have a great knack for writing unsympathetic characters who, over the course of the story, become more sympathetic as they develop, gain insight, and come true to themselves. It’s not often I encounter such dynamic characters, and you have them aplenty! That’s very impressive.

    In any case, though, long review is long, so I better stop now. Thanks for reading, and please do keep up the good work (then I’ll keep up buying and praising your books to anyone who’ll listen).😉

    Cheers!

    ~Grephaun.

    Comment by Grephaun | April 24, 2010 | Reply

  19. just got Helsreach today. i have been looking forward to some nitty gritty Black Templar fluff for ages! Oh and Aaron! we live in the same country. wanna pint some time😛

    All the best
    John – Beasts of War Team

    Comment by Beasts of War - John | April 26, 2010 | Reply

    • Oh hell yes, you guys should totally do an interview on BoW. That would be a whole lot of awesome.

      Comment by Plastic Rat | April 29, 2010 | Reply

  20. Resident lurking Eldar Exarch here.

    Wanted to convey some of the appreciation people have shown for “Soul Hunter” and “Helsreach”. Had one customer the other day say “But haven’t you got anything from the new guy? No, I’m not interested in Abnett or McNeill, I want to know when… *spotting Helsreach which he bought a week earlier* Dembski-Bowden’s next is out.” (Yeah, I know, it’s that thing about some names… there’s always a new one who can’t remember or pronounce it).
    He loved “Cadian Blood”, he loved “Soul Hunter”, he loved “Helsreach”… and so on and so forth. He’s a likeable guy, as customers go, and looked happier when I told him that “The First Heretic” is due fairly soon.
    You’ve got a fan, mr.

    Me, I was very pleasantly surprised by “Cadian Blood”, and even more so now with “Helsreach”. Your opinions in number 3 are very, very much seconded… And I could probably sit for a few hours, gushing praise and why or why not I like this or that about your writing, but, heck, suffice to say I’m terribly happy BL picked you up. I love your 40K fiction.

    Sincerely,
    Ellie

    Comment by Elenaria | May 31, 2010 | Reply

  21. I finished reading “Helsreach” yesterday, and I my opinion you did an outstanding job!

    Soul Hunter was/is awesome as well.
    The way you describe (Chaos) Space Marines is completley different and very much fun to read. (and even displays them in a “likeable” way….)

    I already got a stash full of BL books, and Helsreach, Soul Hunter and Daemon World, Lord of the Night are my favorites.

    So basically I just wanted to step by say “Hello” and how much I like your books.

    I am really looking forward to read what the future for Talos and his “squad-mates” holds.

    Do not be too hard with me, English is apparently not my “Mother Tongue”. ;-))

    Hope to read more from you soon,

    Lars from Germany

    Comment by Laurentius | June 9, 2010 | Reply

  22. I loved this book so much. My only question is where can I get an autographed copy if I live in the U.S.? Love your stuff Aaron. Even went back and looked through all the anthologies I have and found your short stories in Heroes and Legends of the Space Marines loved them too. Awesome work can’t wait for First Heretic.

    Comment by Castellan Travis | June 11, 2010 | Reply

  23. This is the first of your books that I’ve read and I’m glad my brother decided to whine at me until I agreed to take the time (and thereafter, since I don’t read fast enough for his liking).

    I think my only (and decidedly minor) problem with the novel was the sudden introduction of the temple nearer the end, which sort of came out of left field. My reaction to Asavan Tortellius was “Who the hell is this guy? Can we go back to Grimaldus or Andrej?” Some mention of both him and the Prioress (or just the temple itself) that made them memorable would have been good. Still, it’s only a tiny little niggle. And may just be due to my poor attention span and/or memory.

    All the same, I genuinely enjoyed this book – not necessarily in spite of being a Guard reader but just accepting the differences between the two types and styles, and acknowledging their respective strengths. I love Grimaldus and Andrej, particularly because of the ridiculous disparity between the two. Both were very well-written. I found myself laughing out loud (in public) at Andrej’s more casual moments in difficult situations and loving the bare hostility with which Grimaldus sometimes spoke (read: threatened). Their interactions were likely my favourite parts.

    I also loved the writing style. There’s a fine line between being eloquent and grandiloquent (ironic word) that I don’t think you crossed.

    And the end. I was pleasantly surprised by the insinuations of deaths that didn’t need to be stated outright, as well as the final lines. I don’t think there could have been a better end, mainly because of the surprising amount of ambiguity about whether or not to feel good about the “conclusion”.

    This is getting long so I’ll stop typing. Especially since I didn’t intend for this to turn into a review. I apologise for that.

    BUT first: I have to ask, despite knowing that I may not get an answer, whether you intended Bayard’s comments on Cador to Nerovar as manipulation or genuine sentiment. My brother insists on the former while I like to think that his praise was sincere (more for Cador’s honour than Nerovar’s comfort).

    Comment by redveng | May 30, 2012 | Reply


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