Aaron Dembski-Bowden

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

State of the Nation

I’m fairly certain that no one reading this ever reads my reviews, just as I’m equally certain the reason they don’t is because (for various reasons) they don’t have to.
But, see, while I’m sure the endless screed of “Aaron is great” reviews are fairly boring for you guys, they still manage to amaze the hell out of me (while also breeding within my black heart a comfortable, preening sense of vindication).

And these two are special. They’re not special because they’re any more positive than most others – in fact, they’re about as positive as usual, which never fails to be humbling – but specialness is added to the mix because of where they are, and just how freaking eloquent they are. These are some seriously comprehensive analyses, and although that might make them tedious to someone who’s already read the book, it magnifies their value to me a hundredfold.

The first is for Soul Hunter, and is notable not just because it’s so comprehensive and killer, but because it’s on BSC Reviews, which is a huge site with serious traffic, and that kinda-sorta bodes well.

The second is for Helsreach on Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review, which is sorta nice because that’s the main review site that I read myself. The keenly observant among you will note that GFBR has been in my links for a while now. In fact, in the past, I’ve nagged the owner to review Conrad Williams way, way more. I like GFBR so much because I pretty much tend to agree with the guy, which means 2 things: Firstly, that if he ever says something I do is shit, then I’d give his words serious weight, and secondly, I like the way he dislikes the same stuff I dislike, which is somehow more reassuring than mutual like.

Mind you, I don’t always completely agree with Graeme. While I think Helsreach is a good book, and one of the best examples of its subject matter, I don’t think it’s better than Soul Hunter. But then, I had to live through writing Helsreach, which was 9 months of absolute torture.



Banging on about reviews is something many authors do, to a certain degree. As a writer who’s pretty new to all of this, I find my reviews are the best way to get a detailed look into the minds of the people who slice their eyeballs across my brainjunk’s jagged edges. Bullshit aside, there’s a part of me that feverishly compares my reviews to all other BL ones, and exalts in the stupid, stupid pleasure of… y’know… doing better than the rest. And that’s treading the disputed border between arrogance and self-confidence, sure, but it also carries the faint, spicy reek of hyperbole. That’s not really what it’s about, and although it’s funny to highlight it, there’s no actual value there. Anyone reading this with a background in writing, or aspirations to work as a writer, will identify with that on some level. Whether positive or negative, detailed reviews offer a new angle, and while you may want to take any opinion bar your own with a pinch of salt when it comes to your art, I think it pays to keep your eyes open.

And now, questions. I’m going to answer them here and sum stuff up, because replying to them across various forums, Facebook messages and emails is an exercise in futility.

  • When is ‘Throne of Lies’ out?
I don’t know. Sorry. Soon, I think. July? August? Whatever.
  • Why haven’t you replied to my email? I thought we were friends.
We are, I guess. I’m just really, really busy right now.
  • Is TFH done yet? How about now? What’s next?
I’m finishing The First Heretic, then starting Blood Reaver, the sequel to Soul Hunter.
  • What about that Night Lords ‘Horus Heresy’ novel?
I’m planning to do it, but nothing is guaranteed at this stage. I might lose interest after Blood Reaver, or BL might say “Naw, do something else.” It’s a synopsis ready to be sent in to the editors for them to have a looky-look. Its working title is Lost Souls.
Again, I stress, nothing is set in stone. It may never even happen. It’s just an idea.
  • On B&C / in Chicago, you mentioned <fact> about Blood Reaver…
Yeah, I probably did. It’s set at the Fall of Vilamus, when the Night Lords and Red Corsairs lay siege to the fortress-monastery of the Marines Errant. As before, the battle itself will be the backdrop, not the focus, the same as Crythe Primus was in Soul Hunter.

The two ‘main’ new characters are called Lucoryphus of the Bleeding Eyes, and Variel the Flayer. Lucoryphus leads the Raptors (the Bleeding Eyes) aboard the Covenant. Variel is… a surprise. Both show up in the Fear the Alien anthology. That’s all I’m saying.
  • I heard you were having a birthday party.
Yeah, I really need to start organising this. August is always a pretty busy month. Dear Friends, expect email soon.
  • What do you want for your birthday?
The same thing I want every birthday. I want to suffocate to death between Cammy White’s thighs.

I'd die a happy man.

I would also accept my head being crushed like an eggshell between them.

April 24, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. I’d die a very happy man as well!

    Comment by Forkmaster | April 24, 2010 | Reply

    • I called her first.

      Comment by aarondembskibowden | April 24, 2010 | Reply

      • Talk about coincidence. Was just looking at these: (and by looking at I mean cursing whoever took the photo for not getting the angles I would have hoped for.) http://www.joystiq.com/2010/04/27/exclusive-polaroids-from-capcom-fight-club/

        (See Gallery shots)

        More than that, scroll down in the comments in that link and click on the links posted by DavidJuaquin and DarkNessBear. Possibly NSFW depending on where you work.

        Comment by Plastic Rat | April 29, 2010

  2. Personally, I could think of better ways to die….but then again I’m a girl and don’t ave a thing for woman. But since it would be for your birthday Mr. Dembski-Bowden….whatever floats your boat….or sinks it in this case.

    And note to self- make reviews more indepth that “OMFG! U R teh ROXXXArZ!”….or however the hell you spell it.

    Comment by Xhalax | April 24, 2010 | Reply

    • Actually, your SH review was infinitely valuable – I just didn’t want to mention it too loudly because it was essentially private.

      But yours had immense value for many reasons, all of which I’ll go into if you’re that curious.

      Comment by aarondembskibowden | April 24, 2010 | Reply

      • See….I can’t remember exactly what I wrote it that review that couldn’t be summed up in above statement if you read between the lines. Yes I know I didn’t use those exact letters but that was the general gist of it….along with many of my reviews because I enjoy books so much.

        Gushing is definitely the right term for my reviews…..and I feel such a fool afterward (not when writing it, of course as I’m on full ‘I LUV UUUUUUU!’ mode).

        And particulars won’t be needed Mr. Dembski-Bowden (despite curiosity), they’d make me cry and I’m sick of BL authors making me cry. I think they delight in my tears sometimes, like it gives them power or something they do it so often. Mr. Abnett is the worst offender….damn his eyes!

        Comment by Xhalax | April 24, 2010

  3. Aaron since its your b-day the soonest, I’ll let you have her. When youre dead I can do it anyhow.

    Xhalax, it must be boring to be a woman since you dont have things for that… and is quite hard to please is all kinds of ways.

    Comment by Forkmaster | April 24, 2010 | Reply

    • Being a woman is likely many things. But I doubt “boring” is one of them.

      Comment by aarondembskibowden | April 24, 2010 | Reply

      • As to being a woman. It’s a double-edged sword….or at least it is being me (yeah you get boobs and stuff, but you have to put up with all the crap that comes with having boobs), but not it’s always dull and rarely truly boring. Plus it’s more a case of there’s guys heads I’d like to crush like an eggshell between my thighs….well ok there’s not because that would just be weird…but needless to say there are fictional people I wouldn’t kick out of bed for eating crackers.

        Comment by Xhalax | April 24, 2010

  4. Here’s another SH review you might be interested in. Its by one of our Heresy-Online members, Brother Subtle: http://dropsitemassacre.blogspot.com/2010/04/soul-hunter-by-aaron-dembski-bowden.html

    I’m almost done with Helsreach, and then i’ll be posting my review on http://www.thefoundingfields.wordpress.com/ which is my blog.

    ah yes, you’re birthday! you gonna fly me out there? LOL Chaos!

    fucking Atlantic ocean…


    Comment by Commissar Ploss | April 24, 2010 | Reply

    • Ahh yes, the Atlantic is an enemy of mine as well. As revenge I plan on swimming in it hard core. And maybe even a little fishing come summer. That’ll teach it and and all it’s salty evil.

      Comment by Nick Sharps | April 24, 2010 | Reply

      • damn water… thinks its all that with its blue-green debauchery…

        Comment by Commissar Ploss | April 24, 2010

  5. Yeah, there are great things about being women like having boobs and being able to crush mens head between the thighs, no objection there Ma’am. =)

    Comment by Forkmaster | April 24, 2010 | Reply

    • Very true….but crushing heads made a lot of mess, which has to be cleaned as grey matter is a nightmare to get out after it’s dried.

      Comment by Xhalax | April 24, 2010 | Reply

      • Actually, it’s not that hard, Xhalax, you just need to find the right laundry detergent. Oh, and avoid wearing silk, it’ll stain forever and be completely ruined, and that’s an annoyingly expensive mistake to make. Just a word of advice, woman to woman. 😉


        Comment by Grephaun | April 24, 2010

  6. We have so much in common. I’d be surprised if we we weren’t second cousins.

    Comment by Evan | April 24, 2010 | Reply

  7. Huh.

    Screwing over the Marines Errant–I highly approve.

    Comment by Nick Risley | April 24, 2010 | Reply

  8. I’m glad you liked my review on Book Spot Central (bscreview.com)! I stake no claim to fabled ‘objectivity’ when I write these reviews, it’s just a case of whassit all about then, did I like it and if so why? …or if not, why?

    I’m really excited about the upcoming sequel to Soul Hunter, no doubt I’ll be writing a review for that as well. Blood Reaver already sounds like a good yarn.

    By the by, Commissar Ploss the review on bscreview.com was also written by a Heresy-Online member, me. I go by Phil73805 on the forums.

    Comment by Phillip | April 24, 2010 | Reply

    • Ah, that’s right! I saw your username as one of my referred members! I was wondering who that was. lol Its a great review, i must say. 🙂


      Comment by Commissar Ploss | April 24, 2010 | Reply

  9. Hey, Aaron. Just wanted to say, read Helsreach a coupla days ago, thought it was a damn good read.

    I really enjoyed it. Showed Grimaldus’ first big speech to my mate who plays Templars and he nearly left a cartoony hole in my door on his way to buy a copy.

    Sorry this isn’t an in depth review, but yeah, keep up the good work, looking very much forward to The First Heretic.


    Comment by Bryce | April 24, 2010 | Reply

  10. For your birthday I think I shall send you more of that delicious American treat you crave…SPAM!

    Comment by John the Great | April 25, 2010 | Reply

  11. Despite Amazon dispatching both Helsreach and Legends… at the same time, Legends… arrived first. So, another review for you:

    “At Gaius Point” was great, really striking a balance between the astartes as person and astartes as weapon. Also, it’s an interesting look at the Black Rage without the “doomed nobility” of the Blood Angels. Also, although they aren’t by you, “Hell Night” was good and so was “The Returned” (although it should have been about Lysander.)

    Considering Cammy was played by Kylie in the film, I think she’d need a ladder to… ‘give you your birthday present.”

    “Lucoryphus of the Bleeding Eyes:” Best Chaos Marine name of the century so far, perhaps ever.

    Also, you still owe me a gnoll, but that was covered in the post. I’d sooner have First Heretic (no offence to the gnoll.) Also, I’m looking forward to Throne of Lies as the BL audio books so far have been great.

    Comment by G | April 25, 2010 | Reply

  12. Well I’ve just seen the cover for Blood Gorgons and I’m pretty sure Henry Zou has the best cover artist of any of the Black Library authors.

    Comment by Nick Sharps | April 26, 2010 | Reply

    • It’s an amazing cover. I’ve seen many, many examples online of people saying “I didn’t like his first two books, but I’m buying the third because of the cover.”

      Really, the cover alone has generated so much hype, it’s sort of mental. People who raged against the quality of his work or couldn’t even finish his first novel are talking about picking it up.

      Comment by aarondembskibowden | April 26, 2010 | Reply

      • I’m in agreement, the cover art is sick! Even after the firestorm of hate Zou has gotten from me over this “Flesh and Iron” business, i’m picking up his third book. Since i’m buying it for the cover art alone, i might as well read it. i don’t like to read books i buy unread.

        Comment by Commissar Ploss | April 26, 2010

      • I wanted to read Emperor’s Mercy because I love the Inquisition but the reviews were all pretty rough. I wanted to read Flesh and Iron because IG from the bayou seemed like a unique approach but it also got some harsh reviews. Between the premise of Blood Gorgons and the cover art I’m just going to have to suck it up and buy it (or convince one of my friends to and just borrow it from them and never return it).

        Comment by Nick Sharps | April 27, 2010

  13. Well, I just finished Helsreach. This book is THE definitive piece of fiction for Black Templars and indeed any students of the Third Armageddon War.

    Yes, I study these things. Please, don’t judge me sir . . .

    Comment by Joe Wright | April 28, 2010 | Reply

  14. Crusade for Armageddon by Jonathan Green was a great book, my first 40k book in fact. I thought the guys on the cover were space marines (they were Steel Legion IG) and ever since then I’ve been a fan. So the Black Templars hold a special place in my heart.

    Comment by Nick Sharps | April 28, 2010 | Reply

  15. Damn you ADB, now i cant stop clicking on your blog link and checking out Cammy!

    in all seriousness but, you seem to be flat the **** out! i guess thats the worst thing about being a BL author. once you finally hit success, they (the fans) want you to write everything! i know thats how i feel about Sir Dan and GMac, and after reading Soul Hunter, ide be pretty happy for you to tackle some 40K fluff i find close to my heart (pre heresy blood angels *wink *wink). looking forwad to TFH, be nice to see how you portray heresy Word Bearers compaired to how Anthony did them in 40K. keep up the good work Aaron….

    p.s. whats the W stand for in AWDB? lol. wilbur?

    Comment by Brother Subtle | April 29, 2010 | Reply

  16. *sigh* God how I wish you’d written Descent of Angels. Seriously, for my birthday… if I have to give up suffocating between Cammy’s thighs, I’ll take a Dark Angel novel written by Mr Dembski-Bowden. Fit THAT into your schedule somewhere. Preferably before the Cammy thing.

    Comment by Plastic Rat | April 29, 2010 | Reply

  17. Finished Helseach and it was absolutely outstanding. Your writing is consistently a cut above most of the BL . Very inpressed with eveythng I’ve read so far.

    Comment by odm | May 1, 2010 | Reply

  18. Cadian Blood arrived yesterday in the mail. Sadly I just started an 800 page Weber book so it might be a while till I get around to reading it.

    Comment by Nick Sharps | May 1, 2010 | Reply

  19. I couldn’t find your email, so I guess I’ll post this here.

    As 40k enthusiasts (read: addicts/obsessors), my friends and I have noticed you are new to the universe your name has become quite the hit. When you came out with Soul Hunter we all loved it, and became thrown around in conversation with other big names like “Abnett” and “McNeill” and “would let them have me”. One day, my friend called me Broski, which I replied asking if he meant, Dembski-Bro-den. So now we bastardize your name as a bro colloquialism. Just monday, the Halo: Reach Beta opened. During our rigourous beta test (read: addiction/obsession), I exclaimed “DOME-SKI!” after getting a particularly nice head shot. My friends corrected me, saying that the full name is Dome-ski-Bowden. I corrected them, telling them that no, its is now Dome-ski-Bro-den. So now you are forever a part of our lexicon of exclamations and nicknames. I’m sure your mother must be proud.

    Your Fan,

    Chris Edgeworth

    Comment by ChrisEdgeworth | May 5, 2010 | Reply

  20. Why haven’t you replied to my email? I thought we… Oh, right.

    Comment by Spuh | May 10, 2010 | Reply

  21. Finished reading Helsreach last night, I think I can summarise my thoughts on it rather easily- not as good as Soul Hunter.

    It’s not a bad book by any stretch of the word, it definitely makes it into my Top 25, sadly though Soul Hunter made it into my Top 10 so I was expecting more of the same magic.

    Comment by Baron Spikey | May 16, 2010 | Reply

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