Aaron Dembski-Bowden

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

Artwork, Weddings, Honeymoons

Her dress went on and on and on and on. I tripped over it about 800 times in a single day.

We haven’t got the official photos back yet (it was only yesterday…) from the 2 (3?) professional photographers in attendance, but Facebook is already flooded with soul-stealing imagery of “Wait, what?” photos, taken by our friends. I’ll put some of the proffessional ones up when they come in, but here’s one of the good ones for now.

So, yeah, I’m married now. Katie Dembski-Bowden has become the third Dembski-Bowden in the world, and I’m reliably informed she has some kind of internal bio-machinery that allows her to breed and incubate successors to that hallowed bloodline. While that’s not exactly something I’m in a blind rush to arrange (largely because I just got married and am now very poor), it’s an amusing thought that I have the power to curse future human beings with the world’s most annoying surname.

I eagerly await the first time Katie has to spell it over the phone, or say it slowly to some slack-jawed goober behind a desk.

My gift, my curse.

I have a titanium ring on my finger. I was charmed by the idea of titanium because it looks silver (I hate gold), and because apparently it gets scratched and marked very easily, but never breaks. I’m peachy keen on the idea that it’ll be marked up and unshiny in a few years, showing that I’ve been wearing it every day (writing, driving, drumming while I think…), but still in perfect shape. I’m a guy who likes to wear his scars on his sleeve, so to speak, and a similar ring-thing appealed to me.

I have no time for a wedding update, really. That can come later, as I’ve got to pack for my honeymoon in a few hours. We’re heading to Bruges in the crisp, early light of the Irish dawn.

Suffice to say, my friend John French was right – it was over in a flash, and it was the best day of my life so far. I was most scared of the first dance, but that was actually the best part of the day for me. It’s insane, once you’re up there, you don’t see anyone else, you don’t even remember you’re being watched by 100 other people. It’s just the two of you.

But none of that matters to you scum, does it? My happiness is immaterial to you. You just come here to learn about bolters.

If you’ve not seen this yet, here’s the artwork for the cover of Void Stalker.

"Hey, you. I see you down there, asshole."

Oh my freaking God, look at Malcharion’s (combi) storm bolter in his hand. That’s… that’s perfect. No other words can sum it up. The gun, the Blade of Angels, his armour, the rain on the Gothic city… It’s just perfect.

I’ll show you the full cover soon enough, but let’s be honest, it’s impossible not to love this. My only criticism of Jon’s work has been that I’m not massive on his helms: I think one of the main characteristics of an Astartes helmet is that it’s bulkier towards the back (like on the miniatures, etc.) and Jon paints it so it looks like Talos is just wearing a mask. But I can say that without compromising how much I love this piece, and still back up how much I love his work. I can’t even imagine how much I owe him for his beautiful efforts selling the words within. Soul Hunter blew me away; Throne of Lies almost floored me, and Blood Reaver was an absolute stunner. His cover forΒ Void Stalker is by far my favourite in the series, and my only worry is that he’ll now – somehow – need to beat this if there’s ever an omnibus in X years. I mean, I’m not sure it’s possible to top this. It’s divine. As the world’s most arrogant guy, I’m actually a little intimidated trying to make a novel worthy of that image.

I even know the very moment this represents in the novel, which brings me to my next slice of info about the book.

A lot of people are asking me what Void Stalker is about, considering it closes the trilogy, and the only information we really have is that First Claw, the warband, and the Echo of Damnation are going to encounter the eldar – and Talos doesn’t think they’re going to win.

Yeah, well, sorta. I’m not saying that won’t happen, but it’s not exactly what Void Stalker is about. The novel’s essentially about Talos and First Claw coming full circle. In ‘Shadow Knight’ andΒ Soul Hunter, we saw Talos’s perspective on the Legion, and how he truly believes they deserve vengeance against an empire that failed to live up to the dreams of its founders. In Blood Reaver, we saw snippets of conflicting views (which, notably, are closer to the actual canon – canonically, the Night Lords were never “betrayed” as such; they (apparently) went off the rails with their slaughtering and the Imperium got annoyed about it).

Void Stalker is about Talos finally being caught in the one place he never wanted to be, and the one place he suspects he’s not ready to be: in command. He now has to lead warriors who may not agree with his, uh, ‘romanticised’ view of the Eighth Legion’s bitter past, and more importantly, he has to decide for himself just what was true and what was a deception to justify the things he’s done.

This is how the trilogy ends, and there needs to be closure. Trust me, there will be. In Void Stalker, Talos and First Claw will cut right to the heart of the Legion’s past, dredge up ancient truths, and choose how they should live their lives now.

If there’s one question that runs through the novel, it’s simply this: “Why are we still fighting?”Β 

The way different characters answer that, and how they react to it, may surprise a few of you.

Ultimately, First Claw are flawed, incomplete humans: they’re the Lost Boys, given immortality but stripped of moral consequences in a galaxy that has no power to judge them. They’re each a piece of a whole soul, now needing each other in the way the closest brothers and friends come to depend on each other in times of struggle and strife.

I want that to come across in Void Stalker, when Talos finally has to face up to what the Eighth Legion was, what it is, and what it might become.

I really, really, really want that sword.

July 7, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized | ,


  1. Congratulations Mr. and Mrs. D-B. A truly momentous day and I hope you both have fond memories when they actually come back to you in the blurry haze of recollection.

    I had NO IDEA you were a drummer. Dude! I have 20-odd years behind a kit experience, a guitar and bass I’m able to play, so if you’re in the mood to jam just let me know. I’ll fly over and everything (or put you up here!)

    Comment by Tim Kenyon | July 7, 2011 | Reply

  2. I sent you a card to say thank you for inviting me and Harry. I fear, on reflection, it may have contained the word ‘awesome’ too many times, and I grant you the ability to punch me in an eye of your choosing next time you see me for the cringe it will undoubtedly inspire.

    I did struggle to find other words for how brilliant it was though.

    I also fell off my chair a bit the first time I saw this artwork. I mean. Jesus. I had a moment.

    Hope you’re both good. πŸ™‚

    Comment by RayeRaye | July 7, 2011 | Reply

  3. Thanks for letting HB and myself be a part of it all. We had a great time. πŸ™‚

    Comment by Sarah Cawkwell | July 7, 2011 | Reply

  4. ‘Heavy lies the crown’, on all counts in the above post, heh heh!
    Muchos congratsos to you both amigo!
    All t’best,
    Jason Newsted

    Comment by Rob Ashley White | July 7, 2011 | Reply

  5. Firstly, congratulations on the wedding – really happy for you both.

    Secondly, I do care about your happiness, I reference my Bolthole questioning a few months back when your plumbing turned against you…Bolters come a close second mind.

    Thirdly, with that thought, I whole-heartedly look forward to Void Stalker, as I have every other instalment since the primary. Yes, the art is awesome, as per usual, and I’m sure you’ll crack on up to the same standard we’ve all come to expect from you. (No pressure huh).

    Fourthly, and probably in your eyes, most importantly; you want that sword? If I could get that sword, somehow pluck it from the grim-dark future of the 41st millenium….would you trade it for your favourite beanie!? (Oh no I didnt? Oh, yes, I did)

    Comment by Phil (Phoenix) Thorogood | July 7, 2011 | Reply

  6. Congratulations you guys, hope you have fun on the honeymoon.
    No rush for kids,you need to be able to run around the house nekid for a few years πŸ˜‰
    Kids are fun ruiners(j/k)

    For the cover of the omnibus you should have Talos in a Throne like King Conan at the end of Conan the Barbarian.

    Comment by Bigwill | July 7, 2011 | Reply

  7. Dear Mr. and Mrs. Dembski-Bowden,

    Please find enclosed, a link to my best wishes upon your life together. They are readable upon my website, as i’m insanely sad i couldn’t make it, and therefor wish the whole world to witness my shame.


    love you both,

    D. Ploss

    Comment by David Ploss | July 7, 2011 | Reply

  8. Congrats dude! also the lost boys was what i thought when i first layed on soul hunter, no one telling you who not to kill, pillage and plunder and live forever its fun to be a night lord

    Comment by J.Sibley | July 7, 2011 | Reply

  9. Aaron! Damn you man! I do care about your happiness, you being happy is paramount to me getting my bolter fix! Since you’re giving me the best bolter material around at the moment, you’re happiness is even more important.
    But God forbid that it should change. You may have commited 9% of all violent crimes in the UK since the 90’s but I can claim 14%!! 5% more deadly mofo – and don’t you forget!
    Anyway, go have a kickass honeymoon, congratulations on your wedding and your bride!!
    Oh and no pressure but soul hunter and blood reaver are the only two books I’ve picked up and finished in the same day each time respectively…if you pull off the hat trick with Void Stalker, there’s a prize in it for you!!

    Comment by S | July 7, 2011 | Reply

  10. Congrats! You married a ginger πŸ™‚ haha, but seriously, congratulations on your wedding, have a great time on your honeymoon.

    And I cannot wait for Void Stalker. The cover looks amazing.

    Comment by Christopher Meyer | July 7, 2011 | Reply

  11. While I maybe just another faceless person on the internet congratulations on getting married! And I wish you both all the best πŸ™‚
    Also Void Stalker looks awesome, very Arkham πŸ˜‰ Jon does some great work!

    Comment by JackJack | July 7, 2011 | Reply

  12. Congratulations from another anonymous internet person :). All the best for you and all future Dembski-Bowdens – but it’s not the most annoying surname in the world. I know several others that are probably worse, including my own. πŸ˜‰


    Ok, fine, I have to say something about Void Stalker, too. I kind of hope you do not completely ‘solve’ the disparate perspectives on the Night Lords legion. It is part of the reason why they – and their haunted primarch – are so great and appealing.

    Comment by Liliedhe | July 7, 2011 | Reply

  13. I give you my best wishes and enjoy your honeymoon. It is well earned. Im a bit torn between which cover is my favorite. First you have a towering Terminator, then an approaching Raptor, then Talos pwning a Red Corsair and finally him waiting to leap upon his prey. It definitely gives some more quality to the covers in general from Black Library at last. It goes between Blood Reaver or Throne of Lies to be honest.

    It truly suck that this might be the end of First Claw and Talos warband. Dont let this be the end. 😦

    Comment by Forkmaster | July 7, 2011 | Reply

  14. Wait Shadow Knight? What have I missed here?

    Comment by Forkmaster | July 7, 2011 | Reply

  15. Congratulations to Katie and you-OMG LOOK AT THAT STORM BOLTER……

    Comment by Arwen | July 7, 2011 | Reply

  16. Congratulations again, and that picture is certainly bad ass!

    Comment by John the Great | July 8, 2011 | Reply

  17. Congrats from a random black dude from across the pond. Hope you don’t fuck up the trust she put in you by binding herself to your bloodline. The Emperor did it all for moments like yours to exist. Cheers.

    Comment by DarKnight | July 8, 2011 | Reply

  18. Congratulations to you both, my own impending nuptials make me particularly filled with pity…I mean joy for you now that the big day has come and gone!

    The artwork looks amazing, and I am a tremendous fan of your work, but honestly that photo of you guys looking so happy is the true highlight. I hope you guys have a great honeymoon and a wonderful marriage.

    Comment by Tim Sweeney | July 8, 2011 | Reply

  19. I wish you luck and happiness! You and your beautiful Katie deserved that in this crude life!

    And really hope that in Void Stalker you will show us Sevatar death! I really begin to hate him! He is like my stepfather =(

    Comment by Anakwanar Sek | July 8, 2011 | Reply

  20. Many congratulations to you both, Sir and Lady D-B. Let the day live in infamy, or possibly very happy memory.

    Comment by Erunanion | July 8, 2011 | Reply

  21. We do care about your happiness hehe :p

    Comment by Mark-Anthony | July 8, 2011 | Reply

  22. Congratulations from another admirer from afar. Best wishes and good fortune for you both in your life together.

    Slainte mhor agus a h-uile beannachd duibh!

    Comment by C Shawn Sapriken | July 8, 2011 | Reply

  23. Congratulations and all the best to you guys.

    Having said that, the premise for “Void Stalker” sounds fucking amazing. If you pull this off, it will join the classics. We’ll all be in our forties, excited about it being added to whatever the “Web Exclusives” page looks like then, and bitching about how the new covers don’t look as good as the old ones. πŸ˜‰

    Comment by Phoebus Lazaridis | July 9, 2011 | Reply

  24. Happy to hear your wedding went well!

    Comment by Mike Becker | July 9, 2011 | Reply

  25. Congrats, truely happy for both of you. Your actions define who you are, not your memories. Cherish them but never rely on them to define who you are as a couple. Or a night lord.

    Comment by keith | July 17, 2011 | Reply

  26. congratulations on your wedding. I enjoy your take on the night lords although if you’re willing to take some constructive criticism I have the following thoughts:

    +It would be nice if you left out the sappy romance aspects as they really jar with the tone, no matter how brief. This is 40k not Twilight [ouch] Octavia reads to me like your romantic happiness in real life is bleeding into your literature which is nice that you’re happy but again it feels very out of place. I can’t tell with the black library if the constant emphatic mentionings of attractive women is some sort of set requirement in order to balance out the over the top machoism that one expects from 40k, something to excite the teenage reader, authors becoming bored of bolter porn or fearing their characters may end up appearing homoeroticised without some sexy lady around. Your astartes are strong enough characters to stand on their own and are, despite what some authors may claim, easy to empathise and relate to. Either way I think most people envision the universe [with the exception of the sororitas, planetary elite & assassinorum] to be full of mysogeny and filthy, scum coated hivers. It seems every chaos book I read has to have at minimum a side story arc featuring a beautiful woman that I’m not interested in. I’m interested in the Night Lords.

    +A gross over-simplification by me so forgive me for this but Talos seems too nice at times.

    +Incidentally as you are reasonably steadfast in regards to ‘its not warp lightning its painted lightning’ you might want to give the cover artist a poke as all the covers so far have had lightning crackling all over them πŸ˜‰

    +I was impressed at how you handled the Night Haunter’s ‘flesh palace’ as this was something that always implied daemonic or sorcerous tomfoolery in the legion to me but as you’ve taken the night lords down the whole anti-powers/warp/daemons route I was really wondering if you’d tackle that or ignore it. Although I interpreted the background differently when I first read it I was impressed at how you managed to accomodate it and it worked out pretty cool.

    Not a troll post btw despite the negative remarks/strong opinions – I still think you’re the best writer in the black library and have excellent characterisation, story arcs, overall tone and superb descriptive ability. New kid on the block so to speak but despite what some of them would like to think you far outclass the older guys and it looks like my skulking forum brethren share this opinion.

    Looking forward to the next book.

    Comment by seth | July 18, 2011 | Reply

    • Intriguingly, the human characters and how they live on a Chaos ship (and, indeed, the awkward romance) is consistently praised as one of (and often the) best thing(s) in the entire series, especially in how it gives perspective to how the Night Lords live, how they treat their slaves, and what it’s like to be one of their servants. In pretty much every review, and a massive proportion of the forum feedback, it’s cited as a massive plus point in the series. So it’ll be staying. It’s hardly romantic, anyway. That’s the point. It’s grimy and awkward and almost shameful.

      The fact Octavia and Septimus exist has less to do with the fact I just got married (in fact, it has nothing to do with real life), and more to do with the fact that it’s an interesting angle, and humans always have intense, emotional relationships – platonic/intimate/whatever – even in times of strife.

      Comment by aarondembskibowden | July 18, 2011 | Reply

      • Aye, just some personal and no doubt minority opinions of mine I thought I’d share in the interests of feedback, not ripping on you per se as I worry about coming across as too blunt as is my wont.

        I simply finished Blood Reaver in one sitting last night [a rarity] and felt inclined to comment on it knowing you keep an eye on the comments here. I hope that if Talos et al do indeed link up with other Night Lord warbands in the eye there are variations in philosophy and levels of taint compared to First Claw. Either way – should be interesting.

        Night Haunter [xbl]

        Comment by seth | July 18, 2011 | Reply

  27. Congratulations on your recent marriage!

    Comment by Midgard | July 20, 2011 | Reply

  28. Figures you would be married. Bah, humbug. By which I mean, congratulations.

    Look forward to seeing how you handle the Eldar, if anyone can write them properly and refraim from making them into incompetent buffoons it is you.

    Comment by eldargal | July 31, 2011 | Reply

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