Prince of Crows Review & New Talos Artwork
Oh, man, just when I was thinking I’d have to kill someone with my replica Gears of War Lancer in order to actually have something to post this week, this bad boy drops into my lap.
Ladies and gentlemen: Talos on the bridge of the Echo of Damnation, circa the beginning of Void Stalker, when he’s… ah, ‘communing’ with Ruven.
What, exactly, am I supposed to say to this? It’s fucking breathtaking. You can see that. What is there for me to say except “SSSSSHHHHHHHHHHHHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII—–” which is more or less what I said when I first saw it?
And in much less thrilling news, to answer some of the endless questions I’ve been getting about ‘Prince of Crows’ in Shadows of Treachery, here’s a review up at the lovely Civilian Reader:
“Prince of Crows” by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
Night Lords! During the Horus Heresy! Written by Aaron Dembski-Bowden! There was really very little chance I wasn’t going to thoroughly enjoy this story, and thankfully the author does not disappoint.
“Prince of Crows” is set shortly after his previous Heresy short story – Lion el Johnson has just beaten Curze in single combat, inflicting horrific wounds on his brother, leaving the Night Haunter stuck in the apothecarium on board a Night Lords’ ship, their doctors and specialists at a loss for how to fix their Primarch. As their Primarch slowly (oh-so slowly) recovers from his wounds, the power/leadership vacuum leads the remaining members of the Kyroptera (the Night Lords’ leadership council) to squabble over the Legion’s next moves. Sevatar, the insouciant First Captain, puts his foot down and basically appoints himself head of the Legion until Curze recovers, dealing with dissent in a very… final manner. He’s condescending and infuriating towards his fellow captains, as well as his Primarch, which makes him very fun to read about and one of the most engaging characters in the whole series. He spouts plenty of quips throughout the story that made me chuckle. Despite the fact that he is an absolute sociopath – Dembski-Bowden actually uses the character’s inability to relate to others very well, creating an almost-outside-observer perspective.
As the traitor Legion least wedded to Horus’s cause, Sevatar isn’t remotely concerned about voicing his dissent and distaste for the Warmaster’s plans and the overall rebellion to begin with. The Night Lords will do what is necessary, and no more.
“Do I look like I care what the Warmaster wants of me?” Sevatar’s skullish faceplate stared with its red eye-lenses. “We never cared what the Emperor wanted of us. Why should we waste our lives out here in the back end of the galaxy, dancing to the Warmaster’s tune? … He has leashed us for three years. I am done with obedience. To the abyss with Horus and his arrogant whims. He is no better than the Emperor.”
The story also contains some more background on Konrad Curze, through his memories of his arrival and bloody rise to power on Nostramo. Sevatar is, however, absolutely the central focus of the story, and the author really pulls out all the stops for the story finale, which has some almost Avengers-esque action, and a brilliant (if also potentially stupid) gambit from our protagonist – all of which builds to a ferocious, awe-inspiring climax. And then a bit of a cliff-hanging end, which suggests there should be more to come.
And I really do hope we get some more Night Lords Heresy fiction, and especially stories written by Aaron Dembski-Bowden. No author has done a better job of fleshing out and realising any of the original Legions than this author, and that he’s done it with two traitor Legions (the Night Lords and Word Bearers) that could so easily have just been caricatures of Chaotic madness and excess… It’s pure genius.
I was a little confused by the inclusion of one character who was, as far as I’m aware, wholly new and sticks out a bit like a sore thumb: Alastor Rushel, the Raven? Who is he, and where did he come from? I have no memory of reading about him in any other Heresy fiction. Anybody else know? His presence offers up a whole host of questions, some of which could form the basis of really interesting fiction in the future.
The writing is superb, the characterisation the best in the book. The pacing is fluid, and the story expertly executed. A brilliant chapter to close this anthology.”