Aaron Dembski-Bowden

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

Hydras and Wolves

People ask me, at least a dozen times a week, what armies I play. It’s one of the Top Ten questions I get, along with “When will you do more about Sevatar?” and “When is Betrayer released?”

I’ll answer those two now, so I have something to link to.

1. I don’t know. Soon by my standards, but not soon by publishing (or the public’s) standards. The second half of 2013 will likely be dedicated to writing my next Horus Heresy novel, but because of timelines and schedules, it’s looking to be more likely it won’t be a Night Lords novel. The Night Lords have had a lot written about them now, and there’s a risk of sustained violence to dead horses being done. They’ve been in several short stories and novellas, and have had more said about their primarch’s backstory in the series than anyone else, in Shadows of Treachery. So they’re not in any urgent need of attention. Since the gang have a habit of saying what their next book(s) are gonna be even a bajillion years ahead of schedule, I’ll throw you a bone in the same way. My next Horus Heresy novel is likely to be called The Master of Mankind. No points for guessing what that’ll be about. Even the title gives me goosebumps.

Don’t ask me if the Emperor is going to be a point-of-view character. I’m not an idiot.

2. Betrayer is released very, very soon. There’s a new system for announcements and preorders and stuff for the hardbacks… I won’t go into it, it’s not my end of the process, really. I’m just a hired gun, not a scheduling servitor. Suffice to say, we’re talking a handful of days, so look to the skies.

But, yeah. “What armies do you play?” is right up there.

I can answer that, but it requires some context.

I paint really, really slowly. That’s partly why I played Necromunda and Gorkamorka so much – 11 House Cawdor gangers was within my sphere of realistic ability, but my 4,000 points of High Elves just… weren’t. For a start, Christ, did I ever hate painting cavalry. A Bretonnian army would slaughter me. I’ve always been more of a Warhammer player than a 40K one (something about the aesthetics of the Fantasy armies has always clanged all my bells) but they were never painted. At best, one fellow in each regiment would get a test scheme, and I’d declare “Sure, I like that, I’ll do the rest at some point.”

At Some Point never came. I had 2 painted Necromunda gangs back in the day (Cawdor & Delaque), but only 1 painted High Elf model in a 4,000 point army, and 3 painted Wood Elves in a 2,000 point army. Incidentally, there’s not a single Fantasy army I don’t love. Beastmen, Wood Elves, High Elves, Dwarfs, Lizardmen, Bretonnia and the Empire just about beat the others, but I love them all. I just dread painting them, even while I know it’s an essential part of the process to make an army feel like it’s “yours”.

Hobby-wise, I was always more interested in the campaign’s narrative – the pre-game stories, the battle itself, and the post-game fiction – as well as kitbashing with my attempts at basic converting. Building models? Sure. Army lists? Yeah, insofar as every unit needed a name, a backstory, a reason to be there, a mission/flavour/grudge/rivalry/debt/whatever that coloured their personality and outlook. I had a unit of Glade Guard with banners made from dwarf shields lashed together with vines, and a Wardancer unit with beastmen skulls on the bases, and red tattoos instead of blue, to represent the months they left Athel Loren in pursuit of a particular bray-shaman they had a blood-oath to slay. Half the Wardancer troupe – the veterans who survived that hunt – wear red tattoos to show they fulfilled their oath, while the newer members, who weren’t part of the troupe at the time, still have blue-green tattoos.

Stuff like that. I’d write it out, or convert it, then never get around to painting it.

I’ve never played any tabletop wargame without it being part of a wider narrative, because that’s just how I enjoy playing them. Pick-up games with strangers and tournaments hold absolutely no interest – no vitality – to me. I get that they rock for other people, but for me the hobby has always been about long campaigns with a bunch of friends, and the stories that rise from those games. The unlucky moments that shape a character, regiment, or battle make for amazing moments of personal history attached to that regiment. The one man that stands up to the dragon. The one cavalry charge that turns the tide. The thirty soldiers locked against another regiment for the whole battle, in the thickest, most savage fighting. The grudges from losing territory, and the exaltation of stealing it back. Me rolling 5 “Slag” territories in Necromunda, making my gang’s turf the most useless, income-less wasteland of industrial run-off imaginable, and the strangely fierce pride that comes from defending glorious, worthless “Slaghaven”.

I play for that, with armies me and my friends have raised and infused with whatever creativity we could cobble together. And yet, despite that attitude of needing it all to be intimate and intensely personal, the painting has never really mattered that much. In hobby terms, the actual painting never fired my guns, so to speak. I was a slow painter as a kid; slow as a teenager; and even slower now. It’s the one step of the hobby I look at with dread. I’m not even that bad, just slow and inexperienced. When I bother to do a model, they’re at least neat, even if not visually inspiring.

But that’s changing. Katie paints now. Her 40K army is more painted than mine. We have a campaign now, and something to focus on. The painting will come.

Choosing a 40K army in recent years has been a pretty frustrating deal. That’s partly because of my own insecurities, and partly because… Okay, it’s entirely my own insecurities. But one of the things I loathe most in any fandom is the accusation of bias. That somehow because Author X likes Faction Y, that’s why Event Z happens in their novels. Or, vice versa, because they hate Faction A, that’s why Faction A loses to Faction B. I hate that because it’s ignorant, and it implies a staggering (and stupid) lack of integrity. Notice I don’t say professionalism. I’m not professional. I’m tactless and naive and overly emotional. But I have integrity about my work. The Blood Angels don’t die at the end of Soul Hunter because I hate the Blood Angels. The Blood Angels die at the end of Soul Hunter because the fight’s not in their favour, and the Night Lords have home court advantage. I love the Blood Angels, as it happens. I’ve refrained from admitting it in the past, but I’m getting braver about it these days, especially in all my interviews and panels where I flat-out admit they’re the one Heresy Legion I’d love to write about above any other. Ask any of the HH team, and you’ll find half of them probably say the same thing.

The Blood Angels are my favourite Legion, but it’s relative, because – just like ice cream – I love pretty much every flavour of ice cream there is. I like Raspberry Ripple slightly more than the others, but it’s all relative. Similarly, the Orks don’t die in Helsreach because I hate the Orks, and the Ultramarines don’t suffer in Betrayer because I hate the Ultramarines. Again, I love the Ultramarines. Just because you like something doesn’t mean they have to win all the time. If they did, well, that’s pretty fucking childish, if you’ll excuse the blunt honesty. That’s not a story. That’s masturbation.

There’s only one Heresy-era Legion I don’t like as much as the others, and since I’ll never write about them, it doesn’t matter at all. I’m not a biased author, and nothing boils my piss more than getting accused of it. It’s such a petty, meaningless, knee-jerk bullshit internet comment that sounds great as an insult because it requires no evidence, and is intimately insulting, attacking personal opinion and professional integrity all at once. That makes it juicy. That makes it stick.

But I’ve talked about this before. It’s the art of walking the line between fan service (making the novel’s chosen faction unrealistically The Best to please its fans), and unfair bias (making a faction look terrible because the author hates them). The former is a pretty popular trope in tie-in fiction, and is a good way to grab many solid reviews and hugely positive fan feedback, even if it’s sort of lame. The latter is something I’m willing to bet almost never happens in real life.

The key is to go between those extremes. Take something you like and understand, and make it realistic, compelling, and interesting. Not better. Just in-depth. If they win, they need realistic reasons why. If they lose, they need realistic reasons why for that, too. In this regard, I’m always kinda amazed when people want me to write about their favourite faction, because my immediate answer is always the same: “You know if I do it, they’ll probably lose, right?”

Which is fair enough. The Grey Knights and Space Wolves come to a political, tradition-bound deadlock in The Emperor’s Gift – both sides have wins and losses, and while both sides “lose”, no one looks stupid or unrealistic. It’s a clash of ideologies in a galaxy-spanning tyrannical dictatorship, not a game of who has the bigger dick. The Grey Knights suffer embarrassing losses once in a while, and the Wolves have to compromise on their principles. It evens out, come the last day. In the Night Lords Trilogy, not only was it always supposed to be a tale about the deterioration of 10th company, their best victories always come from either huge sacrifices, or just running away like the cowards they are. In The First Heretic, I told the tale of the one primarch who hadn’t found his place, and didn’t live up to his brothers’ legacies at that point in time. It was about Lorgar’s first steps (and his Legion’s) to finding themselves by the Heresy’s end, and becoming their 40K incarnations. Helsreach has every main character except Grimaldus dying to a man (and woman), and isn’t the tale of the badass, invulnerable Codex character: it’s the story of how he becomes that character, through doubt and the self-discovery that leads from abandonment. Being denied the death he felt he’d earned made him feel his own Chapter held no value of his deeds, partly because of his own arrogance in the midst of his doubt. He also had to come to terms with his mentor’s primary lesson not being as universally true as he’d thought, which altered his worldview considerably, making him into the Codex character we’re all familiar with. He grew as a character, but the Black Templars lost, and lost hard. That’s what I mean. Me writing a book about a faction you like will hopefully bring some light and depth and realism to it, but if you’re after an actual overwhelming victory, you may wanna ask one of the other folks putting fingers to keys under the watchful eye of Black Library.

You can probably see why I get so riled up by accusations of author bias. And I’m lucky: to be honest I very rarely get any of those accusations, but I see it in half a dozen fandoms with insane frequency. It gives me The Fear. So I’ve resisted playing anything I write about, which has clashed with also not playing anything I can’t paint, shrinking the window of opportunity enough that it became not playing 40K at all. Complicated or cool colour schemes are usually beyond me, and I’ve avoided playing anything I write because I didn’t want idiotic accusations like “He only made the Night Lords awesome because they’re his army.”

Which is another thing I don’t understand. Just liking one army above all others. I can understand collecting one above all others, because money and time is finite. But my 40K Chaos Marine army doesn’t mean I love Chaos Marines more than any other faction. (Again, between you and me, my favourite 40K faction is Dark Eldar, and has been since they first showed up years ago with the vaguest allusions to Space Fleet, that game of old). But I kind of love… all of it. That’s the point. That’s why I work in the setting. Different parts of it appeal to different parts of my skulljunk. I have a 40K Chaos Marine army because I have some good ideas for them, and I love the lore and the models are easy to kitbash. Not because all other races suck. Not because I like Chaos best.

Anyway! There’s been a lot of interest in my 40K dealings lately, and I promised some answers.

Check back tomorrow, and I’ll spill the beans on my Heresy army (with its Tale of Four Gamers project), as well as the details of my 40K army (and its pretty massive campaign in the opening stages this weekend, as it happens). Spoilers: it’s the Hydras and the Wolves. Details to come.

This all times quite nicely with both projects, which I’ll be (infrequently…) blogging about a bit in the future (campaign fluff, army stories, progress pics, gaming weekend write-ups, etc.)

Good luck with Betrayer. Hope you like it.

December 5, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized | ,


  1. So far, you sir, have written about my favourite Legions and killed mostly from the ones I hate so I have no complaints.
    As far as realism goes, we both know how painstakingly far you go to achieve that level of accuracy in your novels. It has been said before, I reckon, but you shouldn’t give two cents about people on the internet yelling ‘bias’. They’re not the ones writing and re-writing thousands of words at night, in the middle of nowhere. But they will bark nonetheless. Why? They believe they’re entitled to.
    This franchise has a stable fan-base, most of it consists of nerds who, by their very nature, are heavily biased themselves when it comes to their favourite toys loosing.
    I on the other hand, don’t care much about victories or losses. I only love to read great prose. And it has been an honor and a great delight to read yours,

    Comment by The Flying Dutchman | December 5, 2012 | Reply

    • That’s a really lovely reply, dude. Thanks for making my day.

      Comment by Aaron Dembski-Bowden | December 5, 2012 | Reply

    • I can’t agree more. While Mr. Dembski-Bowden has dealt crippling losses to some of the Chapter/Legions I like the best, the best stories always come from tragedy, not from cheering along as the hero walks through every obstacle like its made of cream puffs and marshmallows.

      Shakespeare knew that, and all other great writers know it too. Keep up the great work ADB. Haters gonna hate.

      Comment by Peter Hairston | December 5, 2012 | Reply

  2. To which of the 4 gods (or the one on the golden throne) do I have to sacrifice for you to write another Grey Knights book?

    Comment by Gene | December 5, 2012 | Reply

    • Conjure 8 or 9 months of free time for me, and I’ll make it happen.

      Comment by Aaron Dembski-Bowden | December 5, 2012 | Reply

  3. Get someone else to paint for you. Use that you’re a famous author. You could probably get some fan with good brush skills to do it for free 🙂

    Comment by pontusbjorlin | December 5, 2012 | Reply

  4. What are the chances of yourself and another 3 BL authors doing a “Tale of Four Gamers” style project for White Dwarf? I’d like to see that.

    Comment by Ed Fortune | December 5, 2012 | Reply

    • Not high, I suspect.

      But my HH Tale of Four Gamers (and my campaign, actually) has a lot of heavy-hitters, GW- and BL-wise, since so many of my friends work there.

      Comment by Aaron Dembski-Bowden | December 5, 2012 | Reply

      • That’s a pity; it would be really nice to see a feature like that in White Dwarf.

        Comment by Ed Fortune | December 5, 2012

  5. Use the fact that you’re à famous author. You could probably get som fan to paint your armies for free 🙂

    Comment by pontusbjorlin | December 5, 2012 | Reply

  6. I keep throwing money at my screen whenever you mention new books but it doesn’t seem to reach you.

    Comment by Thomas | December 5, 2012 | Reply

  7. My two favorite Space Marine Legions just happen to be the Blood Angels and the Night Lords and the ending of Soul Hunter reflected how a battle between them would most likely go perfectly. It was great to see them wreck each other so thoroughly.

    I also would like to say that Dark Eldar are my favorite faction and favorite of my armies that I play. I would love to see how you would write a Kabal and what horrible fate you would have in store for them. Shame time isn’t easily manipulated…

    Comment by Chad Vaughn | December 5, 2012 | Reply

  8. Write what you will, the true fans will love it (or at least keep their complaints as silent voices inside their heads). I love my stories dark, the darker the better so your writing suits me down to a tee. I have faith that whatever you choose to write about will suffer terribly, but I’ll certainly enjoy reading about it. I think my preferences are best stated by stating my Space Marine chapter – The Astral Knights (the chapter that sacrificed themselves to destroy the Necron World Engine). Yes, I play with a dead, defunct chapter. All my games are set before the World Engine attacks and they all die.
    Keep writing great stories and prose (although I do humbly request that you shoehorn more writing hours into the day – I hear it’s possible to train your body to only need 2 hours of sleep a night).
    Thank you!

    Comment by John Mason-Paull | December 5, 2012 | Reply

  9. What I like most about your stories is the fact, that every faction feels authentic. Nearly every novel of yours made me emotional in some way and I love it! Most amazingly in “First Heretic”, because before that novel the Word Bearers were the most boring, faceless Legion to me.

    I totally understand your fears about bias-accusations. But I hope that you do not swing to the other extreme just to make sure people don’t cry too much (They will find some reason to cry anyway). Besides I noticed the worrying tendency in the HH storyline, that too many Legions are defined more by their flaws than by any other characteristics. Maybe you should write a Blood Angel novel, since I haven’t red any story to date about that noble Legion that convinced me about their nobility in the first place (which would make their curse tragic instead of just eye-rolling annoying).

    Please keep up your good custom in making every faction having a place in the 40k. Universe. There are no crap factions in 40k. They are all long dead. Every existing race has earned it’s place with violence and determination. And any comparison of who is more ‘elite’ is worthless. 40k. is brutally extreme in all regards. Everything is pretty much elite. Therefore every other characteristic besides ‘who is best’ is far better in describing any faction of the universe.

    I think the best solution for your models problem is to not collect an army but individual squads from different armies. Sure, you probably couldn’t play a lot of regular games with them, but you don’t do that any way- But they are beasts in special operation missions with a detailed background.

    Thanks for reading.

    Comment by Ares | December 5, 2012 | Reply

  10. I’m curious. As you appear to have as much affection for Warhammer (or at least the factions therein, if not the setting?) as 40K… how come you’ve only ever written (or at least had published) stories for the latter?

    Comment by bittermanandy | December 5, 2012 | Reply

    • Great question, sadly, with a very boring answer.

      The stories I want to write in the Fantasy setting will never get published. I wanted to write a novel about Ariel and Orion, detailing their love story, which is one of my fave things in all of Fantasy. That was refused flat-out, several times. Admittedly, it was turned down in my early days.

      On the other side of the coin, I’m now reaching the point where I can suggest pretty much anything, and Black Library will do what they can to make it happen. But some things are considered unmarketable, and when there are far fewer Fantasy release slots on the schedule (and they make significantly less money) they’re understandably less willing to take risks on my flights of fancy. Which would they rather have: me writing about the Black Legion’s rise to power through ten thousand years of war, or me writing about an arranged marriage between a Dragon Prince of Caledor and a Princess from Chrace, during a Druchii invasion?

      One of them will be a major release that makes hundreds of thousands of pounds. The other might struggle to break even.

      One day, though.

      One day.

      Comment by Aaron Dembski-Bowden | December 5, 2012 | Reply

      • It’s kinda sad to hear that. I mean, we know that 40K books sell less than Warhammer; it’s just the way of things (in part due to the Space Marine factor but I’m sure there’s more to it than just that). I can see why authors might therefore be put off; everyone has to earn a living! But for an author to have an idea, and for that idea never to come to fruition because (at least in part) the publisher would rather have that author writing about the more-successful franchise; that is a very sad state of affairs, and doesn’t seem like a great indicator for the future of Warhammer itself.

        (And it’s not just Black Library, either. I’m sure the GW studio would spend spend similar amounts designing, say, the next revision of Wood Elves or the next Blood Angels Codex, and we all know one will offer a much, much bigger return on their investment than the other. It makes perfect business sense to focus on the one that will make money, but that’s scant comfort to Wood Elf players and again, not a great sign for the future of Warhammer).

        FWIW, especially having read the dreadful Malekith Age of Legends series, I’d be more than keen to read your take on the politics of Ulthuan against the backdrop of a Dark Elf invasion. I’d buy it.

        Comment by bittermanandy | December 5, 2012

      • You could try doing it as fan fiction. TROLOLOLOL

        Comment by TheSGC | December 6, 2012

  11. You my friend are brilliant. I just finished the emperor’s gift and it has to be one of the best black library novels I have read. When I heard Angron was in it I was awfully sceptic but you wrote it perfectly. I love the fact that Angron was defeated but you didn’t go into every detail of his demise. I love that it took over a hundred grey knights to bring him down and they still nearly lost. Logan Grimnar killing Joros was a brilliant part too. I could write for days at how much I thoroughly enjoyed that book, but I will leave it at that.


    Comment by Chris Hill | December 5, 2012 | Reply

  12. Utterly and emphatically agreed. It seems difficult for some of the more fervent “my army’s better than yours” crowd to understand that there are plenty of 40k fans in the world who don’t just love one faction within the setting… we love *all of it*. Every faction, every facet, every half-remembered falsehood and uncertain truth. 40k is so much more than the sum of its parts, so I don’t understand only being able to love one of those parts…

    Comment by Nathan Dowdell | December 5, 2012 | Reply

  13. Do you think your interaction with the interwebs community has made you more of a target? Also I would like to see a novella about a space marine scout losing his shoe, and then finding it through adversity. Make it like a Tom Cruise movie. Yeah, you should really get on with that.

    Comment by Bigyin | December 5, 2012 | Reply

    • Yes and no.

      Because I open my mouth a lot (and because I’m actually a hobbyist, when most authors aren’t) that does make me more of a target. But I actually get this stuff a lot less than many others, because my protagonists very plainly aren’t the best, and the instances where people frothingly claim otherwise are a) thankfully rare, and b) easily disproved by a handful of rebuttals and examples, and dismissed as wrong.

      Ultimately, I’d not trade my reputation with the readers with any other Black Library author’s rep. Not even for a second. Make of that what you will.

      Comment by Aaron Dembski-Bowden | December 5, 2012 | Reply

  14. Well said mate. You have a great way with words that doesn’t resort to empty insults and name calling. I can’t imagine the sorts of comments that you receive in regards to your choices in novels. Just know that I am sure that the number of people who love your work far exceed those that don’t. ‘Boils my piss’ made my day, I have not heard that before and it really did make me chuckle whilst reading this. The Iron Warriors are a favourite legion for me, but I like that they are consistently on the back foot as with all traitor legions. It really gives them that gritty underdog feel that everyone loves. Keep up the great work mate.

    Comment by gammatron89 | December 5, 2012 | Reply

  15. I think because of human nature alone, everyone is biased to one degree or another, but you have always put the story first and that is what makes you a great author. My son is 14 and like alot of todays youth in this video game culture he just does not read as much as his mother and I do, he loves the audio books and has listened to everything Black Library has put out. But you actually made him read his first novel not mandated by the school, and for that I thank you. When you signed the Emperors’s gift in Chestemere “Please dont hate this book” he thought that was pretty darn funny and after I read him your take on Bjorn he looked at me and said “i have to read this!” I would love for you to write a Raven Guard novel because weather or not any of them survived to the end of the book, I know that the story of what happened would be fantastic. I hope you enjoyed the unbroken circle.

    Comment by Lance Pare | December 5, 2012 | Reply

  16. If you like Blood Angels then you’ll LOVE this… completely amazing. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vxV6Mh1XYqA

    Comment by Chris | December 5, 2012 | Reply

  17. Oh… I nearly forgot to mention, what with everything else, but… Master of Mankind… fuck yes.

    Comment by bittermanandy | December 5, 2012 | Reply

  18. Thanks for the reply ADB, I have no idea how the inner workings for GW or BL tick but as you have already pointed out, yes this is an amazing expanded universe, but it is one designed to make money. Not to sound ageist, but I do wonder if the younger audience of 40K spilling over from the games to the novels is creating the desire for these IWIN button style novels. To me what I found so refreshing from your material is it most strongly reflected the established lore, You know, every ones a bastard, nobody wins. But done in a convincing manner that makes this expanded universe at least in terms of human nature quite believable.

    Comment by Bigyin | December 5, 2012 | Reply

  19. I have the feeling that least favourite Legion is the Salamanders… but it;s just a feeling. I’m not expecting a reply on this. Unless you want to deny it 😉 Just kidding.

    Comment by Mortemer | December 5, 2012 | Reply

  20. Keep being true to yourself Mr. ADB. You’ve made it clear that your own personal integrity is paramount and it shouldn’t be any other way. (Obviously it doesn’t mean shutting out any critique, but I think you’ve hit the right balance)

    For myself at any rate, what makes your stories have such impact is that you focus on making characters with plausible motivations, and then craft a story around them that evolves naturally from those same motivations. Then, no matter what happens, the reader accepts the outcome because it flows naturally from what he/she already knows about the characters, instead of it being out of left field. In short, you actually construct a a consistent world that makes sense. Then the rest of us get a kick out of reading a story where we actually feel like we are getting a realistic glimpse inside a person’s mind.

    Now for my obligatory fanboy question/request. Please do a Grimlock and/or Dinobots story in the vein of the Gen 2 comics from years ago. That would be just Prime.

    Comment by Nathan Reyes | December 5, 2012 | Reply

  21. The Master of Mankind?!?! Awesome!!

    A question though. What do you think are key reasons that the Emperor could never be a POV character?

    Also Dark Eldar as your favourite faction? Mine too, loved them ever since I first saw the Incubi and learned about Commorragh. 🙂

    Comment by Lord of the Night | December 5, 2012 | Reply

    • He is the greatest human to ever walk in the 40k universe. He is so powerful and overreaching that he sees the future, has a zillion plans in his head, and every single emotion and memory of those who came before him (assuming the shaman suicide theory is correct). Can’t really put that into words. I know Bill King (iirc) did it for the short story in WD way back where Big E teleports onto the ship but even so, it was more about the heat of the moment rather than him as a character.

      Comment by TheSGC | December 6, 2012 | Reply

  22. Hey man, you didn’t kill every major character in Helsreach. Andrej survived. Anyone who denies that he was important needs to read it again!

    So, as far as your writing goes, I think you’ve proven incredibly well that people tend to be at their most interesting when things are going horribly for them. It makes otherwise bitter endings feel immensely satisfying, because the real victory is often in making it up to that point, and preventing things from getting even worse. It’s a uniquely 40k kind of feeling.

    Comment by Mazed | December 5, 2012 | Reply

  23. When I talked about Soul Hunter to my friends, they told me “You really like the Night Lords, not surprising you liked one novel about them.” my answer to them was “All their victories are logical, and through sacrifice, there’s no favorism anywhere in this book”. Since, they all bought it and agreed with me. Don’t let the internet fool you Sir, you’re a good writer, a very good one. ( And I look forward to any of your books, not the ones about the armies I play, precisely because you’re a very talented writer )

    Comment by Vict0r | December 5, 2012 | Reply

  24. Second half of 2013, or second half of 2016. Wouldn’t matter to me. Kinda like what Dan Abnett does with Gaunt and his troop of merry spirits, I’d keep reading your texts, good sir. Keep on rockin’ 🙂 and I’m looking forward to reading Betrayer.

    Comment by theredrenegade | December 5, 2012 | Reply

  25. Something to bear in mind. I didn’t know what legion was my favorite, story-wise, until I read the Night Lords books. I considered the Grey Knights to be the most idiotic space marines in existence, until I read what you wrote for them. I considered Word Bearers boring. Guess what? You changed my mind on that.You even have tempted me into almost tolerating Ultramarines. If you knew of my various snarky remarks in the past, you’d know how much an accomplishment that really is. Every time I read a book of yours, I find myself liking the army. IF the option were mine, I’d have a book written by you kept snugly in my foam army transport cases, for every army I play. Don’t ever doubt that you could do something amazing with Fantasy, 40k, or Care Bears. There’s currently a running joke in my group: “Aron hates XXX army…” “Nah, just wait til ADB writes about them.” So I’ll say here and now… You could tear the everliving sheiza out of a Fantasy Elven romance.

    …I started an Emperor’s Children army. I beg you not to be so awesome if/when you write about them. Otherwise they’ll never shut me up.

    Comment by Aron Hoskins | December 5, 2012 | Reply

  26. I doubt I’ll be able to come up with a point someone hasn’t already made, but kudos to you, ADB.

    It’s a really neat thing to see someone who obviously has a passion for what he does, with a fair and unbiased view on it all. Cool stories without making a whipping boy of one faction or another.

    Just keep doing what you do man, it’s certainly been a winning formula so far.

    I’d ask what your least favourite legion is, but I have a feeling you’d never tell.. On the other hand, would you ever consider putting your own spin on whoever they are like Dan and Graham did with the Space Wolves/Thousand Sons respectively?

    I’d be really interested to know, if not the why, then the who, I suppose it’s always intriguing to get a bit of the rationale behind the thoughts left unwritten..

    Comment by Irregular Joe | December 6, 2012 | Reply

    • My least-fave Legion (who, incidentally, I still like a lot) are a little too far gone, with too much written about them, for me to stamp my thoughts over them in the Heresy era.

      Comment by Aaron Dembski-Bowden | December 6, 2012 | Reply

      • Mercurial..
        I’d want to take a stab at the Space Wolves or Dark Angels here, the Iron Hands and White Scars are fairly quietly represented as a whole, same as the Alpha Legion in a way..
        It can’t be the Blood Angels, you like them..
        Okay, I’ll stop guessing now.

        Comment by Irregular Joe | December 6, 2012

      • How would it be the Wolves or Angels? I’ve written loads about them.

        Comment by Aaron Dembski-Bowden | December 6, 2012

      • That’s a very good point, and now I feel silly. Replying whilst literally just having woken up evidently doesn’t become me.
        Not wolves, not angels, hmm, do you mean that your least-liked have been written about too much in the whole 40k setting, or just in the Heresy background? I think I was reaching towards the former.
        Bah, you coy bugger..

        Comment by Irregular Joe | December 6, 2012

      • Teehee!

        Comment by Aaron Dembski-Bowden | December 6, 2012

      • I’ll let you send me it in a private letter, along with a signed portrait photo with lots of kisses.
        In return, I’ll send a cute kitten.
        This is probably not a bad deal.
        I think.
        It’s very cute and fluffy.

        Comment by Irregular Joe | December 6, 2012

  27. Given your preference for the fantasy aesthetic, it can’t make me wonder if you’ve ever considered doing a novel in the wfb era? If so, what would it be?

    I love all the 40k stuff that you’ve written, and I would be intrigued what you could do with a sandbox of fantasy!


    Comment by Dan | December 6, 2012 | Reply

    • Excuse the cut and paste reply from before:

      “Great question, sadly, with a very boring answer.

      The stories I want to write in the Fantasy setting will never get published. I wanted to write a novel about Ariel and Orion, detailing their love story, which is one of my fave things in all of Fantasy. That was refused flat-out, several times. Admittedly, it was turned down in my early days.

      On the other side of the coin, I’m now reaching the point where I can suggest pretty much anything, and Black Library will do what they can to make it happen. But some things are considered unmarketable, and when there are far fewer Fantasy release slots on the schedule (and they make significantly less money) they’re understandably less willing to take risks on my flights of fancy. Which would they rather have: me writing about the Black Legion’s rise to power through ten thousand years of war, or me writing about an arranged marriage between a Dragon Prince of Caledor and a Princess from Chrace, during a Druchii invasion?

      One of them will be a major release that makes hundreds of thousands of pounds. The other might struggle to break even.

      One day, though.

      One day.”

      Comment by Aaron Dembski-Bowden | December 6, 2012 | Reply

  28. I’m gonna try later on and get my review of Soulhunter up and running so you can see my reaction to that book!

    Comment by Forkmaster | December 6, 2012 | Reply

  29. So, any chance we will ever get a Battle Of Macragge novel from you? Ever? Maybe? I’ll sacrifice something to the Dark Gods if I have to.

    Comment by Quinn | December 6, 2012 | Reply

    • Man, who wouldn’t want to write that? I asked several years ago, but it was reserved. As far as I know, Graham’s doing it fairly soon.

      Comment by Aaron Dembski-Bowden | December 6, 2012 | Reply

      • That’s…unfortunate. Any chance you can fight him in a Mortal Kombat style duel for it?

        Comment by Quinn | December 6, 2012

  30. “While Mr. Dembski-Bowden has dealt crippling losses to some of the Chapter/Legions I like the best, the best stories always come from tragedy, not from cheering along as the hero walks through every obstacle like its made of cream puffs and marshmallows.

    Shakespeare knew that, and all other great writers know it too. Keep up the great work ADB. Haters gonna hate.”

    This this this a million times this. Shakespeare’s tragedies are great because EVERYONE suffers, and no one comes out any the better for it. If you’ve ever seen Titus Andronicus performed in all it’s bloody glory you’ll know exactly what I mean and why it is so utterly fantastic to behold.

    On a personal note to Mr. A to the D to the B, I think the Emperor’s Gift is probably the best thing BL have ever published. It actually made me shed a tear at one point (SPOILER – how you described Malchadiel’s loss when he was unable to ‘sense’ Sothis anymore, in fact just that entire relationship – was written incredibly) not to mention the metric BUTT TON of awesome that occurred in that book (Blade breaker, Angron, Grimnar, any time the words ‘Sanguine unholiness’ were mentioned – to name but a few). I actually had to stop myself from reading it at points so I didn’t finish it too quickly. It was, in my eyes, a perfect novel.

    Also, I imagine seeing a load of butthurt faceless names on an interweb forum belittling your works must be disappointing, but just remember that for every whiner there is a load more that love your stories and are grateful for the pleasure that you bring to the reader through your prose. Normally the most vocal group of people are also the ones that have the most negative experience with something,

    Keep up the fantastic work. I only wish I had the dedication and confidence that you have when writing about the 40k the universe.

    Comment by Dan K | December 6, 2012 | Reply

    • If it was a butt load, that would be different. I’m probably the luckiest of all BL authors in that regard, though.

      A fact I’m infinitely thankful for, as I’m a precious and fragile flower.

      Comment by Aaron Dembski-Bowden | December 6, 2012 | Reply

      • By a load, I of course meant the small population of the Warseer background/BL boards. Not really a load.

        At least your not Nick Kyme eh? Brilliant editor he may be but that man must either have to avoid the internet or have the inner strength of a cage fighter to cope with some of the… ‘reviews’ he receives. But seriously, he should not write books. They’re really bad.

        Comment by Dan K | December 6, 2012

  31. […] all that for a while, and talk some Heresy. I’ve set this up before, with hobby talk and avoiding author bias. No more excuses. Time to get into […]

    Pingback by A Tale of Five Heretics « Aaron Dembski-Bowden | January 18, 2013 | Reply

  32. The Blood Angels are my favorite too! And since you’re my favorite BL author, what do we have to do in order to get you to write one?

    Comment by Christian Wei, Jr. | March 3, 2016 | Reply

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