Aaron Dembski-Bowden

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

The Talon of Horus – First Edition

So this little darling gets released into the wild today, which makes today one of the scariest days in my life. Just when you think you’re used to your job, something like this comes along and throws you right back to the uneasy, eye-twitching madness that lurks on the border between hope and horror.

I’ve had three very specific questions about the First Edition, and about the story in general, which I’ll take a crack at answering now.


1. “What’s it about?” 

Good question. The Talon of Horus is the first of the Black Legion Series, and these are the characters that will – at Abaddon’s side – become the founders and ruling warlords of the Black Legion. It’s told from the point of view of Iskandar Khayon, the one Thousand Son in Ahriman’s cabal that tried to stop the Rubric. The first novel is set during the Legion Wars inside the Eye of Terror, when the Imperium has largely forgotten the Traitors, and as the Sons of Horus stand on the edge of extinction. Khayon and several warriors from various Legions come together to travel across the Eye of Terror for reasons I’m not telling you right now, and as you may well imagine, they cross paths with Abaddon in a place I’m also not telling you about yet.

Anything else would be spoilers, so… shush.


2. “If this is about Abaddon’s rise to power, why does he look like that on the cover?”

The narration is set in the Dark Millennium, at two minutes to midnight, so Abaddon does look like that when Khayon is telling his story. But seriously, it’s because he’s one of the major characters in a globally recognised IP and that’s just how marketing works. Plus, it makes for a breathtaking cover to start the series.

What, you wanted me to send that cover back? That’s funny. You’re a funny person.


3.  “What’s in it?”

Contents Screenie


  • The Author’s Note is only in the First Edition and it’s what you’d imagine: several pages of informal stuff about the process of writing this insane novel, and the chaos (little c) involved in this part of the lore. It was a crazy book to research, for really reals.
  • The Talon of Horus is, um, the book. Because of course.
  • There are four pieces of internal artwork – Paul Dainton’s interpretations of the main characters – all of which I actually have framed for my games room because I loved them so much. True story. You may recall me talking about artists’ interpretations of my characters before (in Point #3 of this post right here). These pieces pushed all the right buttons.

Telemachon Lyras Iskandar Khayon


  • Extinction, Chosen of Chaos, and The Wonderworker are all short stories added to the First Edition.
  • Extinction was first published in a Games Day Anthology a few years ago, and was a slice of fiction showing how the Sons of Horus took their beatings in the Legion Wars – after the Horus Heresy but long before the First Black Crusade. It’s not part of the series, but it’s a related story and I thought it was a nice touch that they included that little curiosity.
  • Chosen of Chaos was first published as an eShort in Black Library’s advent calendar last year. It’s a flash forward for the series, showing Khayon, Abaddon, and several of the other characters a few centuries later. You’re safe, though. No spoilers involved.
  • The Wonderworker is where things get both more and less traditional. It’s set between The Talon of Horus and before the next novel, which will be called The Black Legion. It’s traditional in that sense: it’s a short story that bridges the gap between the first and second books. It’s a little less traditional in the fact it’s a special reward for the guys and girls that grab the First Edition – as far as I know, it won’t ever be printed again. With that in mind – much like when I wrote Aurelian – I wanted something interesting and worth the effort to get hold of, but nothing vital to the series’ narrative. If you miss it, you’re not going to be in the dark about anything. If you get hold of it, you’ll get a look at some of the fallout after the first book, an early glance at some new characters coming in the second novel, and see another step in the Black Legion’s ascension. It’s more of the story if you want more of it. No more, no less.

So, there you go.

If you want to pluck one of these lovely leatherbound beauties from the shelf, here’s the link. It goes live at 1pm GMT.


+ + + Thought for the Day: Imagine a movie trailer that begins with the words: “In a world of ninjas…” + + +

August 22, 2014 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. Thanks for the questions! 🙂 And just a fan-boyish question, did you use the printscreens I made of the Youtube-video and posted on Heresy-Online? 😀

    Comment by Forkmaster | August 22, 2014 | Reply

  2. Paul Dainton will forever remain my favourite GW in-house artist. His work (especially his fantasy work) takes the over-the-top style of Warhammer, and yet gives it that feeling of tacticle realism. And I think his line is better, than that of Karl Kopinski. That Telemachon Lyras design, is like the perfect Slannesh-marine look. Elegant and sinuous, and yet powerfull and imposing, without looking like and emaciated, astartes S&M enthusiast.

    Out of curiosity: What is the exact process of creating such character designs for internal art? Did Dainton work from some basic, cliff-notes description of the character, and was free to interpret it? Or was he given a pre-release copy of the book, to digest? Or was it a direct author-to-artist collaboration?

    Comment by Adam | August 22, 2014 | Reply

    • Good questions, and deserving of a post in itself. But the short answer is that it’s different with every project, and every author/artist relationship. In this instance, I peeled out about 10 pages of description across the entire book, along with images of various 40K art like “He has a head crest like that” once in a while.

      A lot of it’s artistic interpretation, or adding common tropes from the lore rather than text (Khayon has no robes, f’rex, but Chaos Sorcerers always do in their minis). So a fair few of the details don’t match the text, but that’s solid gold as far as I’m concerned. Like I said in that art post linked above: I’m interested in what artists see when they bring their vision to it; I’m not interested in seeing exactly what’s in my head translated into art.

      My only grievance with art comes when it’s bad. Now that, I hate. And these are most definitely not that.

      Comment by Aaron Dembski-Bowden | August 22, 2014 | Reply

  3. I am 100 percent certain your book will do fantastic. Love your stuff, especially your writing on the Night Lords. Your characterization of Talos is incredible: Noble, savage, honorable, ruthless. sort of like me. lol

    Comment by Michael Lamendola | August 22, 2014 | Reply

  4. I liked that video; it was good 😉

    Comment by R. A. White | August 22, 2014 | Reply

    • Also, will Abaddon, at any point, meet and (clearly) get his ass handed to him by the Lord Cypher. 😛

      Comment by R. A. White | August 22, 2014 | Reply

  5. Any chance there will be an audiobook version at some point?

    Comment by Matt Black | August 22, 2014 | Reply

  6. Woke up early to order mine. Going back to sleep knowing I’ll also buy the e-book so I don’t get Cheeto stains on the pages.

    Comment by Josh S. | August 22, 2014 | Reply

  7. I always said I wouldn’t buy BL limited stuff. Then you had to do Aurellian. Bought that. Then I thought, first editions sound nice but naah! Then it’s another of your books. You are a swine. A writing God but also a swine.

    The Talon of Horus has been ordered. Damn me and my lack of willpower!

    Comment by Kev Beal | August 22, 2014 | Reply

  8. Fuck you Aaron Dembski-Bowden! I had no plans to drop that large sum o cash… But your stuff is so. Damn. Good. I am in talks with the local ninja teamsters to have your place surrounded with loud speaker playing around the clock Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift. Kindly with love from Tokyo…. Can’t wait to stuff this book into a syringe and get my high off it.

    Comment by icthelion | August 22, 2014 | Reply

  9. Why do Black Library have to make everything so hard to track down? “This story is exclusive to this convention. This story is exclusive to the first edition, this one in the omnibus.”

    Comment by gregfkirkpatrick | August 23, 2014 | Reply

  10. Great, now I’ll have to beg somebody to photocopy or reprint in full The Wonderworker. I guess that’s what I get for going back home for my sister’s wedding and missing the buying window.

    Comment by Nick | August 26, 2014 | Reply

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