Aaron Dembski-Bowden

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

2014’s Ultimate & Brilliant & Not At All Stupid ‘Talon of Horus’ Selfie Contest (Honourable Mentions)

Oh, man. Let’s just… let’s just get straight into this. We’ll yank this fucking tooth right out. It’s okay, peeps and creeps. I know it’s been aching.

There were too many to show them all, so here’s a random slice. We’ll call these the Honourable Mentions, with the winners announced next week.

Here we go.


This is Tom. I think Tom was the guy that actually found me on holiday in Bruges, and asked me to sign Helsreach. Which was a cross between terrifying and seriously cool as fuck.


This is Will and, presumably, Will’s Cat. Which was a key mistake in a selfie contest, as I absolutely fucking hate cats.


I have this entry listed in my notes as “Victoria”, though those are probably a guy’s arms and, presumably, Victoria’s cat. Which, again, was a fatal feline-based error. That said, I deeply admire the way her cat looks like it’s about to give Talon a 1-Star review. Fuck you too, cat.


This is Nicholas, who couldn’t even be bothered to file his teeth to points. No dice, slacker.

Carl, though

This is Carl from AMC’s The Walking Dead. He has a hat, and also a dad. One time he lost a shoe and a zombie was going to eat him but he ran away and the zombie didn’t eat him and then he had pudding.


This is my mum, who I love lots. She didn’t win though, because she’s my mum and that wouldn’t be cool.


This is Kobi, who would have had a way better chance at winning if he didn’t have almost the same name as Kobe Bryant (who I hate) of the Los Angeles Lakers (who I hate). Sadly, my pathetic biases knocked him out of the running, because I positively adore cats compared to how much I loathe the Los Angeles Lakers.


This is Will. I randomly decided he loses points for being too happy. His collar tattoo looks pretty hardcore, though.


This is Mike, who is *the most* Prussian-looking guy I’ve ever seen in my entire life. You honestly don’t even know how many times I made an Ubermensch joke in this text box, only to delete it with a vague sense of shame before hitting Enter.


Here’s Paul, who scores points for being one of the very first to get his photo in – hopefully before the point where I started getting everyone’s names wrong because there were too many to keep up with. I collect mugs, by the way. Did you all know that? Anyway, I do, and I badly want to know what’s written on the mug behind him in this shot.


This is Julian, who I know from a book signing or two. When I first saw him, he was like… a toddler or something. Now he looks massive. I haven’t even been writing that long, so I suspect some sort of Captain America-style super-serum at work.


Rihanna is known for frequently reinventing her style and image, most notably since Good Girl Gone Bad.[9][10] Her work has earned her numerous awards and accolades, including seven Grammy Awards,[1] eight American Music Awards, 22 Billboard Music Awards, and two BRIT Awards. In 2012, Forbes ranked her the fourth most powerful celebrity of the year, with earnings of $53 million between May 2011 and May 2012 [citation needed].


This is Matthew, who *gravely* underestimated how petty I am. You’re far better-looking than me, Matthew, so fuck off.


And here’s Mitchel, losing for exactly the same reason as Matthew.


Here’s Tyler, who – frankly – I’m in two minds about. His entry is disqualified for the fact he’s falsified the tome in question, but there are so many things to love here. 1. He actually recruited allies to help him sell it. 2. He’s standing in front of a gigantic plane engine turbine thing. 3. He used the word “Totally” not once but twice, which is totally how I talk. 4. He’s wearing sunglasses indoors, which is truly advanced douchebaggery, but also secretly cool. So… he loses, but I think I’m in love with him.


Here’s Charles, showing my book with a much better book behind it. One of the best novels ever written, in fact: ‘Gates of Fire’ by Steven Pressfield; one of the biggest influences on ‘The Talon of Horus’. So kudos for linking the two, but minus several million points for letting any other novel eclipse the cover of Pressfield’s glorious, glorious book.


I’ve got this gentleman’s name written down as Chud, which isn’t a word I’d ever actually use – and doesn’t sound like a real name that I’m aware of – so I apologise if I fucked that up somewhere. That said, he took the book to bed within minutes of owning it, which is the sort of sick lust I can only admire. And he’s so happy! That’s nice. Isn’t that nice? Well, I think so.


This is Gayle, in her Final Form. I sort of wanted to give her the top prize, but she’s the bad kind of centaur. I shouldn’t even need to explain why that’s the case. Also, I think she got married recently, if Facebook is anything to go by. I may be wrong, but if not – Congrats, Bad Centaur. All the best.


This is Daniel, technically doing me great dishonour and disrespecting a year of my hard work. But he’s dressed as a Stormtrooper, which basically gets all sins forgiven in my book. And he’s reading about X-Wings, so really, you can’t blame him for having his priorities straight.


Plus, I think he then sent this one in as an apology, which was unnecessarily nice of him. I do love that T-shirt.


Violence solves nothing, Gareth. Also, you look a bit like my friend Dave in this photo. He neither screams often nor wields a blade, but still. This was one of my fave photos – the passion! – but alas, didn’t make it into the final three.


Here’s Andy. Man, a lot of Stormtroopers read my work. And look at all that important-looking shit in the background. Numbers and papers and notes on boards. I bet that’s all about running the Death Star, and not at all about taxes or traffic figures or whatever.


Carl shows us his ink, his CDs (which very few humans still own, surely…) and his dreamy eyes. They’re like… the colour of dirty ice. Or morning mist. Excuse me while I dreamily sigh.


This isn’t a selfie, Christopher. This is showing off. It’s nice to know where #2 struck home, though. I don’t have #1, by the way. My copy is unnumbered, because the publishing gods mark me out for special favour. I am the beloved son of their pantheon.


This is Dean, whose passion and fervour both delight and alarm me. Firstly, it looks like this would really hurt your nose, and I’m not convinced opening your eyes that wide is an A+ idea, medically speaking. Like, ants could crawl in them. No one needs that. Even so, the artist’s use of perspective is effective and deeply haunting. Effective like a thing that works, and haunting in a good way, not like a ghost.


This is Charlotte, who once made me cry – in a good way – at a signing. I admit, this is pretty damn awesome. For like three seconds I thought it was real and she’d sliced herself up. It wasn’t awesome then, it was just scary.


This is Greg, who is: 1. Someone I know too well for him to win. 2. Nude. 3. Not even close to the only nude man that entered the contest.


…as you can see. Here we have Jonas continuing not only the nude theme, but also showing some sweet ink. Man, that’s just rad.


Jay and Dash, winning points for reading in bed with a moody skyline, but losing them for being 50% feline. I couldn’t even say why I hate cats, really. I just do. I think it’s because they’re so… I mean, they just *exist*, you know? And you trip over the fucking things and you could fall down the stairs and die, and they sleep on babies and the babies die, and they climb all over you and wake you up and Jesus Christ I hate cats so much oh my God.


This is Big Steve. Does this even need captioning? I’d argue that no, no, it doesn’t.


And here’s Jimmy. As much as I love the Ultramarines, I suspect he’s opening himself up to a barrage of people that don’t. I admit, I love that T-shirt, though. And this is from a guy that hated KEEP CALM tees even when they were still cool, because I’m such a churlish and unpleasant fellow.


Oh, Damien. You’re like… Commander Riker’s older, cooler, French, artist brother. Yes, I know that’s not Star Trek canon. But if Riker did have that, it would be you. A nice person would never hate other people for being handsome, but I’m not a nice person, Damien. You have chosen… poorly.


Here’s Debi Marie. This has all the right elements: She’s not too happy or too sad; she has the book (or a good fake); there are some curtains, a ceiling, even a picture. I know what you’re thinking: this photo has it all. So why didn’t it win? Well, it came close, but the stray lock of hair over her eye is just… just… Blow it out of the way, I beg you. I feel so powerless right now.


Liam’s entry is certainly dynamic. And that sweet beard? Oh, yes. I’m not sure if he’s in love with the book or if it’s gained sentience and agency, and has accordingly beaten the shit out of him. If it’s the former, then that’s fine. I don’t judge anyone (except Lakers fans). But if it’s the latter, I may feel just the barest tickling threads of guilt.


Michael chooses the boldest of moves, deciding that eating the book is preferable to reading it. Well, fine. I’ll come to your workplace and eat your job, too. See how you like it. (Please work in Burger King, and not in a car factory.)


Adam’s eating the book, too. Adam’s also losing a bajillion points because I know him too well. Not even an Aaron-style beanie can save him.


Rebecca sent me this slice of gloriousness. God’s bones, check that out. You can find these guys at Aurelius’s Armoury and Immaterium Infinitum. I want to kiss them all. I won’t, because jail. But I want to.


This is a screenie from a game of Civ I was playing a while ago. I don’t know why this is here. My army of Giant Death Robots was pretty sweet, though. Ain’t no fuckers crossing the border into Poland. Nuh-uh.


Mark-Anthony sends… this… in. There are a million things right with this photo, and almost nothing wrong. Look at that backdrop. The hat, the apron, the sword. Such bizarre class and style. But I can see his shorts, ruining the otherwise flawless illusion of nakedness. I’m not saying nakedness is something that gets you points, but by the Gods if you’re going to do it, you better commit to it.


Here’s Kirsty, looking altogether too happy. I realise I’ve said elsewhere that happiness is a good thing, but if you expected reasonable and consistent criteria from this, you’ve vastly misunderstood the Aaron experience. She does look happy, though. Like the rabbits in that documentary, Watership Down. They were happy. Y’know, the ones that survived.


I have nothing to say about James’ entry, except that it’s great, and that hat is freaking badass. Anyone who criticises this photo doesn’t deserve to live.


Lance, man, I feel a little like I pissed you off in another life. Or maybe I dinged your car, or something? I’ve made mistakes, man, but I can change. Don’t kill me with a crowbar. I… I have a son… Don’t make him need a stepdad…


Here’s Roxana with the helms of her weakling foes. This is one of the ones that’s basically just *too good* to win. If you hand out prizes to the people with Space Marine helmet collections, you’re setting a dangerous precedent. But Jesus, this rocks.


Like this, sent in by Richard. I mean, seriously, this is just *awesome*. It’s too good. I love it, but if this wins, I’d be dooming myself to this kind of quality next time, and all I can say it “Jesus, this is rad”. Which makes for boring captions.


Richard also sent this one in, which is still rad. A soulful Sunday afternoon, reading on the sofa, with moody lighting. I sort of feel like you’re too classy for me, Richard. It’s almost as if we’d be pals for a few days, but then you’d start rolling your eyes at all the dumb shit I say. Heartbreaking stuff.


The thing I like best about Ben’s entry is that I can’t actually work out which direction is which. Whatever 6-dimensional space you occupy, Ben, I hope gravity eases back on its terrifying games and lets you come back to Earth.


Hey. Don’t look so smug, Doug. I wrote that book, not you. If you tell anyone otherwise, I’ll cut you. I will *cut* you.


Chris has an intensity that’s hard not to admire. Let’s all pause here in our scrolling and admire it for a while. Is he happy? Hungry? Who knows? Maybe… maybe even Chris doesn’t know. His glare suggests to me that his thought processes are largely filled with the locations of various bodies.


And here’s Robert. Look, guys, why were so many of you mad at me? Do I need to start watching for a kidney-shivving at every signing?



Neil eschews a chance to eat the novel, and instead makes it is badass cyborg jaw. Which I sort of love. Also, it never stops being weird seeing your name on the spine of books. It still makes me go “…huh.”


Oh, Jamie. Jamie, no. This is one of those “Too awesome” ones again that I love, but… No. You and I can never be. I’d be intimidated by your masterful knowledge of esoteric European cinema, and you just don’t look like a Phoenix Suns fan.


Paul. I may never meet you, or I may have already met you and forgotten, because my memory is shit and when you meet a few hundred people at a signing, it screws with your recollection. But I want you to know this: I straight-up love you.


Jon, you wonderful bastard. You’re my friend in real life so you can’t win, but man, even for you this is some classy shit. As if I ever doubted you.


Ben… I *have* to know what that certificate behind you is. Forget the Goddamn book. Get the certificate. TELL ME.


To my immense shame, I saved this as “HOLY SHIT THAT’S AWESOME” and didn’t catch the name. I’m sorry! I’ve failed you. I’ll do penance.


Abby scores points for the helm, but loses All The Points for not having the book. Cheating, like a cheater… but a cheater with a rad helmet.


A safely and much-appreciated neutral pic from Andi. Here’s a man with no-nonsense shelves, a crooked smirk, and a book with spikes on it. A book, let’s note, that he looks decidedly unimpressed with. I admire that degree of honesty, even as it turns my fragile heart to bitter ash.


This is Rihanna on a boat. Or a ship. I’m not always sure of the difference, to be honest.


This is Rob, whose slippers are plainly awesome. Would you like to know a story? One time when I saw Rob, I said “I know you.” And Rob said “No you don’t,” and pointed to a guy next to him who looked exactly the same. “You know him,” said Not-Rob, who was really Rob’s twin brother. And that’s the story. Look, I never promised it would be interesting.


Mark has two copies (one was for his friend, or perhaps just for his “friend” eBay), and also an Eye of Horus T-shirt, which is maximum sexy. The sun glare through the door hurts my eyes though, and I’m not even in the room with him, so screw you, Marc.


The thing I love best about George’s photo is that he plainly took it a second too early, looking down at the screen or the mouse rather than the camera. That’s the kind of thing that I do, so top points, dude. Also, I see your sprues. Get to painting, slacker.


Terry, good sir, a less secure man than myself might think you’re saying my book smells bad. I do like your arm-dog, though. I’d like an arm-dog – I promise you I would not use that power for the good of my fellow man.


See, Lee *looks* happy, but I don’t buy it. I get a bad vibe, like the moment I turn my back on him, he’ll use the book to beat me to death. In fairness, I get that vibe with everyone. It has nothing to do with Lee. He seems nice, but I’ve trusted too many times before.


Oh my God, Mike. This is the *best* face. If we ever meet (or meet again?) please, please, please make this face and let me get a photo with you. It’s like… ultra-smug, on a level I badly want to master myself. You rock on toast.


And those, ladies and gentlemen, are the Honourable Mentions. I’ve got to jet off to the Black Library Weekender for a few days, but I’ll post the winners next week.

If you’re coming to the Weekender, then I’ll see you there. If you’re not, then… I won’t, I guess. Hmm. I really didn’t think that sentence through.

November 6, 2014 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. Hmm. Too late for a terribly dishonourable mention?

    Comment by Joe Waits | November 6, 2014 | Reply

  2. Yeah, I was indeed the guy who you met when you where in Ypres at the Menin Gate and on a holiday in Bruges.

    Thanks again for signing it!

    Comment by Tom Dewilde | November 6, 2014 | Reply

  3. I poured my heart and soul out into that photo man! I just give and give and give and what do I get back? Nothing! I’m going to go cry in a corner now, I feel hurt and rejected.

    P.S. See you at the Weekender with this book but not the blade because I don’t want you to think I’m a crazy killer or anything…

    Comment by Gareth | November 6, 2014 | Reply

  4. I just bought your book on Amazon. I am not happy. I hope your book will make me happy.

    Comment by Ave Maleficum | November 7, 2014 | Reply

  5. I just loved reading your comments about the contestants and the not-at-all-related-images that sneaked in here and there.

    Comment by Forkmaster | November 7, 2014 | Reply

  6. ok seriously you’re not doing anyone any favors by penning Long Night. You know the fan theories will be running abound right?
    of course you know this. y u troll us

    Comment by TheSGC | November 17, 2014 | Reply


    Comment by BBF | November 22, 2014 | Reply

  8. […] probably remember the Honourable Mentions of the ‘Ultimate and Brilliant and Not At All Stupid The Talon of Horus First Edition Selfie […]

    Pingback by The ‘Talon’ Selfie Contest Winners « Aaron Dembski-Bowden | January 8, 2015 | Reply

  9. […] of you may remember the Selfie Contest from a few years ago(with its resultant heroic winners) – and yes, there will indeed be […]

    Pingback by The BLACK LEGION Cover Reveal (and Selfie Contest #2!) « Aaron Dembski-Bowden | May 3, 2017 | Reply

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