No prizes for guessing who you can preorder now.
So. Games Workshop have made a mini of one of my characters. That’s a sentence I’ve basically hoped would be true since I was a little kid, and is a pretty significant tick on the bucket list. I thought this’d be a moment where I jumped up and down and shrieked in playgroundish delight, but the truth (just like the day I hit the New York Times bestsellers’ list) is a bizarre sense of awestruck serenity.
More surreal than anything else.
Well, surreal and awesome.
It’s both obvious and weird that it’s Sev. Obvious because he’s easily my most popular and asked-about character, and he has a rank in the Heresy that deserves some time on the tabletop. Weird because authors don’t always write what they love; sometimes they write what they have ideas for at any given time. I occasionally joke about not liking him the way Paul Sheldon doesn’t like Misery Chastain. That’s not true but the analogy always tickles me, and there’s at least a thread-thin sliver of truth there. I like that people like him. That matters more, sometimes, especially when you’re trying to tell people a story.
But I digress. There’s gushing to be done.
Dat mini, tho.
People will ask if he matches what’s in my head, and I’ll say no – because that’s the truth. He looks waaaaay better for a start, and secondly, as I’ve mentioned before, I don’t really have concrete and definite pictures in my head for every detail of a character’s appearance. When I see artwork or modelled incarnations of my characters, I do the same thing I do when I’m writing them: I look for the 3-4 key details and the overall vibe. Talos isn’t a clear, definite image in my mind: he’s a vague aura of characteristics and details, like the runic faceplate; the exposed cables of Mark V armour; the broken Aquila on his chestplate; and the distinctive weapons he stole – all with an aura of melancholic anger and optimistic self-delusion, which is the core of his personality to me.
Capture a handful of key details and the overall vibe, and I’m sold. That’s how it always is with the many models and pieces of artwork I get sent, depicting my characters. That’s how it is with my novel covers, too.
So… what about Sevatar?
It’s impossible to overstate just how rad and fucking brutal Sev looks in his tabletop incarnation. Alan Bligh and John French gave him awesome, characterful rules, and Forge World’s Steve Whitehead has floored me with this resin-born slice of wickedness.
What can I even say, really? He looks perfect. The model speaks for itself.
(Also, I maximum adore the bareheaded Ravenloft look he’s got going on here, and in his HH book artwork.)
I come to you, asking a favour. Guide me, if you will. Take pity on my poor (currently unshaven) head.
It’s about 6:50am and I really need to crash to catch a few hours’ sleep. Betrayer is going well – going great, in fact, which is lucky since I’ve only got a month to finish it. ‘The Underworld War’ for The Mark of Calth anthology is winding up to completion, too. It’s about the Gal Vorbak left on Calth after Kor Phaeron flees, and they’re slowly coming to terms with the fact that Lorgar isn’t coming to save them. They’re trapped there. They’re going to die there. Night after night, the Word Bearers lose more men to Ultramarine guns.
At this stage, I’m working about 12-14 hours a day, most of which involves going back over sentences I wrote earlier and deleting them before anyone realises I have no right to call myself an author. I don’t mention those hours to incite you to start secreting some kind of oil, ill-deserved sympathy juice from your empathy glands. No, no. I tell you purely so I’ve got an up-front excuse for blogging even less than usual.
I bought two copies of Dark Vengeance. I’m using over picking up a third, but I should probably calm the fuck down on that score, seeing as the Dark Angels in it will see absolutely no use. Some of the Cultists are earmarked for use as models for my Necromunda gang, the Dart Frogs. As you may recall, I play Necromunda. My gang rolled five (yes, five) ‘Slag’ territories, meaning my gang claims a slice of the Underhive the other gangs sniggeringly call Slaghaven. The whole turf is about as valuable and useful as a punch in the dick.
I’m crazy-tired. Excuse my rambling.
I come to you in need. With the new Citadel paints and the step by step guides in White Dwarf, I can actually risk painting rather than just basecoating and dipping. And, for once, I actually quite enjoy it, though I paint about as ‘quickly’ as I write, which is deeply unimpressive. But I’m having a load of trouble with black.
Black power armour, to be precise. I’ve got various reds down really well, but the black is kicking my teeth in.
What I’m after is that “so black that it’s blue” kinda blackness, as shown in these pics:
But, even more specifically, I’m looking for a guide (or advice) using the new Citadel paints, to keep things simple and achievable for my monkeyish paws.
If anyone can give me any advice, or a link, or something more useful than “You’re shit” and “Use different paints”, then you’ll live forever in the Hall of Valour, and when I inevitably ascend to Godhood over the world’s insomniacs, I guarantee* I’ll reward you by totally buying you a rollercoaster.
The kind of step-by-step guides I mean are the White Dwarf ones, like so, that tell you to Basecoat, Layer, Glaze, and so on:
* Not a legally binding guarantee
Photos from the scene.
Look how unimpressed Graham is. This one’s a keeper.
I just got sent this.
Hmm. What could this book possibly be about?
I keep getting asked this one.
Along with “When will we see some Night Lords stuff in the Heresy?” and “Will we get to see any pre-Heresy Curze?”
Most of all: “When will we get to see more of Sevatar?”
The answer to all of these things is “Go away and leave me alo–” Uh, I mean, “Shadows of Treachery is out in October.”
My contribution to this (which was supposed to be in The Primarchs) is Prince of Crows, which is a novella about (gasp!) Konrad Curze, Sevatar, and the Night Lords Legion after another run-in with the Dark Angels. It’s set just after ‘Savage Weapons’ and The Lion, and opens up with the VIII Legion devastated after the Dark Angels kicked their asses left and right across the Thramas Sector. The Legion lost the final battle, Curze is crippled after the Lion cut his throat, and the remaining Night Lord commanders are meeting up to decide just their options are. It also has a significant chunk of what I’d have sliced into a Night Lords novel, which is about Curze’s past and growth on Nostramo, and how he went from beggar child on the streets to their happy, happy king.
Oh, and it explains just why Sev is called the Prince of Crows. It’s really not why you think.
I kinda-wanna also add that this is a novella, not a short story. It’s about 3-6 times as long as a short story (depending on the story) and closer to 30-50% of a novel (depending on the novel). In short, it’s quite long, and took me fucking ages to do. It needed to tell a lot of backstory about Curze, show the Legion in its current state after getting mauled by the Dark Angels, and set up a future Night Lords novel which I’d obviously quite like to do in the relatively near future. But I write slowly, so hold your freaking horses on that score. I’m still doing Betrayer, then (probably?) the first Abaddon/Black Legion novel, still tentatively titled The Talon of Horus.
If any of this sounds remotely interesting, then… behold.
Black Library’s been publishing daily extracts in its newsletter all week, which I’m guessing will include today and tomorrow, too. I’m heading off to London today, and Chicago tomorrow (ooooh, such a jetsetting lad…) so I can’t link or post anything else past the first three extracts, which I was told about last night by some well-meaning soul on Facebook. But for convenience, I thought I’d spin these up here. For the rest, you’ll need to subscribe. Off you go.
Go on, now.
(By the way, if you’re at Games Day US on Saturday, me and Jim Swallow will see you there.)
So, without further wordjunk from Yours Truly:
Someone sent me this a couple of hours ago, prompting me to head on a very short Google search, for Noldofinve on Deviant Art.
I’m in love with this. It’s Cyrene and Argel Tal. It’s like… actually them. And it’s perfect.
It’s also now my desktop background while I write Betrayer, which is pretty apt considering where I’m at in the story, and what Erebus and Argel Tal are discussing. Ho, ho, ho…
It’s really, really, really strange to see your writing having an effect on people. In the handful of years since I started – I’m still pretty new to all this, remember – I guess I was prepared for some of the awesome comments online, and the reviews, and the chatter at signings and conventions. That doesn’t devalue any of them, it’s just that all that stuff was easier to imagine because it’s considered a perk of the trade. (Incidentally, I’m often cripplingly uncomfortable and anxious at signings, and do my best to disguise it, so I don’t consider it a perk. I consider it terrifying.)
Same with minis of my characters – I’ve seen so many killer conversions of Talos and co. but you almost expect it, given the passion of readers and hobbyists, when there’s a nebulous realm of overlap between the two.
But actual artwork of my characters? Someone cared enough about my head-mess to capture them outside of converted plastic? Sort of mindblowing. And this perfectly captures the soul of those two characters, at least as I imagined it. On a similar note, I’ve seen tattoos people got based on my work, like, in a language I freaking invented. That’s terrifying, too.
But in a good way.
Most people got the reference to who Kargos is, in the Betrayer prologue yesterday.
Obviously, like most 40K reference characters, he’s basically… no one. Most characters are guys or girls from images and/or quotes from 5-25 years ago, and just to have a little slice of continuity, their names get used as cute nods to old material. But there’s never any real detail. (I think that’s also a key detail between the varying levels of “tie-in fiction” that get tossed about. Using an old name for continuity is a different beast from using characters with several seasons of TV behind them.)
But anyway, Kargos started out as one of my favourite pieces of artwork from way back in 2nd Edition, and a great quote that shows a little of Chaos’ depth and appeal. The artwork is a little dated now – especially in regards to physique – but it still rocks. It’s also pretty charming that he lives on a planet made entirely of fire and skulls. His 3G reception is probably shit, and no, I don’t think that’s an unfair assumption.
A lot of people are asking who Skane is, too. And who the Legio Audax are. And why is an ursus claw on a Titan? And what’s a Destroyer? And and and…
Well, you’ll have to wait for all that. Jeez.
The Dead and the Dying
SKANE WAS THE ONE to find the body. Skane, armoured in Destroyers’ black, his armour stained by the sin of the weapons he wielded. He stood knee-deep in the dead, next to the wrecked hull of a Land Raider battle tank.
“Kargos,” he voxed. His voice was tinny, laden with static. One of the of the enemy had caught him in the throat during the battle, and it had jarred his augmetic vocal chords. They needed tuning once he returned to the Conqueror.
“Kargos,” he said again, across the quiet vox channel.
“What?” His brother’s reply was also flawed by static, but from more traditional vox-corruption rather than a bionic oesophagus.
“Track my locator rune,” said Skane. “Get over here.”
“Look around you, sergeant. You think you’re the only one that needs my help at the moment?”
Skane didn’t bother looking around. He knew where he was and what he’d see – he was at the heart of it all, and the dead numbered in the thousands. Most wore armour the green of shallow oceans, cracked and shattered by the treachery of their former kindred. These were Horus’s former Sons, betrayed by their brethren and slain for their disloyalty. Among their number, armour of bloodstained white stood out like pearls among seaweed. Too many World Eaters had fallen here, though victory was undeniable. The city was dead in every direction, reduced to ash and rubble.
A shadow fell across Skane, blocking out the weak sun as a Legio Audax Warhound passed with its rattle-clank stride shaking the tortured ground. He lifted a hand to the passing war machine, receiving no acknowledgement beyond dull sunlight glinting on the Titan’s ursus claw spears. It stalked onward, splayed feet grinding ceramite and bone and twisted iron into the earth, its wolfish cockpit lowered as it hunted for life signs and scanner-scents among the dead and the dying.
Skane turned back to the ruined tank, kneeling by its front end where the minesweeper plow was decorated in scratches and a wealth of gore. A body impaled on the ‘dozer blade’s spikes twitched in uneasy repose, its fingers still scraping in futility across the metal. Skane wasn’t sure how the pinned warrior still lived, and doubted the trembling, bleeding figure would survive being pulled from the plow. Nevertheless, he spoke again.
“Kargos,” he said for the third time. It took the Apothecary several seconds to answer.
“I told you I’m busy. Fix your own damn throat, or shut up and wait until we’re back aboard the ship.”
Skane disengaged the seals at the dying warrior’s neck, lifting the helm free with a hiss of released air pressure. The revealed face was pale, bloodstained from the lips down, the eyes open and blind, while the mouth worked in silent, wordless rage, an emotion lost between fury and pain.
“I’ve found Kharn,” Skane voxed.
This time, there was no delay in Kargos’s reply. “I’m on my way.”
Here are some words you’re not reading.
Here are some more.
I’ll post the prologue soon, but I want to finish The Prince of Crows first (for the Shadows of Treachery anthology later this year). Posting the cover and prologue to Betrayer was supposed to be my reward for finishing it, but there was a cosmic combination of me writing too slow, and you all clicking Like on my Facebook page too fast.
So here you go. Click to zoom in, obviously, for all the little details Neil is so famous for.
I’m sure you’ll really, really struggle to guess what it’s about – or who is fighting who (and who, uh, looks like they’re losing).