It’s real. It’s actually real. And it’s looking bloody lovely too, though you’ll have to excuse the weird light glare as this was under my painting lamp.
For a zoomed-in look, you can press your face against the screen so the pixels squoosh over your eyeballs – that way the raw data bypasses your tongue, kidney stones, and bile ducts, to filter directly into the brain. Or maybe you could print the picture out and liquefy the paper as a key ingredient in some new and exciting energy drink.
You can do what you like, okay? I don’t care. That’s the point, here. I’m not your boss. I won’t judge you.
“Book I of the Black Legion Series.”
And so it begins. Series. Not “trilogy”. Series.
OH GOD THE PRESSURE.
I’m not exaggerating when I say I couldn’t be happier. It’s flawless, and I’m immensely grateful to everyone at BL who worked at the finish line to make it come out looking like this. I think the artwork just went on sale, by the way.
I’ll just head off one particular question now: “Why is it The Talon of Horus? Didn’t it used to be Abaddon: Talon of Horus“?
Nope. It was always The Talon of Horus. Look back at the 800 times I’ve mentioned it on Facebook, Twitter, any forum ever, and indeed this blog, and you’ll see that it’s always been The Talon of Horus. There’s a conflicting image on Amazon that has a mock-up of a cover, but that was an error. Amazon just took an age to update it (it still shows as A:TToH in a few places, but is mostly corrected on the various national Amazon sites). I’ve said on a few forums and on my blog that the Amazon piccy was a flub, but it’s worth reiterating because I’m sure a few people won’t have caught any of those mentions. In most places it is – and always was – The Talon of Horus.
This thrilling update was brought to you by the letters A, D, and B.
For the record, as gratifying as it will be for various folks to run to Amazon and pre-order it from everyone’s favourite tax-avoiding mega-company, I’ll just note that the more zealous and hardcore among you might want to wait until August, when there’ll be a fairly lush announcement regarding the novel. An announcement that, sadly, I’m not allowed to say a word about just yet. I asked! I swear! But the messianic overlords that stand astride BL Towers poured boiling oil down upon my hopes, using words like “marketing” and “when the time is right” and “in accordance with the prophecy”.
For now, enjoy its terrible and lovely beauty. Or don’t. That’s fine, too. Like I said, I’m not your boss. And if I was your boss, you can bet I’d tell you to stop screwing around with plastic spacemen and focus on business things, like money and dollars and perhaps even Canadian dollars too, which are apparently a real thing.
Also, if you’re interested, check out this podcast interview I did with Fifty Shades of Geek only last night, which might just be worth your time. If it’s not up right away, check back in a few hours. There’s a fair bit about current/upcoming projects, many spoilers about past novels, and incredibly features only 2* swear words.
* — I think it’s only 2. I can’t actually remember.
Actually, I’m lying. I didn’t see this in the wild, but it’s hit the desks at Black Library Towers, and I’m pretty much in love with how it looks.
I like how subtle and understated it is. It’s not wacky or cartoony, and credits the license with some intrigue and maturity. Admittedly, only in our beloved 40K license could you consider Hellpeople on Fire in the Shadows to be “subtle”, but let’s just say I’m pretty damn pleased with this one. The Night Lords Series has had some of the most consistently beautiful artwork BL has ever produced (Thanks, Jon Sullivan; look for your name in the Foreward), and even though it’s a change in direction, it’s one I’m dead pleased with.
As you may know, my sadfaced, lip-quivering rants about artwork are rare but, uh, “pointed” and “poignant”. I’ve never been afraid to sink to the lowest depths of unprofessionalism in saying I can’t stand a cover. But my last three have been this one, The Talon of Horus, and Armageddon. If it was BL’s intent to butter me up with lovely covers and shame me into hitting my deadlines, then… fuck, it might actually work.
Anyway, more details as they come in.
EDIT: Details have come in. Regarding the contents, here’s a l’il glance at what’s inside:
On another note, remember my Deathwatch Campaign? Brother-Intendant Deiphobus of the Minotaurs is rolling along with some slow painting progress. Better photos coming soon:
The Black Library Weekender is mere days away.
As anyone who knows me can attest, I’m “not a big events guy”. At GDUK, you’ll usually find me taking longer breaks than the other authors, or signing for less time, and going to spy on people’s armies instead. I like doing panels with Graham of the McNeill Clan, and John of the French bloodline (and anyone from Forge World who will sit next to me for more than three minutes with me lavishing kisses upon them), but BL’s brand new events overseer (who is called Claudia, and is lovely, by the way) was very thoughtful in arranging a slightly less hectic schedule for me than last year’s Weekender. I barely survived last year’s one. And this year, I may not have a surprise midnight kiss with a burly male prison guard to boost my morale.
So while I’ll miss the Everyone Sit In A Room With Aaron event (which was humblingly full, last year), I’ll be less frantic and rushed with 800 panels and stuff, so I won’t constantly be saying “Uh, fuck off, I have to go to a thing now” if you happen to stop me in the hallway or the bar.
You can find a schedule thingy here: http://www.blacklibrary.com/Events/weekender-2013.html.
Also of note, I think my Mum and Stepdad are showing up to collect Shakes on the Saturday morning/afternoon, so if you want to see what I’d look like if I was a couple of decades older (and female) then I’ve got you covered.
I should (should…) have finished The Talon of Horus by the weekend, as well. If you ask me about it at the event, and all I do is hang my head and weep soulfully, then you’ll know just how well that intention worked out in the end. As with every book I write, I hate it and I’m sure everyone will hate it, too. We’ll see if time plays it out that way. It’s the story of the warriors who form the Black Legion first coming together to seek the lost First Captain Abaddon, and ends with Abaddon’s inevitable return to confront the clones of Horus – the first thing of note in the Black Legion/Sons of Horus’s famous post-Terra history.
Which all obviously leads into the second novel being about the Black Legion’s first few years of struggle.
I’m a little worried about a storm of 1-star reviews (“Abaddon doesn’t show up until really late!”) just because he’s on the cover, but whatever. If I wasn’t second-guessing myself and rewriting every line three times in a state of awkward discomfort, it wouldn’t be me. I’d be, y’know, someone brave instead.
I feel a little guilty about anyone who makes the main characters, though. First Claw aren’t equipped to be great on the tabletop, but at least they’re pretty easy to model. The ‘main character squad’ equivalent in The Talon of Horus (and going forward through the series) is the Ezekarion, and they’re not going to be easy to model. They’re also not actually tabletop legal, and would cost about 3,000 points if they were. So I apologise in advance.
The Tale of Five Heretics is, as you can see, massively delayed. I’ve accidentally started a Minotaurs army, and the maddest thing is that – for once – I’m actually painting them. And it’s fun. I’m enjoying it. This is progress on an unprecedented scale for me, given that I’m the guy that recently fielded 1,000 points of unpainted Chaos Marines, and still claim victory with 4,000 points of unpainted High Elves in my teens. The good news is that from mid-November onwards, I have a lot more free time again. I’ll have a proper update around then, hopefully with my first 3-man Sky Hunter Squad in the bag. I went from hating those models to absolutely adoring them in the space of about a week, and now I can’t get enough of them.
In other news, here are some of the fruits of my Facebook wall and various inboxes.
Is it inboxes? Inboxii. Inbeexes.
Whatever. You may recognise Defreee’s freaking killer representation of these fine, polite young men:
Before I go, did I tell you a few of us are gearing up to play some Deathwatch in January? Hopefully a long-running campaign, and we’re looking to make it more than just a series of shooty-death-kill scenes. I’ll have more info soon, but right now the line-up runs a little like this:
- Varianus Noster, Praesarius of the Ultramarines 5th Company. [Devastator]
- Jorran, Battle-Brother of the Imperial Fists 5th Company. [Tactical]
- Droitus Mallory, Battle-Brother of the Lamenters. [Assault]
- Deiphobus Lorec, Intendant of the Minotaurs. [Apothecary]
Given my shameless love of Apothecaries, it’ll be no surprise that I’m playing Dio. It was hard resisting Devastator, Tactical, and Librarian (because of heavy bolter, awesome bolter, and psychic powers, respectively) but nothing beats a narthecium.
Some interesting tensions between the Chapters, too. Hope it works out.
And lastly, you can see Katie thinking about whether to join in or not, over at her blog right here. It’s a conundrum. She likes her D&D gnome, and Space Marines… aren’t D&D gnomes.
I can hardly believe it, but I started The Talon of Horus today. The book I’ve been wanting to write since forever.
The rough plan (very, very rough, remember) is to open the Black Legion Series with a trilogy: The Talon of Horus, The Black Legion, and Chaos Ascendant. I’ve been saying it in interviews and on panels for years, and it’s such a rush now it’s finally coming to pass.
The sheer scale of possibility has had me delaying this series a few times, because it’s the story of… everything. It could last for years and years. I originally pitched it as 2-3 novels, but my editors have mentioned that it might work better as a long-running series. “Your ‘Gaunt’s Ghosts‘,” are the words being used.
The scale terrified me, the way it would terrify anyone with at least half an eye towards all the possibilities on the table. It’s the story of the Chaos Marines after the Scouring, from the first years of the Legion Wars in the Eye of Terror, right up to… well, that’s the thing. Right up to wherever I want to take it. It could go anywhere. The story of the Black Legion is the story of the Chaos Marines themselves, the Armies of the Damned, across 10,000 years of spite, sin, and war.
So. Here we go. The story of the last days of the Sons of Horus, driven to extinction by the Traitor Legions, yet reborn from the same bloodlines.
I mentioned this in my Facebook/Twitter splurging a few days back, but If I don’t get another chance to say it before the Big Day when 2012 becomes 2013, then Happy Holidays, Season’s Greetings, and a Happy New Year to everyone whose eyes fall over these words.
The last 12 months have been tough, enlightening, and amazing. Alexander came along, and is already walking (as long as he has something nearby to grab onto). I wrote my second Horus Heresy novel over the course of 9 months, which was “the hardest one to write yet”, just like I say about everything I write. Every novel is the hardest while I’m writing it, and the one I hate the most once it’s released. I think that’s just a hazard of the job. When you spend ages making something and that many people are staring at it, it doesn’t matter what they say. All you see are the holes and imperfections.
In other news, I constructed my games room (not on my own, obviously), so now I can say “Gentlemen, to the Aaronorium” with a straight face. I might even start saying it to strangers in the street. I’ll do it without blinking, for maximum effect.
This is the first year I’ve ever been in a position not to be freaking out that I’ll end up in the gutter come tax month, and you might think that finding my feet financially (along with being married for a year, and having a baby boy) would encourage me to actually get some writing done much faster than usual. Nice theory.
However, if you thought that, you’d be wrong. I’m still as slow as ever.
I’m currently getting close to finishing Blood & Fire, which is a little (well, a quite long, actually) tale featuring the words Season of Fire, Armageddon, Celestial Lions, Grimaldus, as well as the name of a certain Chapter that dresses in a blackish templarish way, and – of course – the name of a certain stormtrooper has been mentioned more than once.
After Blood & Fire, I’m starting The Talon of Horus, and I couldn’t be more psyched about it. Not much to say at this stage, except that the main character will be at the right hand of Abaddon through the fall of the Sons of Horus and the rise of the Black Legion, over the course of 10,000 years. Yeah, unless I get killed or banned from touching the IP, this series threatens to be a long one. If you’ve read Bernard Cornwell’s Warlord Chronicles (about “King” Arthur) or Steven Pressfield’s novels of Ancient Greece (Gates of Fire; Tides of War; The Afghan Campaign, etc.) then you’ll know the atmosphere.
The main character’s name is Inaros Khayon, though he has many, many, many titles by 999.M41, and hardly anyone knows his real name by then.
I’m dimly aware that I owe a few updates about my Heresy and 40K armies, so that’ll be inbound in January.
But thank you for enjoying what I do – evidently enough for me to have done it for another year. Thanks for all the feedback, and for taking time to review anything you’ve reviewed on blogs, on Amazon, on Goodreads, or wherever else. Best wishes (along with the blessing of your deity of choice, if appropriate) from the newly forged Dembski-Bowden family, on this Christmas morning.
So here’s a photo of me touching Chris Wraight’s balls:
I was in Canada for a while, with a bunch of the other Black Library authors. Here’s Dan, Nik, Jim, Chris, me, Gav and Graham. Gemma, who actually organised the event, isn’t here for some reason. But many thanks to her for playing hostess with aplomb. As I’ve said before, I don’t travel well, but this was a pretty magnificent week away.
I had my usual pre-event (and indeed, during-event) discomfort that nothing short of growing a backbone will ever stop, but no one died. I consider that a net gain for humanity. I also got to meet the Chestermere town mayor dressed as a Sister of Battle (no, really) and ate Vietnamese food for the first time ever, which was life-changingly good. (Thanks, Nathan and his Lilliputian bride, Theresa.)
As always, I took no decent photos. You may recall my trip to Chicago? Yeah, where this pic from the Lego store was the only photo that made it back with me:
My photos from Canada are similarly useless and/or meaningless to anyone who isn’t me.
Here’s one of the Rockies that’s actually real and not fake:
And here’s one at Banff, one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen in my life:
And as you can see, I used it to be mean to Houston, for beating the Suns in the 1993 playoffs. No, I won’t get over it. No, you shut up.
Also, Katie and Jim Swallow jazzed up my Chaos Raptors by introducing this… this Disco Madness or whatever:
And for some reason, I have this photo of me in a restaurant:
And (true story) that was taken by a Marines Errant player by the name of Jason, whose Chapter I killed off in Blood Reaver.
He was very forgiving.
There was also this guy:
…who looked crazy-similar to my friend Nik. So much so, that I made him stand there while I texted Nik this very photo. “STAY THERE, MAN. OH MY FUCK, YOU LOOK JUST LIKE MY FRIEND NIK. HE HAS TO SEE THIS SHIT.”
My friends Nik and Rob (who I have, on occasion, been known to call my brothers in the most exquisite moments of bromance) came over to see me, Katie and Alexander while we were at my mum’s place for one night, pre-Canada:
…and as you can see, I was totally justified in my claims of clonehood. That guy looked just like Nik, man. I kept staring at The Clone for the rest of the day, which I hope he didn’t notice, as in a strictly legal sense, I was probably stalking him.
Also, here’s one of Rob and Alexander:
I’m pretty shit at taking photos, but the two ones above really touched me. They were great moments – but then, I cry at the end of How to Train Your Dragon, so I’m not really an emotionally stable human being. My word simply cannot be trusted.
For some reason, totally out of order, there’s also one I took on my last jog:
…which I stopped, breathless and disgusted, to take. Rural Ireland is a very rainy place, and it pulls shit like this on the countryside lanes all the time. It’s like it has a gentle grudge against the people that live here. Sometimes there are trees in the road, because Ireland just thought that would jazz the place up a bit. Sometimes the diesel freezes in your car, putting you at very real risk of death unless your father-in-law has a pimpingly huge 4×4 to get groceries. It’s the sort of place that resents human intrusion, and isn’t shy to let it show.
I ran through that puddle a moment later, and it was almost Geneva Conventions-breakingly cold. As I did it, I thought of all the soldiers who read my work, and all the cross-country training they do. I’d like to say I had a moment of unselfish perspective and realised my problems weren’t all that great after all, but that would be a lie. My feet were wet, cold, and fuck you because that was bad enough.
But I have no idea why that photo is there, completely out of order.
While we were gone, Alexander was playing at my mum’s house for the week. Every day, she’d update her Facebook with pictures and a blog of what he’d been up to that day, and some absolutely beautiful shots came out of it.
Here’s a couple with his great-granddad:
I want to get the second one blown up and framed for the hallway wall.
And, perhaps most importantly, Mum was good enough to start grooming my replacement. She says he was updating his blog, but I’m intensely sucky at that, so this casts his entire lineage into question.
Also, it’s finally, finally done. Betrayer went to the wire, being just as late as The First Heretic, Blood Reaver, and The Emperor’s Gift. Let it never be said that I’m not consistent, even if it’s consistency in the very worst ways.
But since none of you care about any of that, here’s a new infrequent feature that I’m sure to forget about. Desktop Watch! What I’m working on right now:
The Underworld War is my Gal Vorbak story in the Mark of Calth anthology, detailing the ins and outs of daemonic possession, and the Word Bearers left to die on Calth, hoping for reinforcements that aren’t coming.
The Lord Inquisitor, quite obviously, is WIP document for The Lord Inquisitor. I’ll restate for the bajillionth time: me and Erasmus are redoing the whole story, and the voice actor in the proof of concept trailer is long, long gone.
The Talon of Horus is the synopsis for, uh, a novel with the working title of The Talon of Horus. It’s the first in my (hopefully long-running) Sons of Horus / Black Legion series. But we’ll see. It’s just in the first tentative stages right now, and I’m a changeable creature.
So now you’re up to date.
Leave me alone.