Title: Konrad Curze: The Night Haunter
(The Horus Heresy: Primarchs Book 12)
Author: Guy Haley
Genre: Military Sci-Fi (Warhammer 40k universe)
Rating: 3.5 of 5
A couple years ago I reviewed the Night Lords Trilogy as decent dark, uber-violent, escapist sci-fi. This book provides a prequel of sorts and isn’t half bad for a shared-world-based-on-tabletop-gaming sort of book. In it, we get to know the primarch/gene-father of the VIII Legion both before and after his fall into the service of Chaos. He combines the implacable “justice” of Les Miserables’ Javert with the terror-inspiring vigilantism of Batman and a great big dose of prescience-induced insanity.
The story is fragmented into a kaleidoscope of flashbacks and angry rants against the Emperor of Mankind. Some of the transitions can be a bit confusing, but given Curze’s insanity, I think the overall effect works quite nicely.
The plot features the usual Warhammer amount of guts, gore, and grossness (and then some since our protagonist is one of the “bad guys”). I was really hoping for a good chunk of the story to be about the primarch’s early dark vigilante days on Nostromo, but the author was more interested in exploring his damaged psyche and events subsequent to the Horus Heresy.
This isn’t a good starting point if you’re new to the series as it assumes you have a basic working knowledge of the universe and some of its major events. However, if you’re into the Warhammer 40K books in general and chaos space marines in particular, this is worth reading.
Title: Night Lords: The Omnibus
Author: Aaron Dembski-Bowden
Genre: Military Sci-fi (Warhammer 40K)
Rating: 3 of 5
In the dark, violent Warhammer 40,000 universe, stories about loyalist Space Marines tend to be monotonously alike. They are all ridiculously over-powered and fanatically single-minded in doing the Emperor’s will. The forces of Chaos are more disturbing/evil but can offer a lot more variety as protagonists, so I decided to check out this trilogy featuring a company of Chaos Space Marines (aka the bad guys).
The Night Lords are sadistic, atrocity-committing cowards almost as likely to turn on each other as they are to wreak their vengeance on the Empire. They are not so corrupted by Chaos that they are unthinking monsters, but they have become little more than scattered bands of raiders and pirates. The narration mostly follows the “prophet” Talos and his human slaves, Septimus and Octavia as Talos tries to bring some sort of unity and meaning back to the scattered VIII Legion.
As with any Warhammer 40K book, these are purely escapist stories filled with violence and gore (given the nature of our protagonists, the gore is ratcheted up a few notches), and the writing is only so-so (certain stock descriptions/phrases get overused, one seemingly important story thread just vanishes without resolution, etc.). Basically, it’s about what you would expect from a series based on a tabletop game.
It was interesting reading from the “bad guys'” perspective and seeing their reasons for doing what they do. At least they’re honest about being evil…I personally find the Emperor and other “good guys” to be almost as reprehensible in most stories. It was pretty much what I expected it to be, it was a good read for what it was, and I’ve had my fill of dark uber-violent sci-fi for a while.