Soul Hunter

soul_hunterAve Dominus Nox! is the warcry of the Night Lords.  This is the first book in which I met the remnants of the VIII Legion.  This is also the first in the Night Lords series being authored by Aaron Dembski Bowden.  It’s also the first novel written by Aaron Dembski Bowden that I have read.  Soul Hunter was published in 2010.

The VIII Legion is a traitor legion, which means they fight the Imperial forces and are traitors to the Emperor. Their Primarch, the Night Haunter (or Konrad Curze), is dead – killed by an assassin.  The remaining members of the Night Lords are a hodge-podge of Astartes warriors wearing salvaged armor and using salvaged materiel. This legion is also a bit outside of the timeline of the rest of the universe, because of their time in the Warp.  Their geneseeds are also uniquely pure, as compared to the other Astartes post-Heresy. (Acidic saliva was a small, but fun detail!) The Night Lords are Chaos Space Marines, and scorn all forms of religious faith; they respect only temporal and material power. Many Night Lords consider themselves free of the taint of Chaos and despise those they deem to be so corrupted. This last part is what makes the Night Lords such a dynamic group of characters.

The publisher’s tag is:

The Night Lords form an uneasy allegiance with the Black Legion in order to assault the valuable planet of Crythe Primus. The Imperial world puts up a stern defence, but the biggest obstacle to success will be the disunity and mistrust between the two Legions.

For the first quarter of the book, I was not too impressed.  It was a good read that moved along, but it seemed a bit disjointed and I was not always completely crystal clear on what was going on. Also, I felt that some parts of the novel were disconnected from other parts.  After finishing the novel, I have to say that the entire book was actually better than I thought it would be in the beginning.

The author was trying to write an engaging and pivotal story while at the same time giving the reader all of the necessary background needed to understand the formation, development, and significance of the VIII Legion.  I realize that the “history” of a Legion is probably neither fun to read or write if it’s just styled in some encyclopedia fashion.  Therefore, the effort is made here to present the history without it looking like something from the Encyclopedia Britannica.  At first, I found the writing difficult because the author is trying to tell us a present-day story, but yet he also is tasked with providing the backstory.  Also, let me throw this curve ball in now, the main character Talos (aka: Soul Hunter) is called “The Prophet” because he has visions of the future.

The author smartly writes this novel utilizing a lot of flashbacks and foreshadowing.  These techniques are what made me feel like this was a bit disjointed, but as I got used to it, I was really drawn into the novel.  I feel that the author did a very good job of writing this Night Lords novel.  Truth be told, I think we jumped to and fro (past/present/future) a little too much, but it worked nonetheless.  The end result is a dynamic, interesting, and unique history.  The VIII Legion is not a carbon-copy of other legions and their primarch, homeworld, and modus operandi are greatly interesting.  After reading this novel, I wanted to read more and more and more about this Legion. If there are more novels out there… I will hunt them:  preysight!

4 stars

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