Archive for Betrayer

Lord of the XII Legion – A Triptych, pt. 8

Posted in 30k, Conversions, Fluff, paintjob, WIP, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 23, 2017 by krautscientist

The Battle of Armatura

Distance did nothing to steal any of the primarch’s blunt, savage grandeur. He was a ruined, towering thing of pain-spasms and sutured flesh. Lotara had only ever seen two primarchs, but despite the legend that each was cast in the Emperor’s image, Lorgar and Angron couldn’t have looked less alike. The former had a face that belonged on antique coins, and a voice that made her think of warm honey. The latter was an angel’s statue, desecrated by a hundred blades and left in the rain. Angron was ripped skin and roared oaths over a core of thick blood vessels and muscle meat.

Aaron Dembski-Bowden, Betrayer

 

Having finished my Wayne England-inspired conversion of the Primarch Angron during the Night of the Wolf, I originally didn’t plan on throwing myself headfirst into painting yet another version of the Primarch — at first. But inspiration can be a fickle mistress, and that model was intended as a test run for the Forgeworld version of Angron still languishing, unpainted, on my painting desk, after all. So I found myself messing around with yet another version of the XII Primarch in short order — bear with me, though, there’ll be a finished model at the end of this 😉

As I have mentioned before, the model came to me as an incredibly generous gift courtesy of Adam Wier (of Between the Bolter And Me), and this was doubly amazing because I doubt I would ever have gotten off my arse to actually get my hands on Forgeworld’s version of Angron — not for lack of appreciation, though, because I love the model and think it is one of Forgeworld’s best Primarch interpretations!

So Adam really did me a good turn there, and as luck would have it, the whole thing became even more interesting due to the fact that a few pieces of the original model were missing: The plasma pistol was easily ignored (because, let’s face it, who would expect Angron to be actually using a weapon that isn’t an axe or a chainblade?), but the missing cape presented a bit of a conundrum because it provides some extra bulk to the model and also covers up Angron’s rather crudely designed back.

With a bit of thought – and the generous help of fellow hobbyist Helega – I was able to overcome this problem, however, replacing Angron’s stock cape with the chain cape from the WFB Chaos Lord on Manticore — arguably the one bit from GW’s entire catalogue that is up to the task. Even better, Angron is actually described as wearing a chain mesh cape like that in the various BL novels, and is even shown wearing one in the accompanying artwork:

Illustration from the ebook version of “Galaxy in Flames”

So with a bit of elbow grease, I had managed to cobble together a complete model, ready for painting, right?


Well, almost. Because there remained one last hurdle to overcome: The last part missing from the model was the base: Like all of Forgeworld’s Primarch models, Angron comes with a two part base: An outer ring, making for a stunning display base, and an inner piece that will fit on a 30mm base (for gaming purposes) and can be slotted into the larger piece to create the entire display base.

Now I did have the “outer ring” part, but not the actual piece that goes on top of Angron’s base. The easy solution would have been to simply build a smaller base and discard the larger piece as optional and non-essential — but I really liked the idea of being able to create that large and ostentatious display base. So I had to come up with a design that would work well on its own while also interacting with the larger display base piece.

After a bit of thinking, I realised that I could use this to tie the model closer into the background for my 30k project (the battles of Armatura and Nuceria) and touch up some parts of the original base I didn’t like. Because while I am a huge fan of Forgeworld’s Angron model, I don’t quite have the same fond fealings for the base: You see, Angron is surrounded by three Marines, one he is resting his right foot on and two standing (or rather, falling) Astartes he is in the process of turning into minced meat. The objective here is obviously to show how deadly Angron is, but in my opinion, the two defeated Astartes on eather side just draw a bit too much attention away from the real star of the show:

So with that in mind, I got to work. Here’s what I came up with:

First up, I needed something of greater height that Angron would be standing on, so I purchased another Forgeworld rock piece (from Badab-War-era Huron, if I am not mistaken) from a bitz seller, because it would match the rest of the base more closely than any rock I could have improvised. I decided to use a Cataphractii Terminator as a fallen enemy at the Primarch’s feet, which seemed appropriate enough. And due to clever positioning of the parts, this only set me back one Cataphractii torso front, one shoulder pad and half a power-fist arm. Here’s the basic setup:


As you can see, the basic structure was built up using some GS. And the mangled head of the Cataphractii originally came from the Crypt Ghoul kit — I chose it because it resembled how I imagine somebody who has taken a chainaxe to the head might look…

The next part was to create some texture for the ground. My trusty Vallejo Sandy Paste once again turned out to be the perfect tool for the job:


At this point, I also created some additional, grisly detail in the Terminator’s abdominal region, using my tried and true combination of shaved down Skaven tails and stringy glue to suggest entrails:


The floor texture was then used on the rest of the base, to blend all parts together and make them look like they had been designed to fit together:



I also added some small details, namely a discarded Mk. IV helmet and a tattered XIII Legion standard. And while the outcome may not fit together quite as seamlessly and ingenuously as Forgeworld’s stock solution, I was still rather happy with how everything came together after undercoating:


Seeing the base come together so well actually gave me a huge boost when it came to painting Angron himself, which was really for the best, as painting a Forgeworld Primarch model had seemed like such a daunting challenge to me.

But now I just got started, deciding to tread carefully and to, once again, keep TheApatheticFish’s painting tutorial close for reference. And surprisingly enough, I made good progress:



Now like I said, this was my first Forgeworld Primarch model, and they are truly something else: There’s so much fine detail there that warrants a lot of attention – the chains wrapped around Angron’s weapons and wrists, for instance, are so delicate and lovely.
That being said, I hope I don’t sound too full of myself when I say that, with three versions of Angron already under my belt by this point, I was able to take it all in stride 😉

Fun fact, I actually suck at painting freehands, but I seem to be getting pretty handy with painting the XII Primarch’s warpaint:


Must be all of that practice 😉

Anyway, Angron was coming along pretty well, and soon I was at a point where only fairly little remained to be done:


But then, it’s a Primarch we are talking about here, so I made sure to add several rounds of highlights and touchups 😉

At the same time, there was also the base to keep track of. Here’s what it looked like after I had blocked in all of the base colours yesterday afternoon:


The process that came afterwards was a lot of fun, really, as the muddy, dusty nature of a battlefield allowed me to play a bit fast and loose with the painting, while still arriving at a suitably gritty and realistic result.

Here are the two finished parts of the base:



And here’s how everything looks when assembled:



I am really very happy with the result, and I think this could even read as a “complete” Forgeworld base — at first glance, if nothing else. Plus it also allowed me to push the thematic idea of having my 30k “army” centered around the battles of Armatura and Nuceria, where the XIII legion were the main adversary.

Speaking of which, the base could actually be seen as telling its own little story: How did that Terminator get there? Was he torn apart when trying to stand in the way of the charging Primarch? Was he buried under the falling rubble and debris when the defensive forces of Armatura detonated Valika Junction in a desparate attempt to stall the World Eaters’ advance?

So with the base finished, putting the last round of finishing touches on its occupant was quick work. And then, incredibly enough, my first – and possibly only – Forgeworld Primarch model was complete:

Angron

The Conqueror, The Bloody One, The Red Angel,
Primarch of the XII Legion

This is not freedom. He knows that. He knows it well.

This is not freedom, he thinks as he stares at the World Eaters screaming his name. But the fight is only just beginning.

When the Emperor dies under his axes, when his final thought is how the Great Crusade was all in pathetic futility, and when his last sight is Angron’s iron smile…
then the Master of Mankind will learn what Angron has known since he picked up his first blade.

Freedom is the only thing worth fighting for.

It is why tyrants always fall.“

Aaron-Dembski-Bowden, Lord of the Red Sands






Once again, I am pretty happy with the outcome: This has been a premiere for me, but my main fear (messing up the model with sub-par painting and gooey paint) didn’t become a reality, at least for the biggest part 😉 There’s always room for improvement, and my version of Angron certainly cannot hope to compete with some of the utterly stunning versions from fellow hobbyists (and much more accomplished painters) out there, but even so: Tackling this model really was pretty far beyond my comfort zone, and I do think I have still done him justice!




Above all else, the face was the one part of him I really wanted to get right, and I am really rather happy with the finished piece:


So with this latest version of Angron completed, I now have three different versions of the Primarch before his ascension to a Daemon-Prince of Khorne, showing Angron at different moments in his life of violence:


From left to right: Angron as a gladiator in the fighting pits of Desh’ea, Angron during the Night of the Wolf, and Angron at the Battle of Armatura.

Possibly the best remark I have received for the three models so far is this comment from Ynneadwraith:

However, my personal favourite touch is how in the 3 humanoid (as primarchs are definitely not human) versions it actually looks like he’s aged. The pitfighter looks slightly fresh-faced, while Night of the Wolf Angron is starting to look a little more sallow. By the time you get to the Forgeworld one he’s looking veritably grizzled, perhaps even a little haggard as the Butcher’s Nails take their toll.

If that is indeed the case, I am really happy, because I was really gunning for the impression that this is the same character at various stages in his life — and on a downward spiral, no less…

Speaking of Angron’s history, there is that fourth version of him I created last year, remember? So here’s the entire “Massacre of Angrons”:


And now we have actually arrived at a tetraptych instead of a triptych — who woulda thunk, huh? 😉

So does this conclude this particular project? For the most part, yes. And yet, and still…

If nothing else, there are still some loose ends left to tie up, namely the display base I created for Angron in his Daemon-Primarch form. And now I can’t stop thinking about a shared display base for all the models — working title: “Stations of a violent life”. And there are even more moments in the life of the XII Primarch that would warrant an own version: his mourning his brothers and sisters on the boneyard at Desh’elika Ridge. The moment of his ascension. Angron holding a freaking Titan’s leg over his head, allowing a horribly maimed Lorgar to crawl free….I need to stop thinking about this! 🙂

For now, let’s just say that while I cannot possibly reach the same levels of dedication and/or madness as, say, Reg, maybe we haven’t heard the last of the XII Primarch either…

And in any case, we’ll be seeing more 30k World Eaters for him to lead:


For now, thanks must go to Adam Wier, above all else, for providing me with the chance to paint this excellent model! To Helega for providing a crucial bit. To Matthew Farrer and Aaron Dembski-Bowden for turning “Angry Ron” into one of the setting’s most fascinating and tragic characters. And, of course, to everyone who has helped this project along with their suggestions and comments — speaking of which, it goes without saying that I would love to hear your feedback, so drop me a comment!

And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

Lord of the XII Legion – A Triptych, pt. 7

Posted in 30k, Conversions, Fluff, paintjob, WIP, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 14, 2017 by krautscientist

The Night of the Wolf

Lhorke never saw who fired the first shot. In the decades to come, the World Eaters claimed it came from the Wolves‘ lines, and the Wolves claimed the same of the XII Legion. He had his suspicions, but what was hindsight in the face of catastrophe? Without either primarch giving an order, two Legions fought.

The Night of the Wolf, they’d called it in the years since. Imperial archives referred to it as the Ghenna Scouring, omitting the moment the World Eaters and Space Wolves drew blood. A source of pride for both Legions, and a source of secret shame. Both claimed victory. Both feared they’d actually lost.

Aaron Dembski-Bowden, Betrayer

 

So I really wanted to complete my most recent converted version of the XII Legion Primarch as soon as possible — and as part of the Loyalty And Treachery III event over at The Bolter & Chainsword, no less, which left me with a fairly tight deadline. But then the model was already pretty much finished, wasn’t it? Here’s where we left off last time:

But I wasn’t perfectly happy yet and thought the model needed some final tweaks before it could be painted. So I gave it another round of conversion touchups:


A rather simple addition was the tangle of viscera Angron is holding in the Wayne England artwork that inspired the conversion: It was simply created with two Skaven tails and a bit of stringy glue.

However, there remained another, more substantial addition to complete, and no, don’t worry about the tinfoil on his shoulders: The XII Primarch wasn’t about to get some super tacky coloured hairtips. Rather, I used the tinfoil as a base to build up his cape with some extra GS on top of it:


I wanted Angron’s cape to have a bit more volume and look less like a tacked-on bit, so GS really was the way to go here. At the same time, I really wanted to keep the cape and body as separate parts during the painting progress. So the little trick I came up with was to carefully push some tinfoil down onto the model’s shoulders. Since the foil can be bent to conform to a certain shape, there’s really no need to glue it to the model or attach it otherwise, provided you are careful enough. Yet it will also “insulate” the surface of the model against bonding with the GS added on top, making it easy to take the sub-assemblies apart again. Granted, it would have been even easier had I attached it to something solid. The pauldron’s weren’t glued in yet, however, and so the whole thing turned a bit more finicky than it needed to be. But it worked rather nicely for getting the structure of the cape in place!

As for building up the actual fur on top of the cape, Capt. Jack’s fur tutorial was really invaluable! I tried to adapt it as best I could to my inferior skills. And where that failed, I used an old toothbrush to create some extra texture. Which led to this result:





To show you what’s happened under the hood, so to speak, here’s another look at the GS’ed shoulder area:


And here you can see how the body and cape were still separate pieces at this point, making for much easier and more exact painting:


So just one last step before everything was ready for painting: I had to build the right base for Angron. Now I believe I already mentioned earlier how a sentence from Betrayer provided me with the right context for the model:

In those early years, Angron carried his first axe, the precursor to all others. He called it Widowmaker. It would break this day, never to be used again.

This sentence appears in the description of the event called “The Night of the Wolf” — and everything just fell into place: Why not imagine that my converted model, still wielding the iconic, two-handed axe with the wing-motif from the Wayne England illustration, represented Angron during that fateful night at the tail end of the Ghenna compliance?

Which meant that I needed a fallen Space Wolf — also the owner of that lenght of gut Angron’s clutching in his left fist, incidentally…

A short while later, I had come up with a fitting base:


So with everything in place, it was time to get some paint on the model, and this made me slightly nervous: Not only did I want the model to end up as cool as possible, but this version of Angron was also supposed to serve as a “test run” for when I finally paint the Forgeworld Angron Adam Wier sent me. So I did some research on possible recipes, especially for Angron’s armour. And while I initially thought about merely copying GW’s “official” Custodes colour scheme, I eventually decided on something more bronze and brass than gold, because it just seemed more appropriate for the character (and visibly distanced him from the Emperor’s closest servants who all wear gold). In the end, I discovered ApatheticFish’s painting tutorial and followed it to the best of my ability, and it really clicked for me!

So here are a couple of pictures illustrating the painting process:

First up, Angron with his armour mostly painted, but without his pauldrons:


This picture is interesting because it shows how wonky the model seems without the shoulder pad. It also reveals  the ugly truth of what I had to do to make everything fit together — I am just glad that the pauldrons neatly covered the whole mess up when they were back in place:


In order to add some structural stability to the whole assembly, I painted the base next (then attached the model to it):



Alas poor Hjortulf, we barely knew ye… (trying my hand at the Space Wolves’ Heresy era colours was kinda fun, though!)

So here’s the model with the cape and some detail work left to sort out:



And while the model’s back would end up being almost completely covered by the cape, I did of course completely paint it. Here’s a photo serving as proof that I didn’t skimp on my homework:


So just one final push, and the model would be finished! Fortunately enough, I had a scheduled painting session together with my good friend Annie coming up anyway, so I used this as the perfect opportunity to add a lot of small tweaks and finishing touches and complete Angron’s cape.

And so let’s look at the finished model. Keep in mind that this was the piece of artwork that inspired the conversion in the first place. A fantastic piece by the late, great Wayne England:

Angron by Wayne England

Incidentally, I only found this zoomed-out, higher quality version of the picture when the conversion had already been finished: So there are skulls in that tangle of gore in Angron’s fist — who woulda thunk, huh? 😉

Anyway, without any further ado, here’s the XII Primarch:


Angron

The Conqueror, Primarch of the XII Legion

„I am loyal, the same as you. I am told to bathe my Legion in the blood of innocents and sinners alike, and I do it, because it’s all that’s left for me in this life. I do these things, and I enjoy them, not because we are moral, or right – or loving souls seeking to enlighten a dark universe – but because all I feel are the Butcher’s Nails hammered into my brain. I serve because of this ‚mutilation‘. Without it? Well, perhaps I might be a more moral man, like you claim to be. A virtuos man, eh? Perhaps I might ascend the steps of our father’s palace and take the slaving bastard’s head.“

The Primarch Angron to his brother, Leman Russ
from Aaron-Dembski-Bowden’s Betrayer








Okay, guys: Now I do realise that I might have a tendency to be a bit too much in love with my own work, but I have to admit that I am really, really happy with this model! Are there things I could have done better? You bet! The fur on the cape is probably not as good as it could have been. Using a flesh shade for the shadows on the armour didn’t work out quite as well as I had hoped.

But all in all, he really reads as a believable version of Angron to me, and that makes me very happy, indeed! I am also rather pleased with the way his armour has turned out, and if I have one actual regret right now, it’s that the metal looks a bit too flat and monochromatic in the photos, because it works so well in real life — seriously, this guy sparkles from a couple of feet away 😉 I shall endeavour to take some better pictures that actually show off the armour a bit better.

For now, another detail shot at how the Butcher’s Nails, the armour and the partially sculpted cape come together:


And what makes this even sweeter is that the completion of Angron also marks the completion of my vow for the aforementioned “Loyalty and Treachery III” event. I have managed to complete four models I am really pleased with and really nailed down the look I want for my 30k World Eaters:

In addition to Angron, find my detailed thoughts on the rest of the models in the following posts:

And when looking at the bigger picture, I have also come one step closer to completing my fourth (and likely final) incarnation of the XII Primarch. Here are my two converted, Slaughterpriest-based versions of Angron:


So this means two down, one to go:

And finally, Angron among his sons (the meagre extents of my 30k collection so far):

I would love to hear any feedback you might have! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

Aaron Dembski-Bowden’s Betrayer – a review of sorts

Posted in 40k, Chaos, Fluff, Pointless ramblings, Totally worth it, Uncategorized, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 16, 2013 by krautscientist

And now, as they say on Monty Python’s Flying Circus, for something completely different…

Today I’d like to talk about Aaron Dembski-Bowden’s novel Betrayer, which I finally managed to read this last weekend. Seeing how I am a really big fan of the World Eaters, you could certainly say that I took my sweet time for getting around to reading the book, right? Well, there’s a reason for that — several reasons in fact. Allow me to elaborate:

Betrayer_cover

For starters, I have to admit that I am not perfectly sure how to feel about the whole Horus Heresy business. And by that I don’t mean the actual (fictional) event, but the business part: It’s easy to see how the HH franchise has turned into a huge business opportunity for GW and its subsidiaries Black Library and Forgeworld: On the modelling and gaming side of the hobby, FW’s release of Horus Heresy themed models and rules has been a dream come true for countless hobbyists. And the accompanying series of tie-in fiction seems to have opened up the 40k (or rather, 30k) universe to a readership beyond the diehard fans, at least if the sales based awards heaped upon the series are to be believed.

Now everyone’s allowed to have their profit, of course, but you may agree with me when I say that the prospects of huge amounts of money to be made are never the best thing to boost narrative integrity: There are countless instances in literature, film and videogames where the monetary success of a franchise served to replace any semblance of telling a great story with what us mere mortals refer to milking the cow (well, I refer to it as that, anyway).  Therefore, I am reasonably sure that I am not going to burst your bubble when I state that a series of tie-in fiction might not be the perfect place to look for literary greatness. But even then, there’s actually decent storytelling and there is money grabbing. I also harbour the subtle fear that there might come a day when every single hour of every single day of the Horus Heresy is firmly documented within its own novel — just like each and every creature in the Mos Eisley cantina now has a rather detailed CV available in the Star Wars Expanded Universe (go ahead, do some research — I dare you!)

And, in all fairness, my first foray into the literary side of the Heresy (the short story collection “Tales of Heresy”) didn’t leave me exactly optimistic, since I found some of the stories to be pretty horrible, some merely tolerable (among them a Dan Abnett story, which was really a disappointment for me) and only two truly good: Graham McNeill’s haunting “The Last Church” and Matthew Farrer’s seminal “After Desh’ea” — the first story to ever make the World Eaters’ Primarch Angron actually read as an interesting character.

So it was with some trepidation that I approached the first real BL book to flesh out my favourite legion: I have gone on record stating that the prospect of new material for “my” legion always fills me with equal amounts of anticipation and dread: While I love to get more input on the World Eaters, the rather hamhanded current background for them leaves me wishing as often as not that GW would just leave them alone. So when I learned that Aaron Dembski-Bowden would be writing the novel, I wasn’t exactly sure how to feel about it: On the one hand, I would have perferred Mathew Farrer, the one guy so far who seemed to have understood the legion’s narrative potential, to get another shot at writing these guys. On the other hand, ADB’s credentials and the quotes he posted on his (higly recommended) blog made me cautiously optimistic. But I was still feeling a little scared — does that make sense? In all fairness, I also didn’t want to read the digital version, since I am a printed on paper kind of guy. Anyway, hence the delay.

 

Betrayer tells a surprisingly momentous tale (interesting for a series that often seems content to over-embroider minor plot points to the point of ridiculousness) that ends with what may truly be called a bang. Without spoiling the plot for you, let’s just say that the end of the model does have enormous ramifications for the future of the XIIth Astartes Legion. Before that, though, the World Eaters get lots and lots of opportunities of rampaging across Imperial worlds, among them the Ultramarines’ war world of Armatura and Nuceria, the Primarch Angron’s own homeworld.

For a book dealing with a legion that is mostly about frenzy and senseless butchery, the plot is also uncannily character and dialogue driven. It’s all for the best, though, because in my opinion, ADB is just very good at writing Space Marine characters: He manages to combine their supernatural powers and majesty with a believable amount of humanity and of course just the right blend of gravitas and theatrics. The interactions between the different Primarchs are just as good, with the fabled demigods truly feeling like a race apart but remaining relatable nevertheless. The Word Bearers’ primarch Lorgar stands out as a inscrutable character, sincere and utterly manipulative at the same time, impossible as that may seem.

The book’s greatest feat, however, is how it treats Angron. You should think that a guy who is “always angry all the time” and whose name is, for crying out loud, ANGRON would not exactly turn out to be a narrative goldmine, but Matthew Farrer already disproved that notion in “After Desh’ea”. I had hoped that ABD would take the look and feel of that story and run with it, and indeed he did: His Angron is a tragic, damned figure, scarred in body and soul and utterly beyond redemption. So far, nothing new.

But ABD’s characterisation truly excels at making Angron believable and, dare I say it, sympathetic in his background and his pain, while also making it clear that the Primarch is monstrous. It’s a very delicate balance to maintain, but it works: You cannot help feeling sorry for the broken Primarch, but you could also never really like him. He has the best possible reasons to be this way, but he is also irredeemable.

A similar high point, then, is the relationship between the Primarch and his gene-sons: There has been a discussion over at Throne of Skulls whether or not the World Eaters hate their Primarch, and I would argue that the truth of the matter, at least according to Betrayer, is far more ingenious and believable than that: It’s clear that the World Eaters are very aware that the Butcher’s Nails implants that they let themselves be outfitted with in order to feel true kinship with their Primarch have irrevocably damaged the legion: Kharn and several other characters show feelings of resentment and melancholia at the realisation that their legion can never be as inspirational or cultured as most of the other legions due to the bite of the nails. And who would be to blame for that other than Angron, right?

Yet at the same time, it’s obvious that the World Eaters take fierce pride in their brotherhood and martial honour. They have eagerly cobbled together their own warrior culture from the snippets of lore brought back by Angron and those traditions from their legionaries’ myriad homeworlds, and while they clearly acknowledge that it’s not a shining example of human endeavour, it’s the only kind of culture they have, so they cling to it fiercely. And this culture does of course encompasses Angron and his past at Nuceria.

Then there’s the fact that they do, in fact, feel pity for Angron — a notion that would probably send the Primarch flying into a rage, ironically enough. They share his feeling that he never had a chance to begin with, and what little glory was his to claim was taken away during the battle of Desh’ea.

And finally, even though Angron’s condition is perpetually deteriorating, there are moments of brotherhood and kinship between him an his sons: The book describes how he shares in his sons’ rituals and battles, how he drinks and laughs with them like few other Primarchs do, even though there is a gulf of conflicting emotions between them.

So what we have here is this hugely complex (and beautifully written) mix of resentment, love, hatred, disappointment and what have you. I think this is as true to life as fiction dealing with transhuman supersoldiers can possibly be, precisely because it echoes real life: You might feel resentment or embarrassment or even hatred for one of your close relatives, but they will always remain your family, and there’s no escaping that fact.

Below this main storyline, I also loved how ADB managed to partly flesh out the fleet and Titan legions — actually my least favourite parts of the whole background so far: By creating interesting and noble characters (like the Conqueror’s flag-captain Serrin or the Legio Audax personnel) and by injecting both organisations with a healthy dose of WWI air warfare chivalry (with officers complimenting their opponents on shrewd maneuvres and elegant tactics), he succeeds at actually giving the non-Astartes characters a voice of their own, without their parts of the novel ever feeling boring or unnecessary.

And for all those who are understandably sceptical of GW’s focus on Space Marines, feeling they are all just reskins of the same basic design template, it should be interesting to see how the author manages to give a different feel to the Legiones Astartes: From the fierce brotherhood (and battlefield frenzy) of the World Eaters to the priestly nobility (and insane zeal) of the Word Bearers, you get the impression that the Legiones Astartes are very different from each other indeed, if only written well. Even the Ultramarines, serving mainly to be beaten up very badly, get a few moments in the spotlight, and we are afforded glimpses at their warrior culture that make them look more interesting than they have any right to be (their battlefield commanders issuing orders in High Gothic is a great little touch).

In fact, ADB’s writing of characters always seems to be at its best where it deals with duality: Lorgar’s inscrutable motives, Angron’s position between a tragic hero and a monster, the legions’ duality or even the surprising depth of minor characters.

And, beyond all that, the book is of course a goldmine for little bitz and pieces of lore, from the World Eaters’ battle traditions and gladiatorial bouts to their affected bastard language of Nagrakali: These guys may fall to frenzy and bloodlust when on the battlefield, but for what may the first time ever, you can actually imagine them off the battlefield as well — no mean feat!

 

So, are there any negatives?

For one, this is, after all, only one book in a series. This means that most of the plot will only make sense to you if you do at least have an idea of the overarching narrative: If you’ve never heard about the Word Bearers’ machinations, about what happened on Calth or about the Thousand Sons’ being torn apart by the Space Wolves, you’ll be left scratching your head more than once. And even if you have a relatively good grasp of the bigger events, some references and allusions might still go over your head. That’s not really the author’s fault, though — if anything, I feel dread at the prospect of now having to read other HH novels written by less talented people…

Nevertheless, if you are simply looking for a great SciFi novel to pass the time, this might not be it: Too much stuff will be lost on you, and there are probably enough self-contained storylines of similar quality that are easier to get into. And it goes without saying that the book will prove utterly impenetrable to those without any knowledge of the attached GW universe.
If, however, you have a general idea of the overarching HH storyline – not necessarily from reading other HH novels, but from a mix of reading the different (Chaos) Space Marine codizes over the years and doing a bit of scrounging around for background at places like the Lexicanum or the Warhammer 40k Wiki – you’re good to go: That was my preparation going into this novel, and I belive it was enough.

For every World Eaters player, Betrayer is, of course, a must buy, for the amount of background lore alone. But there’s a great story beyond all that, and the book is truly great as tie-in fiction, and still very good on its own terms: I, for one, will probably pick up more of ABD’s novels (I am told his Night Lords stuff is the shitz) and look forward to his Black Legion series — or maybe some more World Eaters stuff?

 

But what does it all mean for Khorne’s Eternal Hunt? I’ll be honest with you: I did of course fear that parts (or most) of my own fluff would be ivalidated by this novel. But not only does ABD himself address the fact that several versions of events exist in the background (in a surprisingly clever throwaway scene), but he also succeeds at creating a canvas for your own fluff rather than enforcing his own view of things (as some authors have been known to do…). So while small readjustments to my own background may be in order, I relish the chance to make the 4th assault company even more interesting and colourful. In fact, there might be a separate post in that somewhere 😉

 

What about you, though: Have you read the book? How do you feel about it? And was this review helpful to you? Please feel free to share whatever thoughts you might have in the comments section!

And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

P.S. Oh yeah, before I forget; In case you didn’t gather as much from my rambling above, this book is also totally worth it.