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Lord of the Night reviews the fifth limited edition novella Aurelian by acclaimed author Aaron Dembski-Bowden, the author of the Horus Heresy novel The First Heretic, the Night Lords novel Blood Reaver and the Space Marines Battles novel Helsreach. As with all my Limited Edition reviews this will contain a summary of Aurelian’s plot for those who did not get a copy, so for those who don’t want a summary avoid reading the first half of this review.
“Heretically brilliant! Aaron Dembski-Bowden must have Kairos Fateweaver on his shoulder telling him just what to write to ensure a successful book.”
Its no secret that ADB is my favourite author and so I was eager to get started on Aurelian as soon as I finished Deliverance Lost. Picking up the novella early this morning I read it piecemeal over the day, savouring it, until finally finishing it now. I was far from disappointed as I was plunged into the deepest depths of the Eye, seeing the future of what may be and the past of what could have been. Beautiful horrors and dark miracles abounded as we finally saw just what Lorgar Aurelian saw when he stared into the Eye of Terror, and what the Eye showed him when it stared back.
The novella begins with Lorgar attending a meeting of the Primarchs. It is quickly interrupted when he realises that Fulgrim is not Fulgrim but a warp entity, and is even more displeased to learn that Horus knows and has done nothing. Declaring he will meditate on this and deal with it appropriately Lorgar returns to his chambers and consults with Magnus the Red, who notes that Lorgar has changed since Istvaan. Tiring of his arrogance Magnus demands to know what Lorgar saw in the Eye that has changed him so, to which Aurelian begins his tale.
Arriving on the Crone World Shanriatha Lorgar meets with Ingethel the Ascended who tells him of the Fall of the Eldar and shows him the broken Craftworld Zu’lasa. Travelling its depths Lorgar finds the broken husk of the Craftworld’s Avatar, and witnessing its miserable existence caused by the ignorance of its race, he ends it’s life. Spirited away by Ingethel Lorgar is shown the Siege of Terra, his Word Bearers in the future and the final battle of Argel Tal as he meets his final end in the shadow of great wings. Before he can see the Lord of the Gal Vorbak cut down Lorgar is taken away again to Shanriatha, which is revealed to become the Planet of the Sorcerers in the future. Seeing Magnus the Red in the coming future Lorgar is violently rebuffed.
His attention is quickly stolen however as one of the Chaos Gods sends his champion to test Lorgar. An’ggrath the Unbound arrives and duels Lorgar, the fight being the most arduous that Lorgar has ever fought. Through sheer will and focusing his rage he is able to triumph and banish the Daemon. Before he can return he is called to Kairos Fateweaver who shows him multiple futures, including one in which Lorgar slays Roboute Guilliman but in doing so ensures the failure of the Horus Heresy and the Emperor’s victory. Before he leaves Lorgar asks to see more of the Eye and to be shown what happens if they lose the coming war.
Returning to the present Lorgar confronts ‘Fulgrim’ and allows him to continue his existence, but says that it will not be forever. The story ends with Lorgar dispatching Argel Tal to his own battle and reminding him of the necessities of sacrifice, indicating Lorgar will not fight Guilliman at Calth and will instead go to Terra, sacrificing his revenge for faith.
The characterisation is small-ranged in this novella, as Lorgar is the only protagonist. But it is nevertheless expertly written as we see just how much finding his chosen path has changed Lorgar. Gone is the unsure and hestitating Primarch that we once knew, and now stands a holy-warrior sure of his cause and with conviction that even unsettles his brother Primarchs. Horus may be the Warmaster of the Heresy but Lorgar is its Arch-Priest, and even Horus himself is shown to be wary of Lorgar and his new attitude. Other characters appearing include Ingethel the Ascended whose cryptic hints show Lorgar the future, Argel Tal the Lord of the Gal Vorbak who may be destined to die, but his present self is still strong, and all of the Traitor Primarchs of whom we get a brief glance at the beginning of the novel, and Angron who gives us some strange yet poignant battlefield wisdom.
The action in the novel is not the focus point since this is a novella mainly about revelations, but Lorgar’s duel with An’ggrath the Unbound is more than enough to make a reader enjoy the visceral battle between these two demi-gods. It was well written and I could really feel the power at work with both of these very powerful characters clashing with each other. A shame that Lorgar did not beat down on Kairos Fateweaver either but his battle with the Lord of Bloodthirsters was more than enough for me.
The pacing was quite well done. The atmosphere of the novel really feels ethereal as Lorgar treks through the past and future, through dead civilisations and the fate of his own, and sees the ghosts of ancient dead and the warriors of the future. I personally enjoyed the psychic conversations that took place across a lot of the novella, though the physical conversations were very good too, there’s something to be said about beings communicating with their thoughts, and the power that Lorgar unleashes with his mind is very fun to read.
The ending is very interesting and I do wonder what Lorgar and Angron plan to do in the galactic east, though I imagine it can’t be good with the fanatics of the Word Bearers and the berserkers of the World Eaters unleashed on the same place. Looking forward to seeing what comes next for the Word Bearers in Know No Fear by Dan Abnett, the coming Battle of Calth novel.
I give Aurelian a grand score of 4.2/5, a good score but lessened to a 5/5 due to the shortened length of this novella. I am glad that this novella had six times the amount of copies the others have had as I do believe as many people as possible should read this novella, its quite a good piece of reading for an afternoon and the images and story are well worth the money. Plus I got ADB’s autograph! Number 400/3000! Shame you didn’t write Dembski-Bowden in some cool way though Aaron, but the Aaron with sharpened edges on the A and N is enough for me.
That is it for this review. I would say you should buy this book but its out of stock now so any who did not get to read it, you’ll have to content yourself with a summary until the story is re-released in an anthology which could be a while. Until next time…
AVE DOMINUS NOX!