Void Stalker by Aaron Dembski-Bowden – Advanced Review [Lord of the Night]
Lord of the Night reviews the breathtaking final novel of Aaron Dembski-Bowden’s acclaimed Night Lords trilogy, the novel Void Stalker.
“Never before has a book resonated within me as Void Stalker has. Through this rollercoaster ride of revealed secrets, whispered prophecy and epic battles Aaron Dembski-Bowden has managed to create one of Black Library’s best novels. So this one’s for him… In Midnight Clad!” – The Founding Fields.
Well it finally arrived. The third and last book of the Night Lords trilogy, or perhaps another name of it could be The Story of the Prophet Talos. Void Stalker arrived yesterday in my mail and I did not start reading immediately as I have limited 360 time and I was playing Mass Effect 3. When I did sit down and start reading I finished half of the book in an afternoon. The second half I have finished today. Now for the actual reviewing part of the review, after the brief synopsis of course.
The Night Lords are at the edge of the precipice. Talos, the Prophet of the Night Lords and the heir to his father’s affliction, dreads the coming future. In fire and death the Eldar will come for them, and will battle them, and will kill them. He has seen the death’s of his brothers in the ruins of a dark world. Fleeing this cruel vision the Night Lords set out towards the place they once called home, the carrion world of Tsagualsa. But not all fates can be avoided, and soon the Night Lords will face what may be their finest, and final hour as the Void Stalker prowls the night, hunting the Hunter of Souls.
The story that began in Soul Hunter comes to a brilliant climax in Void Stalker as the Night Lords meet their destiny. From the epilogue of Soul Hunter we knew that something was coming for Talos, and now it has arrived. ADB has told a masterful story, weaving in romance in an unlikely place and time, tragedy between brothers and murderers, dark secrets revealed at long last, and the story of a man who hated his own Legion. Through the novel we see more and more of the story that shows what it is to be a Son of Curze, a Son of the Sunless World, and a brother of the Eighth Legion. This is a story that will have you hooked from page to page until finally it ends, and you’ll be unable to stop smiling as the final words of the novel end what is in my opinion, one of the greatest trilogies in Black Library.
The characterisation improves as we see yet more of the thoughts of Talos and First Claw, their slaves Septimus and Octavia, and the brothers of the Echo of Damnation as they sail towards the final battle, what drives them towards this confrontation, and the hidden secrets and beliefs that will all be revealed. Talos has grown since the last novel, his command is steadier though not any more welcome; Cyrion is as irreverant as ever, but his darker side is presented as we see more of his corruption and learn just how deeply it runs; Xarl is still the straight man that every brother fears to face; Uzas is still the frothing maniac though by the end we learn more about the fallen warrior than the last two books combined; Mercutian has some great moments and proves to be quite heroic; And Variel the Flayer shows his loyalty and the strength of the bond between he and Talos for the events of Fryga. Septimus and Octavia’s story continues as well, and theirs is a very good one and one whose ending I liked very much, sometimes in 40k nice things do happen. The Void Stalker is one of the few new entries and I must say she impressed me, and I never saw it coming. You’ll see what I mean when you read the novel.
The action is heart-pounding. All bets are off on character safety in Void Stalker. From Raptor sky duels to void-warfare to running battles and lone hunting in the darkness, Void Stalker is filled with the brutal battles that ADB and his fans, myself included, love so much. The fight scenes are coreographed amazingly as the Night Lords battle against the Eldar in every theatre of warfare possible with blade, bolter and the night as their weapons. The battle between First Claw and the Void Stalker is the highlight of the battle scenes in my opinion as it is beautifully done in its brutality and tragedy. Each battle is its own and will definitely engross you with every severed limb and every life ripped away and every bolt fired and every blade slashed.
The pacing of the story is great. With 30 chapters and three epilogues over 440 pages in four parts the story advances nicely through the last book of this trilogy, keeping the reader interested the whole way through. You won’t want to put this book down, I didn’t and wouldn’t have but I can’t read when I sleep and it’d be awkward if I was reading it through biology class. The environments of the story are beautiful to picture though few in number, the dark windswept wastelands of Tsagualsa and the screaming corridors of the Echo of Damnation are the central stages for the story and both imprint themselves into the reader’s head easily.
The ending is… well i’ll review all three of them. The first epilogue is quite a nice one that I felt brightened this dark story a bit, and added to the list of nice moments in 40k, an extremely short list. The second epilogue brought a smile to my face too, but for a much crueller reason. And the third epilogue, the longest of the three, was nothing short of awesome, and to a Night Lords fan like me it was the best ending possible. Three endings to a book is a hell of a thing and it was welcome for me, I hope that we see more of these kinds of epilogues in other books.
For its amazing story, fascinating and engaging characters, visceral battle scenes and endings that will have any fan of the Sons of Curze cheering in midnight clad, I give Void Stalker a score of 11/10, this is a story that breaks the mould and deserves a score that breaks the scoring rank. Some will probably call me a fanboy for this scoring but after reading the last book in my favourite trilogy, I honestly do not care about that, not that I ever really did though. I admit that I am a big fan of the Night Lords but I did not allow bias to affect my scoring. I chose this score because I honestly believe that this book deserves it.
Should you buy this book? The answer is YES! This is one of BL’s best. If you haven’t started reading the Night Lords trilogy then start asap. Void Stalker should be required reading for all fans of Black Library and I sincerely hope that those who have not read the Night Lords books will be swayed by this and other reviews. If you don’t like Space Marines then sadly you won’t enjoy this book, but if you don’t like Space Marines you have a pretty small selection available from Black Library.
And with this the Night Lords trilogy comes to an end. It couldn’t have ended in a better way. I would like to say thank you to Mr Aaron Dembski-Bowden for creating Talos, Cyrion, Uzas, Xarl, Septimus, Octavia and all the other cast and crew of the Echo of Damnation and the Covenant of Blood and this wonderful story. I won’t gush with fanboyish squealing, simply thank you for these great books and I wish you the best in your future works which I will always look forward to.
And with that, this review is over. My next review will be for C.L Werner’s Dead Winter, and then the Space Marine Battles anthology Architect of Fate both of which I cannot wait to start reading. Until next time.
IN. MIDNIGHT. CLAD! AVE. DOMINUS. NOX!!