Lord of the Night by Simon Spurrier – Review [Lord of the Night]
Lord of the Night reviews the Night Lords novel Lord of the Night by Simon Spurrier, yeah lots of night and lord in that sentence.
“A twistedly awesome story of revenge and fear, and about the people who have no place in the world they live in and yet continue to go on. A Black Library classic!” – The Founding Fields
Yes it’s finally time. I am reviewing the book that gave me my forum handle. Lord of the Night was one of the first 40k novels I read after Daemon World and Fulgrim and it’s what cemented my love for the Night Lords, before the only exposure to them I had was reading what little scraps of info I could find on the internet. But Lord of the Night is not a story about the Night Lords, not truly, it’s more a story about one man, Zso Sahaal and his quest for revenge against his enemies and his goal to rule his Legion.
There is a monster in the hives of Equixus. A monster that strings up those it catches, that multilates them and commits atrocities. A monster that walks in the shadow and wears a skull for a face. The monster is a Night Lord, the one Night Lord whose name all the VIIIth Legion know. Zso Sahaal, the First Captain and the one who will rule the Night Lords for he is the Night Haunter’s heir. But to prove it to his brothers, to claim his throne, he must find the Corona Nox, the last heirloom of Curze’s that can prove leadership to his wayward brothers. But Sahaal is out of his depth as he quickly discovers that it has been 10,000 years since he was last awake, and he is trapped on a world that hunts him, and with a Legion that he may not understand anymore following his every move.
The story in Lord of the Night is as I said the story of one man. For a good long while this was the key source of lore on the Night Lords Legion but really it’s the story of Zso Sahaal, about his quest for power and his dealing with the fact that in 10,000 years the Night Lords have changed, or they might never have been what he thought they were. Fans of ADB’s NL series will recognize Sahaal as the “coward” who fled with the Corona Nox, and this novel tells his story and his side and does both very well. Sahaal’s motives can be understood, agreed with however is another matter, and his quest is a very entertaining one as he must not only adapt to being hunted, to to being in a time that he does not understand. The second plot of the story is a nice counterpoint to Sahaal’s, the psyker Mita Ashyn who deals with the fact that she too doesn’t fit in with the world around her and how both she and Sahaal come to terms with that fact. I really enjoyed the use of both stories to reach the end point, that these two characters were intertwined with each other and that their stories, separated by 10,000 years, couldn’t have reached the end without the other.
The characters are a very interesting bunch. Sahaal and Mita Ashyn are the two protagonists and the both of them are pariahs in a sense. Both do not belong in the worlds they inhabit, Sahaal does not fit in with his Legion anymore and Ashyn as a psyker does not fit in with humanity. Both of them undergo some damn good character development as they both decide what their place is, what their future should be and what they will do about it. Inquisitor Kaustas is another key character and he plays a large role in both stories as Sahaal’s hunter and Mita’s master, I really enjoyed the revelation of his motives and was rather surprised by this harsh character’s last scene. The only other key character is Krieg Acerbus, and he is definitely the other counterpoint to Sahaal, I really enjoyed their opposing philosophies and beliefs about Konrad Curze. With the Heresy series advancing and the new NL trilogy having released a lot more info you can make a much more informed choice about who you believe, but still there is no true answer.
The action is very nicely done, but is on the small scale. After all it’s one traitor marine against the forces of a Hive and the Inquisition but Spurrier does a good job of making it exciting by making it more personal. This is a hunt and Sahaal is the quarry, and it’s an odd position for a Night Lord to be in but Spurrier plays it really well by having Sahaal fight back as a Night Lord should. The action scenes are therefore dark and tense, lots of ambushs and shadow-fighting that gives you some really good visuals. The action is as dark and gripping as the novel’s plot and I feel the two really mesh well together, both complement each other and make for a better novel than either alone could have done.
The pacing is the story can be considered either every good or uneven. I personally enjoy the POV switches between Sahaal and Mita as I feel the kept the story interesting by showing you both sides at a regular pace, but I suppose some could consider the jumps to be somewhat disarming as you cannot truly get into Sahaal or Mita’s story alone, you are shuffled between the two so that you can see what is going on for both sides of the conflict and how these parts will affect the other part. As I said I enjoyed this, but i’m aware that some may not.
Now for my favourite quote, it couldn’t be anything other than this,
“One was just and righteous. The other had felt the kiss of Chaos all it’s life.”
The ending is I feel a very good one and the only ending that was really possible for these characters and their stories. Spurrier does a good job of ending the stories yet at the same time keeping the stories alive. We’ll never know how Sahaal and Mita’s story ended, but we know how this part of it ended and that has to be enough. But the resolutions that come for both characters are very interesting, each choosing their path for the future and ending the story on a dark but hopeful note.
For a great story about two kindred yet very different characters, and for being one of the most interesting sources about the Night Lords legion, and a very grimdark 40k piece, I give Lord of the Night a score of 8.2/10. I would recommend this to any fan of the Chaos Space Marines, and really in my own opinion as a self-confessed/declared rabid Night Lords fan I would recommend it to any 40k fan. This book is special to me for being the first real Chaos Space Marine piece I ever read and is still one of my favourite novels, even if ADB’s NL series has changed the way I look on the characters.
That’s it for this review. Until next time,
AVE DOMINUS NOX!