Butcher’s Nails by Aaron Dembski-Bowden – Advance Review [Lord of the Night]

The Broken Primarch...

Lord of the Night reviews the visceral Horus Heresy World Eaters audio-drama Butcher’s Nails by Aaron Dembski-Bowden.

“An enjoyable audio-outing from Aaron Dembski-Bowden, and a tantalizing taste of the XIIth Legion’s future.” – The Founding Fields.

Another audio-drama review, but this time its Horus Heresy which makes it far more interesting than any normal audio-drama. Add to that that the story is about Angron and his World Eaters and it becomes something that is definitely worth listening to just to get a first glimpse of the inner workings of the XIIth Legion.

Tensions are high. Both Angron and Lorgar and their Legions have marched deep within the enemy territory of Ultima Segmentum, sent by the Warmaster on a secret mission to bleed the segmentum dry. But Angron’s rages and bloodlust are driving a wedge into the already fractitious relationship between brothers. It is not long before Angron’s excesses draw the attention of xenos raiders, intent on slaying the gladiator-king before he can rise to his destiny as the Blood God’s son, but how long will it be before Angron realises his destiny to fill the galaxy with oceans of crimson.

The Broken Primarch...

The story of Butcher’s Nails is interesting as while not only being enjoyable it is the first real look into the World Eaters as a Legion, their support staff and their practices and culture. Of course the story itself is interesting too, we learn a lot more about Angron and the Butcher’s Nails, and what they will inevitably lead towards. Though the focus was more on Angron the plot of the story was engaging and had me listening attentively the entire way through, that said however the primary focus of the story was Angron rather than the events that took place in my opinion.

The characterisation featured is quite intriguing. Angron is the protagonist clearly and we learn a lot more about the inner thoughts of the gladiator-king, his attitude towards his warriors and his followers, his brother Lorgar and mainly towards battle and the effects of the Butcher’s Nails. Other characters that feature include Khârn in his earlier, calmer days, whose soft(er) voice, which I felt had an almost melodious Spanish accent, lends a lot to his character’s personality; Captain Lotara Sarrin, mistress of the Conquerer who I enjoyed when she entered battle and displayed some very XIIth Legionary traits; and Argel Tal who has the best voice acting in the entire audio-drama with his dual-voice combined with sharp tones and whose appearance, though brief, shows a bit more about this traitor as he delves further into Chaos.

The action displayed has all the brutality and chainaxe revving that we expect and desire from the Eaters of Worlds. Accompanied by the grinding of chainblades and the crush of bodies being smashed into walls and hacked into bits, the battles are described powerfully with Angron’s unstoppable force and Lorgar’s controlled fury being the central focus of the main battle. The power of a Primarch is put on display very nicely and Butcher’s Nails shows what happens when a World Eater goes all out against his enemy.

The pacing of Butcher’s Nails is a good 75 minutes long, around 14-15 separate tracks. I felt that the story started off nicely then sped up during the battle scenes before finally slowing again in the final track, setting a good enjoyable pace throughout the audio-drama. A listener paying attention will miss nothing, and I enjoyed that the names and places were pronounced clearly so that we can understand them, even through the grinding of Angron’s axes.

The ending has a few surprises, mainly the final conversation between Angron and Lorgar pertaining to what we’ve learned through the audio-drama, and the final few moments for showing exactly when the audio-drama is set and what is happening behind the scenes of the entire story.

And of course my favourite quote from the audio-drama has to be this line,

“I don’t care about honour! I care about the truth!”

For an enjoyable and interesting story, a very well chosen cast of voice actors and engaging characters, and the teaser that this audio-drama has provided to lead into ADB’s next Horus Heresy novel I give Butcher’s Nails a score of 7.8/10. This small taste of the World Eaters has me wanting more, but that will have to wait until Betrayer is finished and released to us all.

Should you buy this audio-drama? I would say Yes if your interested in the World Eaters, or learning more about the smaller details and battles of the Horus Heresy. Its not required listening by any means, I doubt that reading Betrayer would be lessened by not having read this, but it shows a few of the characters that will hopefully be reappearing in Betrayer and is an enjoyable hour of blood and gore. If your not interested though then Butcher’s Nails isn’t for you.

That’s it for this review. I will be starting The Primarchs later today so you can all expect another two-part review for this collection of novellas once i’m finished. Until next time,


Lord of the Night

Lord of the Night is one of TFF’s original reviewers. He’s done quite a few for TFF and that number keeps expanding. You’ll enjoy his diverse mix of book reviews. Always a treat.