Monday, 19 March 2012

Void Stalker Review

Void Stalker brings Talos and First Claw back out with bolters blazing for the final instalment of the Night Lords trilogy. The Story (excerpted from Black Library website);

The hunters have become the hunted. The Night Lords flee to the dark fringes of the Imperium to escape their relentless pursuers Рthe eldar of Craftworld Ulthwé. Their flight takes them to the carrion world of Tsagualsa, where their primarch died and their Legion was broken. There, history will repeat itself as a deadly assassin stalks the shadows, and the Night Lords are drawn into a battle they are destined to lose.

From the first page Aaron Dembski-Bowden digs his claws in, dragging the reader onwards unrelentingly with his classic traitorous intrigue and powerful imagery. Fans of the previous two books in the series will love the continued immersion into the psyche of First Claw, this novel seeing their true colours shine clearer than before. Uzas continues to be blissfully unaware of his surroundings most of the time, though as befits the final novel we finally learn the truth on his front. Similarly Cyrion’s corruption is brought into the light for the reader; his secret hinted at as bait before the veil is lifted and all becomes clear. Xarl and Mercutian both end the trilogy each with their own epic moments and bouts of traitorous heroism. Talos develops fully as the character we know and have come to love (and/or hate) – the unwilling leader thrust into the limelight. ADB portrays his leading character as gloriously vile as ever, with some carefully constructed twists thrown in for good measure.

Alongside this we see more of the other claws than ever before and their relationships with First Claw. Hinted at from the first gripping tale, Soul Hunter, the love story inter-twined throughout is endearing and believable; it delivers a brilliant twist of humanity to the inhuman Night Lords and gives one ending (of many!) that promotes genuine happiness in the reader. The allusions throughout the first and second books to Talos’ destiny come to a full and well-rounded conclusion, ADB managing to surprise you with revelations and ideas that make you think “Now why couldn’t I think of that!?”.

Through four parts and 440 pages the pace keeps everything in flow; well placed description seamlessly gives light to darkened scenes of wicked anguish and edge-of-the-seat action. ADB moves from the two main settings of Tsagualsa and the Echo of Damnation through a series of brief yet brilliant mini-descriptions of relevant worlds. The impact these smaller pieces have is tremendous and is a wonderful experience for every reader. Ending with not one but three epilogues, there’s something at the end for every facet of the books journey – from the morbid curiosity of the torture scenes to the love-spawned hope of a child.

With the in-depth and brilliantly thought-out characters working through undeniably striking situations set against an amazing back-drop of description, Aaron Dembski-Bowden’s latest wonder receives a gratuitous 5*. A must-read for any fan of his works, I certainly hope for more Night Lord’s of this calibre for the future. Thanks for Mr. DB for this absorbing read.

Next up- Chris Wraight’s Sword of Justice.

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