So last week I picked up Aaron Dembski-Bowden's latest novel, The Emperor's Gift. Before even opening the book, it exudes awesomeness. The artwork on the front cover depicts Hyperion, the foremost main character contained within, is a brilliantly wrought masterpiece, displaying the Grey Knight in glorious action firing his wrist-mounted storm bolter at the enemies of mankind. Physically, the book itself is pleasing; a smooth hardback style that is a pleasure to touch, and weighs in comfortably in my hand.
"The Grey Knights are all that stands between mankind and the ravages of
Chaos. Since their secretive beginnings during the Horus Heresy, these
legendary Space Marine daemon hunters have journeyed into the dark
realms of the warp – and beyond – in pursuit of their supernatural
enemies. Through an intensive regime of psychic training, new recruits
are brought to the clandestine fortress of Titan to join the hallowed
and vaunted ranks of the 666th Chapter. More than ever, these legendary
battle-brothers must be vigilant and ever ready to defend the Imperium
for the forces of Chaos are never truly defeated, and Armageddon beckons" - Black Library
The novel inside begins by peeling back a little of the mystery surrounding Grey Knight Supplicant's induction into the order, and continues dropping information on the 666th Chapter throughout - any lore-lover's dream. Scene's are conveyed, as always with Aaron's work, in a fashion that describes the immediate areas relevant to the story, leaving enough license for the reader to complete the picture with their own imagination. You won't find the over-crowding flood of description that some other writers favour in his books, and in my opinion raises his work up above them because of it.
Hyperion, the young Grey Knight warrior from whose point of view the story is told, is only just starting out his life as one of the Emperor's Chosen, and reflects all the doubts and flaws that one would expect from someone in his position. This creates a brilliantly focused narrative, keeping the account entertaining and interesting throughout (not to mention occasionally humourous). Aaron hits the nail bang on the head with regards to the Space Marine's removal from humanity, keeping the characters aloof from their mortal kin whilst managing to maintain ghosts and echoes of their once-mortal feelings that give the entirety an air of truth and believability that lends itself to the narrative.
Squad Castian, the group of Knights that Hyperion belongs to, continues the believability with each character, keeping each Space Marine similar, but still widely different. I realise that's a contradiction, but its the truth. Aaron follows the flow of his other books, introducing new concepts and ideas that I hadn't even thought of before, and keeping you guessing what's about to happen. Another tool he brings forth from a recent book (Void Stalker) is a collection of smaller pieces within a chapter, describing individuals and actions across a broad range of areas, giving a wide view of the story and keeping intrigue at a premium.
A must-have for any Dembski-Bowden fan, The Emperor's Gift is a wonderful conglomeration of lore, epic story and enrapturing description. The flow carries you through the book with relentless interest and keeps you reading on and on until the well-wrapped-up end. All-in-all, more than worth the £17.99 for this veritable tome and, as usual, Aaron continues to outdo expectations. A powerful five out of five stars for this, and it would have triple that if I could break the scale. Thankyou for yet another great read ADB!