Warhammer 40k: Void Stalker by Aaron Dembski-Bowden. Book review

VOID STALKER: A Night Lords Novel, Aaron Dembski-Bowden, The Black Library, PB, £7.99

Reviewed By Steve Dean

This is the third book in the Night Lords trilogy, and it pretty much carries on as expected, with much bloodshed and violence.

The Night Lords, for those who don’t know, are a Chaos tainted legion, alone in space after the death of their primarch, who was killed on the planet of Tsagualsa. Talos, prophet of the surviving members of the legion, has a vision which forces him to return to the planet, to face his and the chapters destiny.

Unexpectedly, they find a thriving colony on the planet they expected to be barren after it was purged all those years ago. The Night Lords descend to the surface to punish the colonists for trespassing on their sacred world.

Acting on a prophesy, Eldar ships attack the Night Lords vessel while they are butchering the humans, and they are forced to break off and run. The Eldar follow the Night Lords, seeming to be always one step behind the Chaos marines. Talos decides it’s time to make a last stand, and orders the Night Lords back to Tsagualsa, to fight to the death in the planet’s catacombs.

Although very well written, this is not an easy book to read. The Night Lords are a murdering bunch of amoral, torturing pirates of the worst kind. The part where they capture and flay a group of astropaths is particularly disturbing. This leaves us with a problem, as we don’t really care what happens to the Night Lords, indeed, I found myself gratified when any of them were killed.

The book does have two characters to cheer for, the slaves Septimus and Octavia, a pair of untainted humans. This does offset the violence to some degree.

Overall, I would still recommend this book. It’s compelling, adult material, a real page turner, filled with atmosphere and menace. With a lesser writer, this could have been just sensationalised nonsense, but the author manages to tell an excellent story despite the horror.