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Betrayer by Aaron Dembski-Bowden: Book Review

mrt 13, 14 Betrayer by Aaron Dembski-Bowden: Book Review

‘Betrayer ‘ is the second Horus Heresy novel by Aaron Dembski-Bowden, after ‘the First Heretic’, and it starts off one year after the Isstvan V Massacre and takes place almost immediatly after the events from ‘Know no Fear’. It recounts the further exploits of Lorgar Aurelian, primarch of the Word Bearers, and his legion in a mission to try and save Angron, primarch of the World Eaters, of the degenerative effects of the Butcher’s Nails.
And, although the World Eaters are seemingly blind to the true goal of the mission, they willingly come along and seem eager to be giving in to the rage-enhancing effects of those same Nails.

The book touches upon a couple of interesting subjects: the first one being that it gives insight in the differences in philosophies between the former War Hounds en the newly adopted World Eaters with the former legion master of the War Hounds, Lhorke, as a focal point. Lhorke is a Dreadnought who died as a War Hound and refused to take on the Butcher’s Nails when the techpriests revived him as a Contemptor. Thus he feels isolated from the rest of the legion that actually did accept the implants to emulate their gene-sire after they got reconnected with their primarch.
A similar subject has been shortly visited upon by Ben Counter in ‘Galaxy in Flames’ where remaining loyalists from the traitor legions are trying to survive and cope with their former brethren just turned to traitor by following the Warmaster Horus.

Another very interesting plotline is the adventures of the ‘Syrgalah’, warhound titan of the legio Audax under command of the World Eaters. It describes their methods of fighting and what it means to be part of a moderatus-crew of a titan. For me personally this is a lot cooler to read about than stories about space marines: for some reason the (mostly rather short) life of a normal human is a lot more interesting than the gene-enhanced super warriors of the Adeptus Astartes. This is why I love the Gaunt’s Ghosts-novels and books like ‘Legion’ a lot more because it reminds me how the life of humans in the 40K-universe is all too violent, cruel and bloody.

The main part of the book relates Lorgar’s mission and, in the meantime, follows Argel Tal ( a space marine that has a daemonhost inside him) of the Word Bearers and Khârn, Centurion of the World Eaters, in a seemingly identical mission to save Khârn from a certain death foretold by the always sinister and plotting Erebus.
I won’t divulge anything of the story itself, save that in the end you will know why the book is called ‘Betrayer’.

All in all the book is a fine read and a definite must-read for people interested in the Horus Heresy. Even though it starts off a bit slow and I didn’t seem to be able to connect with the main characters from the beginning, I still kept on reading because of the sideplots with Lhorke and the Syrgalah. Consider in the fact that the mysterious ‘Cabal’ makes another (all too short) appearance towards the end of the novel, so I got drawn into it more and more with an unexpected (and another rather expected) climax.
ADB is no Dan Abnett, but in my opinion he does a better job than say Mitchel Scanlon or Mike Lee portraying space marines and their primarchs.

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