Konrad Curze: The Night Haunter by Guy Haley
Konrad Curze: The Night Haunter, authored by Guy Haley, is the 12th addition in the Warhammer Horus Heresy Primarchs series. Each volume contains a short novel regarding its respective primarch, in this case the Konrad Curze of the Night Lords legion. Despite its somewhat short length this book has quite a bit going for it, especially in its eccentric narrative style. To say that the book is all over the place is an understatement, though this format is actually much more of a strength than a weakness and aids in portraying the instability and unpredictability of its main theme of Konrad Curze.
To start off with, the majority of the book is somewhat of a long confessional where Curze is conversing with a statue of the Emperor that he created from the flesh of some recent victims. As part of this confession, many events of Curze’s and the 8th legion’s past are spliced into the dialogue. Many perspectives of varying outsiders and of some Night Lords space marines, including Jago Sevetarion, were included in these recollections and allowed several different facets of Curze to be shown. Of course, this somewhat disjointed structure of chronology and character perspectives reflects the fracturing of Konrad Curze’s mind during and after the events of the Horus Heresy.
This fracturing is largely due to internal struggle that the primarch is fighting regarding whether or not the choices he made were preordained and determined or whether he still had free-will despite his foresight of the future. This conflict between choice and fate eats and Curze’s mind and is particularly highlighted in this volume both during scenes where Curze is the narrator as well as from other characters’ perspectives. It is definitely a great strength of the work to show a primarch on the precipice of insanity (and occasionally falling into it) and also in moments of lucidity and clarity.
Now, some of the “flashback” recollections of the narrative were much more fleshed out than others and some of the briefer episodes could have had a little bit more meat added to the bones to make them seem more than vignettes. The disjointed character of the book would still have been kept, but some of the themes that were touched upon could have added more to the story at hand as well as for the general lore of the Horus Heresy era. One other aspect of the book that may have helped slightly would have been to have added a little more content to the present narrative of the book, that being the the day where Curze believe he will die based on his foresight. Sometimes it just felt that the flashbacks swallowed up to much of the word-count when the present events were just as (if not more so) interesting. This is especially so due to the fact that Curze and the reader know upfront at the beginning of the work that the primarch has accepted his fate to be killed by an assassin and that these are his last hours.
Overall, this book was a completely jarring read with elements of horror and terror copiously strewn throughout the work that blended quite well in some strange way. Also the theme of justice and its various interpretations meshed seamlessly with the competing ideologies of fate and free-will that were heavily touched upon in Konrad Curze: The Night Haunter. With very flaws, this book made for an amazing look at one of the most complex of the primarchs and is a must read for anyone who wants to learn about the Night Lords legion.
4.5 out of 5 stars.