Betrayer is awesome! I thought that I’d better start this review as I mean to go on. There are certain things that I have grown to expect from any book by Dembski-Bowden: a good plot, strong, incredibly compelling characters and a rollercoaster of emotions. Betrayer delivers all three.
While you don’t have to read Angel Exterminatus to read this book it makes sense that they were released so close together as they share some themes. The audio book Butcher’s Nails is a direct prologue to Betrayer and I’d recommend listening to it first.
Betrayer follows the World Eaters, largely through the point of view of Khârn (not yet The Betrayer) as they, along with the Word Bearers, prosecute the Shadow Crusade. It takes the closest look yet at the World Eaters and Angron, particularly at the debilitating effect of the Butcher’s Nails implants that the World Eaters use. By using a comparison with the Space Wolves and Leman Russ, and a historical, Great Crusade era scrap between the two legions, Dembski-Bowden highlights the uncontrollable berserker nature of the World Eaters and Angron’s blindness to the dangers of this behaviour. Further contrast is given by using the perspective of a World Eater dreadnought who has been in suspended animation since before the discovery of Angron. The book highlights just how far the legion has fallen and how it will eventually end up.
Aaron Dembski-Bowden is very strong at characterisation, he manages to make you feel sympathy for the most dark and twisted characters. This really comes to fore in his Night Lords Trilogy, but it also works very well in Betrayer. It comes to something when you find yourself feeling sorry for a daemon! Erebus however, is still a complete and utter bastard. The range and depth of characters in the book really makes it something special.
So, if you haven’t read Betrayer yet, I really recommend that you do, as not only is it an excellent book and a portion of the money you pay goes to charity, it’s probably the only time that you’ll ever read about a dreadnought playing cards!