Review: The Painted Count by Guy Haley

Posted by DarkChaplain at 1/06/2017
Following the disastrous invasion of Sotha and the dimming of the Pharos' light, Gendor Skraivok languishes on board the VIII Legion flagship Nightfall. Distrusted by his allies and despised by his rivals, he nonetheless means to claw back leadership of the Night Lords from the pretender Captain Shang, by fair means or foul. And, rather than a portent of doom, the daemonic blade that seems to have chosen him as its bearer may be the answer…
Here's yet another Horus Heresy short story from the Black Library Advent Calendar. Getting there!

The Story:
"Following the disastrous invasion of Sotha and the dimming of the Pharos' light, Gendor Skraivok languishes on board the VIII Legion flagship Nightfall. Distrusted by his allies and despised by his rivals, he nonetheless means to claw back leadership of the Night Lords from the pretender Captain Shang, by fair means or foul. And, rather than a portent of doom, the daemonic blade that seems to have chosen him as its bearer may be the answer…"

The Review:
The Painted Count follows on shortly after the events of Pharos. The novel is mandatory reading before you go into this short story, otherwise you'd be missing out. The short story has many call-backs to the novel and even a slice of Vulkan Lives, which surprised me.

In general, this is a more direct character piece on Skraivok and his standing within the Night Lords Legion. Where Pharos left us with questions as to his fate, and that of the Nightfall, The Painted Count aims to give answers. Skraivok is forced to embrace uncomfortable truths and comes to heads with Konrad Curze's equerry Shang, who first appeared way back when in The Dark King. The two represent the different spectrums of the Legion; one clinging to Curze and wanting vengeance, the other looking forward and trying to make their own way. Of course, the inherent selfishness of the Legion gets in the way of a fair vote on the new leadership, so things take some turns left and right.

The story as a whole serves as a stepping stone between Pharos and the assault on the Sol System. The Night Lords are being maneuvered into place, and we get a good close-up of Skraivok and his own philosophy. I can't say I disliked the Painted Count by any means - Haley's writing puts him as insane in his sanity. My one disappointment with the story was that it didn't explore Captain Shang well enough for my liking. This was Skraivok's show, of course, but a bit more dialogue from Shang, or maybe a scene from his point of view, could have benefitted the story and made it into a great one for me.

As it stands, The Painted Count was an exciting and satisfying read, establishing Gendor Skraivok as a name to watch out for in future installments of the series. It is a worthy part in the overarching Night Lords storyline of the Horus Heresy, and Haley's portrayal of the Legion is, in my eyes, absolutely fitting.

The Painted Count on Goodreads

About the Author

I'm known as DarkChaplain across the internet, and call myself a passionate gamer and book enthusiast. I have been blogging mostly about games for a couple of years, but finally found my way to reviewing a different medium: Books. Honestly, I prefer that job so far.
Follow Me on Twitter @TheDarkChaplain


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