Spear of the Emperor by Aaron Dembski Bowden – An Audio Book Review

Spear of the emperor


The Emperor’s Spears are a Chapter on the edge of destruction, last watchmen over the Elara’s Veil nebula. Now, the decisions of one man, Amadeus Kaias Incarius of the Mentor Legion, will determine the Chapter’s fate…. 

Listen to it because:

Aaron Dembski-Bowden has turned his attention to creating (and maybe destroying) a Space Marine Chapter in detail, and this is your chance to discover their fate.  

The story:

The scattered worlds of the Elara’s Veil nebula were once protected by the oath of unity sworn by three mighty Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes. The Star Scorpions were undone by flaws in their genetic coding. The Celestial Lions were ravaged by the Inquisition for sins they did not commit. Now, after hundreds of years, only the Emperor’s Spears still keep their vigil. They are barbarian watchmen against the Outer Dark, bloodied but unbroken in their long duty.  

Amadeus Kaias Incarius, a brother of the Mentor Legion, is commanded to cross the Great Rift and assess the Spears’ war-readiness, only to be drawn into the chaotic plight of a depleted crusade on the Imperium’s benighted frontier. The decisions he makes, far from the God-Emperor’s light, will decide the fate of the war-torn Chapter.  


Author: Aaron Dembski Bowden

Narrator: Kelly Hotton

Run Time: 11 hrs 45 mins

Publisher: Black Library

Audio Release Date: 15/06/2019

My Rating of ‘Spear of the Emperor’: 2 out of 5

Purchase: Audible UKAudible USAmazon UKAmazon US



I was hoping to get more than a few days into the new year before getting a low-scoring book, but these things can’t be helped.

There were several things with this book that just left me feeling disappointed. The first would be that I found the blurb to be VERY misleading. The blurb claims the decisions made by Amadeus will (not could, will) determine the chapter’s fate. But it becomes painfully obvious, really quickly might I add, that no opinion Amadeus has can possibly have any real bearing on anything. The blurb also claims ADB creates (in detail) a chapter … what detail there was was scant. So that just kind of feels like click bait. If anything the chapter kind of just feels like what would happen if a group of Space Wolves were left alone to go half-feral.

Another thing that kept my interest low was that the whole thing, from start to finish was just very tedious. I’ll not lie, it was interesting tedium for good chunks, but then the author seemed to realise he was giving too much interest away and stopped it real quick.

It’s also told from the point of view of one of Amadeus’ human thralls. So you don’t get the up-close and hectic space marine battles with bolters, chainswords and savage fury. You get a bit of a bland retelling about battles she witnessed from relative safe distances. She also had next to no character to speak of, so it just added to the already present tedium. I have read other reviews that claimed there was lots of action and I am left wondering just what these reviewers class as fast-paced, 40k action.

I also felt that the Space Marines felt far too human. They did not feel like Space Marines at all. I don’t know if other readers got this same opinion, or whether it was just me being very nitpicky. But I just couldn’t get the Adeptus Astartes vibe from any of them (I mean, for example, one of the most straight arrow, hard-lined Space Marines in the book takes his primarch being insulted in relatively good stead. Absolute madness.)

The ending was relatively good but I just had nearly no enthusiasm by that point so it just felt lukewarm rather than red hot. All in all, for a variety of reasons, I was just left feeling incredibly underwhelmed. The epilogue was written in such a way that I could tell I should have been desperate to see what happened next and where this series is going … but I just don’t have any enthusiasm for finding out.

The fact that it flowed relatively well and that there was quite a bit of interesting points throughout helped this score a two instead of a one. And I never thought I’d not enjoy an Aaron Dembski Bowden Warhammer novel. But then, everyone else seems to love this book, so perhaps I am just the incredibly one one out. That’s reading tastes for you.

I will say that the narrator was fairly good throughout. The only parts I think she fell short on was when voicing the Space Marines. I just don’t think she had the strength or depth of voice to play a convincing Space Marine.

16 thoughts on “Spear of the Emperor by Aaron Dembski Bowden – An Audio Book Review

  1. Shame to hear about the low rating. Do you have a post where you recommend some of your favourite Warhammer novels? Been trying to get more into them so always looking for different things to look at

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Uh oh… Ah well some books disappoint. This is not my genre… But how do you listen to a book for 11 hours. After our talk I tried one, I lost patience and read the book to finish it

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I just love audio. When not listening to audio books I am listening to podcasts. Easier whilst I’m working as it’s escapism, I suppose from work.

      Strange as I always hated radio and rarely listen to music.


      1. Fingers crossed audio becomes more appealing to you.

        However, judging by your 700 book total, if you add audio books to your list you’ll get through books so fast there’ll be none left 😉


      2. Hehehe that was one off year where I wanted to forget life. 😉😂 Now I am trying to get into audio for which I have a book too.
        I was listening to hunting party by Lucy Foley. Mid book I forgot the characters names since I am used to the visual world. Now I am hoping some day price would go down so I can buy the book in order to listen to the audio. Hehehe 😂 😂 😂 😂 makes sense?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. It can be hard to keep up with names sometimes on audio, I agree with you there. Especially if they’re names you’re not typically familiar with in day to day life. Metro 2033 was set in Russia so really struggled there.

        Well, for a happiness standpoint I hope you read less 🙂


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