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The latest title in Black Library's bestselling series, the Horus Heresy.In the wake of the Dropsite Massacre at Isstvan V, the survivors of the Salamanders Legion searched long and hard for their fallen primarch, but to no avail. Little did they know that while Vulkan might have wished himself dead, he lives still. As the war continues without him, all eyes turn to Ultramar and Guilliman’s new empire there, and Vulkan’s sons are drawn into an insidious plot to end the Heresy by the most underhand means imaginable.

416 pages, Paperback

First published December 3, 2013

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About the author

Nick Kyme

131 books131 followers
Nick Kyme (b. 1977) writes mostly for Black Library. His credits include the popular Salamanders series and several audio dramas.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 120 reviews
Profile Image for Callum Shephard.
324 reviews27 followers
July 31, 2013
It goes without saying that the Horus Heresy has had a turbulent history. For every Fulgrim we have had a Nemesis, for every Betrayer we have had a Descent of Angels, and for every glowing success a sub-par instalment. It’s unfortunate then that coming off two of the series’ best, Vulkan Lives is easily one of the weakest books of the Horus Heresy.

Divided between the events of the Great Crusade, Drop Site Massacres and a time of the legion’s shattering; the tome explores the nature of the Salamanders and their primarch. Throughout it their methods and differences are called into question, along with just what makes them stand apart from their more ruthless brothers at times of strength and weakness.

Or it at least tries to.

Despite taking place in multiple timelines there is no single solid impression of the legion which sticks. For all Betrayer’s flaws, the World Eaters had a clear and very concise presentation of what the legion XII was from beginning to end. Here we get some aspects of the Salamanders’ desire to preserve lives, but little else. The book is so focused upon their apparently superior morality, usually stating rather than showing this, that many other areas are simply left lacking. Their expertise as smiths and their traditions of this era are all but ignored. This lack of distinctiveness and character is only exemplified with eye rolling battle cries of “Eye-to-eye!” “Tooth-to-tooth!” A poor man’s substitute for “Iron Within!” “Iron Without!” if ever there was one.

Having a bland army is fine when you have interesting characters, but Vulkan Lives fails in this respect as well. Nemetor, Varrun, Numeon, all the Salamanders felt completely interchangeable even when they were in the same room together, a problem present throughout the book and only made worse with similarly blank characteristics from members of three other legions. The only one who manages to truly escape this is Konrad Curze, only by benefit of being utterly insane.

The one who suffers the most as a result of this is Vulkan himself. For the first time we’re given an in-depth first person perspective from a primarch but the lacklustre style of his sections means he could be anyone. Eisenhorn and Kage both had distinct styles to make their characters clear to the audience, but Vulkan’s thoughts are blandly generic. They do not read anything like you would expect to see of a demigod, brother to humanity’s worst traitors and a leader of war who genuinely values human life. Up to the very end he reads less like Vulkan and then Average Joe Salamander 1082, even when placed within the prison of a sadistic madman.

Said prison, and all of the book’s environments for that matter, are described in a bare bones minimum style. Vulkan Lives’ deceptions truly are the antithesis of vividly imaginative environments, lacking not only in detail but often scale and sensory information from the character. This causes many scenes to fall to bits around the characters, and combined with their simplistic personalities turns many potentially interesting or rousing scenes into dull slogs through the pages.

The final nail in the coffin with characterisation originates from how none of the legionaries ever feel like astartes. Multiple times they are killed with single shots or blows from basic blades or bolt weapons, with even Vulkan himself being horribly wounded time and time again by things which by rights shouldn’t even be able to pierce his skin. Notably one point where he is mortally wounded by dining room cutlery!

Between their diminished state and constant failings, Vulkan Lives is more a session of Nick Kyme gleefully kicking them while they’re down than developing their tale. Something only driven further with pointless retcons such as the Salamanders being on the verge of extinction prior to the Emperor finding Vulkan, and their fumbling incompetence shown during the Great Crusade.

Further retcons are made to specific characters which only serve to create confusion within the reader, especially when stacked against events from previous books. The sudden return of someone we thought dead, willingly working for an organisation they hate. A Raven Guard Librarian freely using his powers with little to no opposition from his comrades, from three separate legions no less. We have a Word Bearer with nostalgia for the Emperor worshipping days who despises the effects of Chaos, apparently having escaped two legion wide culls for disloyalty. The sudden name-dropping of Samus to have meaning within one Librarian, which is never explained. Then there’s Vulkan himself who, continuing with the trend of giving each of the Primarchs superpowers, has the most baffling addition yet. Unlike the Warp sight of Perturabo which at least added to his character, Vulkan’s one adds little to his personality and opens up more questions than it does answers.

Combined with a cliffhanger non-ending, terms like “frag storm” being used for horrifyingly serious events, the continued quota of Guilliman praise (now claiming him to be Horus’ true rival rather than Dorn), and painfully uninspired fights there’s little here which is good. While the occasionally great moment such as the Salamanders planned assault on Khar-tann and Vulkan’s final confrontation with Night Haunter are high points, they’re sparsely scattered between chapters.

Vulkan Lives had good concepts, but its actual execution makes it one of the poorest instalments in the series yet. A dull, very long, very drawn out, series of set pieces and events we have seen handled far better in other novels. Avoid it and save your money for something better.
Profile Image for Andy.
111 reviews6 followers
November 29, 2013
This book is bad. It's bad as a novel, it's bad as a piece of genre fiction, it's bad as the 26th book in an increasingly bloated series of books, and it's bad as a glorified advert for toy soldiers.

Vulkan Lives, I can safely say, is a bad book.

It is a bad book for a multitude of reasons. Let me count the ways.

Firstly, it's book 26 in a series. This suggests to the casual reader that the author would have a grasp of the series' (are we into saga yet?) characters. That he'd understand the lore. That he'd at least have a general idea of the physics of the universe his characters populate.

Alas, no.

Nick Kyme gets lots of things wrong here. His parade of instantly forgettable new characters. His misuse of established characters brought into the series by better authors. His inability to put together a compelling narrative. His propensity to switch between first and third person. And his dry, dull prose.

But some how all of that is eclipsed by the brief, shining moment when a character built up as a near-indestructible demigod is laid low when someone jabs him to death with a fork.

Profile Image for Milo.
753 reviews80 followers
August 6, 2013
The Review: http://thefoundingfields.com/2013/07/...

An entertaining novel with a brilliant premise that, whilst not quite delivering its full potential, offers a great look into two principal characters – Vulkan himself, and Konrad Curze, the Primarch of the Night Lords.” ~Bane of Kings, The Founding Fields

"In the wake of the Dropsite Massacre at Isstvan V, the survivors of the Salamanders Legion searched long and hard for their fallen primarch, but to no avail. Little did they know that while Vulkan might have wished himself dead, he lives still… languishing in a hidden cell for the entertainment of a cruel gaoler, his brother Konrad Curze. Enduring a series of hellish tortures designed to break his body and spirit, Vulkan witnesses the depths of the Night Haunter’s depravity, but also discovers something else – a revelation that could change the course of the entire war."

I’m in full knowledge of just how little Black Library fiction I’ve read this year. I’ve missed out on the previous two Horus Heresy novels, Betrayer and Mark of Calth – and most of the fiction that the publisher has been putting out this year aside from Pariah (which I didn’t like) and Deathwatch (which I did like). So, where better to start than the twenty-sixth novel in the long-running, multi-author Horus Heresy series dealing with Kyme’s first Heresy novel?

Vulkan LivesThe book itself brings the Salamanders Legion to the forefront in the first time in the Heresy. They’re one of my favourite Legions – having been pretty much ignored in the previous outings of the Heresy, their only main focus being Promethean Sun, a novella also written by Nick Kyme – and it was about time they got their chance in the spotlight. Don’t worry though – unlike Prospero Burns (which I enjoyed despite the advertising), the book fulfils what it promised us – despite not offering an in-depth look at the legion, it does feature a heavy focus on Vulkan himself, who along with Konrad Curze, they both benefit from strong characterisation. However, not every character gets the same treatment as these two – I felt that the side characters, such as the few Salamanders that we encountered outside of Vulkan, were pretty much interchangeable and didn’t really stand out.

If you’ve read any of Kyme’s previous novels then you’ll know that he can handle action well and he does so again here, with some rather engaging action sequences that increase the page-turning ability of the novel. However, there presents another problem – the Salamanders in Vulkan Lives are of course Space Marines – indomitable, super human Astartes capable of withstanding blows that could cripple your normal member of the Imperial Army. However – in a move that I wasn’t a big fan of – we see multiple times, legionaries are slain by things which shouldn’t, according to lore – kill them. But despite that, there are some great moments that shine here, and I have to agree with fellow reviewer Bellarius (whose thoughts can be found below) that the Salamander’s planned assault on Khar-tann and the final confrontation between Curze and Vulkan are among the book’s highlights.

One of the strengths of the Horus Heresy series is that despite the fact that it is 26 novels long, assuming you know the basic storyline and have at least read the first five novels (Horus Rising to Fulgrim), – you can pretty much jump right in wherever you want, aside from a few exceptions like the Descent of Angels/Fallen Angels two-parter focusing on the Dark Angels Legion, and the A Thousand Sons/Prospero Burns duology focusing on the Invasion of Prospero. Vulkan Lives is a novel best read after the events of Fulgrim, at least in my opinion – and when you consider that we’ve pretty much moved past the Isstvan V Dropsite Massacre in the overall storyline, it may feel to some like a step backwards rather than a step forwards to read it this late in the series, but Kyme really does answer the question about what happened to Vulkan following the events of Isstvan V, and whilst Vulkan Lives may not quite be the Horus Heresy novel that Salamander fans wanted, it does provide an entertaining look into the two Primarchs, exploring and makes them tick.

What’s more – despite the negative thoughts that I raised about Vulkan Lives earlier in this review - I actually enjoyed it, and I felt, it was just what I needed to get back into the Horus Heresy kick. It’s a solid tale, but comes with a cautious recommendation – it may not be for everyone – particularly those who aren’t a fan of Kyme’s past works, but some will enjoy it – I think – on the flipside, those who enjoyed his previous novels will find something to love here. However, I’m certainly looking forward to more Heresy books by Kyme – it’ll be interesting to see whether he returns to tackle the Salamanders or deals with another legion in the future.

VERDICT: 3.5/5
Profile Image for Sarah Davis.
Author 1 book41 followers
October 17, 2013
Where do I start with this? Ok I'll do things I like about it.

1. Vulkan was in it.
2. Vulkan got a first person narrative that was pulled off very well.
3. Vulkan had feels.
4. Curze was in it.
5. Curze was an asshole and I finally didn't feel bad for him! Yaya!
5. Bolter Porn

Things I didn't like:
1. Awful descriptions. Example: "Using my elbows and toes for propulsion."
Really...just really.
2. 412 pages needed to perhaps finally kill Vulkan off on the last page. I mean really...it should have been 100 to 200pg if there was no important revelations other the Curze is nuts. We all already knew that.
3. There was nothing in there that really helped move Heresy forward...at all.
4. No new insight into Vulkan or Curze's or anyone else characters. I mean we new Curze was crazy and we wanted to have babies with Vulkan oops I meant hug Vulkan.

I could forgive Vulkan dying repeatedly in awful ways, that's fine what I can't stand is in no real way pushing the plot of Heresy on. Other then by killing him off again and again and your supposed to guess if he's finally dead or not because of cabal involvement?...it just was not worth 412 pages.

I have never given a Horus Heresy book less then 4 stars. I am sad that one I wanted to like this much had to be the first.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Steven Foot.
19 reviews5 followers
April 13, 2018
Vulkan Lives - a misleading title that does an otherwise decent book a disservice.

As something of a fair weather Warhammer fan in the past I had left many of the Horus Heresy books alone. Warhammer was very much a part of my childhood and had influenced my early passion for fantasy/sci-fi that also came with some very hard and painful memories from a somewhat turbulent childhood. For me Warhammer had been for many years the source of equal amounts of pain and pleasure; there was so much of the universe that I loved and felt attached to that I have carried it with me for my entire life yet it has also carried with it a certain amount of negativity that it also felt like something of a stone around my neck as well.

For the longest of time myself and the realms of Games Workshop had been living separate lives. I knew of course that the Horus Heresy, a singular event in the early developing years of GW's Warhammer 40 thousand universe, was being given the full literary treatment but at the time of the first books publishing I well and truly did not care. That was that and I was who I was, I did not care for Warhammer anymore and so I did not cast my eye upon it, regardless of who was writing it.

It was not so long ago that my wife and I were walking through our local shopping mall and passed the Warhammer shop that has been something of a geeky fixture amongst the glossy high street chain shops for the better part of thirty years. Out of curiosity and perhaps childish nostalgia I went inside, my eye being drawn immediately to a copy of Old Earth by Nick Kyme.

As I said, I knew the Horus Heresy series had been going on for some years and so glancing at the blurb I decided to go home and do some research before delving back into a world I hadn't touched for well over a decade. Immediately my passion for this universe had been reignited, I fell in love with the dark dystopian, fascist future that I had seen as a child. All the billions of planets and stars and lifeforms I had envisioned as a youngster came flooding back to me and hunting down the Heresy novels became an enjoyable pastime.

During my research I came across the Primarch Vulkan, one of the twenty Primarch sons of the fascist godlike emperor of the imperium of man. Vulkan struck me as being exceptional among the Primarch's, most of whom looked on humanity as being less than them, creatures to be endured, ruled, cajoled, herded or indeed treated as they saw fit. Vulkan and his Salamander legion were different, having endured a hard upbringing on a dark world, Vulkan identified with the common man and cared for the very humans he and his brothers were set to rule.

In a series largely written by men, for men, about men doing manly things Vulkan was a somewhat sensitive soul who struck a chord with me and I was eager to read what Nick Kyme had to say about this unique character among the bloodthirsty horde who otherwise take up way too much space on the pages of Warhammer novels.

What a shame it was that I felt more than a little let down by the finished product. Vulkan Lives, although grabbing the audiences attention with its simple yet dramatic title is something of a misnomer. Although the Primarch may yet live the plot was something of a dead end. Kyme is a gifted writer and the scenarios he puts the resilient warrior through do have a certain level of drama to them they are more painful to read and not because of Vulkan's suffering at the hands of his demented brother, Konrad Curze, they are way too fragmented. The splintering of several plotlines that never really converge may allow for the introduction to Vulkan's saga and the role he will inevitably play in the coming books but inevitably they fail to tell a solid and well rounded story. His role in Vulkan lives is almost one of a creature to be pitied as opposed to the rousing hero that Kyme seems so desperate to make him and by the books conclusion the audience is more relieved that his suffering has ended more so that they no longer have to endure with him rather than any victory he may have achieved of his own.

That is not to say that the book is without its merits. The telling of the Dropsite Massacre, one of the most pivotal moments in the 40k universe from the Salamanders perspective was expertly done and with the grace and penmanship that Kyme clearly possess in his repertoire. His portrayal of the surviving members of the Salamander legion and the guerilla tactics they employ in their quest for vengeance are wonderfully written yet there is still a distance being maintained in the storytelling that keeps the audience at bay and ultimately doesn't allow them to connect with any of the characters written.

The potential for this book was high but the fall was incredibly fast and the tragedy of it was that it had so much potential to truly stand next to some of the great Horus Heresy books such as A Thousand Sons or Legion or The First Heretic. As such it will be forever marked as a let down but not so big that Vulkan's character was harmed by it.
Profile Image for Lee Rawnsley.
26 reviews
July 2, 2013
I really enjoyed the book nick has done a great job of bringing two primarchs together that reveals a bit more about them and their mindsets also the other story shows how the survivors from react to the loss of their primarchs and forge a new direction from the betrayal at isstvan V ,
Profile Image for Silicon.
22 reviews
November 16, 2014
I wonder how long the Heresy will be stretched out until the "final showdown" with Horus and the Emperor? I think the answer is simple, as long as people keep buying the books.

What I think would be fairer to readers is to have concluded the Heresy in 4 or 5 books then all these other titles could be still offered as filler and back-story for the "super-fan".

With that in mind, I quite enjoyed this tale...It was ok. It didn't have any ground-breaking revelations nor does it really give you anything extra to the Heresy you've not already read. John Gramaticus makes an appearance (or rather features heavily) in this novel and that's no bad thing because without his inclusion in this book it would have been a rather dull affair.

The book managed to keep me entertained, but I have to say the writing was all over the place. Whilst it worked, going from third person to 1st, past to present, it came across to me as messy.

I do hope we are nearing the end of the Heresy, if the intention is going to be to stretch the story out for another few years, then they are going to have to do better than this.

I'm now considering leaving the Heresy until its concluded, then at least I can pick and chose how many titles I buy leading up to the end. At the moment I feel like I'm feeding a cash cow with there being no intention of a conclusion for a long time to come.

I may be an avid reader and sci-fi/fantasy fan, but I'm not a mug.
30 reviews
November 18, 2013
Okay I've noticed a lot of negative reviews on this one, but I thought it was quite good. Definitely on the mid level though, it's main failing is that it takes so long for anything to resolve, and with very little action (well action we care about, i.e not reading yet more accounts of bloody Isstvan)
It was nice to get some proper face time with Vulkan, and also Curze, who I only really remember from the dark angels theater of operations. I liked the resolution to the Vulkan perspective storyline, and also John grammaticus was a nice addition that helped me keep turning pages.
The "survivor" legionary force, was undoubtedly the key plot line for me, I found myself wishing for more real time action with them, rather than long stretched of inactivty dispersed with multiple progressive flashbacks to the betrayal.
So yep, definitely not bad, but also not one of the best :).
All I can do is hope that the next one to be released (not counting unremembered empire) isn't about the effing word bearers, seriously getting bored of hearing about Lorgar and his petulant zealots.
What about the blood angels, I may be wrong, but we haven't heard from them since fear to tread, and that ended on a massive "OMG WHaT NEXT!?" :O"
Profile Image for Gianfranco Mancini.
2,183 reviews743 followers
January 20, 2014
Bella la storia ed i molteplici riferimenti a personaggi ed avvenimenti dei libri precedenti, ma Nick Kyme non é uno dei migliori autori della Black Library e si vede: i flashback molteplici ed il continuo passaggio dalla narrazione in prima persona da parte di Vulkan a quella in terza, genera non poca confusione Nonostante tutto meriterebbe una mezza stella in più ma Goodreads non lo consente.
Essendo questo libro il preambolo del successivo scritto da Abnett, magari lo rivaluterò in futuro.

"Death to the false Emperor!"

February 10, 2017
I love the Horus Heresy saga.
If there's one author that almost makes me throw the whole thing out of the window, is Nick Kyme; if there's a novel that makes me cringe, it's this way-too-long, way-too-meh novel.
Too self absorbed and self important.
Badly written.
A cast of cardboard one-dimensional characters.
Contrived and nonsensical plotpoints.
The narration from the first person p.o.v. of a primarch? A gutsy choice that blows up in its face.
Definitely one of the weakest links in the series.
And sadly, it sets in motion more sets of events with which the author can leave us dumbfounded.
Profile Image for Panczito.
155 reviews
June 27, 2022
Mieszane uczucia. Nick Kyme opowiada historię uprowadzenia Vulkana przez Konrada Curze i pozbawione motywu tortury rozciągnięte przez całą książkę z różnymi fabularnymi przerywnikami wprowadzającymi narracyjny chaos. Bełkotliwa relacja dwojga prymarchów wypada z całej książki zdecydowanie najgorzej. Jako ciekawostka to muszę przyznać że wygląda na to że w tym uniwersum nie ma ani jednej zdrowej psychicznie postaci :D Z jednej strony główny good guy pełen empatii rozczula się nad losem biednych cywili i robi wszystko aby minimalizować straty w ludziach, z drugiej strony pali żywcem małe dziewczynki miotaczem ognia hehe. Życie w 41 millenium to koszmar.
Profile Image for Hakan.
175 reviews27 followers
October 15, 2013
Again with the downsizing of previously demigod-like Primarchs :-( Now they can be injured (and killed) by just a sword strike, see the fate of Ferrus Manus on Istvaan...

Both Vulkan and Cruze feel like cardboard characters, both the over-the-top villainy of Cruze (which doesn't hold a candle to the Imperial Inquisition 10.000 years later) and the back-to-the-smithy dreams of Vulkan. And don't get me started on the "normal" Marines. Actually, I'm happy that I read Unremembered Empire first, else coming from this book, I might have missed out on that piece of better story.
Profile Image for Ogbaoghene.
29 reviews3 followers
May 5, 2016
Found this a stuttering, painful experience totally without pacing or consistency. A huge come down from Fear to Tread, Angel Exterminatus and Betrayer. I had being so looking forward to a closer look at Vulkan and the Salamandars, was especially excited at the chance to get another look at Istvaan V but was sorely disappointed. I mean, who screws up an epic free for all between Astartes?!!
Profile Image for Christian.
629 reviews
December 27, 2013
This book does not advance the Horus Herery storyline appreciably. The center of the book should have been Vulkan and then the subplot rather than the reverse way Kyme did it. Even the sections with Vulkan grew tedious. The fact that the author, to me, implies that Vulkan's story is being made up as they go badly reminds me of the X-Files.
Profile Image for Matthew Hipsher.
78 reviews1 follower
May 20, 2019
This book was........uninspired.

The title is Vulcan Lives, but it should have been called "Vulcan is tortured and everyone else has a weird story arc that doesn't make a lot of sense."

The interplay between brother Primarchs, Vulcan and Konrad Curze was interesting, but it played out like the writer was in a hurry to finish up their portion of the book and ended kind of nonsensically.

By the end of the novel Vulcan is still not very interesting and I could care less whether he lives or not.

IT's not necessarily an essential read for the Horus Heresy books, but if you're a Salamander fan, then you might want to read this book for fluff for your army. Other than that......

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Tyler Kershaw.
52 reviews1 follower
January 31, 2022
This felt like two stories merged together. The one with John Gramaticus was good but the real stat was the one with Kurze and Vulcan. The two have insanely good chemistry and it lead to some of the best dialogue and character moments in the entire series to date. I now understand why Vulcan is so loved by the community.
Profile Image for Abhinav.
Author 6 books66 followers
May 11, 2014
You can read the full review over on my blog:


The Horus Heresy is the one part of the Warhammer 40,000 lore that has had the most impact on the 41st millennium, the specific time of this far-future space opera/science fantasy setting that we are all most familiar with. The events of that era have influenced everything has happened since, and when Black Library began exploring this age of wonders, it was like a dream come true for countless fans of Warhammer 40,000. The response was phenomenal of course and in no time the series became a New York Times Bestseller hit. The army of writers involved have plumbed all sorts of depths of this era and they have come up with some really wonderful stuff over the past few years.

Of course, they’ve also had to deal with some of the downsides of this effort, and from my understanding, one of these is how Primarchs like Vulkan and Corax escaped the massacre at Istvaan V after the death of their brother Ferrus. Gav Thorpe explored the latter in an audio drama and a novel (both of which are fantastic by the way) and the former is dealt with by Nick Kyme, a recent entrant to the Heresy writing team and the result is one of the most bleakest Horus Heresy novels to date, Vulkan Lives. Nick explores the Primarch himself and one of the shattered remnants of the Salamanders Legion in this novel, and the results are interesting.

The explanation for how Vulkan escaped Istvaan V is that he was whisked away from the world by the Primarch of the Night Lords Legion, Konrad Curze aka Night Haunter. When last we see of him in previous books, Vulkan had been the target for an atomic missile or some such (in Fulgrim by Graham McNeill I believe) and his fate was unknown. But now we know. When Vulkan survived, Curze took him away from the desolate place and locked him in a prison aboard his flagship, a prison built by none other than Perturabo, the traitor Primarch of the Iron Warriors Legion. One half of the novel deals with how Vulkan navigates this particular prison and the tortures and horrors that Curze inflicts upon him, to break him to this will, and prove to the proud loyalist Primarch that he is no better than the twisted, ruthless, murderous Curze himself.

The other half of the novel deals with a band of Istvaan survivors, warriors of the Iron Hands, Raven Guard and the Salamanders as they enact a guerrilla war against the traitor Legions. In this specific case, their target is the Dark Apostle Valdrekk Elias of the Word Bearers, who is searching for a prize that will tilt the Heresy further in the favour of his Legion. Artellus Numeon is the leader of this mixed warband of Legionnaires, formerly the Captain of Vulkan’s bodyguards of the Pyre Guard. Along with his men, Numeon escaped Istvaan V and survived to tell the tale, although he swore an oath to exact vengeance for all his slain brothers and for his slain Primarch. However, he is the only one of this ragged company to believe that Vulkan survived the Massacre and yet lives, and this forms part of his arc in the novel, though his story here primarily deals with defeating Elias.

Both the story arcs in the novel are interconnected in that they deal with the Salamanders’ mentality and their attitude to everything around them. In Vulkan, we see reflected all the tenets of the Promethean Creed, the coda of the planet Nocturne that all Salamanders call home, even the few surviving legionnaires from Terra who were part of the Legion’s first founding. In Vulkan, we see all the breeds of heroism that can be found in a character like him, though he is sorely tested by Curze and comes close to failing numerous times. The things that Curze makes him see, they are horrors and cruelties that Vulkan could never have imagined. And in portraying events as thus, Nick Kyme also shows off the Night Haunter, giving us a very interesting glimpse into his character and his motivations. We learn quite a bit about both Primarchs, and it is all handled well.

Where Numeon and the others are concerned, we see the Promethean Creed reflected in a macrocosm, but we also see an exploration of the Salamanders’ culture, who they are and what they are. We see Numeon with Vulkan during the conquest of a world, during the desperate battles at Istvaan V. We see the character across three different times, and are able to note how he changes, how he evolves to become the character of the present. The same goes for his brother of the Pyre Guard, Leodrakk and between the two of them they provide two very different sides of a Salamanders’ identity. But that’s not all because we also get a teaser of the same for the Iron Hands the Raven Guard, and that’s one of the best things about this book. Codicier Hriak of the Raven Guard is quite an awesome character, and I wish that we’d gotten to see much more of him. Especially in light of the fact that the Emperor forbade all Librarians from ever practicing their powers after the Council of Nikaea and thus the loyalist Legions were particularly hobbled during the Heresy, though the traitors got around that by giving themselves over to the darker powers of the galaxy.
Profile Image for Simón.
130 reviews10 followers
March 30, 2019
Una tortura de leer. Recomiendo fuertemente evitarlo y leer un resumen o algunas reseñas si se quiere continuar con la serie.
Profile Image for Maria Spalding.
46 reviews7 followers
June 10, 2020
Definitely an unexpected turn, and not one I particularly cared for but great to read more about Vulkan and the Salamanders!
Profile Image for Richard Samuel.
40 reviews
April 27, 2022
Great book, a in depth look into Vulkan (and Konrads) Psyche. Being immortal isn't all good ;)
Profile Image for David.
809 reviews26 followers
October 3, 2020
The A and B storylines were far too flimsy for it to meander as long as it did. As much as I wanted to learn more about Vulkan and the Salamanders, this book was not worth the plodding, glacial narrative.
Profile Image for Martin.
106 reviews22 followers
October 2, 2013
"In the wake of the Dropsite Massacre at Istvaan V, the survivors of the Salamanders Legion searched long and hard for their fallen primarch, but to no avail. Little did they know that while Vulkan might have wished himself dead, he lives still... languishing in a hidden cell for the entertainment of a cruel goaler, his brother Konrad Curze. Enduring a series of hellish torturers designed to break his body and spirit, Vulkan witnesses the depths of the Night Haunter's depravity, but also discovers something else - a revelation that could change the course of the entire war."

Ever get the feeling that what you're reading is a prelude to the next book in the series?

That was my general opinion of this book. It seemed to be working towards something that you never really got to. Some form of reunion between Vulkan and his Salamanders that you were expecting that just... Never happened.

Don't get me wrong, it's entertaining enough and it does have some good revelations through the course of the story. It just grinds my gears that we didn't get a satisfactory conclusion to the story, and with the Horus Heresy series as it is we might not get that conclusion for a few months (or years!) depending on when the next book is produced with the same characters.

In reality it looks like 'Vulkan Lives' is more of a prelude to the next book in the series, 'The Unremembered Empire' by Dan Abnett. Some of the characters from Abnett's earlier Horus Heresy books appear in 'Vulkan Lives' and the end is left on a cliffhanger that suggests things will be picked up in that next volume of the series. Not that I'm complaining, (well not too much) cooperation is integral to the production of the Horus Heresy series, half a dozen authors discussing and planning from half way around the world is a great achievement. I'd just rather that Nick Kyme didn't cock tease us with a story arc that may not be revealed for some time.

But back to the book.

There are some very good set pieces and scenes in this book, and I enjoy the fact that Kyme inserts some character into the Space Marines. They are in danger of being "samey", so giving them some human traits make them stand out. But the book feels rushed in the sense that we're jumping from different locations and time lines every five minutes. Perhaps I have matured to the point that I'm looking for more from this series than a series of explosions and bolter fire. I want a cohesive story with character and focus that makes sense. Not an aside to another planet just so that we can have an action scene to keep the adrenaline going for a little while longer.

The best parts of the book I felt were those that followed Vulkan himself. We discover a few major revelations about him along the way and his decent into madness as his tortures become ever more intricate and elaborate, keeping you on the edge of your seat. To be fair the other half of the book which follows Vulkan's sons trying to find Vulkan is pretty much surplus to requirements and we could have done without.

But then we might not have had enough material to fill a whole book. I don't know.
Profile Image for Dylan Murphy.
592 reviews26 followers
March 21, 2016
By the gods this book was something that, I think, the Horus Heresy really needed.
Though originally I was a little less than happy that we were STILL AT ISTVAAN V, after over 20 books since it started in the finale of Fulgrim, I must say, that it was extremely well done here. The novel followed a few different casts of characters, all of which were interesting, and it kept the novel going at a nice pace. The highlight for me was Vulkan and Curze, both their past at Kharaatan and their present in Curze's ship. The glimpses into the past, and the war for Kharaatan were awesome. The Night Lords involvement in it was especially great, in my humble opinion. Though what I found more awesome was Vulcan's inner battle, and how it presented itself both in the past when confronted by Curze, and later, during Vulcan's incarceration by the Night Haunter. This novel was very much so the building of Vulkan for me, as we have heard very little of him in the Heresy so far, other than the twin novellas Promethean Sun and Feat of Iron, he has been in little else. And I always viewed him as possibly the most human primarch, but seeing his inner battle was a real treat, as I wasn't wrong. But I wasn't right either. I think that this is perhaps one of the best portrayels of a primarch to date, getting to see Vulcan at his most glorious, and at his lowest.
I think Curze could have been a little better done. All I really saw of him was the self pity, with a little madness thrown in for good measure, where as ADB's was mostly madness, with a nice dose of self-pity.
The other part of the story was that of Numeon and his ragged survivors of the Dropsite Massacre, along with my favourite perpetual. This aspect of the novel was also damn good, as it showed the Salamanders, and how they had changed since Istvaan V and their Great Crusade pieces of fiction. They were a lot more hopeless, a lot less humanitarian in some regards, but still great fun to read about. Their dealings with Grammaticus was also great fun, and I can't wait to see more of him in the Unremembered Empire.
The mirror to this was the Word Bearers, who I thought could have been done a little better, as I feel that they aren't done too much justice when written by predominately "loyalist" authors. They always seem to die in great droves, despite the fact that they are still space marines. Still, Elias and Narek, and the others were done well when it comes to character, even if they weren't when it comes to battle.
Now Istvaan V, it was awesome getting to see some of the Salamanders actions in this battle, as thus far we have only seen some of the traitors, the Iron Hands, and the Raven Guard. The Salamanders way of war is awesome to read about, and this really has me excited to read Kyme's Salamanders Omnibus, when I am caught up on the HH.
Profile Image for Jean-Luc.
266 reviews29 followers
August 16, 2020
The title is neither a spoiler nor the end of the story! Vulkan, primarch of the XVIII Legion (Salamanders), survived the dropsite massacre! Unfortunately, he fell into the clutches of Konrad Curze, primarch of the VIII Legion (Night Lords). Curze tortures Vulkan as only the sadistic Night Huunter can, partially because he's having fun, but also because he can't quite figure out why Vulkan won't die.

At the end of Fear to Tread, Erebus, Dark Apostle of the XVII Legion (Word Bearers), had his face flayed after the little bitch dared to criticize The Warmaster. His subordinate Valdrekk Elias, even more of a little bitch, journeys to the planet Traoris to recover an ancient weapon he thinks his master will appreciate. John Grammaticus, an agent of the Cabal previously seen in Legion, is already on site excavating the weapon when the Word Bearers show up. He's saved at the last minute by some members of the Shattered Legions, which includes some Salamanders.

The book is two races: Can Vulkan escape before Curse drives him insane or figures out how to kill him permanently? Can the Shattered Legions survivors keep the fulgurite spear out of the hands of the Word Bearers?

Nick Kyme luuuuurves the Salamanders, and it shows. He's spent so much time writing about them, I doubt anyone else could capture their psychology as well. And yet it's not Kyme's depiction of the Salamanders that's most memorable here. It's Curze. The bastard really wants to hurt Vulkan, so he just keeps upping the fucked-uped-ness of the tortures he uses. Nothing is settled in this book, but the stage is set for an epic showdown. We don't know where or when yet... but half the fun is getting there!
Profile Image for Mhoram.
68 reviews10 followers
April 5, 2019
About all I can say is "it was okay". Doesn't hold up to the true greats of the series like "The First Heretic" or "Prospero Burns". Nick Kyme is a very hit-and-miss author, though, and I'm quite thankful this book wasn't a dull grind the way "Feat of Iron" was. It did however suffer from numerous gigantic plot-holes and a climax that was so daft it was actively detrimental to the story. Kyme also seems to have developed an unfortunate habit of interrupting himself mid-sentence to add completely unnecessary details or descriptions, which can be a bit off-putting. In fairness I will say that he was attempting to delve into the psychology of both Astartes and Primarchs in ways that no other author has really attempted so far, and that was always going to be a challenging task. If not for the dreadful climax to the story, I could likely have forgiven the plot-holes and just gone ahead and given this five stars.
Profile Image for Ross Falcone.
8 reviews
July 26, 2020
This book is about 400 pages of nonsense. My first complaint is that it is written in a nonlinear format for no reason. It does nothing to add to the story, plot, character development, etc. Second problem is this book does nothing to move the overall story line of the Horus Heresy forward. It just raises more questions and possibilities for the future. As the reader, I am wondering if all of these subplots and alternative story arcs are ever going to be concluded. Finally, the last chapter is this giant WTF moment that makes the first 400 pages meaningless.

It feels like the Horus Heresy series has really started to go down hill in terms of quality, story, and moving things forward for the last five to seven books in the series. I don't think Black Library is going to recapture the magic it had in those first seven books ever again.
Profile Image for Nick.
201 reviews5 followers
September 23, 2014
I really hated this book. It's nominally about Vulkan, leader of the Salamanders, one of the neglected groups of characters in W40k. I assumed this would be his chance to finally get some time in the spotlight; instead this book is more about annoying Gary Stu named John Grammaticus, who has already derailed two other books in this series. The result is a boring, annoying disappointment. I'm at the point now where when I see the name John Grammaticus I might just put the book down, because there's never anything interesting that happens when he's around. To make things worse this book is split into three narrative threads (Vulkan in captivity, John Grammaticus screwing around, and the Isstvan V dropsite massacre, which has been depicted four or five times by now). Avoid at all costs.
Profile Image for Frank.
20 reviews12 followers
October 25, 2013
Very slow, very deliberate. Except for a little wobble at the ending and perhaps a little more 'mundane'/dry take on the Marines than usual, this was a lovely, grim, well delivered book. I'm personally biased on this, of course.

Still, I loved the... intimacy of it, the sedate pacing. For ostensibly the biggest 'face time' with Primarchs in any one HH novel so far, I think it was wonderfully measured. Not ludicrous, not undervaluing, yet still possessing a really impressive and legendary streak. Very, very nice.

I can see why other people might not be energised by it, but myself: I found it deeply engaging.
Profile Image for Graham Bennett.
24 reviews
September 2, 2013
Nice to see some recurring characters from earlier books, but it does require a near eidetic memory of their background to not feel a little lost when they appear. The jumping around is also a little confusing, and a long walk to the ending... which feels more like the setup for a joke at the reader's expense.
The interaction between Vulkan and Curze however was fantastic, I would love more Curze stories like this.
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