So, you’re a writer for hire and a publishing company, let’s say they’re called the Black Library, get in contact saying they want you to write a trilogy of novels.
‘I’ll see if I can fit you in,’ you say, when what you actually mean is, ‘Thank God, now I’m not going to have to moonlight as an Amazon delivery man.’
And then you get your brief.
Turns out, you’ve got to write a trilogy of novels in which the heroes are a bunch of psychopathic interstellar elves who don’t so much get off on causing pain and death but actually need to do so in order to stop themselves being dragged down the insatiable maw of the hermaphroditic, but mostly female, goddess of excess. These are interstellar elves who take seriously Aleister Crowley’s dictum, ‘Do what thou wilt shall be all of the law.’
So, how do you write about them? Do you take them seriously as creatures dedicated to pain and excess? Do you make them the monsters they truly are? Trying to think of an example in a human context, the obvious – Nazis, serial killers, etc – come to mind but a better example for the truly stomach churning nature of these elves of excess would be Ian Watkins, the child-molesting lead singer of the Lost Prophets, since he combined both the rock star glamour and the truly disgusting determination to plunge to the depths of what is possible in human depravity.
Andy Chambers, thankfully, decided not to go there. I don’t think I could have born a trilogy in the company of creatures as depraved as that. So, yes, they are Dark Eldar, sadists and masochists, but the torture is largely off page and the machinations brought to the fore, so the trilogy can be enjoyed as a ruthless political thriller, House of Cards in the stars. As such, Chambers creates a cast of amusingly ruthless characters, illuminates – as far as is possible – the Dark City, Commorragh, where the Dark Elves dwell, and takes us on thrilling journeys along the webway, the skein of twisted reality that slides between our world and the Warp, where the Dark Eldar hide from that thirsty god who desires their souls.
So, a thoroughly enjoyable romp among the stars in the company of pschyo elves, rather than a face plant into depravity. Phew!