Vulkan Lives – Nick Kyme

Vulcan Lives

Published: 3 December 2013
Publisher: Black Library
Pages: 416
Series: Horus Heresy # 26
Format Read: Audible


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.

Vulkan Lives is book 26 in the long ass Horus Heresy series that Jenn and I are making out way through. Taking on HH can be tough on a person, but the fact that I have a reading buddy to suffer through some of these books makes the burden a little lighter because I know I am not the only one. Jenn and I can have different opinions when it comes to certain books but on a normal day they align pretty close to one another for that I am very grateful. Thank you for sticking it out with me Jenn!


“Whooomph!”, that is the sound I imagine a ball of fire makes going through an airduct during an explosion… Whooomp could also be described in many cases as the sound my mind was making when this novel ended. Way above my paygrade or just plain bad? I can see why this book is sitting at a pretty low score on GR… Vulkan Lives was a novel I was very much looking forward too, but now I think I should stop expecting good things from the novels in this series, at book 26 we aren’t even halfway through the series yet!

Lets have a look at what I liked about this novel:

Vulkan is a prisoner of Curze in a labyrinth made by Perturabo that was hinted at in the Angel Exterminatus novel. The interactions between Curze and Vulkan was the only saving grace that kept me reading this book because I wanted to see the outcome. Curze is utterly and truly fucked in the head and the tortures he enacts on Vulkan and the outcomes, however vague, coming from Curze’s monologues were a delight to read. It is only in Vulkan Lives that we learn, at a snail’s pace, that not even Vulkan knows/knew that he is actually indestructable. He can;t be killed and believe me when I say Curze tried. The truths coming from Curze as he is driven even further into madness because of his failing as well as the fact that Vulkan seems to be loosing his sanity a bit made for a great read. He was so mad that he had talks with his dead brother Manus od the Iron Hands. I do not know if half the stuff I read were taking place in his head or if it happened in real time. The fact that we got these accounts from Vulkan’s first person perspective, was a bit jarring, but I was oke with it. I have not read a book from a primarchs perspective since Curze’s Primarchs novel. What these scenes made me think of was the books of Brent Weeks’ Lightbringer series. Lightbringer was done way beter though, but that worked on a totally different magical system.

The fact that I got to read some of the “past” events that happened on Isstvan and how it came to be that some of the loyalist Legions managed to escape. The hopelesness of it all. How the Iron Hands are not coping too well with the knowledge that their Primarch is dead. As well as the Salamanders who think theirs is also lost, not knowing about the Curze tortures going on.

What I disliked, or rather, what I was disappointed with:

The inclusion of John Grammaticus that was intruduced in the Legion as well as in one of the Mark of Calth short story collection. Only this time he was a lot less interesting. I don’t know where the story of the perpetuals is going an the fact that they only appear random novels as well as the fact that they have given no clear reason for them to be in this series. Are they trying to save the Imperium or are they actually against the Imperium? It is not clear. Also can we have the Athame fucking do something already instead of still introducing it as a mysterious magguffin. Last time it did anything was in the second book of this series! Get on with it ffs.

The Salamnders:

I have read the Salamanders’ omnibus a few years back and I thought I was going to like them in this novel, but I do not get how Kyme got them so wrong. I do not understand how this happened as Kyme was also the author of the Salamnders omnibus… They read like just normal infantry instead of superhuman soldiers. I’d like to say here that I also find it pretty odd that Vulkan could die by the hands of Curze just using a normal fork? They got killed by one shots, I understand headshots can be dramatic, but dying because you got wounded in the chest? Were all the bullets ifused with athame essence or something? Their plot was just a bloated boring mess of a thing.

Accompanying them was a Raven Gaurd psyker and a few Iron Hands that survived the Dropsite Massacre. This story would happen in a very disjointed fasion right after the highlights of Curze and Vulkan’s interaction. I hated it, I wanted more of the latter and less than the former. Hunting them was a band of Word Bearers doing the moustache twirling things that WB do now. It was interesting but not enough for me to remember what it was actually all about. One othe thing that was odd was the Raven Gaurd using their psycic abalities. At the time of the Dropsite Massacre happens the Nicea decree was still in effect as far as I know, it is also in that event that not all Raven Gaurd were aware of their Primarch making it out alive. Who gave them permission to unshackle themselves from the decree? Or did I miss something somewhere?

I guess the only inclusion of it all was so that the Salamnders could learn that their primarch was still alive. All of which brings me to the closing of the novel where it states that Vulkan dies, like What the Actual fuck!!! I was just getting happy with the fact that Vulkan escaped Curze, or was it all still in his head??? No explanation just that two word ending to the novel. Damn.


Yeah I am going to stop before I get my inner Curze on a rampage… I gave Vulkan Lives a 3 out of 5, I guess purely because of Curze. Vulkan had ample chance to do permanent damage to him and yet after all he went through, decided not to. Stocholm Syndrome maybe? So yeah, I’ll need to curb my enthusiasm going forward with this series… Vulkan Lives is as much a bait and switch as any live service video game out there that has become the norm for gaming in this day and age. It left me with way more questions than answers, which I should clearly stop looking for in these novels, as I might turn into a little Curze myself soon.

Till next time.

17 thoughts on “Vulkan Lives – Nick Kyme

    1. Yeah, i came a but late to the party with thos series, just imagine you were waiting every few months’ years for the next one to come out…

      I could come to this book’s defence and say its not as bad, just badly executed, but id be wasting too much time. I am ready to move onto the next one

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I enjoyed this better the second time round, when later books had let the events of this one fit in to the overall story. 3 stars seems about right though, it’s not a standout in the series.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If it happens to be the same way that Angels of Darkness and Descent of Angles filled one another up, then i might reconsider the rating. I had a lot of expectations going into this one

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Vulcan Lives is dire isn’t it? Truly one of the worst books in the series. I feel like the whole Salamanders plot in the Horus Heresy was just a Nick Kyme vanity project, and because he’s the editor in charge of the series no-one could tell him that he keeps writing terrible rubbish. The whole arc could have been one book, but old Nick felt the need to pad them out so he kept getting those royalty cheques! I dreaded each of them and even then I was disappointed. This one managed to be completely over the top and really boring at the same time. They should have given old Curze a series instead, rather than just shoehorning the Night Lords into other arcs and short stories.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thats exactly what this novel felt like, just a bunch of short stories written in a way that they somehow fit together. I did not know Kyme was Editor in chief. I also dont know if this came before his Salamanders omnibus. What i do know is he has written a few decent novels before tho

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s always nice to know I’m not the only one with these kinds of thoughts on books! At least you haven’t got long to go until Vengeful Spirit, which does actually feel like it advances the overall plot!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh yes! 😃 I think it comes at about the right time, really. There are quite a few clunkers in the 20s, but Vengeful Spirit really helps to brush that feeling of stagnation away (well, it did for me!) So far, the 30s haven’t been much better, though I believe it does ramp up a bit and start getting better as it moves through the 40s. I have a real feeling that they were the victims of their own success a bit, and because people enjoyed it and wanted more, the quality dipped to give the quantity. But over time things improved and, while I don’t think it ever really gets back to the level of the opening trilogy, it does at least finally pick back up a bit.

        This is what I cling to, to keep me going, anyway!! 🤣

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Haha! That’s probably true, the way things have been so far! I imagine that if you’re really invested in this universe, to the exclusion of anything else, then the level of detail must be incredible and you’d be in heaven. Sadly, though, I don’t think I am 🫠

        Liked by 1 person

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