Review: THE CURSE OF KHAINE by Gav Thorpe (Black Library)

ThorpeG-TheCurseOfKhaineThe Elves prepare for the End Times…

The End Times are coming. With Naggaroth besieged by the hordes of Chaos, the Witch King Malekith makes the decision to abandon the Land of Chill and make one final attempt to seize the throne of Ulthuan. As the druchii march upon the soil of their ancestral home once again, long-laid plans come to fruition and treachery blooms, bringing Malekith closer than ever to his goal. All that stands in the Witch King’s way is the Regent of Ulthuan, Prince Tyrion, and the darkness within Malekith’s own soul, the call of the Curse of Khaine.

This was an interesting addition to the End Times story. Taking a step away from the Empire and “main” thrust of the Chaos invasion and campaign, The Curse of Khaine focuses exclusively on the actions of the High and Dark Elves (with a bit of the Wood Elves). While I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as The Return of Nagash and The Fall of Altdorf, it is nevertheless a very good, engaging novel.

Warhammer Armies: High Elves was one of the first armies books I read from Games Workshop. I read the background chapters  so many times when I was younger, I almost memorized them. It was, therefore, really interesting to see how the Elvish races approached the coming End Times. Most interesting was how the High and Dark Elves would have to navigate the possibility of forging alliances against a much, much greater threat.

The novel has not been without its detractors. There are some things in here that a few fans have had difficulty swallowing: specifically, the role Malekith plays — in the novel and, ultimately, the End Times. You see, the Dark Elves are a race of psychopathic killers and sadists. And they are meant to form an alliance with the High, pure elves…? Perhaps even lead it? I can certainly see how some found this a little difficult to accept. Personally, though, I liked the massive switcheroo that takes place (I won’t spoil it, despite how eager I am to write about it): it’s a very strong example of “desperate times leads to desperate measures”. It also offers a completely new interpretation of the whole of the Elves’ history, and one of their greatest tragedies in particular. It also explains a number of things that have plagued the High Elves’ leaders, and dictated the actions of the Dark Elves. Sometimes it’s a tad shaky, but ultimately I think Thorpe pulled it off with aplomb.

Who knows what’s going on with the Wood Elves. They barely feature at all, except in passing. They seem to have basically been forgotten in the End Times milieu.

The Curse of Khaine contains many flashback scenes — certainly at least one per chapter. It’s pretty much all from Malekith’s perspective, which I thought was an interesting choice (it makes sense, by the end). As someone who hasn’t followed anywhere near all of the Elf novels, this was welcome because it filled in many of the gaps I had in my Warhammer elf knowledge. The scenes weren’t all as smoothly integrated as they could have been, and they did upset the flow of the main, ‘present’ storyline (not to mention take up space that could have been better given over to explaining what was happening away from Malekith). I wonder if this was a decision made to evoke a millennia-old, bitter ruler who was as stuck in his past as he was pursuing his current agenda?

Any fan of Warhammer elves will have to read this novel — there is everything we’ve come to expect from the duplicitous, sometimes-insane Dark Elves; and the haughty, arrogant High Elves. A number of big names turn up, of course; and, this being the End Times, not all of them survive…

I’m not sure that it’s essential reading for the overall End Times series, because it is so removed from the ‘main event’ taking place across the Empire, etc. I thoroughly enjoyed it, though, and read it pretty quickly. The battle scenes are restrained and not over-long. The End Times series sees Black Library giving Warhammer quite the send-off, and the authors have all been pulling out all the stops to do it justice.

Highly recommended.

*

The End Times Chronology:

  1. Sigmar’s Blood by Phil Kelly
  2. The Bone Cage by Phil Kelly
  3. With Ice and Sword by Graham McNeill (read, but not reviewed)
  4. The Return of Nagash by Josh Reynolds
  5. Gotrek & Felix: Kinslayer by David Guymer
  6. Marienburg’s Last Stand by David Guymer (read, but not reviewed)
  7. The Fall of Altdorf by Chris Wraight
  8. The Siege of Naggarond by S.P. Cawkwell (read, but not reviewed)
  9. Bride of Khaine by Graeme Lyon (read, but not reviewed)
  10. Deathblade by C.L. Werner
  11. The Curse of Khaine by Gav Thorpe
  12. The Rise of the Horned Rat by Guy Haley
  13. Gotrek & Felix: Rememberers by David Guymer
  14. Gotrek & Felix: Slayer by David Guymer
  15. The Lord of the End Times by Josh Reynolds

Warhammer-EndTimes

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4 thoughts on “Review: THE CURSE OF KHAINE by Gav Thorpe (Black Library)

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