Two short Age of Sigmar outings for Gotrek Gurnisson, my favourite dwarf…
The world that Gotrek Gurnisson knew is long dead, alongside every soul the legendary monster slayer once cared for. Adrift in this curious new age, the duardin scours the treacherous Bone Desert in search of the axe he inherited from the God Grimnir, which too has been lost to the annals of time.
When a series of assassination attempts strike, Gotrek and his aelf companion Maleneth soon learn that it is not only the wasteland’s ravenous beasts and sinking sands that hunger for their flesh. The heroic duardin is certain these highly calculated and creative attacks are the work of his infamous nemesis – the skaven, Thanquol. But is all as it seems?
As I’m sure I’ve mentioned a couple of times (at least) on CR, I’ve been reading about the exploits of Gotrek Gurnisson for decades. I first stumbled across his adventures, alongside his human companion Felix Jaegar, in the Warhammer Armies books. Then, William King and others’ novels that I still return to whenever I feel like a fantasy-comfort-read. With the demise of the Old World, and the shift to the Age of Sigmar, the venerable dwarf returns!
In The Bone Desert, Gotrek is still finding his way in the new Age of Sigmar. Returned in the audio drama Realmslayer, which I have no listened to, I have a feeling many questions were answered about his return and possibly the fate of Felix — given that the Stormcast Eternal are supposedly great heroes reforged as (let’s be honest) fantasy Space Marines, one can’t fault him for believing that Felix must be one of them. In this novella, I didn’t see any clarification or further information about his former companion’s fate.
We do learn a bit more about Maleneth, his new companion: a Witch Elf — never would have expected Gotrek to team up with one of those! — she comes complete with questionable motives and morals, not to mention deadly blade skills. She’s a great new character, and I enjoyed seeing their companionship developing.
Gotrek also serves as a great companion for readers: through his eyes, we get to learn about the changes in the Warhammer setting — his “old fashioned” vernacular and terminology goes a long way to relocating readers from the Old to New setting. He also seems bemused by the Kharadron Overlords, who he has a pretty explosive run-in with.
Overall, a very good novella, and it was great to read about Gotrek again. Just wish Felix was back in the mix, too, even though I think the fact that he hasn’t returned is actually a great motivator and burden for Gotrek to live with. I’m really looking forward to more Gotrek and Maleneth stories in the future.
Next up, David Guymer’s One, Untended, which was published as part of Black Library’s 2018 Advent Calendar. Here’s the synopsis:
When a child goes missing from Hammerhal Ghyra, Gotrek Gurnisson, recovering from an epic drinking binge (and some nasty poisoning) volunteers to enter the nearby catacombs and find him – especially since his mother claims he was taken by a ghost. Venturing into the darkness with his reluctant aelven companion Maleneth. But even the vaunted Stormcast Eternals were unable to cleanse this labyrinth of the taint that infects it, and what awaits the adventurers below will test them to their limits.
Guymer took over the Gotrek & Felix series just in time for the End Times, penning the two very good novels that told what many thought was the end of Gotrek’s story: Kinslayer and Slayer (he also wrote the stand-alone City of the Damned, and the aforementioned Realmslayer audio).
This story is told from Maleneth’s perspective, and so we get to know her and her motivations a bit more. As with The Bone Desert, it offered more insight into this new and interesting character, and her evolving relationship with Gotrek.
It’s a quick story, with some spooky goings-on, which I think Guymer did really well — in a relatively short time, the author does a good job with the atmospherics of the story (I would not have liked being in those catacombs…!). We get a glimpse of the sheer power that Gotrek has, and also some good insight into how the undead are changing in the Warhammer/Age of Sigmar setting.
If you’re a fan of Gotrek, then I would definitely recommend both of these books. They are well-worth your time. Here’s hoping there will be many more in the future, and I certainly there will be more by Mr. Guymer.