Quick Review: GODS & MORTALS (Black Library)

Various-Gods&MortalsAn anthology of Age of Sigmar short fiction, which serves very well as an introduction

For too long, the Mortal Realms have suffered under Chaos’ twisted crusade. Tainted lands writhe in agony and once great cities lie in ruins, the hopes of their people extinguished. But the storm winds rise. Sigmar’s greatest creation, the Stormcast Eternals, strike with His vengeance. Their lightning drives the darkness away and their thunder drowns out the screams of the Foul Gods’ acolytes as they fall to sword and halberd. The sons and daughters of the storm know they cannot fail. For now is the time where the fate of a world will be decided. Where Gods and mortals must rise and fight, or face their final damnation.

CONTENTS
The Dance of the Skulls & Obsidian by David Annandale
Blacktalon: Hunting Shadows by Andy Clark
Vault of Souls by Evan Dicken
Bear Eater, Force of Personality, Gods’ Gift & The Hardest Word by David Guymer
Pantheon by Guy Haley
Callis & Toll: The Old Ways by Nick Horth
Pilgrim’s Trial by Robbie MacNiven
Auction of Blood, Eight Lamentations: The Tainted Axe, The Library of Forgotten Moments, Order of the Fly: Tourney of Fate & The Road of Blades by Josh Reynolds
Gravesend Gold & The Witch Takers by C L Werner

The Age of Sigmar is a pretty massive fantasy setting, one that continues to grow. It could be a bit daunting to find a way into it. If you are looking for a way in, this is a substantial collection of short fiction may be your best bet. Including stories featuring some established characters, as well as touching upon many of the myriad facets of the Mortal Realms, reading Gods & Mortals will give readers a nice, broad glimpse of the Age of Sigmar.

Some of these stories serve as true stand-alone pieces (for example, Pantheon). Others tie in with larger series, some of which have already had their own novels. Regardless of whether or not the characters live on beyond the stories contained within this book, each offers an interesting glimpse at certain parts of the Age of Sigmar — the different Mortal Realms, the different races and factions fighting to survive. It’s an enjoyable read as a whole, with plenty of action and adventure, but also some examination of what it means to live and die in the Mortal Realms.

Josh Reynolds’s stories are great, of course, as he continues to cement his position as one of the preeminent writers of Age of Sigmar fiction — he’s doing a lot of the heavy lifting in world-building and lore-crafting (not that others aren’t, but he’s producing an incredible amount of work).

David Guymer’s Hamilcar stories are a great introduction to this character: boastful, arrogant and single-minded, he’s quite different from our general picture of Sigmar’s Stormcast Eternals (they usually seem to poe-faced and serious…). In the stories in Gods & Mortals, we see Hamilcar in a variety of situations, navigating the tedium between battles — something he cannot abide — and also in single combat with various beasties. I hadn’t read any Hamilcar stories before picking up this collection, and I know that I’m going to have to read more of his exploits. If you enjoy these stories, Hamilcar’s adventures continue in Champion of the Gods.

Neferata, vampire queen and manipulator extraordinaire, features in three of these stories: two by David Annandale, and one by Josh Reynolds. Neferata has been one of my favourite Warhammer characters for some time (she existed before the reboot), and each of these stories shows just a small measure of her skills at plotting and machinations. The character also appears in Mortarch of Blood and the forthcoming The Dominion of Bones.

In addition to the other novels already mentioned, if you enjoy the stories in Gods & Mortals you might want to follow up with the following books, which also feature characters that appear in this anthology: Robbie MacNiven’s Scourge of Fate, Andy Clark’s Black Talon: First Mark, Josh Reynolds’s Spear of Shadows, CL Werner’s The Tainted Heart, and Nick Horth’s The Silver Shard.

This anthology is definitely recommended for fans of Age of Sigmar, and also those who would like to try a variety of fiction set within it, without committing to a full-length novel. It will also help you pick out the series and other books you might want to read.

*

Gods & Mortals is out now, published by Black Library in the UK and North America.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s