Gotrek Gurnisson returns, to a world very much changed…
Gotrek Gurnisson was the greatest monster slayer of the age, who met his doom at the End Times.
The heroic duardin stepped forth into the Realm of Chaos to fight the daemons gnawing at the world’s ending and satisfy his death oath, leaving behind his companion Felix Jaeger.
Now Gotrek has returned, having outlived the old gods and the Old World. Spat from the ruinous depths with his redemption unfulfilled, he emerges into the Mortal Realms, a strange new world where gods walk the earth and dark forces are ascendant. Nothing is as he remembers. His oaths are dust, and the lands are torn asunder by Chaos. Yet when Gotrek learns of human champions being elevated to immortality for Sigmar’s fight against this darkness, the so-called ‘Stormcast Eternals’, he knows why fate has brought him into this new age. To find Felix. For only then can he find the peace in death he seeks. But is there more to Gotrek’s apotheosis than even he can fathom? Has he truly been chosen by Grimnir and for what purpose?
I finally get around to listening to the return of Gotrek. He’s one of my favourite Black Library characters, so I’m always keen on reading (or listening) to stories about him. Realmslayer is an interesting story, and sure to appeal to audiobook and Black Library fans of many stripes.
When it was first announced that Gotrek was returning to Warhammer, now in the Age of Sigmar, I was intrigued — after all, I thought his “death” in Slayer, set during the End Times, was rather well done: a perfect mix of action and continued doom. Then it was announced that it was going to be an audiodrama, which was less interesting to me (I prefer non-fiction audiobooks). Then, it was announced that Brian Blessed was going to voice Gotrek. A pretty huge get for Black Library, to be sure. However, for me, everything I’d seen and/or heard of Blessed was rather too… much for Gotrek.
When I finally listened to Realmslayer (I bought it during an Audible sale), it took me a while to get used to Blessed’s performance and voice coming out of the character’s mouth. I stuck with it, however, and I’ll admit that his voice did start to grow on me — in his less over-done, hammed-up moments, I thought he was quite good, conveying Gotrek’s morose and contemplative moments quite well. Overall, though, he is not the actor I would have chosen to voice the slayer. I know many of people loved this casting, so consider this my own, personal grumble and preference. Imagine if John Rhys-Davies’s Gimli was the primary character in Lord of the Rings, or just got a lot more screen time, and you get an idea of how this feels. In general, I found most of the performances a bit over-done, and as a result a bit distracting from the story. I think I would have preferred a more straight-forward audiobook, as opposed to a multi-cast “audiodrama”.
It’s a pretty good story, and it’s nice to finally go back and learn of Gotrek’s arrival in the setting. He’s struggling with his return, not exactly happy with the changes he witnesses. He has no idea how or why he has returned, nor who might have caused it. He wants to reunite with Felix, convinced that he must have been resurrected by Sigmar as one of his Stormcast. We are reunited with Gotrek’s violent abandon in battle, but this time it is coupled with a melancholy for that which has been lost, and the slayer’s newfound sense of being adrift, unsure of his purpose and mission. As he attempts to uncover the reason and cause for his return, and also his new purpose, we get something akin to a travelogue as Gotrek acquires some new companions and sets out into the Mortal Realms. Unfortunately for Gotrek, he doesn’t find many answers to his growing number of questions.
I’ve enjoyed the Gotrek short stories, novella and novel set in the Age of Sigmar, and I do hope that there are more in the offing. I definitely prefer the prose stories over the audios, though. Nevertheless, I have also picked up the second audiodrama, Blood of the Old World, and will listen to that soon because I’d like to have the whole story.
If you’re a completist, then I’d certainly recommend this. But I didn’t have too much trouble following the story in print/eBook without listening to Realmslayer.
David Guymer’s Realmslayer is out now, published by Black Library.