Quick Review: NEFERATA — MORTARCH OF BLOOD by David Annandale (Black Library)

AnnandaleD-Neferata1-MortarchOfBloodNeferata, queen of the vampires, shows her true colours…

When a threat to her realm of Nulahmia rises, the Mortarch Neferata must commit herself to a centuries-long battle if she is to save her kingdom and retain her position.

The Realm of Death convulses with the ravages of war, but Neferata continues to rule the city of Nulahmia with an iron will. Through guile and terror, she has destroyed all who would take her crown. But when a threat rises whose repercussions will stretch across the ages, Neferata must commit herself to a centuries-long battle and retain what is hers, no matter the cost.

This is the first full-length novel dedicated to the queen of vampires in the Age of Sigmar. Her origin story was first written about in Josh Reynolds’s novel, set before the history of the Old World, and also a bit in Mike Lee’s Nagash trilogy. Reynolds also wrote a short story featuring the character, Auction of Blood, which was an intriguing introduction to the character’s obsession with secrecy and scheming, always off-stage as others did her bidding. In Mortarch of Blood, Annandale gives us a much clearer picture of Neferata herself. She is presented as never before. Continue reading

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Upcoming: REALMSLAYER by David Guymer (Black Library)

GuymerD-AoS-RealmslayerI was first introduced to Gotrek Gurnisson and Felix Jaegar in a short fiction snippet in (I think) the fifth edition of Warhammer Armies: Empire book by William King — this was, I believe, their first appearance, too. After that, I read King’s short stories featuring the pair in the early Warhammer anthologies Wolf RidersRed Thirst and Ignorant Armies. This was all before Black Library was established, and the Gotrek & Felix series was launched in earnest. I read all of King’s and then Nathan Long’s contributions to the series, and finally David Guymer‘s ‘conclusion’ to the series in the End Times novels, Kinslayer and Slayer. I was sad to see the characters’ stories end. This October, however, Guymer is bringing Gotrek back for the Age of Sigmar in the audiobook Realmslayer!

Fabled hero of the Warhammer Old World, Gotrek Gurnisson is reborn and cast into the Age of Sigmar for a brand-new, feature-length audio adventure.

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?

Realmslayer is due to be published by Black Library in October 2018. (The cover above is not final, but I don’t think it will change too much before release.)

Update (Sunday, May 13th): At Warhammer Fest, it was announced that Brian Blessed will “be lending his booming tones to this upcoming tale”, and voicing Gotrek. Hm. Not sure what I think about this. Could be interesting, or it could be… well, somewhat Blackadder-esque…

Also on CR: Reviews of Elfslayer, Shamanslayer, ZombieslayerKinslayer and Slayer

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Quick Review: NAGASH: THE UNDYING KING by Joshua Reynolds (Black Library)

ReynoldsJ-AoS-Nagash-UndyingKingOne of my favourite fantasy/horror characters returns in the Age of Sigmar

Since the dark days of the Great Awakening, the scattered remnants of humanity have clung to a bleak existence, surviving howsoever they can, no matter what the cost. Tamra, a voivode of the Rictus clans, fights one last, desperate battle for the survival of her tribe, the Drak. Now her people face their most relentless enemy ever – the lumbering minions of the Plague God. Where is their lord Nagash, the Undying King, when his people need him most? As the gods and their servants vie for power in the Mortal Realms, Tamra is drawn into a deadly game between life and death, as beings long thought gone start to exert their powers once again.

This is Reynolds’s second book to feature Nagash set in the Age of Sigmar — the lord of the undead appeared in Mortarch of Night, and the author previously wrote about the character in the first End Times novel, The Return of Nagash. Nagash has long been one of my favourite Warhammer characters, so I’ve always been interested in reading fiction with him at its centre. The Undying King did not disappoint. Continue reading

Interview with JOSHUA REYNOLDS

ReynoldsJ-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Joshua Reynolds?

I’m a freelance writer and semi-professional monster movie enthusiast. I’ve had around twenty odd novels published, and around two hundred or so short stories, over the past decade, since I began my career. Which is a lot, now that I think about it.

You’ve got a few novels coming out this year, so I thought I’d split this interview into sci-fi and fantasy.

Sounds good!

Black Library recently published Fulgrim, your latest contribution to the Horus Heresy series. In December, your second Fabius Bile novel, Clonelord is also due out. Both focus on the Emperor’s Children traitor legion. How did you approach the two novels, and were there any challenges to addressing the same Legion during different eras?

Not really. It was mostly a matter of building on the work of authors like Graham McNeill, Aaron Dembski-Bowden, James Swallow and Nick Kyme regarding the characters. I tend to approach all work in a shared universe – whatever universe it happens to be – the same way: I like to make sure that what I’m working on slots neatly into the meta-story set out by others, while still going in the direction I want it to go. Why write tie-in fiction, if you’re not going to tie-in to anything, after all? Continue reading

Quick Review: CITY OF SECRETS by Nick Horth (Black Library)

HorthN-AoS-CityOfSecretsA fast-paced Warhammer novel with a classic feel

Excelsis is the city of secrets, a grand and imposing bastion of civilisation in the savage Realm of Beasts. Within its winding streets and shadowy back alleys, merchants deal in raw prophecy mined from an ancient fragment of the World That Was, and even the poorest man may earn a glimpse of the future. Yet not all such prophecies can be trusted. When Corporal Armand Callis of the city guard stumbles upon a dark secret, he finds himself on the run from his former comrades, framed for a crime he did not commit. Only the Witch Hunter Hanniver Toll knows the truth of his innocence. Together the pair must race against time to save Excelsis from a cataclysm that would drown the city in madness and fear.

I’ve been reading fiction based on Games Workshop’s IPs for a very long time. One of the classic themes or premises of early fiction set in the Warhammer fantasy setting was that of a Chaos conspiracy in an Empire city or town. City of Secrets offers a well-composed spin on this trope, albeit set in the Age of Sigmar — a time when Chaos won, and dominates the majority of the world. Continue reading

Review: THE LORD OF THE END TIMES by Joshua Reynolds (Black Library)

ReynoldsJ-ET5-LordOfTheEndTimesThe Warhammer World… Ends.

The End Times have come. Archaon Everchosen marches on the city of Middenheim, and if he captures it, the key to the Chaos gods’ ultimate victory will be his. The last heroes of men, elves and dwarfs gather to stop him, but to stand against the hordes of the Ruinous Powers, they must turn to darker allies. Against all reason, the last hope for the world may be the Undying King, Nagash himself – if he and the mortal races can find common cause and work together. If they cannot, Archaon’s plan will come to fruition and the world will be consumed by Chaos.

It’s been a fun and interesting few weeks, getting caught up with Black Library’s End Times series. After decades of interest in Warhammer (though, I must admit that I never played a proper game), and especially the novels, finishing this novel was something of a bittersweet moment. Reynolds does a great job of bringing the various threads together, and dishing out plentiful death and destruction. Not only that, he does it with some tongue-in-cheek humour, and an awareness of how big, bold and brash (and just a little over-the-top) this story has become and needs to be at its conclusion. I enjoyed this a lot. Continue reading

Review: SLAYER by David Guymer (Black Library)

GuymerD-G&F-SlayerThe Dooms of Gotrek & Felix…

With their friendship in tatters after a series of betrayals, Gotrek and Felix march south at the head of a ragtag army, intent upon driving the forces of Chaos out of the Empire and returning Felix to his wife. But Gotrek’s doom is at hand, and great powers are at work to ensure that he meets it. With enemies on all sides and destiny calling, Felix must make a choice: to follow Gotrek into the darkness that awaits him, or to abandon his oldest friend once and for all.

I’ve said it many times on CR, but I’ve been a fan of the Gotrek & Felix series since the early-1990s. In Slayer, David Guymer, the fourth author to work on the series, brings everything to a close. Tied in with the End Times, it’s a fantastic, even moving farewell. After I turned the final page, I felt genuinely sad and just a little bit lost for what to do now… Despite one niggle, this is an excellent finale. Continue reading