The best Warhammer Old World Novels & Series – Part II

With the enduring popularity of the Total War: Warhammer series, I though it was time to revisit the ‘World that was’ and look at some of the other best novels and series that the setting has.

 

Gilead by Dan Abnett and Nik Vincent

This author pairing appeared on my first list with the excellent Hammers of Ulric.  Gilead is a different beast altogether and across two novels and a short story they chart the riveting tales of the High Elf Shadowfast warrior.  It is a great exploration of the old world, particularly through the viewpoint of a relative stranger to it.  Highly recommended as a good starting point to the Old World.  The series includes:

Gilead’s Blood – the starting point.  A collection of short stories

Gilead’s Curse – the follow up with a single novel.  Lots of Skaven!

Gilead’s Craft – a very short story but a great insight in to the lead character

 

Archaon by Rob Sanders

A two novel series from one of my favourite BL authors, who I think is rather underrated.  The series fills a very important gap in the history of the Old World, looking at the origins of the Lord of the End Times.  I think Sanders has done a great job with a potentially difficult subject, giving the read a real insight in to how Archaon became who he is.  If you know how the world ends, the Archaon duology is a must read before you delve in to the end times.  The series includes:

Everchosen – from Sigmarite Warrior to follow of Chaos

Lord of Chaos – becoming the Lord of the End Times

The Ambassador Chronicles by Graham McNeill

In my eyes the second best Black Library author (after Dan Abnett) has written one of the best short series set in the Old World.  First of all it is manly set in Kislev, where only really Gotrek & Felix have explored.  Secondly the character isn’t a traditional warrior or adventurer, he is an Ambassador (!). This turns the focus to politics and intrigue, well away from the normal world of Warhammer that we are all used to.  Admittedly the second book does revert more to adventure and battle but still, it is a unique take on the world that was and I highly recommend for anyone wanting something a little bit different.  The series includes:

The Ambassador – Politics and Intrigue in Kislev

Ursun’s Teeth – Battle looms versus a Chaos horde

The Black Plague by C.L. Werner

This omnibus covers all of C.L. Werner’s excellent Black Plague novels, covering a period of history approximately 1500 years before the End Times.  The Skaven have unleashed the black plague, the dead are rising in Sylvania and there is zero leadership in the Empire to combat this.  Only in the final book of the trilogy does the tide truly turn and a hero rise to save the day.  It is a rip-roaring read but also very dark in places, a combination that Werner often manages excellently.  If you like your Old World history and an eventual victory against the odds, then this is for you.

 

The Doom of Dragonback by Gav Thorpe

Dwarfs are by far my favourite race in the Old World but their story is one of almost constant tragedy.  This Time of Legends novel looks at the mine of Ekrund in the western Badlands during a time where the Dwarfs are constantly embattled and losing strongholds.  The tale shows the Dwarfs at their best, being stubborn and fighting against the odds.  I think this is a great way to show the Dwarfs during their time of struggle and gives a great insight in to their psyche.  Highly recommended reading and make sure you take back Ekrund if you are playing TW:W or Mortal Empires!

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Total War Warhammer II: Thoughts on the Tomb Kings DLC

The world of Total War Warhammer keeps growing with the recent release of the Tomb Kings DLC.  Like the last substantial DLC, Norsca for the original game, Tomb Kings is a very impressive expansion.  Not only are their four new legendary lords in different starting positions, there are also new gameplay mechanics that make this faction unique.

The lack of upkeep for units is an interesting twist and does mean you can create a big army quickly at the start of the game, albeit a pretty weak one of meat shields.  Despite this potential early game advantage, it is actually in the mid to late game that the Tomb Kings come in to their own.  If you expand sensibly and build the right structures, you will be raking in income and be able to sustain multiple armies with elite troops.  In the early game however, your meat shields might struggle to overcome even the most basic of enemies.

Although I’ve enjoyed playing as the tomb kings, I’ve probably enjoyed the challenging of playing against them more.  In a recent Dwarf campaign, after conquering the orcs in the badlands, I came up against two Tomb King factious who both eventually ended up being pretty hostile.  The resulting wars were pretty crippling to me and only the onset of chaos brought a conclusion to it.

Overall I think the DLC is excellent and I hope the developers continue along these lines.  Although we have Norsca to look forward to being incorporated in to Mortal Empires, I do wonder what is the next substantial DLC for TW:W2…if any.  The new world is pretty well covered with all the races that inhabit, only really leaving a few Old World factions to play with.  My guess is that if they do provide a new faction then it will one of Kislev, the Southern Kingdoms or the Dogs of War.  The Dogs of War would be particularly interesting as that would be another unique gameplay style.

Whatever it ends up being, role on to Total War: Warhammer 3!

Remembering WFRP 1st Edition

I first fell in love with RPGs in my early teens through picking up a book called Marienburg: Sold Down the River.  I didn’t really understand what it was at the time but I was in to Warhammer at the time and the book looked really interesting.  Only when reading it did I begin to understand the world of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (WFRP).

WFRP 1st edition was full of books with rich background and not too many rules.  The rules themselves were rather byzantine but I had many fun games using the rules and adapting them to the needs of the players.  What really made the game was the background material and the atmosphere it generated; in my games that was generally very dark yet also humorous.

After buying that first book I ended up with almost the entire collection of available books, though in a stupid moment I decided to sell them quite a while ago, a decision I often regret.  However the books have begun to be available again electronically through drivethrurpg.com.  I highly recommend anyone checking them out if they love Warhammer or RPGs.

Currently available is the very comprehensive rule-book, as well as the first two chapters of the epic Enemy Within campaign; one of the best RPG campaigns in any setting ever.  Give it a go if you get the chance and if you are a GM/DM, take your players down memory lane with some classic adventures.

The Best Warhammer Undead & Tomb King Novels

With the imminent release of the Tomb Kings DLC for Total War: Warhammer II, it is worth exploring the excellent novels that the Black Library have produced for the undead legions.  If you really want to immerse yourself with the DLC and understand the main protagonists a bit more, these novels are the best introduction to do so.

The Rise of Nagash Omnibus by Mike Lee

It is dark, brutal and occasionally horrifying; Mike Lee’s trilogy shows the rise of Nagash and how the land of Khemri became a wasteland populated by nothing more than skeletal legions.  It is also shows the beginning of the vampires and their various lines.  At times it feels like it is nothing to do with the Warhammer world, just simply an epic story of greed and power set in a quasi-ancient Egypt type land.  This is where it all begins for the undead and I highly recommend reading it as a starting point.

Vampire Wars: The von Carstein Trilogy by Steven Savile

Another classic covering a lot of old world history.  I think I can safely say it is one of the darkest Warhammer series I’ve ever read, but it is expertly done by Steven Savile who is a horror writer by trade.  The trilogy covers each of the famous von Carstein brood – Vlad, Konrad and Manfred – and their various exploits and reigns of terror throughout history.  It is dark and it is very brutal but to get a proper sense of the Vampire Counts, this is the perfect read.

The Red Duke by C.L Werner

You might not be able to conventionally play as Mousillon in TW:W2 but you can with a faction unlock mod and they are an annoying faction to play against if you are Bretonnia.  Leading Mousillon is the infamous Red Duke, a Blood Dragon Knight who has terrorised Bretonnian lands throughout old world history.  This story tells of his resurrection and the bloodthirsty events that transpire as a result – it isn’t for the faint of heart!

Ulrika by Nathan Long

Ulrika plays a huge part in the early Gotrek & Felix novels, as both the love interest of Felix and a formidable character in her own right.  At the end of Vampireslayer (spoiler alert) Ulrika has been turned in to a Vampire and Nathan Long took up the challenge of writing a series for her.  He did an excellent job and the series shows a conflicted soul who doesn’t want to be a vampire but is trying to deal with the situation as best as she can.  It isn’t as gory or brutal as the other stories on the list, and it doesn’t have the epic scale or legendary characters either, but I do think it is the best written series in the Warhammer world regarding the undead.

Blood of Nagash by Josh Reynolds

This is a two book series looking at two progenitors of the Vampire Bloodlines.  The first, Neferata, follows the former Queen and first ever Vampire (read the Rise of Nagash for more details) as she searches for a new purpose in (un)life.  There also an interesting dynamic with the Ushoran, the progenitor of the Strigoi Vampires.  The second book, Master of Death, follows W’soran, the progenitor of the Necrarch Vampires.  Again Ushoran plays a big role with a civil war in the undead kingdom of Mourkain.  Both books are good sequels to the Rise of Nagash and give a good insight in to how the various bloodlines of Vampires came to be as they are.

Top 5 Ultramarines Books

The Ultramarines, the archetypal Space Marine; loyal, tactically astute and tougher than old boots.  The don’t have the flair or mystery of other chapters, such as the Dark Angels and Space Wolves, but they (and their successors) are the most dependable Space Marines in the 40k universe.  It means they aren’t the most popular chapter amongst the fans but I’ve always had a soft spot for them and I’m delighted with the decision for Guilliman to return.

There have been a lot of novels with the Ultramarines as the leads and here are my top 5 (in no particular order):

Note: This does not include any Horus Heresy novels.

 

The Ultramarines Series by Graham McNeill

For anyone wanting to read about Ultramarines, this is the place to start.  Graham McNeill’s excellent Ultramarines Series charts the career of Uriel Ventris across six novels and a number of short stories.  Although it focuses on Ventris, the series shows what it is to be an Ultramarines, as well as what it takes to not be an Ultramarine.

Best place to start with the Volume One Omnibus.

 

Calgar’s Siege by Paul Kearney

This is one of my favourite 40k books of all time, showing the Ultramarines Chapter Master Marneus Calgar facing overwhelming odds (almost) single-handed.  It has great supporting characters (humans and space marines), an excellent plot and a surprising ending.  From a purely Ultramarines interest point of view, the perspective on what it means to be the Chapter Master is particularly interesting.

Damnos by Nick Kyme

Unless you count some of the Horus Heresy novels, seeing the Ultramarines being outclassed and outmanoeuvred is an unusual read.  Damnos shows this though, where the Ultramarines meet their match with the Necrons.  It may be a defeat but the Ultramarines are able to turn it in to a glorious one.  It contains some great famous characters, including Chief Librarian Tigurius and Captain Sicarius.  The book contains both the novel The Fall of Damnos and the novella Spear of Macragge.

Cassius by Ben Counter

So above we’ve already seen some famous Ultramarines faces, this novel (unsurprisingly) focuses on their famous chaplain Cassius.  It was nice to see a proper Ultramarines vs Tyranids battle in this, particularly with the two sides history.  It’s in my top 5 due to the ingredients of overwhelming odds, a complex character in Cassius that was handled really well by the author and some excellent battle scenes.

Dark Imperium by Guy Haley

Now to the most famous Ultramarine of them all – Roboute Guilliman.  Dark Imperium brings the Ultramarines up-to-date with the new events in the 40k world and most importantly, their Primarch’s resurrection.  The fighting isn’t particularly important or interesting in this book, it is all about learning about the returned Guilliman and how he is coping in a galaxy 10,000 years removed from what he knew.  This is a must read for Ultramarine fans and for anyone wanting to get up-to-date in the new 40k galaxy.

Top 3 Black Library Books – 2017

2017 has been a pretty good year for the Black Library, with some consistently good releases.  It is also probably the first year in a while where I have purchased so many of their books.  Below is my top 3 for 2017 – note that they may not have been released last year, but they are all at least newish and I’ve actually read them this year.

The Devastation of Bhaal by Guy Haley

Beyond the Horus Heresy, I’ve never read anything about the Blood Angels or anything involving Tyranids, but after hearing Guy Haley talk about this book at the Black Library Weekender 2017, I was moved to purchase it.  I was not disappointed and I ended up reading it in only a couple of days, despite it being approximately 500 pages long.  Quite simply it is an epic page-turner, with fleet actions, an against-odds siege and supremely satisfying ending.  I wish I had read Dante by Guy Haley first as I believe I’m missing a fair bit of backstory, but nonetheless I really enjoyed it.  If you buy only one Black Library novel at the moment, buy this one.

 

Shrike by George Mann

As with the Blood Angels, I’m not a huge fan of the Raven Guard; I find Corax far too cold in the Horus Heresy (although in fairness he has good reasons).  I did though find Shrike a very good book, with George Mann doing an excellent job of getting behind Shrike’s personality.  The thread that is woven throughout each of the three individual stories really worked and showed Shrike’s qualities, but also his flaws.  On a practical level, Raven Guard versus Orks is always entertaining, with the hit and run tactics of the Raven Guard contrasting with the brute force of the orks.  If you like your super-human warriors with a bit of personality and/or love a good Ork fight, then this is for you.

 

Calgar’s Siege by Paul Kearney

Ultramarines were my introduction to 40k and I’ve always had a soft spot for them, and I’m very pleased that Roboute Guilliman has returned.  Marneus Calgar should not be forgotten about though, and this space marine battles book shows him at this best; with the novel filling in a legendary story mentioned in the codexes about Calgar holding a a gate single-handedly against a horde of orks.  Calgar finds himself stranded on a planet under Ork invasion and he only has a handful of space marines with him.  He takes charge of the defence and what follows is an epic siege battle.  The characters are excellently written; the dreamer planetary governor and the ageing rogue trader being prime examples.  Overall it is an excellent read and one I will definitely go back to.

 

Quick thoughts on 2018

I might be wrong, but I think my best of 2018 might include:

Total War: Warhammer II – Mortal Empires – Karaz Ankor Reborn – The First Year

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The Starting Situation

Thorgrim

Thorgrim stared out from the battlements of Karaz-a-Karak, looking east along the Silver Road. In the distance he could make out the effigies of the Orcs and cursed them as he did every time he saw them. The Orcs had taken the Silver Road decades ago and it had been with a heavy heart that Thorgrim had decided to abandon the dwarven positions there; they simply hadn’t been strong enough at the time.

Thorgrim was diverted from his cursing by the arrival of one of his guard, who uncharacteristically looked rather nervous.

Thorgrim rocked back as if struck by a cannon.

THORGRIM: Grombrindal? The ancestor returns…if it is true. Lead me to him at once.

The King and the Ancestor

Thorgrim made his way to the throne room and beckoned to his guards to let the visitor in. What walked through the giant doors was the most remarkable sight Thorgrim had seen in his long reign. The White Dwarf had returned.

GROMBRINDAL: My Lord Thorgrim, I am Grombrindal, known as the White Dwarf and guardian of the Dwarven race. I offer you my service to smite our enemies and rebuild the Karaz Ankor.

THORGRIM: I accept. You have returned to us at a most fortuitous time. We are ready to strike back at our foes and even have the number to do so.

GROMBRINDAL: I know the blessings our gods have given you recently and that your numbers are almost beyond counting. It is no coincidence I have arrived; now is the right time to rebuild the Empire.

Plans for the Future

Thorgrim brought Grombrindal in to his inner circle and the war council he had recently set-up.

THORGRIM: Friends we are almost ready to strike back at our foes and we now have the White Dwarf alongside us to aid our efforts. I name Grombrindal the commander of our expeditionary forces and he will lead our troops on the ground. I will join him in time but there are many more preparations to be done first.

Gasps around the chamber greeted the news, both by the appearance of the White Dwarf and from a number of Lords who were hoping for the honour of commander themselves.

GROMBRINDAL: I am honoured my Lord. I want to strike back at the Grobi as soon as possible.

THORGRIM: I would normally counsel patience but the time is right to reveal at least some of our strength. Grombrindal, I task you with taking back the Silver Road by the end of this year. Take a small force to do and give us our first victories.

The Retaking of the Silver Road

Grombrindal’s gathered his forces quickly and struck like lightning at an the Bloody Spearz Orcs in the east led by the notorious Gnashark. The fight was a one-sided affair and the Orcs retreated as quickly as they could.

Grombrindal continued on to the old dwarven settlement of the Pillars of Grungi where a slightly tougher fight was in the offering. Gnashark’s retreating forces had joined up with the orc ‘garrison’, giving the orcs an advantage in numbers. It mattered little though and Grombrindal’s forces retook the old settlement.

As Grombrindal surveyed the settlement and set his warriors to make camp, a messenger approached and mentioned of a group of warriors who had approached and wished to speak to him. Intrigued, Grombrindal went to meet them.

WARRIOR: So it is true, you have returned. Praise to the Ancestor Gods.

GROMBRINDAL: Aye, it is true. Who are you warrior and what can I do for you?

WARRIOR: I am Drong, leader of the Warriors of Dragonfire Pass and we wish to fight alongside you.

GROMBRINDAL: The more the merrier Drong. There are enough Grobi to go round for everyone.

With reinforcements, Grombrindal advanced on to Mount Squighorn and the end of the Silver Road. Again resistance was minimal and the settlement was taken. It had taken Grombrindal less than three months to reclaim what had been lost for nearly 50 years.

Rebuilding

Karaz Ankor had for a long time been merely a myth rather than reality. Dwarven Kings went their own ways and barely paid allegiance to the High King; this was going to change. Thorgrim didn’t want to coerce the holds though, he wanted them to see the might and splendour of Karaz Ankor reborn so that would pledge full allegiance to the empire.

Starting this, across the first year, Thorgrim sent his emissaries out to Barak Varr in the west and Zhufbar in the North. He wanted these two holds in the empire as soon as possible. As successful starts, both holds signed formal alliances with Karaz Ankor before the year was out.

As well as diplomatic rebuilding, actual rebuilding of the old settlements on the Silver Road began apace. Both the Pillars of Grungi and Mount Squighorn were re-populated and rebuilt over the rest of the year to be defensible and useful outposts to Karaz-a-Karak.

A Good Year

Grombrindal was recalled to the capital for the end of the year to begin planning for the next campaign.

THORGRIM: We have barely begun our plans and already we have had an excellent year. The Silver Road is ours again and relationships with our nearby kin are strong. Where do we go from here…

 

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The end of a good year

Total War: Warhammer II – Mortal Empires – Karaz Ankor Reborn – Intro

I’m a little bit in love with Total War: Warhammer 2 and particularly the Mortal Empires DLC. Being able to have almost all of the Warhammer Races together in a campaign has been a hell of a lot of fun; particularly when I’ve had races face off against one another who you wouldn’t normally get to. The best example was a Dwarf vs Dark Elf battle towards an end game of one campaign; suffice to say the Dark Elves were annihilated.

After my failed turn by turn account of a doomed Dark Elf Campaign a while ago, I’ve decided to revisit the idea but with a significant twist. The idea is to tell a campaign via the medium of a story (probably an awfully written one) – this will hopefully be a lot more entertaining than a dry turn-by-turn account.

I’m going to do this with the Dwarfs because they are by far my favourite race and I can probably muster up a lot more enthusiasm for doing it through the. After a lot of thought, I’m going to say that each year equates to 12 turns; this isn’t an exact science but it gives the best approximation for time. For those who are interested, I’m playing vanilla (i.e. no mods) with a starting legendary lord of Grombrindal.

Anyway, here it goes and to start we have a little bit of a prologue…

 

Karaz Ankor Rising

High King Thorgrim Grudgebearer had ruled for over 200 years; a time of particular conservatism and stagnation in the Dwarven Empire, the Karaz Ankor…at least to outside eyes. More ancient holds had fallen and the empire was fractured, this much was true, but something remarkable was happening at the same time.

The beginning of Thorgrim’s reign had coincided was a dramatic spike in the birth rate; something unheard of in previous times. Part of this was the increase in the proportion of females being born; dwarven females had only ever made up a small proportion of overall dwarven numbers in previous times. Twins and even triplets were also being born, substantially increasing the population. The result was that Karaz-a-Karak was astonishingly becoming near full to capacity.

This had been kept from outside eyes, a decision Thorgrim had made to lull enemies in to a false sense of security. When the time was right, the dwarfs would burst forth and take back what was theirs. That time was near at hand…

Gaunt’s Ghosts – A Book Guide – Part I

Gaunt’s Ghosts is by far my favourite series from the Black Library.  I enjoy series such as the Horus Heresy and The Beast Arises, but if I want guaranteed enjoyment, then Gaunt’s Ghosts is to where I turn.

I started reading the series pretty much as soon as it came back, all the way back in 1999.  I remember reading the series through secondary school and in to sixth form, before taking a break during uni and then picking it up again in recent years.  It has taken me through some big moments in my life and it has a big place in my heart because of it.

It does help that Dan Abnett is an excellent writer and I can’t really think of a novel of his that I haven’t enjoyed.  His story-telling is brilliant and the characters are probably the best set in any of the Black Library Series.  I often read the books all in a row and can find myself using Feth as a curse word in the real world when I’m in the midst of reading them; no other book/series has ever had such an effect on me!

With the release of the next in the series, The Warmaster, I thought now would be a good time to go through the series book-by-book and give my thoughts on recommendations on each of them.  Part I takes us through the first two story arcs of the Founding and the Saint.

 

Book 1 – First and Only

I believe the title as a bit of a joke as this was the first Black Library novel…and potentially the First and Only!  They picked a good book and author to have first though and obviously the Black Library has produced a hell of a lot of books now.

The book itself would be an excellent stand-alone Imperial Guard story.  We have elements of trench warfare, a blood feud between commanders, the inquisition and a potentially horrifying secret at the end.

The book doesn’t necessarily make you care about the characters as much as any of the other books, but that is understandable with most of the characters being fairly underdeveloped at the time – that is except for Gaunt.  He is front and centre of the book and his past is delved in to, giving you a real idea of why he is who he is, as well as his motivations.

As an introduction to 40k literature, First and Only is a great starting point.

 

Book 2 – Ghostmaker

If First and Only could be a standalone book, Ghostmaker can only ever really be part of a series.  The book takes a different approach to the first, with a series of short stories each about a main character.  The device is clever with interspersed between each story a short section following Gaunt as he wanders the trenches, meets each of the characters and then thinks about their past actions.  It gives the needed the depth to get the series going, with characters that you begin to care about in coming books.  The end story is then more traditional with all of the characters involved and a final interesting twist at the end.  Overall it is a must-read book to get in to the series and begin to care about characters you will start to love over the next few books.

 

Book 3 – Necropolis

Necropolis is one of my personal favourites and I’ve read it numerous times.  The story is essentially a siege, holding out against all hope and numerous tales of heroism.  The story takes place in the city of Vervunhive and is the tale of its war against Zoica, a hive city that is been corrupted by chaos.  The first part of the book doesn’t even feature the ghosts, with the tale being told of the opening shots of the war, with consequences for people throughout the city, from low-born to high-born.  It also looks at the politics of the city and its hidebound approach to tackling problems; this will have consequences later on.  The Ghosts arrive in the next part, with not long after the walls of the city start to be assaulted.  From here on in it is an epic tale of the defenders holding out, whilst Gaunt becomes embroiled in the politics of the city and with his fellow imperial guard commanders.  The final part of the assault on the enemies command centre and the final duels is a fitting finale for the story, with a nice little twist at the end that means the series can continue for a fair while yet.  Overall I love this book and you could legitimately read it as a stand-alone epic siege story, though in the context of the series it is also very important.

 

Book 4 – Honour Guard

Honour Guard begins the second story arc of Gaunt’s Ghosts – the Saint.  The Ghosts find themselves on the world of Haiga where Saint Sabbat originated from; thus its significance to both Imperials and Chaos is huge.  The world has been taken by Chaos and the Ghosts are part of a liberation force.  All goes well until a disaster, leaving Gaunt in disgrace and one final mission to save face.  Events occur that result in another against-all-odds battle and the chance of salvation at the end.

The book sees the introduction of the new Verghast recruits in to the regiment and they are a welcome dose of extra character and colour in to the series.  It also introduces a new commisar, Viktor Hark, who in later books has become one of my favourite characters.  My highlights for this book are the wounded wagon crew, with Corbec and Bragg really shining through, as well as the epic tank battle in the middle section.

 

Book 5 – The Guns of Tanith

The Guns of Tanith takes a very different approach to the previous books, with the focus instead being on the Tanith’s excellent scouting abilities, as well as their fairly unorthodox approach to war.  The story takes place on Phantine, a world where all the cities are above cloud level due to the toxic atmosphere.  This means the only way to attack is from the sky, with obvious potential hazards.  The first half focuses on the assault on Cirenholm, with the Ghosts managing to crack the city due to their specialist skills.  The second half sees small teams of Ghosts being sent in to the enemy stronghold of Ouranberg to assassinate the enemy commander.  There is also an excellent sub-plot with Gaunt being accused of favouring the Tanith over the Verghast’s, with a criminal trial proving the point.  The dynamic between Gaunt and Hark in this is particularly excellent.  For the main story, the use of the small teams gives a real focus on particular characters and really fleshes some of them out, particularly Bonin and Mkoll.   The novel also sees the introduction of the Phantine Air Corps, who get their own spin-off novel in Double Eagle.  Overall it is a good story, if not one of the best.  It does keep the series moving though and is probably most crucial for the story of Larkin and Cuu…

Book 6 – Straight Silver

This book has recently become one of my favourites, with its overriding theme of melancholy particularly appealing.  The Ghosts find themsleves on the world of Aexe Cardinal, where a WWI-esque conflict is taking place.  The conflict has been trench warfare for decades with no real hope of a breakthrough.  The Cardinal command hope that the Imperial Guard can make the difference, though they are seen more as new toys than anything else.  Gaunt finds himself frustrated with how he is subservient to local commanders and that his troops are used as front-line grunts.  He eventually gets the Ghosts used to their strengths but only half of them; one half stays on the front-line and the other is sent to scout out an impenetrable forest.  With the front-line there are some interesting tales with the conflict between Dorden and Gaunt particularly well-done.  There is also a better exploration of certain characters, including Daur, Zweil and Criid, though my favourite here is the local liaison Count Golke.  In the forest it is mainly about the ongoing feud between Cuu and Larkin, but each of the characters in this part get a lot of ‘air-time’.  Gutes is my personal favourite with his war-weariness, but Feygor, Muriel and Mkvenner also being very interesting.  There are no glorious battles in this book but it is an excellent story and exploration of characters, as well as moving forward the story-arc around the Saint.

Book 7 – Sabbat Martyr

Sabbat Martyr brings us back around to a last-stand story, similar in a way to Necropolis.  The Ghosts are on Herodor, where Saint Sabbat has supposedly been re-born again.  As such, this makes the world a huge target for the forces of Chaos and has to be reinforced and defended.  Unfortunately for Gaunt, in charge of the world is Lord General Ludo, who tried to have Gaunt disgraced in Honour Guard.  The Saint initially turns out to be false but during a relatively minor assault by the enemy, she does appear and leads them to victory.  Although the initial attack is beaten off, huge enemy reinforcements appear and wipe out the battlefleet cover, before landing on the planet.  As part of the invasion force there are nine specialists sent to kill the Saint, in mimicry of the nine wounds that originally killed her.  Each specialist moves in but our countered at each turn by the Tanith, until the final battle where treachery occurs and almost succeeds.

This book is a very easy read and shows the Tanith at their best; against all odds but also using their specialist skills.  I particularly enjoyed Milo’s confusion and being taken as a sidekick by the saint, as well as Mkoll’s duel with the Dark Eldar and the Blood Pact Sniper that is beaten at his own game by the Tanith Marksman.  I was also particularly pleased to see the return of Kolea; he was too good of a character to write off so soon.  The book very neatly closes of the story arc of the saint and is probably the final book that I would consider a very easy read.  That isn’t to say the next ones aren’t good, it just means they are more mature, and are probably more rewarding for it.

The Death of Malekith

Ok, so not the actual death of Malekith, just killing him from my point of view.  Due to neither the game itself or the blog posts being interesting I’m canning this.  I was trying to do turns 31-40 but frankly I lost the will to live.

I think it might just be that I neither like Dark Elves or enjoy playing as them in TWW2.  I can’t escape the feeling when playing as them that I would be having a lot more fun as one of the other races.  I don’t think I’ll go back to playing them casually either – I’ve found Lizardmen and High Elves significantly more fun.

So that’s the end of that…but I will try something new when Mortal Empires is released.  I’m thinking it might involve short people with beards and maybe an attempt at dramatising it a bit.  That’s the plan anyway…