When William King returned to the Black Library some years ago after taking a long break writing various Warhammer fiction, his first trilogy for the fantasy arm was the Tyrion & Teclis trilogy that told the origin story and the adventures of two of the most famous High Elves of the Old World, the twins Tyrion and Teclis, one a warrior and the other a mage. In the High Elven lore, they are both great champions and much has been written of them, but this was the first time we got up close and personal. And it proved to be a decent enough experience as a reader, although there were definitely moments where I felt that the story and characters missed their mark.
The story starts off as we go back in time to the earliest days of Elven history, when Aenarion, the ill-fated first Phoenix-King, fought to save the Elven people from the armies of Chaos that ran rampant throughout their island kingdom. It was a time of great myths and great deeds and great heroes and great villains, a truly formative time for the Elves that would reverberate down the ages thousands of years later. The key part here was that we saw Aenarion vanquish the Slaanesh Greater Daemon N’kari, whom he’d already killed before when he discovered that the infernal daemon had murdered his family. That is the central story of these novels: N’kari’s vengeance against all those who are descended from the line of Aenarion. And slowly, this turns into a story about how Aenarion’s son by the sorceress Morathi, the Witch-King Malekith, plans to return to Ulthuan and reclaim the throne that was denied to him ages ago.
It is a long story told in three parts, but no less enjoyable for that. As purely a story about some of the most defining characters and events in High Elven lore, Tyrion & Teclis is a great read. We learn so much about the twins and their various enemies, and King certainly has a good grasp on the politics and culture of Ulthuan and Naggaroth alike. If for nothing else but this, the series deserves a read. If you like straightforward action fantasy with a dose of sword-and-sorcery, then these novels are for you.
However, once you dig a little deeper, some of the drawbacks become apparent. While largely the characters are fun to read, there were also some quirks and moments that didn’t really add up for me. And part of the reason for this was that we spent too much time on the characters analyzing whatever it was that they were doing or thinking. It took me out of the immersion repeatedly. This was especially true of Teclis, who starts off uniquely as an Elf who suffers from debilitating health and who has a really cynical and sarcastic outlook on the world and those around him. It got old really fast. Reading about Teclis’ insecurities and his prickly attitude certainly didn’t endear him, and neither did Tyrion’s gung-ho attitude. Together, the brothers make a great team and their relationship is pretty interesting, but the overanalyzing just ruined a lot of the really good moments that were to be had.
Also, there were times where I felt that the villains facing off against the two heroes were deliberately incompetent and even idiotic. I will not go into spoilers, but suffice to say that the villains spend too much time planning things out so that the results will be as perfect as they want them to be, and just durdle along. It didn’t make sense to me. Both N’kari and Malekith suffered from this, and the big war moments in Bane of Malekith especially were affected a great deal.
Still, when all is said and done, these are enjoyable reads regardless. We start off with the twins’ origin story in Blood of Aenarion where they begin to come to terms with their great heritage and face-off against N’kari itself. We then move to the jungles of Lustria in Sword of Caledor where they are hunting down an ancient artifact once borne by Aenarion himself before the twins must return to Ulthuan following some dire news. And then we are fully back in Ulthuan as Malekith finally begins to unveil his great plan to reclaim the throne of Ulthuan and the title of Phoenix King that was denied to him (these events are covered in the Time of Legends sub-series The Sundering by Gav Thorpe). As a straightforward action-romp in the Warhammer Fantasy setting, this trilogy is a great read and definitely recommended for those who are nostalgic about the old era, now that Warhammer Fantasy Battles has been replaced by Age of Sigmar. William King is a great author and while the trilogy isn’t his finest work, it is definitely entertaining. Little more that you can ask than that.
Rating for Blood of Aenarion: 8/10
Rating for Sword of Caledor: 6/10
Rating for Bane of Malekith: 7/10
More William King: