Much like its counterpart Warhammer 40,000, the setting of Warhammer Fantasy Battles has always predicted a certain chaotic “end point”. The northern lands of the world of Warhammer Fantasy have always existed at a certain “ten minutes to midnight” level where a world-destroying event will occur and everything will be gone. The End Times series chronicled much of this event from many different perspectives as various fan-favourite characters were brought together into a battle-fest to bring about the end of Warhammer Fantasy Battles. And it all truly began with Rob Sanders Archaon duology where he charted the rise of the Chaos Lord Archaon to become the harbinger of this end.
Archaon: Lord of Chaos is the second book in the duology, a fact I did not realize until I was a few pages into the novel, and by then it was a little too late to take a pause and pick up Everchosen of Chaos instead. However, it proved to be an interesting book nonetheless and Rob Sanders was always on point bringing the various domains of Chaos to life like never before. The story meanders too much and feels like a travelogue checklist rather than the odyssey it is supposed to be, but in the end, it sets up some neat story threads for what came later.
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The collections of the Legends of the Age of Sigmar tell many a different story and feature many a different warrior chamber of the Stormcast Eternals as they are pitted against different enemies and allied with many a different race. In Skaven Pestilens it was the Beast-Bane warrior chamber fighting alongside the Seraphons against the Skaven. In Fyreslayers it is various armies of duardin (dwarves) against all manner of Chaos Daemons. In Black Rift it was the Adamantine warrior chamber against the Bloodbound, and so on. Each a unique story as it explores some different facet of the new Age of Sigmar reality of Warhammer.
In the Sylvaneth anthology we get a sequel of sorts to Josh Reynolds’ novella War In The Hidden Vale from the Ghal Maraz anthology. Then, we saw how the Stormcasts under the orders of Sigmar fight through hordes of Nurgle daemons to find and awaken the Radiant Queen Alarielle from her centuries-long slumber and fight back against the blight affecting Ghyran, the Realm of Life. With various stories from some of Black Library’s best, we get a really good sense of scale of the battle on Ghyran, and get to see a lot of different perspectives of the Sylvaneth as they rouse to defend their homes against invaders.
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The first audio drama in Josh Reynolds’ The Hunt For Nagash series, The Prisoner of The Black Sun, was a tantalizing introduction to the Realm of Death, ruled over by none other than the greatest necromancer of the Warhammer Old World, Nagash. We met our intrepid Stormcast Eternal heroes as they traversed across the realm to find a gateway into Nagash’s Underworld and went on a bloody jaunt against Chaos forces and met a friendly neighborhood vampire with a certain… pedigree. It was certainly a fun audio romp and going by the description, the second in the series promised to be even better.
From the Vale of Sorrow, Lord-Celestant Tarsus Bull-Heart’s warrior chamber has moved on to the vast deserts of the Sands of Blood, their newfound guide leading them onwards to the fulfillment of their quest. New challenges abound however, and we get to see more of Shyish, the Realm of Death. This is important in the larger scheme of things and the travelogue written by Josh feels very rewarding as a reader. The larger cast also does its job really well in bringing more characters to life and the overall story progresses well enough for my tastes while preserving the various mysteries that abound here.
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Black Library has a very good track record of putting out excellent audio dramas, particularly anything that stars the likes of Toby Longworth, Gareth Armstrong and John Banks. These three have done much to provide me with some great times with various audio-based stories over the years, and it is certainly expected that once Black Library and Games Workshop phased out Warhammer Fantasy for Age of Sigmar that they would look to capitalize on these talents and more besides. Age of Sigmar is such an unexplored territory and the new avenues opened up are intriguing for sure. Combine it with these talents and you have something great.
Josh Reynolds’ The Prisoner of The Black Sun is the first of four audios (collectively called The Hunt For Nagash) that together tell the story of how Sigmar sends his warriors to the Realm of Death to seek out Nagash and treat with him. We meet a new warrior chamber of the Hallowed Knights Stormhost in this audio and get to experience their first battle in the Realm of Death against the Bloodbound who have invaded it in Khorne’s name. Even as Josh writes a down-right brutal but fun story, Toby, Gareth, John, Ramon Tikaram and Luis Soto take things to the next level and deliver a powerful opening performance.
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One of the more endearing aspects of the Age of Sigmar setting is that the lore isn’t told in a linear manner. Rather we have a main story, The Realmgate Wars, and then various authors tell spin-off tales in and around these battles that follow some key characters. I’ve read most of these so far, and they have all been interesting to say the least, not the least of which is Skaven Pestilens which resurrects one of the best races from Warhammer Fantasy Battles for the reimagined successor setting, Age of Sigmar. And the Stormcast Eternals make for some interesting characters in their own right too.
With Josh Reynolds’ Black Rift, we are introduced to Lord-Celestant Orius Adamantine of the Hammers of Sigmar as he leads his warrior-chamber against the forces of the Khornate champion Anhur the Scarlet Lord. Originally released as eight short-stories, Black Rift is a terrific stand-alone read that I would recommend very highly. It is full of some excellent characters on both sides of the conflict, and the central mystery also keeps you glued to the pages, which is all you can ask of a massive war story like this one. Another hit from Josh Reynolds, so let’s see what makes it tick.
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The original review can be found at The Founding Fields, here.
Note: The War of Vengeance trilogy as it was originally concepted was retooled some time after the release of The Great Betrayal and after Chris Wraight’s companion trilogy from the Elf perspective, War of the Beard, was cancelled. The redefined trilogy is now a joint story from both perspectives.
Continue reading “The Great Betrayal by Nick Kyme (Book Review)”