The first two installments of Josh Reynolds’ The Hunt For Nagash audio drama series have offered a very tantalizing introduction of the Realm of Death, Shyish, the domain of the great necromancer, Nagash. As we followed our protagonist, Lord-Celestant Tarsus Bull-Heart and his warrior chamber across some of the wastes of Shyish, we saw them encounter multiple enemy warbands and learn some of the secrets of the Realm, secrets at once fascinating and disgusting. But as is the way of the hero, Tarsus has to stamp down his moral sensibilities and work for the greater good of all the Eight Realms and get the audience with Nagash that Sigmar wants.
After the incidents with the debased vampire priests of the Sands of Blood, Tarsus and the Bull-Hearts have now been led to the ruins of the city of Helstone, where they’ve been promised by Mannfred Von Carstein that they will find one of the Nine Gates to Nagash’s Underworld. The Lords of Helstone is definitely the best of the three installments so far, and pitting the Stormcast Eternals against the Blightkings of Nurgle was excellent, not to mention that we finally learn some more about Tarsus’ history, marking out a tragic history for the leader of the Bull-Hearts.
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First there was the Age of Myth, when the Eight Realms were in harmony and the pantheons of the gods and goddesses worked with each other. And then came the dreaded Age of Chaos as the pantheons were sundered and the Eight Realms descended into anarchy and despair as the forces of the Chaos Gods ran rampant. And now the Age of Sigmar has begun, the God-King Heldenhammer sends out celestial warriors to throw back Chaos and liberate the Eight Realms from their grip. As we’ve already seen, it is not an easy road, and many heroes and villains have fallen across it.
Hammers of Sigmar tells us the stories of some of these heroes and villains and it is truly a mixed bag. Darius Hinks’ Stormcast is about Lord-Celestant Tylos of the Stormbound warrior chamber as he and his warriors race against time to destroy a great Chaos artifact. C. L. Werner’s Scion of The Storm is about the mysterious hero known only as the Celestant-Prime and his quest to kill a mighty Chaos warlord. Different types of missions, different heroes, different villains all come together to present the weakest story of the Realmgate Wars, but perhaps also some of the most poignant.
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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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