Age of Sigmar, week 8

Wow – it’s happening, folks! Even though I’d heard about this at my local store last week, I’m still a bit surprised that this is really a thing! The Celestant-Prime is coming out next weekend, and it looks hilarious. A massive Lord-Celestant with enormous wings, and of course – Ghal Maraz!

Warhammer Age of Sigmar

The Lord-Celestant part of the model looks just fantastic – the armour looks superb, with all those details like the comet on the shoulder pads, the lightning-bolt buckle, it all just looks amazing. The wings are a little too goofy for my liking, I think the attempt to make them more imposing than a Prosecutor but not having them out wide has left it looking a little, well, weird.

It’s really fun to see Ghal Maraz finally in a Warhammer figure – I mean, it really is the iconic weapon of Games Workshop. I mean, it’s a subjective thing, but the hammer in the Valten kit just doesn’t look as badass as this chap. The cometstrike sceptre is another awesome-looking weapon, which has a pretty amazing mechanic – allowing you to pull a comet from the heavens and hurl it onto the battlefield.

All that swirling stuff at his feet is perhaps what seems most, well, goofy to me. All that gunk actually provides the model with the ability to change one roll to the result of your choice. Jeez! There’s no Paint Splatter in this week’s White Dwarf, though we do get a short piece on how to paint this mystical swirling energy.

This week’s White Dwarf has a great look at the Hallowed Knights – which is the silver colourscheme you can see on the chap in the forefront here:

Warhammer Age of Sigmar

I’ve been enjoying these little bits of lore they feature in the magazine, it’s really nice to see that narrative sort of thing being pushed in line with the narrative focus of the game.

The week in review

This week I’ve been mainly finishing off the Judicator models I started the previous weekend.

Warhammer Age of Sigmar

I’m really quite pleased with how these guys have come out, I must say! Very much worthy additions to my Lions of Sigmar, at any rate! I’ve been wanting to use my second box to get some more done with the crossbows, but instead I’ve started to work on yet more Liberators!

Two down! #Warhammer #AgeOfSigmar #Liberators #warblade #grandblade

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I’ve built these guys up with the warblades, as I’d wanted to get these done since getting the box. They look pretty badass, and that chap with the grandblade looks particularly nice. As we have a long weekend, I’m thinking I might build up a couple more – those guys with paired warhammers could also be fun. We’ll see what happens.

On with the #EndTimes! #Warhammer #skaven

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I also finished reading The Rise of the Horned Rat this week, the fourth novel in the End Times series. At first, I didn’t really like this – Skaven just annoy me. But as the novel wore on – actually, within just a couple of chapters – I really came to like it. The novel features the battle between the Skaven, the Goblins and the Dwarves at Karak Eight Peaks, and it was a whole lot of fun. Something I particularly liked was the way each race feels different through not just the manner of speech and such, but the very narrative itself. So the Dwarves are very stoic and so on, the Skaven are pretty chaotic, and the Goblins are just mad. It created a nice effect!

I’ve found Goblins hilarious for a long time, and it was a lot of fun to read those parts of the novel that featured Skarsnik, the Goblin King. As with the established tradition here, the author, Guy Healey, is also the man responsible for a previous novel featuring a protagonist, having already penned the Warhammer Legends novel Skarsnik, along with novellas set in the same region. Anyway, it was a good read – perhaps not quite on a par with Fall of Altdorf, but still well worth reading.

From what I can tell, the actual story of the End Times is now resumed: following the Return of Nagash, we have the Fall of Altdorf while, simultaneously, the Curse of Khaine and Rise of the Horned Rat take place in other parts of the Old World, so are almost branching-off from the timeline. But we’re back on track with the fifth and final novel, The Lord of the End Times!

I’ve since started reading the climactic book, but haven’t really gotten very far. Hopefully next weekend will get there!

Looking ahead

The tease at the end of White Dwarf mentions “Death from the Skies”, which I’m really hoping means we’re finally going to be seeing the Prosecutors, but at this late stage of the game, who really knows! Every rumour I’ve been reading seems to be pointing to the Age of Sigmar releases winding down now, and (possibly) Tau coming up next. In a way, I’m looking forward to this, as I really need to take a break from buying models! I’ve ordered a Celestant-Prime purely for the hilarity factor, though I am kinda looking forward to having a real centrepiece model – of all the stuff I’ve been painting, I don’t actually have anything that’s really big. But I do want to get ahead with those kits I already have – I mean, I haven’t even touched the two Paladins boxes I have yet…

So let’s see what happens next week! Fingers crossed for Prosecutors…

Warhammer Age of Sigmar

Age of Sigmar, week 6 – and more!

Hey everybody!
The releases just keep coming for Age of Sigmar! Fortunately, we’ve moved into the realms of Chaos now, and while it’s nothing against the models themselves, I’m perfectly fine to sit these out. That said, there is a new book out today!

Warhammer Age of Sigmar

The Quest for Ghal Maraz is a lovely book, let me tell you! As you may know, Ghal Maraz is the name of Sigmar’s warhammer – the weapon that gave its name to the entire game line – was lost during the end of the world-that-was, so the Stormcast Eternals are dispatched to find it once more. I’ve flicked through the tome, and I’ve got to say, it’s really impressive. So many people write off these big hardcover books for being of little value to the game, but the fact of the matter is, these books are beautiful. The artwork is awesome, and the dioramas of miniatures are truly spectacular. The content is also pretty great, meaning the sum is well worth it. Of course, everybody is different, but I’m a fan, and will no doubt keep buying these things as long as Games Workshop keep pumping them out!

This might sound a bit weird, but the book actually feels like one of those Annuals types of books you might have had as a kid, with some sort of overarching story, some fact-file type things with character profiles and whatnot, and some things for you to do – in this case, the battle plans and painting guides. It’s actually a lot of fun when you look at it, anyway! The book ends with a series of warscrolls for you to use in your battles. The majority of these warscrolls are basically those we’ve already seen – the Stormcast Eternals and the Chaos guys from the last book are reproduced in their entirety, alongside which we have those for the new Paladins, and the new Chaos lord that’s up for preorder this week, who you can see on the cover of this week’s White Dwarf.

Indeed, the theme for this week’s Dwarf is very much Chaos, particularly Chaos re-boxings. Continuing last week’s Skaven re-boxings (which are available today, of course), we’re now getting more Nurgle-centric releases, including the fabulously-disgusting Glottkin model from the End Times. Beautiful! All of these re-packaged models have warscrolls in the book, of course, but will henceforth come with them in their box, also. Chaos – and, specifically, Nurgle – is strong in this issue, with an extensive look at the Khorne army that has grown considerably since the Age of Sigmar starter set, and an article exploring the Nurgle/Skaven alliance. This is something that feels completely natural, to the extent that now we see it, I wonder why it hasn’t happened sooner.

So I’m still a little concerned by the fact we’ve not had the Prosecutors box yet, in fact I’m starting to wonder if we’ll even be getting one. Hopefully, of course, we’ll get the winged beauties as part of a second wave of Stormcast Eternals that includes even more wonderful models – time will tell!

Anyway!

What else I’ve been up to this week

As a sort of celebration of a year of painting miniatures, I’ve been slowly working on some Sylvaneth Dryads that were picked up last week. Beautiful models, let me get that out there right now. I was worried they’d be horrendous to put together, but they’re actually pretty straightforward. I’m following the Winter scheme that was put out in the How to Paint Citadel Miniatures ebook, helped immeasurably by the very wonderful Roemer’s Workshop, and I have to say, I’m really impressed with the results!

Warhammer Age of Sigmar Sylvaneth Dryads

I’ve actually cheated somewhat here, and drybrushed the highlights rather than layering them, but the effect, I feel, is just as good. I also haven’t gone for the glow effect with the eyes, but I think they look just fine without it. I’m particularly pleased with the frozen-ground effect, as I was worried it wouldn’t look that good, but has turned out pretty much exactly as I’d hoped! So I’m going to get some more of these guys built up soon, though I’m currently involved in getting my Stormcast Eternals finished from the starter box. It is six weeks since this thing came out, after all…!

Warhammer Age of Sigmar

And finally…

Finally resuming the #EndTimes reading after ~10 months! #Warhammer

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I’ve been reading The Curse of Khaine, the third novel in the End Times series that came out in November last year. Of course, I’ve read the first two – Nagash and Fall of Altdorf – and thoroughly enjoyed them both, but stalled over Christmas and hadn’t read a Warhammer novel since. It’s really nice to get back into that world, however, even though I now know how the End Times end!

The story is pretty decent, nowhere near as good as Fall of Altforf, which remains one of my favourite fantasy novels of all time. It’s pretty much a character-study of the dark elf Malekith as he pursues his quest to become the Phoenix King, seen as his birthright since his father, Aenarion, held the title. Malekith is now a very old guy – I think 6000 years old is given as his age, though I could be mistaken – and as such, he has periods where he lapses into memories of the past. This is an interesting aside to the pacing of the novel at first, but does get a little annoying as time goes on. Purely a personal thing, but still – pages-long reminiscences can be interesting to build character, but they keep coming throughout the whole book, and it did feel like it threw things off.

End Times Khaine

The novel accompanied the fluff/crunch release of Khaine, a model that the new Age of Sigmar campaign books seem to be streamlining. Breathtaking collections of Citadel miniatures sit alongside fantastic artwork to tell the story of the battles on Ulthuan as Malekith attempts to re-take his birthright. The hardback fluff book is akin to a historical non-fiction book, and tells the full story of the war – as such, it’s almost the perfect companion piece to the novel.

All in all, this has been a pretty decent week!

Now bring me my Prosecutors, dammit!

Painting again!

Hooray! It’s a month (or thereabouts) since I last applied paint to some plastic, but I’ve kinda been inspired by a trip to the local Games Workshop to get a model painted again! Fabulous times, I’m sure you’ll all agree!

Saurus Oldblood

The Saurus Oldblood has been in the pile of plastic for a while now, but another competition at the store has inspired me to break it out.

I’d seen this when it was posted up, and was half-thinking about entering a Necron with some red bits, but I suppose a ‘paint it red’ competition really needs something more red than that. So! Lizardmen, right?!

Saurus Oldblood

Saurus Oldblood

It’s a nice model. It’s kinda small, I have to say – reminds me of those Blue Horrors all those months ago, in fact – though of course not the first Lizardmen model I’ve made up. I’ve primed up previous Lizardmen with Skull White rather than Chaos Black, as I want the colours to come out really vibrant. So!

Saurus Oldblood

Saurus Oldblood

Initial thoughts – I should’ve used a lighter red. Evil Sunz Scarlet, maybe. But anyway, persistence!

Saurus Oldblood

Right now, then, we have this chap with red skin, bronze armour, a golden axe, and a shield with blue scales and black edging (hoping that’ll turn out like obsidian), and the stone of the base. I’m stopping here because it’s late, but more because I’m getting a bit annoyed that I’m not doing it as neatly as I’d like. I’d forgotten how splayed my brushes had gone, too, so that’s a problem.

But still – painting again! We’ll see what tomorrow brings…

In other news, the End Times appears to have, well, ended today, with the release of the Archaon book:

Warhammer End Times

I feel quite lucky to have been able to get these books, given the anguish that was involved in pre-ordering hardback copies back in the day! They are beautiful, however, and while I probably wouldn’t go so far as to say worth it all, I am nevertheless pleased with the collection. Of course, I haven’t read Khaine or the Horned Rat, but now that I have Archaon in the mix as well, I think I ought to try to change that! With Easter coming up around the corner, though, I’m not sure I’ll be able to get the time. Well, we’ll see…

With the End Times finished, and the Warhammer world effectively broken, it’ll be interesting to see what’s next for the setting. Rumour has the next few weeks seeing 40k releases, so it could be a while before we see anything for fantasy. Hm!

Ah, Spirits! and other sundries

Hey everybody!
I’ve just been taking a look around at some of the excellent blogs you good people are writing here on wordpress this fine evening, and would like to draw your collective attention to a wonderful pair, both of which sport a Warhammer theme, so prepare yourselves!

First is this from Roemer’s Workshop, showing his work on some Spirit Hosts. These guys accompanied the first round of End Times releases last Autumn, which centred on the megalithic release that was Nagash. I bought all of the wave one End Times kits, and actually built and painted the Spirits that release weekend – because I took the sprues out of the box to look at, and couldn’t fit them back in…

Part One
Part Two

They’re actually among my favourite models that I’ve painted to date, I suppose partially due to the fact they were pretty much entirely done with washes rather than complex paint jobs!

 

Warhammer Spirit Hosts

The second blog I’d like to direct you to is from the awesome manofyesterday, a review of the card game Space Hulk: Death Angel. I’ve looked at this myself in the past, of course, but I always enjoy reading other peoples’ opinions of games I have played. I also wrote my entry after only one play (though have subsequently played it more often), so I don’t really think mine constitutes a review proper. It’s good to see that I’m not the only one who finds this game tough yet enjoyable, at any rate! Something that I particularly like about the game is how tactical it is, which is echoed quite strongly in manofyesterday’s review. Definitely check it out!

Anyhow. I’ll be back tomorrow with another game day blog – again in the vein of trying something new, so will see you then!

Some Sunday musings

Hey everyone!
It’s been something of a quiet week here, hence the solitary game-day blog on Tuesday I suppose. Did anyone read it? It’s about Dominion, the grandfather of the deck-building games, and one that I often enjoy, but rarely get to play. See, deck-building games have evolved so much since Dominion burst onto the scene that going back to the original can sometimes be a little, well, boring. Take, for example, Marvel Legendary, which is a deck-building game where you also get to fight classic Marvel villains (or heroes!) as you build your deck. Or Thunderstone, where you have the option of acquiring cards in the deck-building manner or delving into a dungeon to fight monsters in your search for the legendary thunderstone. These games, with their increased options that have refined the deck-building genre into a more recognisable game usually find their way to the table more often than the one that started it all. A shame, really.

This coming Tuesday, I hope to do something a bit different with my game day blog, so hopefully you’ll all enjoy that!

I have an essay due next week, so have been working on that for the past few days, also. Have you read the Odyssey? It’s a really good book anyway, but studying it can make it so much more interesting. The book details the return of Odysseus from the Trojan War, when he finds his palace overrun with suitors to his wife Penelope, all of whom believe he is dead. The book begins with his son Telemachus on something of his own hero’s journey, and the essay poses a question about hospitality in the ancient world as seen through his experiences. It’s a cracking read, like I say, but the translation that forms the set book for my course is really uninspiring. If you’d like to investigate what on earth I’m talking about, I recommend the Penguin translation, by EV Rieu. I used that when I studied the Odyssey at A level, and it’s much more readable.

The Fall of Altdorf #Warhammer

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I’ve been reading The Fall of Altdorf since its release earlier in the month, and finished that at the beginning of last week. The second book in the End Times series, it loosely follows on from The Return of Nagash, though the events of that book take on much more of a back seat. At the end of the first book, Nagash raised Vlad von Carstein back from the dead (again), and that provides the link here. In this book, we see the forces of Chaos march against the Empire, with the Vampire Counts forming a third arc to the story. The book has obviously strong ties to the Glottkin release it accompanied, so we see the pestilent swarm cutting a huge swath through the Empire, decimating all that it leaves behind.

Please be aware, I’m discussing spoilers for the book here!

I was really, deeply impressed with this book. While I have, to some extent, enjoyed every Warhammer novel I have read so far, this one was like a new experience for me, as I devoured as much as I could of it night after night. I’ve never really been all that interested in the Empire before – it’s always been just the humans in a setting with much more fantastical creatures to pique my imagination – but Chris Wraight has successfully interested me with this book! I already have the Swords of the Emperor omnibus, along with Luthor Huss and the War of Vengeance novels, so have now moved onto Luthor to see what I’ve missed! Of course, it feels a bit daft, as the Empire is pretty much left in tatters at the end of this book, with some pretty major characters killed off or MIA. Currently, Luthor is one of the latter, so at least there’s the outside chance that we’ll see him again. But what on earth was all that stuff with Karl Franz? Jeez! Looks like this book might also have been the turning point in the End Times: while in book one we saw the great necromancer Nagash rise, presumably with evil intent, here we’ve seen the rise of “a new god” to possibly oppose this. Makes me wonder if the series will end with something like triumph, but I suppose we’ll have to wait and see.

At any rate, I really enjoyed this book, and cannot recommend it enough. Pretty much every GW store I’ve been to still has copies left over, so it shouldn’t be as hard as the Nagash novel to pick up, anyway!

End Times Glottkin

The two-book release for the Glottkin continues the standard of that for Nagash, though they do appear to be a little thinner than the first set. Hm. At any rate, beautiful artwork and amazingly painted miniatures accompany the story of the fall of Altdorf, laid out in a series of chapters that almost form set-piece battles in the first book, which are then given battleplans and rules in the second for you to recreate on the tabletop.

On the subject of Warhammer, remember my Tomb Stalker? That painfully intricate model that took me about two weeks to assemble and paint? Well, he fell off the bookcase last week, breaking the body in half, and snapping most of the legs off. So it was a pain in the ass but I managed to put him back together again, and I’m hoping that you can’t tell…

Necron Tomb Stalker

Chickpea dahl

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I’ve decided to keep up the tradition of Big Game Saturdays leading up to xmas, so following on from Runebound last weekend, I had an epic game of A Touch of Evil, with the Something Wicked expansion thrown in. That proved to be a really awesome game, and really goes to reinforce just how much I enjoy that whole game line!

A Touch of Evil

Epic, and wonderful! I think next week I might give something like Eldritch Horror an outing, as I haven’t played that game since May…

Going back to Flying Frog, however, we had another Shadows of Brimstone update this week, which told us that the games are currently stuck in transit between Germany and the UK, but should hopefully be shipping out within the next week. I’m starting to lose faith in this, to be perfectly honest, as it’s been taking so long and stuff, but we’ll see what next week brings! I’m sure, when the game and all the additional kickstarter goodness is in my hands, this will all be a distant memory…

My other kickstarter nightmare, Fallen, seems to be going equally badly. It’s coming up to a year since the game was initially supposed to be shipped, of course, and the most recent update (which arrived this morning) puts it at four weeks before we should all have the game in our hands. That seems to be cutting it awfully close, to me, and I don’t actually expect to have it before xmas. Of course, I might be pleasantly surprised, but still.

These two experiences are really putting me off the kickstarter thing, anyway, and I’m thinking I might not actually bother with any more. But anyway, at least Lagoon was a breeze! I still want to try that game out…along with about a dozen others…

I went to Shrewsbury today

Hey everybody!

Here we are, at another weekend closer to Christmas! Of course, it seems lately like every other day is Christmas, what with the recent hauls I’ve been having! To kick things off, I’m pleased to say that Lagoon has arrived!

This game does look very beautiful, I have to say, though I’ve not managed to have a game with it yet. Hopefully soon, though!

Warhammer Glottkin

Today has seen a pretty impressive arrival though! You’ll remember the End Times of course? Round Two has been going off for the past few weeks, culminating in the release today of the enormous and disgusting Glottkin:

Warhammer Glottkin

I’m not a big fan of Nurgle, as I feel vaguely ill looking at some of these new models. Which I suppose is a good thing, as they’re meant to, but still… While I’m not a fan of the miniatures (if you can call something like the new Glottkin a “miniature”), I was keen to get hold of the new book for the history of the apocalypse. It looks fantastic, too! I feel quite lucky to have managed to get a copy, however, as it sold out in pre-order within something like two hours, which I find pretty hilarious, if I’m honest. Games Workshop continue to baffle all in their sales strategies, it seems.

I went to Shrewsbury this morning, where the GW store didn’t even have an allocation of the books, though they were stocking the model. So you could buy the model, but you won’t have the rules to use it in your games. Hm. From what I understand, this has been repeated across the world, pretty much. In this respect, I feel a bit awkward about having one when I don’t intend to use the miniature, but then I have nothing to do with retail merchandising for them, so I absolve myself. I did pick up the new End Times novel from the store, however, The Fall of Altdorf, along with a box of Lizardmen.

Shrewsbury, however, is one of my absolute favourite places in the country. I used to go there a few times a year as a child, but it was 2012 when I renewed my acquaintance with the town, and it has swiftly become one of my all-time favourites. The sense of history that you get when there is palpable, and it’s one of those places that I’m utterly content to just wander the streets with no particular destination.

Shropshire formed something of a project for me towards the end of 2012, actually, as I trawled the county visiting some new places and re-acquainting myself with places like the county-town itself. You can check out my wanderings in a series of blogs I wrote over on my blogger site:
Part One: Oswestry, Whittington, Ellesmere and Whitchurch
Llanymynech
Part Two: Wroxeter
Part Three: Montgomery, Bishop’s Castle, Clun, Stokesay Castle
Part Four: Shrewsbury
Part Five: Market Drayton, Wem, Newport, Lilleshall Abbey, Shifnal, Much Wenlock, Bridgnorth
Part Six: Ludlow

Basically, I love history, and I love Shropshire! In doing the research for this mini series of blogs (which isn’t technically finished yet!), I discovered so much about a truly fascinating area that is basically on my doorstep. If you can, I highly recommend making a trip!

History is something that has always been something of a passion, of course, but it seems that lately it has begun to fall by the wayside in my life, as I’ve been embracing a whole tranche of other stuff, but I’m beginning to feel the need for a return to this lately…

I suppose this is the downside of being a geek: when you like something with an all-consuming passion, you tend to have energy only for a small number of things. It’s also one of the ironies, I find, of doing a degree in history: because I must look into certain things, I find myself disinterested until I no longer have to follow that syllabus. As a case in point, I was forever behind on the last module of my degree, as I would always want to look further into a part that we had just finished, and now that I’m doing the Classics side of things, I’ve been finding myself looking instead back to the middle ages. Not that I’m not enjoying the degree, of course! First world problems, and such.

Anyway, brushing all that aside, I’ve been enjoying a cup of Spiced Orange Mocha, which I can highly recommend to you all (though not as highly as the Millionaire Shortbread Mocha)

He’s back…

The Return of #Nagash #Warhammer #100happydays

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About two weeks ago, I was reading the Warhammer novel The Return of Nagash, by Josh Reynolds, as all the hoopla surrounding The End Times from Games Workshop was beginning to die down. I had been following said hoopla quite closely, as it all began to kick off about a week after I got heavily invested in the Old World – you can read my tumblr collections here and here, as well as checking out my attempts at painting one of the models from the release here. However, while I bought the Reynolds novel at this time, it took me almost a month to actually open the cover, I suppose due to being involved in other stuff at the time! Well, anyway.

Nagash

The novel came out in the first wave of stuff for the End Times, which included the Nagash model itself and the above massive hardback tomes, which give both the fluff and the crunch for Nagash as far as the tabletop game itself goes. While I did actually buy all of the models from wave one, I haven’t done anything with them yet (aside from the Spirits), and if I’m entirely honest, I don’t know if I will: Vampire Counts and Tomb Kings are both lovely-looking armies, but if I did play the game, it would be Lizardmen all the way!

But anyway, the novel.

I’d just like to get this out there from the off: I really liked this book. It deals with the efforts of the Vampire, Mannfred von Carstein, and the Liche, Arkhan the Black, to restore the first Necromancer, Nagash, to the world. I don’t really consider it a spoiler to say that they succeed, given the fact that the game has seen the release of the model and this book is essentially justification in prose, but it is a really excellent read to see how he is brought back.

I’d also like to get this out there from the off: I’ve only ever read Sigvald previously, and am barely acquainted with the Old World setting. A map of the world included in the centre pages is really useful, but I started reading this book with some trepidation, believing that I wouldn’t fully grasp the story because of my unfamiliarity with the setting. Nothing could be further from the truth, however. Reynolds introduces new characters and tells the story through their eyes – Erikan Crowfiend has a rich backstory as a vampire who turned his back on his kin, and has now begun his return to Sylvania, so we’re introduced to the major players as Erikan is re-introduced to them, which is a very powerful way of writing, to my mind. As such, this book is an excellent introduction to the world of Warhammer, and at £20, is probably the cheapest you’ll ever find!

As someone who has previously had exposure to the world through the mechanics of painting miniatures rather than the game itself and all its fluff, I found myself enraptured every time something like Castle Drakenhof was mentioned (it’s the name of their blue shade paint! Eeeeeeeee!) It’s a small point, but having been acquainted with the Citadel paint range, it was really nice to see where these names come from. Whether by accident or design, Reynolds uses these a lot, which I would imagine would allow the folks who have only previously painted miniatures without a thought for the game mechanics to feel a little less lost in this book.

I can’t speak for diehard fans of the game, for I am not among their ranks, but there is an excellent review here that you might want to check out for that!

Like I said, then, I have a very disjointed knowledge of the Old World, but that was not an issue for my enjoyment of this novel.

The actual story is also really good in and of itself. For an absolute newcomer, you have a really good tale of two people (though, can a vampire and a liche really be called ‘people’?) who obviously have a history of bad blood between them, coming together in an uneasy alliance with a common goal, though their motivations are definitely not shared. The characterisations of each are such that, by halfway through the novel or less, you feel like you know who these guys are. The story is steeped in a rich history, but that history is explained anyway, so you don’t need prior knowledge of who Arkhan, Krell, Vlad or even Nagash is to enjoy this.

I always think it’s a sign of excellent storytelling, where an author provides a rich background like this and yet having no knowledge of that world doesn’t detract. It’s a very similar experience with Star Wars – the first movie is steeped in history and lore that we obviously don’t know anything about, because this is the very first story in that universe, and yet we aren’t lost for a second. I’m sure long-time Warhammer fans will appreciate what could well be countless nods to past works, but you don’t need to get any of them to appreciate this book for what it is – a great piece of storytelling.

Given that we’re still apparently in the midst of this vampire renaissance, it’s refreshing to read this book without the sort of baggage that vampires have acquired lately. For those of you who don’t know, Warhammer Fantasy Battles was developed in the early 1980s with the express purpose of putting a number of armies in direct conflict with one another – to some extent, everyone is an enemy. Despite the fact that vampires have their own connotations for humanity outside of the game, Reynolds does a really good job of writing these chaps with some level of sympathy, without losing sight of the fact that, to a lot of people who may encounter this book because of their love of the game, the Vampire Count faction is possibly a mortal enemy of the tabletop. Little bits like this really help to make the book a rounded experience.

All of this is not to say that I had some sort of transcendental experience with this book, however. While it is a very good story, the middle does suffer slightly, as Arkhan and Mannfred go their separate ways to recover some relics of Nagash to help in the ritual to restore him to life. The locations of these relics are a long way from both each other and from Sylvania, the home of the vampires, so some level of time-lapse needs to be conveyed. However, we get quite a plodding middle section, as the narrative swings between the two protagonists through each of their journeys, and it sometimes feels like we’re having events relayed to us just for the sake of padding out the journey. I think I would have preferred to have seen each split off, a la Lord of the Rings I suppose, with non-stop Mannfred, then non-stop Arkhan. But that’s really a minor point that needs mentioning.

Overall, it’s an excellent book. Ending with the return of Nagash (again – I don’t consider this a spoiler because, well, the book is called that, after all…), and a couple of other surprises, the stage is now set for book 2 in The End Times. Rumours of a Chaos-heavy book appear to be borne out by the recent announcement from Games Workshop of the next round of End Times miniatures, though as yet we don’t have a novel to accompany them. Nor do we have a massive tome for the crunch, which is apparently coming in an upcoming White Dwarf. I’m hoping there will in fact be a second novel, which is purported to deal with Archaon the Everchosen, who has already had a novel fairly recently of course. The latest rumour I’ve encountered around the Chaos End Times releases puts the ‘book’ release in the third week, so perhaps by the end of the month…

Anyhow, all of my rambling – and efforts to decipher what’s happening in the meta of the tabletop game – aside, this is a really good book, and definitely worth picking up. Unfortunately, it seems the hardback book is now out of stock (unless you can get a copy at your local GW store), but it is still available for download, and will be out in paperback in January. Highly recommended, anyway!