Monday, March 1, 2010

Death & Dishonour edited by Alex Davis, Nick Kyme, and Lindsey Priestley

NOTE: Death & Dishonour was a free review copy provided to Luke Reviews by The Black Library.

I haven’t managed to dive into as much of Warhammer’s fantasy setting as I would like, having only read the incredible The Chronicles of Malus Darkblade: Volume Two and the rather dismal Forged by Chaos. However, based on the first of those books, I really wanted to take another look. Luckily, Black Library had some exciting new releases that looked right up my alley. Therefore, the next two books will give us looks at Warhammer, first with the original anthology Death & Dishonour, followed by the upcoming Empire Army novel, Call to Arms, by Mitchel Scanlon.

Not having much background in the Warhammer Fantasy setting, this new anthology was perfect, giving me some solid stories, along with introducing me to a couple of very popular characters with ongoing series.

“Red Snow” by Nathan Long: Gotrek and Felix, having signed on to protect a caravan passing through the mountains, are stranded with the rest of the group after an avalanche, and must fight to stop a bloodthirsty monster that is attacking the party. A well-rounded story that was on the “great” side of “good”.

“The Assassin’s Dilemma” by David Earle: Sneeq and his band of skaven (ratmen) are sent on a mission to kill a human weapons engineer, but a wizard threatens Sneeq’s life if he succeeds. An entertaining tale, although not the best of the bunch.

“Rest Eternal” by Anthony Reynolds: Calard, a knight of Bretonnia, struggles with a Wyvern that just doesn’t seem to stay dead. An interesting story, but one I found hard to get into, as the main character was rather repugnant.

“The Miracle at Berlau” by Darius Hinks: This short tale follows a boy and his mentor as they seek answers to their current situation in their past. Not my favorite, but still very well done.

“Noblesse Oblige” by Robert Earl: Florin and Lorenzo, trying to make an easy profit, are tricked into working as assassins for the Lady of the land, but far more is going an than there seems. One of the best stories in the volume, Earl manages to combine his action with dark overtones, yet still work in light-hearted banter and humor.

“The Last Ride of Heiner Rothstein” by Ross O’Brien: A story about the returning of the body of a dead warrior to his homeland, this one started well but the end got muddied and confused, and I must admit I’m not sure I totally got the ending. Too many mixed apparitions, mental illnesses, and magic spells for me.

“Broken Blood” by Paul Kearney: This tale of a war between Man and Chaos becomes one of brother fighting brother in a battle of huge proportions. The story is very well told, and the ending is suitably bleak. Well done.

“The Judgement of Crows” by Chris Wraight: An okay story of a town plagued by the dead. Rather predictable and not overly exciting for my tastes.

“Wolfshead” by C. L. Werner: A satisfying finish to the collection by an author whose work had previously left me less than overwhelmed. Brunner the Bounty Hunter loses the man he had hunted down, and decides that hunting a wolf with a high price on its head is the best answer to making up his lost money. A good story that had a very solid conclusion. I look forward to the Brunner the Bounty Hunter omnibus coming out soon.

Overall, this was a pretty solid anthology. Normally, anthologies are very much a mixed bag for me, with some stories really resonating for me and others falling flat. However, Death & Dishonour was a wonderful exception to that rule, and did an excellent job of presenting a host of stories that work great for both the newcomer to Warhammer Fantasy as well as the old hand looking for the continuing adventures of some of his or her favorite characters.


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