Thursday, November 19, 2009

Book Review - "Grey Seer" by C.L. Werner.

A recent release from the Black Library and another book review for the site. Finishing up the new Gotrek and Felix book "Shamanslayer" right now and should have a review of that coming sometime in the next few weeks.

"Grey Seer" by C.L. Werner

Fans of Gotrek and Felix are probably already familiar with Grey Seer Thanquol. Reading that series is not required to enjoy "Grey Seer" but I did enjoy reading Thanquol's recollections of his past failures (blamed mostly on the "Demonic Dwarf" and his "Man-servant"). As a stand alone novel (or the first in a new series?) "Grey Seer" delivers a classic fantasy story full of ratmen, smugglers, monsters, sewers, bizarre magic, and raucous battles.

The story begins with Thanquol being summoned to the Council Of Thirteen - the dread rulers of Skavenblight. After managing to not being burnt to a greasy smear by the horrific Skaven of the Council, Thanquol is sent on an important (and dangerous) mission - to find and recover a mighty Skaven weapon known only as the Wormstone (which has been lost for several hundred years).

Thanquol's quest sends him deep into the treacherous realm of Under-Altdorf (the Skaven realm that lies directly below the Empire city of Altdorf) where the Skaven rulers are a little too happy with their current situation and not excited to see the Grey Seer and his entourage of albino Stormvermin. Conversely, Thanquol is disgusted by Under-Altdorf's dependence on the humans and sees their reliance on the "manflesh" as heretical in the eyes of the Horned Rat. Shortly after arriving, and bullying the local leaders into at least pretending to help him, Thanquol discovers his "new" best friend - Boneripper the mutant Rat Ogre (Thanquol has gone through many different Bonerippers, most of which died at the hands of Gotrek).

While some of the Skaven characters in the book represent the "heavy hitters" of the Skaven elite, the human characters featured in the book are mostly criminals or those associated with them. One exception is a mysterious figure who controls a vast network of servants across all of Altdorf and leads the band of "heroes" to stop the maniacal Skaven from controlling the Wormstone. The relationship between the denizens of upper and under Altdorf is the primary focus of much of the novel and provides some interesting moments for fans of Warhammer lore.

Overall the storyline is a basic one. Villain sets out on an impossible quest, villain meets another villain, villains meets resistance, big fights ensue, magic is used, warpstone is snuffed, and the musk of fear is sprayed all over. The end?

I found the book to be an enjoyable read and better by far than some of Werner's more recent work. Werner manages to craft a believable world of Skaven, complete with interesting rat-characters, a good old fashioned mystery, and a huge magical showdown deep under the city of Altdorf. Those interested in Skaven culture will find plenty of new information here while those looking for an entertaining (and easy) read should be entertained as well.

I'm sure this is far from the last we have seen of Thanquol and I look forward to more stories set in the dark and dank world of the Skaven.

Verdict: 7.5 out of 10.

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