Sunday, December 20, 2009

Book Review - "Shamanslayer" by Nathan Long.

A recent release from the Black Library and another book review for the site. Just finished "Curse of the Necrach" so expect another book review soon! Hope you enjoy reading these - I rarely get comments on the reviews.

"Shamanslayer" by Nathan Long

This review may contain spoilers! It can be really difficult to discuss any Gotrek and Felix book without giving away some part of the overall plot. If this is a concern for you I suggest skipping this review entirely!

Also: I have to assume you know something about Gotrek and Felix as a WHFB enthusiast. If not, here is the short version - Gotrek is a Dwarf Slayer hellbent on destroying himself while killing something mighty and finding his doom. Felix is an author who made a vow (drunkenly) to follow Gotrek and write an epic poem about his life and subsequent death.

Shamanslayer is the eleventh book in this series. As you might imagine there is quite a bit of back story going into this novel. Starting here is certainly an option, but you will have no association with events from the past that are brought up over the course of this story. I do not recommend starting the series here!

The book starts with Felix returning to the Empire to find his father. Life quickly takes a turn for the worse as Felix learns his father is dead - murdered at the hands (paws?) of Skaven assassins. Felix vows he will find the one responsible and extract a bloody revenge but his new quest is put on hold by a surprise visit from one Sir Teobalt von Dreschler - templar and librarian of the Order of the Fiery Heart. This is the first example of events from the previous novels being referenced. In this case it relates to a certain sword Felix has had for the past 20 odd years.

To keep things simple (and relatively spoiler free), Sir Teobalt wishes for Felix to undertake a quest to find his missing comrades and retrieve the order's regalia. Sounds easy enough for two heroic adventurers of the Empire right? One small problem... the woods near where the Order were last seen are swarming with Beastmen - a massive herd unlike anything seen before in the old world.

So Gotrek and Felix set off to kill Beastmen, find the source of the massive beast herd, slay it, locate the missing knights and their regalia, and possibly die a glorious death in the process. Along the way they are joined by some old friends (from previous novels) and new enemies.

I won't give away any more of the story but I will warn you of the massive cliffhanger ending this book ends with. While the series has always been continuous, each book has been a self-contained adventure with a clear beginning and end. Not so with this latest novel. Just when you get to the end of the story you find it is just the beginning of another bad situation for the two heroes.

Cliffhanger aside I enjoyed reading this book. Long does a good job of adding new dynamics to the complex relationship between Gotrek and Felix, including a few situations I found to be a bit shocking and sad for me as a fan of the series. While this is certainly no William King version of the heroes, Nathan Long is slowly making the series his own. If Gotrek keeps swilling beer, hacking up his foes, and getting grudgy, I will stick with the series for the long haul (as long as there aren't any more of these damn cliffhangers).

Overall this was an enjoyable read, I just hope future books don't leave our heroes on the last page staring death in the face.

Verdict: 7.5 out of 10.

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