The final novel in the End Times series is here and it doesn't disappoint. Everything has been leading to this and the series goes out with a bang, with almost every character from Warhammer's past getting a mention.
Josh Reynolds kicked off the novel series for the End Times with The Return of Nagash, so it's only fitting that he closes it out as well. Besides just being a great book and an entertaining read, Josh also ensures that he does plenty of fan service in the novel. Almost every Chaos special characters ever mentioned in Warhammer's history pops up in some way or another. I only recognized a handful, but I'm sure veteran gamers will catch a lot more than I did. The story opens during the events of Thanquol, with Boris Todbringer's final hunt of Kharzak One Eye acting as a prologue. It's a fantastic way to kick off the book and I am pretty happy that we got to see such an iconic part of the lore in a story format. From there we head into the fall of Middenheim, which takes up the first third of the book.
It's all told in an extremely engaging manner and really manages to flesh out that battle more. In Thanquol I felt like parts of it felt a little rushed and that the city fell a little too easily. Here we get to see the gates fall, the Skaven burst up from beneath them, Gregor Martak fight the enemy and quarrel with his allies, and my personal favorite, Valten, taking names with Ghal Maraz. In the sourcebooks you never get to see why he is so powerful and why everyone follows him. You are just told that he is the Herald of Sigmar and is awesome. In this novel though, it's shown to you instead of just told. He really is a great fighter and an inspirational leader and takes on several Chaos champions one on one. In fact, that happens a lot to him, as the Chaos gods throw every champion they can in his path. They are trying to kill him before he reaches Archaon because that's how much they fear his power. We even get to see him take on Wulfrik the Wanderer. Also, know that those of you who felt cheated by Valten's death, myself included, are vindicated a little bit. Apparently Archaon wasn't too pleased with it either and broods over it the rest of the novel. Valten's head was supposed to be his and he takes his wrath out on the Skaven leaders afterwards as an example. Do not steal his moment.
From there we move on to the events of Archaon proper, picking up almost a year later, with the survivors of Averheim seeking refuge in Athel Loren. It's a little disappointing that we missed the fall of that city, as well as the siege of Sylvania, but I understand there is only so much you can fit into one novel before it becomes bloated. The majority of the second portion of the book deals with the different Incarnates of Magic arguing amongst themselves on what action to take next. The matter only becomes more muddied when Nagash shows up with his undead horde seeking an alliance. Some people may be disappointed that there isn't as much action in this part, but it really is great seeing all of their view points on matters. Vlad is a stand out character once again, and really his whole arc in this book is pretty fantastic. He is so tragic, and you really do feel bad for him in the end. You can tell all the writers have had a fun time writing him. We also get to see into the minds of Teclis, and Arkhan a bit as well as a more developed look at Gelt and the Emperor. The Brettonians get a little more of the spotlight as well and we discover what there fate was after departing the council, fans won't be disappointed.
Once the third and final act kicks in the action never lets up as our heroes find themselves at Middenheim racing to stop Archaon's plot. This is where a lot of the special characters get a chance to shine, including Harry the Hammer, or as he is known here, Harold Hammerstrom. A few others are Azazel, Abraal the Undefeated, and even the White Dwarf himself. The action is riveting and it was really hard to put the book down from this point onwards. We also get a few loose ends tied up, such as the fates of Cathay, Nippon, Ind, the Chaos Dwarfs, Settra, Arkhan, and Issabella. If you really want to know what happens to a lot of the stuff not mentioned in the source book then you need to pick up this novel. Like I said before, it's great fan service.
I don't want to spoil the story too much so I'll leave it at that, but I highly recommend picking this book up. It's a great story and fills in a lot of the blanks from the End Times saga. Josh handles all of the established characters very well and yet again, his own characters, Wendel Volker and Canto Unsworn, almost steal the show. It even plucks at your heart strings a little, with the love stories of Vlad and Issabella, and Arkhan and Neferata. It's also sad to see all of your favorite characters finally end. This is the last story set in the Warhammer world as we know it, chronologically at least. I still have Deathblade and Slayer to read. Still, the end of an era.
Final Score - 5/5
Until next time,