Monday, February 8, 2016

REVIEW: The Bridge of Seven Sorrows

The finale to the first audio series for the Age of Sigmar is finally here, and it doesn't disappoint. It's all been leading to this as Taursus Bullheart confronts the Lord of Death himself, Nagash.

If you've been reading my reviews of the first three parts of this series, The Prisoner of the Black Sun, Sands of Blood, and The Lords of Helstone, then you will already know how this audio starts out. Like all of its predecessors we open with a monologue from Nagash himself. This is once again very well done and I really like the actor they picked for the Lord of Death. The effects they add to his voice and the eerie background music certainly don't hurt either. Once again Nagash is ranting on about how he feels slighted by Sigmar and the creation of the Stormcast as well as his defeat at the hands of Archaon during the Age of Chaos. This time though, he senses the souls that Sigmar had stolen approaching him as Taursus nears the end of his quest.

After this we go back to the Bullhearts and their vampiric ally as they battle their way through a horde of Bloodbound amongst crumbling pyramids and cairns of skulls. The Chaos warriors are dispatched in a suitably creepy way. We finally get to see Mannfred flex his necromantic muscles as he calls forth the spirits of the Realm of Death who rise up from the fog and pull the Khorne worshippers to their dooms. I'm sure ti doesn't hurt that they are really close to one of the Starless Gates, which from what I have gathered from various books, are what Nagash usually emerges from. With their immediate enemy gone, Mannfred leads them to one of the nine portals to the underworld. These constantly shift their location, and it's only thanks to an artifact that the vampire recovered in the last installment that they are able to track it down.

Guarding the entrance though is an entire army of the reanimated skeletons of the chaos forces who had tried to barge their way in. Mannfred attempts to sway them under his control to gain entrance, but it doesn't go his way and they end up having to fight their way through. This was a pretty interesting battle, as the Stormcast focused more on barging their way to the portal instead of properly dispatching the skeletons. Once inside the gate the story really starts hitting the high mark of the series.

I don't want to go into to much more detail since the final half of this audio is really fantastic. Throughout the different audios the relationship between Taursus and Mannfred has been the emotional core for me. For anyone coming from the Old World, and having read the End Times especially, you know how horrible of a "person" Mannfred is. I mean he pretty much single-handedly ensured the Old World's destruction. During this series though we have been shown a more rehabilitated character. He clearly still has his issues, mostly being self-serving, but we have seen him develop a real connection with the Lord-Celestant of the Bullhearts. There is one scene near the end between these two that really tugs at your bromantic heart strings. The fact the Joshua Reynolds along with the cast of this series have been able to make Mannfred von Carstein into someone you can sympathize with and feel bad for is a testament to how well written and preformed it is. I really hope that GW keeps the characterization that Josh has given to the vampire in future publications, including campaign books and battletomes. If he returns to the Machiavellian villain we knew before it would be a little disappointing.    

We also get to see another very well known Death character make their AoS debut. It was everything I could have hoped for, although the voice chosen for them struck me as a little odd. It wasn't a bad voice for them per se, just not how I had heard the voice in my during previous stories. Nagash finally makes his appearance in the actual story outside of his monologues and it's just as epic as you would expect. The final confrontation between Stormcast, vampire, and Nagash is great. It's everything that the story had been building towards for four audio dramas and it definitely delivers. Not only that, but it sets up the next chapter of story perfectly, both on the forces of Death's side and Sigmar's. I really hope to see some of these characters make appearances in future stories as well as in a campaign book or battletome. We have seen characters from the source books later make their way into a novel, but not the other way around yet. That would really help connect all of the stories and make it feel like these extra stories are integral to the unfolding narrative of AoS.

The Bridge of Seven Sorrows is a fantastic listen and my favorite of the series. If you haven't already I highly recommend that you pick up the entire series and give it a listen, you won't be disappointed.

Final Score - 5/5

Until next time,

Tyler M.

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