Wednesday, June 29, 2016

REVIEW: Fury of Gork

The sixth installment in the Realmgate Wars novel series, Fury of Gork by Josh Reynolds, sees the Stormcast seek out Gorkamorka in the wilds of Ghur. All doesn't go to plan though once the minions of Tzeentch get involved. Can the forces of Order stop Chaos from claiming a weapon of immense power and will Gordrakk allow them to?

Fury of Gork ties into the new Ironjawz release only in the sense that it features the Ironjawz in it, but it does a fantastic job of exploring their psyche, particularly that of Gordrakk. The story open in a decidedly un-orruky way though, focusing on a small group of chaos warriors. These guys, and one very powerful gal, are actually the main antagonists of our story. Sharizad, a powerful Tzeentch sorceress, has come to Ghur to seek out a ancient weapon of unimaginable power. In her employ she has a group of brothers, said to have been one soul originally, that was fractured into nine parts. Josh Reynolds once again shows off his writing chops by making some very interesting characters that you almost immediately feel invested in. He has such a great knack for writing complex villain characters that I am always looking forward to see what he does next with Chaos.

Sharizad and her coven are trekking through the Gargant's Graveyard, a massive expanse of dead beasts and bones, to find the Howling Labyrinth that lays at its center. Sigmar has not been idle though and there are two different Stormhosts nearby. Zephacleas leads the Astral Templar in search of the orruk god Gorkamorka to reconfirm their ancient alliance, while Greel leads the Sons of Mallus in pursuit of the sorceress. Greel is a really interesting character to me, having been killed by Sharizad previously, he is now out for revenge and redemption. He is the straight edged leader to Zephacleas' more loose and fast method of leadership. Following on from what we had seen of the Astral Templars so far in David Guymer's audio series, they have a distinctly feral slant to them, which is perfectly suited for the Ghurlands and the greenskins who occupy it. Where Greel only sees wild brutes that need to be put down, Zephacleas sees the values in understanding them and their customs.

After one early battle he takes the defeated orruks' Megabosses head and mounts it on a pole. When questioned about it he says that it's part of the orruks' beliefs. They believe that by doing that you are allowing the orruk's spirit to hang around and watch the following battles. It's seen as a sign of respect, something Zephacleas sees as important. It's a rather interesting character trait since traditionally the orruks have been seen as the enemy and the other. Even when they have teamed up with the forces of order in past stories it has always been reluctantly and out of necessity. You get the feeling that Zephacleas really thinks they are worthy of his respect though, not just begrudgingly. Greel is much more melancholic and pessimistic and only wants to pursue Sharizad, seeing the Ironjawz as a distraction. There's also some exploration of the toll of reforging, which I always enjoy reading.

Besides just the Stormcast and Chaos we also get plenty of story from the perspective of the orruks themselves. This is where we really get to explore Gordrakk, the Fist of Gork. I really like the way he is presented. He is smart, which is exceedingly rare amongst the greenskins. He understands tactics and how to manipulate the other bosses under his command to get what he needs. At the same time though he is still very brutal, and values strength above all else. We also get to see how the gods speak to him through his twin axes. There are a few other orruks that stand out in the book as well, including their Weirdnob Shaman who may not be all that he seems.

The battles are engrossing and exciting at the same time, while also retaining more depth then we see in some other books. I particularly like the main confrontation between the Stormcasts and the orruks. The scenes within the Howling Labyrinth itself, a constantly shifting maze built on top of a massive skull, are really cool too. Here we get to see more from the Chaos forces including the nine brothers I mentioned before. Each time one of them dies they all become a little more whole, with the legend saying that eventually only one can remain. The final epic showdown is a great climax for the book, with plenty of fast paced action amongst all of the various factions. I would love to read more about Greel and Zephacleas, and seeing more of Gordrakk from Josh would be great. I am seriously constantly amazed at how distinct he is able to make every single on of his characters. I never feel like they are just slightly different versions of someone we have seen in a previous book of his, or even from any other author.

The only downside to this book is that it's a little on the short side compared to other books in the series, but at the same time this allows him to be concise with his story. It doesn't feel like there is any filler in the story with everything contributing to the main story. There also seems to be a slight inconsistency with the name of Gordrakk's Mawcrusher, named Chomppa here and Bigteef in the battletome. I chock that up the two books probably being written at the same time and after Josh finished his the studio changed the name. It's not a huge deal, it could even be two separate Mawcrushers for all I know.

All in all it was a fantastic read. I never lost interest and I felt invested in each and every main character. Sometimes I didn't know who I wanted to come out on top just because I wouldn't want to lose a certain character for future stories. It's a great addition to the Realmgate War series and can even be read as a one off. You don't really need to have read anything previously to be able to follow along with this book, so if you haven't started already, this book could be a good jumping in point. If you are a fan of the orruks and the Ironjawz in particular I highly recommend getting this. You really do get a great look at how they fight, talk, interact, and even a little bit of their beliefs. They truly feel fleshed out as a real race, albeit one that loves fighting and smashing things.

Final Score - 5/5

Until next time,

Tyler M.

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