I read this book recently.

It’s the charming tale of an evil, power-mad ratman named Thanquol and the snivelling, cowardly wretches surrounding him in the Under-Empire. Also some human dudes up in the city of Altdorf who steal a powerful skaven artifact and wind up all dead of plague for their trouble.

The first few chapters are pretty painful to wade through. They are, co-incidentally, also the chapters in which the skaven characters talk the most. This is a theme revisited repeatedly throughout the book, and CL Werner seems to know it. The skaven don’t have many lines; a lot of things go in inside their heads, with Thanquol or his apprentice scheming away in much more eloquent prose than the characters are capable of verbalizing. Someone in the distant past at Games Workshop decided the mutant ratmen needed to talk like twitchy, hyperactive crackfiends, and all their dialogue contains hyphenated gems like “kill-kill”, “squeak-say”, or “smell-see”. “Mouse-fondler” is a pretty great slam, though, I may use it in conversation someday…

And if you want to read endless mentions of clenching glands filling the air with the musk of fear/submission/respect, this is the book for you!

The book picks up somewhat about a third in, where the human side of the plot gets going. There’s a shadowmancer who’s pretty clearly a monochrome knockoff of the old radio hero The Shadow, right down to the hawkish nose poking out above the scarf covering his lower face. Jeremias Scrivner does a bunch of Shadow tricks, like casting illusions, disappearing into shadows, and while the Shadow had dual pistols to gun down bad guys, this guy just uses magic to shoot little pieces of solid darkness from his fingers. A neat character, though, very much a Warhammer take on that old pulpy hero.

It’s a pretty straight-forward fantasy novel. The skaven dialogue is fucking awful, but if you put it aside long enough, you can get to some nice set pieces throughout, which is probably for the best.

Also, the book proudly says how it features characters from Gotrek and Felix, but I’ve never read that series and have no clue who the hell it means. Maybe it means Thanquol, letting this book advertises him four times on the cover alone. Picture of Thanquol! The title refers to Thanquol! “A Thanquol & Boneripper Novel”! “Features characters from”! Suitably arrogant, for an arrogant ratman.

If only the inside cover was autographed by Thanquol…


~ by Tim H on April 12, 2011.

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