About the Author:
Born in Stranraer, Scotland in 1959, William King now lives in Prague, Czech Republic.
AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:
3.7 out of 5
This, the fifth book in the Gotrek and Felix series, covers the siege of Praag by a vast Chaos army. It's largely the same as the other books in the series, which is to say a mix of good and bad fantasy action.
Hopeless sieges have been a mainstay of fantasy stories since Helm's Deep and I thought King added a novel twist on the convention by making the entire book into one long protracted siege (making it more true to life than most fantasy sieges too).
Basically, this is a good continuance of the story began in 'Daemonslayer' (that book, this one and 'Dragonslayer' make a nice trilogy within the series) but adds no revolutionary new elements to the story of Gotrek and Felix. It is good to see the surviving Slayers in action though; they're endlessly entertaining.
Followed by 'Vampireslayer'.
4 out of 5
Gotrek and Felix book three. When I read this book, I was stunned. The first two books of the series had been awful and then suddenly, as if Mr. King had a brain transplant, the third book is a piece of gothic fantasy genius! Don't get me wrong, this is no indepth psychologically challenging book, but it is a sheer joy to read.
The repetetive characters of Gotrek and Felix are given a new lease of life in their interactions with a diverse new cast of characters, foremost being Snorri Nosebiter, a mentally challenged and psychotic dwarf Slayer, Ulrika, a beautiful and dangerous Kislevite woman, Malakai Makaisson, another psychotic Slayer but also a technological genius, and Max Schreiber, a cunning wizard. As other fantasy novels have shown, having an interesting band as the key players in a quest may not be original, but it works. The interactions, particularly between the hilariously violent Slayers, make for deeply entertaining reading.
Tension is created first by the machinations of the Skaven Thanquol (who's not so lame as he was in the last book) and then by the dangers of Chaos, as the heroes travel into the corrupted Northern Wastes aboard a remarkable dwarf airship. Finally, reaching an isolated and embattled dwarf stronghold, things take a more sinister turn as a powerful daemon is awoken.
I enjoyed every minute of reading this book and the daemon is such a sinister antagonist that it actually makes for a truly scary horror element too. Unfortunately, you'd probably have to read books 1 and 2 to understand this one, but I can promise that you'll be richly rewarded when you get onto this one in the end.
Followed by 'Dragonslayer'.
5 out of 5
Gotrek and Felix book four. The slaying duo and their friends return from the Chaos Wastes in this book and the story then takes us to a dwarf city where, in one of the best scenes of the book, Felix and his Slayer friends stand up to a dwarf king and declare their intentions to kill a mutant dragon that is plaguing the area.
Felix, Max and Ulrika are along for the adventure and the Slayers Gotrek, Malakai and Snorri are joined by others of their cult. There is a thief Slayer, a coward Slayer, a sex-obsessed Slayer and an immature Slayer. Add in Gotrek's grimness, Snorri's stupidity and Malakai's insane genius and they become one of the funniest and liveliest bands of adventurers in any fantasy book on the market. The Slayers' psychotic comic-relief aside, the love triangle between Felix, Ulrika and Max becomes an interesting element here, creating a tension nothing to do with orcs, dragons or other monsters.
This book is reasonably well-written, but it is its character interaction that raises this one up to where you should take notice. It also begins to build tension about the impending Chaos invasion featured in the next book in the series, which adds a nice dark, impending-doom sort of tone.
Followed by 'Beastslayer'.
5 out of 5
Gotrek and Felix book seven. This story takes Gotrek and Felix in a slightly different direction as they become embroiled in the twisted magic of the Paths of the Old Ones, which have fallen under the sway of Chaos.
This book's strongest feature is the introduction of elves to the series, in the form of the High Elf mage Teclis. The racial tension between Gotrek, Felix and Teclis makes for a fascinating and entertaining three-way sub-plot, as each tries to take the measure of the other two. The story and prose are of good quality, showing that King's writing has matured greatly since 'Trollslayer', and the natives of Albion make for an interesting new culture to learn about.
The two primary things wrong with this book are that Snorri and Max are written out far too early on, removing their interesting characters from the interplay, and that, after countless adventures and seven novels, Gotrek and Felix have not changed at all and seem to have no affection for one another either. You'd think that after all they've been through, the characters would have forged some kind of bond, but if so, it's not in evidence here.
Followed by Nathan Long's 'Orcslayer'.
4 out of 5
Gotrek and Felix book two. This book is not quite so dire as its predecessor, but it comes close. The book is entirely about a Skaven invasion of the great city of Nuln, but for some reason King still clings to the terrible 'episodic' set-up of the first book and each chapter has a new Skaven clan unleashing an evil plot, only to be foiled by Gotrek and Felix.
The Grey Seer Thanquol has the potential to be a geniunely cunning villain, but by the end of the book, his incompetence and cowardice have ruined the character and you get the feeling that Gotrek and Felix's efforts are inconsequential, because the Skaven are too stupid to win anyway.
The fact that there is a core story throughout this novel is the only thing that elevates it above 'Trollslayer' and in all other areas, this book has the first one's failings, foremost being the lack of any development of the main characters and poor prose following hot on its heels.
Followed by 'Daemonslayer'.
2 out of 5
Gotrek and Felix book one. Described as an 'episodic novel', this book is, in fact, a series of loosely connected short stories; and it's rubbish.
The stories favour mindless gore over proper tension-building and every single one repeats the bits about Felix throwing back his cloak to reveal his sword, or Gotrek running his thumb down his axe and drawing a bit of blood and frankly, by the end, you're sick to death of hearing about it.
Also, King's prose is clunky and childish, with no subtlety or poetry. Don't get me wrong, some of the stories here are better than others (the one in the haunted dwarf mine is probably the best), but in general the quality is low. Gotrek and Felix are interesting characters, but show absolutely no development across the novel whatsoever (except the Gotrek loses and eye).
Followed by 'Skavenslayer'.
2 out of 5
Gotrek and Felix book six. After the epic adventures in the previous three Gotrek and Felix books, 'Vampireslayer' is very much a small-scale story. Gotrek, Felix, Max and Snorri, along with a group of stoic Kislevites, have to track a vampire across the Empire because he has kidnapped Ulrika.
The story is quite well written and manages to be tense and intriguing, as well as maintaining the usual mindless action and gore. There are some major flaws that hold this book back, though. The most important is that the vampire Adolphus Krieger is a somewhat substandard villain. He lacks the sheer malevolence of villains such as Drachenfels (from the Warhammer novel of the same name by Jack Yeovil), but also has none of the seductive charisma of most vampire characters in contemporary fiction. Krieger basically comes off as an arrogant and irritating rich boy with a lot of power.
Ulrika's transition through the book is interesting in how it changes her, but also frustrating in her impotence to do anything about it. Generally, this is a decent Warhammer novel, but not nearly up to the standard of books 3, 4 and 5 of the series.
Followed by 'Giantslayer'.
4 out of 5