About the Author:
Anthony Reynolds is from Australia but moved to the UK to work for Games Workshop. He worked in Games Development and as part of the Design Studio Management Team. His first novel was published in 2006.
AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:
4 out of 5
Mark Of Chaos
A Warhammer novel and the novelisation of the computer game of the same name. In a time of turmoil within the Old World, two individuals rise through the ranks to become pivotal in a new war between the Empire and the forces of Chaos. One is Stefan von Kessel, an Imperial Captain plagued by the stigma of his grandfather who was executed for being a Chaos worshipper, and the other is Hroth the Blooded, the chieftain of a tribe of Chaos warriors who becomes ensnared in the plots of the sorcerer Sudobaal.
Novelisations of computer games are rarely good due to the difference in story dynamic of playing through the plot and reading the plot. However, presumably because their background is in the novelisation of table-top gaming, Games Workshop have managed to pull it off in the past, as with 'Fire Warrior' by Simon Spurrier. Thankfully, this book is another case of that. Reynolds never becomes bogged down in the pointless enemy-grinding and mission set-pieces that could have turned this into a very boring and repetetive book; instead he plows on forcefully in a whirlwind of action.
Similarly, Reynolds also never gets too bogged down in the elements which make some Warhammer novels trashy. Whilst there is plenty of violence and gore, its never at the expense of the story and we don't have to read paragraph after paragraph of brains spattering like the author is an over-excited teenager (the demographic that many of these books are aimed at, admittedly). Also, too many Warhammer books end up obsessed with the corrupting power of Chaos but here it's not the central theme of the book, a wise choice resulting from having Khorne, the unsubtle blood god, be the main Chaos catalyst here.
So, compared to other similar works this book comes out okay but how about its own merits? Well, I frankly found the whole thing to be very enjoyable. I particularly enjoyed the speed of the plot as the war between the Empire and the forces of Chaos builds towards a titanic battle and siege. I also enjoyed the fact that the two main characters aren't the conflicted indecisive types that many authors think make for necessary protagonists. Hroth is a warrior, pure and simple, and is determined to jump into battle with every foe he sees until he's either dead or victorious. These are traits that Stefan, although a righteous and loyal servant of the Empire, actually shares and the counterpoint between these two otherwise very different men is interesting.
Unfortunately this book has a major downside which tempted me to only give it a three out of five. The ending is ridiculously rushed and you'll be left thinking 'Wait, there has to be more than that!' after reading about characters who have been present throughout the book being offed in a single sentence. This is particularly galling when it happens to one of the two main characters (I won't say which one!). Overall the ending felt like Reynolds ran out of time and had to wrap up all the storylines in half a dozen pages or miss his deadline. A very disappointing end to an otherwise enjoyable book.
4 out of 5