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  1. Anyone else read this yet so? Finished it this morning and feel I can comfortably call this the best AoS novel about. Well worth getting if you’ve not already. Some (lengthy!) scattered thoughts below with spoilers tagged: Structure of book This was interesting! It’s not just a straight novelisation of the events of the Soul Wars box and the battle of Glymmsforge. It stretches back to the necroquake but moreover it largely doesn’t focus on the main players of the box. The Hammers of Sgmar and Malendrek are there but they and their battle are not the central focus. Instead we follow the battle for the Ten Thousand Tombs, a sealed and guarded necropolis in the city, between the Anvils of the Heldenhammer - both the existing Warrior Chamber garrison and the new Sacrosanct Chamber arrivals - and the nighthaunt/zombie forces of the Knight of Shrouds This is a good choice, lets Reynolds dig into his own characters and write the story he wanted without, I suppose, bumping up too much against the ‘main’ plot. Nagash and the nighthaunt Both come off well and are extensively fleshed out (yeah yeah, easiest joke). There’s a lot on Nagash’s philosophy, for want of a better word. ‘Nagash is all and all are one in Nagash’. Everything must be ordered and hierarchical and completely subservient to Nagash’s will for the universe to be sane and correct. No lies, no illusions, just bleak clarity and justice. We hear this from Nagash himself but also from various deathlords and spirits. In their despair and pain they latch onto what he offers. It’s particularly well done in an extended vision-scene between Nagash and In this (self-serving) interpretation, Sigmar is the bringer of false hope, who uses people and tells them it’s for the greater good. It’s compelling, the same stuff we’ve seen in Reynolds’ other work on Nagash. Nagash himself is as good as ever. He can look the chaos gods in the eye and call them horrors or jackals of the waste to their face. He considers himself above them as he is aiming to literally become death the universal force. Not 'a' god of death, not a master of all the underworlds, but something as inherent to the universe as gravity. Arkhan, it has to be said, does have a subtly different take, where Shyish and Azry balance each other out and so Sigmar and Nagash also must do so. A black sun and a bright sun. Less absolutist and with some strong implications for the wider plot. We also get a good look at the sheer variety of the court of the dead. Wights, ancient necromancers, spirits, vampires… both in Nagashizzar and in the army of Glymmsforge, some linked to other AoS books: spot Lots of briefly appearing colourful characters, including Nagash’s personal jester, made to dance and spin so fast before his king on a building-sized throne that bits of him start flying off into the crowd… The Stormcast Interesting developments. We get a good look at Azyrheim, including the most detailed examination of the reforging process and how can go wrong so far. There was a Malign Portents story on this but there’s a lot more of it here. When Sigmar himself shows up, he’s appropriately divine, not just a big magic dude. Slightly alien and unnerving, mind working on a different plain, but still showing a glimmer of the man he once was. Perhaps surprisingly different from your 40k primarchs and emperors. There’s some interesting thoughts on how time and duty are different for folks who die and come back: there’s a bit about a lord-celestant seeing a boy grow up to be a freeguild captain and then grow old, knowing he’ll die soon. There’s a scene where a knight-invocator watches pilgrims ignore her to flock to a statue of her from her pre-reforging life. It’s low on some of the explicit darkness and grittiness that folks seem to be picking up on from the new battletome release but it’s all done well, including the suspicion between the warrior chambers and the sacrosanct chambers; not just ‘why didn’t Sigmar tell us about this?’ but also nervousness about asking members of the Sacrosanct chamber about the reforging process. It’s something mysterious and private and makes them justifiably uncomfortable. Characters Soul Wars seems to have wider range of distinct stormcast characters than most other SC-centric books. They’re three dimensional rather than, say, this guy being the gruff one, this guy being the bloodthirsty one, etc. Balthas, the central lord-arcanum is cold, distant, irritable, scholarly, fairly uncaring of what his men think of him, and easily ticked off when things don’t go according to plan. Balthas isn’t particularly likeable and doesn’t come off as a natural warrior and in that he’s pretty far from other SC protagonists I’ve seen. Calys is tough, professional, forthright and willing to hold a grudge. She’s not a rookie but she’s come to a new duty and seeing her wrestling with that was good. Fun to see her bounce off Balthas too. The same applies to other characters. Ely is the standout, even if she doesn’t quite fulfil the potential she seems to have had in the early chapters. She winds up being a sort of cipher, a representation of what the soul wars are being fought over while still being personally tied to the fighting characters with more screen-time. Her relationship with Calys is pretty telegraphed from the get-go but has resonance despite that. Fosko and the other freeguild characters are fun. They feel like Pratchett’s watchmen. Not actively bad, just supplementing their income through less than legal means. Pharus Thaum is great. Clever, patient, engaged with mortals, tolerant of small children running around his labyrinth, a good teacher and senior officer without being an unnecessary hardass. He's quietly proud of the labyrinth he built, full of traps and architectural techniques to cage unruly spirits; he's much more than a warrior (there's a nice bit where the dwarf engineers scoff at his prowess and note that while he might have planned and designed this impossible maze, they physically built it, manling, so there.?) He knows that eating apples is essentially a small vice, connecting him to his mortal life, but has enough wisdom to know it’s not a big deal as these things go. Unit names An odd thing I noticed was a quirk of ‘unit names’. These don’t match up with what we now know certain stormcast units are called, e.g. Mage-Sacristan instead of Knight-Invocator, Celestors instead of Evocators. I guess you could say these are Anvils of the Heldenhammer-specific terms but I’d say it’s much more like a product of writing a novel while other GW stuff is in development, as with the End Times. Glymmsforge Glymmsforge as a place feels lived in. It comes off as realistic and full of different classes of variously grumbling, scared, just-trying-to-get-by normal humans with their own hopes and dreams, etc. It’s vaguely colonial, as Sigmar’s foothold in Shyish: there’s the Azyrite-Shyisian tension we’ve seen in other books (more subtly here, really) but there’s also hints of deeper, more RL stuff. Relations to the native desert nomads, the use of wandering bands of pretty rough mercenaries as enforcers, Azyrite merchants exploiting the natural resources of the different realms for Azyr’s benefit. The differences between the stormcast garrisons who know the city (and helped found it) and the stormcast crusaders who pass through. It’s cool. Belief is touched on too. There are temples to Alarielle and Malerion and even Nagash-Morr (the friendlier Shyishian aspect of Nagash who ushers the deserving to their peaceful rest) as well as Sigmar. There are occasional purges (zombies, vampires, necromantic cults) and the Lord-Veritant is looked on with a lot more fear than the other SC. There’s a nice scene where he notes that he’s burned down the temple of Nagash-Morr for its subversive potential eight times in a century and every time the priests accept it stoically as another ending then invite him to the first service when they rebuild. Shades of… I dunno, fit your own extremely polite religious minority in an unfriendly state to this.? A certain character’s identity Grand plot implications Thoughts?
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