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PrintE-mail Written by Ed Fortune Sunday, 03 March 2013

Book Reviews

Review: Gotrek & Felix - Road of Skulls / Author: Josh Reynolds / Publisher: Black Library / Release Date: Out Now

Gotrek and Felix are two of the most easily identifiable characters in the Warhammer Fantasy range. Gotrek Gurnisson is a dwarf who has at some point in his life disgraced his name so badly that in order to come close to redeeming himself, he has sworn to suicidally throw himself into impossible conflicts. Problem is that he keeps winning. His companion is poet, writer and political malcontent Felix Jaeger, who though handy with a sword in his own right, spends most of his time holding Gotrek’s coat and observing the ensuing mayhem.

The series has been around for well over a decade and currently spans four omnibus editions. Though initially written by William King and carried on by Nathan Long, the series was recently handed over to the extremely prolific and skilled Josh Reynolds, and the fans have collectively held their breath, hoping that the Reynolds could continue to deliver the sort of gritty, witty and action-packed monster-slaying action that the books are renowned for. The answer is not only yes, but in doing so he fixes a number of the issues that this long-running series has begun to develop.

For a start, Road of Skulls reminds us firmly and resolutely that the central character is actually doomed. There will come a time when Gotrek will die, and most likely Felix shortly after. Given the premise of the characters, you’d have thought this was an obvious step, but they’ve survived so much so far that we’ve begun to assume that the series may never end. Though Reynolds makes no explicit promises, it’s a credit to his skill that the indomitable dwarf feels like he’s in over his head during this tale. The plot broadly involves a siege of an ancient dwarf stronghold and the hordes of chaotic monstrosities that define the Warhammer Fantasy setting. There is also plenty of intrigue and shenanigans, but mostly it’s about a very powerful and heroic dwarf hitting monsters very hard. There is also plenty for Felix to do here, and it’s nice to see the character less sure of himself and more inclined to thinking than he has been in some of the novels.

This book does not require prior knowledge of the series, is an effortless read and will do very nicely for anyone looking for high quality pulp fantasy action.

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