Knight of the Blazing Sun by Josh Reynolds – Advanced Review [Lord of the Night]
Lord of the Night reviews the debut novel of newly arrived to Black Library author Josh Reynolds, the Warhammer Fantasy Empire novel Knight of the Blazing Sun.
“Myrmidia! Josh Reynolds thunders onto the Black Library roster with his debut novel with a well-written tale of secrets and lies, brotherhood and the path of civilisation. The Knights of the Blazing Sun are brought to paper for the first time and do not disappoint in story, battle or an interesting doctrine to warfare and life.” – The Founding Fields.
Two brand new authors, first Chambers now Reynolds, in one month. But where Chambers is old blood brought to new places its good to see some fresh blood for the Black Library in the form of Josh Reynolds. Having read and enjoyed his short story in the Age of Legends anthology, The Gods Demand, I was hoping for a good novel and I was not let down. Knight of the Blazing Sun was a good read that I enjoyed for a number of reasons, which I shall now elaborate on.
A mystery has been brought to the Knights of the Blazing Sun, knightly order of the Goddess of Warfare and Planning Myrmidia. The komturies of Marienburg and Svunum, a small island off the coast of Norsca, have dropped from contact without warning. Fresh from battle against the orcs, Hector Goetz is dispatched to discover what has happened to the missing brethren of the Blazing Sun, and to give them a message from the Grand Master of the Order. But something in the shadows is watching him, something that has been waiting for this day with cruel anticipation. With his own past tormenting him, the games of politics bringing new surprises to the table at every turn, and his own faith in the goddess uncetain, Goetz will face the direst trial of his life as he steps into the forgotten realm of Svunum.
Reynolds has created a small but interesting cast for the novel. The protagonist Hector Goetz is a knight with uncertain faith, a sceptics view on life and a lost dream of building bridges. Goetz’s development was very well-written, his faith and haunted past being big elements of his character that play a good role in the novel. I enjoyed his story quite a lot as Goetz brought an interesting view into Warhammer, one who doesn’t quite believe in gods just because priests say he should and is trained to think and observe before acting, a skill lacking in many characters in the Warhammer world. Other characters include the fiery Norse shieldmaiden Dalla Ulfarsdottir who acts as a secondary protagonist, her father the shaman Ulfar Asgrimdalr, a wise Norscan who knows the secrets of Svunum; and the Knights of Svunum Conrad Balk, Opchek and Taudge, pledged to guard the island’s secrets fiercely; and the mysterious priestess Myrma that serves the designs of her deity.
The action scenes featured in the novel are very enjoyable. Goetz is a knight so of course some cavalry battle is featured early on, but afterwards the novel focuses on sword battles and some naval warfare that adds a larger scale of action to the novel. But the sword fights, which are nicely coreographed, are the main attraction as Goetz battles mutants, Orcs and Norscans through his adventure, with only his trusty sword to keep him safe as he is thrust into battle after battle to learn the mystery of Svunum and the komturie that calls it home. We are also treated to some mind-battles courtesy of Ulfar Asgrimdalr, continuing the fine Black Library tradition of psychic battles being one-hundred times more awesome than mortal battles, after all in the mind anything is possible.
The pacing of the novel is fair. The first half lagged in my opinion, Goetz taking quite a bit to finally get into the thick of the Svunum mystery and the affairs of the Norscans. That said the second half picked up nicely, the mystery became more engrossing and as more of the notable characters were introduced and as the separate stories began to connect the mystery, battles and pacing all improved markedly. It took me a bit to reach the second half but once I did I finished the book quickly, a sure sign of improvement in my book.
The ending of the story is very good, and ends the story of Hector Goetz quite impressively. I enjoyed the respect that Goetz showed for his allies and that the mystery behind Svunum was dealt with, and Goetz’s character development made his own actions at the end of the novel not only cool but actually quite compassionate, doing a kindness to people that didn’t really deserve it. A good story with a good ending, one that closes the book on Hector Goetz on a great note.
I give Knight of the Blazing Sun a score of 7.7 for a good story, interesting characters and a well-written mystery that was good from start to finish. It may have had a slow first half but the novel makes up for it with a great second half that will have you blazing through it. This was a good first entry for Josh Reynolds, I think he has a good future with Black Library ahead of him if Knight of the Blazing Sun is anything to go by, and I look forward to reading his next work, the Time of Legends novel Neferata.
Should you buy this novel? If your a fan of Warhammer Fantasy then its one of a few options. If you like the Knightly Orders or are interested in reading about one of them then yes I would recommend this novel to you. Though if you aren’t a fan of either then this isn’t a novel for you.
Well that is it for this release of Black Library and this review. I may do one or two non-BL reviews and I might review the Gotrek and Felix anthology, but not sure on either yet. Until next time.
AVE DOMINUS NOX!