Dead Winter by C.L Werner – Advanced Review [Lord of the Night]
Lord of the Night reviews the beginning of the new Time of Legends trilogy The Black Plague, the strikingly grim novel Dead Winter.
“The second phase of Time of Legends kicks off with a superlative tale of scheming, rebellion and an encroaching evil ready to engulf the lands of Man. Werner continues to impress with every new release and Dead Winter is no exception.” – The Founding Fields.
This is my first Time of Legends novel. Sigmar and The Sundering did not interest me much and I am waiting for the omnibus of Nagash, but the Skaven Man-Things War? The Black Plague? Now those are two things that make a winning combination. Combine them with the talented C.L Werner authoring the story and you have an instant success.
The Empire is in tatters. The greedy and cruel Emperor Boris Goldgather is bleeding Sigmar’s Empire dry to sate his unquenchable lust for gold and power. But their greedy liege is the least of the Empire’s worries, the Black Plague is spreading across the land, claiming all who contract it. Shunning those who are afflicted the Empire is tearing itself apart as many claim the end of the world is here. But something far worse than plague is fast approaching, an evil long held to by myth and superstition, a fairy tail told to children to frighten them in their beds. As the Empire bleeds, the Skaven are coming to take what is theirs.
The story of Dead Winter is remarkably well crafted. Setting up the first part of a trilogy Werner establishes the lore we know of the Black Plague fairly quickly and adds his own elements into the story, we all know how the Black Plague tale begins and ends but what about all that happened in-between? Such is the reason behind these series that we discover what really happened in these forgotten times, and already Werner has made it interesting despite having yet to even begin the real war of the trilogy. Even managing to resurrect a classic character and work his story into the narrative, C.L Werner has the start of a great trilogy in Dead Winter, now we must await the middle and the end.
The characters are quite wide-spread and vary greatly. This is not just a Skaven novel or an Empire novel, its both and as such we have characters on both sides, though mostly the Empire in this instalment. Chief characters amongst the Empire include Captain Erich von Kranzbeuhler of the honored Reiksnecht, the Order of the Reikland Knights; Adolf Kreyssig the leader of the feared Kaiserjaeger, the secret police of Altdorf; the young Prince Mandred of Middenheim; the isolated priest of Morr Frederick Van Hal and the simple rat-catcher Walther Schill of Nuln. Each of these characters show a different part of the novel, from the unrest in Altdorf to the mysteries in the sewers of Nuln and each one deals with the plague and the strife it causes in their own way, as it affects each of their stories greatly.
Though my favourite character was Dregator Miklos, the Lord of the Nachtsheer (Night Army), whose title was named for me in a show of thanks from C.L Werner for my reading of an early chapter of Dead Winter in October. It was a great honour to be included in a Black Library book, and I convey my thanks to C.L for making a cool character with my title, and especially for what he did with that character.
The Skaven are not neglected either, though only two characters are utilised in the novel. The creator of the Black Plague Puskab Foulfur is the Skaven protagonist and is an interesting character, as the Plague Priests have never really been delved into in great depth. We learn a lot more about the unusually, for Skaven, tight-knit clan that is Pestilens and their customs and beliefs. The second Skaven character is Blight Tenscratch, Lord of Decay and the Wormlord of Clan Verms who makes Puskab the offer of a generation. The Skaven take the back-seat for this novel but as the trilogy proceeds onwards they will most definitely outnumber the man-thing characters by five t0 one, I hope they do at least hehe.
The action of the novel is well-done, though not prevailent. The novel focuses more on the mystery and intrigue. When a battle scene does take place though it is well written and exciting, even if it isn’t a large one but rather a duel or skirmish between the rivaling factions that dominate the novel.
The novel’s pacing is good. Seventeen chapters comprise this novel and each one is broken up by region, from Bylorhof Sylvania to Altdorf and Nuln, and the depths of Skavenblight it is always very clear when a POV shift is occuring and the character’s individual parts are spaced out nicely so that you never know who you’ll be getting to next. The environments of the novel are nicely described as winter hits the Empire, the cold snows add to the streets of Nuln and the barrens of Sylvania equally well, lending another aspect that will work against the Empire in the novel and events to come.
The ending of the novel is very ominous. The plague continues on, and the situation in both the Empire and Skavenblight has taken a bad turn. And things are only going to get worse from here on out as the Skaven Wars begin. I particularly enjoyed the final words of the novel, it was a great way to close this part of the story and set up the next, and the final moments show just how skilled the Skaven are at manipulation.
For the start of a great new trilogy I give Dead Winter a score of 8.2, my only problem with the novel was that it needed more Skaven! But if I had it my way the entire trilogy would be completely Skaven so i’m just tough to satisfy on that part, lol. But I quite enjoyed this novel as the start of a trilogy depicting one of my favourite wars in the Warhammer lore, and something i’ve been dying to read more about ever since I first read it and hoped it could become a Time of Legends novel.
Should you buy this book? If you like Warhammer history then I would say Yes. Dead Winter delves into a period in the Empire’s history that has been largely forgotten and its very interesting to learn the truth of what happened back then. Same answer if you are a Skaven fan like me, or if you just like Warhammer then Yes again, this is a good Warhammer series that is definitely worth considering. But if you aren’t a fan of any of those things then this is not the novel for you, though the Horned Rat will eat you for your dislike of his children!
Well that’s it for this review. Next up are the SMB Novella collection Architect of Fate and the Ultramarines audio-drama Eye of Vengeance, both of which I will be reviewing once I finish them. Until next time.
AVE DOMINUS NOX!