Valkia the Bloody by Sarah Cawkwell – Advance Review [Lord of the Night]
Lord of the Night reviews the gore-drenched Valkia the Bloody, the latest in the gripping Warhammer Fantasy Heroes series, by Sarah Cawkwell.
“An epic novel, dripping with blood and viscera, that chronicles one woman’s journey from inquisitive child to the consort and champion of the War-Given-Form.”
Its been good to get some Warhammer Fantasy reading done and add to it that Valkia the Bloody is the second novel of Sarah “Pyroriffic” Cawkwell and it was even more delightful to read. I was thoroughly rewarded as I found Valkia the Bloody to be an epic tale of blood, power, revenge and even a strange variant of love.
Valkia of the Schwarzvolf desires one thing above all else, the power to make her people great and prove that a woman can rule. From birth she has expected that she will rule the Schwarzvolf in her father’s place, despite the expectations of motherhood and shieldbearing placed upon her. But Valkia holds the gaze of a far greater being than the simple suitors who court her for her feral and pale beauty, a suitor that will beckon her to the end of the world and reshape her destiny in ways she could never have imagined.
The story of the novel is actually what I had expected in its broad strokes, the history of Valkia the Bloody and her rise to power which I greatly enjoyed reading. Sarah expands on Valkia’s tale adding in a whole new layer to the Gorequeen, her personal life and trials before becoming the Blood God’s Consort would have been enjoyable even on their own, and as the story proceeds into fairly familar territory to any Army Book readers it only becomes even more enjoyable as small details are expanded on and the large details are fully brought to life and made even better.
The characters are a very interesting group. Valkia is of course as we’d expect her to be, an uncompromising warrioress who takes great delight in slaughtering her enemies but has a surprising core of honor, and her evolution into the Gorequeen provokes many changes into her character and provides an interesting insight into the mind of one of Khorne’s own. Another character I found to be remarkable was Locephax, a Daemon Prince of Slaanesh who managed to be suave and slimy at the same time, and had a devilish air to him as the novel progressed. Other characters include Valkia’s father the proud King Merroc, her twin daughters the ardent Eris and the wise Bellona, and the manipulative Edan, Godspeaker of the Schwarzvolf.
The action of the novel is bloody as you would well expect of a Khornate book. Valkia’s spear use is nicely done, giving her a unique feel amongst all the bloody axes and serrated blades that the Norscans favour, and her weapon Slaupnir is a delight as it carves bloody swathes through the array of foes that Valkia faces. The feel of a Khornate force is really captured well in the novel, the disorganized rabble that becomes a potent force of death and gore when provoked. And the duel between Valkia and Locephax is given much more detail and rather than just a duel fought over a slight becomes an epic battle between champions of their gods to prove which is superior.
The pacing of the novel is quite nice, rather than feeling dragged I eagerly devoured the book’s first one-hundred pages and read at least one hundred pages a day and finished the book in three days. Spread out over eighteen named chapters the book is easy to read and never lets the reader grow bored, the surprisingly interesting life of young Valkia and her leadership of the Schwarzvolf is just as engaging as the later sections that introduce the true Gorequeen and kept me engrossed the entire way through.
And now for my favourite quote, as if it could have been anything else,
“Blood for the Blood God! Skulls for his Skull Throne!”
The ending of the story is grim and bloody as it should be. Valkia’s story has been told, and in far more detail than could ever be known, though nobody but the Gorequeen herself will ever truly remember the story as the legends and tales of Valkia the Bloody spread across the North, her blood-soaked existance will continue until the stars themselves burn out.
For a great story that expands brilliantly on the Army Book entry on Valkia, fleshing the woman herself out into a real character whose motivations we can understand and for plenty of Blood for the Blood God! I give Valkia the Bloody a score of 9.2/10, a great score that is made all the better by the fact that this is Sarah’s second novel, and first Warhammer Fantasy novel. She has done a fantastic job and I enjoyed Valkia the Bloody even more than Luthor Huss, my undying love of Chaos puts it over the Sigmarite tale.
Should you buy this book? If your a fan of the Warriors of Chaos and Khorne, then definitely Yes. The same goes if you like the Warhammer Heroes series or would just like to read a novel with a strong female leader. But if none of those things interest you then this book is not for you.
That’s it for this review. Next i’ll be reading Priests of Mars and Malediction, so look out for those down the line. Until next time,
AVE DOMINUS NOX!