Time of Legends: Neferata by Josh Reynolds – Advance Review [Lord of the Night]
Lord of the Night reviews the entertaining start to the Time of Legends Blood of Nagash trilogy, Neferata by Josh Reynolds.
“A novel filled to the brim with shadowy intrigue and plenty of blood, two things that are always a good mix.” – The Founding Fields
Now my first thought with this novel was, Lahmians… ugh. I have never liked the Lahmian vampires, so admittedly I went into this book expecting to dislike the main character and be rooting for her enemies and untrustworthy allies. Yet I was surprised as I found Neferata to be a rather enjoyable character, quite far removed from the childishly bickering Lahmians from Ulrika the Vampire and Gotrek and Felix.
Neferata is a queen without a kingdom. Lahmia is dead, it’s walls burnt to ash and it’s people turned to dust. As the former queen sets out from her homeland she travels across the world, seeking her new home, her new Lahmia. But the world seems determined to stop her as she finds her brother Ushoran, the Lord of Masks, in his charnel city of Mourkain, declaring a new aristocracy of the night. With her erstwhile followers W’soran and Abhorash pledging their loyalty to the Master of Mourkain Neferata finds herself playing a dangerous game, one that will alter the destiny of the Vampire Bloodlines forever. But what game is Ushoran playing, and what lurks beneath the crypts of Mourkain that he is so afraid of.
Now the story that Neferata tells is a new one, which is quite welcome. The Time of Legends series can tell new tales as well as old ones and this story of the Vampires in their earliest days is definitely a welcome addition. Reynolds writes a good story that relies on political intrigue, scheming and the game of thrones to tell the tale rather than brutal battle scenes, though there is still plenty of them, this is primarily a story about plots and how those plots can grow over centuries and how they can unravel in an instant. And one very surprising scene links to another WHF series and reveals the fate of a rather important character, which surprised me greatly as I had formulated theories on this particular scene and all were proven wrong by the reveal, which was done masterfully.
As I said I did not expect to like Neferata, so I was surprised when I found that I did. Reynolds has made the Queen of the Lahmians an intelligent, witty and understandable villainess, and provides her with a strong supporting cast ranging from the petulant Ushoran to the devious Dwarf Razek Silverfoot to the ever-loyal handmaiden Naaima. The portrayal of the First Vampires was done very well, they felt suitably distinct from the human characters and you could really get a sense of how they view time, human civilisation and how each of them regards the Blood Kiss and the consequences thereof. I particularly enjoyed that even the Lahmians under Neferata were enjoyable, each a well-rounded character distinct from the rest that I found myself intrigued by. I’m not quite a fan of the Lahmians yet, but I don’t think I disdain them anymore, at least not these ones.
The battles are of course suitably gory and visceral, this is a Vampire Counts novel after all and no Vampire Counts novel would be complete without throats being ripped out, incredible feats of death-dealing and the fast-paced action that can only come from creatures that can move at the speed of a blur. Reynolds makes his vampires feel as powerful as they’ve ever been, with skulls being crushed by backhanded slaps, throats being torn open by simple sword cuts and bodies being ripped in half and shredded into pieces. And a suitably variety of enemies provides different kinds of battles, both in large numbers and smaller but infinitely more powerful forces. The final battle scene in particular was beyond impressive, the horror and despair of the scene was very potent and the entire battle felt just epic.
The pacing was well done. I finished this book much faster than I expected, which was because I was never bored which admittedly so far in the ToL series only Dead Winter has managed to do. The only slow part came from the middle point of the final act as the scenes of tedium in the book felt rather tedious to me as well. But the rest of the book was very enjoyable and was mixed between past and present, at least for Neferata, very nicely with italicised past segments set before the present segments separated by borders and reconfirming of dates.
Now for my favourite quote, a few come to mind but this one made me laugh and was the most memorable,
“Come on then corpse-eater, some of us have kingdoms to run.”
The ending was interesting, though the epilogue did not surprise me as I could have only failed to see what was coming if i’d paid no attention to Neferata at all during the story, but the outcome of the main story did surpise me both in plot terms and in character terms for Neferata, she was a surprising character for me and I am pleased that I did enjoy reading this novel and her as a character. And the epilogue links in with yet another WHF series and though we knew it happened, seeing how it actually happened is very illuminating and makes the history so much more than just a sentence or two in an Army Book.
For an entertaining story, a surprisingly likeable lead and the promise of future and even better novels I give Neferata a score of 7.5/10. This is a good book and while I would have liked to score it higher it just didn’t wow me. I enjoyed reading it but there were only two points where I was absolutely glued to the page and absolutely had to know what would happen next or how the hell it happened in the first place. But that did not make the novel dull, rather it was just good but not grand. Fans of the Vampire Counts will definitely enjoy Neferata and series though and any fans of Nagash will find plenty to like here as well as this trilogy links quite closely with the Nagash trilogy. And those who do buy the book, make sure to read the title crawl as it confirms who the remaining two books will feature as their protagonists and it is very exciting.
That’s it for this review. Next I will be reviewing William King’s Sword of Caledor, the second book in the Tyrion and Teclis trilogy. Until next time,
AVE DOMINUS NOX!