Warrior Priest by Darius Hinks – Book Review [Eroldren]

warrior-priest - CL

Eroldren reviews Darius Hinks’ debut novel that is part of the Empire Army series and Morningstar 2011 awarded (David Gemmell Legend Awards) Warrior Priest.

“Watch out, Darius Hinks’ knack for writing danger can tear you straightaway into the ravaged Old World of Warhammer and keep you hooked to the very end.” – The Founding Fields

A while back I picked up Warrior Priest on the basis of that Black Library reported Darius Hinks was given a certain award: the David Gemmell Morningstar Award for Best New Fantasy Author. I’ve never had gone out my way to get ahold a new book on the word it was just recently bestowed an award, however, both the cover and an enticing enough book blurb got the better of me and I decided to see what the author had to offer. By the end of the book that purchase was justified and it was worth it. Darius Hinks is indeed a name to watch out for among the wave of new talent joining Black Library and the literary world.

Since then he’s been the author of a handful of titles, such of the likes of the Chaos-centric Warhammer Hero novel SigvaldSanctus for the Architect of Fate, a Space Marine Battles novella anthology. And as well a Wood Elf trilogy that’s in the works which opened with Orion: The Vault of Winter.  After again rereading Warrior Priest, all the titles mentioned present themselves as interesting BL venues I’ve yet to pursue.

Warrior Priests are the holy crusaders of the Empire, crushing daemons, witches and heretics alike with righteous fury. These bold men wield death and damnation, with warhammers held high and the word of Sigmar on their lips. They are the final bastion against the forces of darkness. Jakob Wolff is one such warrior, and sets out to track down his brother, whose soul has been tainted by the Ruinous Powers. Family must be put to one side as he battles to prevent the Empire from sinking into Chaos, with only his strength of arms and the purity of his beliefs to call upon.

Warrior Priest continues the thrilling Empire Army series which brings the battles of Warhammer to life

For the reader’s notice, there are minor spoilers in this review but nothing of substantial material.

Before getting into the nitty gritty of Warrior Priest, Darius’ debut novel designated as part of the Empire Army novels, a short series of five independent titles and authors that are meant to serve as a means of introducing oneself with elements of Mankind and the Warhammer world. So if you’re a tad interested in reading Warhammer Fantasy fiction but don’t have any clue where to start, any of these Empire Army novels are there out there to pick up and help familiarize yourself with the inner workings of the universe.

As for the book at hand… War consumes the Ostland province we’re tossed into a village commotion: a witch burning. Told through the perspective of Anna, a priestess of Shallya and the misfortunately accused “witch” tied at the stake, unexpected circumstance lead to her freedom from her demises. Midst this distressing hour our central cast appears: Brother Jakob Wolff and Ratboy (Brother Wolff’s acolyte) arrive to seize the long sought Otto Sürman, a cruel lay Witch Hunter who condemned Wolff’s parents to death as cultists. Yet a disgraceful truth is finally realized by Jakob after paying decades in penance: the occult activities discovered long ago belonged to none other than his own brother, Fabian. With the shameful knowledge of his treacherous brother is no doubt in league with the Dark Powers and now seeks to undermine the army of General von Raukov that’s assembling to confront the incoming Chaos horde,  Jakob vows to bring down his righteous fury.

Throughout of the remaining story it’s primarily set from Ratboy’s eyes, rather than from the viewpoint of Brother Wolff who you would’ve been expecting initially based off the book’s blurb, a fully ordained warrior priest of Sigmar instead that of the apprentice. However, it was of no matter for me for the majority of the book until I reached about two thirds way in.

In his search to determine the whereabouts of Fabian, it is Jakob’s smoldering wrath that pushes the narrative forward that’ll lead him towards his goal. Along the way characters are brought in to populate aspects of this broken world that join aside by our main trio, whether they are citizens barely clinging to faith or men seeking to aid the war effort, all of them brings you into a convincing dark atmosphere. The horrors of war are conveyed wonderfully as though Darius understands all spectrums of war and how to make use of them. There’s something just simply fascinating about Darius Hinks’ aptitude for writing this believable account and violence that just wraps me in complete immersion from start to finish.

Now for the mentioned gripe. As I said before, Ratboy is largely our main focal point and that Warrior Priest was absent of the actual warrior priest’s viewpoint was something I didn’t mind until I gotten to a certain section. So when getting into the latter half of Warrior Priest we’re taken along a reminiscence of a particular character, which fleshes out his backstory and motivations. It excellently written story itself but it is a rather length piece that does detaches you from the main plot when you return to it. While I can imagine the reasoning to work out a decent balance of perspectives and insight for the majority of the character cast. I couldn’t but help think that a chapter or two could’ve been shaved down and somehow integrate it elsewhere else in the present timetable and give that leftover space for some background storytelling for a rather undeveloped Jakob Wolff. Even though the warrior priest himself isn’t the central protagonist here, a quick insight into his conflicted mind as a devote Sigmarite and a distraught brother felt a well deserved treatment after what the other gotten.

Ending-wise, while the events played out were interesting and somewhat anticipated for it however dropped my built expectations for that reader’s imaginary brew inside for that great over the top, dramatic confrontation. Despite a little gripe there, I suppose sometime betraying the reader’s expectations with “less is more” can be good at times.

In conclusion, I didn’t expect Warrior Priest would “…bring the battles of Warhammer to life.” would in fact sweep me away as the book blurb claimed so and feel as those apart of this. It’s no wonder that Darius Hinks was given the Morningstar Award for Best New Fantasy Author. It was great and I loved it. So I heartily recommend Warrior Priest a worthy title to add to anybody’s Black Library collection whether they be newcomers or the seasoned Warhammer readers.

Overall Verdict: 9/10

Eroldren

Eroldren, a SFF follower of both tie-in media and original works, enjoys rereading books frequently. So be warned, he might bring out sometimes his share of older and heavy duty titles alongside the newcomers.

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