Warhammer Heroes: Luthor Huss by Chris Wraight – Advanced Review [Lord of the Night]
Lord of the Night reviews the latest in the epic Warhammer Heroes series, Luthor Huss by Chris Wraight, his third entry into the series.
“By Sigmar! Wraight has done it again. A truly fantastic novel loaded with faith and fury!” ~The Founding Fields
Before I received Luthor Huss in the mail I had not read much of Chris Wraight. A short story here and there, and of course Battle of the Fang which my review of can be found here at TFF, and I had not purchased his first two Warhammer Heroes novels, Sword of Justice and Sword of Vengeance featuring Ludwig Schwarzenhelm and Kurt Helborg respectively, since I did not feel I would enjoy reading about the Empire heroes. Luthor Huss is the second novel of Wraight’s i’ve read and I was very glad to see that I was dead wrong about my previous assessment. I did enjoy this novel, very much so.
A terrible evil is rising deep in the Empire. On the edges of the Drakwald, a forbidden realm where beasts and creatures older than men drink the blood of innocents and plot the downfall of man and the ascendance of old gods of hate and malice, the dead are rising from their graves; villages are being destroyed with no survivors or bodies left to mark their passage. And one name is being whispered in inhuman tongues all across the forest. Hylaeus. But what does it mean? And what event is it that draws both a Warrior Priest and a Witch Hunter to the same place? And what is the ancient evil rising in the heart of the Drakwald that will give Luthor Huss the greatest test of his life, a test that will reveal to him the very nature of faith itself.
The cast of the story is very well drawn together. Luthor Huss of course is the star of the novel and we see a lot of the dour and pious priest who travels across the lands of the Empire, smiting the enemies of mankind who dare to cross his path. But we also learn a lot about Huss and his past, the mysterious origins of a man whose past is as fascinating as it is brutal. Seeing what drives Huss was amazing and reveals a lot about the man himself, and the lessons he learns and trials he faces through the book make him grow as a character.
And of course the supporting cast is not neglected. The battle-weary Witch Hunter Lukas Eichmann serves as a secondary protagonist, following a trail that will lead him straight to the heart of corruption and to uncovering an ancient evil. The peasant Mila who loses everything and is yet far more important than she could ever dream possible. And the survivor Rickard Schlecht who transforms along with the characters and from whose point of view shows the horrors of the forest, and the wonders of faith.
I particularly enjoyed the character study of faith and strength that went on in this novel. Luthor Huss is a titan of a man and many good points are raised about the expectations of faith from men like him. Not everybody is a warrior-king, not everybody is a genius and not everybody has nerves of iron. Everybody has weakness and everybody has fear. And yet as the book shows, even the lowest man can become a whirlwind of destruction with true faith in his heart.
The action is visceral and primal. Huss is a juggernaut of battle, fighting with whispered prayers and vicious blows of his ornate warhammer. The style of combat with a warhammer is not touched on often and we see just how different it is from wielding a sword or an axe. And as he fights through the undead and all other monsters that do battle with him, it felt like he could have been fighting alongside Sigmar in ages past. And of course we see plenty from soldiers of the Empire, zealots, and monsters battling in brutal melees and battles where coordination and tactics give way to the fury of war. Many highlights present themselves to me but you’ll have to read the novel to see them.
The pacing of the novel is very good. The mystery of Hylaeus and the Drakwald deepens with each pov switch as we learn more about how each different strand of the plot will connect, and bring the characters together for a final explosive clash. The novel also contains flashbacks to Huss’s past as we learn how he became a Warrior Priest of Sigmar. These flashbacks are at first a little difficult to distinguish since they bear no differing features to any other chapter, but it quickly becomes clear when we are dealing with the present and the past on which is which. And the flashbacks are positioned nicely as to reveal more just as more questions crop up through the book.
I would also note the environment of the Drakwald is stunning. Before reading this novel I considered the Drakwald to just be a forest, a forest inhabited by beastmen and all other foul things but just a forest nonetheless. Luthor Huss changed that perception. I am reminded of Athel Loren, the forest is a forest but it has a living aspect to it. Athel Loren looks on humans and takes a fey detachment from them, and a malevolent predator and prey relationship. The Drakwald is similar, but almost polar opposites in demeanour. Where Athel Loren is malevolent, the Drakwald is outright evil. The Drakwald is a realm unto itself, where Chaos holds sway and the forest itself hates the men who walk in its pathways and takes a savage delight in hunting and mutilating them, almost as if the forest itself had pledged itself to Chaos. One particular scene in the novel shows the reader just how cruel the Drakwald can be, and how it hunts those who enter it uninvited, that scene was chillingly brilliant.
The ending is a heartening one that teaches a few lessons on faith, its importance and just why the Empire needs it. We also see just how important faith is to the men who follow its path, how it can be lost and how it can be regained by anybody who serves the gods. Luthor Huss is a great journey that shows the beliefs of faith, the sting of betrayal from those closest to you, the weariness that comes with fighting what seems like a never-ending war, and the joy that comes from setting aside doubt and fear and embracing a singular purpose.
I give Luthor Huss a score of 9.1, another great score for Chris Wraight whom I won’t be seeing again until Wrath of Iron is released.
Should you buy this book? If you’re a fan of Chris Wraight; of the Empire; of Sigmar, then I would say Yes you should. This is a book that any fan of Warhammer can enjoy, and I would recommend buying Luthor Huss if you are thinking of trying the Warhammer Heroes series and cannot decide whether or not to give it a try.
That is it for this review. To Chris Wraight, another success for you and I eagerly look forward to reading Wrath of Iron when its released. Its been a bit since I read a book so quickly and Luthor Huss has become my favourite of the Warhammer Heroes series, outranking The Red Duke. Very glad I read this novel. Until next time.
AVE DOMINUS NOX!