Palace of the Plague Lord by C.L Werner – Review [Lord of the Night]
Lord of the Night reviews the twisted Palace of the Plague Lord by C.L Werner.
“A disgusting and epic adventure into the most revolting parts of Warhammer, and a tale with a cruel moral at it’s centre.” – The Founding Fields
Palace of the Plague Lord is an older book and one that took me some time to track down, but it was all worth it as I was treated to one of the most sickening, in a good way, novels that I have ever read and one of the most epic quests with a very nice twist to it, the heroes are bad guys and the villains are even worse than them.
When Einarr Sigdansson’s tribe is destroyed by a monster of the Blood God he finds himself offered a second chance, a chance to save his wife, friends and tribe from Khorne’s gaul by undertaking a quest to steal a God’s treasure. But to find it he must gather together a group of like-minded adventurers, those who can help him brave ravenous Daemons, debilitating diseases and poxes and the endless madness that lies at the heart of the Realm of Chaos to steal a treasure from the dawn of man and the Dark Gods, hidden away in a palace of plague and death. But can this dark brotherhood survive what is to come as they come closer and closer to the Plague God’s domain, and the myriad of horrors hungry for their souls that await them all there?
The story is just brilliant, the desperation of the quest and the hardships are very well written and the epic nature of the entire adventure really adds to the story. But this is mainly a character-driven story, that of the protagonist Einarr and his own story is a great one with a moral tale to it, and plenty of battle and horrors as he gets closer to his goal. Einarr’s story is both an epic and a cautionary one, there is a lesson to be imparted from this book and I think that it’s a good one, and can apply to the whole of fiction when you think about it.
The characters are the best part of the novel, Werner uses a wide ranged cast from a Norscan warrior to a Tzeentchian knight to a two-headed Chaos Ogre and a Chaos Dwarf with a very undwarven personality. Each character is very stand out and they make a great image together, these warriors that differ from each other so greatly in personality, past and power. My personal favourite was von Kammler but a close second is definitely the final member of the party, and that has a very different meaning than you’d think. Werner’s talent for writing likeable bad guys is on good display here, the main characters are all far from good or nice and yet you find yourself rooting for them and not just because their enemies are worse than them, because you want them to succeed.
The action is very nicely done, when dealing with Daemons and the horrors of Chaos the battles can become verey epic and Werner does them right. The foes they face are imaginative which I think is the best quality of them, it makes the fights better as the enemies do not fall easily and often I was genuinely hooked on every battle as nobody was truly safe and anyone could die at any moment, which of course makes the battles tense and more exciting. Werner narrates his fighting very well and doesn’t shy away from using big and monstrous enemies, and keeping the reader as interested in the fighting as the story.
The pacing of the book is enjoyable, Werner makes even the travelling portions of the novel exciting by having the characters come across many interesting things during their journey, be it new friends, enemies or places that are described either beautifully or disgustingly but in a good way of course. The descriptions of the Wastes are excellent and will definitely leave you with some images you might want to forget, or never think about when your trying to eat, particularly the final third of the novel that I felt really captured the vile nature of Nurgle and how disgusting his forces can really be when described properly.
Now my favourite quote, without a doubt it’s this one as it I, who understood more than Einarr, knew exactly why this quote was terrifying,
“Very well, Einarr Sigdansson, I shall keep my promise.”
The ending is… well grim doesn’t really do it justice. It’s bleak, depressing, cruel and carries a very important moral to it. You don’t get to make demands of the Gods. Werner really captured the cruelty of Chaos and the futility of serving it, it doesn’t care and never will and even it’s greatest servants are just fodder to the whims of the Gods. Anyone who wants a happy ending where everything works out for the good-bad guys or even a bittersweet one should stay the hell away from PotPL, but anyone who wants an impressively cruel ending that doesn’t pull any punches or hold back on the grimdark will find exactly what they are looking for here.
For a great story, a cast of very memorable and unique characters and perhaps the cruellest ending to a book i’ve ever read I give Palace of the Plague Lord a score of 8.5/10. This is definitely a book that anyone who likes dark fantasy can enjoy, and second that for anyone who likes to read about the villains rather than the heroes. But if neither of those things appeals to you then PotPL is definitely not for you.
That’s it for this review. Next I will be reviewing Blood for the Blood God by C.L Werner, the second of his Chaos Wastes books. Until next time,
AVE DOMINUS NOX!