Lord of Undeath by C L Werner (2016)
It’s been a while since I sat down to read a full novel – Warhammer related, or otherwise. But I had a lot of questions about the nature of the Death faction and its various elements in Age of Sigmar; questions that needed some answers before I could think about how to give my Death forces some background.
So I picked up Lord of Undeath, mostly because it was the larger of the 2 Realmgate Wars books that apparently focus on Death (the other being Mortach of Night).
My main interest in reading this was getting a sense of the setting, figuring out spaces for theming Death forces, and to get glimpses into how reanimation/resurrection works in Age of Sigmar.
I’m not giving a plot summary, but I can’t avoid minor spoilers, so if you think you’ll read it and don’t like to know anything about it, please don’t scroll down.
The book was at its strongest when delving into the conflicts and uncertainties around centres of authority and questions of loyalty, faith, discipline, and duty, whether these were between Nagash and his Mortachs, the Stormcast Eternals and Sigmar’s plan, or Slaaneshi excess and Archaon’s aims in the Realm of Shyish.
The first 100-150 pages were the most gripping, as I felt thrown into an opening tumult of tension and interesting world setting – a glimpse into Neferata’s threatened stronghold of Nulahmia. A small criticism is that there are some overly lengthy combat sequence descriptions towards the end of the book that I felt could’ve been reduced. Overall, however, it flowed well, and was essentially engaging.
For those looking to craft a narrative around Death, or even Chaos (particularly Slaanesh), this book was great. I also found myself interested in the moral dilemmas faced by the Anvils of Heldenhammer Stormcasts (such as Lord-Celestant Makvar) and some of the rationales through which they understood Neferata’s apparent cruelty toward her city’s subjects.
Thinking in terms of Death, and for my own purpose, I found lots of narrative space for remaining pockets of resistance to Chaos, whether loyal to the Mortachs, or perhaps somewhat hostile to them as well. We have room for more prideful Vampires, the machinations of Necromancers, Wight Kings clinging to shreds of their lost human will through some artifice or accident of the necromantic process (I reckon), as well as plenty of insane courts.
We also get a sense of the land itself in turmoil, torn between Chaos and Death. And, aside from a host of various Death units, other forms like different types of carrion-eaters, and unknown horrors stalking the darkest underworlds of Nagash’s realm make their presence felt (see p. 184).
- Great stand-alone read
- Brilliant introduction to the Realm of Death, featuring its current post-apocalyptic state, and fragments of its ‘past glory’
- Some great main characters – my favourites in this book being Neferata, Lord Harkdron (Neferata’s consort, although he faded in the latter half) and Lascilion, Lord of Slaanesh
- Interesting conflicts of duty, faith, discipline, and morality including for the Stormcasts (Lord-Celestant Makvar and others)
- A key thing I was after in some insight into Nagash’s plans and his musings on questions of the limits of reanimation/resurrection, and Sigmar’s method of re-forging (see p. 145-146 & p. 199)
- Something I found quite deadpan in an incident involving Arkhan the Black, a Terrorgheist, and the Anvils of Heldenhammer
Other links for more detail:
Mengel Miniatures’ Review of The Warhammer World Exclusive Nagash the Undying King
Mengel Miniatures’ Interview with C L Werner
Mengel Miniatures’ Review of Lord of Undeath