Gotrek and Felix: unsung heroes of the Empire, or nothing more than common thieves and murderers? The truth perhaps lies somewhere in between, and depends entirely upon whom you ask… Within these pages you will find the untold tales of the adventuring duo, some of which undoubtedly even they would rather remain a secret. From the wastelands of the north to the mystical cities of Araby, and from the orcs of Karak Azgal to the ogres of Skabrand – their exploits are recalled and their legend grows.
Featuring the brand new novella-length tale Slayer’s Honour by Nathan Long, this anthology also contains a swashbuckling selection of great stories including a previously unpublished tale by renowned SF writer John Brunner.
- Slayer’s Honour Nathan Long
- A Cask of Wynters Josh Reynolds
- A Place of Quiet Assembly John Brunner
- Kineater Jordan Ellinger
- Prophecy Ben McCallum
- The Tilean’s Talisman David Guymer
- Last Orders Andy Smillie
- Mind-stealer C.L. Werner
- The Two Crowns of Ras Karim Nathan Long
- The Funeral of Gotrek Gurnisson Richard Salter
The Founding Fields
Next we have Kineater by Jordan Ellinger. This was downright enjoyable from start to finish. Not just a straightforward slayer seeking his doom story, Ellinger uses this one to provide some outside commentary on Felix’s own experiences on his journeys with Gotrek. By that I mean that one of the duo’s companions on their journey to Araby is a writer of far greater fame than Felix, one he actually looks up to in fact, comments on his writing skills. It made for quite an engrossing side-plot. Not to mention that the big, bad enemies this time around are not the usual bad-guys of the Old World, Orcs or Skaven or Chaos, but Ogres. And some quite funny Ogres at that.
A highly enjoyable tale that, for me, means I would like to see more of Ellinger’s work, perhaps even some original stuff within the setting. Kineater has a good pace, some great characterisation, lots of humour and some great action scenes with Gotrek fighting Ogres, especially the titular character, the Tyrant Kineater.
It remains regrettable that the handover of G&F from Bill King to Nathan Long coincided with the decision to add twenty years to their story. Basically this was because the timeline of the early stories didn’t match the “now” of Warhammer; so off they were sent to Cathay for a couple of decades, and when they returned (and Long took up the pen) nothing had really changed. This tale features the duo on their journey to that distant land, filling in some of the missing time.
At their best, the G&F stories aren’t just action-packed and filled with doom; they can also be amusing, and this short story fulfils that criteria amply. Ellingers writing flows from the page as easily as that of the famous novelist that G&F meet in this tale; the Ogres and Gnoblars are splendidly rendered (I can just imagine belching forming part of their language), and I was audibly chuckling when Gotrek, a Dwarf, fought a duel to become Tyrant of an Ogre tribe! Indeed, there were a number of good gags, not least of which included the self-referential discussion on the last page about what Felix’s books about Gotrek would be called – and I was highly amused to find an in-world character ask the question that I’m sure every reader has, at some point. So, this story was lots of fun – not comedy, exactly, or even comedy-drama, but drama that is not too self-absorbed.
Doom Awesomeness Rating: hanging from a ledge above a precipice and holding onto the evil villain who says “if you let go, we both die!”, letting go, and donning a pair of cool-looking shades as you fall, just having time to quip a one-liner shortly before impact. 8/10. A crowd-pleaser.
En route to Cathay, our heroes run afoul of an amorous ogre tyrant. Naturally, and much to Felix’s consternation, they head off to save the unwilling bride. It’s a good, quick-paced story, with a pretty brutal ending.
The story closes with a knowing, amusing in-joke about the books’ titles (Felix, evidently, is meant to be publishing his versions under the same titles that we are reading – so, Trollslayer, Skavenslayer, Giantslayer, etc.), and how awkward it would be when they “run out of new monsters to slay”. A nice introduction to Ellinger’s writing, and a fun Gotrek and Felix adventure.
SF Book Reviews
Kineater is firmly placed towards the humorous end of the Gotrek and Felix stories, a very well written and light-hearted tale complete with a tongue in cheek question at the end about what the title would be for Felix books should they ever be actually published.
OK, it is not secret that I love Felix and Gotrek’s adventures, the epic battles, the character interaction and when mixed with classic action sequences alongside cracking pace, it’s a treat all round as far as I’m concerned. Add to this now the chance for other Black Library Authors to play with the duo’s fates and overall it’s a series of stories that really does deliver for the majority (although the odd one sadly missed for me as a reader.)