One of the great advantages that Warhammer (be it 40k or Fantasy) has over other “manufactured” systems is the depth of its background. The backstory in both systems is very well established and has more layers than an onion. In the past this was done by the army book/codex and a variety of source books and White Dwarf articles – I have the full series of Index Astartes articles collected into one volume – and recently it is through the Black Library.
I get the impression that 5-10 years ago the BL books were novels set in the Warhammer world. However that changed with the advent of the Horus Heresy series and the Time of Legends novels.
When the Time of Legends series was announced there were three avenues they went down – Sigmar, Nagash and The Sundering. For me I always thought the most interesting was always going to be Nagash but I have been surprised. I do think the first Nagash book, “Nagash the Sorcerer” is the best BL book I’ve read but as a series The Sundering has been absolutely wonderful.
I was sceptical that I would enjoy this series as, those who know me will attest, I despise all things Elven and it was being written by Gav Thorpe, who I view as a Games Designer rather than an author. In retrospect I couldn’t have been more wrong. The books, as a series, are exceptional.
The story starts off with “Malekith” and it builds a fantastic backstory of what gives the eventual-Witch king his sense of entitlement. It builds through his achievements, particularly in the colonies a sense of why he thinks he should be Phoenix King and the psyche he develops that acts as fertile ground for his mother’s poison.
“Shadow King” is really a retelling of the Batman story – wronged son, acting as an outcast from society. Again I thought I’d struggle to enjoy it but it really is the glue that keeps the series together. You get a feeling of the breakdown across Ulthuan and the distrust that develops between kin and erstwhile allies.
The final book is “Caledor” and this book makes the series a success. Keeping the theme of the first two books, you have another flawed hero, and get a real sense of the division that exists within the various Elven kingdoms. I think the real success of the series is that nothing is black or white everything is at best fifteen shades of grey.
Certainly recommend the series to all Warhammer players, not just those with an Elven bent. The background, imagery etc is rich and diverse.