Wednesday, January 21, 2015

End Times: Thanquol - My Thoughts

Be aware that this post will contain spoilers so if you don't want to know please don't read.

I finished reading Thanquol last night - 400 pages of fluff. The book takes place in three theatres - Lustria, World's End Mountains and the Empire. The Skaven are involved in all three of these conflicts either by themselves against Lizards, Dwarfs and Empire respectively or in "alliance" with another party.

I was quite lucky in that last week I read "Headtaker" and Warlord Queek is one of the two main characters in the fluff (along with Thanquol).

Without going into Garagehammer type detail of the story, it's fair to say that both the Empire and the Dwarf kingdoms are stuffed. Nuln falls to Thanquol and Middenheim to Archaon leaving the last major Imperial city as Averheim. The Emperor is holed up there and is now being besieged by Chaos under Vilitch the Curseling.

In the Dwarf mountains, Karak Azul falls to Queek and then eventually so does Karak Eight Peaks after the Skaven and Night Goblins under Skarsnik come to an arrangement. Clan Skyre's Ikit Claw destroys the Slayer hold after detonating two Hell Pit Abominations filled with receptacles of poisonous gas. In a funny twist the second one dies but then gets up walking five miles through the hold killing all the inhabitants.

The background for the story is one of intrigue and backstabbing. With Seerlord Krislitch's death at the hands of the Horned Rat there is a vacant seat on the Council of Thirteen. The other incumbents decide to expel the Grey Seers which hatches a period of manoeuvring where each try to secure the vacant seat to gain pre-eminence. The Seers try to redeem themselves with a plan to crash the Chaos Moon Moreslieb into the planet while Skyre build a doomsday device (enormous WLC) to blow the moon up. Clan Pestilens invades Lustria to try and kill all the Slaan before they can wake and have an impact on the End Times.

There are some great descriptions of the battle fronts, particularly in Lustria and the Dwarf mountains. Certainly Karak Eight Peaks turns into a cross between Stalingrad and WWI Western Front. In the descriptions you get a real feel for the overwhelming superiority in numbers that the Skaven have and just how uncaring or unconcerned their leaders are over the loss of life. Typically slaves will be herded in with units of Stormvermin behind them to ensure they don't break. The other continuing motif is the backbiting and treachery between the various Skaven. That no other clan or intra-clan rival succeeds is as important as winning itself.

In the end Skyre blow up the moon but the Slaan limit the damage....dying in the act....while a lot of the Lizards begin the Exodus. Thanquol achieves a great victory in Nuln by finally having an ingenious plan work while the Skaven win the war of attrition versus the Dwarfs. Thanquol also brokers a deal between the Council and Chaos parlaying with Archaon and Kairos.

To achieve his success Thanquol comes across as a far more likeable character than he has been portrayed in previous fluff. In this he is helped by the Verminlord Skreech Verminking who becomes his mentor and protector. This was a little bit of a disappointment to me as the real attraction of Thanquol in the past has been his truly nasty nature and duplicous approach. That and the failure of his schemes. Here he is almost Disney Thanquol (he's so nice I expect he'll be in Frozen 2 voiced by Tyler Sweft).

There is a body count though....and there are some wins and some losses.
Belegar has probably the shortest life of any plastic character being killed by Queek. Gobbla dies when the gobbos get involved. Valten is killed by a Verminlord who steps in at the last moment to deny Archaon the kill. Martaz is turned into a throw for Archaon's throne which also features the Emperor's Warhammer taken from Valten's corpse. It is confirmed that Thorek is indeed dead - yay!!!

The real unfortunate event is the death of Queek at the hands of Thorgrim. He then sees off an attack from a Clan Eshin assassin only to be assassinated by the Deathmaster as he reflects on the Dwarfs' future.

Essentially now the dwarf holds are gone. The Slayers have headed off to the Empire while Karl Franz is holed up in Averheim.

The one really interesting development was that while Achaon is the Everchosen he may not have as much power as we thought. Kairos Fateweaver certainly has no fear of him and is constantly reminding him of the debts he owes while the last passage sees a shadowy figure reminds him of Khorne's expectations.

I enjoyed the book given my Skavenphillic tendency. I thought the story was an interesting advancement of the timeline. The most important thing I took away is that a lot of the races now accept that the overwhelming numbers of rats mean that they are faced with an unwinnable task - even if they see off Chaos they will be swamped by a Vermintide.


  1. I have to say that the Skaven blowing up the moon is the dumbest piece of fantasy writing i have ever read. How the Skaven manged to get a project from the surface of the planet to the moon without it breaking up in the atmosphere is a mystery. Also question of what they used to propel this projectile with enough force to not only clear the atmosphere but also hit the moon with enough force to break it apart is a question that needs answering.

    I read a lot of fantasy so i am used to suspension of disbelief, but this goes too far

    1. Lots of black powder, warpstone, a steam engine.....and belief!

    2. MAGIC! You will believe again

    3. Actually Rex, be's Tane's job to tell us how silly it is :-)

    4. It's alright Rex, you carry on. I'm kind of over the whole god-killing, nation-smashing, continent-sinking, moon-breaking thing.

      Skaven blew up the moon? Good on them I say, do. It's still more plausible than Malekith being Phoenix King.

      I'm just impatient for 9th Edition now. I want to see how this whole thing pans out, and whether I can convert my old beaky space marines into superpaladins with their trusty Dwarf sidekicks.

    5. Breaking news/you heard it here first: Lizardmen (leaving, on a jet plane) arrive in 40kverse and fix Golden Throne, sacrificing most of remaining Slann therefore restoring The Emperor to active life. Golden Age v2 arrives after short schism where Ecclesiarchy is 'reformed'. Chaos banished forever, Nids wiped out, Eldar and Necrons form uneasy alliance vs the New Imperium.

    6. I do believe in physics........

      I agree Tane, i am anxious for 9th not because i plan on getting it but because i want to know if WHFB will either become something else or stay the same, or land somewhere in between those two.

      I wonder what GW thinks about the reaction to rumors of 9th? Its likely we wont know but i just wonder what kind of internal discussion are going on about the reaction so far. Are they remorseful, sad, annoyed, its shame we don't actually get to interact with them aside from buying their stuff

    7. As James pointed out they probably aren't that bothered.

      If the Internet has got it wrong then they are probably having a snigger. If they've got it right I suspect they've done their numbers.

    8. GW won't be having a snigger if everyone stops buying while we wait for the bombs to stop falling. It doesn't matter whether the internet is right or wrong if players vote with their wallets.

      I thought that the Skaven blew up the moon with a giant ground based WLC.

      Interesting that the chaos gods act like fund managers demanding a return on their investment. It makes you wonder whether the cracks are already starting to show in Team Evil.

      It would also be interesting to see who got the other winds of magic. So far none of the bad guys seem to have gotten them. So does this mean that the mortal avatars of magic combine in true Avengers style to close the collapsed portal forever?

    9. Do the orcs become the unlikely saviours of the older worlde? Roll on the next book already.