Tuesday, 24 December 2013

11) - Warblade

David Ferring (Garnett) returns to conclude the epic Konrad saga with the final entry, Warblade.  Its time to get some answers to Konrad's enigmatic past and the relationships with Skullface and Elyssa.  Will it deliver or are we going to get a Lost type ending which asks just as many questions as it answers.  I hope he does not get captured yet again!

Again the cover above is the Black Library reissue and the one i have.  Konrad's got a lot older and looks more like a grizzled veteran leader.  Although he has an eye patch, will be interesting to see if he loses it during this novel.  I really like what they did with each of the covers showing Konrad getting older an more experienced in each one. 

This one was released in 1993 which was after GW books stopped publishing books.  So the alternate cover is from the Boxtree version -

Hmm, this looks very familiar.....
Yep, its the same cover as Warhammer Armies The Empire for 4th Edition, interestingly the first race specific army book.
So after failing to fool anyone with changing the background colour of Beasts in Velvet they have gone far more extreme this time and flipped the image.  I guess boxtree did not have any artists in their employ at this time and its probably a lot cheaper reusing other artwork.  Also while i was looking for these i found this -

No idea whats going on here!
I have no idea where this cover has come from, if anyone knows please leave a comment and let me know.

Ok, its time to finish the trilogy, I hope it is as good as i remember and we get the amazing cliffhanger of Shadowbreed answered. Needless to say -  SPOILER EARTHQUAKE -

Right just like Shadowbreed the first chapter is the last chapter of the previous novel so i wont repeat it here.  We also get a quick recap of the village being attacked and thinking his true love Elyssa was dead.  At the end of Shadowbreed he had jumped into the river to escape and now he is struggling against the current.  He is swept into the river and makes his escape.  Konrad was initially planning to escape Altdorf, now he needs to get back in so he mugs a soldier for his clothes and gets back into the city, interestingly past Filthy Harold from Beasts in Velvet!

He then goes all solid snake and creeps his way back to his barracks over roofs and in shadows.  Then he manages to steal all the kit that he lost in his last escapade.  During all this though Garnett keeps referring back to previous events from the other novels, no doubt to help people who have not read them still enjoy Warblade but it gets a bit frustrating at times for people that have...like me.

Konrad's Sergent suspects he is up to something and they have a meeting in a tavern.  There he says that he has no love for the Emperor and Empire and he leads Konrad to a strange house.  A fat man is then introduced and it appears they are chaos cultists of some sort.  He promises Konrad that he get him to Elyssa  if he joins them.

Fat men, worshiping chaos since 1983

During some downtime while waiting to be summoned by the fat man Konrad ventures into the city to go to the College of Heraldry to investigate the mysterious coat of arms that keeps poping up during his adventures.  Could we be on the edge of a big revelation?  Nope, all he finds is that the image is not a coat of arms, or if it is then its not human....more mystery.  Also while there he checks Elyssa's family tree, she is not listed.  Even more intrigue!

Konrad should try Google.

Konrad gets invited to the fat man's party and oh my god, its a sexy party!  Turns out the fat man has a women's breast and they are all Slaanesh worshipers.  Well this really does confirm that early warhammer was not for kids as Konrad is basically witnessing an orgy.

The obsession early warhammer authors have with sex continues!
The Fat man has kept his promise though, if Konrad joins he has his girl, but its Krysten, his girl from Shadowbreed!  Well that's a good twist.  It looks like they are both as good as dead, but it appears Krysten has been spending the missing time getting to know Khorne.  She goes all berserk crazy and in the madness Konrad sets everything on fire and kills the fat man before carrying the wounded Krysten away from the flames.  Interestingly it seems a higher power protects their escape.  Krysten dies from her wounds and Konrad flees Altdorf.

He gets a job as security for a coaching inn and seems to be very friendly with the girls....oh well so much for being upset at Krysten's death then.  Eventually he is found by what appears to be the Imperial Guard, but its really Beastmen dressed as men.  Yeah not sure how that would work.... anyway they are led by his Sergent whose face is a burnt mess from the fire at the fat mans house.  He is saved in the nick of time by Wolf, his mentor from the first book.  Again we get an unnecessary recap of previous events and again he starts to tie in more threads of conspiracy.  We do however get the answer about the bronze knight, it was wolfs twin brother Juergen who was a sorcerer and believed his soul was not complete and created the amour to help him kill Wolf.

Wolf takes him into the wasteland to see someone that can answer all his questions.  He ends up on a mystery island which seems to be in a different part of the world when he gets there.  This chapter is a complete cop out and just a filler chapter.  Instead of getting any answers form someone that can tell him everything he ends up having a conversation with some daemon spirit about the nature of gods and the world.  We get nothing on the big mysteries of the Konrad trilogy.  I don't mind filler chapters that serve a purpose, this one does not and feels tacked on. 

Wolf and Konrad arrive in Mairenburg and we get a fairly detailed description of the port city.  Normally i am all for that but at this stage in the third book i feel we have passed that stage.  As they cross the High Bridge though we get treated to a spectacular scene where the encounter the wizard Litzenreich and his dwarf bodyguard.  Litzenreich was the wizard from Shadowbreed who freed Konrad from the bronze armor and it looks like he and Wolf have some previous.  As a fight breaks out at the pinnacle of High Bridge between Wolf and the Dwarf bodyguard a mob of Skaven ambush them from each side.  A good fight ensues and after the Skaven are dispatched they agree a truce.  Much Better!  They make their way into the city and come up with a battle plan to save the Emperor from the Skaven plot, although really they are all serving their own interests.  More signs that everyone in Konrad's life are linked. 

We then get a chapter dedicated in great detail to Konrad getting a new sword.  Its made by a dwarf smith and is called the Warblade...ah i see, its the title of the book.  It seems odd we get a chapter like this in the final third, it feels like it should have been near the start of the novel.  Anyway its laced with warpstone.

Warpstone, gets a bad press these days.

Yep in order to fight chaos you need chaos.  Its an interesting concept but finding a dwarf to agree to it in today's warhammer is not going to happen.  It was a lot less black and white back in the day and a lot more shades of grey and i much prefer this line of thinking.

So in order to provide a distraction for them to get back into Altdorf, Wolf manages to convince some pirates that its currently defenseless and to attack it.  They hitch a ride with the pirates down the river but when they go to leave the pirates tie Konrad to the mast.  Looks like he is a captive again.  Wolf is one step ahead of the game though and had a man on board to release any that were held captive.  Again not sure if this chapter was needed, seems to be individual set pieces rather than a concurrent story.

They reach Altdorf.  Konrad, Wolf, Litzenreich and his dwarf bodyguard and the pirate Guido who had freed them.  A massive spell has taken place and time has frozen in the capital.  They rush to the imperial palace and the guard all appear as beastmen.  They each start succumbing to invisible foes from the past that the others cant see.  In the end its just Konrad and his pirate friend Guido left as they reach the room dedicated to Sigmar. 

Guido erupts as some king of skaven bomb goes off inside him as it seems his insides are made of rats.  Not  a nice way to go.  Konrad is then assailed by the ghosts of all he has killed and they are leeching his life.  Only by using the relic knife of Sigmar does he survive as once again he channels the power of the god and slays all the ghosts.  Watching is the Skaven Grey Seer Gaxar who has the Emperor and his Doppelganger they want to replace him with.  He casts a spell on Konrad and he is forced to kill one of them.  He manages to mouth the word Sigmar though and a lightning strike hits the palace and causes the massive replica Hammer on the roof to smash into the Doppelganger and release Konrad from the spell.  Time starts again and Wolf and Litzenreich return to help him defeat the mutant guards and he kills Gaxar.  It does say though that no Skaven can outrun a man......

Look at those Movement Stats!!! No Skaven can outrun a man my ass!
Anyway the Emperor is exhausted and thanks them for saving his life as his guard appear and take him away.  They find a hidden passage that leads underground and decide to go down it.....instead of just informing the mass of guards and letting them deal with it, i mean its not like they have done enough already?

Funnily enough they are ambushed by a mass of Skaven.  Wolf turns into a werewolf and holds off the skaven.
Same thing happens here.
Litzenreich vows not to leave Wolf behind again and brings the cave down with some magic, leaving Konrad alone to go on.  Everyone seems to know whats going on apart from Konrad......and me.

He eventually comes to a door at the end of the tunnel and after a tense standoff opens it.  There is only a few pages left, i better get some answers!  Ok he is in the tavern he grew up in as a slave, that makes sense.  We get a good moment where he looks into Elssya's mirror and sees his reflection exactly like he saw back in the first book and waiting for him having a drink is his nemisis, skullface!

I can't be the only one that pictured Skeletor as the bad guy....can i?
Skullface says that he is Elyssa's father and that the mystery symbol is from Konrad's father.  But before anything is explained he disappears and is replaced by Elyssa.  So finally he is reunited with his long lost love who can answer all his questions about his mysterious past, but he decapitates her and book over.  Wow.

Well that was Warblade.  It had some good moments in it, especially with all the ties between everyone being built.  But it comes with no payoff at all!  Either David Garnett did not have an answer to the questions he was writing, in which case this is an utter travesty.  Or he was setting up for another novel, which never happened.  The third option is that we have the Lost ending where you are meant to think about it and all come to different conclusions depending how you read into it.  Also it felt he was trying to pad a bit in the middle to build to the ending.  How about instead of padding have a more detailed ending that answers some questions!?  No?  Just me?  This was my favorite one when i was younger, now i am just left frustrated with a cheap ending.  Although part of me was amused that he thought F*ck it bitch and just killed her.

Rating - 5/10



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