More than a thousand years after the Age of Sigmar, the Empire he struggled to create rests on the edge of destruction – the reign of the greedy and incompetent Emperor Boris Goldgather has shaken down the great and prosperous edifice of his erstwhile realm. Without warning, a terrible and deadly plague strikes, wiping out entire villages and leaving towns eerily silent through the long frozen months. As the survivors struggle to maintain order and a worthy military presence, vermin pour up from the sewers and caverns beneath the cities, heralding a new and unspeakable threat – the insidious skaven!
Finding myself reading another Time of Legends novel kind of happened by accident. As we mentioned back here, Liz and I went off to the inaugural Black Library Weekender a few weeks back. There I finally got to meet Clint Werner, the first and only man cool enough to carry off wearing a rattlesnake on his hat. After that, it was pretty much a given that I was going to have a go at something he'd written!
Dead Winter is set in the Empire at a time when the scurrying hordes of Skaven are setting in motion a grand plan to destroy the world of man. Werner is no stranger to the ratmen of Skavenblight, having penned several novels centred on them already, and there's no mistaking how firm a grip he has on their shadowy culture as things get underway. But there's more to Skaven here- the backbone of Dead Winter lies with the plague-riddled lands of men, where the tightfisted arrogance of Emperor Boris 'Goldgather' is threatening to do the Skaven's job for them.
What ensues is classic Warhammer- everything either balanced on a knife edge or teetering towards destruction as Werner starts building the pace, bringing together rat-catchers, a plague doctor, a fallen priest of the god of death, Skaven infighting, plagues and the occasional giant spider into an atmospheric whole that bodes very well for the rest of the series (but not so well for the poor Empire!)
Devious, bloody and fun, with a great cast of characters and a rich setting, this was a fast and enjoyable read and I look forward to seeing exactly how far Mr Werner can twist the knife.