Gotrek and Felix
William King's Gotrek and Felix charge across the world of Warhammer destroying evil wherever they find it. Gotrek is a dwarf who committed an unmentionable crime and has sworn to die fighting evil to make up for his misdeed. Felix is a scholar and the son of a merchant who made a drunken promise to Gotrek to chronicle his doom. Together they are the Conan of the Warhammer world.
Gotrek and Felix 1 Trollslayer by William King
Gotrek and Felix are classic heroes of hack-and-slash fantasy. In the strong tradition of Conan the Barbarian, they trek through rivers of blood, cutting down monsters and supernatural bad guys left and right. Gotrek is a dwarf who committed an unspoken crime and has vowed to seek his death by slaying the foulest of the fell creatures that inhabit the Warhammer universe. Felix is a well-educated, university drop out, who got drunk and swore to accompany Gotrek, chronicling his efforts.
This first novel of the series is far from the best. King is still figuring out his characters and as often seems to happen in early Warhammer books, we’re given a series of short stories rather than a full novel. But the heart that makes the series great is already present. Gotrek’s eagerness to end his own pain by finding an evil too great for even his sharp axe constantly runs afoul of his own iron will and unwillingness to concede to any opponent. Felix is far less eager to find his own death, but just can’t bring himself to leave the dwarf behind. It’s not his oath, whatever he pretends, it’s loyalty and friendship and courage beyond all rationality.
Gotrek and Felix 2 Skavenslayer by William King
Gotrek and Felix are back in a book length adventure set in the Warhammer city of Nuln. Gotrek and Felix are completely broke and struggling to earn enough to feed themselves as part of the sewer watch, but that doesn’t mean Gotrek’s doom will give them a break. The rat-like skaven are planning to conquer Nuln and only Gotrek and Felix stand in their way.
This book is packed with all the action that one would expect from a Gotrek and Felix novel, but at the same time the skaven are just loads of fun. Each weird clan has a specialty that makes them unique and interesting—pestilence, machines, assassins, etc, but the true thing that stands out in each clan is its ability to connive and backstab the others which helps to explain why Gotrek and Felix constantly find themselves in a position to frustrate their plans.
King’s genius in this novel is bringing several of the skaven into full existence for the reader so that we have as much fun in experiencing their squabbles for power as we do in their battles with Gotrek and Felix. King also uses Nuln to greatly flesh out Felix’s character by introducing his brother and this added tremendously to my enjoyment of the book. All in all, this is a great second installment in the series.
Gotrek and Felix 3 Daemonslayer by William King
Dwarves, dwarves, and more dwarves dominate the pages of Daemonslayer as Gotrek and Felix accept an invitation to join a quest to reach a long lost dwarven stronghold, Karag Dum. This is Gotrek’s second effort to reach the fabled underground city which is buried somewhere in the dreaded Chaos Wastes—an impassable barrier whose poisoned sands kill just about everyone who dares to trek out into it. So, to make the journey possible, the dwarves are depending on the genius of a mad dwarven engineer who has constructed the world’s first airship—a mighty zeppelin capable of flying high above the sands to reach the stronghold and the true peril that has condemned Karag Dum.
This book is the best yet in the series, a wild ride from opening to close. We see a lot more of the Warhammer world and best of all meet two new slayers who are simply loads of fun. We also have two of the skaven who survived the previous novel reappear here to the great benefit of the overall plot.
If you want to explore Warhammer’s equivalent of Tolkein’s Mines of Moria, get yourself a copy of Daemonslayer.
Gotrek and Felix 4 Dragonslayer by William King
Gotrek and Felix return to face the classic monster of fantasy—an ancient fire-breathing dragon. As if that’s not enough, they also get to battle skaven, orcs and bandits as well. King’s corner of the world of Warhammer is coming to life as the heroes figure out that a new great incursion of chaos monsters from the Chaos Wastes is beginning and it has the potential to crush the Empire. The cast continues to flesh out as well as many characters who looked to be making single book cameos return and look like they may become continuing cast members. Most interesting of these is the magician, Max, who gives King a voice through which he can analyze on a macro level what the forces of chaos are doing.
Favored villains also reappear in the form of Grey Seer Thanquol and Lurk, two skaven from book two who have been dogging our heroes’ trail. I think of them as primarily comic relief, although both pose potentially serious threats.
There are two great battles with the dragon. I thought the first was the more exciting, but both are important. In addition, we meet a kingdom of dwarven slayers and a whole bunch more slayers join the quest. This is particularly useful because they show how strongly Gotrek stands out from this group. He’s a slayer’s slayer, so to speak—almost a force of nature much as Conan was.
One of the most interesting facets of the series to me is Felix’s personality. He still hasn’t quite figured out that he truly is as much a hero as the great heroes of legend. He sees himself as simply surviving their struggles without crediting the fact that at anytime he could break his word and leave Gotrek to his own devices. The dwarves certainly realize this and it’s nice to see Felix getting the respect the reader knows he deserves.