Wednesday, 10 May 2006

BOOK REVIEW: Never come between a Dwarf and Revenge

Grudge BearerHaving been drawn back to the Games Moneyshop for no real apparent reason ….. OK, OK I wanted to get a couple of Dwarf miniatures to use for a Mordheim game and I was curious to find something to read as well.

I found
Grudgebearer, a book about the dwarves of Warhammer setting. I purchased the book and minis and promptly started the reading frenzy.

Grudgebearer is written by Gav Thorpe, who will be a well known name in Games Workshop circles as the chief game developer of the Warhammer design team. He has also written a batch of stories for the bimonthly anthology Inferno! (which may or may not be dead now), a number of other novels and he also worked on the Inquisitor game.

The blurb on the back of the book goes as follows,

Dwarf King Throndin Stoneheart of Zhufbar is dead; betrayed upon the field of
battle. as his son barundin takes up the mantle of King, he must fulfil a mighty
oath of vengeance. In an epic tale that spans centuries, Grudge Bearer follows
Barundin as he battles his way through enemies on a desperate quest to avenge
the wrongs against his father and save his people from a terrible war against
the dark forces of Chaos

Interesting, I thought.

Basically Barundin fights beside his dad, dad is killed when allies run like the clappers from a battle with orcs, White Dwarf appears then disappears a couple of times, Barundin declares a grudge against said allies, becomes king of Zhufbar, has a fight against skaven lasting 17 years or so, tracks down a rogue dwarf engineer for the Zhufbar Guilds as said engineer blew up the dwarf holds brewery (sacrilege), engineer comes back and makes amends, dwarves attack goblins and have a big fight to reclaim an overrun dwarf hold, Barundin gets a sharp axe to kill things with as a present from his dead dad (only took 170 years to make!), wants to get married, finds a female to marry, goes on stag do and brings back a dwarf version of a traffic cone, has nasty hang over, gets told to cancel wedding, goes to try and sort out problem so he can get married and ‘get some loving’, has a big fight with chaos marauders and evil dwarves, wins and gets told by the Slayer King to piss off home and have a good shag.

I have to say overall, I enjoyed the novel as it was easy to read and small. A good holiday read, you might say. Gav isn’t a bad writer, and he does go into a bit of nice description. I think the subject matter was difficult and Gav didn’t quite hit the mark with this novel.

The characters float between one dimensional and two dimensional. It is excellent background material for the dwarves of Warhammer and feels a little like Gav was asked to write a wee bit of a background story for the Dwarf Army source book and he got carried away.

The whole episode takes place over a period of about 70 years and I can understand why he did not want to write about every little bit of life but it did feel like something was missing.

Tharundin feels like a Conan with a height inferiority complex as between fighting, threatening to fight, killing, threatening to kill, drinking, killing, drinking, and fighting he seems to constantly brood.

There are a few parodies thrown in, though no where near the number in Blood Bowl, that did fit – though I really think they are taking the piss when a mountain with a bad reputation for being the home of goblins and orcs is called Mount Gunbad is a tad close to Tolkien’s Mount Gundabad which is a mountain with a bad reputation for being the home of goblins and orcs. But then Warhammer always did have a certain ‘tongue in cheek’ mischievousness.

Again bad editing, as with Blood Bowl, let the book down a bit.

Gav, nice book, really enjoyed the background, just didn’t grip me as a story.

I would give this book a 5 out of 10. It wasn’t bad, I did read it all, it just didn’t really stand out and there was not a lot of character development.

Oh, yes, the proof readers in the
Black Library need glasses.

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