Another entry, another review, and this time I bring you my thoughts on the first book of the Nagash Trilogy. Coming from the last End Times book, I was ready to take the jump to Age of Sigmar fiction, but then I found out that Black Library released a series of thematic packs set in Warhammer Fantasy (the world that ended in... well, the End Times ). And then I saw a whole trilogy on Nagash and I said to myself "Myself, we gotta read this ASAP!".
And so, here we are, with the first volume done and about to begin the second.
Stuff I like
1. The Setting. For the record, the Tomb Kings are a faction in the tabletop game (and in Total War Warhammer) that, oversimplifying things, are literal mummies. Their armies and stuff are heavily based on Ancient Egypt and the like. Nagash the Sorcerer takes place in the distant past, when the Tombs Kings weren't the undead we know in the present, but are the magnificent and proud rulers of Nehekara, the first human civilization.
The way the author (Mike Lee) describes this world of ancient opulence and the slow but noticeable corruption at the hands of Nagash in his quest for destroying the gods definitely kept me devouring chapter after chapter. (+1)
2. The Story. I do wonder just how much did the author had to dig and research in the old army books to get the lore. I've seen the last Tomb Kings army book and it mentions the fall of Nehekara briefly but then the shift of the source material only speaks about The Land of the Dead (which is named so after Nagash makes his move and stuff). The plot we have here describes the first years of Nagash as son of the recently deceased Priest King Khetep and the rise of his little brother to the throne, since in Nehekaran custom the firstborn of the king "belongs to the gods" so they become their Grand Hierophant, while the rule of the mortal falls on the second son. An interesting concept that comes to play in later chapters.
Even if it felt a bit slow near the middle, I really enjoyed the overall story. A number of hints points to a betrayal in the side of Nagash opponents and you're left with the feeling of knowing who the traitor is. You suddenly are unsure of who is to be trusted. Which brings me to the next point... (+1)
3. The Characters. From the beginning, the author gives a Dramatis Personae for us to know who's who in the story. It really helps at the beginning, especially considering the names of all characters are based on ancient Egyptian names. Characters like the Priest King of Rasetra Rakh-amn-hotep and the Priest Nebunefer are my favorites. Most of the allied kings that oppose Nagash are given their time to shine at one point of the war or another, but Arkhan the Black and Nagash himself take the cake as the main characters in the story. (+1)
Stuff I didn't like
4. The Time Frame. The plot is divided in two, with one focusing on Nagash in the aftermath of his father's funerary rites in the year of 1968 B.S. (Before Sigmar) and follows him as he learns dark magic and secures his place as ruler of the imperial capital of Khemri. The second plotline takes us to the 'present' of the story, which is set in the year of 1744 B.S, with a difference of more than 200 years between both plots. So far so good.
Until it isn't. I kinda get what the author tried to do, mixing the present plot with the past to get us to see the progress both Nagash and the Priest Kings made during the time in-between, but I had to literally make a list of the chapters and the year it takes place so I didn't get lost in the narrative. Maybe it's just me, bu I had a hard time following the past plot due to the 'present' chapters being mixed with the 'past' chapters. (-1)
Stuff in the middle
5. The Battles. I know this must be dumb of me, with Warhammer literally being a game about miniature battles and such. The battles depicted in Nagash the Sorcerer are cool, and it's clear the author took the time to plan them, but for some reason I kinda got burned out near the end. The only thing that prevented me form skip them was that each one was spiced with a new, unexpected element that made them different from the others. Certain elements in battle (like surprise reinforcements, unorthodox defense systems, secret betrayals, to mention a few) are what kept this point in the middle. (+1/-1)
I'd recommend y'all this book if you're into the universe of Warhammer and wanna know about it's distant past. Or if you're a fan of Ancient Egypt, you also might want to read this (Sure, it's not exactly Ancient Egypt stiff but there are a lot of parallelisms with the land of Nehekara. In the end, it's a rather enjoyable reading to spend the time.
TJ's Rating - 3.5/5