Sunday, October 2, 2011

Rise of Nagash Trilogy Review

As any one that has seen my Tomb Kings army knows I'm a big fan of this trilogy.  Ever since I read the first tome in the series by Mike Lee three years ago I was instantly hooked.  I fell in love with the idea of Nehekharan chariots pulled by the awesome Thunder Lizards found in the steamy jungles to the south of Rasetra.  So I figured with my completion of the trilogy that it was high time that I did a simple book review.  There may be a few spoilers below so please proceed with caution. Consider yourself warned!

Unsurprisingly this trilogy covers the rise and subsequent fall of Nagash.  However, that is just one of the many plot lines as the story of Nagash spans thousands of years and is the central thread that runs through all three book.  As astute players already know, his story is integrally intertwined with the fate of the old world.  In fact, short of Sigmar, no other character has demonstrated so much direct influence and impact on the course of history.   Book one, Nagash the Sorcerer, covers the rise of Nagash from Heirophant of Khemri to his transformation into the first and greatest necromancer.  The first book concludes with the amazing set piece of the first war against the usurper.  The entire first book is wonderfully set against the backdrop of Nehekaharan society which makes it a must read for any serious Tomb Kings player.

The second book, Nagash Unbroken, begins with the expected revelation that Nagash, though beaten, is not destroyed.  The story details his discovery of the mysterious god stone and it's use in subjugating a whole barbarian race.  I really found the creation of the first ghouls and his burgeoning empire's preliminary interactions with the Skaven very interesting.  A second story covers Nagash's legacy on Nehekahara which concludes the book with the creation of the first vampire. 

The aptly named closing act, Nagash Immortal, is really two separate stories that converge at the end of the book with the ultimate clash of good and evil.  The first story begins with the rise of Alcadizzar and his long campaign to free Lahmia from the vampires and take his place as rightful king of Khemri.  The other story paints the growth and spread of Nagash's empire and it's enduring war against the Skaven.   The two stories crash headlong with the destruction of Nehekahara and Nagash's demise at the hand of Alcadiazar. 

As is apparent I really enjoyed this trilogy.  First as a fluffy gamer I really enjoyed the sand colored history of this part of the old world as it provides the ultimate back story and motivation for my Tomb Kings army along with contextual expansion to other Black Library stories that I've read. One book in particular, Liber Necris, actually lays out portions of the same story, though from the perspective of a vampire.  So it was nice to read the "truth".  Another facet that makes the trilogy work is that Mike Lee artfully weaves a story spanning thousands of years in less than 1500 pages by masterfully advancing the story by jumping over what's not important.  Thought it's clear that this was much harder to accomplish in book three as it came in at a whopping 600 pages.  Mike Lee also uses uses tools not readily seen in many Black Library titles, like dramatis personae, to keep the reader informed while providing an excellent reference for the future.

In the end Mike Lee was successful because he able to convincingly flesh out a compelling story arc even when the bulk of the story, in particular the ending, is well know to any veteran Warhammer player.  It really proves that sometimes the road traveled is more important than the destination.  As a final note I highly recommend listening to Mike Lee's interview on Seanhammer.


Robert (Grovel) said...

I loved the trilogy too - but was a bit dissapointed in some inconsistancies from the established fluff, mainly regarding the events at Lahmia.

retroalias said...

Not being a diehard VC fan it's probably easier for me to rationalize some of the differences, say with the Libre Necris for example.  It will be interesting to see what he does with his new Vampire Wars trilogy.  Here's hoping that some of the "colorful" characters, like Vashanesh,  missing from this trilogy will get some love.

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