Posted on September 1, 2010 by teampreston
Available at Amazon.com
Sword of Justice by Chris Wraight
Black Library Publishing
Fresh from the slaughter of the Emperor’s enemies in the north, Ludwig Schwarzhelm, Emperor’s Champion, is sent to Averland to oversee the inauguration of a new elector count. Beset by greenskins, and hampered on all sides by the ambitions of rival magnates, he is soon fighting to keep the fractious province together. But the rot runs deep. Powerful forces in Altdorf seem determined to see him fail, and suspicion falls on even his most trusted allies. When all is at its bleakest, the mark of Chaos and the full horror of his task is finally revealed. Alone, doubted by those closest to him, this will be Schwarzhelm’s greatest ever challenge, one on which the destiny of the Empire itself depends.
Sword of Justice is the opener for the Warhammer Heroes series of novels featuring the Emperor’s Champion Ludwig Schwarzhelm. The novel starts out with a bang and really never lets up. Short of spoiling the novel I’ll say that like many stories set in the Warhammer universe, the opening scene revolves around a battle. This is handled in a very deft manner showcasing some pretty ordinary, grunt-level characters that grow in to something more as well as some characters that we know little about, but grow to really admire as the story goes on.
One thing I have to point out is the superb manner in which the author describes the characters, the scenes and how the characters are …human. One thing that I feel sets a good novel apart from a great one is having characters that are fallible, that make mistakes; especially when we see them coming and even when we don’t. I loathe Mary Sue characters, Golden Child characters, “the Chosen One” who really is a superhero in all but the cape…usually. Putting it mildly, the characters in this novel are all flawed in one way or another.
Another thing that sets this apart from other good novels is that we see some of the plot coming, and knowing the characters aren’t omnipotent, they blunder in to things. Not stupidly (or overly so) but in ways that any of us would. Add to this Chris Wraight throws us a few curves – nicely handled ones, I must say. Not in the M. Night Shyamalan velveeta-kind of way, but in a well thought out way that we stub our toe on…look down and realize we just lost a foot-kind of way.
There are some fun twists and exceptional descriptions of the setting. Actually, the description of the empire from top to bottom is the best I’ve seen yet; especially those of Altdorf and the other main cities. Brilliant! The descriptions throughout were really well done. From the thought blurbs, to scents, sights, all the senses were covered without seeming overworked or trite.
Cover art: Wow. Cheoljoo Lee really pained a fantastic cover piece. It would make a beautiful poster. Man, it really is gorgeous. Well done!
There is a map at the beginning: good. I always like a map so I can keep an idea of where things are but there is no “Cast of Characters”. It’s a fairly good sized cast and it can be a bit confusing. Thankfully the main characters are pretty distinct.
I have to admit; I’ve fallen in love with the characters, and added their figures to my GW wishlist. Now I need to work on my Empire guys. I’m painting up some Reiksguard and Averlander troops! DAMN!
Just…wow. Blew my doors off. I’m anxiously awaiting the next book in the series!
4.5 out of 5 Stars.
Review by Jeff Preston