Gotrek & Felix: The Serpent Queen (Anglais) Broché – 8 avril 2014
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Gotrek and Felix: unsung heroes of the Empire, or nothing more than common thieves and murderers? The truth perhaps lies somewhere in between, and depends entirely upon whom you ask... Travelling to the mysterious south in search of a mighty death, the Slayer Gotrek Gurnisson and his human companion, Felix Jaeger, find themselves caught up in a battle between warring kingdoms. Captured by the sinister Queen Khalida and forced to do her bidding, the adventurers must brave the horrors of the sun-soaked Land of the Dead, where the dead do not rest easy.
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I was pleasantly surprised that the author had appeared to have read (or understood) the relationship dynamics between Gotrek and Felix and how they are suppose to behave and react to situations. Gotrek is the arrogant, "racist" and alcoholic dwarf as he always was and Felix is the loyal and cautious but brave when it comes down to it.
The writing itself is very solid and easy to read and the story and plot are coherent.
Overall, it is quite a good and the closest I believe to the original books by William King.
Meanwhile deep within the jungles of Lustria a female vampire of the Lhamia clan has been ordered by the Serpent Queen herself to raise a vast army and lay siege to the Tomb City of Laybas and wrestle control from its Queen the Glory of Asph. The true Serpent Queen of old Kekharata. She along with a female necromancer have been slowly building a vast army. However the two are playing games with one another. As one plots the other downfall the other must stay one step ahead of those plots to be able to enact a devious plan of betrayal.
As Felix fights for his life on the seas has somehow survived and discovered that he has washed ashore to the very jungles he and Gotrek were to land on. Only to discover that it is haven for ghouls and vampires alike. Seeing as he has no way of surviving even the night he is shocked to discover that Gotrek has been aided by the undead of Lyabras itself. Together the two are brought before the mighty queen who command them to bring back a sword from the very same woman poised to bring a vast army to her kingdom. It isn't just any sword, but her own she wielded as queen when she was alive. And to ensure the Gotek returns with the sword and not die In the process Felix has been cursed with a deadly venom that will kill him within seven days should they not be successful. With no other choice Gotrek agrees and Felix along with a small contingent of undead join them to the heart of the jungle and the very army they must fight to get to the word. Will our heroes be able to find it in time?
Initially, however, I found the plot to be somewhat confusing. Where were they? Lustria? Never before seen Warhammer Africa? The references to the various cities were lost on me and I consider myself to be well read in the Warhammer fantasy universe. I did find out that Reynolds has written another book about the southlands but does one really need to read it in order to fully appreciate this book? Reynold's does make some great references to previous Gotrek and Felix adventures which makes for a nice change. This book takes place after Giant Slayer. Further, I liked the references to other Warhammer novels (e.g. the ship named Orfeo!) as well as other characters from the mythos. I know the Black Library burst away from the previously linear stories but it's nice to have some context, some frame of reference.
On the plus side, Reynold's creates some great characters and manages to bring life to the, er, undead! Antar is a great addition but really all the ancillary characters are good with the exception that it's hard to fully appreciate their motivations given that I struggled to tie the plot to known reference points (again, this goes back to the location and various cities and warring factions being previously unknown or barely referenced in previous Warhammer books). Who was the original big baddie? Nagash? Why are their vampires in the jungles? Why do they want to wipe out the undead?
Once you get past that though Reynold's proves that he really gets Gotrek and Felix/ Reynold's definitely captured the feel of the characters, particularly their oftentimes complex relationship. Gotrek care for Felix a great deal he just doesn't know how to show it in terms that humans can understand. That's really well played out here. All in all, this was a lot of fun and I hope Reynold's writes more G&F stories. Sadly though, from the previews of upcoming books, it appears that they may be bringing the series to an end. That would be a great shame.
I almost lost all hope for the series after reading the incredibly depressing and disappointing Kinslayer, which I don't think was a fault of that author but rather that the Black Library is trying to put a square peg in a round hole with Gotrek & Felix and the End Times story. That story is just plain depressing and that's not where Gotrek & Felix truly shines. I just hope that Josh continues to write more Gotrek & Felix and flesh out the years before they returned to The Empire. *cross fingers*