Monday, 20 February 2012

'Blood of Aenarion' - William King


Blood of Aenarion is the first part in a trilogy telling the story of the twins, Tyrion and Teclis. What first caught my attention was the author, William King, who is best known for being the creator of Gortrek and Felix. I'm huge fan of the berserker dwarf and his foppish human companion, so the expectations are high for Blood of Aenarion. Tyrion and Teclis are two well known, even legendary, elves in the Warhammer universe. I don't actually know much about them at all, but I'm eager to learn. Thank you Black Library for providing me with a review copy of Blood of Aenarion

The prologue drops us into the defining moment of elven history, where Aenarion, the first Phoenix King, stands against the forces of chaos as Caledor completes the ritual that banishes the demons. Against all odds, Aenarions defeats the four arch demons sent by the gods of chaos. 

Such an epic event deserves a book on its own, and while the prologue is certainly functional and a way of delivering exposition, it left me wanting more. I wish William King had given us the background in another way. Anyway, fast forward 5-6000 years...

In an old villa, twin boys are living with their father. The father is of noble blood, but has spent his wealth on research, arcane ingredients and dusty old tomes. One brother is strong, fast, confident and already skilled with most weapons. The other brother is frail, his body ravaged by disease, but with a sharp mind and a talent for anything magical. Elves are never sick so this worries the boys and their father, for their lineage bears an ancient cursed. When Aenarion drew the Sword of Khaine he forever cursed himself and those of his blood. 

Their father's villa lies in a remote location, so it's with not a little excitement Tyrion spots a group of travelers approaching. Their aunt, a powerful mage, has come to deliver them to the court of the Phoenix King. When descendants of Aenarion come to age they also needs to be screened for the curse, and this is the real reason for their summons. 

In the nexus of the spell cast by Caledor a demon awakens. For millennia the demon has gathered power, and explored the spell, which serves as its prison. It now has enough power and knowledge to break free, and this time the world will be its own fief of torment and forbidden pleasure. First, the blood of Aenarion will pay for its imprisonment. 

What will prove the greatest danger to the twins, a demon of immense power, or the intrigues at the court of the Phoenix King?

So, who are these young men? Tyrion, the older brother, is clearly destined to be a great warrior and leader of elves. The boy has lived in such isolation he does not realise how skilled he is with weapons, or even games of strategy. He can immediately see weaknesses and strength on any battle field, be it on a game board, or scenes in book. Anything else he finds boring, and lack of interest is something he mistakes for being slow.

Teclis, is the younger brother with the frail health. He is so sick he can barely leave his bed most of the time. He is jealous of Tyrion's perfect physique, just as Tyrion is jealous of his interest in magic and academia has brought him closer to their father. Teclis is more conflicted than his brother, and it's a shame he does not feature more in this book. Then again, there will be another two books in the series for him to shine in. He is torn between envy and love of his brother, but also his taste for knowledge and ultimately power. When his aunt promises to teach him magic, which his father has kept from him, his dreams come true.

At first I found the boys flat and not very interesting, and especially Tyrion was just annoyingly perfect. There is depth however, the two brothers have a complicated relationship, and you never know if they will turn on each other. Tyrion also has a redeeming innocence of youth, and his eagerness to fight and win glory is charming. When he makes his first kill he also realises things about himself, which scares him. 

Blood of Aenarion might sound like your typical fantasy, two young men learning the ropes and losing the innocence of youth. The difference is, we know who these boys are, and what they will become, legends. I couldn't wait to see what would happen, how much awesomeness would they be capable of in the first book, would it be too easy for them? William King gives them a solid challenge, and at the same time sows the first seed for a sub plot, which looks like it can grow into something very interesting. When it comes to awesomeness, we are given a good taste of what the young men will grow into. 

Blood of Aenarion might not be the book you pick up if you are looking for a book with well rounded female characters, as they are not much more than decoration for Tyrion's arm, but certainly the right choice if you want action and a taste of legends. Just like the Gortrek and Felix books Blood of Aenarion is packed full of action, with realistic and fast flowing melee. A worthy read for any Warhammer fan. I certainly look forward to part two, Sword of Caledor. 

Blood of Aenarion weighs in at 320 pages and is published by Black Library

Recommendation: read

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