Friday, 2 March 2012

'Luthor Huss' - Chris Wraight

When my copy of Luthor Huss arrived, I was at first reluctant to pick the book up; there is a very angry looking dude on the front cover, but curiosity won in the end. The blurb sealed the deal. Seriously, a witch hunter AND a warrior priest? Can't get much better than that. Thank you Black Library for providing me with a review copy of Luthor Huss

Life is hard in Middenheim, but that does not mean the villagers of Helgag cannot find time to enjoy themselves. Bellies are filled with food and drink, tempers are happy, and the hardships of their daily life temporarily forgotten. Flushed and tired from dancing Mila sits down with her friend to chat. They talk, while the villagers keep dancing and drinking. The roar from the fires along with the singing and screams of pain flows over Mila. Her drunken mind snaps into focus, around her the villagers are no longer dancing, but running. The undead are attacking the village.

Mila is the only one left standing, her hands tightly gripping a notched old sword. She watched her friends be torn apart by the merciless undead. They surround her, watching her, knowing she has nowhere to run. The rotting corpses fall upon her, and she uses up her last reservers of strength, and will, to keep them away, but there is a respite in their onslaught. Something, is drawing them away from her. That’s when Mila sees him. A huge man, covered in gleaming plates, wielding a glowing warhammer. Holy scriptures tied around his forehead, his lips moving in silent prayer as he scythes down the abominations before him. Just the sight of him rejuvenates Mila, and she throws herself at the undead with abandon.

Lukas Eichmann, a weary witch hunter, who is suffering from a crisis of faith, finds something disturbing after rooting out a coven of cultists. Several leads points to a larger conspiracy, but the trail seems to end with a nobleman. His superior advices him from going after the aristocrat directly, so the witch hunter decides to follow a trail that leads him out of the city, but still has a connection with the blueblood. In the deepest forrest of Drawkwald lies an old and forgotten place, and this is where he needs to go. Who knows what the cultists are up to, all he knows is they need to be stopped.

I suspect Chris Wraight, together with Adam Nevill (see review of The Ritual), are conspiring to make sure I never set my foot in a forrest again. Not quite sure what they hope to gain from this, but they are very close to succeeding. The suspense is almost unbearable at times, we know something is out there, we just cannot see it. Fleeting images of goat-faced beastmen, cloven feet, hatred in their eyes. Even the trees are scary in Drakenwald.

I love the characters in Luthor Huss, starting with Mila, who is just an unexpected hero. Snatched from her normal safe life she is forced to face the world and its horrors. This being a Warhammer book, there are plenty of horrors. She works perfectly with Luthor Huss as the opposite to his indomitability. She is just a gal, who is really out of her depth. She is naive, lacks formal weapons training and she is frightened but determined. Luthor Huss is an unstoppable killing machine, a zealot who has lost touch with his humanity, but in Mila he finds it again.

Now and then Chris Wraight inserts a section from Luthor Huss’ childhood and upbringing, which adds a needed dimension to him. It explains where he got his determination and drive from, but also what he had to sacrifice. I was impressed with the depth of the characters in Luthor Huss. Even Eichmann’s brute of a henchman turned out to have more complexity than I expected.

For me, Luthor Huss ticks all the necessary boxes for a rip-roaring read. We have first of all great characters, both main and supporting. Chris Wraight gives the book the right balance between bone chilling terror and skull crushing action. The story grips you straight away and never for an instant does it release its grip. After reading it I wanted to whip myself, tear my hear, and throw myself at the enemies of Sigmar. In fact, just writing about Luthor Huss gives me goose-bumps. Awesome indeed.

Luthor Huss weighs in at 416 pages, and is published by the Black Library.

Recommendation: must read

1 comment:

  1. Mmm hmm! Sounds like a great, iconic hero in the David Gemmell vein. Got to check this book out, I think. Thanks, Erik.