Monday, July 25, 2011

Reading Darius Hinks' "Warrior Priest"

Darius Hinks' Warrior Priest (Black Library 2010) is a well-written, well-paced novel set in the northern reaches of the Empire of the Old World. The Empire is once again under attack. This time a Chaos champion named Mormius leads a horde of chaos warriors south against the Imperial army generalled by the Iron Duke, Fabian Wolff. Fabian is the brother of Jakob, the eponymous Warrior priest, and their story and conflict provides the internal struggle and conflict of the novel, while the war supports the external conflict. This neat geometric pairing (brother against brother, chaos against order, North verses South, sanity verses insanity) is repeated throughout the novel, creating a well-balanced narrative, dependent on several point-of-view characters, juxtaposed against their polar opposites.

The narrative begins with Mormius, a beautiful and cruel Chaos champion gathering his troops for another attack. Mormius is on a collision course with the Iron Duke. The story then shifts to a small village where a fanatic witch hunter is about to burn a sister of Shallya at the stake. Enter the Warrior Priest, Jakob Wolff, not to save the sister but to avenge himself on the witch hunter, Otto Sürman. Sürman and his conflict with the Wolff brothers acts as the exciting force that propels the narrative.

Hinks competently uses multiple points of view and flashbacks to tell an intimate tale of the Old World that touches on most of the emblematic themes and symbols (fluff)of the Gothic series. He expertly handles both battles and intimate encounters, while creating well-rounded, full bodied characters. Although Jakob Wolff represents order, Hinks seems to have a real understanding (or sympathy) of Chaos. His descriptions of daemons, demons, and marauders are vibrant and memorable; whereas his descriptions of some of the more egregious fanatics of the Empire border on either contempt or ridicule. As an aside, it is this balance between chaos and order and the richness of the intellectual property that makes the Black Library novels so satisfying.

Warrior Priest is a worthy entry in the Empire Army series; an outstanding first outing from Darius Hinks.

No comments:

Post a Comment