SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Books -

Malus guf­faw- naught

Re­lease Date: 15 Jan­uary

320 pages | Hard­back Au­thor: CL Werner Pub­lisher: The Black Li­brary

Long- time read­ers of

epic fan­tasy may note a slight re­sem­blance be­tween Malus Dark­blade, tit­u­lar hero of The Tales Of Malus Dark­blade, and a cer­tain magic sword- wield­ing al­bino hero made fa­mous by Michael Moor­cock. But El­ric of Mel­ni­bone isn’t the only clear in­flu­ence on dis­play in Death­blade, CL Werner’s lat­est ad­di­tion to the se­ries. There’s a heavy dose of Jack Vance’s Cugel’s Saga, and even a lit­tle of Gene Wolfe’s The Book Of The New Sun in this con­niv­ing dark elf anti- hero.

Af­ter nu­mer­ous life- im­per­illing quests de­scribed in ear­lier books and comics, and a decade spent wan­der­ing the Chaos wastes with only the sword of Khaine for com­pany, Malus has fi­nally plot­ted and back­stabbed his way to true power. But his po­si­tion as ruler of the city of Hag Graef is im­per­illed when the Witch King or­ders an out­right attack on the High Elves, with Malus in the vanguard – the very last place a self- ob­sessed cow­ard wants to be…

All of this is the stuff of solid, ar­che­typal fan­tasy that both Warham­mer and genre fans will en­joy read­ing. But Death­blade misses out on the ironic, dark hu­mour that an anti- hero like Malus re­ally needs. Werner lets the Dark­blade take him­self a lit­tle too se­ri­ously, and the re­sult is a story that too of­ten falls flat just when it should raise a laugh. Damien Wal­ter Werner re­alised he wanted to write af­ter read­ing The Hound Of The Baskervilles at age 10, then writ­ing his own Holmes story.

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