So, while shaking off my literary laziness, I stepped away from 40k books to try something that’s almost as light, but just that little bit better usually – a Warhammer Fantasy book named Valkia the Bloody. I’d been eager to sink my teeth into this one for a while now, and I hoped this book would not go against my general belief that most Fantasy books from the Black Library tend to be better written than the 40k ones. And I was not disappointed. 😀
As a Warhammer player (who happens to own both Warriors and Daemons of Chaos armies) I was well familiar (and a little bit intrigued) with the short and sweet background of Valkia. She is a mortal queen turned into the consort of Khorne, the Blood God, returned to the moral world in the form of a daemon princess.
The great thing about the book is that it focuses more on the life of Valkia as a mortal, beginning with a wonderfully done scene featuring her as a child asking her warlord father some difficult questions and going all the way through to the end of her reign as queen of a belligerent alliance of northern tribes. The book has plenty of well done scenes depicting life in the harsh north, squeezed between the civilized south and the chaotic Gods’ Home to the north. It’s a lot like Wulfrik in this aspect, another book I thoroughly enjoyed, and this made it a great read. And, naturally, it includes the violence, bloodshed and politicking that come naturally to people leading such harsh lives. Fans of gory action scenes will not be disappointed (I myself tend to speed read through these, lest they bore me and curb my enthusiasm for reading the story).
Then there is the moment of Valkia’s transformation, very well tackled. I was worried as such a moment could’ve led to a lot of silly blunders, but the author covered it superbly, neither too literal nor too metaphorical in her descriptions, keeping the story from becoming silly or unbelievable (as much as a Warhammer book can be believable).
If there’s one nit I’d like to pick, it’s the name of Valkia’s tribe, ‘Schwarzvolf’. Kinda stupid to give a German sounding name (characteristic of the human Empire to the south in the world of Warhammer) to a people whose culture is a mix between that of the Norse, Mongols and Huns (and Valkia’s tribe seems to be located in Norsca). It’s also a bit niggling to see how characters sometimes end up estranged from one another, switching from affection to resentment and hate at the turn of a page. I realize this is in part due to the prolonged time scale that the book covers and the necessity of jumping over some periods of time, but it would have been nice to have a bit more of a transition.
Overall though, I eagerly recommend this book. Ms. Cawkwell has done a nice job of breathing life into a great, interesting character and told her story quite wonderfully.
Up next, I’ll probably read Sigvald, or move on to Annals of a Fortress. Not yet sure…