Within this book you will find Sacrosanct, a fantastic new novella from C L Werner…
A restless menace threatens the town of Wyrmditt. Stirred from his grave by fell magic, Sabrodt, the Shrouded King, seeks dominion over the kingdom he failed to claim in life. So great is the terror inflicted upon the lands by Sabrodt and his nighthaunts that Sigmar, God-King, sends a retinue of his warriors most skilled in the art of Azyrite magic to liberate the town. The Stormcast Eternals of the Sacrosanct Chamber are warrior-wizards, imbued with arcane knowledge and the power to wield the energies of the storm in battle. Leading the retinue is Knight-Incantor Arnhault, a formidable mage who has studied the histories of Sabrodt’s kingdom. But the fight against the Shrouded King will challenge Arnhault’s mettle like none other – especially when he discovers that the Undead knows more about his past than he does.
Also within this book is a host of awesome short stories giving you a flavour of the many warring armies that exist within the worlds of Warhammer Age of Sigmar.
C L Werner, Josh Reynolds, Nick Horth, David Annandale, Guy Haley, David Guymer and Gav Thorpe.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 4 members
My only precise AOS books had been Hamilcar which is funny but repetitive and Gotrek which is also funny but a damn good read as well so this book was to help increase my knowledge of the inhabitants of the AOS worlds, I’m going to need to read a lot more books to achieve that but as a starter this is very good, I’m still more of a Gotrek fan but i will certainly read more of this world thanks you this book
I received a copy of Sacrosanct & Other Stories in exchange for a fair and honest review. Sacrosanct & Other Stories is one of the latest Warhammer short story anthology to come out of Black Library. This time the focus is on Age of Sigmar, and the tales are just as dark and mysterious as one might imagine. This collection is absolutely perfect for anybody new (or curious) about Age of Sigmar, and really is designed to help readers get a feel for the world and general plots. So it makes for an ideal introduction, in my book. Included in this collection: Sacrosanct by C. L. Werner (the namesake of the anthology, and thus the longest story included), A Dirge of Dust and Steel by Josh Reynolds, Callis & Toll: The Old Ways by Nick Horth, The Dance of the Skulls by David Annandale, Auction of Blood by Josh Reynolds, The Sands of Grief by Guy Haley, The Witch Takes by C.L. Werner, The Prisoner of the Black Sun by Josh Reynolds, Great Red by David Guymer, Wrathspring by Gav Thorpe, and The Volturung Road by Guy Haley. Each story will be reviewed in further detail down below. Sacrosanct by C. L. Werner Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ As the longest story in this collection, Sacrosanct is obviously the most in-depth story, portraying the Stormcast and all their trials and glory. It's an action-adventure tale that is perfect for people looking for those classic elements seen more commonly in the grand epics of Warhammer. “Arnhault knew what it meant, the terrible regularity of those impacts. They were the footfalls of some horrendously immense creature.” A Dirge of Dust and Steel by Josh Reynolds Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ Set in Shyish, the Hallowed Knights are giving everything they have to the battle, while also seeking to reform alliances and better the odds of the war. In short, this is another short story that captures the epic nature of Sigmar. I'm a fan of Josh Reynolds' writing though, so maybe I'm a bit biased for how much I enjoyed this tale? “It was not an army. A horde, at best. A movable feast of frenzied indulgence.” Callis & Toll: The Old Ways by Nick Horth Rating: ★ ★ ★ Callis and Toll are agents of the Order of the Azyr, and this tale covers one of their (probably) many investigations. It was interesting, though I'll admit that I struggled to pay attention to it all. Maybe because I didn't fully picture their lives or careers? I'm not entirely sure. “It was useless. He could barely see more than a few metres ahead.” The Dance of the Skulls by David Annandale Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ Okay, so I should probably be up front and mention that David Annandale is one of my favorite Warhammer authors (for the moment, I expect I'll find more favorites as I continue to read). The Dance of the Skulls introduces Neferata, Nagash's Mortarch of Blood, and the politics and horror that come with her world. It was truly a fascinating read. “I do not trust the nature of this honour.” Auction of Blood by Josh Reynolds Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ The story of Neferata continues in Auction of Blood, as one of her servants is tasked with a mission to retrieve a specific item from an auction. A task easier said than done, as this short quickly reveals. It's dark, fascinating, and twisted. My favorite combination. “As the evening wore on, he traversed the tangled rookery with no sign of feat, despite the hostile eyes he felt watching him from the darkened doorways and the cracks in boarded-over windows.” The Sands of Grief by Guy Haley Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ Following the tales of Neferata, now it's time to learn a bit more about Prince Maesa. This is a prince who will go to any length to save his love, including messing with ancient and dangerous artifacts. This was another solid read from this collection, and had a much more somber tone than the rest. It was lovelorn and beautiful, in ways that I didn't anticipate. “Throck and Grimmson were comical opposites.” The Witch Takes by C.L. Werner Rating: ★ ★ ★ Witch Hunters, the Order of Azyr, Dark Gods, and Sigmar, all in one story! Despite my buildup there, this was an interesting, but mostly okay story. It was worth the read, though it didn't leave the same impact for me as many of the others did. Perhaps that doesn't make for a fair comparison. “In the midst of the panic, an ugly pit yawned.” The Prisoner of the Black Sun by Josh Reynolds Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ The Realm of Death? Okay, that sounds pretty terrifying, in a world that is already full of horrors that I would be just as happy to never meet. Thank you very much. But seriously, this was another fascinating tale. While it did creep me out at times, I would have happily read much more of it. “The Three-Eyed King crushed the ranks of my servants.” Great Red by David Guymer Rating: ★ ★ ★ Great Red is set in the Sea of Bones, and following the Hallowed Knights once again. They've off on another journey once again with the goal of bringing in more allies for their glorious battles. It felt like a bit of the same-old, same-old again, but it did manage to drop a few surprises along the way. “Wind-whipped totems of feathers, leaves, and bits of bone swirled around his maroon armor, partially obscuring the depictions of stars, storms, and wild beasts in gold.” Wrathspring by Gav Thorpe Rating: ★ ★ ★ You just know that whenever the Plague God comes into the mix, things are going to get pretty...messy. So naturally, this was a fairly dark tale, and yet it felt like it was lacking something. Impact, maybe? Which feels a bit odd to say, if I'm being completely honest. “Lord Diraceth! The ratmen, they come at last. They come for the lamentiri!” The Volturung Road by Guy Haley Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ Prophecies have a way of changing the world, for good or for ill. They can rally, or they can incite great evil. Which will it be, in The Volturung Road? Honestly, this one may legit be my favorite from the entire anthology, which is saying something. It was epic and grand, naturally, but it also brought in so many human elements, giving me all the reason in the world to care about what happened next. “Hideous, pallid things thrashed as Vulkite Bezerkers buried their aces in rubbery flesh.” Check out more reviews over at Quirky Cat's Fat Stacks
As Sacrosanct is a short story anthology, I shall be reviewing the stories on their own individual merits, much like my review of Tales of Heresy. Sacrosanct is an introductory collection of short stories, designed to give an introduction to the world and races of Age of Sigmar. Sacrosanct – C L Werner A larger novella than the rest of the short stories and the story that gives the book its title. Featuring the herald race of Age of Sigmar, the Stormcast Eternal. Sacrosanct is an entertaining read that eases the reader into the world of Age of Sigmar. Detailing how the Stormcast come to be reforged through the eyes of Knight-Incantor Arnhault. The plot is a basic good vs evil, but serves as a good introduction to the dynamics involved in the world of Age of Sigmar. I found Sacrosanct an enjoyable first dip into the setting, but – as with many of the Stormcast stories – felt myself feeling a little bit lost in the who’se who and what’s what. All the different unit types share a common theme in their names and they blended together leaving me a little confused. As an introduction to the world and armies, I am uncertain how successful this novella was. However, I did enjoy what I read. Stormcast Eternal Arnhault and his revelations was a grand example of his army and while I can certainly see some similarities between Stormcast Eternals and the 40k Space Marines, they also have a unique flavour of their own; which is brought out well in Sacrosanct. The plot was all fine and pretty decent for an easy romp in the Age of Sigmar setting, if a little on the predictable side in terms of content and resolution A Dirge of Dust and Steel – Josh Reynolds I’m going to be honest, the placement of this short story in the order of Sacrosanct was doing it a dis-service. It’s another front-line battle story involving the Stormcast Eternals. Following Sacrosanct directly rendered it unmemorable and for me it merged with the titular story. I had to leaf through the pages of the book to see if I was reviewing the right book or if I’d blended them together It’s a shame as this story was actually pretty good in regards to plot. It is an action-packed thrill ride of a story. The main character, Sathphren, was well written, confident and easy to root for. It’s a clever story that I took great pleasure in reading. Callis and Toll: The Old Ways – Nick Horth Sacrosacnt is worth picking up and reading for this short story alone. I’ve always wondered how Witch Hunters fit in the new Age of Sigmar world compared to the Old World. Callis and Toll explain the transition perfectly! Callis and Toll: The Old Ways see’s the two characters solving a political dispute between two rival families. It goes on to involve an investigation into the death of a family member, what caused it and if there’s any substance in the claims of foul play. What I enjoyed the most about this story was the main characters, their dynamic and complicated relationship was entertaining. More-so Toll, the lead Witch Hunter, and his dry, no messing, cynicism. He is a character I was instantly drawn too and thoroughly enjoyed reading about. To the extent that I’d like to pick up their feature novel (Callis and Toll: The Silver Shard) at some point. The Dance of Skulls – David Annandale After reading a couple of fast-paced action-packed adventures, The Dance of Skulls was a wonderful change of pace. It involve political intrigue within the Vampire Courts and focuses on the angle of Neferata; one of the highest ranking Vampires of the Courts and how she thwarts her rivals. It is very much driven by her character which is delightfully detailed within the short story. Instantly giving a taste for her ruthless means. Shiprats – C L Werner A highly entertaining story featuring Duardin and their troubles with rats. Shiprats felt like a refreshing palette cleanser compared to the content of the vast majority of the short stories within Sacroscant. Although it had its fair share of fights, it didn’t have them as its primary focus and there was a darker, humorous element to the story also. Well written and some good, strong characterisation of the Duardin folk. I was most pleased to discover a non-faction element to the setting also, it’s always good to see vast worlds such as Age of Sigmar being developed in smaller ways. A story away from the front line battles. It was right up my street. Auction of Blood – Josh Reynolds Palem Bok is a bookseller and a spy, working in the Greywater Fastness and is tasked with winning an Auction for a high-ticket item. Filled with wonderful characters on a short, but entertaining adventure. Auction of Blood is a The Sands of Grief – Guy Haley I am not normally a fan of Guy Haleys books, but this short story could have easily turned around my thinking. I went into The Sands of Grief with preconceptions that I’d dislike it. However, it was an entertaining, tragedy-filled tale of woe about Maesa and his journey into Nagashs domain to reclaim the grains of his lover. Accompanied by the mischievous spite Shuttercap as he makes the crossing into the Sands of Grief. Shuttercap is something of a delight in himself. The descriptions in the short story are rich and vivid without being too indulgent own over-written. The Sands of Grief is another stand-out short story in the collection for me. Again, it doesn’t focus on front line battles, but on an individual living in the world of Age of Sigmar. The Witch Takers – C L Werner I think I was still reeling from Callis and Toll when I got to this short story and considering my adoration for that short story, I didn’t find this one went down as well. The characters didn’t have the same depth in both personality and relationship – although their relationship with one another was touching. The Prisoner of the Black Sun – Josh Renolds The Prisoner of the Black Sun returns to the Stormcast Eternals fighting against chaos – which is a bit of a reoccurring theme in Sacrosanct. This time with an old-‘favourite’ character thrown in the middle; Mannfred Von Carstein who seems to have fallen foul of his former grandeur. Mannfred von Carstein adds a different element to the dynamic of the short story. As with many of the other short stories, it’s a fast-paced action-fest that is entertaining to read. Lord Celestant, Tarsus is a stoic leader of the Stormcast Eternal and has come right out of the Stormcast printing-press. As a character he has a few interesting quicks, but honestly, at this point I don’t think I’ll be picking up any more books about Stormcast Eternals, unless someone out there can persuade me. Along-side him is Ramus, Lord-Relictor and other units of Stormcast Eternals. I must be honest, at this point I was burning out on the book and a lot of the stories seem to be summed up as ‘And we fought some Chaos.’ Great Red – David Guymer Great Red is a follow on story to The Prisoner of the Black Sun. Focusing on the Stormcast Eternal Ramus, who was introduced in the previous short story. Something has happened to Tarsus and Ramus is out for vengeance against Mannfred von Carstein. I am assuming that there is a longer story that is meant to be between these two novels, but I am not certain. It felt a bit jarring for everything to be fine and dandy at the end of The Prisoner of the Black Son and in the very next page, things to be pear-shaped. As a stand-alone story it was decent enough and well written. Ramus takes on a life of his own and is a much better written character in Great Red than in the previous novel. I appreciated the Stormcast Eternals facing something other than Chaos in the form of Orruks. The descriptions involving the Orruk clans was delightful and engaging. Detailing just how far removed they are from other types of fantasy Orcs. Wrathspring – Andy Clark I was initially looking forward to reading this short story as I find the Sylvaneth faction intriguing. I first read about them in The Court of the Blind King and was hoping that it would be good to read about them from their own perspective. Sadly, Wrathspring was a bit of a let down. I found the narrative trudged along ponderously. Everything was over-described and there was an over use of the term ‘last-vestige.’ Despite having a supremely interesting character in Alarielle the Everqueen and her wardroth beetle mount, the story didn’t quite hit the mark. Maybe it’s because the plot was yet another ‘Let’s fight against some chaos,’ and felt a bit souless. The Volturung Road – Guy Haley At this point I felt well and truly done with the short story collection and the moment I saw Slaanesh mentioned I figured it was time to call it a day. There’s only so much I can take in terms of repetitive plot-lines. Maybe I should have given The Volturung Road a chance, but considering it’s a Guy Haley short story and I am non-to-fond of him, I figured now was time to call it a day. Summary There are some absolutely sublime short stories in Sacrosanct that are well worth reading. It’s a shame that there are a good handful that carry the same basic plot. I was excited to read and digest another short story collection from Black Library after reading the short story collection Tales of Heresy, but sadly this one didn’t quite hit the same fantastic heights. Sacrosanct is touted as a book to help introduce newcomers to the Age of Sigmar setting – I’m not exactly a new-comer to the setting but I did find myself scratching my head a bit to some of the ins and outs of unit types as a lot of the names are in a similar theme – especially so for the Stormcast Eternals There are a lot of ‘big names’ from Black Library Publications in Sacrosanct and it’s a good introduction to them and their individual writing styles. It’s also a good place to start to find out about the recommended reads after each short story, should the reader wish to find out more about the armies they have just been introduced to – there are a couple that I’d certainly like to pick up and read.