Finished the audiobook of Drachenfels. (finally!)
Overall, I really enjoyed it. It’s kinda pulpy and horrory at times, but it’s not at all what you’d expect a Warhammer novel to be. I’d love to have been there at the pitch meeting:
GW: "We want you to write a WARHAMMER™ novel."
Kim Newman: "Ok, I have a great idea. How about a story about a slightly overweight thespian putting on a historical play reenacting something that happened 30 years before? We can have lots of detail about how he selects the actors and decides on the plot details! We can present the entire novel like it is acts of a play"
GW: "Er… we were thinking something with big battles and people fighting orcs?"
Kim Newman: “er… well, I could include a vampire who works as a barmaid?”
The writing style is nice and descriptive, without being overly flowery. It’s gory and bloody enough when it needs to be, but those moments are few and far between. Some random review starts "Top-notch horror/fantasy with a strong sense of humour. Vividly gruesome and atmospheric, with characters more shaded than the stereotypes they initially seem " and those are the words I was probably looking for.
I’d have 2 main criticisms.
First, the pacing seems a bit off. The second act in particular drags a lot and seems like it could have been trimmed dramatically. The final denouement seems a bit rushed so the conclusion was slightly unsatisfying.
Second, there are so many characters introduced, some incidental, some important, that it got rather tricky for me to remember who half of them were. This wasn’t helped by the fact that they all have somewhat similar warhammerish names: Detlef Sierk, Rudy Vagner, Vager Broygal, Kazinsky, Oswald von Konigswald, and I’ve already forgotten most of the other similar names. I wonder if it’d have been easier to keep them straight if I’d been seeing them on the page.
The epilogue goes through a “where are they now” of about a dozen characters, some major, some very minor, and a number of whom I couldn’t even remember who they were!
Apparently Genevieve (the vamp) shows up in some of his other warhammer novels, and is also in his Anno Dracula series which is set in the real world and mashes together a lot of different famous vampires. Seems like it might be worth a look.
(Side note: She’s a cool character, and she became popular so the series is often called the Genevieve Series, but she’s not really the main character in this, and apparently only a bit part in the second book, but then is in the next two short story collections)
(Other side note: Because it’s old, it apparently contradicts more recent canon (but that’s cool as I was into the older stuff anyway), but GW keep it in print because people really like it. Which is cool)