Sunday, 15 September 2019

REVIEW: Realmslayer: Blood of The Old World - Part 1: No Spoilers

Realmslayer: Blood of the Old World is now available to listen to both on Audible and in physical format, and having had the day to myself to get some painting in anyway, I've listened to the entire thing and typed up a quick review. The review's split into two posts in the same format as my previous look at Realmslayer, with the first spoiler-free, and Part 2 being a spoilerific plot summary. If you want to check out my original Realmslayer review, here are links to Part 1 and Part 2.

Blood of the Old World follows its predecessor with four chapters, all coming in at a little over an hour, and continues to carry the established tone. Many of the characters encountered by Gotrek this time round aren't as engaging or likeable as Realmslayer's, and a lot of the more fantastic locales visited don't feel as suited to an audio drama as they would a novel, with spectacles like the interior of the Silver Tower depicted on the cover feeling like they could warrant a good few paragraphs of descriptive text - I feel like the grandeur of these places would entirely pass a listener less familiar with the Age of Sigmar setting by.

The production is the same high standard as Realmslayer's and scored and acted by a very capable, versatile cast. Brian Blessed continues to be on point as Gotrek, and all of the Warhammer World's other returning characters sound just about as you'd imagine them to. My only complaint in this department would be the drama's skaven and Seraphon characters not sounding remotely inhuman enough, I feel like the performances could have been put through Pro Tools a few times to create something more incongruous to suit too such distinctly alien races.

Grognards, not even once

Gotrek continues to develop and evolve as a dynamic character in the Age of Sigmar, still coming to terms with the Mortal Realms and his place in them. If Realmslayer centred on Gotrek entering the new setting and getting his head around it, then Blood of the Old World is about his quest for purpose in them, the destruction of his old home and his disillusionment with Grimnir not leaving him with a whole lot to hang on to. The aelven assassin Malaneth, stated in this interview to be Gotrek's "regular" adventuring companion for the foreseeable future provides Gotrek with a fairly one dimensional foil, followng in the slayer around and wishing ill on him so as to be able to pry the Master Rune of Krag Blackhammer from his corpse and deliver it to the Order of Azyr (who apparently still exist after the Witch Hunter went on last chance to buy). After her backstory was the weakest part of the otherwise excellent Malaneth-centric novella The Bone Desert, I worry that she will quickly become stale in future stories, and am interested to see if how her character develops and is treated when I sit down and start reading Ghoulslayer after I've finished typing up this review.

David Guymer's writing and handle on the characters is excellent, with some brilliant banter between Gotrek and his companions, and scenes between skaven that play like comedy sketches. There's a minor eyebrow raised early on by Gotrek and another returning Warhammer character's attitude towards orruks early on in the drama that I'll cover in more detail in Part 2, but it feels too major to be a casual error and fingers crosses has been planted as a hook for a future story. There are a lot of references to old Warhammer characters, races and locations (to be catalogued in Part 2), and they all feel like they're done in service of the story, and no shallow fan service winks like many of those in Josh Reynolds' (otherwise very good) work, particularly Eight Lamentations: Spear of Shadows.

Overall Realmslayer: Blood of the Old World is a great listen that I'd fully recommend, not quite as good as the original Realmslayer, but well worth picking up on the basis that it's more of the same, and the first one was fantastic. If you've already listened to it, or are reading this post in to refresh you memory 2020 ahead of Realmslayer Harder's release, then head over to Part 2 for a whole bunch of spoilers (if not what are you still doing here, go download the thing! It's free if you haven't signed up to a 30 day free Audible trial yet).

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