- Series: Warhammer
- Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
- Publisher: Games Workshop; 1 edition (February 28, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781849701419
- ISBN-13: 978-1849701419
- ASIN: 1849701415
- Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.2 x 6.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,872,985 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Knight of the Blazing Sun (Warhammer) Mass Market Paperback – February 28, 2012
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About the Author
Josh Reynolds is a freelance writer of moderate skill and exceptional confidence. He has written a bit and some of it was even published. For money. By real people. His work has appeared in anthologies such as Cthulhu Unbound 2 from Permuted Press and Specters in Coal Dust from Woodland Press, as well as in magazines such as Innsmouth Free Press and Bards and Sages Quarterly. Feel free to stop by his blog, http://joshuamreynolds.blogspot.com/.
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The book revolves around Hector Goetz, a Knight of the Order of the Blazing Sun, whom is charged with investigating the murder of a fellow Knight of his order in a distant city, as well as the disappearance of that city's local chapter of his Order. As he works to uncover the truth of the situation, he meets a variety of interesting characters and deals with a number of equally interesting threats; it's somewhat formulaic in that regard, with some enemies becoming friends and friends becoming enemies, but even still, it wasn't ever really labored or felt forced. I found it surprisingly easy to like Hector as a protagonist, and I certainly wouldn't mind reading of his further adventures some day.
All said, if you're looking for a quick fantasy novel fix, you can't go wrong with this title.
Last year marked a resurgence in my interest for Warhammer Fantasy fiction, starting quite appropriately with Nathan Long's Ulrika novels and Gav Thorpe's Sundering novels. Warhammer, or Warhammer Fantasy Battles to give the setting its full name, is a very rich, very interesting, and very dark setting. The moral compass of the protagonists isn't always as straight as you might expect and there is enough horror and betrayal mixed in that it makes WFB a very unique setting even among the wider selection of epic fantasy universes.
And one of the things that Josh has really excelled at in Knight of the Blazing Sun is playing up that imbalanced moral compass, especially where his protagonist, Hector Goetz is concerned. I am actually quite reminded of Reiner Hetzau from Nathan's Blackhearts novels. While Hector is a Knight of the Empire compared to Reiner who is a spy against his will, they are both very similar in their approach to the world around them. Just like Reiner, Hector has to make deals left and right for the success of his mission and has to stomach some rather unwholesome events because of his responsibility to said mission. I have a feeling that if these two ever meet, they would make a good team. At least I hope so. Hector Goetz is a character to watch out for, that's for sure, and if Josh gets a chance to write more stories about this young Knight of the Order of the Blazing Sun, he will definitely become one of the most well-liked characters in Warhammer Fantasy.
Knight of the Blazing Sun is a very different novel than the usual Black Library fare, since it is primarily about one of the Knightly Orders of the Empire. Unless I am massively mistaken, there hasn't been a novel focused on Imperial Knights since Dan Abnett's Hammers of Ulric, and that was quite a few years ago. As such, Josh Reynolds brings a very different tone to the setting, and it is very refreshing indeed. At least for me who has only read about Skaven, pathologically suicidal Dwarfs, warrior-poets, vampires, necromancers and spies so far. Several parallels can be drawn between the Knights of WFB and the Space Marines of Warhammer 40,000, especially where their doctrines and elite status is concerned. Being a massive fan of Space Marine fiction, this helped me connect easily with Goetz and his fellow Knights, from the Order of the Blazing Sun and the Order of Manaan alike, and that is a big plus. Coming off this novel, I quite fancy reading more about the Imperial Knights because my curiosity about these guys has definitely been piqued.
In terms of characterisation, I think Hector Goetz is almost spot on as a Knight of the Empire, although I couldn't shake the feeling that he accepts what he is told by the people around him a little too easily too many times. Simply put, he is too gullible at times and it gets confusing. I expect him to be a staunch believer in Imperial mentality but he really isn't. The fact that he is also a atypical Knight of his Order could play into this and validate how Josh handles him but I'm not sure. Its just one of those things that I'd really love to discuss with Josh in greater detail. On the whole though, he is a very likable and impressionable character and I wouldn't mind reading more of his adventures in the Old World.
Goetz is not the only protagonist of the novel however. He is supported by a very surprising character that I did not expect to find in the novel: a Norscan female warrior named Dalla Ulfarsdottir. What I mean by that is that I did not expect her to be such a major character in the novel, in terms of her impact upon the plot and her hate-hate relationship with Goetz. Given that, and the portrayal of Norscans in the novel in general, I quite like the route Josh took her. There is an undercurrent throughout Knight of the Blazing Sun that maybe, just maybe, the Norscans are not as evil and terrible as they are usually presented. They are actually presented in a very positive light and this made for a great narrative since as a reader, I was never sure just what their motives were. And Dalla certainly helped further that illusion.
Of course, there is a great cast of supporting characters as well, from Knights of different Orders to Norscans alike and more. They are all distinct from each other and they all are always in-character. I certainly did not spot any slip-ups which means that Josh's characterisation is solid, whether he is writing a novel's leading characters or the supporting cast. I can also see great potential for quite a few of them to get their own stories in the future, which would be very interesting. Fingers crossed I suppose.
The pacing of the novel is the biggest drawback of it, at least in the first half. Things take off too slowly which almost put me off reading since the novel starts off so well with a great cavalry charge scene against Orks. After that though, it descends into a verbose narrative that is too full of intrigue and mystery. It just slows down and the scenes often drag-on. At times it feels like there is some kind of an in-joke the characters are privy to and one that is being kept from the reader. Fortunately, most of this vanished in the second half as the action really picked up, in terms of physical fights and more immediate intrigues. The second half consequently is much more enjoyable and in complete contrast to the first half, Knight of the Blazing Sun is quite hard to put down at this point. If Josh can work this dichotomic link out for his next novel for Black Library, then I think he will have an absolute cracker of a novel at his hands.
One of my other complaints about the novel is that it doesn't have enough "proper" action scenes where Knights are concerned. When I think of the Knightly Orders of the Empire, I think of cavalry charges by warriors in full plate, swinging swords and hammers as they roll into an enemy. The opening battle sequence is one of the highlights of the novel and I wish that there could have been another one. It would have been a joy to read. Although that's not to say that I didn't enjoy the infantry warfare that occurs later in the novel. Josh's action scenes are fairly visceral and adrenaline-pumping in their own right and they do keep you hooked. I was just after a different variety of action scenes.
However, in spite of all that, I think that Knight of the Blazing Sun is definitely a must-read novel if you like Warhammer Fantasy fiction. It brings something unique to the background without causing any fluxes in the warp-time continuum and is an enjoyable one to read. So I do recommend it.
My rating for the novel is an 8/10 and my expectations of Josh's next, Neferata which is a novel for the Time of Legends meta series are quite high, given the subject matter and my rising appreciation for Josh's work.
You can find more reviews for Knight of the Blazing Sun on the Founding Fields here and here.
When communications cease from a group of knights, Sir Hector Goetz is sent to the distant island of Svunum to investigate. It soon becomes obvious that someone does not want him to reach the island. Brother Goetz must battle trolls and dodge assassins as he slowly makes his way toward the Brother Knights. Once he is reunited with his comrades, Goetz must help battle vicious pirates and raiders.
Goetz has been having horrific nightmares and they are becoming increasingly disturbing. At the same time, Goetz cannot help but notice that there is more going on than meets the eye. As Brother Goetz tries to figure out what is happening within the order, northern savages lay siege to the island, revealing a deadly secret.
*** THREE STARS! I found the pace of this story to keep varying in flux. As I read, I came to notice that the story could be divided into four sections. The first quarter introduced me to Sir Goetz, let me view him in battle, see how honorable he was, and gave me a little information about the plot. The second quarter was full of mystery as the knight tried to get an idea of what could be happening. The third quarter was full of action as Goetz dodged assassins, creatures of Chaos, raiders and more. The fourth quarter was almost non-stop with adventure as surprising answers were revealed, everything began to come to a head, and final battles clashed. Though the story did not flow smoothly, its concept was terrific and kept my attention until the very end. ***
Reviewed by Detra Fitch.