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Matthias Thulmann: Witch Hunter (Warhammer Novels) Paperback – October 28, 2008
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The tales follow Mathias Thulmann, a templar of the Imperial Church of Sigmar, as he travels through the empire and fights the forces of Chaos. The bulk of the story revolves around Mathias tracking down a powerful ancient book of spells before it falls into the wrong hands. Throughout the adventure, Mathias will fight demons, vampires, zombies, skaven, and black hearted men who are just as evil.
Mathias Thulmann is similar to Robert E. Howard's Solomon Kane. In the beginning of the book, the author states that the character was influenced by horror icon Vincent Price. If you read Mathias's lines with Vincent Price's voice, it works perfectly. Mathais is an inquisitor, which means the he burns heretics at the stake, but he never crosses the line or takes pleasure in his grim work. At times he makes difficult moral decisions because his occupation doesn't allow much room for compassion.
Accompanying Mathias is Streng, an often drunk womanizing mercenary, who aids Mathias on his quests. Streng is a good fighter, loyal to the coin Mathias pays him, and often carries out Mathias's dirty work like torturing heretics and evil men. At times, Streng enjoys his job a bit too much.
The villains in this book are not simple beasts, but intelligent and powerful enemies with dire plans for the empire. You get a clear view of their power hungry motivations and diabolical schemes.
This book is loaded with quality action. There are black powder pistols, swords, halberds, undead, magic, zombies, cannons, etc... Heads roll, arms roll, evil burns, and many good men are killed, eaten, or worse. You can expect duels, skirmishes, ambushes, and full on Warhammer Style Battles.
The writing style is fairly poetic and simple. Despite the simple phrasing, the environments and characters are all very well done, from the shady, to the eerie, to the creepy, to the foreboding.
It's horror, so expect evil schemes, gore, torture, and blood. But there isn't any graphic sex or streams of harsh language.
This is a great value. You get 3 short stories and 3 novels for under $15. The stories vary from good to great and they will definitely satisfy your appetite for the macabre.
If you enjoyed this book, I would highly recommend Robert E. Howard's Solomon Kane and The Witcher books (by Sapkowski) and video games by CD Projekt.
Werner's characters, both protagonists and antagonists, are very well developed and offer colourfully contrasting points of view. The story takes place in the Warhammer world, for once in the relative backwater of Stirland, a remote province of the Empire, far from the more familiar grandeur of Imperial cities such as Altdorf, Nuln and Middenheim.
The plot evolves typically at a fast pace, aside from the first half of 'Witch Hunter', which enables the author to create an atmosphere of anguish and expectation in the eerie surroundings of Klausberg. The beginning of the novel felt to me like a cross between Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Jack Yeovil/Kim Newman's Drachenfels (for the atmospheric prologue that leaves the reader feeling like the truth is perhaps different than it appears, only to be proven right in the most unexpected way). By the time we reach the tail end of the story though, Werner has introduced two of the greatest villains of the Warhammer world and the plot accelerates and finishes strongly, tying nicely into 'Witch Finder', the second full-length novel in the collection, in which Werner conjures up yet another fantastic villain (ok, no more spoilers...). The omnibus ends with 'Witch Killer', which stops short of tying up every loose end and therefore lets us dream about further installments of the great witch hunter's saga !
Mathias Thulmann is one of my favourite Black Library characters. He is less powerful and confident than say Brunner the Bounty Hunter or Gotrek Gurnisson, but he does not lack courage and understanding of the 'powers of Old Night' and doesn't hesitate to confront ignoble monsters, armed only with his faith in Sigmar and some dodgy-sounding weapons. His vulnerability and constant struggle against great evil make him easy to root for, and his relationship with Streng contributes just enough comic relief so as not to be dragged down by Thulmann's gloomy nature.
I recommend this book to anyone looking for an exciting read, whether they are Black Library aficionados or not.
This book is a must read for GM's that want a better understanding of how the forces of darkness operate in this world.
I especially like how he fleshes out the villains, gives us their history and shows WHY they are doing what they are doing. While some are outright depraved monsters, many were once people who made a poor choice and ended up on a dark path.
For example, a wizard uses a grimoire to try and heal his lord of a nasty disease. Unbeknownst to the wizard, the tome is really a cursed item of the Chaos Lord, Nurgle, and Chaos ensues.
I also like how interlinked many of the plots were. Minor seeds of Chaos planted just right can create brilliant results.