Review: Bladestorm

I just got done reading Bladestorm by Matt Westbrook. It was the first full length novel of The Realmgate Wars series I read from the Black Library. I have read a few other books but they were collections of short stories or novelettes.  To date it is the best Stormcast Eternals book I have read. It is probably a toss up the The Call of Archaon featuring 3 Champions of Chaos fro my favorite Age of Sigmar book.

In his book Westrbrook sends Lord-Celestant Thostos Bladestorm and his Celestial Vindicators along with Lord-Celestant Mykos Argellon  and the Argellonites Warrior chamber on a quest to capture the Manticore Gate located in a Chaos Dreadhold. The Manticore Gate is one of the last Realmgates needed for Sigmar to muster his forces for the assault on the All-Gates. There are two story arcs in the book. The main one where the two warrior chambers have to capture and hold the Dreadhold and purge the Manticore Gate in order to use it and a small unit of Celestial Vindicators who go after a Chaos Sorcerer who escaped the Dreadhold.

The assault on the Dreadhold was pretty straight forward and there was no doubt the Stormcasts were going to defeat the Khorne defenders. There is a cool part were Thostos is battered and broken but is struck by a bolt of lightning from Sigmar and goes through a minor reforging to defeat the Chaos Lord and capture the Manticore Gate.

The defense of the the Dreadhold by the conquering Stormcasts became an epic battle. It starts with the battle of Splitskull pass from a HUGE Ironjawz army. Lord-Celestant Mykos and his warrior chamber buy time for the Celestial Vindicators to purge the Manticore Gate by fighting to the last man. Once the Ironjawz make it to the gates Thostos Bladestorm challenges the Orruk Megaboss to single combat. The fight had me on the edge of my seat as Westbrook made it clear that the Stormcast Eternals are willing to sacrifice themselves and Thostos has already been reforged so many times there is almost nothing left of his humanity. Another death and he may not have had anything left of his soul. Through grim determination and trickery Thostos barely pulls off a win sending the Ironjawz into a frenzied mob killing themselves and throwing themselves against the walls of the Dreadhold. The Stormcasts are rescued by a remnant of Argellonite Prosecutors who herded large plains-beasts into a sweeping charge that wiped out most of the Orruks.

In the meantime the small group of Celestial Vindicators chase the Chaos Sorcerer through an underground cavern system to his lair. There Judicaticator Atrim avenges the death of a battle brother and rescues another through a horrific trial. I liked this story arc as it followed a group of adventurers compared to whole armies. The reader got to know everyone in the party.

The story arcs re-merge with Atrim being hand selected along with a handful of Celestial Vindicators by Thostos to enter through the Manticore Gate. On the other side they are seeking a Knight-Azyros who is supposed to lead the warrior chamber to the muster point for the assault on the All-Gates. They find that a Tzeentch Lord has captured their brother and was holding him hostage in reality warped tower. Once inside Thostos leads an assault up spiralling stairs catching the defenders off guard. The Chaos Lord releases a Chimera on the Stormcasts and Thostos chooses between helping his brothers or engaging in combat with the Tzeentch lord. In the end Thostos kills the Tzeentch leader and finds the Knight-Azyros was captured in a magical sphere. Thostos gets the location of the muster point and destroys the sphere to release the Knight-Azyros soul for reforging.

Atrim, at the same time, is the hero of the day once again by jumping on the back of the Chimera while in flight and injures it enough to freefall down the tower. The Chimera and Atrim crash into the floor killing the Chimera and seriously wounding Atrim. 

What is left of the Celestial Vindicators make it to muster point where the join other warrior chambers for the last battle of The Realmgate Wars…

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