All of creation suffers, young ones. Only in accepting our own mortality can we make a difference. Only in bearing the burden of our failures can we find the strength to go on. Only in detachment from glory, or honour, or jealousy... from life itself can we hope to spare others from grief.
We are Doom Eagles. And we are dead already.
This is the second book of a duology. I saw somewhere that there was a third book planned but it was never published. Instead these year Black Library released a omnibus containing the two books plus two short stories linked. The two short stories are prequels (or at the same time) of the first book. I found out that there was a book called Mark of Mutation but was never published. Unfortunally for us we never find out what happens to Karl Hoche in them.
So who is Karl Hoche? He is the main protagonist of this duology and what a character he is.
This is undoubtly one of the most interesting reads on the warhammer world. And why? Because James Wallis captures beautifully the grim dark atmosphere of the gothic world. The second book it's twice as good because there is so many conspiracies and sinister cults.
James Wallis was a co-author of Hammers of Ulric and that's it. I wonder why he stop writing books for BL since these two are very good novels. I found out later he was in the games industry but nothing more.
This two books can be review at the same time because the second follows the events of the first. Unfortunally the second also ends with a major clinfhanger but nevertheless we never learn what happen to him or other main characters. Well, that's not so true. Valten and Huss story is well known but Hoche? I reviewed the first book here but I am going to make here a small synopsis.
In the first book we are presented with Karl Hoche an army officer as he uncover chaos cultists among the Knights Panther. After this incident he enters the Untersuchung, a secret organization inside of the Reiskguard. The following chapters we follow him as he pass some trials and difficults. The end of the first book he battles the Khorne cultists inside the Panthers Knight but later his organization his coined by the witch hunters as an heretic organzation and many are trial and sentenced to death. In the end due to an infection he is slowly turning into a mutant and so he leaves civilization and goes to the wild.
The second book returns after the first with Hoche living as mutant but nevertheless a chaos-hunter. After meeting some people he then tries to find some Untersuchung members living at large since they were all hunted or incoroportated into other factions. This book follows the beginning of Archon attack on the empire and how Huss found Valten and was helped by Loche. I am interested knowing how Chris Wraight is going to talk about this. This second book is even better than the first. Here is spies and counter-spying and triple or quadruple spies working for various factions. Even in the end there are some we never learn who they were or worked for. It's excelent. I never read anything so confusing as these and I loved it. Why? Because it's the way of society noawadays and even in the past. Everyone could be a chaos cultist or a secret organzation to help the Empire and even chaos Cultists fighting for the Empire. Every page turns rapidly as we try to figure out who is who and what happens to our heroes (or anti-heroes). We have some characters from the first book and some new. Unfortunally the only downside of the book is the clinfhanger. Why? We know what Valten did afterwards and Huss but not Hoche. I would like to know if Hoche accompanied Huss and Valten to fight Archeon or if he tried to hunt other chaos cultists that he knew about or even if he return to the wild so he could die in peace. I guess we will never learn because it's now 6 years and James Wallis never wrote another book.
If there is one book where we learn the spying world hidden from other books is this one. Usually the books are about some character as he tries to find something or fight someone. There are books about witch hunters against chaos but I never read one that dwelve so much into the politics and spying world inside the Empire. It makes you think everything you know about it.
The maxim of this book is "Trust no one" because it's true. Everytime you think you know about someone bang! something happens to him or he turns to be someone else.
Would I advice this book to someone? Buy the duology because they are only one book in my opinion. Go check Black Library website.