The Gotrek and Felix stories are well known and well loved; as the Black Library themselves explain, it's the longest running series that they print. The early books, by Bill King, were wonderful stories but not well written (this is not happening thought Felix), though by the time King stopped writing them he had dramatically improved as an author; and the more recent books, by Nathan Long, are technically much better written than King's early work, but the stories have become formulaic and unconvincing.
In part this is due to the limitations of the format (we know neither of the two titular characters will ever actually die, and there's only so many ways Gotrek can briefly appear to be doomed in increasingly unlikely ways without actually being killed) and as a result, the full-length novels feel lifeless nowadays next to the spin-off series involving Thanquol and, to a lesser degree, Ulrika. But the true home of Gotrek and Felix has always been the short story. From the very beginning in Gehiemnisnacht to The Two Crowns of Ras Karim by way of Slayer of the Storm God, the dynamic duo's best appearances have always been in brief, punchy tales. This new anthology brings together a collection of such tales, each penned by a different writer, many (though not all) of whom are new to the Black Library. So how have they got on, in bringing our favourite characters to life? Let's find out!
Slayer's Honour - Nathan Long
Long is the man to have taken on G&F duties since Bill King decided to move on, and his familiarity with the characters shines through in this novella-length story. Felix discovers that his arrangement with Gotrek is not actually as unique as he might have assumed, though it soon becomes clear that not all is as it seems - and very quickly the reader is drawn into a tale of dwarfs and men, orcs and skaven, loyalty and betrayal, giant spiders and even a nuclear bomb. But as the title implies, honour is the central theme of this story and ultimately, honour is satisfied; though not without Felix giving away just a hint of the frustration he feels with his fate.
Not everyone appreciates Long's work with G&F, and I know I've sometimes found their most recent novels to go much too far in stretching plausibility; but freed of the need to come up with yet another danger that threatens to overwhelm the entire Empire (while still being readily defeatable by just one Dwarf), Long is able to create a compelling and much more personal tale, jam-packed with Indiana Jones moments, butchery aplenty, and convincing characters with just enough sublety to create a great deal of sympathy, making this so much more than mere axe-porn. Agnar and Henrik provide a mirror in which Gotrek and Felix can be seen in a different light: the slayer as a bitter, barely-suppressed bundle of resentment; and his remembrancer as, ultimately, just a man, for all the adventures he has lived through. In case it's not clear, I thought this story was brilliant - a new G&F classic.
Doom Awesomeness Rating: beheading seven Bloodthirsters before being swallowed whole by the eighth, drowning in its daemonic stomach acid but giving it indigestion. 9.5/10. Superb.
I'll add further reviews to this thread as I finish each story...