Curse of the Necrarch
BL Publishing (410 pages, $7.99, 2008)
Reviewed by Bill Ward
The world of Warhammer Fantasy borrows heavily from many sources, everything from Tolkienesque dwarves and Da Vinci-inspired machines, to Moorcockian chaos creatures, a Renaissance-era Holy Roman Empire, and monsters straight out of Dungeons & Dragons. But, maybe because it’s been around for so long or because it’s been so successfully added to over the years, the Warhammer world blends all these outwardly derivative elements into a setting that works very well — both as the backdrop for their fantasy game and as a surprisingly rich source of sword & sorcery and heroic adventure style dark fantasy fiction.
Steven Savile is one of the most skilled writers working in the Warhammer stables, and showcases his abilities nicely. Savile is primarily a horror writer, and his Warhammer fiction is imbued with a healthy dose of the morbid and the dreadful without ever forsaking the golden rule of Warhammer fiction – namely, putting the action first. Curse of the Necrarch is a standalone novel, but it matches nicely with Savile’s other Warhammer books in that its all about vampires and their undead minions.
But these vampires are not Bela Lugosi in a tuxedo, nor are they the sexy-chic goths of today’s urban fantasy. Instead they are withered, rotting, monstrous things, more akin to Murnau’s Nosferatu than Rice’s Lestat. Curse of the Necrarch opens with a confrontation with one such powerful Necrarch vampire, as Felix Metzger, hereditary Lord of Kastell Metz, meets his doom while defending his lands from an invading force of undead.