Bloodsworn follows on from the events in the previous volumes Bloodborn and Bloodforged as Ulrika the Vampire returns to Nuln, finding her former Lahmian sisters preparing for war. Their arch rivals, the deleterious Von Carsteins meanwhile have begun to attack their strongholds and lead the despised witch hunters to the Lahmian's hidden lairs.
Ulrika's sisters are less than welcoming however and she decides to form an alliance with the von Carsteins with a plan to help de-stabilise the Empire by striking at the very heart, assassinating Emperor Karl Franz. With the empire in flames Ulrika must decide for once and for all where her loyalties lie, with humanity or their enemy.
It helps if you've read the first two books in the series, although it's not essential, while the author doesn't do any hand holding the novel is structured so you can enjoy it either way. The character of Ulrika is quite fascinating, it can be quite difficult to effectively portray someone who is by definition a monster and yet rails against their own nature. Sometimes it works (like the character Spike in Buffy) and sometimes it doesn't (like the Orc's series).
Long does an incredible job of creating a strong female character who is painted in shades of grey (it's great to see a female lead in a Warhammer novel). Rather than try and deny what she is, instead Ulrika takes a fairly pragmatic approach, perhaps being a little squeamish at times and yet a born fighter and someone who makes the best use of her strengths and weaknesses.
The story itself is pure Warhammer with plenty of action and the fights are brilliantly choreographed with plenty of different locations and creatures along with a great cast of characters. There are plenty of twists and a genuinely surprising ending which works admirably. Ultimately the story is about the nature of humanity and how it can be so often mirrored by that of the Vampire, making it difficult to really know which is the monster.
The pacing is good, the writing engaging and the story lot's of fun, just as importantly Long manages to create that quintessential Warhammer feeling. Above all Bloodsworn is highly entertaining, perfect for any Warhammer fan.
Written on 13th June 2012 by Ant.
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