I know I've been reviewing a lot lately
But it's only because I recently joined this site and I'm clearing out a backlist of BL books I've read and I like writing reviews. But anyway, onto the book at hand.
The Hour of Shadows (from now on adressed as THoS) is a book by C.L Werner released to celebrate the Warhammer update Storm of Magic. It is a novella, but on the kindle it is shown to have more in common with a long short story than a novella, and I must admit that characterisation was at a noticeable lack in this novel(la). The two races featured are the Wood Elves and the skaven.
The plot is actually quite complicated for such a short novella. It has a decent sized cast (about eight or nine characters, as I recall) but these aren't exactly explored in a lot of depth.. at all. I suppose the main character is a Wood Elf mage, and the antagonist is a skaven black seer called Huskk Gnawbone (like a grey seer but black seers are basically skaven necromancers - black magic=black seer). The story revolved around Huskk recruiting other skaven to his cause: To attack the Wood Elf home of Athel Loren to get at a big thingy made out of amber with an enigmatic name (I read the book about a month ago, I can remember the plot nad how it panned out, but not many names). Among Huskk's followers there is a rogue grey seer and a cockatrice, which was quite cool. But back to the plot. The novella progresses quickly through itself, and because there is pretty much always a battle on the pacing was quite frantic. While this approach provided little attention to detail, the opening was very good, and by very good I mean I was disappointed with the rest of the book after the opening as it all started speeding by too quickly.
Like I said, the characters in THoS are varied and distinct, but not particularly detailed as C.L Werner seems to rush through this novella with little regard to anything but getting to the end. I appreciate this is a novella and C.L Werner has a lot to cover, but THoS would have made a great full-on novel in my opinion. The ending contained quite a twist which I didn't really enjoy. I won't spoil it, but to put it in a veiled way a new enemy appears out of ABSOLUTELY NOWHERE and so does another hero.
You can clearly see the mark of GW upon this book. It feels rushed, but it isn't bad because of that. No, the GW influence comes in with all the blatant use of features from within the Storm of Magic rulebook. Mythical beasts being slaved to an army, a huge use of magic, and a completely blatant 'arcane fulcrum' scene are all in there. In all honesty, the end battle was good (please don't get me wrong, I heavily enjoyed this novella, but it was rushed!) but not brilliant, and the early parts of the book which had a bit of skaven politicking were the best bits, as Huskk gathers his forces. C.L Werner evidently has little experience with elves, and the elven parts suffered as a result. Respect to Mr. Werner though as he did strike out into waters he had never ventured into before, with moderate success.
To sum it up, THoS is a nifty little look into the attack on Athel Loren that could really have benefited from a longer deadline and a bit of expansion, because it could have been brilliant! Good premise, but a little rushed. I recommend you get it as an ebook, the paper copy has sold out anyway I think and it's 50p cheaper electronically. A nice little read, and definitely worth it. I'd give The Hour of Shadows an 8/10 (I really did enjoy it, but it should have been longer!).