A review of The Island of Blood from Big_Cheddars
The Island of Blood was released alongside the boxed set of the same name to promote the new starter set of Warhammer. It is a novella of around 30k words, I didn't really count so can't be sure.
On the surface, you'd expect TIoB to be rather rubbish - it is a tie-in novel published alongside a game purely to promote it and not to tell a good story. However, as with almost everything published by BL, it won't be incredibly bad, as BL do seem to genuinely care about the quality of books they put out. They let Darius Hinks write TIoB, and while he is a damn good author and his idea for the novella was good, his execution wasn't incredible.
The plot of TIoB is simple, yet effective. The skaven use devilishly skaven methods to neutralise the guardians of the island itself, and then attack in two waves, one led by Warlord Skreet Verminkin and the other by his treacherous lieutenant Spinetail. They are both assisted by the doubly treacherous warlock engineer Ratchitt (Double-dealing? Betrayal? This is so unexpected of a skaven...). The premise is excellent, if a little clichéd, however Hinks doesn't seem to have read the manual on how to write skaven, because he does so badly. Queekish, the skaven way of speaking, is almost non-existent, and when the characters talk all you can hear is human voices, and no atmospheric skaven squeaking and chittering. This is rather annoying,as I was looking forward to a good skaven protrayal. So, the skaven are badly done, how about the elves? Well, Hinks tries, and he does try to envision the noble race that once ruled the world. The elven characters do seem noble, and the elven prince in particular was finely written, as well as the elven mage. However, I really think that writing elves requires an incredibly atmospheric and grand writing style that Josh Reynolds has pulled off in his novella Questing Knight, and another short story i read in the hammer and anvil year one ebook about elven mages that perfectly captured the failing splendour of this once-powerful race. Hinks doesn't do this, and I'm afraid to say that while he writes the right words, they just aren't the best words for portraying the elves. His elves were good, but they weren't good enough, they were adequate.
So the characters weren't brilliant, and the dialogue failed to make an impact, but the actual action and pacing were rather good. Hinks writes fighting scenes well, though his battle scenes are a little parched due to the page count. The novella moves along well, and feels especially frantic at the end when the climactic battle occurs. The ending of the novella contains a twist which was probably orchestrated hugely, but I'm not going to spoil it because it wasn't that big for me. Maybe elves just don't interest me enough, but when this guy showed up, I was just like: Blegh. Oh, and he wasn't particularly well written either, and given absolutely no character, or even any dialogue, I don't think.
In the end, I didn't have any huge expectations of TIoB, and it fulfilled that. I wish the skaven parts could have been written better, but other than that, I'm satisfied with it. I would give The Island of Blood 5/10, and I think Hinks should be proud of the absolutely average score given what he wrote.
Up next is Assault on Black Reach (AoBR), which, well, was a hell of a surprise after finishing this. Au revoir.
Hey, I write a lot, I read a lot, and everything from BL that I read I'll review.