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Xathrodox86 reviews: "Reiksguard" by Richard Williams

Happy new year! Let's kick off 2019 with a brand, new review of "Reiksguard", a novel about, well... Reiksugard!

First things first however. Strike to Stun will soon be out of action which is a damn shame. That said, there's still hope. Not only does the fantastic Rat Catcher's Guild Discord server still going strong, but now we also have a brand new community in the form of Winds of Chaos forums. Hopefully it will gather folks from StS and continue that venerable's site legacy. Sigmar be praised.

Now to the review itself. I've finished "Reiksguard" last year and was really impressed with that book. This was my first time with Richard Williams' work and, well, he nailed it. "Reiksguard" is a very, very good book which shines a lot of light at one of the Empire's most interesting knightly orders.

This is seriously one of the coolest Warhammer covers ever made (and I know that I'm writing this statement almost every time, when I review a book)
The main protagonist of this book is Delmar Von Reinhardt, a son of a prominent Reiksguard knight, who sold his life in the service to the Emperor many years before Delmar's own induction into the venerable order. The young knight quickly makes some friends, as well as enemies, among other inductees, as he trains to be the very best of the Reiksguard Knights. Along the way he also discovers that the Emperor's own bodyguard hide more than a couple of secrets, some of which concern his dead father...

The books action takes place directly after the Storm of Chaos, although the author does not use that name in his work. It was possibly due to Games Workshop's retcon of this event, or maybe Mr. Williams' own decision. The first part takes place mainly in Altdorf and shows the gruelling and ardous training process which turns an ordinary young, noble man into a skilled and honorable warrior of the Reiksguard. For me this was the most interesting part of the book, a sort of "behind the scenes" look into the workings of a Empire knightly order. It also focuses on each aspiring knight's individual ambitions and rivalries as well as reasons for them to join the Reiksguard in the first place. It's great stuff. Of course there are a couple of cameos. Karl Franz, the big honcho himself, makes a short appearance, while Kurt Helborg, the gloriously moustached leader of the Grand Order of the Reiksguard Knights, takes a much more prominent role in the story. Fortunately the author makes sure to not overshadow the main heroes of his book with such an august and legendary character, which is a really, really good thing.

The second part of the book takes place during an engagement against the greenskins. Reiksmarshal Helborg leads his knights into the inhospitable mountains to face the threat of orcs and goblins. Along the way the new recruits will have to contend with bad weather, inhospitable terrain, mutual animosity and the lethality of the greenskin menace. This is a strict by-the-book military story, and Williams has written it expertly and with flair. Some of the most despicable heroes redeem themselves, friendships are forged on the field of battle and the loss of some of the characters really hits the readers in a hard way. There's a small sequence of men and dwarfs fighting side by side, which is always welcome in my book. The main bad guy is also rather interesting. I don't want to spoil anything, but he's not your typical grobi bastard. More often than not the greenskins are portrayed as pushovers or comic relief-like opponents. In "Reiksguard" they are a truly genuine and scary threat.

All in all I've greatly enjoyed "Reiksguard". It portrayed the most famous knightly order in a fascinating and a in-depth kind of way. I was invested in the story from the beginning to the last page, and the characters were relatable and unique in their motivations and feelings. I did liked the first part a lot more than the second, but that does not mean that the latter section of the novel was bad. It's just my inner fluff monkey taking control, as usual. Anyway - go and read "Reiksguard". It will be worth your time and your money.

You honored that banner with your work, Mr. Williams!
Until next time!


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