I have to say I am loving the series. Malus is such a badass character and it is making me want to build a Druchii force; like I really need another army ha. With this in mind let's jump into the review.
Author: Dan Abnett & Mike Lee
Publisher: Black Library
Page Count: 413
Commercial Fluff: Possessed by the foul daemon Tz'arkan, the ruthless dark elf anti-hero Malus Darkblade is forced to seek a number of magic artefacts or his soul will be forfeit. He will have to call on all his cunning and dark wits to survive a magic labyrinth and defeat its fearsome guardian.
The story unsurprisingly picks up straight from book one. With Malus returning to Hag Graef. For crimes against his own household, Malus is captured, beaten and tortured by his father. Taken almost to the brink death Malus with the help of the daemon manages to hold out, adding extra shame on his father. Released into his step sisters Nagaira care, Malus undergoes weeks off healing to recover from his ordeal. During this time Nagaira also manipulates Malus into joining her secret coven, though enjoyable at first Malus soon comes to realise all is not what it seems.
Soon Malus is doing what Malus does best and starts betraying his siblings in twisting plots worthy of a master villain. Malus uses his siblings hatred of each other to slowly bring about all their downfalls, starting with step sister Nagaira.
Fearing the Slaanesh cult and not wanting to be a puppet to a cult, Malus turns to his crippled brother Urial and his temple allies to destroy the cult (which is a hard task considering Malus stole from him in book one). During this action Malus discovers the location of the next artifact the Idol of Kolkuth. Teaming up with Urial once more; Malus somehow manages to blackmail the Drachau of Hag Graef in order to gain the power and forces needed to search for the idol. With the writ of Iron and an ability to raise an army, Malus heads off back to sea once more.
Now trapped aboard a boat and stuck with three of his siblings, the backstabbing and political power plays increase to a murderous level. Throughout this part of the book it is hard to tell who will kill whom, sibling versus sibling versus Skinriders (Nurgle Pirates). This was also my favourite part of the book, I loved the plague ridden pirates and their secret base full of treasure and death. I can't help but imagine the Plague Lords GW has been creating of late. Full of maggots and loose skin hanging off bloated organs. Gross but so awe inspiring. Here on this island Malus discovers the relic, kills off one sibling and angers two other (who I can only assume will be back). With a ship full of treasure and an ego just as big, Malus is sitting pretty as we head into book three.
I was glad to see the introduction of the character Hauclir. An ex-city guard captain, Hauclir has seen an opportunity and is taking it. Rising from the military into Highborn society, now he just has to survive it. He enjoys mocking Malus and added some comically relief throughout the story. I just like him and hope we see more of him. I also enjoyed the Slaanesh Cult and how the the elven society reacts to it being hidden among so many of the highborn.
I am very excited to start Reaper of Souls. As it promises to add even more drama.