Book Review 183 // Defenders of Ulthuan by Graham McNeill

Stepping into the World that was - Warhammer Fantasy. This is set in the original world of Warhammer and has us travelling to the realm of the High Elves. Luckily for us, we seem to be in the safe hands of Graham McNeill. So let us dive in.

Title: Defenders of Ulthuan (High Elf Novels #1)
Author: Graham McNeill
Publisher: Black Library
Fluff: Re-release of the classic high elf adventure to coincide with the long-awaited release of its sequel. High Elves have long been the protectors of the Warhammer World, and their homeland of Ulthuan is known for the powerful magic that surrounds it. At the heart of Ulthuan lies a magical vortex, and the mages who created it remain trapped in a space out of time, endlessly working the spell that keeps the world from becoming a seething Realm of Chaos.

When Ulthuan comes under attack from the forces of Chaos and dark elves led by the Witch King and the hag sorceress, Morathi, the high elves must hold firm or face disastrous consequences.

In Defenders of Ulthuan, Graham McNeill tells the epic tale of the struggle between good and evil.
Format: 416 pages, Paperback.


I think it is well known that I enjoy Elves, mainly the sci-fi version of Aeldari, but I am changing that. I am in the process of learning some Age of Sigmar. Sadly, it does seem my chosen army Wood Elves, no longer exists!! But I digress, back to the book.

A big highlight of the Defenders of Ulthuan is in the background and lore within the pages. We get a lot of insight into the day-to-day life of an Elf, along with some fantastic locations located all over Ulthuan. The plot moves along at a building pace, and in the second half of the novel, you start to feel a building dread and danger build. It is also worth noting that we get to experience the villain's story, it isn't as full-on as the leads, but these odd chapters really help build out the villains and make me a more rounded out of the novel.

As a lore fan, I loved the detail McNeill goes into describing the land, whole pages of a clever script describing the plains and cities, and the world is brought to life with these. I really enjoyed the Eagle Gate pages; this fortress sounds beautiful and terrifying all at once. I can imagine it inspiring the defenders while a formidable bastion to an attacker.

The characters are pretty standard; if I am honest, it is hard to get attached to an amnesia-suffering character as they have no past, and everything is new to them. While their brother is a brooding and moody character to start with, and as things begin to pick up, he becomes more interesting as we discover he may be the reason his brother was captured and suffers from amnesia. These honourable High Elves aren't as goody two shoes as I had once believed. There are also many supporting characters, including love interests, Prince Tyrion, Teclis and a blademaster called Yvraine (I wonder if there is a connection to the 40k version?)

Throughout the story, there is intrigue, and the plot twists are easy to spot early on. This, for me, is a bit of a downer; I like to be kept guessing but worked out most of the plot hooks early on. Though it is not all bad, a couple did manage to surprise me and these were carefully hidden and masterfully executed. End of the day, this is a Warhammer novel, and as with a lot of their publications, it did not disappoint. Plenty of lore building, fighting/action, and threats seem genuine and dangerous for the wider world.

This was a big story at 416 pages and left me wanting, no, needing more. It ended with a great cliffhanger. Currently, I am seeking book two from a work friend who may have it. Otherwise, it looks like I need to get the omnibus. Overall I strongly recommend this book if you are a fan of Warhammer. If you are a fan of Elves, I seriously recommend this title.

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