The Gates of Azyr is a novella released alongside the started box of Age of Sigmar. It tells the story from the first, ever so important assault of the Stormcast Eternals on the Gate of Azyr in the realm of Aqshy. The book is small, and so I’ll keep the review equally short.
After a brief boast of the splendor of the Stormcast, the story begins in earnest. It offers a glimpse on the life of the handful of scattered survivors throughout the Chaos controlled realm of Aqshy. And it’s pretty bleak. It almost reminded me of a passage of “The Road’ (Go see that movie) where one would quote “Cannibalism is the great fear”.
This bleak life of the survivors is presented by following a woman and her band in what seems “just another day” in her terror filled life in Aqshy. For a brief moment it builds up the hope that this woman might rise to heroism, and the character has all the elements conjured together in that all important alchemy to make a fascinating character. I wouldn’t be surprised if she’d come up somewhere later in another book.
Unfortunately, that role was not reserved for her in this book. As one might guess, the Stormcasts are the heroes and they swat aside ally and foe with golden armour to get the role.
What follows is a single battle, with a few duels and phases served as topping of which the end is completely and utterly unpredictable. You have to read the book three times and you still wouldn’t be able to predict it … because you expect at least some sort of a surprise or plot twist which never comes. It didn’t come the first time I read the final pages, and it didn’t come the second time I read it.
The negatives… The book isn’t exactly great, though it isn’t bad. It’s quite thin, and surprisingly for such a small book, some passages feel like repetitions. This is quite odd, and boring, and a bit disappointing, but luckily these moments are short.
Aside from its flaws, the book offers an interesting glance at the world under the reign of chaos, at the life of the handful of survivors and the shock that the new Stormcast Eternals bring. And with this shock, I don’t simply mean the battle shock or their electrical shock, but the cultural shock as well. For the Stormcast Eternals, this is the first time in centuries that they see something other than the world of Azyr, that they see actual battle, that they see Chaos, that they see survivors. For the survivors it’s the first time that they see hope, or a change in the world as they knew it. For Chaos it’s the first time in centuries that they stumble upon something that can defy them, something that can beat them.
I must applaud the writer in how well that part was written: the first confrontation of two armies who have never even seen each other before and the confusion that comes with it.
Is it worth the coin?
At 15 euros, I feel the book was expensive. I get that it’s more of a collection thing, a sort of token story to come with the buzz of the new game and so I’m not expecting the best buy. But had I known how thin the book was before I ordered it, I might have reconsidered the purchase.
The e-book comes in cheaper, at about fairly priced for the story. If you love fluff, and you want to get started with a “feeling” (more than knowledge) of the war for the first realmgate, then this is the book for you. If you’re hoping to find loads of information on the Age of Sigmar, then it’s probably not the book you’re looking for.