I finished Malus Darkblade volume 1!

Malus Darkblade Chronicles, volume 1 covert art (by Games Workshop)

Malus Darkblade Chronicles, volume 1 covert art (by Games Workshop)

Malus Darkblade… an epic, typical Dark Elf character. He is the epitome of the anti hero, that everyone loves and every other story character loves to hate. He is the bleakest of the bleak characters out there. And this is his book!

As the book and legend goes.. Malus Darkblade is somewhat of an underdog in his highborn family and in his quest for more powers… he ends up possessed by a Daemon. You’d almost think it’s cool, until you learn that he leaves a path of blood and destruction in his wake.. not by the daemon’s design, no no, but his own folly in an attempt to be freed from the Daemon.

 

Tumbling down the rabbit hole

Alice tumbling down the rabbit hole.

Alice tumbling down the rabbit hole.

Right from the start, till the very last pages, the writing style and Malus’ story reminds me Alice tumbling down the rabbit hole.

Sure, there’s drinking and eating involved, but basically Malus simply seems to tumble down a path from which you wonder “how on earth is he ever going to manage out?”. And with every step forward, he only seems to stumble down further.

He starts off as a highborn, but only a few chapters later he’s neck deep into a hole from which he will struggle to get out. And this only gets worse, page.. after page.. after page. His victories are noteworthy, but short-lived.

It provides an amusing style, but after a while you almost start to feel pity for the character. Considering he’s a Dark Elf, bred with evil intents, this is a bit of an odd connection with the character. Usually, one is placed in the position where they love the evil nature of the story characters.. And the pitiable stance of this book’s main character is odd.

The Dallas Effect

Dallas

Dallas

A downside of the chaotic, “always worsening” style of the story is the Dallas Effect. Whether you skip a page, or a whole chapter, you end up equally disoriented… And whatever you read before becomes equally irrelevant. Whatever you chapter skipped, it no longer matters a few pages into the next one because his situation has changed and turned so much that it’s practically a new story.

On one hand… It’s fun. If, like me, you read the book chapter by chapter and don’t have enough time for long reading sessions, you don’t really need to remember all the details to continue the story.

The downside is … well… it’s not exactly what I’d expect from a large book novel. I’m used to stories that stick from start to end, but in this case… It’s start a new chapter and a new story at the same time.

It did not prove detrimental to some surprises, plot twists and unexpected elements coming into the story though, which can only be attributed to the skill of the writers.

A brief change in style!

Napoleon

Napoleon

Further down the story, there is a brief “bonus”, it seems. The writers suddenly change Malus’ state.. that is, after the drunken ravings, the daemonic possession, the schizophrenic behaviour and near-death experience..

In this moment, Malus gets a brief taste of what it means to be an army’s general. It made me wonder… Fluff-wise Malus was known to be one of Malekith’s generals, or so I was told. Was this an introduction to a future chapter to prove “he’s made of the right stuff”?

It’s such a change in writing style, that for a moment it’s confusing. There’s room for bravery amidst the backstabbing, fighting by the side of your fellow soldier in between insults and military discipline. It’s not just a strange relief from the chaotic style in the other parts of the book, but it’s so well written that one almost hopes these writers have another book somewhere, with an army general as main character.

I’m usually not a fan of a sudden “change in style” of a book, but in this case it proves an interesting break from the chaos.

Final remarks

All in all, the book is enjoyable, but a bit chaotic. It’s written for entertainment, and it delivers. The main character is a bit of a mary sue, but hey, he’s evil so it’s okay.

One chapter at a time, the writers to provide intrigue, plot twists and intertwining stories… but across the stories there is little consistency story wise.

I’m positively impressed with the skill of the writers, but what really made them stand out was the moment where they put down the chaotic style of Malus and wrote a few chapters of heroic combat leadership. The story, and characters, seem to make a lot more sense.

It’s a good read.. one I’d gladly read a second time!

 

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