Sigvald by Darius Hinks (A Review)

Yet another review of a Darius Hinks novel by Vivia. Hope you enjoy this one!

First I should admit that I found Sigvald to be one of the best Black Library novels I’ve read.

Sigvald starts with Baron Schüler and what is left of his army; they’re on the verge of death. With very little hope to find help they come across a hanging castle made of gold. They’re astounded by finding such a fantastic building in the Shadowlands. The courtyard is covered in snow and they manage to uncover a breathtaking statue depicting a young noble with a face so handsome that they are dumbstruck with awe. The baron decides that it’s safe to go inside and inside, he is greeted by a mysterious, misshapen giant whose face is covered by a hood. They go deeper into the castle and soon the baron is starting to have serious doubts about bringing his men into such a strange place filled with stranger creatures and activities.

Finally he is introduced to Sigvald, Lord of the Decadent Host. A boy with a face of a god, the baron is confused at the sight of Sigvald’s physical perfection. The prince hardly takes notice of his guest; he is more preoccupied with his reflection. The baron asks for help, help for the Empire. Sigvald only laughs at this and tells him that he is finally free from his former life. He goes on to speak nonsense to the increasingly confused baron Schüler and then he goes on to ask him who he is. He is Baron Gustav Schüler from Altdorf.

Everything changes when the baron meets the prince’s wife and he quickly forgets his original mission. A new plan presents itself: to make the princess Freydis his. At this point the reader comes to understand that the baron might be influenced by an external forcefor his sudden obsession.

Despite Sigvald’s seemingly happy personality he has a much darker side and his court is only a reflection of them, living a life that is ultimately without fulfilling and that constantly needs change. The baron is desperate to find a way to get him away from the palace and perhaps to lead the prince to his death. He comes up with the brass skull of Mord Huk and plants the idea that it might be a powerful artifact. He describes it as Mord Huk’s source of power, without which the Khornate champion would be powerless.The quest for the skull takes the prince and his army to even more mad exploits. Characters that seemed sane at first showed that were not the case and the reader comes to understand that everyone is under the influence of the Slaanesh, the Pleasure God.

Funniest moments were when Sigvald indulged in his own egotism and vanity. He was completely self-absorbed, child-like and most people were mesmerized by him. He had complete influence over them, but there were a few who saw it for what it was, and let him do as he pleased for it benefited the followers of the twisted host. Just like him, nothing discouraged them, not even death. They didn’t always die but sort of evolved in nasty ways.Anyone with some knowledge of Slaanesh understands this.

Along with the main story, there is another side story that gets interlinked with his, the story of Sväla the Norscan queen and prophet. The contrast between the two stories is huge, one shows a twisted world that everyone accepts and the other takes place in the Norscan land where it’s a struggle to survive for the humans living so close to the Chaos Wastes. It’s very grim and quite gruesome at times, very well-written.

Despite all the insanity, humour and adventure, Sigvald is a dark and twisted story full of carnage and mayhem.The prince’s backstory isn’t as terribleas in the novel The Red Dukeby CL Werner, still not a pleasant story.<<not sure if I should omit this part

The dialogue was very entertaining and everything Sigvald said sounded delusional in a charming way and so did many of the cast. The characters were all likeable and interesting for different reasons, the enemies, the humans and the non-humans. The characters on the surface seem like Chaos stereotypes, but we get glimpses that speak otherwise. The hapless baron Schüler isn’t just a victim of terrible misfortune and the female characters are also surprisingly interesting and well-written. Princess Freydis seems like the typical Slaaneshi male fantasy, but that’s only on the surface. In this, Hinks does an excellent job creating multifaceted characters that seem straightforward at first glance until he has given them many twist and turn in the course of the story. In short nothing is what it seems.

The story is also an insight into the Ruinous Powers and what it means to be one oftheir champions, how fragile and difficult it is to keep their bond and to keep them satisfied. Sigvald the Magnificent learns this the hard way.

It’s obvious from my reading that Hinks had a lot of fun writing about the crazy characters and the Chaos powers.  I greatly enjoy his writing style, easy to read and has his, by now trademark of detailed battle scenes, guts and bodily fluids.Be warned.

I wouldn’t recommend reading the Black Library extract of the book.The text was from somewhere in the middle of the story, a particularly crazy event that made little sense taken out of context. It only served to make mefeel rather puzzled by the story and the author’s writing, which is kind of the opposite of what an extract should do.

A small detail, but an important one, is the map. Yes, maps are helpful. Please, Black Library, always give the readers maps.

The only bad things in the book are the typos  I found in the book. Very glaring and confusing, they threw me out of the story because I thought at first that they were part of the writing.

In short, Darius Hinks’ Sigvald is another great book for the Warhammer Heroes series, a series I’ll keep reading as it hasn’t disappointed me yet.

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