Book Review: Marienburg’s Stand (Warhammer: The End Times)

Marienburg’s Stand (Warhammer: The End Times)
Cost: $3.99 ($15.49 as part of the Warhammer: The End Times Quick Reads Subscription)
Page Count: 32
Release Date: 02/24/2015
Get it Here; The Black Library

Marienburg’s Stand is the second of the five short stories released for Warhammer: The End Times this week. This story is a prequel to The Fall of Altdorf, which was the weakest of the four Warhammer: The End Times novels so far. Unfortunately, this story follows suit. It’s a lot shorter than the yesterday’s release, With Ice and Sword and it’s simply not as good. There isn’t much in the way of characterization or personality development, but then it is only thirty-two pages long. The story mainly reads like a novelization of an End Times battle report where you have one 3,000 or so point army taking on two 1,500 point ones. It’s not bad writing-wise, I just would prefer more to a story than a nonstop rundown of a battle.

As Marienburg’s Stand is a prequel to The Fall of Altdorf, you know how the tale is going to end if you have been keeping up with The End Times so far. Of course, it’s the journey, not the destination with these things and for those of you who like your Warhammer fiction to be more of a blow by blow recap than talking heads, you will enjoy this one. Otherwise you might want to skip it. Only one real character gets any character development and that’s Count Mundvard. You actually see his thought process and motivation. Everyone else is pretty two dimensional at best. Really the story is just an excuse to describe the power of the Chaos god of plague and pestilence Nurgle and what his warriors can do in battle besides stick sharp things through soft squishy things that scream and bleed. Again, it’s not bad, but the piece really pales in comparison to Marienburg’s Stand. Perhaps if the order release had been reversed, I’d have viewed this piece more favorably.

As you can imagine from the title, the entire tale takes place in the town/city of Marienburg. The people of Marienburg, be they warrior, cook, farmer or scullery maid must take up arms and defend their home against the forces of Chaos, which have done the impossible and invaded the town by sea, breaking a thousand year old barrier built by the elves. Unfortunately the invading army is too big, too strong, and too ruthless for the citizens of Marienburg to repel them. As such, the city’s secret ruler, a vampire named Count Mundvard must to the unthinkable, reveal himself in order to defend the city. Of course, a Vampire Count also means raising an army of the undead to help protect Marienburg. Yes, even the undead hate the forces of Chaos. So man must join forces with skeleton and zombie in order to repel the plague-ridden horde that seeks nothing more than to wipe out every living soul in the town.

The high point of the story is battle between Count Mundvard and the Glottkin themselves. The author did a great job with the battle here and you really feel like Count Mundvard is going to beat the Glot…even though Warhammer fans know who actually is the one who finally takes the thing down. It’s a testament to the author’s skill that he can make you believe that the Glot is going to fall when you already know he won’t before you pick up this story. Well, I guess unless this is your first ever introduction to Warhammer Fantasy. Then, sorry about the spoilers.

Overall, Marienburg’s Stand is not a bad story. It’s not great by any means, but it does have a few fun moments. It is mostly a battle report though and I do feel bad that the story had to follow up the terrific With Ice and Sword, because after that my expectations were really high that this whole series would be as good as The Return of Nagash and The Curse of Khaine. Four bucks might be a bit much for a short story, but when doesn’t Games Workshop overcharge its fans? As part of a bundle though, Marienburg’s Stand is a fine purchase – at least as long as the other three stories are good. So far though, I’d say the Quick Reads Subscription is two for two, but just barely.

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