One of the great pleasures of writing the Tyrion and Teclis trilogy was getting to do my take on many of the great characters of the Elvish mythos; Aenarion, Caledor, Morathi and Malekith. I have been living with these people in my head for nearly twenty years and it was good to finally look into their’s. The four characters I have mentioned are probably the most influential characters in Elvish history and upon the history of the Warhammer world. Three of them, in one way or another, are still around to the present day. The last is present only as a myth and is thus possibly the most enigmatic and misunderstood. He was also the one who was most crucial to the shaping of Elvish society as it currently exists. I am talking, of course, about Aenarion.
Aenarion was the first warrior king of the Elves. He taught a pacifist people how to fight in the face of the first great Chaos invasion. He offered himself up as a sacrifice at the Shrine of Asuryan when no others had been accepted and the Elvish gods gifted him with near divine power. He led the armies of the elves into apocalyptic battle and in the end he fell defending Caledor as the Archmage cast the spell that drove back Chaos and saved the world. To this day, the elves see him as their greatest hero. In many ways he was, but he was also something much darker. When he believed his family to have been slaughtered by daemons he performed a great act of sacrilege, he drew the Sword of Khaine, a forbidden weapon from its altar on the Blighted Island and took upon himself a power feared even by the gods who had previously blessed him. He became a dark and twisted being, a precursor of the sort of elves who would one day inhabit the blighted lands of Naggaroth. He became lover and husband to Morathi, perhaps the most evil witch who has ever lived and he alienated those who had previously been his most devoted followers and greatest friends.
I chose to open the first book of the trilogy with a prologue showing the last hours of Aenarion’s life. I picked it because there is probably no more dramatic day in Elvish history and it shapes everything that is to come. On this day, Aenarion dies, Caledor creates the Vortex and the destiny of the island continent of Ulthuan is determined for the next seven millennia. The book was titled Blood of Aenarion and I wanted to make sure that the reader understood who Aenarion was and why he was important. (I know pretty much everybody who has ever played Warhammer knows who he is but as I have said before I try not to assume all my readers will be players.) I wanted to establish the fact that his bloodline was accursed and why this was. Plus I wanted to describe one of the greatest battles in the history of the Warhammer world from the point of view of arguably the most powerful mortal ever to stride across its surface. I mean this is a warrior who can kill four greater daemons of Chaos one after the other. I can’t think of anybody else who has ever done that.
So we get to see Aenarion on his last night, brooding about the nature of defeat and then responding to the appeal of his former friend the Archmage Caledor. We see his farewell to Morathi (a character we will be seeing a great deal more of later) and hear his last address to his troops. We see him fly into battle on the back of his great dragon Indraugnir and we get a ringside seat at the creation of the Vortex and Aenarion’s last stand. It was an absolute blast to write.
I also wanted to show where the fault-lines in Elvish society come from. The elves were not, prior to the Age of Aenarion, a hierarchical, authoritarian people. He was their first warrior king, a general who became accustomed to being obeyed on pain of death in situations where military discipline was of the utmost importance. It is made clear in his conversation with Caledor that the two great elves have very different ideas about what this role means. Aenarion sees himself as a king, chosen by the gods, the undisputed and indisputable overlord of his people. Caledor sees Aenarion as something more like a Tyrant in ancient Athens or a Dictator in ancient Rome, a supreme leader, wielding ultimate power for the duration of an emergency. Given the life-spans of elves this is an important distinction.
It is made equally clear during Aenarion’s address to the army that he regards his son Malekith as his successor. He views himself as having the power to determine who will rule the Elves once he is gone. It is an act of colossal vanity but we are, after all, talking about an elf anointed by the Gods here. If Aenarion’s view of the kingship is correct, and he had been made king by the Gods, then Malekith really is the rightful ruler of Ulthuan. History has shown that he was prepared to act on the basis of that belief. The counter-argument is, of course, that the Gods rejected him when he came to walk through the Flame of Asuryan. That is a discussion for another day though when we come to take a look at Malekith.