A thousand years ago the world of Gaeia fell to the Terrarchs, cruel and beautiful alien invaders with a deadly secret. Masters of sorcery and intrigue they have ruled humanity with a fist of steel inside a glove of velvet. For a thousand years, ancient demons have slept, waiting for the moment of their return. Now the stars are right. Old and evil gods are wakening. New revolutions are being born. A genocidal war that will destroy civilization sweeps ever closer.
In a world of magic and gunpowder, the half-breed Rik must rise from simple soldier to the deadliest assassin the world has ever known as he seeks his birthright.
A hungry horde of the walking dead rises to conquer the world. As the forces of darkness over-run the land, the halfbreed Rik must complete his apprenticeship as a Shadowblood assassin under the tutelage of his deadliest enemy and then confront the scheming necromancers of the Dark Brotherhood at the very heart of their empire of evil.
The latest thrilling instalment of the Terrarch Chronicles from the bestselling creator of Gotrek and Felix.
Shadowblood takes a break from the Elder Races who featured in the earlier books of the series. Instead, it features a different horror standard; zombies. This does not mean I have moved away from the series Lovecraftian roots, far from it. The walking dead also appear in HP Lovecraft’s work, such as Herbert West, Reanimator.
I did not start out to write a zombie novel, honestly. The world over-run by armies of the walking dead in Shadowblood is the logical outgrowth of the premise laid down in Book One of the series, that some of the Terrarchs are willing to do anything to hold on to power, up to and including unleashing a magically created plague that causes its victims to rise up from their graves as flesh-eating walking dead. All sorts of dark, semi-technological necromancy have been bubbling away in this series since The Serpent Tower. In this book it simply comes to a head.
And somewhere out there is a necromancer using a monstrous spell to bind all of the re-animated corpses to his will and create an army with which to conquer the world. He is going to crush those rebellious humans and put them in their place thus preserving Terrarch civilisation. The fact that this will also make him master of the world, is, of course, entirely coincidental.
I’ve always tried to work through the logical implications of magic in the fantasy worlds I am writing about. Given the sort of necromancy available and the intellectual sophistication of the Terrarchs, someone had to do this sooner or later. This is the background as the plot arc of the series reaches a climax. The Dark Brotherhood, centred in Sardea, is exerting itself to conquer the world. And it stands a very good chance of achieving this unless someone stops them.
During the course of this book Rik strikes out on a new path, completing his apprenticeship in the art of being a Shadowblood assassin under the ambiguous tutelage of his half-sister Tamara. He is already something very different, having learned sorcery from Asea and having dabbled in the very darks art of Thanatomancy, vampiric magic forbidden on pain of death. Half-human and half-Terrarch he is creating an entirely new form of dark wizardry that may eventually make him one of the most powerful beings on the planet. He is going to need to be as he moves towards confronting the mightiest agents of the Princes of Shadow on Gaeia.
I originally set out to write a book that had nothing to do with the typical hero’s journey of innocent young swineherd to secret prince of Destiny. I don’t really care for prophesies and princes just like I don’t really care for books about beautiful super-powered outsiders somehow persecuted by the herds of banal mortals who do not understand them. It has been my experience that it is the people with power who do the persecuting. History tends to agree with me on this.
Yet somehow during the course of the writing this amoral thief hero started to acquire something like a sense of responsibility and a desire to change the world. He also acquired something very close to super-powers and God-damn it, he was being persecuted albeit for very good reasons. Amazing how the tropes of the genre can assert themselves despite all our best efforts. Like most of the characters in the series we would regard as heroes, Rik is doing the right thing for very personal and often not very noble reasons but he is doing them.
I honestly believe that very few people ever see themselves as villains. When I write from the point of view of a character I usually do my best to show them as the hero of the story at least in their own eyes. I tried to do the same with Sardeans. The people of the land don’t see themselves as the Dark Empire. They see themselves as the keepers of the faith, the guardians of the core values of Terrarch civilisation. And many of them are very dubious indeed about what the sorcerers of the Brotherhood are doing. They are not in favour of committing magical genocide. In some cases, this is because it is their property that is being destroyed. In other cases, they have genuine moral objections. Of course, they live in a world where they can be executed for voicing those objections. Nonetheless, some of them decide to do something anyway.
I needed someone to show the Sardean point of view and to this end we see a lot more things from the point of view of Rik’s half-sister, Tamara, Shadowblood assassin, sorceress, conspirator and noble of Sardea. She is, in some ways, a very wicked woman but like Rik she finds herself fighting against the Brotherhood for reasons of personal ambition, loyalty, rivalry and politics. In this book we see Sardea from her insider’s point of view, as well as that of Rik as he travels to the heart of the Dark Empire on his quest to put an end to the threat of the Princes of Shadow forever, or at least for his own blighted lifetime.
13 Replies to “Shadowblood”
I finally finished the entire Terrarch Chronicles today (after 3 days of frantic reading between my University work) and, I must say, wow!
I started out on the 1st e-book as I could not afford to purchase any of the new 40k titles from The Black Library. I cannot recommend the series any higher, the scope of the world you built, not to mention the depth of character was commendable and thoroughly enjoyable. This of purse leads me to ask, will we get more in this series?! Perhaps a visit to Al’Terrea?! I, for one, hope so, and I also intend to go blow some more of my hard earned cash on some of your other works. Is there any series you would recommend? I own (literally) everything you have done in 40k, and I have never stepped foot in the Warhammer Fantasy Universe so I believe that may be beyond me.
Thank you again for a wonderful read!
Thanks, Matt, much appreciated. I am hoping to get down to work on a fifth Terrarch book later this year, tentatively titled The Devil’s Republic. Long term my plan is to follow the Terrarchs through the upcoming age of political and technological revolution, a period somewhat analogous to our own world’s French, American and Industrial revolutions (only this time powered by alchemy, magic and a kind of steampunk sorcery). There should also come a time when they head through the Gates as well and pay a visit to their old homeworld.
I am currently releasing a series of sword and sorcery novels about a monster hunter called Kormak which I have very much enjoyed writing. They are a somewhat more realistic take on a conventional epic fantasy world. The first one is called Stealer of Flesh. There’s three in the series currently and I should be releasing a fourth in May. I’ve also written the first draft of a fifth which will be out when I am happy with it. Again, thanks for the kind words.
MORE…. I really did enjoy these books, the first one I kept putting aside and picking up later. I read the fourth book in two days. I suppose what I liked most was the evolution of some of the core cast. I mean the slow evolution of elf to pirate was fascinating, in many ways his life is much like Rik’s was a solider unsure of what he really wants in anything more than vague terms. I do wonder if the hero will live long enough to become the villain and the old villain becomes the new hero. I also very much liked the serpent men and the more scfi elements and how they played into the more classic fantasy environment. Hope to see more soon
Thank you. 🙂 The books were very inspired by the old sword and sorcery tales I enjoyed in my youth, which is where the SF elements come from. The lines between the genres were a bit more blurred back then. I do plan to write more books in the series when I get some free time. It’s the getting the free time that is proving problematical.
This serious is awesome! I love it and keep reading it over and over. When will the fifth book come out?!?
Thanks Donald :). I have plans to start work on the fifth book later in the year. Some aspects of the Terrarch background have been creeping into my Kormak series. The Spider Folk from Death’s Angels appear in Weaver of Shadow and the Quan from the Queen’s Assassin will soon be appearing in Ocean of Fear. There is some crossover between the two worlds which I also plan to explore at some point.
I’ve been reading his novels 15 years. I love Terrarcas chronicle.Es una lástima que no editarán el cuarto libro en mi País.
A greeting from Spain
Finished all of the terrarch wondering if there was going to be more
No plans at the moment, Nicholas, but that may change. I’ve been meaning to get back to the Terrarchs for a very long time but something else has always come up.
Really enjoyed all the Terrarch books. Still hope there is going to be more at some point.
I would also really love to read more about the background of the world. You mentioned a wordbuilding document similar to a Warhammer army book. I would really love to read that because the world of the Terrarch chronicles really interests me and we know very little about Al’Terra. It would also be the perfect setting for a tabletop roleplaying game.
Thanks, Tom. I wish I could find the world-building document now. It was written a couple of decades ago. Bits of the lore are preserved in the Kormak and Dragonbond books which share a universe with the Terrarchs, albeit on the other side of a gate. I do have a document for those but its very much a work in progress since I have been extracting the details from the books themselves as I reread them.
Just started reading the series again and I’m enjoying it even more the second time around. Definitely hope there still plans for a book five to good a series to end with only four!