While it’s perhaps surprising that the short story With Ice and Sword is Graham McNeill’s only contribution to the End Times series, it’s no surprise to see him involved in some way. Here he draws upon characters from his Ambassador Chronicles novels as he tells a tale of Kislev’s final days, as a ragged band of survivors reach the shelter provided by the Ice Queen and her remaining forces. Vast numbers of beastmen are drawing close even as the Kislevites reach the ruins of Erengrad and a potential lifeline.
Tonally this fits right in with the End Times, capturing in a short space of time the sense of inevitability that hangs over the whole series, while bringing to the fore the heroism and defiance of the remaining Kislevites. With the novels only briefly touching upon events in Kislev, it’s good to see a little of what happened in the frozen north, McNeill putting together a powerful story that manages to draw out much of what makes Kislev and its people so interesting. It’s bleak, as befitting the End Times, and occasionally confusing with all the similar names, but overall it’s a carefully crafted, well written story. It’s a shame that Kislev’s involvement had to be so brief, but in the absence of a longer story this is a satisfying read.