The Realmgate Wars: Fury of Gork – Josh Reynolds

After two earlier novellas, The Fury of Gork is Josh Reynolds’ first novel in Black Library’s Realmgate Wars series, and the seventh book in the series overall. In the wilds of the Ghurlands amidst the bones of ancient gargants, armies converge on the Howling Labyrinth, each with their own purpose. Zephacleas Beast-bane’s Astral Templars, tasked with finding the orruk god Gorkamorka, fight alongside Gaius Greel’s Sons of Mallus, who hunt the Tzeentchian sorceress Sharizad. While she searches for what lies within the Howling Labyrinth, Gordrakk – the Fist of Gork – leads his Ironjawz in search of the biggest battle they can find.

That’s a lot of threads for a single, short, novel to handle, but with the introduction of the orruks (orcs to you and me) and the scene-stealing debut of Gordrakk, Reynolds has produced a hugely entertaining, compelling story. The keys to that are the characters, some familiar like Zephacleas and others new like Gordrakk and the various Tzeentchian sorcerers, and the way he’s tapped into the unbridled fun that lies at the heart of the greenskins. Gordrakk and his boys are a joy to read about, capturing the slightly daft but still worryingly dangerous essence of orcsorruks brilliantly. You’ll struggle to find a better depiction, or a more enjoyable greenskin than Gordrakk (possibly only Skarsnik compares).

Instead of drawing the Stormcast as the opposite, all stern visages and po-faced sermonising, Reynolds lets Zephacleas blossom into one of the most entertaining characters in the series. Able to veer comfortably between philosophical musings with his peers and bombastic one-upmanship with the orruks, he’s not so much a contrast to Gordrakk as a foil to him, increasingly coming to understand the nature of the orruks and almost relating to Gordrakk. Gordrakk in turn views ‘hammer-boss’ Zephacleas with something approaching respect. It’s brilliantly done, and just so much fun to read. While sadly Gordrakk and Zephacleas can’t be the focus of the whole book, thankfully the twisty machinations of the sorcerers and the more tempered, serious approach of Greel and the Sons of Mallus are still satisfying, and the whole thing ties together nicely.

It’s not perfect, mind. It really could have done with being a bit longer, not least to give Greel’s arc a bit more depth and pathos. A previous event is alluded to frequently but never shown, and while it might have stretched the structure a little, it’s hard not to hanker for a little more detail on what happened and why. The final denouement also feels a touch rushed, lacking a little power for its brevity. Other than those two points, however, it’s largely plotted and paced very well, and there’s no getting away from it – this is easily the most fun Age of Sigmar has been so far. It’s all nicely characteristic of Reynolds’ recent work, full of great dialogue and entertaining, irreverent characters. If it was just a little longer it might well have been perfect, but as it is it’s still a fantastic read.

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One comment

  1. I really loved the Orruks in this novel, as you say an excellent depiction. In tone, they reminded me almost of Space Wolves or White Scars. Slightly crazy, slightly mythic but with their own code of honour.

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