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Nagash The Unbroken by Mike Lee
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Feb 18, 2011

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The Time of Legends saga of Nagash continues with Mike Lee’s second entry in the trilogy titled “Nagash the Unbroken”. Even though the novel can be read stand-alone without any previous knowledge from the events that occurred in “Nagash the Sorcerer”, I would recommend reading “The Unbroken” after “The Sorcerer”.

Storywise, part two picks up where part one left – Nagash’s final attempt to conquer Mahrak, the City of the Gods, had failed. His army was defeated, his most loyal servants scattered and hunted by the united Nehekharan cities, and the Undying King, a wretched shadow of his former self, is banished to wander the Wastelands north of the river Vitae. Meanwhile, the rest of Nehekhara recuperates, and as the cities start rebuilding themselves, old rivalries come to the fore. Instead of Khemri, now the strange and decadent city of Lahmia is dominant. By carefully wrought trades and agreements, King Lamashizzar of Lahmia seizes covert control on most of Nehekhara. However, while Lahmia maintains the outward appearance of prosperity and wellbeing, the situation is far from it – the city faces a great crisis in the form of a debt to the Eastern Empire, from an agreement made centuries ago by the former King. Lamashizzar himself continues to explore Nagash’s tomes of sorcery, while his cunning sister (and also wife) Neferata has plans of her own.

So, as you can see, there’s lot of plots and schemes. This novel also jumps between plots – Nagash’s ordeal & the events in Lahmia – but not between two timelines like its predecessor, which is certainly helpful for the smoother flow of the narrative. Also, the number of characters has been reduced to less than a third of the total sum of personas present in “Nagash the Sorcerer”. In Lahmia, we follow a series of intrigues and political maneuverings. And, on the other hand, there’s Nagash trying to rise to power once again. Oddly enough, Nagash’ part of the story is, well, rather dull. He wanders around, much like your arrogant and generic evil wizard (you know, the “Bwahahahahahaha!” type of guy) and exerts his powers on weaker opponents; and when he does come upon those with some skill - he almost loses the battle. On the other hand, the events in Lahmia were much more interesting, at least to me. Overall, “Nagash the Unbroken” is a shorter and more tight novel than part one. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a real ending, but only sets the events in motion for the third and final novel.

Despite the faults in the narrative, the novel does include some good character development. Personally, I found myself most interested in the fate of Arkhan the Black, one of Nagash’s most prominent lieutenants. To those acquainted to the lore, I presume mostly will want to see the becoming of Neferata, the first ever vampire. But beware: if you’re a hardcore lore addict, you’ll be disappointed. Mike Lee takes it only as a general outline for his novels, and does not follow it to the letter – which is perfectly fine.

As a writer, Mike Lee is outstanding. He is well above many other more famous authors that are hailed as today’s cream of the crop in the fantasy genre – a genre which has generally become a mockery and but a pale imitation of its former glory, when true writers were penning true fantasy adventures. If I were to nitpick, there are some oddly put sentences here and there, and a few word repetitions in quick succession. But thankfully, the part where the characters constantly frown and/or scowl is no more.

All in all, “Nagash the Unbroken” is a wonderful slice of fantasy. In some ways it is better than the first novel, in others it falls behind. It all levels out and the two were, in the end, equally enjoyable. A definite recommendation to the Warhammer fans, and fantasy readers out there.

Rating: 8.5/10
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