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Over eons, they have betrayed, despoiled and slain each other in a relentless pursuit of their total mutual destruction.


Who they are, what they are, what purposes they serve—no one can tell. And, as they exact their dismal retributions against one another, with whatever skulduggery proves necessary for achieving those ends, they do not care to dwell on the matter.

Except for one.

BleakWariror aims to know what he is and who he is - and he will kill to find out.

Or die trying.

318 pages, Paperback

First published June 5, 2016

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About the author

Alistair Rennie

8 books41 followers
Alistair Rennie is the author of sword and debauchery horror novel, "BleakWarrior". He has published dark fantasy and horror fiction, essays and poetry in "The New Weird" anthology, "Weird Tales" magazine, "Fabulous Whitby", "Electric Velocipede", "Mythic Delirium", "Pevnost", "Schlock Magazine", "Horror Without Victims", "Weird Fiction Review" and "Shadowed Realms".

He was born and grew up in the North of Scotland, has lived for ten years in Italy, and now lives in Edinburgh in the South of Scotland. He holds a first class Honours Degree in Literature from the University of Aberdeen and a PhD in Literature from the University of Edinburgh. He is a time-served Painter and Decorator and a veteran climber of numerous hills and mountains in the Western Highlands, the Cairngorms and the Italian Dolomites.

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5 stars
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19 (15%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 37 reviews
Profile Image for Karl.
3,258 reviews257 followers
November 22, 2016
First of all, a heads up for those who have not heard of this book. It may well be the most fascinating and interesting book written in the last couple of years. “BleakWarrior” breaks a number of genre boundaries and is plotted in the tradition of a quest book. A quest for knowledge and enlightenment. It is also a quest utilizing the tropes of Horror, The New-Weird, Sword and Sorcery, Pornography and Literature. Rennie is truly a genius.

The story involves “Linear” beings and the “Meta-Warriors” .The Linear beings are the “Humans”. The Meta-Warriors are akin to gods or super beings whose main mission in life is to obliterate each other with no rhyme or reason utilizing the most barbaric, hardcore and cruel methods at their disposal and they exist for eons.. The hedonistic and thrill of violence mixed with insatiable sex, bestiality, necrophilia, cannibalism, and other extreem unseemly acts that mix amazingly well into the narrative. The story is both compelling and surprisingly beautiful yet violently brutal.

As BleakWarrior suddenly grows tired of killing people without knowing the reason why, his quest begins. Some of the characters involved in the quest include: Lord Brawl and his fifty Bastard sons, who are nameless and are designated by a number, “Nailer of Souls” , “Be My Enemy”, “The Gutter” who carries a gutting knife as his preferred weapon,”The Sisters of No Mercy”, “Whorefrost” – who has a pale, bloodless physique that looks like gelatin rather than flesh, “his weapon of choice was a heavy metallic baton formed in the shape of a giant penis.”, “The Light That Never Shines”, these are amongst a few of the characters in this amazing narrative.

Mr. Rennie’s imagination is boundless, his creativity marvelous and beyond this great novel he has created a soundtrack to accompany the reading which can be found here:


And last but not least I need to send a big Thank You to Justin Steele who made me aware of this book on Scott Nicolay’s great Pod Cast “The Outer Dark”.
Profile Image for B.J. Swann.
Author 17 books41 followers
April 18, 2021
In a weird and decadent world, superhuman beings known as Meta-Warriors are compelled to seek out and destroy each other without truly knowing why. Bleakwarrior is one such being, and he’s tired of being left in the dark.

It’s a rare treat to find a book so unapologetically unique. BLEAKWARRIOR mutilates the boundaries of genre. It’s splattered in the blood of dark fantasy, the New Weird, cyberpunk, and even splatterpunk, but ultimately it belongs only to itself. This uniqueness is felt most strongly in its prose. BLEAKWARRIOR is written in an extremely baroque and often convoluted style that seems like the bastard offspring of a Clark Ashton Smith prose poem and an 18th century philosophical text. It is brutally, defiantly, and unflinchingly complex. Normally I like my prose smooth and concise, but BLEAKWARRIOR’S style was so insistent, so unique, and so beautiful in its own bizarre and somewhat tortuous way that I ended up loving it for what it was. Which is a good thing, because BLEAKWARRIOR has a great deal to offer. The setting is beautifully decadent and bizarre, and so filled with unique and fascinating concepts that it could – and perhaps should – spawn a whole series of spin-offs and sequels. The Meta-Warriors themselves are some of the coolest – and creepiest – anti-heroes to ever be committed to print. They all have fantastically evocative names, like the Bastard Sons of Brawl, The Sisters of No Mercy, and The Ever Decreasing Circle of Choice. Each Meta-Warrior uses a special implement of death that seems intimately bound to their identity. These weapons range from prosaic swords and knives to more interesting items like burning hot coals, pieces of cutlery, and a giant gilded dildo. Their meandering journeys of carnage and chaos encompass moments of hilarity, debauchery, and utmost brutality – often all at once.

I enjoyed every moment of BLEAKWARRIOR, even the parts I found oblique and incomprehensible. I urge anyone with an interest in macabre dark fantasy to give it a go and see if they can appreciate its unique flavour.
Profile Image for 11811 (Eleven).
662 reviews136 followers
March 4, 2017
One of the blurbs in the intro calls this science fantasy in power chords. I've been trying to think of a better way to put it but I can't out-do that description so I fold.

This is tripping at Woodstock while Nine Inch Nails rolls around the stage covered in mud. It's stage diving and crowd surfing at a seedy bar in Jersey while Type O Negative screams out their soul about some Christian Woman you never met. And, at it's center, lies the abuse of Mortal Kombat at your local arcade, pumping in quarters with an all consuming desire to "FINISH HIM!!!"

You've never read anything like it and I can't promise you'll like it. It's pretty far out there. I blame/credit Bill for pointing me in the direction of this book and refuse to link his name for the sake of protecting the innocent.

Thanks, Bill :)

The prose can sometimes be tiresome so I'll go with a 3.5. Still, one of my more unique reads in a long time.

Profile Image for Bill.
1,525 reviews106 followers
February 10, 2017
BleakWarrior is searching for the truth of his condition. Of who and what he is. Why he exists. He lives only for that knowledge. That and to destroy any others of his kind he runs across in the process.

He is a Meta-Warrior. There are others. And they are coming for him. They seek not the truth, only death. Unfortunately for them, the death they seek may be their own.

Holy crap. This novel has the most fantastic assemblage of crazy cool characters that I have ran across in a novel in a long time. It is a non-stop festival of violence and depravity. Just the way I like it.

I was hesitant to dive into this one for some reason, but my GR friend Karl gave it a glowing review and convinced me to give it a shot. I am so glad that I did. Thanks, Karl! You were right, this isn’t your mother’s fantasy novel and more importantly, no wizards or dragons ;) My only peeve really was that it ended a bit abruptly and I wanted a bit more. I shall soothe myself by assuming this will not be the last we hear of BleakWarrior.

A smartly done, fantasy/horror tale with an ample supply of sex and violence. Niiice. I have not heard of Alistair Rennie before, but he is definitely high on my radar now. An easy 4.5 Stars rounded up to 5 because there were some truly great characterizations here and some of the most intriguing “kills” I’ve seen in a while.

“Fear can be overcome. Need cannot.”
“Because need needs.”
“But need stops needing when it’s satisfied.”
“Therein lies the madness,” said BleakWarrior.
“Because madness is a need that cannot be quenched.”
Profile Image for Teodor.
Author 9 books33 followers
July 8, 2016
BleakWarrior is literature to the Nth degree. Rennie's novel is a work meta-fiction that insists on remaining immersed within the fictional tropes that it's achingly aware of every step of the way. It's also a swords-and-sorcery/New Weird/weird science/horror story that runs exclusively on perverse acts of sex and violence -- in fact, they are grafted directly into its modus operandi -- but which revels equally in its ornate yet perfectly pitched language.
In short, Rennie has written a book that is constantly at war with itself, and if you're open-minded enough to take the plunge, it's a jarring delight at worst, an energizing feat of genre-revitalisation at best.
Its secondary-world setup is complex -- or at the very least, it's maddeningly cluttered: with digressive lapses into journal entries and strangely-monikered characters appearing at an alarming rate but with a frequency that matches the novel's crazed pace. But the overall thrust of the tale is relatively simple: BleakWarrior, a member of the genetically-superior 'Meta-Warriors', whose sole purpose is to exterminate each other, begins to question precisely why this should be so. On his way he encounters -- and brutally vanquishes -- his various colleagues and counterparts, and his philosophical quest is placed in parallel to that of the Sisters of No Mercy: a ruthlessly efficient and unabashedly incestuous duo of siblings hunting for body parts in an effort to revitalise their dearly departed 'Middle Sister'.
This is a world of concentric brutality that would have been unbearable if Rennie hadn't decided to blow everything up into total grotesque. This is a world that could have been illustrated by Simon Bisley, with interludes by Ralph Steadman marking Rennie's canny intelligence. He knows just how ridiculous this whole setup is. But he doesn't deflate its raw appeal with lazy irony. His winks to the audience are limited to giving characters names like Welter of Impertinence or The Light that Never Shines or Automanic. But then he gets back to the task at hand: taking the violent world he's set up to its logical conclusion. And often, it's less about being upsetting or shocking than it is about simply being funny. The upshot of embracing the ridiculous is that you let some laughter in.
BleakWarrior is a carnival celebration of the grotesque; an unscrewing of the id by an articulate writer who knows to use both the content and the mechanics of the genres that he loves.
Profile Image for Ross Lockhart.
Author 26 books198 followers
August 3, 2016
Jack Vance meets Mortal Kombat meets GWAR in this hyper-violent weird fantasy novel. BleakWarrior is one helluva ride.
Profile Image for Bandit.
4,456 reviews445 followers
December 28, 2016
I feel terribly guilty writing this review because this book was a surprise Christmas gift from a friend along with his highest recommendation. He's got a great taste in books, usually very compatible with mine and so...Bill, thanks again and so sorry. This one just didn't work for me at all. I tried and tried. I think it's probably the case of the book/reader incompatibility. Maybe I'm too linear (to quote the book) minded for it. It was conceptually intriguing and very imaginative. But this oversexed bastard child of dark fantasy and bizarro genres for me was neither interesting nor compelling, possibly because I'm not a fan of either. The language had that fantasy specific overwritten flair to it, there was enough sex and gore for any extreme genre fan, at some point it nearly veered off into a sort of kinky lesbian erotica, in fact it certainly ended like one. It's a striking book, with its imagery and some ideas, it's strange in that particular WTF way, unquestionably original, but I didn't enjoy the narrative or any of the characters and to me those aspects of the storytelling are essential, above all other factors, style and panache included. Again, going by other reviews this is a much loved and appreciated book, so I think I just really wasn't the right audience for it and this definitely isn't a sort of reading material with universal appeal, it takes a very specific mood, inclination and interests.
Profile Image for Abraham Thunderwolf.
105 reviews15 followers
September 5, 2016
What the fuck did I just read? OK. OK. OK. Imagine an issue of Heavy Metal, but instead of bong hits it's like amphetamines mixed with some kind of sex drug in it and the soundtrack is bonkers heavy metal, but super literate. It sounds crazy. I was telling one of my friends about this book and they gave me a look that would be better suited to one of those big cockroaches, but maybe with a nice rack. It's so violent and perverse that it made me wonder if the author is okay. If it was a movie it would be Paul Verhoeven + Terry Gilliam + Alejandro Jodorowsky on Lemmy grade speed. Listen to the Naked City mashed up with old Slayer. Drinks: shots of malort and the best bitterest beer you can get after spending way too much money on swords and sorcery books and some like fetish porn. I RECOMMEND THIS.
Profile Image for Paul Roberts.
Author 6 books22 followers
October 16, 2016
I read the term “black metal new weird” concerning BleakWarrior, and I just couldn't resist. Black metal this is not. Death metal literature writ large is more like it. A magnificent novel that could only be found at the nexus of where transgressive fantasy, horror and philosophy came to destroy each other in 2016. Perhaps Rennie has created a new genre... yet more likely, this Scotsman is the dark poet presiding over the burial of yesteryear's paradigms. The coolest thing I've read in years; can't recommend this highly enough. Crank the Chthe'ilist, and may the Sisters be with you.
July 20, 2016
Copy for this book reads in part, “Descend into a world of dark metaphysics, ultra-violence, senseless mayhem, and transgressive sex with a simultaneously brutal and brilliant fantasy novel unlike any other.” However, I’m not sure one can merely “descend” into the world of the MetaWarriors. You can take a peek down into that roiling maelstrom by reading a chapter or two, but if you choose to go into it, if you give yourself over to the book, you will find yourself careening about a world that cares nothing for you. This is Weird Fiction for the monsters or weirdlings that flabbergast the human protagonists typical of the genre. The human, the ordinary, the “linear folk” (this includes people like you, reader) are so far out on the periphery that the effect is like being given access to a subculture so far removed from conventional society it's almost completely alien. The world of the MetaWarriors is so uniquely expressed, the MetaWarriors so extreme and singular -- their thoughts and actions so easily identifiable on one hand while confounding expectations on another -- that the reader can only be swept along by the madness. It’s a strange concoction to be sure. There is a lot to unpack; I think this book is likely to reward multiple re-readings. This isn’t simply Weird Fantasy or Sword and Sorcery; this story, this world, has an engine running on metaphysics, and my guess is that only so much of it is meant as metaphor or allegory for the Human Condition. I hope for more; honestly, if there are others capable of what Mr. Rennie has done here and with compatible vision, this would make for a fantastic shared world series. At the very least, I want a fully-illustrated compilation of Automanic’s dossiers on all the MetaWarriors; we've only got to meet so many of them so far...
96 reviews9 followers
October 7, 2016
Alistair Rennie's BleakWarrior is like if Soul Calibur were a porno directed by Jodorowsky.

And it is also like if there was an x-rated Highlander vs. Mortal Kombat comic book drawn by Simon Bisley during an existential crisis.

And also like if you got your weirdest friend drunk on cheap tequila and asked them to describe what He-Man would be like if it were dirty and a bit Shakespearean.
Author 46 books76 followers
April 26, 2021
Jana mě varovala. Jí se to líbilo (a to hodně), ale tvrdila, že to nebude nic pro mě. Moc slov, málo děje. New Weird jako vyšitý (podle ní dokonce „meta new weird“ postavený víc na autorově stylu než na světě) - a New Weird já zrovna nemusím, obvykle je to jen stará rozmlácená literární chajda ozdobená efektními slovními cingrlátky. Jenže občas jsou věci z tohohle ranku, které se mi líbí. A navíc knížky z Planety9 čtu rád. Takže jsem Janu neposlechl a pustil se do čtení.

Samozřejmě, že měla pravdu. Není to nezajímá věc (a klobouk dolů před Romanem Tilcerem, který to přeložil… a před grafickým provedením knihy, které je vážně překrásné), ale přišlo mi, jako bych nečetl knihu, ale spíš se procházel galerií. Cestou míjel spoustu obrazů jen volně spojených tématem, některé skvělé, některé zase tak nezaujmou. Jdete od obrazu k obrazu, tu se kochnete, tu se zhnusíte, tu zívnete nudou a pak jdete domů.

A podobně jako galerie, ani tohle nemá vlastně žádný příběh. První polovina knihy je o tom, jak se dvě postavy potkají a jedna postava zabije nějakým šíleně zvráceným způsobem a pak ji sní nebo ošuká. A pak potká jiná postava jinou postavu a celé se to zopakuje. A pak znova. Není to tragédie, zabíjet a umírat je jediným smyslem života metaválečníků (že by ozvuk Jodorowského metabaronů?) Ale jeden z nich začne přemýšlet nad smyslem svého života, takže se vydá hledat odpověď. Což dává děj, který spočívá v tom, že naráží na další postavy, které zabije nebo s nimi souloží.

Je to v podstatě takový Mortal Kombat v barokním provedení markýze de Sade. Ani nemyslím, že je kniha špatná. Jen prostě není pro mě. Většina toho, co mi vadí, není chyba, je to vlastnost – jako třeba čistá náznakovost příběhu, náhodnost děje a situací, ustavičné opakování vět či okamžité vyvracení vlastního tvrzení (á la „Věřím celým svým srdcem v Boha, ale nemyslím si, že existuje“). Nebo absolutní lhostejnost ke všem postavám a jejich nezaujaté plynutí po vlnách osudu. Což se přenášelo i na mě a bylo mi celkem jedno, které snažení bude korunováno úspěchem a které ne.
Je to kniha, které dominuje styl – příběh a postavy hrají až dvacáté housle. Naštěstí je to celkem krátké – má to sice něco přes 300 stran, ale dost z nich prázdných, věnovaných názvům kapitol – takže to člověka úplně neznudí. Navíc to celé končí až tarantinovsko/leonardovskou scénou, ve které se všichni potkají, aby se navzájem pozabíjeli. A ti, co přežijí, budou patrně v další knize dále hledat smysl své existence. Přeju jim hodně štěstí.
Profile Image for Derek.
1,228 reviews9 followers
January 27, 2019
Most of the reviews and commentary I've seen have described this in terms of various mash-ups containing the following words: Highlander, William S Burroughs, Masters of the Universe, Jack Vance, Heavy Metal Magazine, Jodorowsky. And while these feel essentially correct (and I would add the Taken from the Black Company series as well), it is telling that the only way to approach this thing is to say "like this but also this". And the breadth of comparisons start to lead one into the idea that this is so amalgamated with sources that it has become something new in itself.

That new thing being transgressive, subversive, vile, vulgar, metaphysical in a possibly-pure-bullshit way, nihilistic, and sort of darkly playful. I'm not convinced that it makes sense, but the streams of weirdo metaphysics and the sense that every single character is completely, violently, horrifically off his/her rocker means that nothing really has to. And in that capacity it works better than any Bizarro pile of conceits ever has.

So if you're in the mood for violence, sex, sexual violence, violent sex, and sideshow freaks--vicariously of course--then step this way. You'll cringe, laugh, and cringe because you laughed.
Profile Image for G. Brown.
Author 25 books81 followers
December 27, 2016
So, you like Sword and Sorcery, but you think it's all been done. Alistair Rennie happily proves you wrong with BleakWarrior, which is somewhere between a pornographic Bakshi cartoon and a Guy Ritchie adaptation of King Arthur (this is a real thing and I'm as shocked as anyone). Over-the-top and in-your-face do not begin to do this justice. It's one of the wildest things I've ever read, and certainly will wake up the dormant fans of Fantasy who are sick of Tolkien rehashes.
Profile Image for Geoff Hyatt.
Author 2 books17 followers
August 20, 2016
It's Frank Frazetta as drawn by Ralph Steadman. It's Robert E. Howard if he played in Hawkwind with Michael Moorcock and developed an expansive interest in philosophical inquiry and BDSM. It is not for the easily offended, the faint of heart, or those looking for an easy escape. It's brilliant, shocking, violent, appalling, hilarious, and unlike any fantasy novel that has ever been written.
Profile Image for Vít.
619 reviews50 followers
April 6, 2021
Tohle byla vážně síla, bojím se dokonce, že mi to vypálilo pojistky, a tak mi teď nějaký čas budou všechny knížky připadat krotké jako Honzíkova cesta. I takové Nabarvené ptáče mi teď připadá jako pohodová oddechovka na noční stolek. Anotace to totiž říká přesně, takové fantasy jste ještě nečetli. A co se týká "temné metafyziky, ultranásil��, šílené řeže a odvázaného sexu", najdete to tu všechno, a to ve více než malém množství.
Věž lorda Rozbroje, kde příběh začíná, a kde se lord "pachtí a mrzkostem věnuje", mi připomínala Gormenghast. Ta atmosféra, ten jazyk, bylo to tam. A svět je to vůbec zvláštní. Vy ho navíc uvidíte jen očima nadlidských metaválečníků, kteří se zajímají hlavně o vzájemné vyvražďování a běžní "lineární" lidé je příliš nezajímají. Takže je to tam temné, krvavé, páchnoucí a nebezpečné. Něco jako uličky Nového Krobuzonu nebo ta strana Gotham City, kde páchnou kanály a jatka. Metaválečníci jsou totiž vlastně jakýmisi superhrdiny, jenže nic je nezajímá méně, než obecné blaho nebo vláda nad světem. Jejich superschopností je obvykle něco jako šílenství, sexuální úchylka, kanibalismus a nebo to všechno dohromady. A motivací je zabít ty ostatní. Jejich původ je nejasný, řadu věcí ale mají společných. Například každý z nich má svou Zbraň, svůj atribut, který ho charakterizuje. A nemusí to být jen třeba Velký meč nebo Sekera, ale třeba Kuchyňský šlehač nebo vlastní Nohy. Nebo Sex. A nebo Sex s vlastníma Nohama, Kuchyňským šlehačem a Velkou Sekerou.
Zmínku si zaslouží jejich jména, která vás donutí vzpomenout na Honzu Kantůrka. Třeba Leptomanka, Já rád játra, Nemilosrdné sestry... no uvidíte sami, je to prostě perfektní.
Většina z nich se bohužel nezdrží dlouho a opustí nás brzy v gejzíru tělesných tekutin a volně po okolí rozprsknutých orgánů, Chmurný válečník se však od ostatních poněkud liší. Jednak je v jeho minulosti vidět záblesk čehosi lidského, a hlavně nezajímá ho pouze zabíjení, ale místo odkud přišel, proč tu je, proč to všechno... a tak se vydává na cestu to zjistit.
Je v tom taková jakási temná přitažlivost, dal bych si hned ještě nášup. Snad nám Rennie a Roman Tilcer ještě něco naservírují :)
Profile Image for Vilém Koubek.
Author 8 books8 followers
March 8, 2021
Pokud máte chuť na nějakou konzumní fantastiku, hledejte dál. Chmurný válečník je totiž všechno, jen ne vaše běžná fantasy s trochou zabíjení, erotiky a podivna. Právě naopak: nejprve vás zaskočí svým jazykem, který v mnoha ohledech připomíná filosofické knihy (ať už v tom dobrém či zlém). Potom vám zasadí ránu stylem, jenž je strohý, úderný a často až klinický. Dorazí vás absolutním přetlakem. Tahle knížka totiž do ničeho nejde napolo – akce je brutální až na dřeň, erotika obskurní a šťavnatá, metafyzika dostatečně akcentovaná na to, aby vám zamotala hlavu.

To vše vytváří základy pro Rennieho představivost, která je tu vysypaná na hromadu, z níž se postupně formuje jedna zvláštnost za druhou. Ze začátku na mě kniha působila jako velká bizarro mozaika – všechno se dělo strašně rychle, postavy odcházely (čtěte „umíraly“) mnohem dřív, než je kniha dostatečně vytěžila. Rennie vám v podstatě o každém řekne jen to absolutní minimum, které potřebujete k orientaci na několika následujících stranách. Pak teče krev a najednou poznáváme nové charaktery. Ze zběsilé koláže masakrů a masturbace struhadlem ale postupně vykrystalizovalo pár hlavních protagonistů, jejichž příběh vám kniha dovolí „prožít“. Ani poté jsem ale neměl vyhráno. Ačkoliv totiž Chmurný válečník sleduje klasickou dějovou linku „cesty za poznáním“, nejde po ní krok za krokem – spíš skáče, přebíhá a kličkuje. Styl vyprávění se navíc podřizuje skutečnosti, že hlavní hrdinové jsou banda psychopatů, kteří vnímají svět úplně jinak než běžní lidé.

Abyste si Chmurného válečníka užili, musíte zkrátka přistoupit na jeho hru – a ani pak se nedá zaručit, že se od něj nebudete moct odtrhnout. Ale jak už jsem napsal v úvodu, tohle není vaše klasická fantastika. Chmurný válečník je Begotten mezi knihami. Temný, drsný, nevybíravý, hluboký a v mnoha ohledech hypnotický. Taky ale není úplně snadné se jím prokousat. Krátce po dočtení jsem nebyl zcela schopen říct, jestli se mi kniha líbila. Nakonec ve mně ale převládl pocit, že jsem měl co dočinění s velmi zajímavým kusem postmoderního umění, po jehož poslední straně vnímám literaturu trochu jinak než předtím.
Profile Image for Robert Adam Gilmour.
104 reviews26 followers
September 15, 2021
I didn't like the cover much (although it isn't a bad evocation of parts of the book) and the title seemed a bit self-parodic (after reading the book, the parody might have been intended) but I remember some genuine excitement when this book came out that went beyond the routine plaudits.

Two of the chapters originally appeared in the Vandermeer's New Weird anthology and the Ann Vandermeer era of Weird Tales. Rennie credits them with getting the novel started.

Most reviewers have been reaching for tons of comparisons and I think Ross Lockhart gets it right with Jack Vance meets Mortal Kombat. It has Vance's fondness for odd societies and the humorous eloquent back and forth dialogue. But here the deliberately overcomplicated dialogue sometimes has a similar effect to really creative cockney rhyming slang delivered with a dour face. Immortan Joe from Mad Max 4 would envy the speeches of Lord Brawl. In an audio interview Rennie said the animated version of Go Nagai's Violence Jack was an initial influence and the Scottish highland moors were the basis for some settings (you see this in his photography) but more of the book is urban.
Much of the book is Meta-Warriors stalking each other and getting into death matches, their ways of life and sense of purpose explained inbetween. I'm not sure how much of the sex was supposed to be sexy, some of it seemed like part of a general commitment to excess.

Anna Tambour hinted this could be the start of a series and she mentioned characters I don't remember in the novel (Smart Brutality and The Piper Who Calls The Tune are great names), maybe she read parts of an intended sequel? Or maybe they were introduced and killed so quickly that I forgotten them. I'm going to have to track down Rennie's short stories to see if any of them are set in this world and for the pleasure of more Rennie too. He hasn't written a huge amount and seems to have mostly focused on music since the novel (5 dark ambient albums under the name Ruptured World).
Several characters are left with their stories feeling unfinished so I hope there will be more. I really enjoyed Big Sister and Little Sister's speech patterns and how the existential ideas were developed (some of it whooshed over my head and I'm not sure all of it was supposed to make sense) and hope to see that continued too.

It's a really nice evolution of sword and sorcery but I'm sure half of the fans of that genre will hate this but that's a pity for them. I'd like to see more talk about this book and maybe it could influence new directions for other writers.
Profile Image for Tomáš Erhart.
10 reviews4 followers
June 20, 2021
Když mi bylo asi patnáct let, četl jsem v časopisu Pevnost povídku Chmurný válečník potkává syny Urvalovy od Skota Alistaira Rennieho. Tehdy jsem hodně hltal žánr New weird a čím divnější fantasy jsem našel, tím lépe. Ta povídka byla totální bizár a kvůli ní jsem si tohle jediné číslo Pevnosti nechal dodnes.
O léta později napsal Rennie celý román o Chmurném válečníkovi a nedávno ho vydala česky Planeta9 ve skvělém překladu a s ještě lepší grafickou podobou. Takže jsem si ho musel koupit, abych se přesvědčil, že je to taky slušná šílenost. Hlavní hrdina je jedna z bytostí, které si říkají metaválečníci. Ti se především vraždí mezi sebou na různé způsoby a mají taková super jména jako Já rád játra nebo Změť nestálosti. Jenom Chmurného válečníka to přestane bavit a vydává se hledat smysl svojí existence. Jeho cesta je to jediné, co tu připomíná nějakou příběhovou linku. Jinak sledujete sled brutálních soubojů, co se střídají s rozhovory o metafyzice. Trochu mi to připomíná komiksy od Jodorowského, ale to bude možná jenom nadužíváním slovíčka meta. Co si z toho vzít, moc netuším, ale bavilo mě to náramně.
Profile Image for Martina Wolfová.
Author 5 books20 followers
April 27, 2021
Tak v tomto příběhu jsem byla od začátku až do konce totálně ztracená. Pořád si kladu otázku, jestli to taky nebyl tak trochu autorův záměr :-) Mezi jednotlivými, často velice zajímavými, i když nechutnými, scénami s různými dosti inovativními technikami vraždění, jsem se ve stopách Chmurného válečníka ptala, cože to vlastně čtu, co je to za prapodivné týpky a šílený svět? V pasážích, naplněných hlubokými filozofickými úvahami nad podstatou všech přírodních prvků, bytostí a dalších věcí ve stavu nevědomí, předvědomí a sebeuvědomění jsem odpovědi nenašla, ale Chmurný válečník snad aspoň trochu. Hodně sympatické mi byly Nemilosrdné sestry :-) A konec byl krásně krutý. Myslím, že jsem ještě nikdy nic podobného nečetla. Bylo to takové knižní šílenství, ale moc zajímavě a čtivě podané :-)
Profile Image for Jana Jůzlová.
Author 15 books3 followers
January 10, 2022
Tahle knížka mě magicky přitahovala od první chvíle. Chytlavý název. Vážně super obálka. Nejrůznější zmínky, které překladatel Roman Tilcer delší dobu trousil po Facebooku. Pak vyšla a dorazila v hmotné podobě do mých rukou. Prosím, nekupujte si ji jako e-book. Protože výpravou je to jednoznačně nejkrásnější kniha, jakou jsem po mnoho let viděla, vyňuňaná do posledního detailu. A takovou musíte mít hmotně (jo, doteď mě nepřestalo bavit ji fetišisticky ohmatávat), navzdory naprosté modernosti je v ní obrovský kus ušlechtilé starobylosti.
Přesto jsem se lehce obávala, jestli to bude knížka pro mě, a tak jsem jen tak opatrně přečetla první kapitolku, dvě. Mé obavy byly zbytečné.
V anotaci si přečtete o ultranásilí, sexu a brutalitě. Nu, pokud by někdo čekal, že půjde o u nás oblíbený žánr „komické masakry“, asi bude Chmurným válečníkem poněkud zaskočen, i když se tam masakruje ve velkém a spousta scén, detailů i dialogů je hodně vtipných. Děj vlastně není moc podstatný – hodně se tam chodí, zabíjí a souloží. Filozofující, psychologické a smysluhledající rozklady jsou prima, ale také pro mě nebyly tím klíčovým předmětem nadšení (jakkoli čtenáři neunikne, že postavy, které kromě základních pudů mají ještě taky nějaký koníček, mají výrazně delší životnost, což je vlastně ve výsledku docela výchovné).
Mě rozhodně nejvíc zaujal jazyk a styl, které jsou založeny na extrémech. Vyprávění má v sobě značnou vznešenost a současně až primitivní vulgárnost, ale nic mezi tím. Opulentní popisy se střídají s vysloveně lakonickými, jednoduchými větami, ale opět, nic mezi tím. Přímočarost se snoubí s komplikovanými souvětími, která je zapotřebí přečíst někdy i čtyřikrát (poprvé, aby to člověk přečetl, podruhé, aby se ujistil, že to pochopil, potřetí, aby si ověřil, že to pochopil opravdu takhle, a potřetí, aby se tím souvětím prostě pokochal), a nic mezi tím. Tohle vše, dohromady s krásně užívanou repetitivností dává dohromady zcela ojedinělý vyprávěcí styl s fantastickým rytmem až hudbou (a když už jsme u hudby, tu si k tomu můžete pustit taky, na konci najdete QR kód, který vás hodí na stránky Planety9). Upřímně: trochu jsem si říkala, jestli míra, jakou Roman Tilcer v posledních dnech Chmurným válečníkem tapetuje Facebook, je dílu úměrná. No, kdybych tohle přeložila, takhle, tapetuju ještě víc! Škoda, že se fantastická produkce povětšinou míjí s prestižními literárními cenami, protože si neumím představit knihu, jejíž překlad (a taky ta výprava!) by si spoustu cen a pozornosti zasloužil víc. Jenže tohle je v mnoha směrech natolik extrémní kniha, že její masovější přijetí neočekávám ani v rámci fantastické komunity.
Profile Image for Ondřej Pollak.
29 reviews
April 19, 2021
3,5/5 Četlo se to kupodivu dobře na to, že to nedávalo ani tolik rozumu jako deník šílence. Z bytí Metaválečníků jsem si nebyl schopen odnést žádnou rozumnou teorii o jejich původu. Ale na rovinu, jestli bude dvojka, tak po ní asi šáhnu.
Profile Image for Justin Howe.
Author 15 books34 followers
October 31, 2016
Elric by way of GWAR by way of the WWF by way of Jodorowsky, which seems to be the standard review of this ultraviolent fun book.
Profile Image for Yev.
558 reviews9 followers
March 10, 2021
My first encounter with Rennie was in VanderMeer's anthology The New Weird. The story there, which is included in this as well as its a collection of related stories, it could charitably be called a mosaic novel, was so very over the top in its absurdity that I thought I'd try to read more of it. Unfortunately, I miscalculated seeing as how this utterly blew out the limits of my tolerances for inane and random debauchery that has a plot in name only or little else for that matter.

Maybe those who enjoy Bakker would also find delight in this, or maybe not, I wouldn't know. There's a lot of rambling "philosophical" musings and an overabundance of erotic grotesqueries. The names are as ridiculous, but in a different way, with examples such as: Whorefrost, Nailer of Souls, Be My Enemy, Gland Master, The Light That Never Shines, The Ever Decreasing Circle of Choice, Welter of Impermanence, Nowhere Bound, Reading The Clouds, and so many other similar names.

It's a non-stop orgy of sex and violence, both often at the same time. There's the rapist whose ejaculate is near absolute zero, the murderess who streams acid from her nipples, the woman who murders using random kitchen utensils, the psychopathic incestuous lesbian sisters, among many others.

Rating: 1.5/5
Profile Image for yo JP.
254 reviews7 followers
March 14, 2021
Má to swag, ale nesnaží se to být víc, než co to je a toho si vždycky cením. Rennie nemá tendence zbytečně se opájet vlastním popisem světa a jak "každá kapka spadla z římsy do oka ptáka, který vzhlédl od louže, kde si zrovna svlažoval hrdlo". Víceméně se jde často přímo k věci, nemáte ponětí, kde a proč se ocitáte, víte jen, že metaválečníci se jmény, co si musíte přečíst vícekrát, se objeví a jakmile na sebe narazí, budou se snažit se sprovodit ze světa... a jakmile si myslíte, že už to nemůže být primitivnější, dojde na metafyzikálno. Rennie v podstatě hlásá o podstatě lidského druhu, metaválečníci, alespoň pro mě, jsou jakousi přepálenou nadformou člověka. Nechápou proč, ale jediné, co dělají a je smyslem jejich existence, je to, že se vzájemně vraždí. Metafyzikální bádání proč tomu tak je potom knihu povyšuje na něco jiného, něco, kde se mísí skutečný svět s Rennieho fikcí-vizí..., i ty násilně sexuální scény mají něco do sebe, speciálně v závěrečné třetině to začne mít slušný grády. Na jednu stranu je to béčková žánrovka, ale bavilo mě to číst právě pro ten mix všech složek - jako když namícháte smoothie se správným poměrem. Dokážu rovněž pochopit, že řadě lidí se tahle kniha příliš líbit nebude, protože má, pro mainstream a casuals, svoje mouchy a není tak úplně "podle učebnice" (což jí zase u mě přidalo na sexappealu, pravej underground). Taky se mi líbí, že se ke mě dostává něco ze současné produkce, protože k něčemu podobnýmu se jen tak nedostanu. To přirovnání k Highlanderovi, které mě taky napadlo, když jsem o knize četl anotaci, je ale trochu zcestné, protože během samotného čtení jsem si na to ani nevzpomněl, je to tak trochu pod povrchem... a v neposlední řadě mi došlo, že tohle je teprve druhej Filtrův překlad co čtu (od Ostrova Sukkwan, dekádu zpátky, když jsem ještě nevěděl), čímž dík za výměnu, tohle mi sedlo definitivně víc, než bych si asi užíval to nekonečný prokousávání se kompletním Conanem v english (jak moc dobře víš, tohle jsem sjel za týden). V první moment, když jsem to otevřel, jsem si vzpomněl i na Gormenghast, speciálně asi díky překladům těch jmen (...a není Rozbrojův Rozmar vlastně takovej mini-Gormenghast, co Filtře?)
Profile Image for Roman Tilcer.
Author 47 books59 followers
August 8, 2019
Alistair Rennie is a Scottish author of weird and horror fiction and you may remember him from The New Weird anthology edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer – which he contributed to with the short story “The Gutter Sees the Light That Never Shines” – or from the Weird Tales Magazine where he published the short story “BleakWarrior Meets the Sons of Brawl”. Both pieces he incorporated into his debut novel.
The protagonist is one of the Meta-Warriors, deranged, not wholly human beings who mostly try to kill each other without really knowing why. However, BleakWarrior is different because he wants to know the meaning of it all and find out where they come from. All of this is actually happening on a meta-level. The characters don't even have proper names, just cognomens like Nailer of Souls, Sisters of No Mercy or Be My Enemy; the Bastards Sons of Lord Brawl only have numbers. Rennie thus throws us into unusual mix of unprecedented ultra-violence, existential philosophy, metaphysics and madly accentuated sex.
More than anything else it resembles Sword and Sorcery pushed to the extreme and then some. I've come across various attempts to label this hellride (Jeff VanderMeer calls it “Next Weird”, then there are terms like “Black Metal New Weird” or “X-rated Highlander vs Mortal Kombat”), but this book cannot bear comparison. You just haven't read anything like this before.
What's more, there's also a soundtrack for the book composed by the author himself (check http://bleakwarrior.com/).
Profile Image for Ian Casey.
395 reviews14 followers
July 18, 2017
But a rational acceptance of the risks involved was not a thing to motivate BleakWarrior; nor was it courage that determined his actions: it was madness that defined him and laid his course, and it ran in his veins with unstoppable motion like a river in spate.

(I am grateful to the author for voluntarily posting me a signed paperback copy free of charge, given the difficulty and expense of acquiring it in Australia - at least for now.)

'Sword and Debauchery' declares the first eye-catching statement on the back cover of Alistair Rennie's debut novel, and I could scarcely give a summation more apt. BleakWarrior is not a book to be pigeonholed. It could, reductively, be called a brutal and sexual dark fantasy, but that is about as instructive as saying Twin Peaks is a murder mystery.

It could perhaps be compared with Conan or Kane, but a broader frame of reference is required. The closest parallel I can fathom is with A Feast Unknown, with its conversion of subtext to text and its deliberately shocking extremities of sex and violence intermingled. One might also contemplate it in terms of sexually-charged horror (Barker, Llewellyn et al) or the French eroticists and surrealists (Sade, Bataille, Desclos/Réage, Robbe-Grillet/de Berg).

A less obvious comparison is with Only Forward, as I (and possibly no-one else) felt a spiritual euphony of sorts in the depiction of cities in the two novels and the pragmatism of characters surrounded by absurd ultra-violence.

From start to finish we are introduced to a bewildering array of characters in quick succession, all being some form of super-human 'Meta-Warrior' or a similarly colourful human antagonist. As murderous super-humans go, Meta-Warriors are uncommonly narrow in their focus. Caring nothing for the elaborate plans of trickster Gods or Sith lords, they instead are slaves to their proclivities (all involving cartoonish extremes of violence, often with a sexual component) and to their mutually assured internecine destruction. They're akin to Highlanders crossed with Cenobites, and a hint of the Ouroborans from The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August for good measure.

Yet for all the baseness (to the exclusion of higher causes) there's still a grandiosity to proceedings, a pomp and circumstance worthy of the Elizabethan stage. The mere descriptions of art & architecture have a dramatic flair to them, as with such a flamboyant sentence as 'Depictions of naked revellers, cosmic symbols and chimerical beasts adorn the lower portions of each edifice, adding an unexpected life and colour to the amplitude of disrepair.'

The character names are all titles or numbers; at times blunt, at others elaborate, and evocative in either case. As with the simplicity of a name like 'The Gutter', which could equally stand for the filth that defines him as for his preferred pastime. Or, conversely, 'The Ever Decreasing Circle of Choice', which surely is one of the most imaginatively conceived names one ever committed to paper.

That Rennie somehow rides this bucking bull to through a coherent narrative to a conclusion is impressive. That he manages to add some depth of ideas in the process is all the more admirable. The exploration of the extreme nature and mysterious origins of the Meta-Warriors offer more complexity and interest than most super-human narratives one could name.

Not a book for the easily shocked, but a challenging and rewarding read for the rest of us.
Profile Image for Dávid Novotný.
408 reviews11 followers
April 7, 2021
I was quite hyped for this book. But did I get what teaser promised? Not sure. Main theme is cruel violence and bizarre sexual practices - usually combined together. So it's cool from the start, get you really hooked up, but after one third of the book it feels like same pattern is repeating itself over and over again. One metawarrior meets another, and one of them meets its crazy violent end. So you start where this is going (if somewhere really...)

But author managed to deliver some kind of conclusion and even it's more about journey than destination (or ending in this example) I didn't mind it. Another thing, which I usually have problem with, is world building. In this book is almost non existent. There are some brief descriptions, which actually invoke more feelings than locations. So you not really know if this is steampunk, or something more advanced. Feels like everything combined and I even got some Planescape: Torment feeling at one moment. One thing you know for sure it's very dark and gloomy.

But it doesn't matter, it's fun to read and even without (or minimal) character development or mentioned world building it's very good book. Something like 'anti-fantasy', taking classic concepts and turning them inside out upside down right side left...

So I hope someday Alistair will return to this world and bring us some new looks at it ( I would say stories, but this is not really a story:))
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