Vampire Warlords by Andy Remic
They came from the North, and the land fell.
Kell’s resistance is driving the fiends from the land.
But now a far greater power has come into play.
Please note this review contains some minor spoilers if you have not read the first two parts of The Clockwork Vampire Chronicles.
I have thought about this long and hard and I have come to a shocking conclusion – I hate Andy Remic. Why? Because he is just such a supremely talented sod. He has proven that he can turn his hand to science fiction, horror and fantasy. As an aside – I have a sneaking suspicion that he is attempting to become the king of all genre fiction. Every time I think he can’t possibly top his last literary effort he goes ahead and does just that. Recently I read and reviewed Serial Killers Incorporated, and was impressed with its dark brutality. A scant few weeks has passed and he has yet another novel ready to assault the senses of an unsuspecting public.
The latest addition to his ever-growing canon of work, Vampire Warlords, is the third book in The Clockwork Vampire Chronicles. This novel picks up the story in the aftermath of the cliffhanger that occurs at the end of book two, Soul Stealers. General Graal has succeeded in unleashing the warlords but they are not interested in doing his bidding. Various power struggles erupt and this leads to an all out war.
Kuradek the Unholy, Meshwar the Violent and Bhu Vanesh, the titular vampire warlords, are fantastic creations and prior to their introduction into the series, the main villains of the piece where The Vachine. Though I enjoyed the clockwork vampires’ particular brand of evil, I always wanted them be a bit less civilized and a bit more raw and savage. The warlords achieve this and then some. They really are vile, nasty, arrogant creatures. Whole populations are decimated under their vicious rein of terror. By the point where Kell confronts them all you will be cheering for him to tear them apart.
The core relationship between Kell and his now long suffering companion Saark is still a joy to read. They bicker and curse but it is obvious that there is a grudging respect between the two warriors. Kell remains as stony faced as ever, and Saark is still an outrageous womanising dandy, but the two have become genuine friends over the course of their travels.
While Kell the man is old and tired, Kell the warrior is a force of nature. The battles he fights in are vivid, bloody affairs. The vampire warlords face off against albino armies, Vachine, convicts and retired soldiers. Andy Remic’s writing style lends itself well to the almost hypnotic flow of action. There are dismemberments and amputations galore, and hardly a page goes by that isn’t drenched in blood. Kell strides through this all like an angry berserker god.
I was also pleased to finally discover more of Kell’s backstory and to read about the Days of Blood and the origins of Illana, his blood magick infused axe. This has always been hinted at in the previous novels but this time out, the reader gets some real insight into Kell’s history.
The legend of Kell may have started out as a homage to the work of David Gemmell but I’m pleased to see that it has surpassed that and become something more. The characters are memorable and the action is as good as it gets. The Vampire Warlords is a thoroughly satisfying conclusion to the trilogy. I certainly hope that I get the opportunity to read more of Kell and Saark’s adventures in the future.
Damn your black heart Remic! You and your intensely compulsive, darker than dark fantasy.
Vampire Warlords is published by Angry Robot Books and is due for release on 5th May 2011.