Title: The Court of the Blind King
Author: David Guymer
Published by: Black Library
Publication date: 7th July 2020
Deep beneath the oceans of Ghyran, in kingdoms forgotten by gods and time and overlooked by the ravages of Chaos, the Idoneth Deepkin endure in bitter solitude. However, the Jade Throne of Briomdar sits empty, its long isolation threatened as never before in its history. The Everqueen’s warsong awakens the forests of both land and sea and everywhere the diseased knights of Nurgle fight to the last foetid breath for the verdant Realm they claim as theirs. But, for Prince Lurien this time of peril is one ripe with opportunity. It will take every drop of wit, guile, and treachery the prince has to overcome not only the myriad foes of the Idoneth, but his fellow Deepkin as well.
I received a copy of The Court of the Blind King via NetGalley in return for an honest review. Many thanks to Black Library for the ebook and to author David Guymer
The Court of the Blind King is the first feature-length novel about the Idoneth Deepkin – one of the newer races in the Games Workship Wargaming series, Age of Sigmar. The Idoneth Deepkin, affectionately known in the Warhammer community as ‘Fish Aelves’ are a race of Aelves (Elves) that reside in the deep oceans of the Mortal Realms. The Court of the Blind King tells the story of Prince Lurien and his fight to reclaim what is rightfully his; the Jade Throne.
Lurien as a central character is fascinating. He is a conniving, treacherous, self-centred, terrible, liar. Yet, as a reader, you root for him anyway. Despite all his failings as a moral, upstanding citizen of the Idoneth Deepkin there is something actually likeable about him. Something beyond the ‘loveable rogue’ trope, as he is much more terrible than that, yet as a reader you cling to his plight and root for him to come out on top regardless of all the awful things that he does to others along the way. Maybe it’s the English in me; rooting for the underdog – as Lurien is certainly that too! There’s something captivating about him as a lead character and I found him most delightful.
Along with him are other Idoneth Deepkin who are just as wonderfully well written as their ‘leader’ Morogai is one such character; an Idoneth of the slave caste that supports Lurien in her own unique way and her ‘boss’ Namariel; who is just as devious as her prince. The extended cast all have their own personalities which David Guymer handles wonderfully – especially considering how extraordinary the Idoneth Deepkin are.
Considering the Idoneth race is so new, David Guymer does a remarkable job at bringing them to life. I have never come across a race like the Idoneth and the rich world in which they live and the imagery that is brought forth when reading The Court of the Blind King is stunning. This book was my first encounter with the Idoneth and I confess I did struggle with some of the specifics of their race. A noble isn’t just called a noble, for example. It took a while for the intricate structures of their society to really sink in. I had to google a few of the titles for different castes and check on Games Workshops webstore to make sure that I had the correct element in mind. When is a shark, not a shark? But, these fundamental changes in the naming make the Idoneth Deepkin who and what they are, so while there was some initial confusion and I’d recommend doing some basic reading around the Idoneth Deepkin, I don’t feel that this detracted from the novel as a whole. Touching on writing style, David Guymer picks out a lot of water-based references that help the book to flow nicely. You never forget the origins of the Idoneth through these subtle references to their nature and they help as a constant reminder that, while descended from, these are not the Aelves of the Warhamemr old world.
As the novel progresses and Lurien is asked to perform different tasks to prove himself to the different enclaves of Idoneth he encounters Chaos in the form of Nurgle. I bring this up specifically as I found that this part of the novel was particularly well written. There is something about Nurgle that is truly horrifying in written form and I haven’t felt such a deep hatred and disgust for the Great Father since first encountering them during Flight of the Eisenstein. For me, this is a great thing! For a book to churn your stomach with it’s delightfully disgusting descriptions of rot is staggering and I loved every second of it. I am also happy with how open-ended this section of the book is and hope that Prince Lurien is dragged back to the horror of Coryza in a future instalment.
All of the tasks that Lurien sets out to accomplish bring the story together nicely. Not once did I question his motives or his reasoning for doing something utterly stupid. Everything made perfect sense plot-wise and The Court of the Blind King is a magnificently well-rounded novel.
I found the world building in The Court of the Blind King captivating. How the Idoneth Deepkin manage to do anything above water has been a question since I first heard of them and The Court of the Blind King has answers to this and a great deal more. How they work with one another, how they work at all, how they deal with rivalries, their raids and the deeper workings of their politics. The Court of the Blind King has it all in a plot that is fast-paced and full of action, adventure and intrigue.
Being taught about the Deepkin first hand and in such a great story as this is glorious and I am very much a convert – to the point I’d now like to paint some of the models as well. What more could you want from a Black Library publication than that?
The Court of the Blind King is a well-rounded, fast-paced novel that introduces and expands richly on the lore of the Idoneth Deepkin. The main character is quirky in his own right and a pleasure to read about. Exquisitely written scenes of grossness! Be warned, you might want to start a new Warhammer: Age of Sigmar army!