Title: The Silver Shard: Callis and Toll
Author: Nick Horth
Published by: Black Library
Publication date: 7th July 2018
Source: Personal Collection
A malevolent threat looms over the once great city of Excelsis. For as long as the treacherous Ortam Vermyre lives, civilisation is no longer safe within the Realm of Beasts. Witch Hunter Hanniver Toll must brave the deadly seas and jungles of the Taloncoast to stop Vermyre before he can reach the legendary lost city of Xoantica. For within this forgotten ruin lies an artefact of darkest sorcery that possesses the power to reshape reality itself. The Silver Shard. Can Toll and his companion, a former Freeguild soldier known as Armand Callis, capture their nemesis in time? Or will Vermyre evade the Order of Azyr’s justice and tear the Mortal Realms asunder?
I was brought a copy of this book by Heretic Deb for my birthday, so just wanted to use this part of the review to give a shout out and say thanks.
The Silver Shard continues the story of Witch Hunter Hanniver Toll and his Freeguild companion Armand Callis and the events within The Silver Shard continue directly after City of Secrets having the two titular characters tracking down their former friend, Ortam Vermyre, and stopping him before he can get hold of a deeply powerful artefact that’ll tear the Taloncoast apart.
I was really excited to read this book as I greatly enjoyed the previous encounters with the main characters. City of Secrets is a novella, giving details on how Callis and Toll met one another and showed them thwarting the plans of the Chaos Gods that have been years in motion. The Old Ways a short story investigation into the death of a nobles son. Meaning that The Silver Shard is the full full-length novel featuring these two enjoyable characters. I was excited by the prospects; we could have a bit more character development of Callis and Toll, maybe delve into their back-stories and learn more about them.
Sadly, The Silver Shard didn’t deliver on these fronts. What we get is an action filled novel that could rival the likes of Lara Croft in terms of tomb raiding, pitting our beloved characters against the likes of Khorne Worshipping Sea Raiders, Fighting hideous monsters on board both ship and land. Encountering dread pirates, Orrucks,daemonic entities, Kharadron Duardin and the mysterious Seraphon. It’s an action packed, thrill adventure that, while sounding good, fails to deliver on multiple fronts.
The Silver Shard introduces us to new a new character, Shevanya Arclis, an explorer seeking knowledge alongside the ‘Golden Lord.’ And as loathe as I am to admit it, she is the most interesting character in The Silver Shard, she offers a new insight to the goings on of the novel and drives the plot more than both Callis and Toll put together – who just seem to get swept along during the novels events, rather than engage with them. She has well-written dialogue and interesting elements to her backstory and what she brings to the current plot-line too.
There is a feeling of lifelessness to the novel; there are action-scenes aplenty that can’t be denied, but there’s no soul in them. They feel cut and pasted from one fight to the next with pages upon pages of description of what each character did at any given moment. It felt very dry to read and at times I felt myself drifting from the page as there was little substance to keep me interested; a strange feeling considering I enjoyed the previous offerings in the series from the same author and characters.
Hanniver Toll turns from an enigmatic, interesting character to one of single minded drudgery; claiming he’ll get his revenge on Ortam Vermyre for his actions in City of Secrets. This is a passionless endeavour where talk turns cheap and for me, it deadens the character. Bad enough that he and Callis feel side-lined for both Shevanya Arclis and Arika Zenthe, who are both given much more page-time and development throughout the novel. They are good characters in their own right who, I believe, go on to have their own short stories and novellas. I am just somewhat disappointed that they took away form the titular characters who we’re left one dimensional in their wake. In The Silver Shard Callis and Toll feel like they are the supporting characters of the novel. not the titular ones and that throws the balance of the book. It made me second guess if this was a book about them, or Shev and Zenthe. It confused me as to who was driving the book, which seemed to change at times part way through chapters.
I have expressed before that one of my biggest enjoyments in novels that feature non-special armies at their core is we get to see the world development and we do get some level of insight with The Silver Shard. But any introductions we’re given, to the Kharadron Duardin for example, barely scratch the surface. We’re given a brief description of who and what these unique characters are, but it never goes any deeper than that.
What we are given though is entertaining enough. The Silver Shard is an easy to pick-up-and-read novel that offers a lot in terms of fast-paced action. The writing style is clear enough to give a good picture of what is happening at each given moment and there is certainly a good feel if action/adventure movie about it with imaginative scenes. We’re shown the Realm of Beasts on a smaller scale than the usual grand-offerings of Age of Sigmar and this smaller scale allows for unique insight into the world-setting.
I just feel like there should have been more from the characters in this book. More character development to go around the sheer level of action. More backstory and more dialogue between them to help the pacing of the novel. Just a bit more humanity to go along with the villains and monsters. And, more from Callis and Toll themselves who didn’t have the focus that they did in both City of Secrets and The Old Ways.
A sadly disappointing novel on a lot of fronts, lacking in character development with the titular characters often getting side-lined in favour of new ones. A lot of fast-paced action and adventure scenes that, while well-written, can come off as a little lacklustre due to the intense amount of them. Sadly, this book fell short of the mark for me, but if more Callis and Toll books are written, I’d certainly give them a chance.