Temple Of The Serpent: A Thanquol & Boneripper by CL Werner. Book review

TEMPLE OF THE SERPENT: A THANQUOL & BONERIPPER NOVEL by CL Werner, Black Library, p/b, £ 7.99, www.blacklibrary.com

Reviewed by Sandra Scholes

These novels, like the table top games have an array of beings that are pitted against each other. In this offering, Thanquol and Boneripper feature from the popular Gotrek and Felix series of novels. This volume starts from book one’s Grey Seer, while book two shows what happens when the Grey Seer, Thanquol falls out of favour with the council who had once looked up to him. The reason for this sudden change of mind is due to Thanquol failing countless times to fulfil his master’s commands, and even when the council have ignored him, he tries to make amends for what he has done in the past. Only one offers him a chance to make him look good in the council’s eyes, Nightlord Sneek. He tells him he must accompany his two Skaven; Shiwan, and Shen on an expedition to Lustria in order to kill the prophet of Sotek.

What is interesting early on is that Thanquol is fated to lose in his expedition, as from the start other Skaven plot to kill him. In plotter Chang Fang’s mind Thanquol is an incompetent, one who deserves his fate, and one he hates most of all for leaving his fellow Skaven, Chang Squik for dead in a previous assignment. As he was a member of Fang’s triad, he could never forgive what he did, and has since vowed to avenge his comrade. Chang Fang bears a grudge against Thanquol for his past, but there is the feeling there could be another reason for his malice.

Thanquol is a character who likes to think his moves through. He is cold, calculating, and won’t make the mistake of getting himself killed. He waits until such a time when he can take his enemy out. He feels he has earned his right to be a Grey Seer. It has taken him years to get the staff and warpstone he coveted so much, and he is proud of his achievements, but others loathe his power and high status. He also doesn’t trust anyone, not even his bodyguard Boneripper as in one scene he lets him tuck into one of his bananas thinking it might be poisoned.

Once they get to the jungle, Thanquol and the others have to trail through all manner of deadly wildlife; snakes, clouds of gnats, leeches, and mosquitos. Thanquol’s skin crawls as he reaches Sotek’s domain, looking in hatred at Shen Tsinge who is held aloft by his huge rat ogre.

This story is written in a way that enchants, stirring the interest in the setting and characters. It depicts the wonders of a new alien world to Thanquol and the other Skaven, its possibilities, but also its dangers. Werner enhances the already engaging Warhammer series with his harsh portrayal of life at sea and the dangers of a new world waiting to be discovered again.  He has Thanquol at odds with the crew, and realizes he can only trust one person, his bodyguard, Boneripper after all.

As Werner is already an established name he can lend his talents to writing about several of the Chaos Wastes novels. He seems to be able to turn his hand to anything, and if you like Temple of the Serpent, then his other novels will certainly interest you.