Today we review the latest addition to the Legends of the Age of Sigmar series focuses solely on the Sylvaneth, the fey tree folk of Ghyran.
The latest addition to the Legends of the Age of Sigmar series focuses solely on the Sylvaneth, the fey tree folk of Ghyran. All of their aspects are explored here, from their battle prowess, to the despair felt by them, to the down right spookiness of the Outcasts. So steel yourself and enter the dark corners of the forests, the Sylvaneth are here.
The Resolute – Josh Reynolds
The opening story of the book focuses on a group of Tree Revenants led by their champion Felyndael. This is our first look at how these distinctively Aelvish looking Sylvaneth think and operate, so that in itself is pretty fascinating. They definitely have more of an Aelf feel to me compared to the Sylvaneth. They all talk telepathically and are very, very hesitant towards accepting any outsiders. Josh does a good job of making each member of this small group of Tree Revenants feel unique, with a small backstory to fill them out a bit. For example, one of them was severely burned earlier and still carries those scars, both physically and emotionally. They are some of the last guardians of a long abandoned city that is now in the grip of Nurgle. The Chaos forces have some plague bells that are growing in power and every time they toll they come closer to defeating the Sylvaneth once and for all and securing that city for themselves.
This is where Aetius and his Stormcast of the Hallowed Knights come in. Sent to investigate the city, the Tree Revenants reluctantly approach them. After a short discussion Felyndael admits to himself that they probably need the help of the Stormcast to defeat the forces of Nurgle. From here the combined forces start to move against the basilica which holds the bells. The bulk of the story is really about the interactions between these two allied forces, with each of them coming to accept the other. It really is some great conversations and character development, which is a nice break from fight scenes. Josh is also very good at writing these quieter moments in the story and here he shines again. The finale is a great ending to the story with a suitably awesome battle scene. The only thing that bugged me a bit is that at times it felt a bit like Space Marines and Eldar from 40k. I guess that’s hard to avoid though with giant armored humans and fey, mysterious Elf like beings. If you haven’t read 40k fiction before then this won’t be a problem for you. Overall I really liked it and it’s a great first introduction to the Tree Revenants beyond the Battletome.
Final Score – 4/5
Heartwood – Robbie MacNiven
During the fight Nellas was injured by the champion, not mortally, but the wound is now infected by Nurgle. On her way back to her glade she is stopped by some Spite Revenants who tell her she shouldn’t pass because she carries infection, but she insists and they eventually let her go. After replanting all of them Nellas retreats into the forests to sleep and recover where she has some pretty vivid fever dreams. When she awakes she starts to fear that maybe the Spite Revenants were right and that she has sowed the doom of her glade. From there she consults with the remaining members of the glade who were not at the battle and using her own devices must figure out the truth about what is happening to her and her glade. Without giving too much more away the climax is a great payoff and the story overall if very refreshing. It’s always nice to read something AoS that doesn’t focus as much on fighting. Instead we get to see her investigate what’s going on and try and figure out how to save the remaining Sylvaneth under her protection. I really liked Heartwood and would definitely read another story by Robbie.
Final Score – 4.5/5
The Splintered – Rob Sanders
This is a pretty cool story idea and one I immediately took a liking to since it centers solely around one of the Sons of Durthu. Shaddock, a Spirit of Durthu, had been asleep for generations, seemingly since they had been banished from the Everqueen’s presence back at the start of the Age of Chaos. This in itself is a pretty cool idea to me since the Treelord models look so much more like a humanesque creature than a tree. It talks about how his roots were borrowed deep into the earth and he was covered with even more moss and bark so he really just look liked a tree until he shook it loose when he awoke. They also mention how the sword of the Spirits of Durthu are made of stone, which I think is a rather cool work around for why they would have swords.
Once awoken by the local Branchwych, Shaddock singly handily defeats all of the forces of Nurgle that had infested his glade. It’s all pretty cool and you really get to see just how insanely powerful the Spirits of Durthu are. The final battle at the glade has him fighting a group of sorcerers who were attempting to summon a Great Unclean One. Once the glade is cleared the Branchwych Ardaneth pleads with Shaddock to stay and help bring the Arkenwood, their glade, back to prominence. It’s his duty though to protect his Everqueen so he must leave them and follow Alarielle’s song.
The rest of the story has Shaddock on a journey through Ghyran to find his queen, but can even he escape the infections of Nurgle? It’s all rather interesting and I really like the odessy aspect of it. It’s not a storytelling mechanic we see often in Black Library books. The Spirit of Durthu is just plain awesome and definitely comes across as being extremely powerful. The climax to this has a big battle just like you would expect, but it’s really more about the journey there than the destination.
Final Score – 4.5/5
Wrathspring – Gav Thorpe
Alarielle and her top advisers and leaders of the different groves converge to decide what there next course of action is. Many want to take an easier route, rescuing more bands of Sylvaneth who are under attack by smaller forces of Nurgle, but not the Everqueen. She had made a promise to recapture the Vale of Winternight and it was a promise she meant to keep. This is where we get to the main bulk of the story.
The Vale has been turned into a giant fortress of Nurgle and Alarielle takes all of her gather might there to assail it. Here we get to see all of the different aspects of the Sylvaneth at work, with the Treelords tearing down the walls while the Tree Revenants and Dryads attack the servants of Nurgle themselves. The goddess attempts to infiltrate the fortress in spirit form to locate the captured Sylvaneth within, but all doesn’t go as planned. I don’t want to give away much more of the plot, but there is a rather cool moment involving a Spirit of Durthu acting as Alarielle’s guardians and a pretty spectacular charge by the Kurnoth Hunters, my personal favorite addition to the Sylvaneth. This story essentially feels like the big climatic battle of a larger novel. It’s fun that we get to see a bunch of the newer additions to the army in action, and there is some nice character exploration of the Everqueen herself. A few of her connections to the world that was are explored a bit more and I think Gav is at his best when writing about her. All in all the whole thing felt like a large battle scene, which also jumped around a bit from the Skaven assault at the start, to the council, and finally finishing at the siege of the Nurgle fortress. I think seeing more of the council would have been pretty enlightening, but I understand that page space was limited. I like this story for covering all of the bases, and all of the battle scenes were well written and engaging. If anything it just felt like a little too much crammed into to few pages. If you want a story that captures every aspect of the Sylvaneth besides the Outcasts, then this is the one to read.
Final Score – 4/5
The Outcast – Josh Reynolds
If you like the Sylvaneth then this is definitely the book for you. We get to see Treelords, Tree Revenants, Spite Revenants, Branchwyches, and even Alarielle and Drycha. The Outcast was definitely my favorite story in the bunch and in my opinion, worth the prices of the book on its own, but all of the others a great reads too. I do wish we had seen less of the Branchwyches just because it seems like they were overused a bit between all of the stories, but that’s a small complaint. Overall I think this was a solid addition to the AoS novel line up.
Final Overall Score – 4.3/5
Tyler is a life long painter and hobbyist and took home his first Golden Demon award at the 2012 Chicago Games Day with a follow up at the 2013 North American Games Day. More of his work can be found at his blog, Mengel Miniatures.