With their distinct hooded robes, herds of Squigs and darkly comic malice, the Night Goblins were a beloved part of Warhammer Fantasy Battles, if not always the most important or impactful in the lore of the World that was. In Warhammer Age of Sigmar, the Night Goblins were renamed to the Moonclan Grots, and in January 2019 were given a whole range of gorgeous plastic kits and a fantastic Battletome that introduced the concept of the Gloomspite Gitz: an alliance of everything that survives, thrives and plots in the dark places of the Mortal Realms.
Gloomspite by Andy Clark, tells the story of the defence of the city of Draconium, located in Aqshy, the realm of fire. Ill-omens and strange occurrences are afoot in the city, and a band of well-meaning sell-swords find themselves caught up in events that rapidly spiral out of control.
With units like the Doom Diver Catapult and Fanatics, Night Goblins sometimes ended up serving as comic relief in Warhammer Fantasy Battles. Gloomspite by Andy Clark helps to establish them as something far more menacing and horrifying. Many of the people who inhabit Sigmar’s cities are recent transplants from the realm of Azyr, so to them the various tribes of Grots are nothing more than half forgotten lines from children’s nursery rhymes. The events of Gloomspite disabuse them of that notion – those that survive anyway!
Gloomspite is told mostly from the perspective of various humans, aelves and duardin. In a lesser writer’s hands this could reduce the Gloomspite to little more than one note villains, to be dispatched by the heroes. Andy Clark does a wonderful job of maintaining the menace throughout, introducing new threats and horrors as the siege progresses, often tying it back to in-game units. In some books this can feel a bit forced, but I found it thrilling here. The Gloomspite come across as a credible threat, taking the city to breaking point and beyond.
The book starts with an exciting action sequence that sets the well-meaning mercenaries off on their quest, and the pace of the book doesn’t really relent. The Swords of Sigmar contains several members, and Andy Clark depicts a group of damaged people who rely on each other not just for support in battle, but mentally and spiritually too. There is a sensitive portrayal of a non-neurotypical member of the band, indeed she is one of my favourites in the whole book. The characters feel like they have some depth to them, many with interesting histories.
I won’t drill deeper into the plot here, as I believe the surprises and twists throughout are best approached unaware. Gloomspite does a fantastic job of describing how the tactics and danger posed by the Gloomspite differ from those of Chaos, especially those of Nurgle. It’s an in-depth exploration of just what happens when the Bad Moon shines down upon the Mortal Realms. In short, Gloomspite is a thrilling, fast moving horror story that gripped me from start to finish and gave me a fantastic understanding of how the Gloomspite Gitz operate. I heartily recommend it to anyone who has even the slightest interest in the clammy Everdank that would be ushered in, should the Gloomspite finally succeed in their plans…