Review: Archaon: Everchosen by Rob Sanders

Posted by DarkChaplain at 7/25/2014
In the north of the world the forces of Chaos gather, awaiting their moment to strike. At their head is the Everchosen, the warrior who will lead the final, cataclysmic assault that will usher in the End Times and the reign of the Ruinous Powers. But he was not always thus – he was once a man, a devout servant of the warrior-god Sigmar. What could cause such a soul to fall to the worship of the Dark Gods? What dark events could have put a knight of the Empire on the path to becoming the harbinger of the world’s end? And just who was the man who will become known to all as Archaon?
What an excellent novel.
Short version: I loved it, go pick it up.
Read on for the long version.
The Story:
"In the north of the world the forces of Chaos gather, awaiting their moment to strike. At their head is the Everchosen, the warrior who will lead the final, cataclysmic assault that will usher in the End Times and the reign of the Ruinous Powers. But he was not always thus – he was once a man, a devout servant of the warrior-god Sigmar. What could cause such a soul to fall to the worship of the Dark Gods? What dark events could have put a knight of the Empire on the path to becoming the harbinger of the world’s end? And just who was the man who will become known to all as Archaon?"

The Review
Everchosen is part one of Rob Sander's duology, dedicated to telling the story of Archaon, he who would become the Everchosen of Chaos, Lord of the End Times (which is the title of the second novel).

Archaon's character first appeared in Warhammer Fantasy lore as far back as 1998, in the 5th edition book Champions of Chaos. His entry in the book described him as a former templar who was corrupted by unknown means, disowned his old name and became henceforth known as Archaon. His path took him to the great northern wastes, following the prophecies of Necrodomo the Insane, towards his fate as the death to all existence.
To lay claim to his destiny, he would need to gather the treasures of Chaos and unite the rivaling tribes of marauders and worshippers of the dread pantheon.

Fans of the franchise will be aware that Archaon, at the height of his power, led the Storm of Chaos from the front, ravaging the world of men, elves and dwarves. In 2004, Games Workshop turned this war of a massive scale into a whole summer campaign for their tabletop game, with further lore on Archaon being added via the campaign book.

I have been involved in the Warhammer franchises, Fantasy and 40k both, since that time. My first White Dwarf magazines depicted scenarios and new releases from the Storm of Chaos campaign. I marveled at the new Warriors of Chaos miniatures, the Dark Prince Be'lakor's model which still has not lost its charme 10 years later, and, of course, Archaon himself, sitting atop his Hellsteed.

With that in mind, you will hopefully see that I was absolutely excited for this novel. Archaon was one of my first points of interest when I entered the hobby, and his legacy in the Warhammer World was gigantic. I was ecstastic about the novel's announcement and the promise of seeing Archaon's rise to power.
Now, having finished Everchosen, I can only offer my thanks to Rob Sanders for writing this novel, and its sequel. It exceeded my expectations.


Unlike many Warhammer Fantasy or 40k novels, Everchosen is not a story of massive armies marching to war, or about the triumph of good men over evil gods. Archaon is not a hero, even though his origins could have led him further down that way. If fate had permitted it.
What we got with Everchosen is, at its core, an (Anti-)Hero's Journey. We follow Archaon's life from before his inception, through his childhood, his righteous hate for the ancient foe, to his eventual fall from grace and the vengeance he seeks to bring upon the world.

Rob Sanders managed to construct an initially complex, yet at the same intuitive and natural way of telling his story. He succeeded in showing the reader just how inevitable Archaon's destiny is, by employing more than a few clever tricks. This allows the reader to see the hero live, struggle, and succumb. We get to see him at his best and at his worst, and all the shades in between those extremes.
Most importantly, we get to see a villain in the making, and are allowed to understand what made him so. I am not exaggerating when I say that Rob Sanders has managed to present me with the best-written villain I have seen in years, while still making me root for him to succeed. That takes some serious skill.

Rob Sander's prose, as usual, felt very colorful and laden with meaning. I would not describe this novel as an easy, or quick read. It surprised me more than once just how much content he was able to squeeze into a matter of pages, without making me feel like he was rushing things.
The pacing, overall, was very, very good, despite the first half of the book jumping through the protagonist's childhood and early manhood. Key events are shown, while the author also hinted at things that could have been under different circumstances.

About halfway through the book, things slow down and a lot of characters from Archaon's hordes of followers get introduced, which worked wonders in showing us the exploits of the warlord without bogging the reader down with engagement after engagement. Things picked up soon after with more significant battles and encounters, however.

But that is not to say that Everchosen lacks in the visceral action department - no, sir! In fact, the action scenes in this novel are particularly eventful and exciting. More than once did I catch myself thinking "this would look awesome in a movie!" when Archaon went about to show how bad his backside is.

Sanders essentially managed to spend enough time with the important bits that developed Archaon as a character, warlord, villain but also a tragic figure, in very creative and reader-engaging ways.
As a result, he turned the legendary Chaos Champion into a well-rounded, relatable and even sympathetic character, while keeping him despicable enough for the reader to realize that he should actually feel bad about wanting to see him succeed.
For this I tip my hat to Rob Sanders.

I easily got my money's worth out of this shiny hardback release, and am eagerly awaiting spring 2015 so I may pick up Lord of the End Times. Archaon still has a few treasures of Chaos to collect, and face his dark patron. I cannot wait to see how things will turn out for him in the sequel.

Archaon: Everchosen gets my seal of approval and a well-deserved recommendation to fans of Warhammer Fantasy and grim fantasy stories alike.


Archaon: Everchosen on Goodreads

About the Author

I'm known as DarkChaplain across the internet, and call myself a passionate gamer and book enthusiast. I have been blogging mostly about games for a couple of years, but finally found my way to reviewing a different medium: Books. Honestly, I prefer that job so far.
Follow Me on Twitter @TheDarkChaplain


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