- The first Baggit and Clodde novel
- Part of the Warhammer Crime range
- Published by Black Library
- Released on 20/08/2022
- A Crime Caper
- 404 pages
Baggit and Clodde are in hiding, with a bounty on their heads. Whiel working to pay off the bounty, Baggit learns of a treasure known as the Wraithbone Phoenix. But while this artefact could clear their names, Baggit and Clodde are not the only ones hunting for it . . .
As well as being one of the last audio dramas put out by Black Library, Dredge Runners was also one of the best. It took some of the noir out of the Warhammer Crime setting and injected a hearty dose of lovable rogues. I’d been hoping for a second outing for Baggit and Clodde ever since, be it in audio or in print. When I found out about The Wraithbone Phoenix, I was thrilled. And I was even more thrilled when author Alec Worley offered me a copy to review. Review copies can sometimes feel a little awkward, when you get something for free and end up not liking it, but happily that’s not the case here. The Wraithbone Phoenix captures lightning for a second time, and continues to grow the Warhammer Crime setting at the same time.
The big question hanging over the book is one of style. Dredge Runners made the most of its audio format by including Imperial voxcasts, in a combination of advertisement and propaganda. With The Wraithbone Phoenix in print, I assumed these elements would be left by the wayside, though I did harbour hopes for newspaper clippings. As it turns out, you can put radio broadcasts in print. How? Transcripts, my friend. Transcripts written with such a strong voice that you can hear them in your head. Mixed in with a couple of internal memos and other found documents, these transcripts pull you right into the over-the-top grim darkness of Varangantua with extracts that genuinely had me laughing out loud. Ranging from the consequences of locking ogryns in a shipping container to definitely false rumours regarding the destruction of a housing block, these inserts elevate the book to another level.
Not that it needs elevating. Whereas the rest of Warhammer Crime is focused on the keepers of the law, The Wraithbone Phoenix is unashamedly criminal. Not just Baggit and Clodde, but a whole host of others muscle in. Between bounty hunters, corrupt officials, assassins, thieves and cultists, I was initially concerned that our lead duo would be lost amid all the new names. Happily, the high death toll stops this from becoming a problem. With betrayals, unlikely alliances, murder, and explosions, there’s more than a hint of The Cannonball Run to the book as the various factions close in on their target. It does end up being a bit chaotic at times, but that’s half the fun of a heist story like this. And unlike some books that are this heavy on deception and bluffs, it all comes together in the end.
Between Baggit’s self-centred search for plunder and Clodde’s philosophising, The Wraithbone Phoenix offers something a little different from the grim and stony-faced probators the rest of the Crime range has centred on so far. While the unified identity of Varangantua is one of the range’s greatest assets, Worley proves that you can flex a theme without breaking it. Hopefully Varangantua continues to grow in depth, and hopefully Baggit and Clodde will return once again.