BOOK REVIEW | HOWEVER MANY MUST DIE | PHIL WILLIAMS
Been a while hasn't it? Well today, I am looking at the new book by Phil Williams called However Many Must Die. The book is released today.
If you recall, I did a cover reveal of the book a number of weeks ago, and I knew that I had to read this one. So let's dive in!
Wild Wish was trained to do one thing: kill. But she also kind of came here to make friends. Saved from a lonely backwater existence by a global war, Wish couldn’t believe her luck when she got into The Blood Scouts. Now she gets to share tents with a close-knit platoon of night-stalking, giant-slaying, boat-sinking, battle-swaying legends in the making.
The problem is, they keep dying.
And they’ve been given their worst assignment yet.
The enemy Dread Corps are combining dual magics deep within the nightmare lands of Low Slane, to unleash a weapon that could sway the entire war. It’s up to the Blood Scouts to stop them – with a journey that gets more dangerous with every step.
Far behind enemy lines, death hangs in the air. Monsters lurk around every corner.
Are Wish’s skills – and positive attitude – enough to keep her Blood Scouts alive?
Or will the cost of survival finally break her?
Wild Wish is a member of the Blood Scouts, a group of women who have had enough of losing their menfolk to war and holding up the country of Stanclif as part of the unseen workforce, and have decided to join in the fight against the bloodthirsty Drail.
Whilst on manoeuvres, Wish and her compatriots join the fighting, losing a beloved member of the team. However, after the battle they discover a group of refugees that tell them of a devastating secret weapon that the Drail are developing that could change the course of the war.
As friends are lost, Wild Wish finds herself in positions that she did not foresee. Travelling deep into Drailish country, Wish and her company of women soldiers go in search of the truth of the rumours about the secret weapon.
Fusing a World War One setting with an epic fantasy setting, Phil Williams manages to give a new twist to familiar themes. I was thoroughly impressed by the originality of the world in that there is the familiarity of both a war novel and an epic fantasy book with fantastical beasts alongside the human population.
Besides the characters (which I will get onto in a moment) one of the things that shines throughout the book is the world building. It is intricately fascinating how Phil Williams successfully melds a modernistic world (albeit one that has now passed us in the real world) with a classic fantasy setting. At times, it can be a little jarring to have trains, tanks, guns and cars in amongst dragon type creatures and other mythical fantasy races, but it works really well. You can tell that besides the secondary world, it is clear that there has been extensive research on the conditions that people faced during the war and that this extensive research in turn gives a realistic quality to the narrative.
In amongst this is the characters that populate the world. It is very easy to differentiate the evil axis type powers with the allied forces types, but giving a viewpoint from both sides of the trenches gives a good feel to how both sides operate, giving the reader a rounded view of the world that Phil Williams has created.
The book is split into two main points of view. The first point of view that we have is Wild Wish. Wild Wish is a country girl who in order to escape her life in some back water has joined The Blood Scouts, a crack squad of elite fighters. Throughout the book, her only desire is to get everyone out alive so that they can all join her on her imaginary farm. The other reason that she is there is to meet girls, and as the Blood Scouts are all women, she couldn’t have picked a better place. Throughout the story we follow her as she starts as a private in the Blood Scouts and how circumstances change her role as the book progresses.
In addition to this, we also get the point of view of Maringdale, who is a member of the Purification, which bears more than a passing resemblance to the Gestapo or the Stasi of East Germany. Maringdale is a hard character to like as she is ultimately self-serving, ruthless and ambitious. However, I must admit that I did like her character a lot. There are some parallels to Wish’s story, in that she experiences the same prejudices from the officers in the Drailian army as Wish does in hers. And whilst Wish’s change in roles is due to circumstance, Maringdale’s is one of her own making.
The narrative itself takes a little getting used to as it introduces us to a new world, new monsters and new concepts. I know that this will put some people off, but I like the fact that Phil Williams does not molly coddle the reader and trusts the reader to stick with the story in order to acclimatise themselves to the world and its development.
In some ways, However Many Must Die reminds me of Patrick Samphire’s books, in that there are familiar concepts in here, but that they are made malleable to create something that feels fresh and exciting.
Military fantasy may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I think that if you take a chance on this book you will enjoy it.
Oh and one final thing! I must mention the cover by Stefan Koidl. I originally did a cover reveal on this book prior to it being released and I must say that that cover blew me away.