The Reading Canary: The Konrad Saga

This article was originally published on Ferretbrain. I’ve backdated it to its original Ferretbrain publication date but it may have been edited and amended since its original appearance.

The Reading Canary: A Reminder

Series of novels – especially in fantasy and SF fiction, but distressingly frequently on other genres as well – have a nasty tendency to turn sour partway through. The Reading Canary is your guide to precisely how far into a particular sequence you should read, and which side-passages you should explore, before the noxious gases become too much and you should turn back.

Konrad: Mighty Slayer of Rats

It transpires that in the early days of Games Workshop’s production of tie-in novels, one of the co-editors of GW Books (their publishing subsidiary before they reached a deal with Boxtree, which lasted until the foundation of the Black Library, the current Games Workshop publishing arm) was David Pringle, who at the time also edited the widely-respected SF magazine Interzone. This allowed him to draw on a wider range of talent than, say, the publishers of Dungeons & Dragons tie-in novels ever could, although many of the people he convinced to write for GW Books chose to write under pseudonyms. David S. Garnett, known more for his revival of classic New Wave SF magazine New Worlds as an anthology series than for his writing, is one of those individuals; under his “David Ferring” pseudonym, he wrote the Konrad Saga, a trilogy of novels set in the Warhammer fantasy world.

Compared to the Warhammer 40,000 universe, the Warhammer fantasy world hasn’t changed much since its original conception, and so most of the early GW Books output remains in print through the Black Library, in contrast to, say, the Warhammer 40,000 novels written by Ian Watson, which have largely been consigned to the memory hole as being No Longer Canon. But does The Konrad Saga really deserve to remain in print on the grounds that it’s still somewhat consistent with the tabletop wargame it’s based on? Is there anything special about it, beyond the fact that it was amongst the first Warhammer novelisations? Questions like these are what the Canary was hatched to answer…

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