Gotrek and Felix
||This Warhammer-related article describes a work or element of fiction in a primarily in-universe style. (October 2009)|
The novels chronicle the adventures of a Dwarven Slayer named Gotrek Gurnisson and his poet/insurrectionist companion, Felix Jaeger. As a Slayer, Gotrek seeks a glorious death in battle to atone for his unknown sins. Felix, bound to him by a Dwarven blood-oath sworn after a drinking binge, is tasked with writing and recording his heroic exploits and ultimately his death. Felix, however, has long since come to adopt the opinion that "anything capable of killing the Slayer would finish me off shortly afterwards". Together they have travelled the length and breadth of the Old World and beyond, fighting against all manners of evil from orcs to undead to the forces of Chaos so that Gotrek might finally fulfill his Slayer Oath by dying in battle.
As well as appearing in the novels they have also been incorporated into the Warhammer Fantasy Battle game appearing initially as hero characters for the Dwarf army and then later in the Dogs of War army book. The characters also make an appearance in the Warhammer Fantasy MMORPG Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning.
Gotrek Gurnisson is the greatest (or worst, depending on the viewpoint) Dwarven Slayer ever to have lived. This apparently contradiction is rooted in the nature of the Slayer Oath. Having committed a crime so terrible that only death in battle will serve as atonement, Gotrek has fought and slain numerous monsters, including hordes of orcs and Skaven, a giant, trolls, Chaos warlords and sorcerers, an entire Black Ark of Naggaroth and even a Bloodthirster of Khorne, and unfortunately (in his mind) lived to fight another day. His inability to find the heroic end he seeks begins to take its toll after a time, and by the events of Orcslayer, Gotrek is becoming worried that all that remains for him is a pathetic doom against unworthy opponents like Goblins, or even worse, death as a result of old age. An experienced adventurer before taking the Slayer Oath, Gotrek has travelled across many lands and faced numerous foes of the Dwarven people, and possesses some engineering experience, including the ability to pilot gyrocopters. Gotrek is also a very grim and moody figure, even by Dwarven standards, and possesses the same stubborn character, obsession with honour, oaths and grudges, unerring sense of direction, prodigious love of ale and general distrust of non-dwarves that is typical of his people's culture. Like all Slayers, Gotrek shaved his crimson hair into what usually is a crescent shaped Mohawk and is described as broader than he is tall, heavily muscled, and wears a patch to cover an eye which he lost in battle with Orcs and Goblins. He is also far stronger than the average dwarf and is able to perceive secret passageways in seemingly impenetrable tunnel walls. He is seemingly impossible to kill, having survived, among other things, a single combat with a Bloodthirster of Khorne, being hit by a stone hurled by a trebuchet, being catapulted into an orc ship and falling three hundred feet off a cliff.
The exact nature of Gotrek's crime has never been explicitly revealed; like many Slayers, Gotrek considers his transgressions an intensely personal shame, and has threatened to kill those nosy enough to pry. However, some hints have been revealed over the course of the novels, though the authenticity of these sources is somewhat questionable. In a vision of the Slayer's past seen by Arek Demonclaw, it is shown that after returning from his first incursion into the Chaos Wastes, Gotrek found his wife and children dead. The vision then shows Gotrek in the court of an unnamed dwarf lord, and Gotrek arguing with the said lord. Afterward the dwarf lord sentences Gotrek to an unnamed fate, at which Gotrek kills the Lord and his bodyguard and all others that do not flee. Wracked with guilt and shame, Gotrek shaved his hair, becoming a Slayer.
His signature weapon is a battleaxe imbued with powerful rune magic, having gained this weapon during his first excursion into the northern Chaos Wastes, where he recovered it from the dead son of King Thangrim Firebeard. Gotrek's axe is as powerful as that wielded by the dwarven High King, Thorgrim Grudgebearer. This weapon was the Runemaster's Axe of the lost dwarven fortress of Karag Dum, and supposedly previously belonged to the dwarven deity Grimnir. The elven mage Teclis once read the magical aura of Gotrek, and determined that immense power is flowing from the axe and slowly changing The Slayer into something greater than an ordinary dwarf - having already been proved in the previous eight books when all the creatures Gotrek has killed are considered.
Felix Jaeger is Gotrek's reluctant companion and "Rememberer." The black sheep of a rich Imperial mercantile family, he was initially a poet but was expelled from university after accidentally killing a student in a duel. After Gotrek saved Felix from being killed in the Window Tax Riots in Altdorf, Felix, in a drunken stupor, swore a blood-oath to record Gotrek's doom so that his honor could be maintained and to let him be remembered by the world. A blood-oath was the gravest one a dwarf could make (even for a society obsessed with the sanctity of oaths), and so Felix was compelled to travel with Gotrek. A major theme in the novels is the tension within Felix between his desire to settle down in peace and comfort, away from the danger of being Gotrek's companion, and his longing to escape the banalities of civilized Imperial society for a life of heroism and adventure, and it is this conflict that shaped much of his relationship with Gotrek and his family.
In contrast to Gotrek's taciturn and absolutist mentality, Felix is a much more romantic, pragmatic figure, and frequently serves as the voice of logic and moral reason of the duo in order to remind Gotrek of the long-term consequences of his actions and guide him towards greater heroism. He also finds himself serving in a more diplomatic role, helping to soothe bruised egos after Gotrek's anti-authoritarian nature provokes allies or civilized society. Felix is also something of a womanizer, and forms several romantic relationships over the course of the series, most prominently with the Kislevite noblewoman (and eventual vampire) Ulrika Magdova.
Felix is a human with a swordman's physique and long blond hair, who favors a chain shirt and red cloak. Over years of following Gotrek, Felix has become an accomplished swordsman and duelist. His own weapon is the rune sword Karaghul, a blade with a dragon hilt recovered from the fallen hold of Karak Eight Peaks. A relic of the Knights of the Order of the Fiery Heart, it was forged for the purpose of slaying dragons. As shown in Dragonslayer, it grants him a shield from a dragon's fiery breath, as well as providing a powerful confidence when facing such a creature. As the decades pass, old acquaintances comment that Felix has not aged a day. First shrugged off as niceties, this soon becomes fact when, in Elfslayer, Max Schreiber verifies that Felix has indeed become immortal, or as close as to make no difference. Upon self-inspection, Felix also discovers that many of his old scars and wounds have vanished from his body. Max attributes this immortal state to various causes, from both Felix's and Gotrek's magical weapons, to some force encountered during their sojourn in the Chaos Wastes, to his passing through the wormhole in Sylvania. Many of his diaries concerning his and Gotrek's adventures have been published by his brother, Otto. The outlandishness and impossibility of the tales in question have brought most of its readers, including Otto, to believe it to be pure fiction.
Ulrika Magdova is a vampire, formerly Kislevite noble and Felix's former love interest. She was daughter to Ivan Straghov, March Warden of the Border, which was the first defense against the forces of the Ruinous Powers descending from the Chaos Wastes in the north. While still human, she was a notable swordswoman and beauty, attracting the attentions of both Felix Jaeger and Max Schreiber during the expedition to Karag Dum. Felix won. However, due to differences in background, they began to split after the Battle of Praag, and their division compounded when Ulrika was turned into one of the bloodsucking undead by Adolphus Krieger in Sylvania. Her transformation is one of the reasons why Felix stayed out of the Old World for two decades. She returned in Manslayer, seemingly wanting to patch things up with Felix, but once again their differences (now predator and prey) prevented a complete reconciliation and she abandoned Felix and Gotrek to fight fellow vampires, forced to abide her "mother's" command to kill them. Ulrika also now has her own book series (which seem to chronicle her adventures between her last appearance in Vampireslayer and return in Manslayer) - "Ulrika the Vampire" series, beginning with Bloodborn and continuing with Bloodforged and Bloodsworn. She also appears in the short story The Funeral of Gotrek Gurnisson, in which she temporarily joins forces with Felix to hunt down the villains whom he (mistakenly) believes have killed Gotrek.
Maximillian "Max" Schreiber is an Imperial wizard, first encountered by Felix and Gotrek in Middenheim aboard the Spirit of Grungni. Max swiftly established himself as a powerful ally, and a bitter rival with Felix for Ulrika's affections. Max is an avid scholar into the powers of Chaos, having lost his family to beastmen as a child, and has made it his mission in life to destroy Chaos wherever he found it: however, he was expelled from the Imperial College of Magic for displaying too great an interest in the subject. However, Max's knowledge proves invaluable as the group find themselves in battle with the forces of Chaos. Specifically, he was originally written to be a Gold wizard but this was later retconned in 'Elfslayer' to being a wizard of the Light College and using the Wind of Hysh.
Borek Forkbeard is an ancient dwarf who is near 500 years old, he was originally of the hold of Karag Dum where he and a group of other dwarfs escaped just before the siege of Karag Dum to bring aid. He funded the first attempted rescue mission into the Chaos Wastes in armored dwarf ground vehicles in which he, Snorri and Gotrek were the only survivors. His second (and successful attempt) was to fly over the waste in an airship built by Malakai Makaisson.
Malakai Makaisson is a dwarf Slayer and mad genius engineer. The creator of the Spirit Of Grungi, the great (and only) airship that carried the fateful expedition to Karag Dum, he has a peculiar accent similar to real world Scottish. One of Gotrek's and Felix's staunchest allies, he has helped them several times when no one else would. He is also the only known remaining living being, besides Snorri, Borek, and Gotrek and Felix, to have the traversed the Chaos Marches and returned alive, sanity intact.
Snorri Nosebiter is another Dwarf Slayer and an old friend of Gotrek. Snorri is portrayed as being courageous, but incredibly stupid. However, he doesn't let this, and the numerous jokes Gotrek and other Slayers make about his stupidity, bother him. He is one of the few Dwarfs to treat Felix with a great deal of respect, partly because of his connection to Gotrek, and as a result of the things he has seen Felix do. His most notable feature is his crest: instead of a mohawk of hair, Snorri has a row of bright red nails hammered into his skull to make his crest. By the time of Shamanslayer, Snorri has lost much of his vitality and appears to be suffering dementia, having forgotten much of his past, including the reason he became a Slayer (one of the greatest blasphemies in Dwarven society). Snorri seeks to make a pilgrimage to a shrine of the Dwarf gods and ask for his memory back. He also suffered another major loss, losing most of his right leg to a Minotaur's axe.
Rodi Balkisson is another Dwarf Slayer, whom the pair encounter in Shamanslayer. Rodi, along with Snorri and another Slayer called Argrin Crownforger, had been travelling across the Empire since the Storm of Chaos, looking for their dooms. Rodi, being younger than most Slayers, got on Gotrek's nerves quite a great deal, as Rodi often made blunt and unsubtle comments about Gotrek's inability to find his doom after nearly twenty years (a subject Gotrek is exceptionally touchy on). After surviving the battle with the beastmen and retreating from the zombie onslaught to Castle Reikguard, Rodi played an instrumental part in the castle's defence, but in the final undead attack, Rodi elected to stay outside the walls, bluntly telling Gotrek that he believed the older Slayer cursed; none near him would die, and Rodi didn't want to be afflicted with that curse. Rodi met his death fighting to the end against the undead champion Krell; later, when Gotrek and Felix returned with the Reikland army to stop Kemmler's ritual, they discovered that the necromancer had raised Rodi as an undead slave. Showing respect to the young Slayer for the first time, Gotrek killed Rodi to free him.
Kat (full name Katerina) is a young woman who serves as Felix's current love interest. Gotrek and Felix first encountered her in Trollslayer when she was a little girl, the only survivor of a beastmen attack led by a female Chaos Champion. As the story unfolded, it turned out Kat was the Chaos Champion's daughter (the woman having been raped in her youth), who sought to murder the child and become a Daemon Prince, but the champion was killed by Kat, who stabbed her in the back with her own sword as the woman tried to kill Felix. After the battle, Kat begged Gotrek and Felix to let her go with them, but the pair refused, knowing a child wouldn't be safe travelling with them, and left her in the care of a woodsman and his family. However, they encountered Kat again in Shamanslayer many years later, now a woman in her late twenties and a deadly warrior, driven to kill all beastmen to avenge the murder of her adopted family. As they journeyed together, Felix and Kat began to feel affection for each other; while Felix initially had misgivings about falling in love with a woman half his age, whom he'd known as a child, after rescuing Kat from bandits who'd abducted her, Felix accepted what he felt, and the pair became lovers. They survived the battle against the beastmen and Heinrich Kemmler's zombie horde, though Kat was left behind accidentally as they tried to flee Castle Reikguard, and only just managed to avoid death by starvation before the Reikland army arrived, though she still had enough strength to assist in the final battle, distracting Kemmler long enough for Gotrek to reach him.
Grey Seer Thanquol
Grey Seer Thanquol is one of the most recurrent enemies of Gotrek and Felix, a rarity in that he has encountered the pair more than once and lived to tell the tale. A Skaven Grey Seer of great power, Thanquol conspires to achieve a position on the Council of Thirteen and to bring about the day when the armies of the Skaven, led by him, will conquer the surface world in the name of the Great Horned Rat. Thanquol first came to prominence when he took command of the armies of the Skaven Clan Skab (after his predecessor, Warlord Vermak Skab perished in a 'tragic accident' involving a loaded crossbow and an exploding donkey) and used them for his own ends. He came close to his goal in the novel Skavenslayer, nearly conquering the city of Nuln, but the constant intervention of Gotrek and Felix thwarted his plans, forcing him to flee. Every time they encounter one another, Thanquol's (self-proclaimed) ingenious schemes are either confounded (as Thanquol paranoidly believes) by the incompetence of his lackeys or utterly destroyed by Gotrek and Felix (or both); as a result, Thanquol has lost much power and prestige in the Skaven Under-Empire. Humorously, even though they have foiled many of his plans and ruined his status among Skavens, Gotrek and Felix had no idea of who Thanquol was when he finally was able to catch them. Thanquol has vowed to one day find and kill the pair for the many indignities they have brought on him, along with the loss of his health, sanity and his right hand which was chopped off by Gotrek's axe in Thanquol's last encounter with the pair. Likewise, Gotrek and Felix have vowed revenge on Thanquol when they next meet, especially Felix as Thanquol was responsible for the death of Felix's father. Thanquol like Gotrek and Felix is a proven survivor, though unlike Gotrek and Felix who survive on skill, bravery and honor, Thanquol survives mainly due to his cowardice and his willingness to put others in the line of fire. It is proven fact that most Skaven armies or forces led by Thanquol are either wiped out or suffer extremely high casualties (even by Skaven standards).
Though Thanquol thinks himself a tactical genius, a mighty sorcerer and a brave leader, Thanquol is, like all Skaven, a maniacal egotist and a complete coward who flees at the first sign of trouble. While it is true he has phenomenal sorcerous skill and great cunning, Thanquol prefers to leave the dirty work to his underlings: in particular his bodyguard, the ferocious Rat-Ogre he calls Boneripper. There have been thirteen Bonerippers, nearly all of which have been killed by Gotrek and Felix. Thanquol has his own book series (which would appear to chronicle his schemes in the period between his last appearance in Beastslayer and his return in Elfslayer) which started with the novel Grey Seer and is continued in Temple of the Serpent and Thanquol's Doom.
The fate of Thanquol's Rat ogre bodyguards:
- Boneripper 1. Slain by Gotrek in Skavenslayer.
- Boneripper 2. Slain by Felix in Daemonslayer after Felix threw a dwarf bomb at the creature which Boneripper accidentally swallowed.
- Boneripper 3. Slain by both Snorri & Gotrek in Dragonslayer
- Boneripper 4. Slain by Lord Skrolk in Grey Seer.
- Boneripper 5. Slain by Deathmaster Snikch in Temple of the Serpent
- Boneripper 6. Wounded by a gunpowder explosion in Temple of the Serpent and later eaten by Thanquol
- Boneripper 7. Is the Re-animated body of the first Boneripper. Made possible by Clan Skyres combined use of sorcery and machinery. Gifted to Thanquol in Thanquols Doom. Despite suffering heavy damage the seventh Boneripper is still up and running.
- Boneripper 8-12. ?
- Boneripper 13. Slain by Gotrek on the deck of a skaven submersible in Elfslayer
Some other enemies Felix and Gotrek have faced (and defeated) in their adventures include:
- The Bloodthirster of Karag Dum (Daemonslayer): An ancient and powerful daemon of Khorne who stalks the ruined city of Karag Dum in the Chaos Wastes. Severely wounded by Felix, Slain by Gotrek.
- The Manflayer (Dragonslayer): An Orc chieftain who wears the skins of humans as a cloak, armed with an axe and a magic cleaver. He wanted to take Gotrek's axe to add to his collection, but was slain by Gotrek.
- Skjalandir (Dragonslayer): An old and dangerous dragon that dwells in the World's Edge Mountains, disturbed from his centuries-long slumber by Lhoigor and Kelmain. Killed by Felix.
- Arek Daemonclaw (Beastslayer): A mighty Chaos Lord and follower of the god Tzeentch, who sought to conquer the ancient city of Praag in Kislev. Slain by Gotrek.
- Adolphus Krieger (Vampireslayer): An insane vampire who once served Mannfred von Carstein, Adolphus sought to use an ancient artifact of Nagash to bind all vampires to his will and use them to conquer humanity. Slain by Snorri Nosebiter.
- Lhoigor Goldenrod and Kelmain Blackstaff (Beastslayer & Giantslayer): Two powerful sorcerers of Tzeentch, Lhoigor and Kelmain first appeared briefly in Dragonslayer as sorcerous advisors and lieutenants to Arek Daemonclaw. In Giantslayer, they sought to use the ancient magic of the Old Ones to destabilise the very balance of the world and open gateways that would allow the forces of Chaos to strike all across the world. Lhoigor was killed by Gotrek and Kelmain was slain by Teclis.
- The Sleeper (Orcslayer): A gigantic, Chaos-twisted insectoid creature buried beneath the Dwarven city of Karak Hirn, the Sleeper escaped from its imprisonment and used its powerful psychic abilities to enslave a large number of Orcs, Goblins and Dwarves to do its bidding, in preparation for a war that would allow it to spread its corrupting influence across the world. Slain by Gotrek.
- Waldemar Lichtmann (Manslayer): An Imperial wizard, engineer, mutant and secret leader of a Tzeentchian cult in Nuln called the Brotherhood of the Cleansing Flame, that intended to destroy Nuln and sabotage Middenheim to allow Archaon's victory. Lichtmann explains he joined the side of Chaos as he had begun to mutate, despite doing nothing to provoke it, and saw Archaon as the only one who might allow him to live, for the Empire would execute him for being a mutant, and he believed his genius would go to waste. Slain by Gotrek.
- High Sorceress Heshor (Elfslayer): A Dark Elf sorceress of great power, Heshor, acting under orders from Malekith himself, planned to use an ancient Elven artifact, called 'The Harp of Ruin', to trigger earthquakes and tectonic movements that would destroy Ulthuan and raise the sunken realm of Nagarythe. She planned to test the weapon's abilities by using it on the Empire, but her plans were thwarted by two things: Skaven under the command of Thanquol attacking her forces, trying to steal the Harp for themselves, and the intervention of Gotrek and Felix. Heshor is believed to have perished in the explosion caused by Gotrek's destruction of the 'Harp of Ruin'.
- The Harbinger of Stromfels (Slayer of the Storm God): An Avatar of the Storm God, Stromfels, the Harbinger is a gigantic creature composed of the lower body of a human and the upper body of a shark. The Harbinger was created when a gem called the 'Heart of Stromfels', was fused to the body of a willing host: while the 'Heart' is attached to the Harbinger, it is invulnerable to all wounds. The Harbinger sought to destroy the city of Marienburg. The Harbinger, however, was slain by Gotrek in Marienburg: the Slayer tore the 'Heart' away, rendering the Harbinger vulnerable, then split its skull with his axe.
- Urslak Cripplehorn and Gargorath the God-Touched (Shamanslayer): Two powerful Beastmen, Urslak is the titular shaman, while Gargorath is a powerful warlord who serves him. Urslak is goat-headed and grey-furred, wears old robes decorated with hundreds of birds' feet and carries a magical staff topped with a blue crystal held in the claw of a griffin. Gargorath, however, is black-furred and ram-headed, wears crude armour and carries a magical axe that 'eats what it kills': it steals the life from those it kills and uses it to heal Gargaroth. The pair planned, with the aid of Tzeentch to cast a spell that would transform everyone living in the forests of the Empire into beastmen, creating a vast horde of beasts that would allow them to conquer the Old World, but their plans were thwarted when Gotrek destroyed the enchanted menhir they needed to complete their spell. Urslak died after being disembowelled by Gotrek, before being sucked through a hellish portal opened by the destruction of the menhir, while Gargorath was slain by Gotrek in the battle then magically raised from the dead by a powerful necromancer (revealed in Zombieslayer as Heinrich Kemmler himself).
- Heinrich Kemmler and Krell the Wight King (Zombieslayer): One of the most powerful necromancers to have ever lived, Kemmler was believed to have died in battle twenty years previous in Bretonnia, but has seemingly returned to plague the Empire. He was encountered initially by Gotrek and Felix in Shamanslayer, posing as "Hans the Hermit", an eccentric tomb robber who showed them a way to reach Urslak Cripplehorn undetected. Once the battle was won, Kemmler revealed himself, explaining that he couldn't perform his necromancy with the beastmen's herdstone in place, but knew Gotrek could destroy it for him. Kemmler's army of zombies pursued the survivors of the battle to Castle Reikguard; Kemmler preferred to let his lieutenant Krell (an ancient and powerful wight who had long been a servant of Kemmler's, as well as an old enemy of the dwarves) do most of the attacking while preparing for some unknown ritual. In one attack, Krell managed to wound Gotrek with his axe; a lethal weapon that left slivers of its blade in a wound that worked their way to the heart, though Gotrek survived. When an army from the Reikland, including Max Schreiber, came to relieve the castle, it transpired that Kemmler had acquired the corpses of the count and countess of the castle and planned to use them as part of a spell that would, if successful, blight and poison all food and water in the Reikland, before his undead army marched on it. However, the count's son killed his undead parents, thwarting the ritual, while Gotrek severely injured Krell and wounded Kemmler before the necromancer used magic to escape. As he fled, Kemmler swore revenge, and ominiously remarked that his plans had only been delayed, not defeated. It is worthy of note that since both Kemmler and Krell escaped destruction at the hands of Gotrek and Felix, they are two of the few villains (along with Grey Seer Thanquol) to encounter the pair and survive.
- Garmr Hrodvitnir (Road of Skulls): One of the mightiest champions of the Blood God Khorne to walk the earth, and one of the few characters in the series to have matched Gotrek in battle. Garmr is a Chaos Lord from Norsca who has carved a mighty path of destruction from the heart of the far north, paved with the skulls of his enemies to reach the Slayer Keep of the World's Edge Mountains, where his road of skulls is to end. Garmr intended to raze the Slayer Keep to the ground, claim the skull of Gotrek (whom he knew as the One Eyed Dwarf) and thus open a gateway to the realm of Chaos which would thus consume the entire Old World and turn it into an endless daemonic battlefield which would allow him to fully indulge his bloodlust. He and Gotrek face each other in the climax of the novel and after a close battle, Gotrek decapitates him.
Gotrek and Felix Novels
The series comprises the following:
- Orcslayer (written by Nathan Long)
- Manslayer (written by Nathan Long)
- Elfslayer (written by Nathan Long)
- Slayer of the Storm God (written by Nathan Long) (Audio Book Only)
- Shamanslayer (written by Nathan Long)
- Zombieslayer (written by Nathan Long)
- the Anthology (written by various authors)
- Road of Skulls (written by Josh Reynolds) - takes place after Vampireslayer
- City of the Damned (written by David Guymer) October 2013
- The Serpent Queen (written by Josh Reynolds) April 2014
The first nine books of the series, from Trollslayer to Manslayer, have been reprinted in three Gotrek and Felix Omnibus collections. The Fourth Omnibus is scheduled to release in March 2013.
The pair have been in several short stories as well including:
The pair feature in several e-books:
Gotrek and Felix make (small) appearances in many Warhammer Army books during the fifth edition of the game as well as an old version of the magic rulebook for Warhammer Fantasy Battles:
- Warhammer armies: The Empire
- Warhammer armies: Skaven
- Warhammer armies: Dwarfs
- Warhammer armies: Undead
Characters in Gotrek and Felix with their own series:
Ulrika the Vampire
Grey Seer Thanquol
- Grey Seer
- Temple of the Serpent
- Thanquol's Doom