Publisher: Black Library (Audiobook – 25 March 2023)
Series: Warhammer 40,000
Length: 8 hours and 48 minutes
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Prepare for the ultimate battle for control as several feuding ork bosses fight to become the new leader of the Waaagh! in this amazing and highly entertaining Warhammer 40,000 novel, Warboss by Mike Brooks.
2023 has been a big Warhammer 40,000 fiction year for me as I have been having an absolute blast reading all manner of cool novels from across the franchise (make sure to check out my recently released list about my favourite Warhammer 40,000 novels). However, while I have read a ton of Warhammer books this year, I have not had the opportunity to read any 2023 Warhammer releases. Well, I am on my way to rectify that by looking at the recently released Warboss by awesome author Mike Brooks, who also wrote the 2022 novel Huron Blackheart: Master of the Maelstrom. Brooks did an outstanding job with this fantastic new book, and I had so much damn fun with Warboss and its highly entertaining and hilarious story.
In the far future of the 41st millennium, there are few things are more destructive or unstoppable than an ork warband on a rampage. One of the most effective bands currently killing its way through the galaxy is that of Warboss Gazrot Goresnappa whose Waaagh! has conquered the once mighty human fortress world of Aranua. After several decisive and bloody victories, the Waaagh! celebrates in front of the planet’s remaining bastion, the massive Davidia Hive. All it will take is one final assault to totally defeat the humans on Aranua so Warboss Goresnappa can strip their resources and lead his boyz to bigger and better fights out in the stars.
However, before Goresnappa can achieve his great victory, an unfortunate accident sees him very, very dead under the giant decapitated head of a Gargant war machine. With their leader squashed, the Waaagh! now has an opening for Warboss, and several ambitious orks from across the no-longer united clans step forward to fight for the job. However, before the usual brawl for leadership can begin, a prophecy from the clan’s resident weirdboy, Old Morgrub, reveals that the ork gods have something very special in store for the Waaagh! and its next leader. A mysterious gate lies underneath the human city that could transport the Waaagh! to fights anywhere in the galaxy, and whichever boss finds it first will be the new Warboss.
Forced to obey the words of the gods, the bosses engage in their own elaborate plans to breach the Hive City and claim the gate. But which boss can triumph over the others? Will it be the brutal Goff Big Boss Mag Dedfist, the suicidally fast Speedboss of the Evil Sunz, Zagnob Thundaskuzz, the sneaky and cunning leader of the Blood Axes, Da Genrul, or could it even be the leader of the grot uprising, the self-proclaimed prophet of Gork and Mork, Snaggi Littetoof? All four believe that they are the only ones capable of leading the Waaagh! and they will fight tooth and nail to become Warboss. But to succeed they’ll need to not only overcome all their rivals but the human defenders of the Hive City and an Aeldari army waiting in the depths to defend their gate. May the best ork win!
Oh dear, oh dear, what a damn funny book. Honestly, any Warhammer 40,000 novel that focuses on the orks is bound to be comedy gold, but Warboss is one of the better ones I have had the pleasure of reading. Author Mike Brooks does a wonderful job of telling a tight and amazingly fun story that perfectly showcases the orks in all their green skinned glory. I had so much fun with this book and I managed to power through Warboss in very short order.
This proved to be a pretty fast-paced and impressive story, and it’s one that I was able to have a blast listening to as it unfolded. Primarily focusing on the various ork characters that are part of Waaagh! Goresnappa, Warboss starts off with a sudden game changer for the protagonists as the infamous Warboss Goresnappa is killed off in hilarious fashion thanks to a group of argumentative grots and the falling head of a massive war machine. This leads several of the remaining ork bosses throwing their hats into the ring to become the Warboss, and all hell follows as a result. Tasked with finding a hidden Aeldari gate under the human city, each of the ork bosses implements their own plans to get into the city first, whether that be through blowing down the walls, infiltrating from below, or driving around the city at high speeds, hoping for the best. Brooks breaks the story up around the main three contenders nicely, and you soon get a good idea of their different, but very orkish strategies. However, the story is made even more enjoyable thanks to some of the alternate perspectives that emerge. This includes the ambitious grot Snaggi Littletoof who, after accidently killing Warboss Goresnappa, attempts his own grot uprising and tries to find the gate to gain his cause legitimacy. Several human characters are also shown, often to add some interesting contrast to the orks, and it is fun to see their attempted counterattacks, which often leads to disaster. This makes for an excellent first two-thirds of the book and Brooks does a great job of showcasing both the protagonists and the ork nation as a whole while also setting up a very entertaining story.
Unsurprisingly, the orks make it into the city and everyone starts arriving at the gate at the same time, often in comedic or unexpected ways. This leads to a very fast-paced final third as everyone starts fighting everyone else to become Warboss, facing off against humans, Aeldari, and every rival faction of the Waaagh!. Brooks showcases this final big battle in some excellent ways, and you get really drawn into the crazy carnage that follows thanks to the well-written and exciting action scenes. The use of multiple perspectives was pretty useful here, and I liked how the author showed the same massive battle again and again, each time from the point of view of another character. This added more detail to the brawl each time, as well as some amusing alternate opinions of events from some very different characters. Brooks throws in some excellent twists and turns here and you are never quite certain who is going to come out on top in the battle for supremacy. The eventual fate of every major character is pretty fantastic and really fits the storylines that have been building up throughout the book. I personally came away from Warboss extremely satisfied and I loved all the cool developments and totally insane moments that occurred. Overall, this was a very impressive standalone Warhammer 40,000 narrative and it is very hard not come away loving this story thanks to the awesome humour and all the fantastic, over-the-top interactions that occurred.
All fans of Warhammer fiction know that ork focused novels are some of the funniest novels out there, due to the way that they focus on the over-the-top antics of this beloved faction. Some good examples of previous Warhammer books that strongly featured orks include Ghazghkull Thraka: Prophet of the Waaagh! by Nate Crowley (one of my favourite books of 2022) and Catachan Devil by Justin Woolley, and I think that Warboss is up there with these fantastic reads. This outstanding book really dove into the humour as you watched the crude and eternally underestimated orks battle it out amongst each other and the other factions, often coming up with insane and funny solutions to all the deadly problems they encounter. There honestly wasn’t a single chapter where I wasn’t laughing at some of the crazy stuff that just occurred, and Brooks had a real talent for writing from the ork perspective. There was some great consistency in the way that the ork characters acted and thought throughout Warboss and every chapter focussed on them saw the characters using similar lingo, slang and descriptions of the other races in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. As such, you get a great appreciation for the ork mindset and it was great to see the ork perspective on all the book’s over-the-top moments.
One of the things that I felt set Warboss aside from some other Warhammer 40,000 novels featuring orks is that Brooks didn’t fall into the trap of portraying them simply as funny simpletons. Instead, Brooks shows that the orks are quite smart and complex in their way, it just that their culture, in comparison to humans or Aeldari, has more of a focus on violence and straightforwardness than the other races in the galaxy. This is backed up by scene after scene of the orks utilising their skills, technology and cunning to win various encounters against seemingly smarter or more organised opponents, and it is always quite fun to see the orks looking down on their opponents for making mistakes that they wouldn’t do. While this love of extreme violence is mostly played for fun, Brook’s also tries to show the darker side of it, as the orks are pretty damn brutal in how they deal with the humans and Aeldari they encountered. I loved the great contrast between the ork and human characters that Brooks added into Warboss, as the humans were always so arrogant and condescending towards the orks’ intelligence, even when they were beating them. This complete lack of understanding by most of the human characters really enhanced the various ork chapters, especially those that showed the orks managing to understand and outthink their human opponents, and I really appreciated this fantastic deeper dive into ork mindset and society. I did think that Brooks might have made the orks slightly too overpowered in Warboss, as they manage to take on quite a few major enemies with relative ease, but this always added some fun to the story and it was interesting to see the full potential of the orks.
This deep dive into the orks is further cemented thanks to the several outstanding character arcs that Brooks set up throughout Warboss, particularly around the four main characters fighting for control of the Waaagh! in their own way. The three ork characters Mag Dedfist, Zagnob Thundaskuzz and Genrul Uzbrag (Da Genrul), are in some ways quite similar, in that they have several similar racial tendencies towards violence or leadership. However, each of them represents a different clan, and so they have different battle tendencies which really helps to highlight the different factions within ork society. Mag Dedfist is a Goff, and so he relies more on classic violence and explosions to achieve his goals in the most direct ways possible. Zagnob is an Evil Sun boss who has dedicated himself to the Kult of Speed and believes in riding the fastest vehicle he can find right towards the enemy. The most entertaining of these is probably Da Genrul, a member of the Blood Axe clan who admire human martial ability and utilise their own take on tactics, discipline and stealth to achieve their goals, often outsmarting the humans they are aping.
I was also a big fan of the character of Snaggi Littletoof, a grot with ideas of grandeur who attempts to start a grot uprising against their cruel ork masters. The grots (also known as gretchins, essentially goblins from classic fantasy), smaller cousins of the orks who are used as slave labour and cannon fodder, aren’t particularly well featured in most Warhammer 40,000 fiction, so I had fun with a whole character arc around them in Warboss. Snaggi and his band of rebellious grots (Da GrotWaaagh!), are a very entertaining inclusion, and I liked the revolutionary storyline that Brooks set around them that provided both humour and an interesting look at typical grot life. It was so much fun to see Snaggi inspiring his followers to go against their nature and rebel, especially as the orks had no idea what they heck they were doing. Thanks to Brook’s use of Mag, Zagnob, Da Genrul and Snaggi, you get a great understanding of each of their specific faction and the author did a particularly good job of featuring each of them equally. Indeed, thanks to the appearance of several different ork characters in a supporting role, you get a pretty good idea of nearly every major ork clan, faction and designation, and even those readers completely unfamiliar with orks can come away from this book knowing most of the key things you need to know about them.
These ork and grot protagonists are well backed up by several entertainingly arrogant human characters who honestly make the orks seem reasonable and likeable in comparison. The best is easily Captain Armenisu Varrow, who is held prisoner by Da Genrul as his pet and tactical advisor. Varrow goes through so much hell in this book, but is so deliciously haughty while he does so that you really can’t feel sorry for him. Despite his ironclad belief in his own intelligence, Varrow is outsmarted time and time again, and it is just great to see him cower his way through events while still thinking he is the smart one. His story arc is very entertaining and I loved how very dark it gets, especially at the end. The rest of the humans are also great in their own ways, even if they are only featured for a short amount of time, and their ongoing false remarks about the abilities of the orks in the face of the carnage they are laying down always made me chuckle. An overall great group of characters who help to turn this amazing story into something truly special.
I checked out Warboss on audiobook, which honestly is becoming my go-to format for all things Warhammer. This proved to be another excellent decision as the Warboss audiobook was a ball of absolute fun that I had a brilliant time listening to. Coming in with a runtime of under nine hours, this is a pretty easy audiobook to power through quickly and I managed it in a few, hilarious sessions. The outstanding, comedy laden story really works well in the audiobook format and so many of the great jokes come across that much better when you listen to them. It definitely helped that they brought in established Warhammer narrator Harry Myers to voice this book as he did a spectacular job here. I have deeply enjoyed Myers in several recent Warhammer audiobooks, including The Wraithbone Phoenix by Alec Worley (one of my favourite audiobooks of 2022) and Day of Ascension by Adrian Tchaikovsky, and he has another amazing performance in Warboss. His voice is just perfect for all the alien characters featured within this novel, and the various gruff tones of the orks and high-pitched squeals of the grots are very spot on. In addition, several of the human characters are shown in all their arrogant finery throughout the audiobook and you really appreciate just how stupid they are through this medium. Each character is expertly showcased to the reader through Myers’ voice, and I loved every line he read out as a result. I also deeply enjoyed how well his narration worked to convey all the fantastic jokes loaded throughout the production, including that hilarious bit involving the ork characters failing to know the chapter numbers. This was a such a great audiobook to listen to and I cannot recommend this format enough for Warboss as you are guaranteed to have an exceptional time listening to it.
Mike Brooks continues to impress me as an outstanding author of Warhammer fiction with his amazing novel Warboss. A comedy heavy novel that perfectly showcases the always fun orks, Warboss is pure entertainment from start to finish that both established fans of the franchise and new readers can easily enjoy. Brooks has a clear appreciation for this faction which really shines through in his storytelling, and I loved his great take on everything orkish. One of the funniest and enjoyable releases of 2023 so far, this is essential reading for all interest in hilarious Warhammer fiction, and I am very glad I checked it out.