Brunner the Bounty Hunter by C.L. Werner
Black Library Publishing
His name is Brunner. Goblins, vampires, fugitives, and even dragons – they’re all fair game for this lethal killer’s blade. Across the length and breadth of the grim Warhammer Old World, Brunner plies his trade, applying his skills and intelligence to track down and slaughter sinister fiends. But he also faces challenges from within his own dubious profession as a rival bounty hunter stakes a claim to his bounty.
Enter the dark and dangerous world of a ruthless bounty hunter.
This book was not my first rodeo so to speak in regard to the works of C.L. Werner. My introduction to Werner came with his witchhunter trilogy featuring Matthias Thulmann. Since then, I have followed his work and was excited to get my mitts on this particular book.
Brunner the Bounty Hunter is an “omnibus” collection of all the previous stories written about Brunner. They have been placed in order and in a roundabout way provide a telling tale of one man’s quest for revenge.
I do not want to share any spoilers, so I’ll cut right to the chase.
Werner does a fantastic job of fleshing out a wide variety of characters, species, and locations of the Warhammer world. The variety he provides for the setting is very refreshing, given that the majority of Warhammer books are focused on the Empire (the dominant human civilization). In particular, Bretonnia and Tilea have received a great deal of attention. Werner has also provided a very diverse set of secondary characters and antagonists. He has featured undead, chaos, vampires, dwarves, elves, dark elves, knights, mercenaries, and plenty of other character types. Frankly, his knowledge of the setting and ability to breathe life into a wide variety of archetypes is very impressive.
Brunner is an interesting character. He is very much based on the Clint Eastwood Man with No Name Character, but more ruthless and amoral. Brunner is the ultimate bounty hunter. He always gets his man and once he takes a contract, nothing can dissuade him from finishing the job. He is intriguing in that despite being a warrior, his planning and prior knowledge are really the tools that get the job done for him. In that respect he stands out from other heroes within this genre. Again, I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but pay close attention to the start of things as they become important and meaningful at the end.
I would not suggest reading this book from cover to cover without breaking it up. This is no knock toward the book itself, but there is no real narrative to grab you and sweep you along simply because this is a collection of shorter works. There are 14 different self contained stories and they are all sort of similar in that they feature Brunner the bounty hunter doing what he does. They are fun to read, but can blur together if taken in all at once. It may be wise to read several of them and then read something else before picking the book back up.
There is also not a whole lot of character development here. This is again a casualty of this being a collection of shorter works. It would have been impossible to create such a diverse set of stories had Werner been forced to re-estabilish and re-invent Brunner each time he was featured in a story.
Brunner the Bounty Hunter is great fun if you enjoy dark tales featuring a ruthless anti-hero. C.L. Werner is a first rate talent and his ability to write a wide range of settings, characters, and creatures is on display here. This is a collection of shorter stand alone pieces, so it may be wise to not read all of them at once as they can become blurred together.
I hope that Werner dusts Brunner off again in the future as the character would be a worthy protagonist for a novel or series of novels.