I just finished reading Graham McNeill's Guardians of the Forest for the Black Library's Warhammer Fantasy line.
The novel for the most part was excellent. Graham McNeill does an absolute fantastic job of portraying Athel Loren and giving the reader a strong feel for the almost alien quality of the forest. This sentiment that the forest is a mystical and magical place that seems alive is reinforced several times as you read through the book and follow the main human character. McNeill also does an excellent job of portraying the Wood Elf culture and lifestyle. The way he introduces the different kinbands of Asrai into a scene or shows how the dread and fear is instilled into humans and outsiders by their actions is very well depicted over and over again. You get to see how superstition forces the human character to act around the Asrai and how that impacts his actions during the story. You get to experience the forest spirits, you see how terrifying and brutal the Dryads can be and how the elves themselves regard their forest 'allies'. McNeill also included several characters and places that as a player I could recognize from the Wood Elf Warhammer Army Book.
McNeill does a great job depicting characters - human, elf and beastman alike. I did feel that the story was a little bit rushed and some critical battles scenes were hastily written. I would have really like to see more of the Morghur storyline and more about the Beastmen themselves. He had a really excellent storyline, one which I feel is one of the most critical plot lines behind the Wood Elf army and their existence in the Warhammer world.
I really feel that this story could have been spread out into a trilogy and the author could have fleshed out the Beastmen even more rather than just the physical description. The Morghur storyline would have easily been a long series but perhaps McNeill had a deadline or something. Either way however the story was great and McNeill did a wonderful job of fleshing out the Wood elf society.
From the Warhammer Fantasy Battles standpoint, this book is top notch. It provided me with a complete vision and description of the core aspects of the Wood elf army. It also did an excellent job describing Beastmen as well. I would fully recommend this book to any Wood Elf player, the amount of inspiration and theme ideas that are in this novel are outstanding. The novel actually made me want to field Glade Riders, Warhawk Riders and some more Eternal Guard because McNeill made them sound absolutely awesome. That is how you sell models to those who read and play!
Overall, I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. If it had been longer and not felt so rushed it would have received 5 stars. The fact that it is also only available by ebook is another issue but I enjoyed it nonetheless. You can expect to see a few elements of this book being introduced in my Wood Elf army overtime.