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Literature / Silver Nails

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Silver Nails is a collection of short stories by Kim Newman set in the Warhammer universe. They are set at various times in comparison to the novels Drachenfels and Beasts in Velvet and the stories collected in Genevieve Undead, and feature various characters who appear in the other novels.

  1. "Red Thirst": Set between the opening section and the main action of Drachenfels. Vampire Genevieve Dieudonné and hard-ass mercenary Vukotich fall prey to a moral purity crusade, but on escaping discover a genuine threat from Chaos. The villains of this story reappear in Beasts In Velvet.
  2. "No Gold In The Grey Mountains": Set between the opening section and the main action of Drachenfels. A group of bandits attempt to rob a stagecoach, but find no booty. Instead, they decide to hold the innocent little rich girl who was travelling in it for ransom. Bad idea.
  3. "The Ignorant Armies": Set a few years before Beasts In Velvet. Young nobleman Johann von Mecklenburg and mercenary Vukotich hunt the band of northern Chaos Barbarians who have kidnapped Johann's younger brother. Characters from this reappear in Beasts In Velvet.
  4. "The Warhawk": Set simultaneously with the Genevieve short story "Stage Blood". Altdorf's toughest watchman, "Filthy" Harald Kleindienst, and his psychic partner Rosanna, hunt a serial killer who sets trained birds of prey on human targets.
  5. "The Ibby the Fish Factor": Set later than all Newman's other Warhammer works. Genevieve and Detlef are reunited in Altdorf to try to prevent fanatics on both sides from igniting a new human-vampire war.

The stories in Silver Nails contain the following tropes:

  • Animal Assassin: The "Warhawk" killer uses a trained hawk to kill his victims.
  • The Cameo: Gotrek from the Gotrek & Felix series makes a cameo in "The Warhawk", providing information for Filthy Harald about the killer's probable ancestry.
  • Chained Heat: Genevieve and Vukotich spend most of "Red Thirst" chained together. With silver manacles, so Genevieve can't just break them.
  • Continuity Cavalcade: "The Ibby the Fish Factor" centres around Genevieve and Detlef, but also features major or minor appearances from several surviving characters from earlier Newman Warhammer stories, including Lady Melissa, Rosanna Ophuls, and Antonia, the courtesan from "The Cold Stark House", who is now working as an exotic dancer during Detlef's variety evenings.
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  • Foregone Conclusion: The reader will probably have read Beasts In Velvet before "The Ignorant Armies", which means that they know that Vukotich will die and his innocent blood will mostly drive the Chaos taint from Wolf.
  • Forever War: "The Ignorant Armies" centres around an endless nightly battle in an isolated spot in the North where Chaos Warriors fight each other to increase their strength and pay homage to Khorne.
  • Grim Up North: "The Ignorant Armies" is set in the Chaos-ruled frozen North.
  • Have You Tried Not Being a Monster?: In "The Ibby the Fish Factor", the controversy over the Empire's anti-vampire Clause 17 is blatantly based on the real-world UK controversy over Clause 28, a Thatcher-era law against teaching the moral acceptability of homosexuality in schools.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: The killer in "The Warhawk" wears a leather costume that completely covers his body, including his face.
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  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: "No Gold in the Grey Mountains" centres around a minor character from Drachenfels. Unfortunately, its big twist reveal centres around something about that character that anyone who has read the novel will already know.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: In "Red Thirst", Genevieve defeats a group of monstrously powerful elementals by baiting them into fighting one another to find out which is the strongest. Lampshaded that it's an old trick from folk tales that works because elementals aren't very bright.
  • The Man Behind the Curtain: When Johann and Vukotich finally meet the Chaos Champion Cicatrice, he's a prematurely-aged wreck of a man who is dying from accumulated mutations and physical injuries.
  • Mugging the Monster: In "No Gold in the Grey Mountains", the apparently harmless little girl is ancient vampire Lady Melissa, who kills all the bandits.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • Bland in "The Ibby the Fish Factor" is a blatant caricature of Tony Blair, and several of his associates are based on other figures in the 1990s Labour Party.
    • In the same story, we hear that the Empire had a past Empress Magritta, the Bronze Lady, who was succeeded by the very forgettable Johann the Grey.
    • The Three Little Clots in the same story are The Three Stooges.
    • The unnamed greasy-haired guitarist in the same story is Elvis Presley.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: In "The Warhawk", just before "Filthy" Harald throws the killer off a roof: "Try flapping your arms".
  • Production Foreshadowing: "The Warhawk" introduces the concept of mystical Devices, which would later become important in The Quorum and other Newman works featuring Derek Leech.
  • Psycho Serum: The "daemon dust" "Filthy" Harald snorts before going on the rampage in "The Warhawk".
  • Science Marches On: In "The Warhawk" Rosanna notes that birds have far simpler and by implication less intelligent minds than mammals. This was based on the once popular and now discredited view that birds were little more than instinct driven creatures, itself based on a limited understanding of how bird brains work.
  • Shout-Out: "The Ibby the Fish Factor" features a slow-witted and lazy but decent watchman named Dibble, and a snarky watchman called Johann Munch.
  • Van Helsing Hate Crimes: "The Ibby the Fish Factor" centres around an outbreak of bigoted and indiscriminate vampire hunting. Genevieve admits that quite a lot of vampires deserve to be hunted.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: "The Ignorant Armies" has strong overtones of The Searchers.
  • Written by the Winners: In "The Ibby the Fish Factor", Bland tries to pressure Detlef to change his stage depiction of the events of "Red Thirst" to make Genevieve the villain and one of the actual villains the hero.
  • You Are What You Hate: Claes Glinka, the moralist in "Red Thirst", is a secret mutant and a probably-unknowing tool of Chaos.