Quick Reviews: Two Black Library Audiodramas

David Annandale, THE BINARY SUCCESSION

Even as the Imperium faces the renegade Legions of the Warmaster, the ruling Council of Terra is becoming paralysed from within by increasingly petty bureaucracy. Fabricator General Kane has seen his fellow Mechanicum adepts dismissed again and again by the High Lords – with his traitorous predecessor Kelbor-Hal still at large on the Red Planet, the political status of the tech-priesthood remains ambiguous. New alliances must be forged from the old, if Mars and Terra are to survive the final battle.

Performed by: Gareth Armstrong, Steve Conlin, Penelope Rawlins, Toby Longworth, Ian Brooker, John Banks, Luis Soto, Antonia Beamish, Cliff Chapman.

This was pretty cool. I wasn’t sure what to expect, not usually going for titan-focused fiction. The first thing one notices is the quality of the production: an excellent, fairly large cast, all of whom deliver great performances; and the plentiful, good sound-effects and music do a great job of enhancing, not distracting from the story. (This is a real strength of BL’s audio-dramas in general.) I think the only things that took some getting used to were the voices of the members of the Mechanicum — a couple were so tech-distorted that they came across like irate Daleks. It does fit, though.

As for the story? Very good. I enjoyed seeing the politics behind the Mechanicum, as they maneuvered for better status among the High Lords. The characters are interesting, their interactions realistic even if they themselves are so (mechanically) alien. I’d certainly be interested in listening to more audio-dramas featuring them, or reading about them in ‘regular’ fiction formats.

If you’re a fan of the Horus Heresy series (especially the Mechanicum-related fiction), then I’d certainly recommend this. A very good Black Library audio-drama.

The Binary Succession is out now, published by Black Library.

Also on CR: Interview with David Annandale (2012); Guest Post on “My Favourite Novel”; Reviews of The Carrion AnthemThe Damnation of Pythos

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

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Gav Thorpe, ASURMEN: THE DARKER ROAD

It is said the Phoenix Lords arrive on the eve of great moments… Guided by fate, Asurmen the Hand of Asuryan comes to the craftworld of Ulthwé. At the behest of the head of the seer council, he joins the warriors of Ulthwé and the young seer Eldrad on a quest to the Crone Worlds in search of the oracle Hiron-athela. It is believed that this being holds an artefact that could safeguard Ulthwé’s future, but in order to obtain it the eldar must travel a dark road…

[Performed by Gareth Armstrong, John Banks, Steve Conlin, Toby Longworth, Penelope Rawlins and Genevieve Swallow.]

I keep forgetting to read Asurmen: The Hand of Asuryan, which I’ve had for years. The Eldar were the first WH40k army I thought was interesting. I remember reading the Codex multiple times, back in the day, and the Phoenix Lords in particular caught my imagination and attention. The Darker Road is a really interesting short story, and I enjoyed seeing how the Elder “work” together. Thorpe’s done a great job of writing interesting, alien characters who are nevertheless relatable. He includes plenty of Eldar-traits, without info-dumping, as well as some good Chaos shenanigans.

As in The Binary Succession, though, there were times when the voices came across as a little too-techno-distorted (for my taste). Not a major issue, but I think it could have been toned down a bit without ruining the story.

If you’re a fan of the Elder, then I highly recommend you check out this audio-drama. Interesting, well-performed. It also reignited my interest in reading The Hand of Asuryan. The second novel in the Phoenix Lords series, Jain Zar: The Storm of Silence, is due out in May 2017.

Asurmen: The Darker Road is out now, published by Black Library.

Also on CR: Interviews with Gav Thorpe — 2011 and 2016; Reviews of The Curse of KhaineDeliverance LostAngels of Caliban

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

New Books (February)

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Featuring: Dan Abnett, David Annandale, Col Buchanan, John Connolly, Kris D’Agostino, N.S. Dolkart, C.Z. Dunn, Ben Galley, Guy Haley, Joseph Helmreich, Darius Hinks, Gabe Hudson, Stephen Graham Jones, George Mann, Brian McClellan, David Mealing, Megan E. O’Keefe, Liza Palmer, M.L. Rio, Roslund & Hellström, Adam Sternbergh, Anthony Tambakis, Matt Wallace, Keith Yatsuhashi

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New Books (Nov-Dec 2016)

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Featuring: David Annandale, Marie Brennan, Maurice Broaddus, Paul Cornell, Michael Crichton, Thoraiya Dyer, Warren Ellis, Christopher Golden, Lee Irby, Kathleen Kent, Christina Kovac, Jonathan Lethem, Laura Lippman, Gregory McDonald, Claire North, Andrew Pyper, Joshua Reynolds, Suzanne Rindell, Kim Stanley Robinson, Steven Savile, Norman Spinrad, Ingrid Thoft, Tim Walker, Alex Wells, Jen Williams, Jason Zinoman

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New Books (February)

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Featuring: David Annandale, Jo Baker, Mishell Baker, David Baldacci, Elizabeth Bonesteel, Pierce Brown, Christopher Charles, Jessica Chiarella, Dan Cluchey, Max Allan Collins, John Connolly, Don DeLillo, S.B. Divya, Rachel Dunne, Mark Andrew Ferguson, Hadley Freeman, S.L. Grey, Lauren Groff, A.J. Hartley, Noah Hawley, Katie Heaney, Patrick Hemstreet, Mitchell Hogan, Lee Kelly, Shane Kuhn, Joe R. Lansdale, John Lansdale, Tim Lebbon, David Levien, Brian McClellan, Claire North, Willow Palecek, K.J. Parker, Bryony Pearce, Victor Pelevin, Molly Prentiss, Andy Remic, William Shatner, Mickey Spillane, Jo Spurrier, Allen Steele, Stuart Stevens, Alex Stewart, Jack Sutherland, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Marc Turner, Simon Kurt Unsworth, Teddy Wayne

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New Books… (October/November)

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Featuring: David Annandale, Tim Baker, David Baldacci, Brett Battles, Matt Bell, M.L. Brennan, Jonathan Carroll, Jonathan Coe, Noah Hawley, Matt Hill, Michelle Latiolais, Tim Lees, Barbra Leslie, Jack McDevitt, Victor Milán, Clare Morrall, Jo Nesbo, Emma Newman, James Patterson, Susan Philpott, Rob Sanders, Ken Scholes, Maureen Sherry, Marc Turner, Matt Wallace, Robin Wasserman, Catherine Webb Continue reading

Upcoming: THE BEAST ARISES Series (Black Library)

Yesterday, Black Library announced their next big event/series: The Beast Arises. Beginning in December, the series will see twelve novels released in twelve months, and is set 1,500 years after the end of the Horus Heresy (the epic, hugely successful series currently ongoing). It will chart the rise (and return?) of the orks as force in the WH40k universe. The first five novels have been unveiled…

AbnettD-BA1-IAmSlaughterI AM SLAUGHTER by Dan Abnett (December 2015)

As the greatest Ork Waaagh! ever seen threatens to engulf the galaxy, the Imperial Fists make their last stand

It is the thirty-second millennium and the Imperium is at peace. The Traitor Legions of Chaos are but a distant memory and the many alien races that have long plagued mankind are held in check by the Space Marines. When a mission to exterminate one such xenos breed on the world of Ardamantua draws in more of their forces, the Imperial Fists abandon the walls of Terra for the first time in more than a thousand years. And when another, greater, foe strikes, even the heroic sons of Rogal Dorn may be powerless against it. The Beast Arises… and it is mighty.

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SandersR-BA-PredatorPreyPREDATOR PREY by Rob Sanders

After centuries of peace, the Imperium is thrown into panic as human worlds everywhere are menaced by orks.

After centuries of peace, the Imperium is thrown into panic as human worlds everywhere are menaced by orks. In a relentless tide of slaughter, ork attack moons destroy planet after planet with gravity weapons of unstoppable power. On Terra, the High Lords are paralysed by the scale of the threat, and fail to take any effective action. With entire Space Marine Chapters missing, or known to have been wiped out, does anyone have the will and the power to rise to the Imperium’s defence?

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ThorpeG-BA-EmperorExpectsTHE EMPEROR EXPECTS by Gav Thorpe

As ork ships lay waste to world after world, heading inexorably towards Terra, Imperial citizens despair

As ork ships lay waste to world after world, heading inexorably towards Terra, Imperial citizens despair. The High Lords become desperate to prove that victory is possible, no matter the cost. A massive Navy fleet is assembled – their mission to make a definitive strike against the orks at Port Sanctus, an area of enemy-held space. But when the Imperial armada arrives, they find themselves outclassed and outmanoeuvred – can human courage and faith possibly prevail against such terrible odds?

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AnnandaleD-BA-LastWallTHE LAST WALL by David Annandale

Despite the Imperium’s best attempts to forestall the ork plague that is wrecking havoc in human space, an ork attack moon now hangs over Terra.

Despite the Imperium’s best attempts to forestall the ork plague that is wrecking havoc in human space, an ork attack moon now hangs over Terra. As its malevolent presence gazes down at the Imperial Palace, terrified citizens run riot in the streets. In a last-ditch attempt to destroy the attack moon, a proletarian crusade is launched. Thousands of ships large and small head to the moon carrying billions of citizens, all eager to take the fight to the enemy. It seems the attack has a chance of success as the invasion force lands safely, but the orks have yet to spring their trap…

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HaleyG-BA05-ThroneworldTHRONEWORLD by Guy Haley

The Imperium’s situation has never been more grim – an ork attack moon hangs over Terra, and ork armadas ravage human space.The Adeptus Astartes, armed with the knowledge of how to defeat the greenskins, must now travel back to Terra through a galaxy teaming with orks.

The Imperium’s situation has never been more grim – an ork attack moon hangs over Terra, and ork armadas ravage human space. To make matters even worse, eldar strike at the heart of the Imperial Palace, forcing humanity’s defenders to fight on two fronts at once. Though it seems nothing can stop the orks – neither brute force, science, nor faith – an unlikely alliance in the furthest reaches of space uncovers the first clue how to defeat the greenskins. The Adeptus Astartes now face an almost impossible task – taking news of this discovery back to Terra through a galaxy teaming with orks.

[For some reason, the cover available through Amazon — the only place so far where I could find an image to include here — has L.J. Goulding as the author, but the listing itself identifies Haley as the author, as does Black Library’s website.]

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I’m quite looking forward to giving this series a try. It’s also nice to know that there will be a finite, clearly-defined number of novels — the Heresy series, while I’m thoroughly enjoying it, is just becoming so vast… Anyone else interested in reading this series?

Review: LEGACIES OF BETRAYAL (Black Library)

Various-HH-LegaciesOfBetrayalThe 31st Horus Heresy book

Only from out of great conflict can true heroes arise. With the galaxy aflame and war on an unimaginable scale tearing the Imperium apart, champions of light and darkness venture onto countless fields of battle in service to their masters. They ask not for remembrance or reward – simply to meet their destiny head-on, and only by embracing that destiny will they come to learn what the unseen future may yet hold for them.

This anthology pulls together a number of short stories that have appeared elsewhere — either as eBook shorts, or as audiodramas, or included in previously limited edition anthologies (from the Black Library Horus Heresy Weekender, for example). I had already read (or listened to) seven of the 18 stories herein. Instead of re-reviewing these, I have included links to my earlier blog posts. For all the stories (save two), I have included synopses, and also the original covers. Overall, this is a very good anthology. Continue reading