Last week I was fortunate enough to get hold of the latest Horus Heresy series audio-book offering, Raven's Flight. I have to be honest and say an audio-book isn't the kind of thing I'd normally go for, but I had a GW gift voucher left over from Christmas and thought 'what the hell'. Now I'm glad I did!
First things first, this audio book is an essential purchase for anyone who is a fan of the series. The story itself focuses on the plight of the Raven Guard after the Dropsite Massacre at Istvaan, but more importantly for the purposes of this blog also gives some details about the World Eaters Legion (more on that in a moment). As far as the 'audio book' format itself is concerned, I'm pleased to say that my fears of cheesy background music and dodgy accents were entirely misplaced: the story is narrated with poignancy and gravitas by Toby Longworth (a veteran BBC radio narrator), who paces the story perfectly and allows the listener to lose themselves in the story. Gav Thorpe's script was obviously written with the audio format in mind as it stays away from overly descriptive hyperbole which might otherwise have bogged the story down. Its also interesting to hear the voices of the Astartes as something other than their usual well-educated form, with the Raven Guard marines having more in common with Ray Winstone or Bob Hoskins than the noble and clearly-enunciated marines of Dawn of War. I thought this was a great little touch, a call back to the original conception of Marines as highly trained murderers, and for whom any kind of education would be restricted to ways to inflict violence. Perhaps not all of them were fortunate enough to have been raised on Ultramar?
Regarding the contents of the story itself, I have no wish to spoil the story for any potential listeners, suffice to say that it adds a great deal to our knowledge of the Heresy. For one, it illuminates us on the thinking of a Primarch, something which has been done only sparingly in the series so far. There is also a great deal of information on the Iron Warriors (the main adversaries of the Raven Guard within the story) and also a few comments about the World Eaters. Interestingly, there were rumours at one point that the latter were set to be the main 'bad guys' of the story (indeed, they are the sole mention of a traitor legion within the provided blurb), so its hard not to be a little disappointed that they don't feature more. But, on reflection I think certain points of the story work much better with the Iron Warriors as the protagonists. There is also an extremely relevant comment about why the World Eaters decided to throw their loyalty to the Emperor into the dustbin..
The story is not without its faults, but in my opinion there is nothing which acts to obstruct the enjoyment of a very fine story and worthy component of the Horus Heresy series. If you haven't done so already, go out and buy it!