Thursday, 7 January 2010

‘Raven’s Flight’ – Gav Thorpe (Black Library)

Despite the snow promising to keep everyone inside their houses the tube seemed to be more packed than ever. There wasn’t any room for me to hold a book but what I did have was room to stick my iPod on and listen to an audio book instead. While I’ve been enjoying the Black Library’s output it’s the ‘Horus Heresy’ series that I always want to see more of; I’ve got a few more books to read but ‘Raven’s Flight’ was what I ended up choosing to listen to for the journey into work. I’m glad I did, ‘Raven’s Flight’ answered a few questions in a most entertaining way...

The ‘Dropsite Massacre’ on Istvaan V has been one of the most shocking events of the civil war thus far with entire legions of Space Marines wiped out by their treacherous counterparts. Primarch Corax and his surviving Raven Guard are all that’s left and their flight across mountains and valleys can only end in ultimate defeat at the hands of the World Eater’s legion and their Primarch Angron. Far across the galaxy, Guard Captain Valerius’ dreams lead him to believe that the Raven Guard are in trouble on Istvaan V. Can he convince his superiors to effect a rescue? Will any such attempt come in time...?

Toby Longworth once again resumes his narrative duties and puts the slight ‘off key’ note of his Schwarzenegger impression behind him (see my review for ‘Thunder from Fenris’) to give another great performance. I’m running out of great things to say about Longworth’s work with the Black Library. Quite simply, here’s a guy who can make you believe that you’re listening to a whole group of people performing rather than just one. Having said that though, while he makes every character sound different they all have that ‘gruff maleness’ about them; I want some women to appear in the next audio book and see how he tackles that!
The sound effects are a lot more in your face than they were last time as well. The music complements the mood perfectly and the sound of all out warfare pounds in your ears. When things get a little tense, Longworth adjusts his tone accordingly and this drives things along at just the right speed.

‘Raven’s Flight’ is really a story for those who have already embarked on the ‘Horus Heresy’ series as it follows on from events played out in Graham McNeill’s ‘Fulgrim’. While there is enough to the tale to make it stand alone, you’re going to appreciate it a whole lot more as a part of the tapestry of the series as a whole. Gav Thorpe really goes for the jugular in terms of stirring up the tension, a legion’s survival depends on whether one Marine is able to put stock in another man’s prophetic dreams. As their argument is played out we are constantly reminded of what’s at stake; a battered legion on it’s last legs that is nearing it’s end. Thorpe hits the mark here, leaving his resolution hanging right up until the final minutes. Anything could happen in the meantime and that’s what kept me going.

Through the Primarch Corax, Thorpe also seeks to show his listeners the exact cost of the traitor’s betrayal of their former battle brothers. Again, you might need to be a long term fan of the series to really get what it means but Thorpe does a bloody good job in any case. Accompanied by Longworth’s sombre tones, Thorpe gives us really sharp insight into a psyche that’s battered but not yet bowed; giving me yet another reason to see this one through to the end. Having said all of that though, the frantic pace sometimes seems a little rushed when perhaps it didn’t need to be. I guess there’s a fine line to be drawn here in keeping the pace natural rather than forced; Thorpe crosses that line on a couple of occasions.

This is a relatively minor niggle though, I’ve been looking forward to ‘Raven’s Flight’ ever since its release was announced and my anticipation was justified. Brilliant stuff and the best Black Library audio book yet!

Nine and a Quarter out of Ten.


Anonymous said...

I have the Lightning Tower/Dark King audiobook as well as Thunder from Fenris. My problem with these is that they are little more than an hour run time. I cannot seem to find how long this audio book is. Can you share that in the review?

Good review, I have yet to read anything on the Raven Guard Chapter (then Legion) this sheds some light upon what ultimately lead to Corax's tragedy.

Anonymous said... said that the run time of the audio book is 68 minutes.