Tuesday, 27 March 2012

‘Eye of Vengeance’ – Graham McNeill (Black Library)

‘Eye of Vengeance’ is a short story that will be found in the forthcoming ‘Ultramarines: The Second Omnibus’ as well as being an audio book (also forthcoming, I think) in its own right. Both are appearing at roughly the same time and I do find myself wondering how that’s going to work. Do you pay ten pounds for an audio book that only lasts sixty five minutes or do you get the omnibus which is crammed full of books that have been out for ages and most people already have? I’ve got them, here are my reviews for ‘The Killing Ground’, ‘Courage and Honour’ and ‘The Chapter’s Due’.
This short story is a bit of an odd one to place then. I think it would have been best suited in one of the Space Marine anthologies where there would have been enough variety amongst the other tales to make the repetition of this one a little more forgiveable. Given that the story itself isn’t that much cop either… Well, you can see where I’m going here.

The agricultural world is under attack by Dark Mechanicus priests and their terrifying weapons of destruction. The Ultramarines stand firm against the onslaught but their resistance can only last so long against an enemy that rebuilds itself even as it is destroyed. More subtle measures are called for if the forces of the Dark Mechanicus  are to be thrown back; measures that can only be employed by sergeant Torias Telion and his band of Ultramarine scouts. Their mission will take them deep into enemy territory to halt the supply of fresh armaments at its very source. If they don’t fall foul of the many dangers on the way though then what lies in the Temple Forge could well prove the death of them all.

I was lucky enough to have a chance to experience ‘Eye of Vengeance’ in both of its formats. Unfortunately though, it didn’t really work for me in either…

‘Eye of Vengeance’ sits at the end of ‘Ultramarines: The Second Omnibus’ like a misplaced afterthought. There’s very little connection (that I could see) to the preceding three novels and I really felt this lack, especially as those preceding novels fit together so tightly. You end up wondering why ‘Eye of Vengeance’ is there at all (especially as it’s also an audio book) other than to fill in a few extra pages.
The story itself is set up well but tails off into a series of smug encounters between the Ultramarines and their enemy. There’s no tension to speak of as the scouts either win through or withdraw from more dangerous threats because they have a mission to complete. What waits for them in the Temple Forge does make up for this a little bit but to have Telion take it on single-handedly…? I couldn’t buy that one, especially with the foregone conclusion.

Being exactly the same tale, I had exactly the same issues with ‘Eye of Vengeance’ as an audio book. The production made up for it a little bit, there’s plenty going on in the background that you can immerse yourself in. What I did have trouble getting around though was the actor’s (not sure which one but I’m guessing Rupert Degas) decision to portray Telion as a rather posh sounding RAF captain from a World War Two film. That really didn’t work for me at all, I found myself wanting Telion to stop talking so I wouldn’t have to listen to him.

Overall then, a disappointing experience on both fronts. If I had to recommend one format over the other I’d… Oh, I don’t know. There’s not a lot to recommend either really although I can see the audio book doing better as it’s not saddled with three other books that people already have.

‘Eye of Vengeance’ The Short Story: 6/10
‘Eye of Vengeance’ The Audio Book: 7/10

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