Thursday, September 29, 2011

Now for Something Completely Different

+++ TO: All Citizens of Formosa
+++ FROM: Inquisitor Astoraga Cespedes
+++ SUBJECT: Formal Review of Lexicanum Traitorus Extremis

This is something a little different; a review of an abridged audio book. I recently purchased a selection of digital download audio books from the Black Library. I picked up some of the Horus Heresy series I had never known more than what I had read of it in the main rule book and codices.

First off, let me say that they purchasing of, and downloading of the audio books in MP3 format was simple and pain free. They also allow you re-download the file at any time in the future if you lose yours or just want it again. The file can easily be added to iTunes and when you tell iTunes that it is an audiobook it just falls into place.

The first book I listened to was the first in the Horus Heresy series, the abridged Horus Rising by Dan Abnett.

I will start with the technical end of things. The audio quality was great, but I was listening to it in my car, not through headphones. But still, I had no complaints. The reader, Martyn Eliis, is excellent. He does about 5 voice types and cycles through them throughout the series and all of them are plausible and well performed.

I never read the full unabridged novel so my take on the story is only on the abridged version. From the outset I was somewhat confused, but that was only because I, like any 40k fan, already know the outcome of the series and I think is what led to my confusion as I wasn't sure if the rebellion was in progress, etc etc.

The story flowed well, and what ever was cut to abridge it was not missed as I felt I had received the full tale. The descriptions of the characters and universe are spot on and really give you sense of the rich detail and brutal realities of the world. The battle descriptions can become somewhat repetitive. If I have to hear about the killing stroke of the chainsword one more time...

That leads into my next point, and second criticism. I guess because it's early in the 40k timeline that weaponry is not super advanced yet (i.e. no Tau) but they really praise the bolter and chainsword as ultimate weapons. Yet in practice, at the current place in the timeline, they are free or 1 point items that most people would swap out for anything short of a lasgun or laspistol.

I think the one lesson I really learned is that the Astartes are one cocky bunch of bastards who 'know' they are better than all the rest of humanity. I think this point is drilled home mainly because it becomes their biggest weak point for downfall in the end; limitless pride.

The Xenos in this book are very cool and gives a glimpse into a lost time and a universe that spans much bigger than the stories in the main rule book and codices. It makes me really want to see stuff from the old Rogue Trader book show up, like Zoats, Squats, and Ambulls.

Overall, I really enjoyed the audio book and have actually finished the second as well, False Gods (review soon to follow) and started really reading with the paper back version of Galaxy in Flames, which is getting it's audio version this January. I am just so eager I cannot wait for it.

Horus Heresy (Abridged Audio Book) written by Dan Abnett and performed by Martin Eliis: 8/10


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