Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Horus Heresy - Raven's Flight (Audiobook Review)

Raven’s Flight can be summed up in one sentence: This is why you do not anger Corax.

Serving as a prequel to the recently released Deliverance Lost, Raven’s Flight helps to bridge the gap between the events depicted in First Heretic and Fulgrim with the desperate escape seen in Age of Darkness.
After the gunship his bodyguard tried to evacuate him in is shot down during the Drop Massacre, the Raven Guard primarch leads the few thousand surviving warriors in a series of hit and run attacks on the traitor legions. This makes up the core of the action in the audio and it’s the battles we see which really make it worth getting.

In the many books and series we’ve seen thus far in the Horus Heresy the primarchs have been depicted as beings of great power. Ones who can kill titans, take hammer bows unflinchingly and command great loyalty of their men. They’ve been also depicted as being flawed, able to fall to Chaos and be badly crippled while fighting others of their kind. What we’ve not seen is one truly unleashing himself as Corax does here. The battles have to be seen to be heard to be fully appreciated but it’s unlikely we’ll see anything similar to this until, perhaps, the Siege of Terra.

Along with the events on Isstvan V there are some much quieter scenes on Deliverance. Prifector Valerius is plagued by visions of burning ravens and outright destruction, images which have haunted his dreams for days and he is coming to believe that it is a message from Corax. While wishing to head for Isstvan with his garrison force he is repeatedly stonewalled by the remaining Raven Guard commander, Bran, who believes this is folly and is quickly becoming suspicious of Valerius.

While these were scenes definitely needed to break up the fighting on Isstvan and foreshadow the final events of the audiobook, they are definitely the weaker half of the story. Some of the interaction between Bran and Valerius feels forced at times, like the author Gav Thorpe was forced to condense a much longer series of events into a shorter space of time.

This never becomes truly irritating but it does lessen the overall quality of the story and isn’t helped by some very flowery writing. Thrope’s style can come off as being quite dry and he doesn’t seem to quite know what to put into the scenes of verbal sparring between the two. It doesn’t help that a lot of the action, much like one or two of the violent scenes, comes across as being melodramatic. Like it’s supposed to be trying to parody a serious scene rather than actually be a genuine turning point in the audio. What helps offset this is some exceptional voice acting by Toby Longworth who speaks the lines with enough conviction to help the listener overlook these moments when hearing the audiobook for the first time.

Overall Raven’s Flight is the weakest of the four Horus Heresy audiobooks thus far, but it’s still definitely worth listening to. It features easily some of the best action scenes and while it might come across as occasionally hammy, especially when Valerius is involved, there’s enough good moments with Corax to make it worth listening to. If you want to read Deliverance Lost, it’s strongly recommended you listen to this first.


Raven's Flight and all related characters and media are owned by Games Workshop.

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