Thief of Revelations by Graham McNeill (Audio Review)

For a good three years now, Black Library’s audio output has been quite impressive. Both in terms of quality and quantity. Thanks to the success of the Horus Heresy audios such as Gav Thorpe’s Raven’s Flight and James Swallow’s Garro duology, the publisher’s audio franchise has really taken off for the Warhammer 40,000 timeline as well. I’ve certainly been enjoying them thus far, though there have been a few along the way that I did not like, and would even consider to be among the lower-tier works put out by the authors. But I won’t deny that BL audios are generally so much damn fun to listen to.

A short while ago we got the latest Horus Heresy audio by Graham McNeill, in which he built on many of the different concepts he’d introduced in his amazing Thousand Sons-centric novel, A Thousand Sons. They are one of the least-covered legions, although they do get a leg-up since they’ve had a novel published about them. I loved A Thousand Sons when I read it three years back, and I enjoyed Thief of Revelations as well. As ever, the audio quality was superb, and the script was really good too, offering parallels to the relationships between the Emperor and the Primarchs that have been the cornerstone of the Heresy.

Horus Heresy - Thief of RevelationsAs I said, this audio drama builds on the novel A Thousand Sons. It is set quite a bit after the events of that novel, and it features the surviving leadership of the Thousand Sons legion, as represented by Ahzek Ahriman, Hathor Maat, Amon and Sobek. We even get a significant extended scene with the lord of the legion, Magnus himself. The Crimson King. One of the things that I loved about A Thousand Sons was how well Graham characterised the individual characters and the legion itself. With the audio, he chooses to focus on specific characters and we don’t see the legion itself.

Regardless, Graham tells a very personal story here. We first meet with Ahriman as he carries out sorceric experiments on a fellow legionnaire who has fallen to the curse of the flesh-change, the curse where a Thousand Sons Astartes begins to lose control of his psychic powers, no matter how major or minor, and eventually devolves into a mindless beast or even worse, consumed by the chaotic powers unleashed by the flesh-change. The flesh-change has long been the legion’s greatest weakness and Ahriman is still trying to fix it.

In the second half of the audio, we move on to a confrontation between Ahriman and Magnus as they talk about the former’s plans to cure the depleted legion of the flesh-change. This… confrontation then evolves into a story where the author draws parallels with the burdens that the Emperor placed on himself when deciding how much and what to reveal to his twenty gene-forged sons about the nature of Chaos, the truth of it as it were.

Throughout the entire 39-minute audio we have Ahriman as our primary protagonist. He keeps moving the story forward and this audio is very much his journey with macroscopic effects that will eventually permeate down through the ranks when he casts the Rubric of Ahriman, one of the greatest sorceric rituals ever cast and which will change the nature of the Thousand Sons legion for millennia.

It was a lot of fun to reconnect with these characters after so long. Their presence has been distinctly felt by me in the recent Horus Heresy offerings, and that is largely due to how good A Thousand Sons is. Pretty much a perfect novel, aside from a few small mistakes here and there. Thief of Revelations plays along the same notes. It doesn’t do anything drastically different like its predecessor did, but it doesn’t shy away from the big moments either. Moments such as when Magnus shows his foremost son what exactly is going on in the rest of the galaxy, and what the Thousand Sons might eventually do about it all.

And that’s not all because Graham also continues to hint at the eventual disagreements that will drive Magnus and Ahriman apart, largely because of the Rubric ritual, which is a cornerstone of the Thousand Sons mythology from their earliest days. There is clearly a very long plan in place that is going to take the Thousand Sons legion through their sundering as a legion following the events of the Battle of Prospero and through to the creation of the Rubric Marines when Ahriman succeeds in curing his brothers of their genetic affliction.

Graham has had a fairly good track record with the Thousand Sons in all that he has written so far and I’m every much looking forward to whatever he does next with them. Rumours coming out of the recent Black Library Live 2014 event are that there are plans for another full-novel, which is pretty exciting news as far as I am concerned.

The performers for this audio drama are all of my favourites – Gareth Armstrong, Martin Ellis, Toby Longworth and Jonathan Keeble. I’m not so sure about Ellis since its been a while that I’ve listened to any BL audio and memory is a bit hazy, but the other three are all excellent. Toby Longworth has been there since the beginning and he has provided numerous defining voices for BL audios. And Gareth Armstrong has done no less either, I love his voices, no matter which character he portrays. In this audio drama, each character is distinctly voiced and the voice-work is one of the strengths of Thief of Revelations. Toby’s narration particularly is damn good. It is one of his strengths, with a perfectly modulated voice and pacing that really pulls you into the whole atmosphere and mood of the piece that he is narrating or otherwise voicing. And Gareth, who often does the sarcastic characters, is on top form as well. Rounding up with Martin Ellis and Jonathan Keeble, what we have here is a voice-cast that works extremely well together and one that I would love to see again, truly.

Overall, Thief of Revelations was a damn good audio drama. It is certainly among the best that Black Library has put out, especially for the Horus Heresy series. I really must praise Christian Dunn here, who directed this audio drama. He has helmed Black Library’s audio range for quite a while and under him we have seen some truly awesome works, with a ton of variety across the board. What more can be asked for?

Rating: 9.5/10

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Posted on March 7, 2014, in Audio Review, Review Central and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. another fantastic review John!

    Like

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