Friday, September 03, 2010

Audiobook Review: Aenarion by Gav Thorpe

A hero corrupted by the power he relies upon to defeat the enemies of his people, driven by the deaths of the ones he loves family, he will fall even further so long as his descent means no one else will have to suffer. This is the story of Aenarion, elf warrior of the Warhammer fantasy fiction line. This was my first foray into Warhammer’s fantasy line, having only read or listened to works from their WH40K science fiction universe prior to this, but I found it to be an easy transition. Perhaps part of it was the fact that this tale of Aenarion seems like a prequel to a series – like the prologue voice over at the beginning of Fellowship of the Ring. Some of it is also because of the use of Chaos – only this time instead of it being used to power starships, here it’s tapped into as the form of “magic” these characters can wield - as well as the common theme of it being the origin of many of the mystical creatures who’ve come from beyond to do battle. Aenarion is an elf warrior who’s had many victories over these creatures, married the queen of his people, and gone on to have a family. But those creatures keep coming, the war seems neverending, and he has started to grow weary. Yet he doesn’t listen when one of his advisors suggests that perhaps their use of Chaos magic is what feeds the creatures, keeps them returning, and that all they might have to do is give up it’s use and the enemy may no longer have a reason to fight. And then when he discovers that the most recent battle he fought was a distraction – keeping his army away from his home, where the Chaos creatures have razed all in their path, killing his family – Aenarion decides it’s time to call upon a final solution of sorts. He is going to retrieve a sword, one said to be forged by the gods, and one that can only be used by the gods – and once unleashed, it will not allow its user to stop until everything, everywhere, is destroyed. As Aenerion flys upon his Dragon to the far north to retrieve the blade, he is confronted by all manner of demons and spirits – but can even the plea of his deceased wife convince him of the folly to which he has committed himself? The story has echoes of other tales I’ve enjoyed, like the aforementioned Lord of the Rings and Star Wars themes. Frankly, at first I was put off by the kind of “history lesson” prologue feel – there was a lot of telling me what Aenarion had done and not a lot of me actually feeling like I was a witness to it. But things turned around quickly, the battle against the Chaos creatures was well done; a feeling of overwhelming enemy numbers against a small but nearly invincible group of elf warriors. And that set up worked well for what was to come, Aenarion’s journey and the trials he must endure along the way. I almost understood why he was choosing to go down this path, even if it must surely lead to his own destruction. And as always with these audio dramas from The Black Library (whoops, forgot to mention that part, didn’t I?) the voice acting, music, sound effects and so on are all top notch. I absolutely love these, and would gladly see them do all of their stories in audio form - not that there’s anything wrong with their written stories. Frankly, these audio dramas live up to the high quality I’ve seen so far out of books I’ve read from them. With writing this good and audio work this well produced, it’s a pleasure any time I get the chance to listen to one of these. Highly recommended.


BStearns said...

Wow, you're getting a lot of those audio books, aren't ya! Well, glad that your enjoying them so much. Not gonna lie I laughed a bit when I read that it was a book about a guy hunting down a sword. Sounds used and cliched to me, but I guess if it's done well it can be a good read (or listen in this case).

Stewart Sternberg said...

Good review. Interesting. I love audio books for driving. And I do a lot of driving. One thing I've come to despise though are the abridged versions. I remember listening to the entire LORD OF THE RINGS in my car through the month of October one year (I drive an hour to work) and was in HEAVEN!!!!

BStearns said...

OH man Stewart, that sounds freaking awesome! That is a great way to use audio books, never thought of that. Pure genius!