Friday, January 14, 2011

Audiobook Review: Helion Rain by George Mann

On the planet Idos, humanity is under siege from the alien tyranids, and only the superhuman cybernetic soldiers of the Space Marines known as the Raven Guard have any chance of beating them back. Most of the forces of the Raven Guard, under Captain Corrin, are engaged in a front-line holding action – completely against their nature of working covertly behind the lines to take down an enemy. But one small team led by Sergeant Grayvus, separated from the rest of the battle, are given a mission with very little idea of how it may help improve the situation for their brothers, one that requires them to destroy a power plant. This is a task which would be difficult under normal circumstances, but is made even more impossible by the fact that they have no explosives on them. They have little more than their personal arms to fight with, and creatures who want nothing more than to drain their very DNA from their bodies and absorb them into their own biomass. Meanwhile, everyone must deal with the constant rock rain falling from the sky, the remnants of the moon Helion, which humanity mistakenly destroyed while trying to defend Idos from the invasion. The setting is half the fun of this particular story, there are a number of times when the battles are broken up because of the need of both sides to protect themselves from the Helion rain. It’s one of those great ideas that makes for a memorable background to set the rest of the story against, helping it rise above what might otherwise just be another “only one team can save the day behind enemy lines”. This story was also my first introduction to the tyranids, which also helped set it apart from the other audiobooks I’ve listened to so far from The Black Library. They’re like the organic version of the Borg, they’ll absorb your memories along with your very DNA and make it a part of their collective – and they’re disgusting creatures with large spiked protrusions and tentacles vying for some way to make contact with their prey. I liked how Grayvus team wasn’t given the information by Captin Corrin on what the purpose of their mission was, just that they were to get it done. Very military-like and ultimately it helps build the suspense for the listener; until they succeed we know what the result will be. At the same time, if I have one issue with this story it’s that none of the characters particularly stood out to me. But, along with the usual high quality of the audio work that The Black Library does on these things, the combination of the other elements of the story help this one rise above its one flaw.


Budd said...

I am reading the Affinity Bridge by George Mann, currently. Sounds like a different kind of book altogether.

SQT said...

I'm with Budd. George Mann sounds versatile.

Charles Gramlich said...

That sounds really cool. I'm gonna look into this one.