Friday, June 10, 2011

Audiobook Review: The Madness Within by Steve Lyons

I'm still new enough to the Warhammer 40,000 universe that I have not been exposed to all of the regular writers nor the various Space Marine chapters they have developed. The Madness Within features...

The Crimson Fists are among the most famous of Space Marine Chapters. Almost
destroyed when their homeworld was invaded by the brutish orks, the few survivors work relentlessly to rebuild their shattered Chapter and defend the Imperium.

In this story, the Crimson Fists are protecting a world where only the toughest human colonists may survive, a fine trial-by-fire from which the best of the best can be chosen to join the Crimson Fists and be transformed into Astartes. But something else has come to this world...

Desperate and isolated, Sergeant Estabann and Brother Cordoba of the Crimson Fists Space Marines are hunting the daemon that destroyed their battle-brothers. Their only hope remains with a Librarian on the edge of sanity, a potentially tainted Astartes who they are forced to trust. His psychic abilities can lead them to the daemon, where Estabann and Cordoba can avenge their brothers’ deaths. But is the greatest threat a foul denizen of the warp, or the power contained within a psyker’s mind?

I've copied portions of the CD cover above, for a few reasons - but the most important is probably this, if it weren't for those descriptions I probably wouldn't even be able to remember what was supposed to have happened. It's disappointing for me to say this, because normally I'm a huge fan of the Black Library Audiodramas, but The Madness Within just didn't do anything for me at all. Despite how interesting the story described above might seem, it wasn't particularly memorable while listening to it. In fact, mostly it's these same three characters going back and forth between the same few rooms of a cathedral, and things fading to black anytime the action actually seems like it might get going.

This might make for a good book, but it makes for a boring audio experience. It's made worse by the fact that the things I thought would make for a good story - like how the Librarian turned on his brothers just prior to when this story begins - are never fully explored. Or the setting, which reminded me of Salusa Secundis (from Dune), a planet so harsh it's used as a training ground for new troops. Some of those people should have been brought into this story, forced to rise to the occasion when so many Space Marines had fallen. Instead, it feels too much like it's trying to hard to be a "horror film" version of Warhammer 40,000.

Which might have been helped by some really outstanding audio, but even here I found it lacking this time. There's nothing that I can point to and say "this is why it was made an audiodrama"; in general it was well done but nothing amazing. As I said, I'm usually a big fan of these productions, so it's hard for me to have to say I just can't really recommend this one. I'm not sure if it's just a case of the story not really fitting the format, but I certainly hope my next experience will be more in line with my expectations from the Black Library.

1 comment:

Michael Offutt said...

I love warhammer 40k