It’s been a little while since I was really enthralled by a Black Library audio drama release. The last few have ranged from good to just ok, but that hasn’t kept me from looking forward to the next release with some anticipation. More often than not I’ve been very impressed with these audio dramas, and I’m happy to report that Eve of Vengeance is one of the excellent ones.
Other than one short audio drama in The Lightning Tower by Graham McNeill, I’ve had no real exposure to his work in the WH40K universe. I will say that after listening to this though, I’m convinced that his Ultramarines books are ones I need to take the time to read (and I’ve got a couple just waiting for me to get to). The Ultramarines seem to be the best of the best in terms of the Astarte (cybernetically enchanced human) warriors, and the opening of Eve of Vengeance does a great job of introducing the listener to the current state of their war against the heretics as well as the Ultramarine order.
In Eve of Vengeance, one of the key agriculture planets of the Imperium has been invaded by the Bloodborn – dark priests who scavenge anything mechanical to create their army. Even battles that are won by the Ultramarines leave behind shattered machines – giving new fodder to the Bloodborn to reinforce their army. A prolonged engagement works only to the Bloodborn’s favor, and the Ultramarine hierarchy knows the only way to ensure long-term victory is to destroy the Bloodborn’s forge in an early decisive strike.
Sergeant Telion and his sounds may be the only ones who can get the job done. But they’re going to have to first make their way behind the enemy lines, and a vicious battletank, before making their way into the Bloodborn forge where they will face all sorts of mechanical monstrosities.
This was a case where everything really came together perfectly for an audio drama. The story driver is a good one, with a clear mission and goal, but with a few interesting side-trips along the way. When Telion and his troops take witness the destruction of the battletank, the carnage is felt by the listener (and it becomes more real when the tank turns its attention to Telion’s team). There would be no fear if it weren’t for the fact that the characters are well developed, they come across as more than just generic soldiers – but real people who make mistakes as well as being capable of incredible acts of heroism.
I love that they’ve been expanding the music in these audio dramas, I think the last two that I’ve listened to have had completely different music from each other as well as anything that went before (prior to that, I was hearing the same music cues in all of the audio dramas). At the same time, I think what I’d really like is for them to do a little of both, introduce new music, but use some of the same cues from prior audio dramas, to build upon but also connect the series all together.
There is an immersiveness about these audio dramas which are in part driven by the background noise present even while the narrator is describing a scene. The earliest chapters of this audio book are excellent examples of this, where you can hear the whine of the engines of approaching drop-ships and the marching soldiers. This was a great story made even better by the sound effects, and one of my favorite Black Library Audio Dramas (listen to an extract here).