Friday, May 25, 2012

Audiobook Review: Galaxy In Flames by Ben Counter

Concluding the opening trilogy of The Horus Heresy, Ben Counter provides a riveting narrative which nicely wraps up the initial plotlines, providing closure for certain characters, while setting up the threads to be followed in various future stories. At the end of False Gods, Horus - the favored son of the Emperor of mankind - has decided he must overthrow his father to prevent a vision of humankind in neverending battle from coming to pass. He has revealed his intentions to some of his most trusted advisors, and some of his Primarch brothers but no overt moves have yet been made.

As Galaxy in Flames opens, the combined armies of Horus and his co-conspirators are quelling a rebellion on a planet called Istavan III. Garviel Loken, one of Horus' commanders, is sent to lead an unfamiliar group of troops against the rebellious forces - but after months off the front line, he is just happy to be allowed to participate in the action again, never realizing what danger he is now in. As more and more mixed forces are sent to the planet below, the great battleships in orbit prepare to unleash a biological weapon on the planet - to kill every living thing upon it, wiping out the rebels as well as those troops under Horus command whom he knows will not support him in his treachery against the Emperor.

But some of the Astartes warriors in orbit are not as loyal as Horus believes, and in warning the troops on the planet below, they set up a conflict which will place brother against brother in close range combat - forcing each side to commit to their ideals or switch sides in last minute betrayals.

Martyn Ellis as the reader continues to do an excellent job in portraying all the characters in this story - I never really had a hard time telling anyone part. I was genuinely surprised by a number of moments in the plot, twists that I didn't see coming. In False Gods there are no real dividing lines between good and evil, but here it becomes much clearer when Horus and his followers betray their own brothers. They may feel they are doing the right thing, but they go about it in a dishonorable way. While much of the focus is on those characters, there are glimpses of heroic characters as well, as we follow a historian who is trying to escape from Horus flagship with an Astartes warrior long past his prime, or Garro who risks all of those under his command in order to warp back to Terra and warn the Emperor - and of course Loken who leads those left on Istavan III in a defensive battle against a force that far outnumbers them, from which there can be only one resolution.

Galaxy in Flames is a tragedy then, a dark turn in the story that sets up all the future stories to come in The Horus Heresy. I loved listening to it, and it only continued to support my earlier belief that this was a series I would be dedicating some serious time to exploring. This is an epic scifi series, and I highly recommend checking it out.


Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

There is a ton that is going on in that cover. But I like it from a very busy point-of-view.

Howard Sherman said...

Galaxy in Flames sounds like the kind of sci fi I can appreciate; science fiction that takes things in a different direction. Marked to read! Thanks for the great review!

Daniel A. Cohen said...

Hey Jim,

New follower here. This is cool, I don't see too many audiobook reviews.

Check out my blog, I'm having a one hundred dollar Amazon gift card giveaway in honor of the book "Masters of the Veil"