Friday, June 08, 2012

Audiobook Review: Butcher’s Nails by Aaron Dembski-Bowden

This is kind of an interesting review. I listened to this audiodrama prior to delving into False Gods and Galaxy in Flames, and started in on those because I remembered how much I enjoy these Black Library audio books. Because Butcher’s Nails takes place during the Horus Heresy, the stories that I listened to afterwards impacted my experience with this one.

Angron is the Primarch of the World Eaters, a particularly nasty group of Astartes warriors who revel in the slaughtering of their enemies. Horus has tasked Angron and his forces with a secret mission, and imposed the insufferable Word Bearers to work alongside him. Primarch Lorgar and his Word Bearers are priests of a sort, practicing in dark arts and forbidden knowledge – the very opposite of everything the World Eaters are. As the bonds forged in Heresy begin to fray, their warships come to the attention of the alien Eldar – who strike quickly and create confusion among the human warriors. But it also brings them together, as Lorgar and Angron hatch a plot to lure the Eldar into attacking again – with a prize worth risking their ships for; the destruction of two Primarchs. Will these two Astartes find a way to turn the tide of battle, and what hints about Angron’s future will they learn from this alien species…

I’ve seen small appearances by Angron in the audio book adaptations above, and I now understand the kind of brutal warrior he is. Just listening to this audiodrama I didn’t understand that, as he just comes across as not liking his “brother” and accusing the Word Bearers of cowardice. But this is a man who lives for destruction and battle, who has implants in his head (like all his warriors) which increase his abilities as his rage increases. He is the source of fear for many Astartes even before the Heresy begins, as many of his brothers feel Angron is a monster, and that fear only deepens once he sides with Horus and they must do battle against him and his forces.

In Butcher’s Nails we don’t really see Angron’s lust for battle until the very end of the story, when he and Lorgar are onboard the Eldar spaceship wading into battle against overwhelming odds. Lorgar more than proves his warrior abilities, earning Angron’s respect, but Lorgar also learns something about Angron and those implants he knows are killing the World Eaters – that they are also the source of the Eldar’s interest in Angron.

As is often the case, the audio work in this drama is fantastic, I was especially fond of the sound effects used when Angron’s flagship uses its spiked hooks to latch onto the Eldar craft and reel it in for boarding. It sounds like the chains of an anchor being pulled onboard a ship, along with the creaking such an endeavor would create. At the same time, I wouldn’t call Butcher’s Nails a must-listen audio drama – even though I’m a big fan of Aaron Dembski-Bowden’s work, this just doesn’t come across as necessary listening. If you’re a fan of the Heresy series, or you want to see where Angron’s story might be going in the future, it’s worth checking out, but I don’t know that it functions well as a stand-alone listening experience – I found I got a lot more out of it after catching up on the other Heresy audiobooks I mentioned above.

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