Friday, September 07, 2012

Audiobook Review: Chosen of Khorne by Anthony Reynolds

Until I saw the description for Perfection (the previous audiodrama I reviewed), I didn’t realize that the World Eaters of Khorne were the second invading force of Chaos Marines that story made use of. It’s shocking how different my reaction was to the use of this particular legion in this story versus that one, as I felt this was one of my favorite Audio Drama’s yet.

In the realm of Chaos, or hyperspace, there exists a place called the Eye of Terror upon which the World Eaters do battle against one another in order to decide who shall lead their fallen order devoted to the Chaos god Khorne. Two warriors have emerged as the most powerful, each gaining a large following – and now they have decided to settle once and for all who shall lead, by way of a gladiator battle. One of the leaders, hoping to bring an unknown quantity into the, somewhat unwillingly calls upon Kharn – a legendary warrior from the time of The Horus Heresy – to be his champion in the battle. But how can a man who has garnered the nickname “The Betrayer” ever be trusted?

When the listener is first introduced to Kharn in this story, he has been slaughtering any World Eaters who have come to see him – but he finally spares the old human aide to Brond, because he’s not a worthy opponent. What I enjoyed about this part, and again when it’s used later a few times during the course of the story, is how it shifts to a first-person perspective and the listener hears Kharn’s thoughts – erratic, rage-filled and twisted as they are. It’s like getting a peek behind the mask of someone psychotic, and it actually sets up a kind of unreliable narrator because you can’t trust that what Kharn is thinking is what he’s actually doing during those scenes. This becomes crucial in the final act of the story as things rapidly switch between 3rd person omniscient and 1st person from Kharn’s point of view.

The gladiatorial battle is amusing in that it has a huge build-up, and like Indiana Jones with the sword-swinging man, it’s over in an instant. But there is a huge amount of bloodshed still to be had, as neither side is ready to accept defeat without a grand battle – and Kharn is ready to ensure that only one can claim to be the Chosen of Khorne.

This story is like a bridge between The Horus Heresy and the stories being told thousands of years later in the Warhammer 40,0000 universe, well acted with great sound effects and backed up by a great story. I appreciate it when I get a great audio drama as a follow-up to a more mediocre one, because it gives me confidence that Black Library still knows what it’s doing and makes me look forward all the more to the next release. I give Chosen of Khorne a strong recommendation.

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