Culture

Audiobook Review: Little Horus by Dan Abnett – Warhammer: The Horus Heresy Audio Drama

audiobookNephrite’s Month of Heresies

“Let us speak of ‘Little’ Horus. ‘Little’ Horus Aximand. His aspect was the half-moon and his disposition according to the humours was inclining towards melancholia. This explained, many thought, his prevailing mood of sorrow and inner trouble. Although he frequently denied it.

’The melancholic humour is misunderstood. You think too literally. It has in fact the quality of autumn. It is a spirit of contemplative change. The accelerator of death. The enabler of ends and beginnings. Autumn clears away the world so that a new one may rise. This is my purpose…’”

Tell me,’Friend.’ Does it worry you to see the reasons why these men turned against their Emperor? That it was not for power or glory but that they felt a wrong needed to be righted? That those that became man’s greatest foes did so for all the right reasons? They do say the path to hell is paved with good intentions. So let us turn our gaze to one who truly thought they were doing the right thing. At least at the beginning…

Worry is the wrong word Warpspawn. Perhaps…understand would be better? I have much more to learn. Be it from Chaos, the Imperials…or elsewhere.

Little Horus 1 audiobook

Forgive my overindulgence to start with but I thought it would be appropriate to begin the article with a quotation which includes the words of Aximand himself. We end the Month of Heresies as we began it. With the help of Mr Dan Abnett although this time it is somewhat later.

What was known as the Dropsite Massacre occurred on Isstvan V – a planet in the same system as where Galaxy In Flames is mainly set – and now Warmaster Horus and the Chaos forces have a plan in progress on the planet of Dwell. But while the men prepare to subjugate their next target ‘Little’ Horus thinks. Truly he is probably the last remaining thinker among the heretics…and the thinker is beginning to miss the way things were and what has happened to the Sons of Horus. Perhaps he should discuss with Abaddon – the only other remaining member of the true old guard among the heretics – the idea of resurrecting the Mournivale? He is beginning to doubt. Much like another did. How will he act on those doubts?

But…that’s not even considering the dreams. More nightmares than anything. Who is haunting him? What is haunting him? And where is the breathing coming from?

Little Horus is different than my other reviews for the Month Of Heresies. It was originally published as a short story in a collection. However due to its extreme popularity among fans of Warhammer it was specially recorded in audio drama format – akin to The First Prince or Realmslayer both of which I previously reviewed – as a bonus in a collection of Horus Heresy audio dramas. I won’t deny I was curious. It was thanks to Little Horus and one or two other included stories I bought the collection. On the other hand as I’m sure you can guess I don’t want to give too much away! I hope I can persuade you to listen for yourself.

Enough synopsis and preamble! Let us discuss the narration and then the writing.The duty of main narrator falls to Gareth Armstrong – the voice of Be’lakor in The First Prince. His voice is very appropriate for the audio and disturbing –  genuinely I love hearing his voice in stories. He absolutely terrifies me at points…no matter the role. And that’s a good thing! Alongside the brilliant narration of Gareth Armstrong we have numerous actors playing the various parts. Aximand is played with a rather Shakespearean bent by Andrew Fettes. The moments where he is dreaming or ‘haunted by his thoughts’ terrified me due partially to his wonderful reaction. Warmaster Horus is voiced by Richard Reed who does a great job of showing Horus’s chaotic mindset. There’s a small amount of the ‘old’ Horus still in there but he won’t be for long. Abaddon is voiced by the stalwart that is Toby Longworth. Much like in the first three novels of the Horus Heresy his Abaddon is pitch perfect. All he cares about by this point is war and destruction. His voice is how I will always hear Abaddon. I won’t say who the opposing forces are–I don’t want to give away everything – but I will say they are all performed excellently. I can easily close my eyes and imagine these scenes playing out in front of me thanks to these wonderfully cast actors.

Now it is time to discuss the writing and Mr Dan Abnett. His writing is once again very engaging. He is very good at making all the actions seem to flow from their characterisation. Aximand as the focus character and Horus both shine wonderfully in his writing. The descriptions given to Dwell and both side’s forces during the battle on the planet are incredibly effective. I could feel my skin crawling at points. And at the very end? I felt my body instinctively fall back and curl in horror. There are other events more disturbing in other stories but I’ve never felt that…HORRIFIED…by anything Warhammer before. Nothing else has felt that wrong! Congratulations Black Library. You gave me nightmares

In conclusion Little Horus is a masterful use of the audio drama format. The adaptation is incredible. If I didn’t already know it was a short story I would never have been able to tell. I highly recommend buying the Horus Heresy Audio Collection. When the other stories are to this level – which I can guarantee they are – it is definitely worth your money!

To quote one of the Black Library audio shorts which is not in the collection but very worthwhile on its own merits – Warmaster by John French – “It does not matter how the galaxy burns. Only that it does.” That is disturbingly accurate to the Heresy and yet it is fascinating. I hope – that no matter what side you choose be it Imperial or Chaos – that these articles will persuade a few others to join me…us…in the Warp. But I think my captor may be boring of me. What do you say Warp creature? Is it time for me to return from whence I came?

Oh not so much. But such truths can be taxing on minds such as yours. I welcome that you have been so receptive to that which I have shown. No doubt countless would have driven themselves to madness rather than see things as they truly were. When you are ready again I shall be waiting. Oh yes I will always be waiting…

I can tell you won’t be gone for good either. There are many more stories I could tell people about. The tale of the First Heretic. What happened to Magnus The Red and the Thousand Sons –THERE ARE NO WOLVES ON FENRIS!And of course the story of the last ever church on Terra. And you will join me then. Won’t you?

NephriteI’ll see you soon readers. But I think it’s time I take a break from this world. Perhaps I should do an opinion piece once again?

…So I’ve been returned to my world? To my home. Did that just happen? It must have done. Now I can find some other…material to discuss.

Sayonara!

Nephrite

The Horus Heresy Audio Collection: Volume 1 available from Black Library

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