Audiobook Review: Warhammer 40,000: Hunger by Andy Smillie

audiobookHere we are once again my friends! We have returned to the world of the Imperium Of Man, the Adeptus Astartes and the never ending threat of Chaos and the Xenos! This time things are a little different. I have some basics I can give you all before we begin.

First of all I have to tell you about the Blood Angels and their Primarch Sanquinius. The Blood Angels were originally the Ninth Legion. Their Primarch Sanquinius is even considered something of a saint by the greater Imperium with their equivalent to Christmas being named Sanquinala in his honour and even several members of Horus’s traitor legions during the Heresy – including Horus himself – regarding Sanqunius as the best of all Primarchs.

As a result of their reputation the Blood Angels have birthed several so called ‘successor chapters’ who are basically in extremely simplified terms offshoot groups which were created when – after the Horus Heresy – the Legions were split into 1000 man strong Chapters usually consisting of people with similar mindsets. They are almost always ‘descended’ from one of the original legions and in some cases keep strong ties with their ‘parent legion.’ The Black Templars I talked about when I reviewed Helsreach are an example of a successor chapter as are today’s subjects the Flesh Tearers who are descended from the Blood Angels.

The Flesh Tearers are an extremely aggressive splinter chapter of the Blood Angels who are frequently overcome with the so called Black Rage – which in simple terms is a genetic flaw or blood curse given to all Blood Angels and successors upon the death of Sanquinius – are on board a Space Hulk (ancient gigantic derelict space craft) and are cleansing the craft of a specific kind of xenos called genestealers. Genestealers are a subspecies of Tyranids who act as the precursors for an invasion by Tyranids and are part of an impossibly huge hive mind. The closest comparison would be amix of the Xenomorph from Alien, The Borg and piranhas.

The plot of Hunger is as follows: The Flesh Tearers were drawn here. Drawn to this great threat. They must cleanse this system of Genestealers and prevent their spread. However in the process they must face their own curse in the Black Rage…their unnatural hunger and if they can discover the truth buried at the heart of this vessel if it doesn’t break them.

Hunger is an audio drama I am very fond of. The plot may seem simple on the surface but there is so much more to it. In reality this is something of a character piece for the Flesh Tearers. There is a lot of violence and anger as befits characters who are always on the verge of madness and yet are willing to do their duty for the Imperium. However as they battle through endless hordes we switch between two groups which show two different sides: Chapter Master Gabriel Seth and his squad of warriors who face the threat of the Genestealers head on and slowly begin to discover the secret buried at the heart of the ship and what it might mean for them all and their future. As well as Chaplain Appollus and his group who have their own mission and come face to face with the threat of the Black Rage and the resulting implications.

The character work in this hour long drama is wonderful and makes it a rather enjoyable listen. I’ve listened quite a few number of times myself! The differences in perspective and personality are made wonderfully clear thanks to a combination of Smillie – more or less the ‘adoptive father’ of the Flesh Tearers at this point – and his excellent writing and the equally well done performances. Jonathan Keeble who I’ve mentioned on several occasions by this point acts as a narrator while Andrew Wincott is a gloriously violent and yet personality driven Seth with other well done performances by Steve Conlin, Stephen Perring – who I mentioned when I reviewed the Ciaphas Cainseries – and numerous others.

I’ve seen comments and messages regarding this particular audio drama as being a lot of people’s first taste of the Flesh Tearers. It was also the same for me and I now consider them one of my personal favourite groups. This story manages to balance extremely brutal action with some wonderfully written character work. And I’m really trying not to give it all away!

NephriteIn conclusion I really enjoyed going back to Hunger and going on campaign with Seth and the others. I hope I can give some of my readers a good reason to give the Flesh Tearers a fair chance and go beneath the surface with them. There’s definitely more to them than meets the eye! I certainly hope there will be more audio and prose releases with the men from Cretacia in the near future!



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