The Wargamer

23 June 2017

Audiobook: Raven's Flight

The Raven Guard is trapped on Isstvan V in this latest release of the Horus Heresy. How will they survive?

Published on 28 FEB 2010 3:27pm by Scott Parrino
  1. gaming fiction

Author:  Gav Thorpe

Narrator:  Toby Longworth

Reviewer:  Jim Zabek

Fans of Warhammer 40,000 gaming fiction will be familiar with the Horus Heresy series of books.  Set 10,000 years in the past from the contemporary game in the 41st Millennium, the Horus Heresy series brings to life the rift that split the Imperium  of Man between the forces of the Emperor and the forces of Horus, who would ultimately be consumed by the darkness of Chaos.  (More info can be found on Wikipedia:  Some great writing has emerged from this series and it provides an historical context for fans of the literature.  In addition to covering the Horus Heresy period, the other thing that sets Ravenís Flight apart is the fact that itís available only on CD. 

Audio books have been around a long time, but I have tended to shy away from them because of a negative experience listening to Richard Marcinkoís Rogue Warrior.  Oh, there was nothing wrong with the book.  However, one day I was driving down the road listening to the story when, during a particularly fierce firefight, I happened to zip past a State Policeman doing about 15 mph over the limit.  Lesson learned, I resolved not to listen to any more exciting books on tape for a while.  That cautionary tale led me into a habit that I hadnít broken until recently.  Personal anecdote aside, audiobooks typically come produced in two varieties.  The first follows along the line of how Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows that my wife bought for her long road trips.  Marvelously narrated, it is characterized by only the narratorís voice.  No sound effects accompany the narrative, and all the action unfolds purely at the narratorís inflection.  On the other end of the spectrum are audiobooks like Ravenís Flight, which augment the narrative with sound effects ranging from splashing water to exploding tanks Ė and a bit of everything in between.  I donít find a problem with either method of production, but audiophiles who have a preference will want to know.  So thereís your answer.

The setting of Ravenís Flight is in the chaotic period when the conflict of Astartes versus Astartes is in full bloom.  The Raven Guardís loyal Primarch, Corax, are trapped on Isstvan V and are being pursued relentlessly by the World Easters, loyal to Horus.  Their only hope of escape is outside reinforcement which seems impossible. 

Gav Thorpe is a veteran writer for the Black Library and his fans know theyíre going to be in for a treat with whatever he writes.  Ravenís Flight doesnít disappoint in its scope, action sequences or plot twists.  The overall path of the plot is fairly clear.  Reinforcements in the form of the Imperial army are available, and their commander is haunted by dreams which he ultimately comes to believe are a call from Corax to relieve the dwindling forces of the Raven Guard.  Itís in the telling of the tale that fun is enjoyed, and this is definitely one of the best in the Horus Heresy series. 

The audiotapeís length is about an hour which is long enough to tell the tale and short enough to have left me wanting more.  The thing that I enjoyed most is, as a wargamer, there is a broad description of tactics and flanking.  The Warhammer 40,000 game system has some nuances to it, but at its heart many of the maneuvers are straight forward.  In Ravenís Flight readers are treated to a broader scope, with tens of thousands of Astartes clashing and the listener is treated to a real sense that army maneuver and forethought, which characterize the Raven Guard in the game, are at play. 

At its heart the Warhammer game and body of gaming fiction is about fun.  This is one of my guilty pleasures that I indulge in when more complicated gaming fare is getting a break.  Fans of the author, the Black Libraryís productions, and Warhammer 40,000 in general owe it to themselves to check it out.  The fire and blood left in the path of Ravenís Flight is more than enough to satisfy any fan.