Say what you want about Games Workshop and its subsidiaries. Their money grubbing policy may irk some, or rather most of us, but the quality of their products is a completely different thing. Usually. What I'm trying to say here, that while expensive, the stuff they are selling is usually worth it, and this is also true about Black Library, their book publishing division.
As someone who dosen't have a lot of time to read, I'm an avid fan of audiobooks. Fortunately Black Library has a huge selection of those and whenever they publish something new, I get in line to check it out. The quality is a mixed thing, but then again this can be said about all GW products, right?
So without further ado, let us dive right into my first BL's audiobook, a review of "Vulkan's Shield" by Nick Kyme.
"Above a war torn battlefield on a distant world, Ko'tan Kadai and his Salamanders are on a mission of mercy. As the city burns, the Fireborn rescue a band of beleaguered civilians and learns what it means to be Vulkan's Shield."
When it comes to Black Library authors, Nick Kyme was always a kind of an odd duck for me. On one hand he can do Ultramarines really well, as proven by "Damnos" and "Veil of Darkness". On the other he wrote "Vulkan Lives" which many people, myself included, consider to be one of the worst Horus Heresy books ever, alongside such gems as "Battle for the Abyss" or "Fallen Angels".
That said, Nick does one thing right ("Vulkan Lives" excluded), and that is the Salamanders Legion/Chapter. As an author he can capture their fiery spirit and fierce, noble nature really well. His "Tome of Fire" is a perfect example, and is a must for any fan of the Sons of Nocturne, but so is "Vulkan's Shield", a short, yet very satisfying audiobook, that really shows just what it means to be a Salamander.
On a world besieged by the forces of Chaos, Captain Ko'tan Kadai leds his men on a mission to save a group of beleaguered civilians. With scant minutes before the Imperial Navy opens fire and obliterates the city around them, the Salamanders and their Raven Guard allies fly towards the schola, inside which a small group of humans have taken shelter. During this trip, the Sons of Nocturne explain to thier brethren from the XIXth what it means to be an addherant to the Promethean Creed.
While a short story, running for less than 11 minutes, it is nonetheless very well structured and informative, when it comes to the Salamanders chapter. Many people who are just getting into hobby tend to think that all Space Marines are inhuman, aloof weapons of war, completely devoid of emotions and compassion. Salamanders are one of the few Astartes chapter that prove this claim to be flase. Their adherence to the Promethean Creed, a form of philosophy native to their homeworld of Nocturne, teaches them to show compassion and protect the weak, no matter whom they are. This is the lesson that Ko'tan Kadai tries to explain to Sergeant Adrak Vraver of the Raven Guard.
The interaction between a Salamander and the Son of Corax is definetly the "Vulkan's Shield" strongest point. During the 11 or so minutes, we can clearly see what Ardak thinks about his brothers from he XVIIIth. With their jet black skin and red eyes, the Salamanders look more like vengeful daemons, than compassionate warriors they claim to be. Kadai counters this rather nicely. I don't want to spoil too much (this is a review after all), but after listening to "Vulkan's Shield" I began to look upon the Salamanders in a completely different way. For a short story, that can be finished during a trip to grocery store, it is a damn fine accomplishment. Unfortunately the whole thing ends with a cliffhanger, which I hate. I understand that this was supposed to be a short one, but Nick could give us 2 or 3 more minutes worth of action.
"Vulkan's Shield" is performed by a trio of excellent voice actors: Gareth Armstrong, Martyn Ellis and Jonathan Keeble. Each of them is a veteran of BL's audiobooks, including longer formats. running for many hours. In this little piece, they do their job admirably, altough the voice of Adrak Vraver could be more sinister, and less whiny. When I think Raven Guard, I think about a bunch of power armoured, stealth ninja-assassins who whisper death and doom, and not some guys who like to complain a lot. Other than that, the voice acting is top notch. Background sound is also done extremely well. Many audiobooks from Black Library tend to have ambient sound crancked up to eleven, which sometimes can hamper the listening pleasure quite a bit ("Doomseeker", incidentaly also by Nick Kyme, is a good example). This is not the case here, as all the sound effects are done well and don't interrupt the actors.
For anyone who is interested in Salamanders chapter this audiobbok is simply a must. It also should be said that "Vulkan's Shield" is a part of the "Tome of Fire", the first novel series concentrating on the Sons of Nocturne and their everlasting war against the enemies of the Imperium. If you want a good, albeit short, Warhammer 40,000 audiobook then look no further and may Vulkan watch over you.
-Tight, well paced storyline
-Good characterisation of the Salamanders
-Excellent sound and voice acting
-Raven Guard voices could be less whiny
-It ends with a cliffhanger
|A fine case of an audiobook done right. Highly recommended|
Until next time