This is the third audio book to be reviewed within the pages of SFBook and again we are firmly within the realms of Warhammer 40k, this time during that tremulous period of the Horus Heresy. Dan Abnett is the author and Prospero Burns the novel, narrated by Gareth Armstrong on eleven CD's representing a running time of about 13 hours. The book ties in very closely with the events of A Thousand Sons with some of events running concurrently.
Prospero Burns sees the Emperor Enraged; The Primarch of the Thousand Sons adeptus astartes, Magnus the Red has made a catastrophic error that endangers the safety of the very foundation of the Imperium and homeworld of mankind, Terra. The Emperor charges Leman Russ, Primarch of the Space Wolves to apprehend his brother Magnus on the Legions home world of Prospero.
Prospero however will not be an easy target, even for the mighty Space Wolves, Russ however is determined to bring Magnus to justice and cause the fall of the planet.
The Horus Heresy makes a brilliant setting for a book and the Wolves couldn't be in better hands than Dan Abnett, the supremo author within the Warhammer 40k world. While the enigmatic Wolves are the main focus of the novel, described in excellent detail right into the very heart of Fenris and the hunt of the wolves they are seen through the eyes of an outsider, a third party and really these marines act more as a backdrop than being the main story. Ultimately the story is a type of psychological thriller about the character Kasper Hawser - the outsider who provides the insight into the sixth.
The book gets off to a powerful start that doesn't let up for pretty much the whole of the novel from the struggle of survival on the inhospitable planet that is Fenris to the battle Prospero - which is admittedly a much briefer window into the legendary scrap than i'd like, seen through the eyes of Hawser.
We get very little screen time with the iconic leader of the wolves Leman Russ however when we do he is described perfectly and really does make you want to learn much more about this figure. Viewing the wolves through the eyes of someone else is a brave move by Abnett and one that I feel may have upset some of the bigger Wolves fans out there but if you accept this then Propero Burns is a great story. The story itself is very entertaining, moving from Hawsers past to the present seamlessly and culminating in a pretty spectacular ending, you do have to pay attention though as there is no hand-holding alerting you to the change in perspective.
Told with the authors usual grace and dynamism, the audio book version is voiced and acted out perfectly; a real credit to black library that they have done justice to Abnett's writing.
The audio really does make the story come alive and it does feel like you are there amidst the action. This is just about the longest audio book i've listened too as well (along with Thousand Sons) and as a fast reader it wouldn't have taken as long to read the book as it did to listen to it, but the experience is so different that I didn't mind in the slightest.
An exceptional novel that's been transfered to audio perfectly, even managing to lift the story futher than the original text with that extra dimension, superb.
Written on Monday 6th August 2012 by Antony.
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