Review: Thorn and Talon (Audiobook)

The Inquisition is the most powerful and secretive organisation within the Imperium. Its agents, the Inquisitors, are the last line of defence for mankind. Gregor Eisenhorn, dedicated servant of the Inquisition, takes to the field again in three audio dramas. Regia Occulta finds him on a world wracked by ethereal storms and haunted by a terrifying beast. In Master Imus’s Transgression, the Inquisitor investigates the mysterious affair of a mild-mannered clerk who confesses to a crime. Gideon Ravenor, once Eisenhorn’s pupil, is now crippled and confined to a life support chair. He uses his powerful psychic talents to enact the Emperor’s will. When he receives a mysterious message, Ravenor and his loyal followers travel to a distant world where they battle fierce cultists. But what are the cultists looking for? And what is the meaning of the message: Thorn Wishes Talon?

Review

Although Torn and Talon is billed as an audiobook, it’s not really a fair description. The term “radio play” is a much closer fit. The three included stories run for slightly over two hours all up. The first two stories deal with Dan Abnett’s famous Inquisitor Eisenhorn at a time before the events of the Eisenhorn trilogy, giving insight in to his earlier life. The final story focuses on Dan Abnett’s other well-known Inquisitor; Ravenor. Thorn Wishes Talon takes place between the Eisenhorn and Ravenor trilogies, and fills in some gaps as to the conclusion of some events and the rise of other plot lines. There is a full voice cast and a plethora of sound effects are used to heighten the mood.

And what a mood it is. Abnett’s writing and the cast create a feeling of a grim, industrial future in which every member of the human race is a potential traitor to their own people, knowingly or not. Illustrated in graphic detail are the lives and fates of some of those people suspected of becoming pawns of the Ruinous Powers which constantly seek to overthrow the empire of man.

The pacing of the stories and the austerity of the acting work perfectly together, and create a sense of tension in the listener. Generally speaking, the sound effects also add to the immersion of the stories. There are a few occasions, however, where some seemingly generic sounds are used, such as some fairly stereotypical laser gun sounds which could have been lifted straight out of Star Wars, and may break some listener’s attention and immersion.

Over all, Thorn and Talon is a very high quality production, both in terms of writing and acting, and a worthy addition of any Warhammer 40K library. Similarly, those wishing to break in the grim science fiction universe could find many worse ways of doing so. While the stories use pre-existing characters, the stories can still be enjoyed by new listeners. Obviously, those who have already read the Eisenhorn and Ravenor trilogies will get more out Torn and Talon, but lack of knowledge is no barrier to entry.

  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Demographic: Young Adult and up
  • Rating Out of Five: 5
  • Format: CD Audio
  • Find At: The Book Depository
  • Published: December 2011

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