Malediction by CZ Dunn – Advance Review [Lord of the Night]
Lord of the Night reviews the intriguing Dark Angels audio-novel Malediction by CZ Dunn.
“An interesting and enjoyable audio that delivers on story, though falls a bit short on voice acting and its characters.” – The Founding Fields
I wanted to have this read/listened and reviewed as quickly as I can for personal reasons that are annoying so I won’t go into detail on them, but Malediction was an enjoyable hour spent listening to a tale of heroism with a dark secret at its core, and while its not the best audio i’ve heard its certainly good enough that i’d listen to it again.
Colonel Regane Antigone is a hero to the people of Amadis, for twenty-five years ago he saved them all from the devious hordes of the Arch-enemy and has been lauded across his entire planet. With only a few weeks left to live during a banquet for his honor a truly surprising guest arrives and requests to hear the tale of his heroism personally, but why has Master Tigrane of the Dark Angels chapter come to such a lowly event to hear the story of one Guardsman? With no alternative Antigone retells his tale to his new Astartes audience, but is there more to this story of valour and heroism then he claims?
The story in Malediction is enjoyable, if a bit standard. The true twist of the story comes near the end as the mystery behind the Liberation is revealed and Antigone and Tigrane delve into what really happened on the killing fields outside Amadis. But prior to that the story is enjoyable, though nothing really special happens prior to the final battle.
The characters in Malediction are interesting, but only because of what they have or do in the course of the story, and do not really have a spark that makes them truly memorable. Regan Antigone and his Guardsmen companions are rendered enough that we get a sense of why they fight, and with some surprising honour for conscripts, but they are not fleshed out enough that we really get a sense of who these men are. Likewise for Tigrane, his true moment of characterisation comes at the end, which up to that he is an inquisitive and mysterious character.
The action in the audio-drama is perhaps one of the two highlights of the audio. Though it is rather normal Imperial Guard infanty fare some detailed elements come into play later in the audio that really make the fight engaging, enough that you can picture yourself there with the men of the Imperium. Another moment comes before that that is quite memorable, even for the Forces of Chaos, but no other fights take place in the audio.
The voice acting is a bit subpar. Regane Antigone and his Guardsmen have good voices, a clear scottish accent for all of them, but Tigrane’s and another character’s voice came across as being very scripted. It felt as if they were reading what they were saying as they spoke it like scripture, and that they measured every single word and pronounced it loudly and slowly. I also felt that the voices during combat did not feel like they were actually in combat, rather it felt like they were shouting across a crowded room rather than a battlefield.
The pacing is good, the audio-drama did not put me off with its speed and the narration was easy to follow and understand, read clearly and the voice acting though somewhat subpar was very clear. I did feel that the enemy were underdescribed though, it was never made clear just what they were. Rebels? An invading cult? And which God did they serve? Some questions that would it would have been nice to have answers for.
My favourite quote of the story had to be this one, both for its delivery and the context of the line,
“You have been found wanting!”
The ending is surprising and is definitely the best part of the audio-drama. I admit that once a character spoke a certain word I was sure of what the twist of the story was, and then another twist caught me off-guard and had me laughing with surprise at the clever mystery introduced and solved in the story.
For an interesting story, a very good set of twists and some enjoyable action scenes I give Malediction a score of 5.2/10, the voice acting and rather unmemorable characters lowers the score for me but I still enjoyed the audio-drama and would listen to it again if I felt like it.
Should you buy this audio-drama? Fans of the Dark Angels should definitely consider this story, they will enjoy it and especially the twists within. And if you’d like an easy hour with an interesting mystery to hear then Malediction may be for you, but if you aren’t a Dark Angels fan and want to hear superb voice acting and see deeply complex characters, then I would not recommend Malediction.
Well that’s it for this review, and for the July and August releases. My next review won’t be for some time, but it will be for Horus Heresy: Fear to Tread once I get it in the mail. Until next time,
AVE DOMINUS NOX!