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Bane of Kings reviews the Emperor’s Children-focused Audio Drama, Perfection, written by Nick Kyme, set in the Warhammer 40k Universe, and published by Black Library
“An action-packed, unpredictable audio drama.” ~The Founding Fields
My last Audio Drama that I was able to review was CZ Dunn’s Malediction, which I did unfortunately have a few issues with, despite me wanting to enjoy it as much as I could. Whilst Perfection may not suffer from those issues, it does have a few of its own – but is something that I enjoyed more, and is a lot more accessible to relative-newcomers to the Warhammer 40k Universe, or at least those that are somewhat familiar with the concepts of Chaos, the Emperor’s Children in particular. Emperor’s Children fans won’t be disappointed though – There’s a lot of action for the sons of Fulgrim here, and provides a look into just how far they’ve fallen since the Heresy.
Under siege from Chaos Space Marines of the Emperor’s Children, survival for the world of Vardask looks bleak. Matters worsen with the arrival of the World Eaters of Khorne, but when the Champions of Slaanesh are slowly murdered in mysterious circumstances the enmity of the rival warbands threatens to turn them on one another on a scale not seen since the aftermath of the Horus Heresy. Are there no depths to which the scions of Fulgrim will not stop in pursuit of true perfection?
So, before we go into the bad bits of this audio drama, the stuff that I didn’t like – let’s look at the strong bits. Perfection is a lot more action-packed than Malediction, and you really get the feel of the grim-darkness of the Warhammer 40k world in this Audio Drama. What I most enjoyed about this tale was that it was impossible to predict what would happen next – nobody was safe, which is what should be in any good 40k fiction, and the performing cast of Jane Collingwood, Gareth Armstrong, Chris Fairbank, Jonathan Keeble and David Timpson really helped make the Audio Drama even more enjoyable. I liked the view into the Imperial lines that we got before switching to the main bulk of the Warhammer 40k Universe, in the sort of style that’s normally found in the pre-opening credits scenes of TV episodes.
The action is constant right the way through, and Kyme really gives us a feel that we’re actually there, in the midst of the battle, and with all the horrors of war thrown at us from all angles. If you’re a Chaos fan, what could be cooler than Emperor’s Children and World Eaters laying siege to an Imperial World? We get to see the inter-legion rivalries, and as mentioned earlier in this review, it’s interesting to look at just how far the Sons of Fulgrim have fallen since casting aside their oaths of loyalty to the Emperor. They’re far from the same legion that fought in the Great Crusade, and nowhere is this more evident than in Perfection. Malediction was labelled as a Dark Angels Audio Drama, and as it turned out – it was more of an Imperial Guard one guest starring Cypher and a Loyalist Dark Angel. I’m pleased to say that Perfection though, is very clearly an Emperor’s Children Audio Drama, which should not disappoint those of us who were looking forward to this one.
Perfection is one of the more gory and disturbing pieces of fiction that you will find in the Warhammer 40k Universe, the last track being a key role in this. It’s not for the squeamish, let me tell you this now. It’s good to see that Kyme has taken the darker angle of the setting in this Audio Drama, and we’re getting a good look into the eyes of characters that aren’t just anti-heroes, they’re downright bad guys. Chaos Space Marines are the very opposite of loyalist Astartes, and the difference is clear in Perfection, which leads me onto the first flaw that I found with Kyme’s Audio Drama. The characters themselves. They’re not particularly memorable or well-developed, and we don’t get enough time to care about them like we would have done perhaps if Perfection was a novel. Added to the fact that they’re some of the evilest bastards in a universe full of evilest bastards, you don’t particularly want to root for them. You don’t particularly care for the characters, and as a result the story suffers – which is a real shame, and I think Perfection is a victim of its formatting. If Kyme could have perhaps expanded this into a full novel, this would not only give us time for a lot more action, World Eaters and Emperor’s Children, we would have also been able to look into our characters more – to get to know them perhaps before the main storyline.
All that said though, you should enjoy a large part of this Emperor’s Children-focused Audio Drama. Whilst it may not be Black Library’s best, it’s far from its worst.