The Madness Within by Steve Lyons – Advanced Review [Bane of Kings]


Bane of Kings Reviews The Madness Within by Steve Lyons, an Audio Drama published by Black Library and read by John Banks.

“A Truly bitchin’ audio drama, awesome!” ~The Founding Fields

Steve Lyons is perhaps one of the more prolific writers for Black Library, responsible for countless Imperial Guard novels including Dead Men Walking, Ice Guard and Death World, alongside several audiobooks, and I do believe his first step down the road of the power-armoured, superhuman adeptus astartes. (If I am correct, my humble restricted knowledge is limited to the use of Google.)

In this case, The Crimson Fists, the second founding chapter, sons of Rogal Dorn and descendants of the Imperial Fists are in action, and written by an author who I’ve enjoyed most of his novels.

Being a fan of the Crimson Fists, I eagerly awaited the chance to jump into the latest audiobook about them, and because I was fairly disappointed by Rynn’s World, I was greatly satisfied by The Madness Within. Here’s a brief description of the plot for you:

Desperate and Isolated, Sergeant Estabann and Brother Cordoba, both Crimson Fists, find themselves hunting a daemon that has destroyed their battle brothers, after the Space Marines landed on a world to try and gain some potential recruits following the events of Waaagghhh! Snagrod and the besieging of Rynn’s World that left their chapter depleted and endangered.

Estabann and Cordoba’s only hopes to defeat the Daemon lie with a Librarian on the edge of sanity, one who is potentially tainted and whom they are forced to trust. His psychic abilities can lead them to the Daemon, allowing the surviving astartes to extract their revenge.

But is the greatest threat really a denizen of the Warp? Could it be instead, the power contained within a psyker’s mind?

Working alongside Steve Lyons, we have John Banks, who brings the audio drama to life, and adds to the grim, dark and bleak setting of the monastery in the recruiting world, as well as delivering a great storyline that has one, huge – ‘big reveal’ at the end, that will surprise you unless you are one of those who likes to take lucky guesses at what it will be.

Having listened to a large amount of Black Library’s audio-range, I do believe that The Madness Within is defiantly in the ‘upper tier’ of these dramas, and is one of the few that I’ve listened to that wouldn’t be as good if put on paper, as the sound effects and the like really do add to the tension.

But, there are a few flaws in this audiobook, as to be expected from most of its ilk. The 70 minutes or so length of this isn’t really enough to flush out the story as much as it could have been, if you get what I mean. Even though, left as it is – I would’ve preferred the audio to the text; I still think that it should have been expanded more, like, for example, telling the back-story of how the astartes has become potentially tainted, and the fights which cost the rest of the squad their lives.

Ideally, if you’ve managed to get through the novel Rynn’s World by Steve Parker, this provides a ‘sort-of-sequel’ to it. Basically, this means that they’re not related to each other in terms of the plot (Cordoba and Estabann don’t feature in the novel at all), but I find you will know more about the Crimson Fists after reading that first Space Marine Battles Novel.

Although there are few characters in this novel, the interaction between them is pretty well thought out and well developed as Lyons (and Banks) manage to keep you listening and away from the pause button on your IPod. (Or other appropriate device.)

Rating: 3/5

More Crimson Fists: Rynn’s World by Steve Parker, The Madness Within by Steve Lyons 

David Ploss

I’m a bit of an awesome person. :) I’m a semi-famous 40k Intellect and the Business Manager of Chique Geek Entertainment, LLC. I’m a book reviewer and the owner of Beware my wonky-ness…


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