Review: Warmaster / Author: John French / Publisher: The Black Library / Release Date: Out Now
Every December, tie-in fiction factory The Black Library produces short works of fiction in the run-up to Christmas. This year’s batch has been pretty decent so far – a lovely mix of new authors and old favourites, covering the breadth of the franchise fairly neatly with one thousand word shorts, plus a few equally short audio dramas, of which John French's Warmaster is a good example.
So is it worth paying £1.50 for just over 9 minutes of spoken word action? Surprisingly, the answer is yes. The Black Library audios are usually very well done, and this is no exception. Works from the Horus Heresy also tend to be created to a very high standard, and Warmaster is told from the perspective of the arch-heretic himself, Horus. In a single sentence, writer John French sums up the pantheon of Primarchs that define this highly popular series. Giving the central villain of a huge series such as the Horus Heresy too much airtime is always a risk, but Warmaster gets it spot-on, presenting his scenery-chewing villainy against a backdrop of gritty horror. It is a credit both to the writing and the excellent acting of the audio team that this short drama has such an impact.
Exactly because of its brevity, Warmaster is great if you’re looking for a quick and easy introduction to the Horus Heresy. It does contain a slight spoiler for the earlier books, but certainly nothing that would stun those familiar with the backstory, or ruin things for those going into the series with no prior knowledge. And for fans of the series, it's essential listening.