Review: The Kauyon / Author: Andy Smilie / Publisher: Black Library / Release Date: Out Now
The Tau are one of the few elements of the unrelentingly grim, dark world of Warhammer 40,000 that are even remotely cheerful. Ostensibly an alien empire ruled by one race but composed of a great many species, they survive and thrive through innovation, optimism and cooperation rather than the brute force and ignorance which is prevalent in all the other factions.
It is perhaps a bit odd then that the audio drama The Kauyon is a tale of vengeance and bloody violence, sticking close to the principle that Warhammer stories should always be about war. (Though they’re rarely about hammers.) The tale itself is strong enough; it focuses on one of the Tau’s elite soldiers, a Fire Warrior, who uses stealth, advanced drones and a very powerful sniper rifle to manipulate his enemies into a place where he can kill them. He is motivated by honour, revenge and grief and this is almost enough to make us actually care about the hero of the piece, but not quite.
Smilie is very good at writing fast-paced military stories and certainly the action and violence is handled in an exciting and cinematic way. The reason as to why all this is kicking off is not as well explained and we don’t really empathise with the lead characters as we should. In a world filled with cold and calculating super soldiers, organic killing machines and soulless monsters, the Tau are one of the few factions that can actually demonstrate normal emotions and this drama would have been much improved if they had. Still, the explosions and cunning are entertaining enough and it’s a nice diversion. The addition of a fan-favourite faction to the tale also detracts slightly from the whole thing, which should really focus on the Tau. With popular characters, less is always more and the appearance of this particular group adds nothing to the piece.
The production quality is pretty standard for Black Library. There are a few niggles; the voice acting seems a little overblown at times and though the design of the Tau has been clearly influenced by stories of samurai, it’s jarring that the accents and other voicework also reflect this. The set also includes the story The Tau’Va which adds a little extra context to the first story and is entertaining enough. The Kauyon is exactly what we’ve come to expect from Black Library audios, no more, no less, and a solid addition to any fan’s collection.