Review: Eye of Vengeance by Graham McNeill

Posted by DarkChaplain at 4/01/2012
I finally found enough concentration to listen to this audio drama by Graham McNeill (which, officially, is not yet available) in one sitting. After I heard the closing lines, I decided to sit down and write this review (which, officially, seems to be my first real take on an audio drama).
I hope you enjoy reading this review and decide to pick up the CD or MP3 version as soon as it gets available to everyone.
The Story:
"When the twisted Dark Mechanicus priests of the Bloodborn descend upon Quintarn, the Ultramarines are quick to move in defence of their prized agri-world. However, it soon becomes apparent that the planet’s fate will not be decided by the massed battle companies of the Space Marines, but by the actions of just one lowly sergeant – Torias Telion. A master marksman and Scout with a long history of service to the Chapter, Telion must now face the worst of the Bloodborn’s technological terrors and secure the city of Idrisia from the enemy advance, if the Ultramarines are to have any hope of prevailing against an enemy whose numbers swell with every victory."

General Information
Space Marine Scouts in Warhammer 40,000 usually appear less powerful and noteworthy than their power-armored counterparts, at least from what I noticed reading all these tons of Bolter-Porn, and it is true that these are still Marines-in-training, but that does not make them ineffective or less heroic in any way. Often enough, scouts are the ones to save the main forces a lot of trouble, or even take out enemy leaders.
Yet there is one scout among the Ultramarines that has seen every possible threat to humanity already, who has served under multiple Chapter Masters and is being looked up to even by veterans of the Chapter: Torias Telion, the 'Eye of Vengeance'. He refused to rise through the ranks of the Chapter and has trained multiple future Captains of the Ultramarines personally. His high status in the eyes of his Chapter has given him a wide room for deviance from the Chapter's traditions and even the Codex Astartes, and he resists joining the typical hierarchy on the field of battle. Telion even sets out to teach other Chapters' recruits at times. He has served on many more battlefields than his brothers could imagine.

One of these battlefields was Quintarn, one of the many worlds of Ultramar. The planet was being invaded by the Bloodborn, a cult of the Dark Mechanicus, and required the help of the 5th and 6th Companies of the Ultramarines. When they arrived, Telion had already been scouting the field, landing blow after blow against the Mechanicum and their horrifyingly corrupted machines before finally revealing his presence to the army leaders of the Ultramarines.
Despite their demands to join their forces and drive the enemy back together, Telion only agreed to support the army for a short time before taking his squad to strike at the Bloodborn where it actually hurt them: their machine factories. The scouts set out to venture into the enemy's very lair. Disabling the Mechanicum's production of war engines would tip the balance in favor of the Ultramarines, and rob the heretics of their sharpest weapon.

There are quite a few risks to be taken on the way, and there are some exciting twists before the story finds its end with Telion's success after about 65 minutes of playtime.
Go listen to the story yourselves and learn why Torias Telion earns even your respect...

Final Words & Verdict
I very much enjoyed Eye of Vengeance. The character of Torias Telion has been one of the most interesting figures in the 5th edition Codex: Space Marines, so I was delighted when this audio drama was announced, and even more so when I finally got to listen to the old sergeant's wisdom for myself. Telion was well-depicted as the natural leader he is, despite being in a rather inofficial leadership position. The respect he receives from his brothers also gets clear from the drama, and I chuckled when a certain venerable Chaplain appeared on the stage to have a word with Telion. Getting this glimpse behind the combat lines of the Chapter was a great thing to behold, especially since it showed just well that, even for the Ultramarines, there can be no full unity where different mindsets are working.

The action sequences were nicely played, and while I'm not yet used to Heavy Entertainment's productions for the Black Library (they just recently switched from Big Finish), the used soundeffects and mixing was not bad at all, and made it easy to immerse myself in this audio release (admittedly, not receiving calls all the time helped immensely). I found it interesting how easily the scouts' deeds were producing images into my mind, and how fluid the combat felt once Telion and his squad engaged. Nonetheless, the scouts did not appear too successful or invulnerable in any way, and thanks to Telion's way of addressing the recruits as lads, you wouldn't easily forget that these aren't battle-hardened veterans just yet.

There were some scenes which I found most reassuring of all; scenes that depicted Torias Telion as a man, rather than a legend, with his own doubts, quirks and hopes. This made it fairly easy to build up a relation to the scout sergeant, which quickly led to even more sympathy for the old man.

Should you pick it up?
Yes, yes you should. If you like Space Marines, you should. If you're tired of straightforward battles, you should. If you want to get more, closer background material on this specific character than the Codex offers, you should. If you simply like to hear more about the recruits of the Ultramarines, yep, you should. There are plenty of reasons why this audio drama is well-worth listening to, and I haven't even scratched the surface of them. You also don't have to worry about Graham's other Ultramarines novels, as they don't actually play a role in Eye of Vengeance. They're being hinted at, and if I remember correctly, the mission on Quintarn is being referred to in one of the later novels, but nothing stops you from enjoying this audio drama in its own right.
If you're still unsure, despite all, check out the audio sample on the audio drama's storepage.

Now let me restock my equipment and grab my Stalker-pattern Bolter and I'll be on my way again.

Eye of Vengeance on the Black Library Website

About the Author
DarkChaplain is a big nerd who spends too much time reading and thinking about books, organizing them on his ever-growing shelves, and yet increases his backlog by the month. DC is also an avid Gamer and owns more PC games than he'll ever be able to play. He is certainly spoiled for choice!
Follow Me on Twitter @TheDarkChaplain

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