Hello 40k (and 30k) fans! Chris Morgan, Chief Librarian of the Forge the Narrative Podcast, is here again with the next weekly segment of Tomes of the Librarius. Also, check the Tactics Corner for more great articles!
Just as a reminder, in this series we will explore facets of the history and legends of the Grimdark. This is meant to be an easy summary and introduction geared towards new players or people unfamiliar with the setting, but should still be an interesting read or fun refresher for those already familiar. There’s so much detail in this lore that a bare summary seems so inadequate, but for new people this should be the right portion to get a feel for the history of the universe we enjoy our games in.
I wanted to change things up a bit and put some focus on more literary works, but ones that are experienced with the ears instead of the eyes. Black Library has a broad series of audiobooks, and a lot of people now ‘read’ that way, but what makes the audio dramas different is that they are more acted out, often with a cast of different voice actors and full of special audio effects. There are a couple pretty cheesy ones out there, but there are also some very cool stories as well. With that in mind, here are my top five Black Library audio dramas!
Master of the Hunt by Josh Reynolds
This one definitely falls into the cheesy category, but since I am half Dutch I love cheese and so this story is great. This is the story of the end of Doomrider, (DOOOOOOOOOMRIIIIDER!) as he is hunted down by Kor’sarro Khan and his White Scar cohort. The Khan is a neat character and this is a great way of fleshing him out (as well as the White Scars’ culture and style of war), as the story is pretty much built around fast, vehicular combat. What sells the story the most is the voice of Doom Rider. It’s dark, sultry, jolly, and menacing all at the same time, and its where I had the most fun in the story.
Mortarion’s Heart by L J Goulding
This one is a top contender for my favorite audio drama. It has been off and on what I consider the best that they’ve done, and it is what made me want to play Grey Knights. This is the story of how Kaldor Draigo rose to the rank of Supreme Grand Master of the Grey Knights. In the codex, this fight is but a paragraph lacking nuance, and this story takes the time to give the occasion its proper due. The voice acting is on point, the pacing is excellent, and the effects sell the atmosphere extremely well. There are also some interesting teases about the mysteries of how the Grey Knights were founded. I definitely recommend this one.
Templar by John French
Taking us back to the time of the Horus Heresy, Templar is a story of faith, skill, doubt, and confronting your demons. The reader gets to see many famous duels of Sigismund, famed Champion of the Emperor who is said to have never lost a duel. A peerless warrior who is torn between the ideals of duty and his own personal convictions. All of his duels are set amidst a mission to cleanse the Word Bearers from a monument in the Sol system, and it all ties together beautifully. Imperial Fist and Black Templar fans need to hear this story, and it’s a great listen for the rest of us as well.
The Herald of Sanguinius by Andy Smillie
This is the story that started them all for me. I had just read Unremembered Empire and I saw this on the GW advent calendar, and I was rewarded with a very cool story. Andy Smillie has a keen talent for writing tension and aggression into the story, and as this is set amidst the unrest of Roboute Guilliman’s substitute empire, there is much tension to be had. This is one of the first peeks into the rites, methods, and culture of the Blood Angels during the Heresy War, and also details the origins of a character who would become a key player for the legion for the next 10,000 years. This is the story that got me started with writing about 40k, which led me to podcasting, which then led me to you reading this right now. I can’t help but look back on this one with some fondness every time I hear it.
Garro: Sword of Truth by James Swallow
James Swallow’s Garro series is the best of his work in my opinion. Of all of that work, this one stands above the rest. What an amazing story to listen to! The voice acting is raw and genuine, the story is gripping, it has a bit of cheese (yum!), gripping tension, intrigue, conflict, and heroism. Of my favorites, this is the one that fights Mortarion’s Heart for my all-time favorite. There is some need to listen the to the story before this one to fully understand some of the context, but you won’t regret it. If you listen for no other reason, then listen for Varren – the World Eater who claims he is loyal to the Emperor still. He is easily the best character, and shows a different side of what it means to be a World Eater.
Not Really Holiday Music…
You may need to take a grimdark break from the chipper and cheery music of this season. These will do well to feed your starving soul for a time. What are your favorite audio dramas?
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