Sunday, October 09, 2016

Review: Dark Angels: Accept No Failure

Accept No Failure by Gav Thorpe.

I purchased this audio-book back in the fall of 2015 (a year ago next week!) when I visited the Warhammer Store in Turkey Creek, otherwise known as the Knoxville Games Workshop. At the time I had not yet completed my reading of the Legacy of Caliban Trilogy, so I set this aside for later. I recently pulled it out and gave it a listen.

There are two stories contained in this collection:

Accept No Failure and Holder of the Keys.

Accept No Failure is the main feature of course, and much of it is adapted straight from the novel Master of Sanctity. It is a reflection of Deathwing Captain Belial as he looks back on the time he ran into Ghazghkull Thrakka the uber Ork Warlord, who in this script might as well be the Incredible Hulk on meds while encumbered by lots of armored junk. Here is a snippet from the script:


Sheathing my sword, I reloaded and fired again as the Beast started towards me once more, every shot aimed for the exposed face and skull. Two rounds glanced from the jagged gorget that protected the Beast’s lower jaw. Another pair clanged from the bionic half of Ghazghkull’s head, leaving blackened welts on the metal but not penetrating. My fifth shot hit flesh, deflected from the bony cheek beneath and exploded beside the ork’s ear rather than beneath skin and muscle. 


The chunk of script (above) is from the 2nd disk which includes the scripts for both stories and desktop wallpaper (I recall when the Black Library would include these things as free download...). Personally I got a kick out of Gav's sound FX descriptions. The FX on the audio was quite good actually although I tend to recall this story had a lot of 'crunchy' sounds due to the fight occurring in an old warehouse district. I was hoping to hear ork-speak in that classic deep cockney that the Orks have had attributed to them since the late '80s, and yet I'm thankful that we didn't get the voices from the Space Marine video game ("Die Spayace Mahreene!")

This fight was quite enjoyable to listen to, however it's broken up by events in "modern times" as Belial how seems to regret how that fight ended (obvious spoiler- he didn't kill Ghazghkull). He tattoos himself with admonishments and testimonies as a form of punishment. The FX team has the buzzing of a tattoo gun (although it reminded me more of a dental drill) while his thoughts are narrated. These scenes, and the scenes from Master of Sanctity where he meets his new Deathwing inductees for the first time, felt unnecessary and painfully slow. It could be that I've read it before, and chances are anyone picking this up has read it before as well, but the biggest problem is that it's set in 2nd person while the action scenes are all in 1st person, and far, far more exciting.

Holder of Keys was awesome but lamentably short. To sum it up, a member of the Fallen is being psychically tortured and he recounts how the loyalist Dark Angels attacked Caliban with unbridled furry and that he and his comrades who stood with Luther had to defend themselves. This Fallen was on one of the orbital stations and the battle he describes to Ezekiel is of it's defense. It's an exciting story but it's over far too quickly. I was particularly intrigued by the description of Corswain who in this story is a total bad-ass. In the Legacy of Caliban Trilogy The Sword of Corswain is an artifact that one of the characters is entrusted with taking into battle. The concept of Caliban, particularly the Dark Angel Civil War and it's break-up at the battle's climax, has always intrigued me and it's always fun to see it explored.

Another snippet:



FALLEN: They had chased us from orbit. There they had spat their hate upon us, spewing fighters from burning flight decks. Like a storm of swords they fell upon our station. We manned the defence batteries. Macrocannons and mass-fusillade laser barrages. A wall of fire, a barrier of lightning, plasma and missiles to fend off the rage of a demigod.


Screen shot of the bonus disk menu.

  • Did I like it? Yes I did. However, I found it the 2nd story was over too soon, which is a shame because it was far more interesting to me than the first one.  
  • Was it hard to put down stop? No,  it was like I was hoping for a bit more info on the Dark Angels, another snippet of revelation to the overall Dark Angel Story.
  • Could I care about the characters? Belial comes off as a bit whiny to me, especially in the scenes where he is petitioning the Dark Angel inner circle to allow him to pursue Ghazghkull. . But then, in Gav's books most of the Dark Angels are somewhat like this I guess, so I suppose it works.The change in POV maybe a factor as the older Belial seems to be in a constant state of self-torture while Belial the younger is something of a bad-ass. Ghazghkull's portrayal as a monster as opposed to an ork military genius (albeit, an insane one) felt wrong to me. It also felt wrong to me that he would be alone and cornered in a warehouse and not completely swamped with mobs of orks all competing to be in his new retinue. I understand why it's presented this way, as from the Marine's perspective, the Orks are just big dumb aliens and Gav's just trying to present them as such here. In the 2nd story, it's a bit challenging figuring out exactly what's going on with the psychic-torture scenes, but the Fallen's recanting of the battle was very well done. 
  • Did the writer truly grasp how the 'world' of the 41st millennium works in the sense that it doesn't betray or retcon previously established (as I know it) lore? Gav's knowledge on the Dark Angels has got to be uncontested at this point. The 2nd story describing the attack on the orbital station was particularly awesome, focused, and well done. 
  • Was I being talked down too? Not so much. 
  • How predictable is this story? The 2nd story wasn't predictable at all, heck it's over so fast. The first one is some what predictable as anyone who know the 40K universe knows that Ghazghkull isn't deceased yet, and this is a flashback, so it's all a matter of figuring out how Belial gets out of this encounter alive. 
  • Do I recommend this book? Only for the hardcore Dark Angel reader and collector. This isn't something I would recommend to the casual 40K fiction fan and especially not for some's introduction to the Dark Angels. 
Imagines and text snippets are Copyright Games Workshop and are used here for review purposes and are not intended as a challenge to Games Workshop's Copyright. 

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