Audio dramas (not audio books, there’s a difference) are a relatively late addition to the Black Library stable, but have nevertheless become an established format, especially within the Horus Heresy series where there are now more than 20 of varying lengths. Guy Haley’s second, Hunter’s Moon, is a 35-minute piece available either as a standalone MP3 download or in CD format accompanied by Thief of Revelations, by Graham McNeill. It concerns the Space Wolves of the Vlka Fenryka, specifically one particular squad who were sent to ‘watch over’ the Alpha Legion and their primarch Alpharius. Three guesses as to how well that went.
With unabridged audio books clocking in at well over ten hours, a 35 minute audio drama is always going to be a very different beast to a full-length novel. As such, they tend to focus on slightly more unusual stories that maybe the novels wouldn’t normally cover. So it goes for this, a tale that shows how terrifyingly alien the Space Marines are to the rest of humanity, told through the eyes of a fisherman as he relates an eye-popping story from his past to a younger comrade in an attempt to reassure him that the sea in which they fish is nothing to be afraid of. Sort of ‘if you think that’s scary, wait until you’ve heard this’.
It’s a nice concept which works well with the feel of the piece, as this is much less about action than the usual Heresy stories. Telling the story from a human perspective hammers home just how different the Space Marines are to the rest of mankind, and the way in which the Heresy (and arguably even the Great Crusade) affected humans and Space Marines differently. When we do see Space Marines front and centre we get a teasing, tantalising glimpse at the wider war, that whets the appetite nicely and leaves the listener keen to learn more.
Audio might not be everyone’s first choice for storytelling, but Black Library have clearly worked hard to produce the best quality audio dramas they can, and Hunter’s Moon doesn’t disappoint. The standard of production is excellent, and coming from Guy Haley the standard of storytelling is every bit as good as expected. It’s not essential to the continuation of the wider Horus Heresy story, but it’s a really interesting tale that adds to the richness of the setting and is very much worth a listen.