While the Horus Heresy series has been rolling on quite contentedly, reaching 31 books and countless other stories, it’s been a while since we’ve heard much from Caliban and those members of the Dark Angels sent home by their primarch, Lion El’Johnson. What has been happening back on the home world while the rest of the galaxy falls apart, and the Lion has been out chasing Konrad Kurze? Fear not, Gav Thorpe is on hand with a new audio drama, Master of the First, to shed a little light on the situation. This is a 35-minute audio drama available as a standalone MP3 download prior to a future release in a combined package with The Long Night by Aaron Dembski-Bowden.
With the Alpha Legion usually the culprits in Heresy-era stories that involve complex schemes and deception, it’s easy to forget that the 1st Legion are pretty adept at the sneakier side of things as well. After all, the Lion is hardly the most open and trustworthy of the primarchs. That’s well worth remembering here as Chapter Master Astelan, smoothly voiced by Tim Bentinck, learns of dissent within the legion, the strain of their enforced exile on Caliban showing in the cracks between members of the old legion and the newer recruits. It’s a case of plans within plans, and Gav keeps his cards close to his chest as the events of the story play out. Perhaps not as obvious an audio story as some of the others have been, it nonetheless raises a few smiles with the sound and voice work, and paints a vivid picture of the few parts of Caliban that it covers.
As with a lot of the audio releases this feels very much like a linking story within the wider Heresy arc, as opposed to a standalone piece, not least with the usual hints dropped that look as though they might resolve into more plot threads once we get the next full length Dark Angels story. You shouldn’t expect huge revelations or an obvious cliff-hanger here, but it’s a timely reminder that there are some interesting times to come for the 1st Legion, and Gav is warming up a few characters who are likely to be in the thick of it.