The 40k universe is all about suspension of disbelief, and perhaps the Space Marine Battles series especially so. After all, genetically engineered giants who can spit acid, absorb memories through eating their enemies. survive the loss of limbs and internal organs…and still prefer fighting with swords? It’s not exactly grounded in realism. Which is why it’s perfectly acceptable for the series to include Josh Reynolds’ audio drama Master of the Hunt, which follows Kor’sarro Khan of the White Scars as he pursues the daemon prince Doomrider – let’s face it, a story about a 10,000 year old, motorbike-riding daemon is unlikely to be very realistic.
While it’s great to have stories in this setting which try to justify what’s happening and provide some form of logical backdrop, like Mortarion’s Heart, sometimes all you want is a good old-fashioned bit of action and excitement. That’s exactly what Master of the Hunt delivers – there are no clever narrative devices here, no time jumps or intertwined character arcs, just lots of Space Marines on bikes and in aircraft fighting against various entertainingly-evil Chaos minions and 40k’s version of Ghost Rider. Narrated in its entirety by Toby Longworth, who does an admirable job with the voices (not least Doomrider himself), it’s all brought to life with some suitably stirring music and blasts of noise in the shape of revving engines and roaring weapons.
That being said, it’s not completely one-dimensional. There’s a nice little moment where you’re reminded that Space Marines aren’t always about nobility and protecting the world of the Imperium – they’re perfectly willing to sacrifice others in order to further their own objectives. There are a couple of links to the wider stories as well, not least the (unanswered) question of who Doomrider might have been originally, as he casually drops the name of The Khan into a mid-combat conversation.
That’s not really the point of this story, though. If you’re looking for layers of character development and clever plotting, this might not be the story for you. If, however, the idea of listening to the White Scars fighting against ‘the Daemon of Speed, the Wolf of the Exhaust, the King of the Road’ sounds like a fun way to spend an hour (and if it doesn’t, why are you reading/listening to Space Marine stories in the first place?), this is going to be right up your street. For some pulpy, action-packed fun, look no further.