The 2016 Black Library Advent Calendar hits day twelve with the fourth of six audio dramas, The Embrace of Pain by Ian St. Martin. Presumably a prequel to the upcoming novel Lucius: The Eternal Blade it finds Lucius’ vessel The Diadem assaulted by a vast, plague-ridden daemonic entity deep within the Eye of Terror. With its geller field breached and corruption spreading through its corridors, Lucius faces off against the guiding intelligence of the attack, a daemon of Nurgle who was once a warrior of the Death Guard. Though supremely confident in his martial skills, has he underestimated the danger this time?
It’s a pretty straightforward narrative, but while that might suffer as a short story, in audio form it allows for plenty of room to focus on setting up characters and atmosphere. We get that in spades with a slow and measured narration that emphasises the genuinely disgusting nature of the daemonic infestation plaguing Lucius and his ship, along with some of the most disturbing SFX yet heard in a Black Library audio. The voice cast do a brilliant job, especially with Lucius’ cultured, arrogant drawl and the ship’s horribly creepy daemonic spirit, Clarion, and overall this serves as an interesting introduction to St. Martin’s depiction of Lucius and his warband.