Sunday, 30 June 2013
'The Sigillite' - Chris Wraight (Black Library)
There used to be a time when I would listen to Black Library audiobooks as a way of escaping the hell of the daily commute into work. They really helped, there's no better way of shutting out an awful journey, on the underground, than by listening to far future tales of a time that is far worse. The constant echo of gunfire helps as well!
It has almost been a year since I was last in work so, these days, Black Library audiobooks are something that I listen to before I go to bed. Sometimes, depending on the day I've had, I'll even find the sound of gunfire soothing enough to send me to sleep. It's funny how things change isn't it?
Chris Wraight is a BL author that I've always had a lot of time for so I was pleased to see that his 'promotion' to the Horus Heresy line (first with a short story contribution and now with his debut audiobook) shows that a lot of people clearly think the same. I might well be the only person left who wishes that Chris would write more Warhammer Fantasy stuff but there you go. He is worth reading either way.
I'd been particularly interested to hear this story as it deals with a character who may well be at the forefront of everything happening, in the Heresy, but is also a character that we don't know an awful lot about. Malcador the Sigillite may well be the Emperor's right hand man but what does he actually do when he is at the office? Chris Wraight's 'The Sigillite' tells us and in some style.
Before we get into the story itself, I ought to point out that I am reviewing an MP3 file instead of the usual CD. This was a deliberate choice (Hope broke the CD tray on the computer) but it means that I have no idea who played what part... So for now then, lets just say that the production and narration is at least on a level with some of Black Library's better audiobooks. I certainly found the story very easy to get into on that score. Talking of which, onto the story itself…
The galaxy is divided, but while his armies prepare for battle the Emperor himself remains curiously absent. In his place stands Malcador – legendary Sigillite, First Lord of Terra and regent to the throne – now arguably the single most powerful man in the Imperium. Army officer Khalid Hassan reports back to the Palace after a disastrous secret mission into the wastelands of Gyptus, but soon learns an awful truth about the destiny of mankind. Where do Malcador’s true loyalties lie?
On the surface, ‘The Sigillite’ is perhaps a little too straight forward for my tastes although, with a running time of 75 minutes, that’s understandable. Dig a little deeper though and you realise that ‘The Sigillite’ is more of a character study than an exercise in ‘twists in the tale’. It’s here that Wraight excels, giving us more of a glimpse into Malcador than I’ve come across anywhere else. This being the case, ‘The Sigillite’ is a tale for fans rather than the casual listener. I fall into the former set and I had a great time.
Without giving too much away… Not only do you get to discover just what Malcador is all about, Wraight ties this into our own past as well lending as sense of real poignancy to the proceedings with the hope that Malcador is trying to give humanity for the future (as well as what the Emperor is up to while he is ‘away’). If you’re a fan then you will know just what kind of world Terra is ten thousand years after Malcador’s demise and it makes things all the more sad that we know it’s coming while he doesn’t. Or is Wraight planting seeds that will come to fruition and make the universe of the 40th millennium a better place after all? I don't think so either but maybe there’s some hope yet…
If you’re a fan then you should have either listened to ‘The Sigillite’ by now or be waiting for it to turn up in a future anthology. Either way, make sure you listen to/read ‘The Sigillite’. It’s a tale that you need to get into.