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AUDIO REVIEW: Thunder From Fenris by Nick Kyme

REVIEW SUMMARY: An excellent audio production of an outstanding military sf story.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: The Thunder Wolves, a super-elite military team, hunt down their zombie-like brother before he can kill again.

PROS: Perfect pacing; gripping and gory action; characters you care about; high quality production value.
CONS: I could nitpick that one character distractingly sounded too much like Arnold Schwarzenegger.
BOTTOM LINE: I cannot imagine how this could have been a more enjoyable listening experience.

Black Library’s audio production Thunder From Fenris is my first foray into the Warhammer 40K universe and it was every bit as entertaining as I hoped it’d be — the result of an excellent story line and top-notch production.

Nick Kyme’s gripping story takes place on the war-ravaged ice planet of Skorbad where a super-elite band of space marines called the Thunder Wolves (a subset of the already-elite Space Wolves) are called in to eradicate a Wulfen plague. What makes this a job for the military? Well, it turns out that the Wulfen plague is a zombie plague. That’s right: Thunder From Fenris is a military sf/zombie mash-up. And what could have been a phone-it-in story resting on the laurels of zombie hype (I’m looking at you, Death Troopers) is instead a freight train of action and tension, filled with several wonderfully descriptive and gory battle scenes.

It would be nice to say that the story starts off with a bang. It doesn’t. This was the only apprehension I had about the story at the start: the fact that it begins after what sounded like a thrilling battle. But this feeling was quickly dispelled by excellent characterizations and an attention-grabbing story line that involves the honor-bound Thunder Wolves hunting one of their brothers who was turned by the plague. Despite that initial apprehension, the story is actually perfectly-paced, with bloody battle scenes being separated by slower-but-engrossing passages of character- and world-building. The three main characters (Afger, Skeln and Thorgard) are well-drawn, tough-as-nails warriors. The fact that the infected retain some of their battle skills puts this to the test.

Thunder From Fenris also excelled in its production. Rather than being a standard narrator-read audiobook, it’s a lively audio production complete with a rousing music soundtrack and well-placed sound effects. It really brought the story to life, as did the excellent vocal performance by Toby Longworth. (But I will confess that Longworth’s portrayal of Skeln came dangerously close to distraction by sounding like Arnold Schwarzenegger.) The overall effect is one of consuming something cinematic and epic.

The fact that the Thunder Wolves are described as “mythical” leads me to believe that zombie stories are not the norm in Warhammer 40K, which is fine. The emphasis here is on the military action more than on the zombie aspect of the story, as it should be. Being my first dip into this universe, any additional WH40K world-building the story may have had — beyond the Thunder Wolves being driven by duty and honor and riding battle-augmented beasts with steel-like fur that acts as armor (How cool is that?) — was lost on me. Not that it matters. Thunder From Fenris is an excellent standalone story I cannot image being any better.

Running Time: 68 minutes

About John DeNardo (13012 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

5 Comments on AUDIO REVIEW: Thunder From Fenris by Nick Kyme

  1. Sounds great, but where is it? No sign of it on Amazon, which usually has everything you could possibly want to buy. The almighty Google isn’t helping either. Even the author’s own website had no links to anything that could possibly allow me to listen to this.

  2. Good question.  Black Library’s website shows this as a December 2009 release, but there is no mention of it on Amazon US or UK.  I’ve asked the publisher about its availability and will let you know.

  3. Thanks! And cool wallpapers on their site, too!

  4. TheAdlerian // January 19, 2010 at 8:20 pm //

    Black Library:

    They’ve placed some type of secret mind control device in their books, I’m sure of it.

    I hate fantasy, but was compelled to buy the Malus Darkblade omnibus, and loved it, so I blasted through it and bought the second omnibus, and enjoyed it. I’m now wishing for more Malus stories. There aren’t any, so I bought Malekith, who is a kind of relative of Malus. I also blindly purchased several more of their fantasy novels because I’m sure they will be good.

    As mentioned, I hate fantasy for several reasons. I don’t think it’s speculative, and so there’s no philosophy to it. Also, the characters tend to be very “prepackaged” and so they’re corny. The Warhammer fantasy doesn’t have a lot of philosophy to it, but it has plot and the unexpected turns that the 40k books have, characters die, things don’t always work out, etc. The stories also have wit and character development, that and unpredictablity mean a lot to me.

    Soooooo….the fantasy novels are very good too.

    By the way SF Signal people, you guys got me into reading this company’s books because previously I scoofed.

  5. From the publisher: they’re available in physical Games Workshop stores – but also online through the Games-Workshop website

    Here’s the page for Thunder from Fenris.  (You may have to set the country selector at the bottom of the page.)

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