It is no secret that Gav Thorpe is one of my favourite authors. Whether we talk about his work for Games Workshop and Black Library or his original novels for Angry Robot, he has always impressed. And one of his specialty areas is audio dramas. He has penned two of my favourites, the Warhammer Fantasy audio Aenarion and the Horus Heresy audio Raven’s Flight. Both audios are superbly written, and also superbly voice-acted, which is another great thing about them. He has penned others over the years, and his latest is one that focuses on the Eldar for a change, particularly one of their more interesting Aspects, the Howling Banshees.
Generally, Black Library doesn’t put out a whole lot of fiction featuring the multitude of alien species. Gav’s Eldar trilogy and Andy Chambers’ Dark Eldar trilogy are exceptions, although I cannot speak to the quality of either as I have not read any of them. Yet. But, if Gav’s novels are anything like this audio, then I will definitely give them a chance. Howl of the Banshee is also notable because it has an all-female cast of voice-actors, which is pretty dam rocking in itself, since it just doesn’t happen with BL’s audios! So that’s another win for this audio.
This audio tells the story of a squad of Howling Banshees called on to defend the Biel-Tan Craftworld from an event in the future, an event that reaches out from the devastated Lanimayesh Craftworld and its fall to titanic forces of darkness. As part of a larger Eldar army that also consists of Dire Avengers and is led by Farseer Tyleannar, this squad of Howling Banshees are the critical lynchpin of the counter-invasion. As is always the case with Gav’s stories, his characters are really interesting. Whether we talk about the Exarch (squad leader) Clyona or her sisters Loronai, Kailleach, Narimeth, Fiyanna or Mytheneth, each of them has a distinct personality and this is apparent from the earliest moments of the audio. The story starts off in a Shrine of the Howling Banshees Aspect on Biel-Tan as the sisters prepare for their brand of war. Clyona leads her sisters in the pre-battle ritual, in which they lose themselves to the spirit of Khaine in his guise as the Banshee, and reaffirm their duty and their responsibility to their Craftworld.
Howl of The Banshee is one of the most atmospheric of BL’s audio range. It combines some really solid storytelling with some solid voice-work, and it all really comes together in a great way. The story, it is a personal one and it shows off the Howling Banshees’ way of war, which isn’t something that has really been shown in BL novels in the past, so that’s a novelty that I welcome and also appreciate. Doing a short audio like this is also fitting since it gives the faction an easy and succinct outlet for stories to be told, without all the baggage that comes from doing a full novel.
I mean, yeah, I would love to get a novel with a Howling Banshee protagonist, but I doubt that is going to happen any time soon. I’ll settle for a story like this.
With the characters involved, and with the enemy involved, it is inevitable that there will be some casualties, and that does indeed happen. So seeing how the Howling Banshees deal with their dead allowed me to get an insight into their Aspect. The Eldar are a species who revere their dead, and each Aspect has a different method of approach. At least, that is what I’ve seen in the various novels where the topic has come up. And the rulebooks don’t really have a specific singular approach either. So in essence, variety is the spice of life!
What’s great is that BL doesn’t really do xenos perspectives so much, especially not in the audio format, so this story is even more special. At around the time this one came out, we also got a Tau audio drama, which is a fair bit longer than this one. Hopefully, this means that there is a whole lot more interest in audio stories like this and that the multitude of BL authors take the chance and jump on it to write some fantastic stories with all the different factions. That would be awesome. I’m a bit tired of all the Inquisition and Space Marine stuff that we usually get.
The voice-acting in the audio is courtesy of (and I apologise since I wasn’t able to get the names in time, forget about that, so if you have proper spellings of the name, feel free to correct!) Ann-Marie Gayard, Susie Rodell, Harriet Kershaw, and Caroline Sheen. I’m not really sure who is who in the audio, but that is irrelevant. How of the Banshee is one of only TWO of BL’s audios which features an all-female cast. I think James Swallow’s Red & Black also had an all-female cast, but I’m not 100% on that, and would welcome any correction.
But as I was saying, the voice-actors were fantastic. Each character got a distinct voice, and the various sound-affects that the engineers put together were equally good. Honestly, I would love to see more of each of these ladies. Of course, that also means that we get more female cast in the stories. BL has recently had a turn-around in that area, especially in the audio range, but it can be a whole lot better for sure. And I think an audio with a cast of female troopers from an Imperial Guard regiment would be awesome, yeah? I’d love that!
Overall, Howl of The Banshee is certainly one of BL’s better audio dramas. It has a great story and a great voice-cast, which always helps. If there is any negative, it is that the story gets a bit off-beat and boring in the middle, around the half-mark, but things pick up quickly so that was welcome. Either way, you should definitely get this audio. I highly recommend it. I’ve listened to it four times already, and each experience is better than the one before.