Eisenhorn Book Two: Malleus by Dan Abnett, Narrated by Toby Longworth

Gregor Eisenhorn, surrounded by a cast of characters both old and new, finds himself at the center of a vast conspiracy orchestrated, seemingly, by Cherubael.
Following a devastating attack on Thracian Primaris, events are set in motion leading Inquisitor Eisenhorn to one of two fates. Either Eisenhorn is escorted to the prisons of the Inquisition, where he’ll be branded a heretic and executed, or he locates the puppetmaster pulling the strings of far more sinister and powerful forces than any he’s ever faced, where the future of the Empire will be decided.
Dan Abnett seems to have skimmed over large sections of the narrative in this account of Eisenhorn’s legacy, sometimes going so far as to reference these other puzzle pieces without filling them in for us. Of course, upon reaching the climax of this tale, it makes perfect sense that a lot of those details are left out. There is, after all, a universe-spanning mystery to unravel, and providing the reader/listener with some of those other elements would give far too much away. It’s a shame, though, because it makes for a book that feels less evenly paced and complete than the previous installment of the series.
Though the events of Malleus certainly seem to be far more epic in scope than those of Xenos, something about the way they’re documented in this book makes them feel more condensed. This isn’t a flaw, but it was a peculiar thing I happened to notice.
The narration provided by Toby Longworth, as before, perfectly captures the grim, wry-humored tone of Gregor Eisenhorn in such a way that I can’t imagine him sounding otherwise. The voices provided for the additional characters are distinct enough–in most cases–to make the narrative flow smoothly.


Ice Fleet by Kauan (2021): Artoffact Records

Kauan’s Ice Fleet is a somber, moody album filled to the brim with post-rock sensibilities and a pronounced focus on the atmosphere and texture of the sonic environment the artists are producing.
On its own merits, the album is fantastic.
Those who know me are aware of the fact that my personal musical preference tends to lean the direction of industrial (including most–if not all–of the numerous subgenres and related musical styles). That genre is followed by punk, metal, and indie-rock/pop or alternative.
But, for writing and meditation, post-rock and post-rock adjacent material is my absolute favorite. When I’m in a particular frame of mind or when I want to slide into that space, there’s nothing better. This album is going into the respective playlists where I’ve accumulated days’ worth of similar material to listen to on shuffle.
Primarily instrumental, Ice Fleet builds from soft, melodic tracks to a more harsh, higher tempo crescendo as the concept album (feeling more like one long, seamless track rather than a series of individual songs) reaches its pinnacle before smoothing back out and softening again.
Not satisfied to simply tell a story in the way most concept albums do, Kauan went above and beyond, crafting a tabletop RPG module built on the Into The Odd framework that immerses the listeners into the world of Ice Fleet. The players will have the pleasure of discovering a long-lost steamship frozen in the ice. While they explore the vessel, it isn’t simply man-eating polar bears and peculiar rats that threaten them, but cosmic horrors manipulating both time and space.
This is more than just a CD, it’s an experience designed to last the listener many hours of chilly terror and pleasure.