Wednesday, 14 May 2014

[RFM] Eclipse of the Kai Audiobook [2/4]

Welcome to Radio Free Magamund, wherein I listen to stuff whilst doing other things, then write about it. Here we are listening to the second part of the audiobook of the novel of the gamebook adaptation of Lone Wolf Legends: Eclipse of the Kai, by Joe Dever and John Grant, read by Edward DeSouza.

Part 1: here

Part 2: The Music of Zagarna

Vonotar | Citadel Miniatures | via Mantikore

Tape one, side 2 opens with us following the trail of the fallen wizard Vonotar as he ventures over the mountains and into the grim dark grimness of the Darklands, in search of the evil Lord Zargana and the mighty fortress of Kaag to learn the deepest Nadziranim magic. The Darklands are inevitably full of volcanic ash and poisonous fumes, the morphic resonance echoing the psychogeography of Mordor. He soon comes across a patrol of evil Giaks, kills some of them and...

Giak Patrol | Citadel Miniautres | via Mantikore
..takes command of the little troupe. The Giaks have a low, cunning intelligence, and their barking voices are quite well by DeSousa. Further along the way he does some strawberry flavoured Giak drugs which make him invulnerable to pain or something.

Silent Wolf | Citadel Miniatures | via Mantikore

The scene shifts to the tale of Silent Wolf, who is grieving for his master Swift Hawk - slain by one of Vonotars Nadzeranim magic spells. In a move reminicent of Luke Skywalker seeing Obi-Wan fall at the hands of Darth Vader,  Silent Wolf vows to become the greatest Kai warrior ever, to keep alive the memory of his old tutor. Nontheless, he heads back to the monastery to bring the ill news, arriving exhausted to find the his news story has already been broken by Swift Hawks pet talking skull...

Banedon | Citadel Miniatures | via Mantikore

Cut to the tale of Banedon, DeSouza gives him a slight Yorkshire accent. Well, why not, it differentiates him nicely from the sneering Vonotar and the airy platitudes of his Guildmaster. We are informed that he's the least able of his order, so eminently suited as a journeyman to take the message of Vonotars turn to evil to the Kai Lords. That Banedon is the least accomplished of the Brotherhood, so like Silent Wolf, whose mastery of Kai Disciplines is less than adequate, our protagonist is a underachiever, a 

On his way, just out of the city - Banedon encounters Alyss. She seems to be the sun-dancing cosmic being we met in part one, and to be both something of a Mary Sue of Elminster-size proportions and a Manic Pixie Dream Girl. The 1990s saw the emergence of Girl Power, and post/ third-wave feminism, but Alyss unfortunately doesn't seem to be informed by this. She tells Banedon that she hopes he likes the form she has chosen for him - an interdimensional sub-goddess being who gives her self a shape to please a man. We know her nut-brown skin and reddish hair, and long limbs, whereas I recall nothing of the appearance of Banedon or Silent Wolf. Alyss super-powered hyper-perfection makes her immediately alien, remote and distant, and all the problems of over-idealised female characters come with it. It's like the DMs girlfriend turns up to a game and he hands her some straight-18 level 27 Paladin-Sorcerer-Acrobat to play and the other 2 players have a level 1 Wizard and Ranger that their roles barely qualified for.

Alyss - exactly like Halle Berry, only with the voice of Christopher Lee

But when this perfect specimen of trancendental elfin femininity is voiced DeSouza trying to do a playful, lighthearted girly-girl voice, the whole thing just becomes weird but unfortunately not in a good way. If she turns out completely irrelevant to how the rest of the story pans out, we could safely delete these scenes and improve the overall quality dramatically. Full points for DeSouza for the attempt, at no point does he break down in laughter, but it really doesn't work. The background music (by Joe Dever) in this scene is quite good, acoustic guitar and synth base, lending something of a pastoral feel, but we learn nothing about Banedon other than his gawkwardness in the face of a charming  playful demi-goddesses, and nothing about Alyss other than well, she's a one dimensional Super Girlfriend Manic Pixie Dream Girl who can not only remember the future, fly into space and well, do anything.

But before I go off on one completely about J.K Rowling, surely the most successful (in monetary terms) fantasy author ever, with an army of mums and girl fans, and her Hermionie Granger series of books about a young schoolgirl wizardess, and how fortunate we are to have strong, realistic central female characters in popular fantasy, not just relegated to the role of sidekick and / or adolecent boy fantasies. Let's get back to the plot...

Which unfortunately centres on Alyss who, disguised as a Drakkarim, has infiltrated the castle of the multi-mouthed, Giak munching Lord Zargana  trying to convince him to wait until next year to invade Sommerland, due to lack of weapons for his Giak army. Actually the scene of political intrigue plays out quite nicely, shown the absolute fear the Drakkarim have of their master, along with his small minded petty evilness power. It helps that Alyss is masking her voice, so DeSousas female impersonation routine isn't as jarring.

Drakkarim | Citadel Chaos Warriors | via Mantikore
Which of these would describe herself as kooky?
Advice from an underling of course , infuriates Lord Zargana so much he determines to send a bunch of Giaks to kill the renegade Drakkarim in her sleep., but of course she's so totally awesum magical she just like totally vanishes, convincing  Lord Zargana  that she was a spy all along, and to invade Sommerland sooner, rather than later.

Meanwhile Vonotar's expedition to Mordor nears the gates of Kaag...

A note on the miniatures, I believe these wonderful old-school models are from Joe Devers personal collection, which can be seen on the site of the current Lone Wolf publiher Mantikore.


  1. This audio book is indeed a curious artefact. Sounds like fun, though!

  2. Yes, it's a shame that Project Aon haven't managed to get in contact with the Random Century Audiobooks to secure the rights, I'm sure many people would enjoy listening to it. DeSouza still seems to be working, perhaps some enterprising audiobook company (Big Finish?) could unearth Joes original soundtracks and get the rest of the Lone Wolf Legends adapted. I'm sure Lone Wolf has a bigger following than Terrahawks, which is BFs latest resurrection.