Released as three dramatised radio plays released in 2017, Agents of the Throne explores the missions of an Inquisitorial agent. As an ex-member of the Imperial guard Ianthe is no stranger to a fight yet still adapting to working as a covert operative, carrying out missions for her mysterious master, Inquisitor Covenant. Ianthe serves as the narrator with each told from the dual perspective of Ianthe on the mission and Ianthe recalling her past many years later.
1: Blood and Lies
Just another murder cult. Offering a fairly straightforward start to the series, we’re introduced to Ianthe in media-res after her less than smooth arrival on Mithras 10. Sent to destroy a Chaos Cult, The Children of Eternity, Ianthe’s adventure takes us on a brisk journey into the underhive. Given the brevity of each drama, it’s difficult to say more without spoiling the whole adventure.
I’m not certain where exactly the story falls in the grand timeline of 40k. It doesn’t particularly matter as at only 1 hour 7 minutes a piece, the dramas don’t really have the luxury of stopping to ponder or discuss what’s going on beyond the immediate action. Instead, the story offers a pulpy romp with just enough Warhammer flavour to make it distinct. It’s also nice to get a glimpse into a setting familiar to Necromunda & Inq28 players. It’s not a story laden with lore revelations or sweeping new ideas about the 40k Universe, The Inquisition or even life in an underhive. The whole thing is dramatised nicely, which helps to anchor the slightly hammy dialogue in the grunge and grime of the world.
2: Truth and Dreams
Keeping up the pace of story telling, Truth and Dreams manages to offer a more exciting story with a slightly more interesting villain. Resuming action in the midst of a hunt for a rogue Psyker, the story revels in its noir stylings even if the dialogue can become somewhat predictable.
From rattling gunfire to the slow drags Ianthe takes on a pipe as she recounts the adventure, the sound design continues to add a wonderful texture to the proceedings. Best of all, we get a little more insight into the character of Ianthe and her experiences (Kul and Autobanas remain a little flat but then it’s not their story). Her moments of brief exposition not only expand our understanding of her but expand the world in which she operates and the forces that influence the Imperium. Whether it’s the ignorance of the local authorities below her or the illusive powers who’s will she enacts.
3: Ashes and Oaths
I have to admit a tiny bit of disappointment with Ashes and Oaths. Given the dramas form a trilogy I had hoped for a little more resolution to the few threads there are between the stories. That said it’s another quick adventure for Ianthe, Kul and Autobanas. As before we’re dropped into the middle of the action as something doesn’t go to plan and our protagonist is diverted toward a new goal.
Again we get more insight into Ianthe’s character and a little bit of development from Kul this time. With all the action it needs to pack into just over an hour, they do a good job of managing to squeeze in a few character moments, mainly addressing the question “why do I do what I do?” crops up. Ianthe’s responses to most things are almost a pastiche of the tough and dutiful soldier, though there is a little more depth to her that is subtly alluded to that almost explains her cliched nature.
To clarify my frustration a little more, I think it was the lack of finality that let me down a little. As far as I know, there aren’t any further entries to the series planned. Yet the foreboding in Ianthe’s recollections hint at something grim to come, yet as is the case for several elements in these stories we’re only left to wonder.
Thoughts on the Series as a Whole
Given how concise the series is, I think it did an excellent job of providing just enough characterisation to Ianthe to make me care about her stake in the plot. Getting to see the chaotic civic side of the Imperium in contrast with the great powers and unknown horrors they’re unaware of, made Ianthe’s position, caught between the two, all the more compelling. Kul and Autobanas don’t evolve much beyond stock characters, though Kul’s streetwise rogue contrasts nicely with Ianthe’s harsher nature of a career soldier. Autobanas doesn’t do much in person and is mostly a voice on the other end of an ear piece but it’s nice to get an example of a member of the Adeptus Mechanicus within the Inquisition.
What’s more, in contrast to the small handful of other Black Library stuff I’ve read, it was refreshing to get a story with such
laser las focus. It that never felt like it was meandering or getting bogged down in side plot. The moments of pause, as Ianthe takes a drink or takes a drag on her lho stick, sound great
At £10 per story , the series is extremely expensive when you compare the price to other audiobooks and the time that they’ll provide you. I picked them up on Audible so the value proposition didn’t feel too bad. Their brevity also made them an easy thing to listen to as a break from longer stories I’ve got on the go.
All in all, I enjoyed all three adventures, though Truth and Dreams stands out as my favourite. There’s some benefit to listening to all 3 in order though if you were only going to listen to one, I’d still suggest Truth and Dreams. If you want a short story about covert operatives adventuring in the Imperium, then it’s hard to go wrong with Agents of the Throne’s excellent radio production.
Thanks for reading. For more on the murky world of the Inquisiton, why not check out Nevi’s review of Xenos. Alternatively, for a different sci-fi universe you should read Gav’s review of the Star Wars novel Aftermath.
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