Listen free for 30 days

£7.99/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime

Summary

An Astra Militarum novel.

The hero of a series of short stories returns in her first full-length novel – and it's as grim, dark and brilliantly written as you'd expect from Rachel Harrison. Uncompromising and fierce, Commissar Severina Raine has always served the Imperium with the utmost distinction. Attached to the 11th Antari Rifles, she instills order and courage in the face of utter horror. The Chaos cult, the Sighted, have swept throughout the Bale Stars, and a shadow has fallen across its benighted worlds. A great campaign led by the vaunted hero Lord-General Militant Alar Serek is underway to free the system from tyranny and enslavement, but the price of victory must be paid in blood. But what secrets do the Sighted harbour, secrets that might cast a light onto Raine’s own troubled past? Only by embracing her duty and staying true to her belief in the Imperium and the commissar’s creed can she hope to survive this crucible, but even then will that be enough? 

©2019 Games Workshop Limited (P)2019 Games Workshop Limited

More from the same

What listeners say about Honourbound

Average customer ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    111
  • 4 Stars
    37
  • 3 Stars
    14
  • 2 Stars
    6
  • 1 Stars
    1
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    95
  • 4 Stars
    29
  • 3 Stars
    15
  • 2 Stars
    5
  • 1 Stars
    5
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    96
  • 4 Stars
    31
  • 3 Stars
    15
  • 2 Stars
    5
  • 1 Stars
    2

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

In the future there is nothing but present tense

This audiobook seems to divide opinions right down the middle. I was convinced to overcome my misgivings by a number of reviews which talked about the quality of characterisation being akin to that of Aaron Dembski-Bowden and recommendations to try it, "if you like Gaunts Ghosts or Ciaphas Cain".

I am sorry to say these comparisons do not do 'Honourbound' any favours. It is definitely nothing like in the same league as Dan Abnett or Dembski-Bowden's usual output.

Gaunt's Ghosts by Abnett has to be one of the most popular Black Library series of all time. The Cain books by Sandy Mitchell are also well loved. So what are the points of comparison with Honourbound, starring Commissar Severina Raine? Um, well - they're all set in the Warhammer 40k universe and ...they all have Commissars as the main characters. If that's your basis for liking those books, then yes..I suppose you would like this too (but then you're easily pleased).

Gaunt's Ghosts is hugely popular because it's got great characters who are often in conflict with one another and behave in morally ambiguous ways - BUT they are always likeable, with believable motivations. It's also got PLOT and it's extremely well written.

The Ciaphas Cain books are funny - laugh out loud funny occasionally. Plus, Cain himself is not only a loveable rogue, he's a kind of an anachronsim, a modern man transported to the 'grimdark' future and finding the gallows humour in it all. He also spends a great deal of time fighting opponents in meeting rooms, and politicking in dark corners. It's in these moments of human interactions with friends and enemies alike that the books' major plot points occur, not on the battlefield.

'Honourbound', on the other hand, has none of this kind of depth. It's NOT well paced. It starts in the middle of a street to street fight and maintains a constant tempo of near endless war scenes.

It's also written in the present tense THROUGHOUT. e.g. 'Severina Raine looks at the soldier, he looks back. He says something. She says something. Then she draws her gun....." Maybe it's just me, but I find present tense works best for short stories. A whole novel of constant 'now' begins to feel a bit wearing after a while.

Lastly characters: 'Night Lords' this ain't (I wasn't kind to that audiobook either here, but it wasn't due to the characters; they were brilliantly, sickeningly evoked). I am stunned to have seen this kind of comparison with Dembski-Bowden's writing. Honourbound is nothing like in this league. Every character comes straight from the Black Library big book of cliches. You know that bit in every W40k story where a new Astra Militarum character gets introduced and you just KNOW their only purpose in the story is to get ripped to pieces by some chaos-spawn on the next page? Yes, everyone and everything in Honourbound has that kind of feeling of overfamiliarity to them: the ne'er do-well sergeant, the slightly kooky psyker, the rough diamond heavy weapons specialist, and so on....yawwn.

Yes I actually did fall asleep at some point, but it was okay; when I woke up several chapters later the same scene was still going on, bang, bang, explosion, people dying. Then someone running away, Severina Raine shoots them, 'cos she's a tough commissar, obviously, but what else is she?

Commissar Raine is a blank piece of paper, there's no depth to her character. The only thing we know about her after a few chapters is that she's good at fighting, she shoots her own side if they run away, and she believes in the Em'pruh and all that. Okay we get it, she's a Commissar, but what else? Gaunt and Cain are both interesting precisely because of the ways they do NOT conform to this stereotype. Gaunt wants to look after his troops, Cain would do anything rather than have to shoot someone because he wants to be popular. These flaws make them INTERESTING. All we get about Raine other than her devotion to duty is a few hints at ' a past' - but she's otherwise quite a dull, dutiful soldier. There isn't much incentive to persevere and find out anything potentially more interesting about her.

I'll add, as it's an audiobook, I don't like Nicolete Chin's narration, it's pretty much a monotone - so any drama that might have been wrung out of the print version gets lost. She sounds for the most part as though she's reading the phone directory.

Historically Black Library's output has generally lacked decent, believable female characters, but Honourbound doesn't address this imbalance. Raine is supposed to be interesting for what she IS (ooh look a woman Commissar who loves the Emperor - with a past!) which makes her about as interesting as Inquisitor Greyfax (ooh look a woman inquisitor who loves the Emperor!) and basically every Battle Sister character ever (oh look, a woman with a gun who....!) Gender is not a character trait. Neither is blind faith in the Emperor and the Imperium, in fact it makes characters LESS interesting! Gaunt and Cain both had faith in spades but were prey to doubt and weakness. Severina Raine on the other hand is dull, dutiful and faithful - all of which probably makes her a brilliant commissar - but a poor lead character.

23 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Love it !

I strongly recomend this book i loved it, great mix of drama and action in a grym universell. Great character portration and suspence

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Loyalty before the threat of death!

Warhammer 40,000: Honourbound by Rachel Harrison

‘Loyalty before the threat of death.’ – Old Antari saying

Welcome once again to my small corner of this world. I’m glad for the company as today I discuss a favourite character of mine. I’ve spoken on many occasions – as long time readers will know! – of Warhammer (be it Horus Heresy, Age Of Sigmar or 40K) and all its numerous settings. However I’ve only rarely discussed the Imperial Guard otherwise known as the Astra Millitarum (the closest thing the Imperium has to a conscript army of common humans) and the rank of Imperial Commissar.

As those who are familiar with history may be aware, Commissars aren’t exactly popular with the average soldier. NO. STEPS. BACK. And Severina Raine is no exception! But before I go into detail on Raine and her Antari I should discuss the plot: The 11th Antari Rifles are a part of the Bale Stars Crusade. An effort by the current Lord-General Militant Alar Serek, a highly respected great hero of the Imperium, to purge the Bale Stars of one of its greatest threats – The Sighted: A truly powerful Chaos cult with many Psykers and true madmen among their number – which allows Commissar Severina Raine a true leader of soldiers and the men and women under her command to serve with distinction. However in the process of fulfilling their duties and standing firm in the face of true abominations, the 11th Antari Rifles discover a great secret in the possession of The Sighted. How will they reveal this information to High Command? And just who knows how far this rot at the centre of the Bale Stars will be allowed to grow? Will Raine discover some personal truths in the process of cleansing the Bale Stars of Chaos?

The character work by the author Rachel Harrison in Honourbound is some of my favourite characterisations in all of Warhammer. Severina Raine herself is a truly loyal Commissar who will give her life for the Imperium. Uncompromising and at points genuinely terrifying when she needs to be. She certainly isn’t a joker like Commissar Ciaphas Cain was! And yet despite her intense loyalty to the structure of the Imperium Raine trusts the Antari. She will…they will find the truth. The personal journey which Raine goes on throughout the novel is a continuation of her arc from the several short stories she and the 11th have been the focus of prior to Honourbound’s release and it is a captivating listen. I have been hoping for an audio version since the initial release so I can discuss this regiment! There is a lot more to Raine…and a certain important keepsake than I can say here but she isn’t the only main character of note.

To be completely honest every high ranking member of the Rifles has their moment or moments to shine as well as – in some cases – some beautiful and yet grim writing. The Sighted and everything tied to them is shown as utterly horrific and tainted beyond belief during the regiments’ many battles.

Other important figures I feel I must discuss include Andren Fel, the commander of the ‘Duskhounds’ (The Antari equivalents of the ‘Black Dog’) squad. He is a man close to Raine. One who knows all the ancient stories of the home planet of Antar and just why the Antari are quite as feral and traditional as they are. Something about them definitely makes me think of certain old Celtic traditions. Fel is also a man who despite his great skill in battle, feels he stands for the Duskhounds and must make certain choices when the time comes. But will he like them?

One final character I will discuss at length is Primaris Psyker Lydia Zane. Psykers are – as the name implies – individuals with great psychic ability ranging from the reading of mental states if not minds to the breaking of arms to turning people into soup from the inside out among other things! They are understandably kept on a leash by the Imperium. These powers make Zane something of an outsider among the Antari. However despite this we spend a lot of time in Honourbound finding out just what makes her tick. How does she feel about her treatment by others? About Raine? Why does she serve the Imperium and not attempt to flee? The answers make her and the other Antari fascinating.

The character writing in Honourbound is not Harrison’s only strong point. The battles are wonderfully dark with many moments worthy of a crusade. The sieges and attempts to counter the Sighted are also especially noteworthy with Harrison managing to pull you fully into the battle be it in the eyes of Fel, Raine or a low ranking soldier. The deaths feel worthy of a war as do those who make last stands. Personally? I could hardly put the book down and I cannot praise the book enough! I certainly would be happy to hear more news regarding the Bale Stars Crusade.

However I still have to discuss the audiobook. The audio edition of Honourbound is narrated by Nicolette Chin who in my opinion performs excellently. She IS Raine. Be it in battles, quiet moments of rest or command meetings she exudes this presence worthy of a leader who trusts her soldiers and yet despite that will do the duty of a Commissar as needed. Be it among her own men or others. Chin is also rather good at giving each character a distinct voice and making The Sighted just as unnerving, unnatural and disturbing as they should be. Other favourite performances of mine include the voice used for the Lord-General Militant which definitely suits a figure of such authority who has a well-deserved reputation and the somewhat unsavoury and very cutting and rough voice she gives to Wyck – the leader of the Wyldfolk – who is definitely the most aggressively feral of all the 11th Antari Rifles. I definitely look forward to hearing Chin again!

In conclusion not only is Honourbound one of the best novels I’ve read in recent memory but the audio version is gripping entirely on its own merit. Engaging as a war story and the kind of tale that burrows its way into your mind. There’s a reason Severina and the 11th Antari Rifles are the group I’d replicate if I ever joined a 40K tabletop battle and Raine is one of a very select group of characters from the Black Library history to be immortalised as a special edition unit in the game itself! I certainly hope that I can persuade some of my readers to join me alongside the Duskhounds and their fellows as we defend the Bale Stars from the bane of corruption.

P.S For the curious the chronology of the stories staring the Antari and Raine goes as follows:

Execution
A Company Of Shadows
Fire And Thunder
Trials
Honourbound
The Darkling Hours


FIRE AND THUNDER!

Nephrite

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

There’s a lot going on in here and it’s not bad for it

I enjoyed this as the story felt twice as long - in a good way - than it actually was
Character development for me was on the light side but this was more than offset then what these novels are about. Action, and plenty of it
I’ve not read any of the preceding novellas, but I’ll seek them out now
Good job by the narrator too: ok, some of the male parts were understandably a bit of a stretch, but, again more than offset by strong characterisations of the lead female figure and the witches cackling voices.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

slow start to maybe another series

will have to see what they do with the setup and world building as it needs to fine it's niche against guants ghosts

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Generally Enjoyable

This would be a 5 out of 5 for me if the narrator's voicing of the rogue psyker character wasn't so utterly painful to listen to and if that character didn't get so much dialogue.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Poor concept poor narration

Not for those who want to be entertained for long. Expected better,did not feel as a w40k novel yet author has written better short stories with the same characters b4 narration was poor. Still struggling to listen due in large to narrator but story is just not 40k

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

if you like Gaunts Ghosts or Ciaphas Cain get this

Much like the above two series Honourbound chooses to present us with a Commissar that is very human and has flaws, emotions and a sense of empathy, despite her role.

The supporting cast, in the guise of a psyker and a stormtrooper, also give voice and character to figures that are normally 1 dimensional in Warhammer 40k, which makes for a very welcome change.

The voice acting is very well done, and the overall sound quality and design is to the usual high standard of recent black library productions.

I would recommend this audiobook to anyone that loves the Imperial Guard.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Great story and acting but somewhat annoying

The story and the characters were great and Nicolette did an excellent job of bringing it all to life, but the overabundance of "he/she/it said" leaves something to be desired from the dialogue.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Good story but flawed delivery

The book itself is good, Rachel Harrison has written a great 40k story full of all the grimdakrness that you expect from the Black Library. The problem is the narration which totally lets down the story. The narrator simply isn't able to carry off the northern accent she tries for many of the characters and it just ruins the flow, it's a real shame as if it were not for this I would have rated this audio book much higher. So yes get it for the story, but the narration really doesn't work.

1 person found this helpful

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Kristian
  • Kristian
  • 02-05-20

Poor choice of narrator.

I gave up an hour into this book as I simply couldn't stand the narrator. Her performance as male voices is so bad that it breaks my concentration and stops the story for me every single time she tries to speak as a man.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Azizul Rahman Ismail
  • Azizul Rahman Ismail
  • 11-05-20

A better read

I don’t mean to sound harsh but I had to listen to this book on double speed to get through it. It should have been read instead of performed, and story wise, I would recommend Gaunt’s Ghosts instead.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Jake
  • Jake
  • 03-05-20

Great story, narrator was trash

Plenty of narrators struggle with opposite gender voices. But this was terrible to listen to. Some of.the male characters sounded like they had suffered a lung shot for the entire book. Cringe.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Aaronlee gonzalez
  • Aaronlee gonzalez
  • 24-09-20

good story poor excuection

the voice acting was all over the place. breaks the immersion. like why not get another va to help.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for M. Earls
  • M. Earls
  • 24-08-20

The Danger of Stretching A Short Story To A Novel

Warhammer 40k is a beautiful setting because any story can be told in it convincingly.... this one drags out a generic guard story that only gets good at the end. Once you figure out The Sighted are Tzeench cultist the ending and plot twist is obvious, and it feels like a slog getting to the point Raine realizes it 2/3 of the way in.

Having read Commisar Cain stories Raine seems relatively underdeveloped; her character being defined by family shame, self doubt, and forbidden love with little nuance. Instead of developing her into a rounded person, the book focuses on several secondary characters that are likewise simply defined by the same things.

The best part of the audiobook is the narration. simple cultist are made to feel like an army of slasher movie villains. The Sighted's voices sounding like talking crows. The guardsmen judge each other by their accents and they are given them down to planetary regions. There is one particular generic horror movie scene that is played very well, despite you knowing how it would play out.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Anonymous User
  • Anonymous User
  • 11-07-20

Great story but Ok narration

The story is great even though the timing in it is a bit of, my only gripe is that it needed one more narrator for the male characters.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Michael Maamari
  • Michael Maamari
  • 17-06-20

A fair listen

The story was good at first but the ending villain and plot twist were too obvious

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for RICHARD
  • RICHARD
  • 04-06-20

Commisar

The best Commisar story since Ciaphas Cain. The main difference is this story is far more serious.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Tara
  • Tara
  • 06-01-21

One of the best

I listen to nearly all of the W40k books as they become available, I work long hours and always have one playing.

I personally had no issues with the narrator, I thought she did a great job, but the writing was fantastic. I’m a fan of the Fabius series by Josh Reynolds, most books by ADB, and Chris Wraight - if you are too then you’ll likely enjoy this.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Matt
  • Matt
  • 24-10-20

good book

good book. the narrator gets better as the book progresses. the book also picks up farther in. I do recommend if you have the patience to get past the rough start.