For The Emperor by Sandy Mitchell – An Audiobook Review

for the emperor


On an Imperial outpost world on the fringes of tau space, the renowned Commissar Ciaphas Cain and his fractious regiment of Valhallan Guard, newly created from the remnants of two devastated units, find themselves in the middle of a war.

As the Astra Militarum struggle to contain worldwide civil insurrection, can the wily Commissar Cain identify the real villain before the planet is lost to the Imperium forever?

Author: Sandy Mitchell

Narrator: Steven Perring

Publisher: The Black Library

Series: Ciaphas Cain #1

Run Time: 8hrs 57 mins

Audio Release Date: 10/09/2018

My Rating of ‘For The Emperor’: 4 out of 5

Purchase: Audible UKAudible USAmazon UKAmazon US



This was a lot of fun to read the first time round and even more fun to listen to as an audio book. The blend of serious and comedy is done very well and is never in your face.

Commissar Ciaphas Cain, as he mentions himself frequently throughout the series of his memoirs, is a coward with more luck than any hundred people put together. If you have read the Flashman Papers then you’ll have a good idea of what to expect coming into the Ciaphas Cain books.

Ciaphas, along with his trusty aide, Jurgen, and the newly formed, mixed gender regiment of the Valhallan 597th are sent to the planet of Gravalax to deal with insurrection caused by the Tau (a race of blue-skinned, technologically advanced humanoid aliens).

Personally, although I enjoyed this very much, I felt this featured far too much talking, world-building and political back and forth to ever reach the five star rating I desperately wanted to give it. That being said, it’s not dull, just not as explosive as I know the Cain books can be.

When the author puts their foot down on the accelerator, though, it gets very exciting, very fast. Almost like that plodding ascent up a roller coaster before the downward rush when you reach the peak.

The character/world building done is essential, I just feel there was too much of it. You certainly get a much better knowledge of the Warhammer 40k universe as a whole from this book/series than you do others and, for that reason alone I’d say it’s hands down one of the best places to start.

As is usually the case with 40k novels, the action is fast-paced, dark, painful and hellishly exciting. Cain is one of the most endearing characters for me as far as Warhammer universe goes as he is the sort of hero that I love to read about. The kind that hates being thought of as a hero and is only their by a mixture of luck, fluke and skill. With every passing victory, his fame grows and he finds himself thrust into more and more deadly situations. Makes for the perfect character. You just can’t help but feel sorry for the sort of chap who does everything within his power to avoid danger but inadvertently finds himself rushing towards it instead.

It’s told in first person narrative and features footnotes explaining certain aspects that your unknowledgeable 40k reader would not know. Another reason for it being a perfect starting point in the Warhammer universe.

The narration was split between three narrators. The male voice told the bulk of the narrative where one female voice read the footnotes (as they were added by Inquisitor Amberly Vale upon editing Cain’s archive) and the second female narrator was given the unenviable role of reading the extracts from Jennitt Sulla’s ‘Like a Phoenix From the Flames’. Unenviable because of her painful love obsession with adjectives. At least five to every sentence!

All in all it’s a great blend of styles that makes for a wonderful opener in a wonderful series.

12 thoughts on “For The Emperor by Sandy Mitchell – An Audiobook Review

  1. I love that you picked up the audiobook for this as it’s such a great way to read it. The third audiobook has just come out and I immediately used my credit on it. Hoping to pick it up soon. Its nice having a mix of people but it’s not overdone which is good

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Totally agree. When I saw there was 3 narrators, I just knew it would be too much. Pleasantly surprised at how perfectly done it was.

      I may have to use my credit on Caves of Ice 🙂 I own the first five novels but really enjoy them as audio.


      1. I bought the three big binds of them all with the novellas when they were 0.99 on kindle and tried reading it physically after the audiobook was taking forever to come out but I just really missed the narrator’s depiction of Ciaphas

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I decided to make this my first 40K reading, and I already have an ebook. Now I wonder if perhaps I should sacrifice an Audible credit… I’m tempted, but I usually go for books over 10 hrs long…

    Liked by 2 people

      1. And now I’ve read it, while on vacation, in the trains and on the beaches, and it was really fun! I have to say that my recent limited experiences with both Warhammer Fantasy and 40K novels were really enjoyable.
        Cain is a kind of reluctant hero that makes you laugh, while being engaged in some great action 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Cain is, quite easily, my favourite 40k character. His novels manage to do what the Gotrek and Felix novels did for the old warhammer fantasy; provide an accessible way in for new readers into what is a pretty daunting universe as far as knowing where to start.

        Glad you enjoyed it 🙂 I can honestly say, Cain’s adventures get better book by book

        Liked by 1 person

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