On Periremunda, the populace are rioting. With local forces unable to contain the widespread civil disorder, Commissar Cain and his regiment of Valhallans are called in to help. However, it seems there is more to the rebellion than first appeared, and Cain suspects sinister forces at work behind the scenes. When the commissar is reunited with Inquisitor Amberley Vail, it seems his fears are realised. In this the fifth book in the popular Ciaphas Cain series, our hero is thrown into a deadly conspiracy that even he might not be able to emerge from alive.
Author: Sandy Mitchell
Publisher: Black Library
Running Time: 9hrs 37mins
Audio Release Date: 24/04/2021
Genre: Science Fiction/Warhammer 40k
Series: Ciahphas Cain #5
My Rating of ‘Duty Calls’: 4 out of 5
*Please note this review contains spoilers in the fifth paragraph*
Duty Calls is yet another solid entry into the Cain Archives. It wasn’t perfect, mainly as I felt nothing outwardly new was happening for the most part. There was overall plot progression involved but, for the most part, it very much felt like raking over old ground with a new rake rather than breaking new ground in any meaningful way.
Cain’s inward thoughts of cowardice and self-preservation, as per usual, keep the story feeling light-hearted and engaging to us normal folk to whom dashing heroism and the ability to face down slavering hordes of aliens does not come naturally. It’s truly wonderful to have a hero to whom it also does not only not come naturally, but who wishes it simply did not come at all.
With this audio book, the production quality improved drastically from previous ones. Where the external source sections are concerned we actually have sound effects that add a whole new level of realism to the piece. Said sound effects are repetitive (news broadcast parts) but they give it a new dimension previously unexplored in prior entries in the series.
General Zyvan’s voice is also an aspect of this book I’d consider ‘different’. He used to have a northern voice you’d hear in a Sharpe film, but now it’s a bit more bland. Missed the old one and feel the character himself suffered for it. He seemed to lose a bit of what made him stand out from the rest of the pack.
Duty Calls explains why the, seemingly random, decision was made in book four to set the story well before Cain’s time with the Valhallan 597th, as parts of the plot from book four directly merge into parts of the plot with Duty Calls. I had wondered why the sudden shift in timelines and, due to the fact that Amberly is curating the Cain Collection, it makes sense that she’d pop that in before this one. So it’s a nice, authentic feel that someone other than Cain is setting these out in a coherent timeline of events order rather than simply a chronological one.
Other than the annoyance of Zyvan suddenly defecting from a Yorkshire accent to a bland, everyman accent, the voice acting, as per usual with this particular cast of voice actors, was bang on the money. Top notch vocals alongside high production quality makes this a series I feel is better suited to audio than the written word (not that the written versions aren’t wonderful, I own those too and have enjoyed them immensely in the past.)