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Audio Book Review: Outlaw by Trevor Baxendale

Blakes 7 - Outlaw by Trevor Baxendale
read by Stephen Greif

Review by Jackie Emery

“Oh, yes. I'm a hero, too.” Travis (Gambit)

It's said that every villain is the hero of their own story, but rarely do they get an entire novel to themselves. In Outlaw, Trevor Baxendale places Travis front and centre of the Blake’s 7 story arc, with the actions of Blake and the Liberator crew mostly taking place off-screen. Blending neatly with everything seen in the series, Outlaw provides a wonderful portrayal of the man behind the mask; fleshing out the black-clad baddie into a nuanced, multi-layered character.

Opening with an action-fuelled prologue depicting Travis’ escape from Space Command HQ at the end of Trial, the story flashes back to his origins as a Federation Space Captain. From Travis' first fateful encounter with Blake, to eventually becoming the betrayer of mankind, the narrative is skillfully woven between the TV episodes, filling all the missing story beats. It’s like a fantastic interlocking puzzle, where every piece fits perfectly with the next. Credible explanations are given for many of the things that have long provided fans with speculation and amusement, such as how Travis 2 liaised with the Andromedans, and why Travis 1 seems to have a hole in his eye-patch. As I listened, I found myself smiling, nodding and even occasionally cheering as the pieces fell into place.

The writing is excellent, with vivid descriptions of each location. I particularly liked the science in the sci-fi, especially the details of space flight, technology and planetary environments. The names of characters and places are well-rooted in the B7 style – Kommissar Ura Lekta, Amagon pirate Devlon Jagg, Federation Commissioner Kort, disgraced scientist Mol Portho, and planets Xenal, Galatox and Soron Delta. The dialogue is natural and lively, with plenty of the ironic humour that is one of the hallmarks of the series. However, as with other novels in Big Finish's range, the depictions of violence feel too graphic for Blake's 7, going way beyond anything seen on screen.

The book is brilliantly read – I should say, performed - by Stephen Greif. His voice is gorgeous, and he reads Travis’ dialogue exactly as he played him on screen. He gives each of the canon characters - Maryatt, Bercol, Rontane, and (of course) Servalan - as well as all the new characters, a distinctive timbre, accent and personality. It's a real pleasure to listen to.

I highly recommend Outlaw. However, much as I enjoy Stephen Greif’s reading, I’m sorry that it isn’t available in book form. It would have made a handsome addition to my Big Finish shelf; it's a novel that deserves to be admired and re-read.

Produced and script edited by Xanna Eve Chown, Outlaw is available on CD or download from Big Finish.

The full range of original Blakes 7 novels, audiobooks and audio drama series from Big Finish can be found HERE.

Photograph of Stephen Greif by Paul Midcalf, courtesy of Big Finish


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