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Who is your Favourite Guest Rebel?

Avalon - (Project Avalon)
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Audio Review: Liberator Chronicles Volume 3: The Armageddon Storm

Liberator Chronicles Volume 3: The Armageddon Storm

Review by Jackie Emery

Starring: Paul Darrow, Jan Chappell, Michael Keating and Tom Chadbon, with Alistair Lock as the voices of Zen and Orac.

Written by: Cavan Scott and Mark Wright

Sound Design and Music: by Alistair Lock

Directed by: Ken Bentley

Produced by: David Richardson for Big Finish Productions

Vila: The countdown reached its end…
Cally: …and the sky above us burned!

Liberator Chronicles 3: The Armageddon Storm blew in on Valentine’s Day, setting hearts a-flutter with the return of Del Grant. He steps back on board the Liberator, sounding as if a mere handful of episodes had passed since he took his leave at the end of Countdown, rather than 34 real-life years.

Set in Season C, after the events in Rumours of Death, Del Grant has been hired by rebels on Shorin, whose planet is under threat from a new Federation super-weapon, the mysterious PDX10 – otherwise known as the Armageddon Storm. Grant urgently needs to find Henrik Paxter, the Federation scientist who developed the weapon, and he contacts the Liberator crew to ask for their help. Having sent Vila and Cally down to Shorin to make contact with the rebels, Avon takes the Liberator to the planet Claustrum Prime, where he and Grant go in search of Paxter.

The first episode follows Avon and Grant on their quest to locate the Federation scientist and find out the nature of PDX10. In the second episode, we’re with Cally and Vila on Shorin, as they join the rebels. The third episode focuses again on Avon and Grant, and the terrible implications of the Federation’s weapon.

Although the format of The Armageddon Storm is a return to that of the enhanced audiobook, with a main narrator and additional dialogue scenes, this feels almost like a full-cast drama. There are four narrators, Zen and Orac have spoken lines, and there are two other speaking parts - the rebels Emel and Krale, played respectively by Jan Chappell and Michael Keating. With an epic story spanning three episodes, multiple narrators and loads of dialogue and action scenes, this audiobook is more than enhanced - it’s on steroids!

It was slightly disconcerting at first to have Tarrant and Dayna’s action and dialogue described rather than heard – the all-cast Warship has raised the bar rather high in that respect. However, Avon’s narration of Episodes 1 and 3 felt absolutely right and his scenes with Grant are a great mixture of action and angst. Tom Chadbon sounds exactly the same as he did in Countdown, and their dialogue feels like a natural continuation of their conversations in that episode; picking up the threads from where they had previously left off. The awkwardness, grief and guilt over Anna provide some marvellous moments, set against their desperate race to prevent the weapon’s deployment.

Meanwhile, down on Shorin, Vila and Cally take turns narrating Episode 2, and there’s a lovely, warm dynamic between those characters. It’s nice to hear each character’s impression of the other, and their dialogue scenes are excellent. Once again, Big Finish have given us action-girl Cally, the rebel fighter who controls and uses her telepathic abilities to her advantage, rather than passively being taken over by them. And despite his constant worrying and complaining, Vila has moments of heroism, too.

Episode 3 has Avon again as narrator, picking up the cliff-hangers from both previous episodes and moving the story forward as he and Grant wrestle with their inner demons and external threats, with no small risk to life, limb and Liberator.

It’s a first-rate story, quite dark and brutal in places. Once again there are no clear-cut good guys and bad guys; the guest characters, whether rebels or Federation, have as much moral ambiguity, hidden agendas and ulterior motives as the crew of the Liberator.

As with Big Finish’s other releases, the production values are high. While all the actors’ performances are wonderful, special mention should be made of Michael Keating’s portrayal of the rebel Krale – a character who sounds so unlike Vila that I thought he was played by another actor.

Alistair Lock once again has provided great sound design. All the familiar sounds of Liberator are there, together with multi-layered soundscapes for the other planets, top notch music and sound effects for all the action and battle scenes.

Producer David Richardson said, “The brief I gave for The Armageddon Storm was to deliver a huge action movie that was spread over three episodes.” And that’s how it’s turned out – an epic, three-part adventure with all the quality we’ve come to expect from Big Finish’s Blakes 7 range.

Available on CD or download from Big Finish: BUY VOL 3

Photo of Paul Darrow and Tom Chadbon together with writers Mark Wright and Cavan Scott courtesy of Big Finish


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