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Belisarius Cawl: The Great Work

Warhammer 40,000
By: Guy Haley
Narrated by: John Banks
Length: 11 hrs and 6 mins
5 out of 5 stars (129 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

An Adeptus Mechanicus novel.

In the wake of the Great Rift, Belisarius Cawl turns his attention to the abandoned world of Sotha. Once home to the Scythes of the Emperor, it also hides a long-buried secret...and an ancient evil.

Listen to it because:

Cawl is one of the most fascinating characters in the Dark Imperium, and Guy Haley gets right into his memory circuits as he seeks ancient secrets that will blow your mind.

The story: 

Belisarius Cawl, Archmagos Dominus of the Adeptus Mechanicus, is the most brilliant mind alive. For 10,000 years he has furthered the cause of mankind, working under the aegis of the Emperor and Lord Commander Roboute Guilliman to prevent the inexorable march of the alien and the traitor. Many call him heretic, but all must recognise the magnitude of his achievements, for who else but he was entrusted to create a new generation of Space Marines? 

Who else but the great Belisarius Cawl could even accomplish such a task? Now, in the wake of the Great Rift and the Indomitus Crusade, his ambitions bring him to the long-dead world of Sotha, once home to the Scythes of the Emperor, now a barren wasteland devoured by the vile Tyranids. Accompanied by Tetrarch Felix and his elite warriors, it is here that Cawl believes the lynchpin of his mysterious Great Work lies. But uncovering it is a near impossible task, one in which the Archmagos must overcome an ancient evil that threatens to extinguish the last hope of humanity.

Written by Guy Haley. Total running time 11 hours and 11 minutes. Performed by John Banks.

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

What members say

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awesome

Really good insight into one of the most interesting new characters not directly related to a legion

2 people found this helpful

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Surprisingly interesting

Enjoyed the back and forth between current and post heresy timelines and overall the progression of Crawls character. Felix is fleshed out to be more than a stoic marine. Give it a go 😊

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Belisarius Cawl

Guy Haley thoroughly enjoys framing stories to explore the past of these characters and uses it here again to great effect.

The immediate story is interesting and relevant but it's the past of Belisarius that is revealed throughout that's a real treat to hear.

Highly recommended.

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Mediocre

While Haley has produced good works in the past, this was so far from the mark. It has its moments, but overall it doesn't feel like a very 40k book. Tetrarch Felix has been written like a squad sergeant with no idea of diplomacy and easily angered, and Cawl is portrayed as 'cooky' rather than the soul-crushed, 10,000 y/o brutal archmagos he is, and it frequently breaks immersion. Also, why would a tetrarch and an archmagos go down to inspect an ancient xenos artefact on a world destroyed by tyranids with just a dozen or so marines? Full of silly references like "Terra squirrels", and the result is that the story seems borne of another SciFi universe but has been worked into a 40k setting.

As for the audio performance, it's decent, but the total binary of character voices is incredibly lacklustre. Not all space marines in positions of power have to sound haltingly gravel-voiced and almost out of breathe, and not all intelligent characters need to sound plucky and high-pitched.

Easily missed.

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great tale.

first i have read of this story line. i was impressed by the humour in the story. just the rifht amount to balance the non humour of sm

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  • Rick
  • 25-09-2019

Adequate

Cawl has been a controversial figure in the lore since he appeared in Gathering Storm. There are some interesting developments to his background in this story that help to justify some of his deeds(looking at you Primaris). That said Cawl feels so powerful and knowledgeable that there isn't ever any real danger to him or those around him. As a result, most of the tension in the book focuses on Cawl's relationship with a Primaris he personally helped create, the remaining Scythes of the Emperor, and Cawl's own past. Most of the lore here is accurate if not always respected given Cawl's literally a desu ex machina.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Bill
  • 19-10-2019

Masterful

Touching, genius, and insightful. A great work in of itself. It was a bit hard to follow at points due to jumps, however I am positive this was intentional and merely another layer to the masterpiece. Even if you don't follow the Adeptus Mechanicus, even if you can't stand Primaris, even if you are tired of the old Marines, please read this. I will absolutely be adding a physical copy to my collection. Well done, very well done.

4 people found this helpful

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  • snozek
  • 15-10-2019

So much Lore!

1st, the narrator performed well, there were hardly any strange pronunciations of things from the Warhammer universe.

2nd, considering this book deals with a secondary successor chapter, the most boring aliens in all of Warhammer 40K, and the fairly repetitive Tyrranids, this book does very very well.

Belisarius is really fleshed out in this novel, pardon the pun.If the book is read from the perspective of Belisarius being the axis of the story, then the reader can have a really good time.

This book accomplishes the nearly impossible by making I actually care about some random successor chapter of the Ultramarines and the most boring alien faction in Warhammer 40K, the Necrons.

The setting for the story spans from before the great crusade to the very recent moments within the sundered imperium.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 29-09-2019

loved a book about my favorite warhammer character

cawl is my favorite. he is was got me into the game. and i just love to get in his head.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Mark Hibs
  • 23-03-2020

You want the truth ! ??

“You can’t handle.....” ok here it is. In short
“ I NEED MORE”
I wasn’t to sure about this character ( I thought it was someone else so the first listen my characters were wrong in my head, but trust the process and plow threw it.) now he’s one of my favorite characters !!! I’m 1 year into the mythos of WH40k, so who is this guy? I’m into bad ass space marines! until I found Eisenhorn !- but this lovable weirdo “Cawl”- reminds me of a dark version of rick from rick and morty - witty , fun, but not silly - he’s always one step ahead of everyone and his eye on the goal! Master manipulator -I need more - possibly the most flexible Character ever made. Because he gets to “download personalities” that he thinks will best suit his Mission. He’s likable . And he’s modular ( mostly machine exterior ) so he can armor up when he needs. This is a fun one !!!

1 person found this helpful

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  • OldManModo
  • 17-03-2020

Really enjoyed the story, good narration too.

Well developed characters as the story progresses. Hard to follow if you don't pay attention during the time jumps back and forth, but with some attention it all links up pretty well while still leaving room for fun speculation.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Jake B.
  • 12-03-2020

So good... it's practically heresy.

5 stars all around, can't wait to go through it again. this a must listen if you are a fan of 40k.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Ian
  • 23-01-2020

Cawl knew it all along

I found this novel to be a great deal of fun, and I actually quite enjoyed getting to see the gaps from the Horus Heresy and Cawls story there filled. That being said you never feel any sense of danger for Cawl as he seems so thoroughly in command of himself and his surroundings throughout the story, this is one of the few times in my memory where space marines seem so completely outclassed not just by the enemy but by an ally.

This book is definitely worth a listen, just be aware that the hero of this tale is a tad over the top.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Piotr Szymaszek
  • 21-12-2019

Like a sequel to the progenitor, but better

All in all Belisarius Cawl is like a loyalist Fabious Bile , walking a fine line between heresy and genius. Even though he sometimes seems a tad too much like Batman with prep-time ("I was prepared for things I could not have known in advance"), he manages to stay in reasonable bounds. The main protagonist being a Primaris Astartes also brings good conflict and insight into the story.

The main plot itself struggles a bit at times and the way they deal with the "end boss" is kind of silly, but it gives insight into one of the bigger mysteries of 30/40k lore. Overall I would recommend.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Konstantin
  • 28-03-2020

Praise the to the Omnissiah! The read was true!

The machine spirits granted me to this wonderful mechanicus book. A perfect way to illustrate the story of the grand magos. While this book seems confusing and all over the place, be vigilant, for truth is unlocked to true thinkers who are able to put the pieces together. That is all another fun unto itself. May the Omnissiah grant you the entertainment of thought in this novel. The characters were entertaining, good humored. And their backstories were very interesting. Now im just going to put this on a loop and listen to it more times probalby 12 the holy number. It is worth it! Read it and be blessed! Praise be to the Omnissiah!

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  • Benjamin Martin Sadler
  • 26-09-2019

Yet more revelations........

fantastic story, brilliant voice performance and a superb way to develope the characters and law.

By far some of the finest character develppment.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Martin
  • 27-09-2019

It was okay..!

It was okay, I hoped for something more insightful to the workings of Cawl and was not totally disappointed.

If you like stories of the Mechanicum then you'll possibly enjoy your way through this book..

2 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 24-09-2019

Another fantastic addition to the lore

With cawl's new role in gullimans imperium, it is interesting to learn more about a character that has existed since 30k.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Mr ian Leeming
  • 13-03-2020

2nd audio book.

Really enjoyed listening to the book whilst out walking the dog or cleaning the house. Made me more productive if I'm honest. excellent story and well narrated.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Milo
  • 24-03-2020

A real insight into Cawl

This was a super refreshing book that really delved into the human side of Cawl and his origins rather than some of the very sterile representations of the Adeptus Mechanicus.

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  • Lloyd
  • 07-03-2020

good first war hammer book for me

Names are confusing as hell. also men dont do great womans voices, you'll know when ;)
great story great lore. lots of bros doing things

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  • Anonymous User
  • 14-02-2020

Abc

a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p

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  • paul sparks
  • 02-02-2020

Thoroughly enjoyable

As a newcomer to WH I am still learning about all the various players and this was a great way to learn about Belisarius and his past and maybe a bit about his future, great narration as always

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  • Olli
  • 28-01-2020

The Great work is quite Great.

A good listen interesting to listen about a character so pivotal in the Warhammer 40,000 universe.
Some dry characters but some intriguing moments a good insight into Cawl as a character.

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  • Robert Brown
  • 25-01-2020

not what I was expecting.

not what I was expecting at all, but it was awesome and I will listen again