Written by Big Finish and Fandemonium veteran James Swallow, First Prime starts off the second series of Stargate SG-1 audiobooks. Teal’c (Christopher Judge) is the narrator, supported by a figure from his past, Sebe’t (Noel Clarke). The tale he tells takes us back to the time when Apophis still was the team’s main enemy. We get to learn more about Teal’c’s past, especially his friendship with Sebe’t, a man from Chulak who rose to become First Prime after Teal’c betrayed their god.
For a large part, this is a solo adventure for our favourite Jaffa. Carter is incapacitated, and Jack and Daniel are held captive by Apophis’ forces. It turns out that everything was just a trap to lead Teal’c into the waiting arms of Sebe’t and his troops. But Sebe’t has doubts about the serpent god… or does he?
The plot is rather straightforward, as we quickly encounter a First Prime who doubts his god, only to reveal that – surprise! – it was all a lark, and he didn’t really mean it. However, Sebe’t’s pretend conversion to atheism isn’t the main point of this story, but only the catalyst to delve deep into Teal’c’s past and his relationship with this other Jaffa who was of the same age, came from the same region on Chulak, and strove to serve his god as well as he. However, Sebe’t’s belief in Apophis was much stronger than that of Teal’c, and thus he did not follow his former friend’s example. He eventually gets to see the error of his ways, but he has a lousy sense of timing.
Perhaps the similarities of the two men’s backgrounds and career could have been explored more thoroughly, but there is only so much room for that in a one-hour story, after all. I certainly wouldn’t mind more stories about Teal’c in that time period, leading up to Children of the Gods, but perhaps rather in the form of a novel.
By his own admission, First Prime is Judge’s first audiobook, and while this is often evident, he is nevertheless engaging enough that I kept listening. At first, the other characters’ voices, most noticeably Jack and Daniel, lack the enthusiasm of their TV counterparts, but Judge improves his performance, and by the end, Jack’s as irreverent as ever. Clarke has the bombastic pompousness of the Jaffa down pat, but Sebe’t is eventually allowed to show a wider range of emotions towards the end, when the truth about his wife’s death becomes known.
The sound design hits all the right keys, and we also get the familiar sounds of gate travel, staff weapons, and zat’ni’katel blasts that we all love. Music-wise, the cues between scenes are sufficiently reminiscent of Joel Goldsmith’s themes, but I wish they’d gone one step further (or three).
All in all, this was an enjoyable exploration of a familiar character, and I look forward to hearing more tales narrated by Christopher Judge in the future.
First Prime (by James Swallow; starring Christopher Judge) will be released by Big Finish Productions in May 2009.