5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
The Black Library's finest,
This review is from: Eisenhorn (Eisenhorn Omnibus) (Paperback)
Although I am a fan of the Warhammer 40k franchise, having played the tabletop wargames in my youth, I have never warmed to the outputs of the Black Library (BL), Games Workshop's publishing division. The setting of 40k, with its blend of high fantasy and gritty, dystopian sci-fi elements, could easily lend itself to some imaginative and innovative books. However, a great many of the offerings from the BL are rather prosaic affairs filled with lacklustre characters, average writing and most frequent of all, bland dialogue.
But then I read Dan Abnett.
Abnett is easily the best author currently working for Games Workshop. I feel somewhat guilty for belittling the efforts of the other BL writers, but Abnett's books really do highlight their flaws.
The Eisenhorn Omnibus contains all three Eisenhorn books (Xenos, Malleus and Hereticus) and two linking short stories, and represents good value for money. The story follows the eponymous Imperial Inquisitor as he hunts down heretics and witches within his particular sector of the galaxy. It is apparently written as Eisenhorn's memoirs (although this is never explicitly stated) and as such we are given a first-person narrative looking back upon the past. This also changes the focus of the setting away from the frontline battles of virtually every other 40k book and allows us a glimpse at everyday life in the Imperium of Man. Things still remain quite grim and dark, but this change is very welcome.
The plot is well-paced and tightly woven, with enough twists to keep you going. Abnett's dialogue is an absolute breath of fresh air- each character speaks with enough subtle nuance that they are readily identified without having to scan up the page and see who spoke first (something I frequently have to do with other fantasy and sci-fi books). The characters themselves are consistent and well rounded, and as with most Abnett books, there are a lot of them. Most important of all, however, is Eisenhorn himself. The decisions and mistakes he makes, his reactions to everything that happens and his slow, steady change of heart throughout the books are so realistic and believable that you will be swept along by them. I was surprised to hear others found him reprehensible toward the end, as I was totally alongside him in (most of) his decisions. Either way you see it, Eisenhorn's stroll into grey area morality makes for compelling reading.