Monday, July 28, 2008

Eisenhorn Review

One thing that can be said about the Black Library's novels is that they are of varying quality. Some of their authors are excellent, while others are just so-so. But Dan Abnett is one of GW's best authors, if not the best, so I thought I'd give him a chance and see what he could say about the Inquisition.

I was a little leery of picking up the Eisenhorn omnibus, mainly because of the background of the Inquisition that I have seen thus far. I was not interested in a novel about some hardliner Inquisitor who is surrounded by servo-skulls and cherubim and fanatical followers, doing nothing but screaming "Purge the heretic!" and "Exterminatus!" with spittle flying from his mouth, smacking down the plebian of the Imperium with his overblown self-righteouness. Fortunately, Abnett gives us nothing of the kind. Inquisitor Eisenhorn, while a devoted servant of the Emperor, comes off as a pragmatic detective, fully aware that while his badge of office can call down the might of the Imperium on his enemies, he still has some limitations and can get killed if he's not careful. He knows that he could just storm the bad guy's hideout with troops, but is savvy enough to know that the subtler approach is frequently more productive.

Eisenhorn's character matures as the story progresses. While the three novels are definitely linked adventure stories, they also form a detailed character study of Eisenhorn himself, and how he changes, in some ways drastically, throughout his career.

The story is fast paced and exciting, and never lost my interest. In fact, I would say without hesitation that Eisenhorn is by far the best Black Library novel I've read to date.


Steve said...

Glad to see someone else liked it. Best Black Library book published to date, imo, though Legion was also really good.

Darkwing said...

Yeah, the revelation at the end of Legion was great.

Badelaire said...

I also much prefer Abnett's view of the 40K Universe. Yes, there is some "skull-ness" here and there, but the vast, vast majority of the Imperium is fairly normal - people live out their lives much like we do now, and while some of it is a little more dreary and bleak than what we have now, not everyone is a Emperor Fanatic with parchment papers stapled to their flesh and augmetic limbs brutally grafted on.

The setting and overall feel of the novels for me is one part Blade Runner, one part Star Wars, a touch of Cthulhu Mythos here and there, and just a whole bucketload of cool sci-fi noir, coupled with really great, dramatic action.

Devilin said...

Although I love the series and the vision, their is only one three dimensional character - Eisenhorn. Everyone else is a bit wooden and opportunistic. It's almost as if he fills in the gaps for the 'funny' lines when he kills a character. The best friend in the first book becoming the daughter/detective guy. It's as if all the charcters stand around in order to make Eisenhorn look good, which is fine in the first book. A little frustrating in the second and really annoying by the third.

The third book was not up to scratch:- everyone dies, he's hunted, kills everyone, the end - a little simple, almost rushed.

I can see why he did it, by the end of the second book Eisenhorn was too hard. So all his team had to go to get back to the vunerability that makes the third book work.

Comparable work would be Richard Morgan's writing which really stand's up and then fails completely just like this.

Don't get me wrong - I love that Noir feel, the simplication of it, the vunerability of the heroes against massive odds. I would just like their to be more challenge in the Black Library, since most of their books are predictable, tired and badly crafted. I would like Dan Abnett to really push the forum so that it stood up to a broader reading audience than us '40K'-philes. It's just a thought.