Wednesday, August 19, 2009
The Ravenor Omnibus
Dan Abnett's Ravenor Trilogy
I devoured through this omnibus, 900 pages, like a rabid warp daemon in just barely a week. Following up the excellent Eisenhorn omnibus not that long ago, I plopped down for this one as soon as I heard it was coming out confident it'd also be a good read. Also for a mere ten bucks (or so), it's an even better deal than most.
I'm going to not draw too many comparisons between this trilogy and Eisenhorn. With all of their similarities, very similar, they read very differently. Eisenhorn focused mainly on the man himself, his rise and fall as an Inquisitor. Now about Ravenor, yes it is largely about Gideon Ravenor, but moreso about his acolytes and retinue.
The time frame across the trilogy at its core is just about a year at most, but a good six months of that time is spent in transit, or recuperating, or the like. There is a definite plot that weaves through each novel, and instead of each novel reading on its own, they weave together nicely for a much larger tale. The acolytes are great, and Abnett really delves into each and every one of them. At first, I thought it would suffer from 'Lost' syndrome, and have way too many main characters, but he handled them well and the number was just right.
As far as a primer goes for a 40k newbie goes getting into Dark Heresy, I would recommend this trilogy over Eisenhorn actually. The chemistry and skills of the team work together in harmony to infiltrate criminal underworlds, hack systems, fight heretics, and basically kick arse in the name of the Emperor. Through these very skilled, but also much human characters, you feel closer to the action, and the danger threat is much more real. The big draw to the trilogy for me was also how almost nothing ever went according to plan. Seriously, I wouldn't call Ravenor and his crew "bumbling", but man, every time they had a plan, it got screwed up...bad. This usually meant someone getting the jump on them in a very bad way. Speaking of which, Abnett doesn't pull any punches with his characters. His portrayal of life in the Inquisition is hard and fast, and often it is very gritty and brutal.
If you read Eisenhorn, you've probably already read these, if not, it's no big deal, Eisenhorn is not a prerequisite. The action is well written, and there is a great cop-drama vibe throughout with a hefty helping of dark occult activity. You'll be invested in the myriad of characters, and though I've understated him somewhat, the namesake character, Ravenor, is pretty darn cool. It's a good read, and even though it's as thick as a phonebook, it's a surprisingly fast read to boot. A couple of short stories bookend the middle book, and each one really added to the overall story. One was an origin story of one Ravenor's trusted acolytes, and the other one takes place chronologically between the first and second book and has a surprising guest star in it. It's a great journey furthering the world of the Inquisitor and their fight against the ruinous powers, I highly recommend it for casual and hardcore fans alike.