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.


  1. Good review mate! Having read Eisenhorn I'm now on Ravenor Returned, which I am enjoying. I however have bought the books individually. Am I right in thinking that there is an extra mini-story in the Omnibus? How good is that? Worth getting the book for?


  2. Why the hell is everybody reading Eisenhorn and Ravenor RIGHT BEFORE I GM OUR DARK HERESY GAME? I can't live up to the hype...

  3. Dude, I'm reading them *because* of your pending DH campaign! No pressure!

    @sovietspace: Yes, actually, there's not one, but two short stories in the omnibus. One is the origin story od Patience Kys, which is awesome. The other is a brief encounter with someone thought lost to the group. Both are worth reading...

  4. So, we get a cameo guest star in the second short story? I've already got the trilogy separately, but I'm going to have to check it out just to catch up with the 'old friend.'

    I honestly liked Eisenhorn a bit more, just because we got more focus on The Man. Ravenor definetly weaves together a more coherent story, but it trades the story for more character development there. I liked some of Ravenor's bunch, but I never got invested in them the same way I got invested in Eisenhorn.

    And while his crew is very competent, they're also dealing with big nasties in the book, and I don't think anything ever actually goes according to plan for Ravenor. Things move from bad to worse to surprised to brutal for him.

    Still, I'd highly recommend it as a primer for DH or the Inquisition side of life of 40k in general.

  5. thanks for the confirmation i had suspected...glad i bought ravenor and stuck with it....eisenhorn can come along later....after i finish the omnibus of ravenor...where in the SEast are you hailing from...? original alabaman/mississippian here!

  6. No problem, excellent book! I'm in east TN, your neighbor to the north!