After reading the first three novels in the Horus Heresy series I was feeling a bit unexcited with the prospect of reading the forth installment. Was this simply to be more bogwash lack of anything but cardboard characters speaking terse pompous lines against a backdrop of lots of shooty pew-pew; except this time it was to be in space? Was this to be basically a Battlefleet Gothic novel riding the vehicle of Horus’s lame conversion to the dark gods?
The book was already sat on my desk so I set about the seemingly unenviable task of getting on with reading it. This was the first James Swallow novel I’ve ever read, and being a big Abnett fan I found the writing style a little foreign to begin with; but soon I was getting the hang of it. This is writing with big words from someone who obviously owns a thesaurus. The book concerns the adventures of Battle-Captain Nathaniel Garro from before the Isstvaan campaign. The story initially is the same from the other books, but you see things from Garro’s perspective which makes for interesting reading. It adds meat to the bones of the books you have already read.
The book is actually extremely well written and a really good read. The writing style adds much to heighten the tension. This time the characters are actually exciting and believable and the story itself is a real page turner at times. It’s a stellar achievement following the mediocrity of False Gods and the somewhat forgettable Galaxy In Flames. I’m off to get the next installment!
TL;DR The best of the series so far by quite a margin!
Eisenhorn. The name conjours images of aphrodisiac teutonic sexy ice-cream. Unless you’ve ever heard of a chap called Dan Abnett. In his world Eisenhorn is not a naughty dessert but actually an collection of stories of an Imperial Inquisitor in the dark far flung future of the 41st millenium.
Science fiction books, to be frank, tend to be quite lame, especially when compared with fantasy and more mainstream novels. However the turbulent times of the Warhammer 40,000 universe give an excellently dark and deliciously gothic backdrop in which to base stories. Times are dark, with mankind living in a cesspool of their own devising. Chronic poverty and pollution across a million worlds, with aliens threatening from without and corruption and mutants threatening from within. Warp travel has allowed mankind to span the galaxy, but unleashed the horrors of demons upon civilization. Add to that a complete stagnation of technological advancement and a theocracy which worships the carcass of a near dead Emperor and you are close to the setting of Warhammer 40,000.
It is to within this maelstrom which Gregor Eisenhorn, Imperial Inquisitor, is flung. Tasked with seeking out corruption, mutation and xenos in society and wiping them out. He is just a man, and as he faces tougher and tougher challenges he begins to bend the rules he is trying to enforce further and further. One might even question whether he actually steps over the line at points and becomes what he is trying to eradicate. The stories are excellently crafted, and as we follow Gregor’s exploits we are drawn further into a world of corruption. As the hero bends the laws further and further we see that he really may not actually be such an hero after all. And this is what I find so appealing in these stories. It’s not the case that he is a straight up hardened Space Marine who kicks butt, saves the day and praises the Emperor. He is an Inquisitor who kicks butt and will use every dirty trick he knows to save himself and pay lip service to praising the Emperor.
Eisenhorn is then, an exciting roller coaster of a ride. An excellent science fiction triumph. Lots of action, plenty of twists and turns with the morals often put to one side to get the job done.
Read more about it here.