How many reviews a month will be expected Jez? This could be the perfect reason to get back into reviewing. I've been out of the game for a bit but have been considering getting back into it. You know where to find my reviews, but ill chuck one up here anyway. Its a little long, but it was an omnibus so you get that.
Ravenor the Omnibus by Dan Abnett
Ravenor The Omnibus contains all three Ravenor novels. Ravenor, Ravenor Returns, Ravenor Rogue and includes two linking short stories Thorn Wishes Talon and Playing Patience. Combined and bound the Omnibus weighs in at a hefty 891 pages and once completed could very well be used as a bludgeoning weapon on that neighbour who won’t turn down his music after midnight. Ravenor draws upon characters and events from Abnett’s other Inquisition novels, the Eisenhorn trilogy. While you don’t have to have read the Eisenhorn books to enjoy the Ravenor Omnibus, I highly suggest you do. Not only because the Eisenhorn series is a cracking read on its own, but it will give you the background knowledge needed to fully immerse yourself in the Ravenor experience. That said, let’s get stuck into Ravenor!
Ravenor is the first book in the omnibus and introduces us to Inquisitor Ravenor and his team. Ravenor’s character crosses over from the earlier Eisenhorn books, and after a horrific accident is little more than a lump of flesh sealed in his own floating, armed and armoured life support chair. Ravenor’s main way off communicating is via psychic casting to his team which is represented via the use of addition symbols on either side of the speech text, + like this +. I really enjoyed the way Abnett used casting throughout the omnibus, it makes for some interesting three and four way conversations when one of the characters is casting his thoughts from orbit. But where the real strength of the book lies, is in its development of the other characters. While I did enjoy Eisenhorn and his team, Ravenor’s team of agents are far better characters in their own right and manage to last longer than a single book without dying! Ravenor’s team includes Carl Thonius his apprentice interrogator, Patience Kys his pskyer warrior, Harlon Nayl his bounty hunter muscle and Kara Swole the acrobatic operative. There are other various members who breeze in and out of the team but these four represent the core of the outfit. Ravenor sets the scene with Inquisitor Ravenor and his team on the hunt for the source of a new dangerous drug called flects which are basically warp infused glass shards. The investigation takes them off planet and into the region of uncharted space imaginatively named Lucky Space, where the team walk straight into a trap by the flect dealers and are forced to fight for their lives. There is some great action later in the book and an almighty out of body psyker battle. However, Ravenor does take a while to ramp up to can’t put down speed and is probably the weakest of the three books. It is however a good read in its own right and is the perfect set up for the events to follow in Ravenor Returns and Ravenor Rogue. Ravenor is also the first time we meet Ravenor’s arch nemesis Molotch. His appearance is early on and brief, but he’s a character that will not only feature heavily in the future, but also bring Ravenor to his knees... if he had any.
Ravenor Returns follows on from the events of Ravenor and in my opinion is the best of the three books. All the action here centres around the hive on Eustis Majoris and Ravenor’s attempt to uncover the real evil behind the flect trade. What Ravenor finds is a planet wide conspiracy involving several different factions all trying to play out their own agendas. It’s a case of everybody for themselves as the different factions try to outwit and destroy one another, Ravenor and his team included! Several cool elements here include warp infused data that hides a hidden daemonic language that could control the Imperium, swarms of metal robot birds than can strip a man to bones in seconds and even the birth of a daemon named Slyte. However, what I found to be the strongest element of the book was the consistent struggle for truth. The whole storyline feels like a futuristic detective novel and you’ll be left trying to guess who to trust throughout the book. I just couldn’t put this down, and happily gobbled up the entire story within a day or two. It’s also the first time we meet some extra baddies Culzen and Worna who will feature heavily in the next and final instalment.
Ravenor Rogue once again follows on from where the previous book left off and brings the series to an explosive conclusion. It see’s Ravenor disobey his superiors instructions to stop chasing Molotch which in turn makes him a rogue agent and an enemy of the Imperium. The story spirals around Ravenor trying to destroy Molotch and Culzen once and for all while the side story of the daemon Slyte soon becomes the paramount problem. There is some serious mind bending stuff in Ravenor Rogue, not only to we jump around from planet to planet but also from time to time as Ravenor and company quickly become lost in a inter-dimensional portal that goes haywire. More than once I had a what the moment and had to flip back to the start of the chapter to check the date of the events. Some crazy stuff happens by the thrilling conclusion. Arch enemies unite, a daemon is fully born into the real universe and Ravenor dies... or does he? While very good, the last book in the omnibus is just under the high standard set by Ravenor Returns, but is still a great way to finish the series.
What Abnett does exceptionally well in the Ravenor series compared to the Esienhorn series is flesh out the other characters in the team. By the end of the book I felt as if Thonius, Kys, Nayl and Kara are all close friends of mine and you genuinely want them to all finish safe and sound. In fact, I’ll take that one step further and say id like them to all survive and for Kara Swole to do a bikini shoot. Abnett does a great job of describing her voluptuous figure throughout the book. The second thing I found that really brings Ravenor together was the detective element to it, across the entire omnibus, it felt like one giant intergalactic detective action drama. It keeps you guessing and throws you enough twists and false leads to throw you off the scent.
I loved it. Yes the first book was a bit slow till about half way, but as an omnibus it represents an epic journey that gives leaves you with feelings of disappointment at the end. Disappointment that it’s all over. Is it better than Esienhorn you ask? That’s a tough one, but id hazard a guess it’s about equal. Esienhorn as a main character is stronger and more relatable than Ravenor. I mean really, how much can you relate to a lump of flesh suspended in a floating metal chair? That said, as a team of strong characters Ravenor trumps Esienhorn. Either way you spin it, Ravenor, like Esienhorn is a must read in the 40k library. If you don’t have, go out and buy it. And grab the Esienhorn omnibus while you’re there too. Thank you Mr Abnett.
High Point: The Wych House portal in Ravenor Rogue. Whoever through one little wooden door could cause so much trouble?
Low Point: The first third of Ravenor. Just a little slow and takes too long to get going. But trust me, stick through it and you will be rewarded.