A review of First and Only from Big_Cheddars
Well, what could I say about this book that hasn't been said three or four times already by reviewers much more established than myself. Well what I could say is that it was the first BL book I read, and the first on my kindle (which I got for christmas!). First and Only is also the first BL book ever published, and written by master author Dan Abnett himself. A perfect first venture into a brilliantly thought out universe, and written by a man who really does bring to life his characters and environments.
The plot of First and Only is always doing something. There is honestly never an idle moment where you're forced to contemplate what might happen, and it also contains a few bloody good twists which I never saw. The way Dan Abnett weaves his characters through their environments is masterly. There isn't much I can say about the plot other than that it was brilliant, and complimented every other part of this great novel.
I know I'm using a lot of positive adjectives, but it's honestly because when you start to think about First and Only beyond just reading material, when you look at it from the perspective of another author (moir), and start analysing how Dan Abnett does things, it takes on a whole new meaning. The entire novel is filled with a sense of desperation as you never know what's going to happen next. Nothing in this novel is predictable, and it's as much thriller as anything else. I mean it when I say that the atmosphere is desperate. From the first big fight with the weird daemon thingy to the skirmishes when the Ghosts are on leave, there's always something telling you that something bad is going to happen, but you never know what.
The characters of First and Only are complex, well-developed and each has a unique backstory and role that makes them important. My personal favourite is Major Rawne, who is genuinely awesome. The lead character, Gaunt is actually one of my less favourites. The thing is, Dan Abnett has too many characters he prioritises. Every character is developed, and it means that few have a chance to really shine. Gaunt just seems to be a stereotypical badass. He's a bit like Sharpe, but cleverer and less brutal, and that's why I don't like him. He just doesn't stand out enough, and for all the regiment's talk of hating his guts for leaving their brothers to die, they still follow his orders to the letter. Gaunt is still a good character, and I loved his personal backstory, and the personal links he has with some of the main antagonists, it just gave them motive, which is what is lacking in a villain sometimes.
In the end, First and Only was an impressive novel with a varied, cool cast and a bloody awesome plot, and definitely the only novel that could have started BL, written by the only author that could have pulled it off. I'd give it 9/10.