Ravenor by Dan Abnett
Black Library Publishing
Inquisitor Gideon Ravenor, protege of the once great Gregor Eisenhorn, and his lethal band of operatives have taken t the investigation of a dangerous new drug spreading into the Imperium. From highly polluted capitols, to the lawless frontier and the cold of space itself; those responsible always manage to stay one step ahead of the physically crippled inquisitor but no one can run forever, especially not from one who fights with the powers of his mind rather than the strength of his body.
Overall, Ravenor is great; we begin with a prelude of sorts, of events that happened prior to the story that make no sense to us now. For first time readers, you get a taste of the action and description Abnett can instill within his stories as well as a twist at the end.
From that we shoot over to the story itself, and of that I will say that it has pacing, cloak and dagger work, full out brawls/action, a heavy focus on description and characters as well as a space battle of sorts. Though perhaps the biggest strength of Ravenor is the choice for it to be broken into three major sections, Burn City, Lucky Space, and Lost with all Hands. None of the names to these parts give much away, maybe that burn city will take place in a city, or that lucky space could have something to do with space, though lost with all hands does hint to something big happening; what that is, you don't know until you get that far.
The first section of Ravenor works much like a detective novel, where there is an investigation of some sort and leads must be used or tracked down to uncover more information for this. Of the whole book, Burn City has the slowest pace, because if you go fast then information might not be gained and things overlooked. This is perfect as a start, because this slower pacing also allows for a proper introduction to the principal characters of the story, namely inquisitor Ravenor's group. We have the bounty hunters Harlon Nayl and Zeph Mathuin, the psychic null Wystan Frauka, the acrobat Kara Swole, psyker Patience Kys, interrogator Carl Thonius, and inquisitor Gideon Ravenor himself.
Burn city takes readers through Ravenor's band seeking out leads to their investigation into a new drug making its way throughout the sector. Things begin on the world of Eustis Majoris, a decaying planet plagued by periods of acid rain and corruption from within. Like true detectives, Ravenor and his people make an attempt to stay low profile, because when your looking for the truth you do not know who can be trusted completely. By the end of burn city, however, this comes crashing to a halt as do the leads on the planet and the group is forced to take flight and chase after a potential target.
Lucky space is the chase portion of the story, where Ravenor and company must seek a trader linked to the investigation of this powerful drug. In this portion we are introduced to rogue trader Cynia Preest of the Hinterlight, a possible nod to inquisitor Eisenhorn and his friendship with Tobias Maxilla, another rogue trader who provided Eisenhorn with transport services through the Imperium. Lucky space also briefly brings up someone else from Ravenor's past, though I'll leave that for people to read for themselves.
As I said before, lucky space is a chase and it leads Ravenor to another world in search of his prey. Elements of part one, the detective portion, are still present but there is also a sense of urgency, that they do not have as much time to linger. What Ravenor ends up finding in this chase is another potential target for information as well as pain for some other characters. We get a fair amount of character development, especially from Carl Thonius, but at several points there is an inclusion of memories or of the past. Ultimately, though Ravenor loses sight of his original prey, he gains knowledge of where it will be and the group sets course for the big showdown.
Lost with all Hands
In the final part of Ravenor, the group travels to the trading hub known as Bonner's Reach; a place located on the fringes of Imperial space, perfect for the likes of traders who generally do not prefer the authority of the golden throne. (Lets be honest, it is kind of limiting or damning, and free trade is more profitable.) Here the investigation comes to a halt as those who Ravenor has been looking for are found, though not in the way he might have been hoping to find them. With the end of the detective work comes an end to the slower pace, things start to heat up as revelations are made and twists come into light.
Without giving anything away, the shit hits the fan, characters are put to the test, and its a fight to survive on more planes than one. Ravenor is forced to confront an enemy that only he can combat, a powerful psyker under the employ of his enemies; and he must do this while his crew battle it out with the grunts of the enemy and a battle is 'fought' in space. As the battle between psykers comes to an abrupt halt, and believe me it is a funny way for things to end, so to does the other fights going on with the rest of Ravenor's people, for they are now backed up by a powerful psyker of their own.
Lost with all hands comes to a quick end, however, with much damage done and one final twist revealed. This final twist clues everyone, Ravenor and the reader, in on the fact that there is something much bigger going on than his little investigation into some new drug.
-The investigation - the turns it will take, they leave you guessing until everything is revealed at the end; and even then there are some questions which are left unanswered.
-The pacing - Things start out slow, which is good because there is much we need to have established at the start. However once we get to the second part, pacing picks up while maintaining descriptions; and part three picks up even more.
-The change up of style - I'm talking about how part one is more about the finding clues and working on leads, while part three is a fight for survival as everything unfolds. It has a little for everyone while not being boring; its not a whole book of fighting, and not something that lacks action and is all talk.
-Memories and the past - Mentioned through the story are memories of times long gone. Ravenor was the former student of inquisitor Gregor Eisenhorn, a man who lived a tragic life and slowly went from a puritan inquisitor to a potential radical, all because he made compromises when left with no other choice. Several of the people who work with Ravenor used to work for Eisenhorn, most notable Harlon Nayl, Kara Swole, and Wystan Frauka. Many of them remember their former employer and make mention of it at times, going on to show that he may be lost to them but is not forgotten and even without being present is still an important figure.
-Shalto Unwerth - He doesn't drag the story down or anything, its just his speach can get on your nerves.
-Last minute action - Something I have noticed in a fair number of Abnett's books; he does this beautiful job of establishing characters and the plot, of location and whats going on. However when it comes to the action towards the end of a story things tend to feel rushed. Part three is the major action sequences, but then everything gets wrapped up in about ten pages before the book ends.
Great book, beautiful descriptions, interesting characters, awesome action, good detective portions, and a gripping story; what more can you ask for in such a book?
Thank you for taking the time to give this a read, hopefully I have not spoiled to much for you and maybe got at least one person interesting in looking into the story. Now my next thing is to figure out what book to read next..