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The start of a new Inquisition trilogy, dubbed Eisenhorn vs Ravenor , the novel promised much in its premise, which is why I was so excited for it. The original review can be found here. Note: This review contains major spoilers. When Black Library announced last year that Dan Abnett was going to be penning a new installment for his Inquisition series, I was fairly excited.
His novels with Inquisitors Gregor Eisenhorn and Gideon Ravenor are some of my favourites in all of Warhammer 40, and were my early reads as well. He put the war in warhammer in a very creative way by showing us life behind the frontlines of grand battles between two opposing armies.
Far too much actually. From the beginning of the novel, through to the meat of it, and all the way to the climax, Pariah was one disappointment after another. I listened to the audiobook last year, and, to be frank, I consider that time wasted.
The audiobook was an easier experience than the novel, but it failed to capture me at all. It is extremely rare for me to not finish a Black Library book, and Prospero Burns has that dubious honour, right alongside Eldar Prop hecy by C. Dan Abnett can be said to be a master of world-building. His settings are always detailed, with lots of nuance and meanings attached to almost everything. That is, the more civilian side of the setting which is all about hive-world politics, Inquisitorial intrigues, local police forces, and so on.
In Pariah he takes it all to an extreme. I had a tough time coming to grips with this, to the extent that I was wondering if I was even reading a Warhammer 40, novel! Yes, Dan Abnett has made a big twist out of the series title Bequin. No, it did not work for me at all. She is too accomplished, too sure of herself, too unquestioning of events as they happen around her, too trusting of people. Halfway through however, her entire life is turned upside down and a massive lie is exposed, one that has some severe repercussions on the narrative.
She really must be desperate to be an Inquisition agent, is all I can say. To put the first into context, the Horus Heresy happened 10, years ago within the setting and is a time shrouded in mystery, half-truths, lies and deception. It is quite literally an age of gods and demi-gods.
Yet one minor, random character in the novel is quite educated about this time. She herself is nothing more than a weak attempt to tie Pariah to Xenos the first Eisenhorn novel. Her inclusion also rings alarm bells, given that her… family was pretty much purged already.
To contextualise the second point: Beta Bequin is an expert in French. The tutors at the Maze Undue a play on maison dieu, translated as house of god ironically enough know several old languages of Terra from a time that is more than 35, in the past!
How does that work? There was already too much of this angle in Prospero Burns , with secret societies and such, and it is no different here. The whole angle of Eisenhorn vs Ravenor does not even come into play until the last pages of the novel.
He spends so much time with his setup, with the world-building, with laying out the game board, that his endings appear rushed and ill-thought out. As a friend put it, Pariah appears to be the first third of a much larger novel. In fact, he has to do even world-building since his characters are all new! Pariah just plods along from place to place, character to character, until it becomes little more than a sightseeing novel and characters flash by without making any impact.
What should have been the really good stuff, happens way too late, and is thus rushed to a very unsatisfactory conclusion. This is all compounded by the rumour that the sequel , Penitent , will not be out until December , which is a two-year wait. Does Pariah have any redeeming feature? The introduction of Eisenhorn is fantastic. Given that the book takes place some hundred or so years after the events of Ravenor Rogue the third Ravenor novel , a lot has happened over the years, but Eisenhorn is just as memorable as he was in Hereticus the third Eisenhorn novel.
Just as memorable and just as bloody awesome of an ass-kicker. And then we have Cherubael, the daemonhost that Eisenhorn began using in Hereticus , one of the reasons why he became a radical and an institutional pariah within the Ordo Xenos, and why he was declared Extremis Diabolus if memory serves correctly.
Cherubael has one line in the entire book that comes close to making the entire book worth the wait, just one line, right at the end it is in fact the closing dialogue of the novel.
I do say comes close, but the negatives have already piled up far too much. To reiterate with emphasis: I do not mind reading a novel that focuses on the non-war side of the setting, a novel that is about the mystery and thrill of the setting, rather than the constant war, constant struggle in a lion-eat-lion type of setting.
My problem is when it is overdosed for the reader, like Pariah is. Just as with Prospero Burns , Pariah could really benefit from the first pages being cut down to about pages of material. All that chaff really drags the novel down. It was a downright struggle to read the book. Even Ravenor and his band, who had such a great outing in the first two Ravenor novels, are little more than stuck-up, full-of-themselves, self-righteous bastards here.
It seems Ravenor has become all about blind devotion, and a massive jerk in addition. And given that we only see him in like the last 20 pages or so, there is absolutely no redeeming climax to explain this change in behaviour. Honestly, I cannot recommend the novel at all. It starts off as a novel that can really put someone to sleep.
The middle is just a chaotic mess of tangled loyalties and betrayals. The ending is so rushed that it is all a massive info-dump to explain away the Eisenhorn vs Ravenor theme. A mess of characters. Too much of the domestic. Read the novel if you really, really want to.
Otherwise, you are better of reading the Eisenhorn and Ravenor omnibuses. View all posts by shadowhawksshade. You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account. You are commenting using your Twitter account. You are commenting using your Facebook account. Notify me of new comments via email. Notify me of new posts via email.
A Somewhat-Twisting Maze of Secrets – A Review of Pariah by Dan Abnett
I like it when authors surprise me with something completely out of left field, when they catch me off-guard with something. I like it that way because I have a tendency to guess what will happen next — the result of reading far too many mysteries at a rather young age, I suppose. Of course, those twists and turns have to actually make sense, or else they come off as silly. It really just depends on how the technique is used: used badly, a plot twist can make me groan in annoyance, but used well, and it can have me resisting the urge to scream at my book in a complex mix of emotions that can be very hard to describe except in the elegant language of keysmash. Some of the twists can be good, and some of the twists, while not bad, are poorly-placed. When that happens, it becomes a question of which there were more of in a book, along with the usual questions about characterization, plot quality, and so on. The main character and narrator is Beta Bequin, a pariah, or Blank, who has the power to nullify psychic energies.
Review – Pariah by Dan Abnett
In the city of Queen Mab, nothing is quite as it seems. Pariah, spy and Inquisitorial agent, Alizebeth Bequin is all of these things and yet none of them. An enigma, even to herself, she is caught between Inquisitors Gregor Eisenhorn and Gideon Ravenor, former allies now enemies who are playing a shadow game against a mysterious and deadly foe. Coveted by the Archenemy, pursued by the Inquisition, Bequin becomes embroiled in a dark plot of which she knows not her role or purpose.
Pariah by Dan Abnett (Book Review)