Ravenor Omnibus by Dan Abnett – Review
If Eisenhorn was a story about a man surrounded by a capable team, then Ravenor is a story about a team led by a powerful man. If you’re even remotely curious about Ravenor and you haven’t read Eisenhorn, what are you doing here? Ravenor is the second trilogy in a trilogy of trilogies and that makes Eisenhorn a mandatory read. On the other hand, you can read the Ravenor novels as standalone novels, but the references will quickly go over your head. Some are references to previous books in the Eisenhorn trilogy, while some are simply references to the character’s past. With so many references, it helps to know where you’re coming from and where you’re going.
Ravenor Omnibus- Books Info
The Ravenor Omnibus collects 3 novels and 2 short stories having as the central theme the character of Ravenor, an Inquisitor of Ordos Xenos from the Warhammer 40K Universe. As always, Dan Abnett makes it easy to discard the Universe as a whole and focus on the Daniverse (read the preface for the origin of this term), a collection of lore built by himself inside Warhammer 40K – almost like a standalone universe written by one author.
Inside this huge omnibus, we find Ravenor, Ravenor Returned, and Ravenor Rogue as novels and Thorn Wishes Talon and Playing Patience as short stories. As mentioned just before, Ravenor novels are part of a series of novels called the Inquisitor series written by Dan Abnett, the other trilogies being Eisenhorn and Bequin (not yet completed). While you can read it as a standalone series, I truly recommend reading first the Eisenhorn trilogy. Not only does it cover a lot of ground on several characters from the Ravenor series, but also it’s one of Abnett’s finest written series.
Summaries, the good, and the bad
The first book, entitled simply Ravenor, deals, surprisingly, more with the merry band under Ravenor’s supervision, rather than with the man himself. We are dropped right in the middle of an investigation of chaos-corrupted drugs (Flects) on the planet Eustis Majoris. The novel will introduce several members of Ravenor’s group following trails of evidence into unexpected places. Who is dealing with corrupted drugs? Where are they coming from? What about the effects on people? This first book will only give you the answer to some questions. I only have to say that the twists are foreshadowed maybe too well, as the surprises along the way are not so shocking, but you’re left wondering about the characters’ motivation.
What I liked about it is that it’s like an action-filled TV series with a focus on character development. Sure, it’s not enough time to explore every detail of their life as in a long soap opera, but it’s not exactly a plot or action book either. Surprisingly, the biggest mystery is Ravenor himself. Either he has a lot to hide or he’s simply a not-so-interesting character. I say this because we spend a lot of time in the point of view of almost everyone else in the group, and a few characters are especially intriguing, more so that the eponymous hero.
Ravenor Returned follows up on the events in the first book. We see the cast returning to Eustis Majoris to investigate even more horrible secrets. Most of the book is an investigation gone wrong at times (always a good pretext for some action).
What is different in Returned is that we get even more of the antagonists’ point of view. I usually dislike these types of scenes, especially in such a book that doesn’t give the antagonists any redeeming feature. But I appreciated them in this book. They are not bad and you can follow along with the very intricate plans of the antagonists, who sometimes go against each other. All in all, it’s an intricate puzzle between 3 parties.
As I try to review the whole omnibus without spoilers, I can’t give any details about the name and motivations of the entire cast of bad guys. The whole thing is character-driven, so we delve deep into the minds of each important agent.
My only criticism is that Ravenor, despite being the smartest guy in the room (supposedly), he’s not very perceptive. I understand the reason for Ravenor acting so out of character – that flaw is there just so we can have some mystery going on. I just wish there would be another way. As long as you can suspend your disbelief, the rest of the cast is excellent. Good dialogue and action all around.
Ravenor Rogue continues the event of the previous book. As the name implies, soon after the starting chapters, Ravenor goes rogue by necessity in hunting his greatest nemesis, which we already encountered sporadically in the previous books. He will further have his own chapters and perspective in recounting the narrative.
I consider it an impressive accomplishment when the book managed to not be boring from the perspective of a villain with no redeeming features. And yet it made me root for the bad guy. Not in the “I hope he kills all my favorite characters”, but more like in “what if this guy actually wins?” kind of way. As expected, Ravenor is still not the main character in his own book. Instead, we will deal more with the members of his little band of misfits. We will witness their breaking points and their moments of finding hope and the tragic ending of character arcs started either in the first or second book. It truly is an emotional journey, punctuated with bursts of explosive action (quite literally).
In all honesty, the entire series is a very cinematic experience. Nothing is too deep or philosophical, but it’s enough to grab your interest and keep you engaged. The plot is not its major strength, yet it is both unpredictable and satisfyingly foreshadowed.
You should read the omnibus if…
I recommend this series to fans of Eisenhorn with the mention that the stylistic choices are very different and the focus is not purely on Ravenor, but more on everyone around here – from his team to his enemies or unexpected allies. On the other hand, I can easily recommend this trilogy to complete beginners in the Warhammer Universe, as things are even more self-contained than in the Eisenhorn. Sure, previous knowledge helps, but I felt everything makes sense in this self-contained part of the big universe.
I give Ravenor omnibus 5 Psyker Powers out of five, with a fine commendation. Can’t wait to see where the Inquisitor series is going.