Volcano cloud be damned, but I’ve still got my 5-book order from the UK today. 1 wrap for each book, for a total of 5 wraps and 13 books (?) to unwrap with glee like if it’s Christmas again.
All of 5(13) part of the same lineage: Warhammer 40k.
One would think that books based on the Warhammer universe are in the same league of novelization of movies or books based on Star Wars, Star Trek or AD&D and similar, which means basically little more than garbage and totally forgettable. Instead the reason why I got interested in this (and invested enough to make this order) is because the premise is totally different. I read everywhere that these are damn good books that are worth reading even if one has not played Warhammer (the miniature wargame) or hasn’t a particular interest or knowledge of the setting. They say these books are good on their own terms and written well: read them, it’s cool stuff.
So: do not come with prejudices.
Which fits me. So I come, and with great hype! The great majority of this supposed quality comes from a particular writer who consolidated as the main pillar of the whole Black Library, and so of the Warhammer 40k universe in literary form: Dan Abnett.
After a lengthy and careful research among reviews and forums of every kind I narrowed a list of “best of the best” of these 5 books that I have then ordered in one block:
|Eisenhorn – Dan Abnett – 760 pag
This is an omnibus, written small, and contains a complete series. It tells the story of an inquisitor, written in first person. This is considered by fans and reviews as the very best and most famous thing of the whole Black Library, recommended even to those who don’t have a particular interest in reading in the Warhammer universe. It should have a grand scale even if it focuses on one protagonist and should be filled with political intrigue.
|Ravenor – Dan Abnett – 890 pag
Another omnibus even more massive than the previous. This is truly sexy with the black cover and the stylized silvery embossing, spectacular edition. It should be a sort of follow-up to Eisenhorn, with various characters reappearing. Ravenor is the name of the inquisitor featured in this omnibus. Quality-wise this is compared to Eisenhorn, the first series is still considered the better one but the quality is supposed to be similar and if someone liked the first he should like this too.
|The Founding – Dan Abnett – 760 pag
Another omnibus, part of the series Gaunt’s Ghosts. There are two other omnibuses already published and a fourth in preparation. Quite a bit to read considering the others exceed the 1000 pages. It’s with this series that Abnett starts writing in the Warhammer 40k universe. Even if this is the earliest work, it’s here that Abnett got his reputation and in the introduction (all omnibuses have one) he says he’s absolutely proud of what he did here. I know the third book contained (Necropolis, which comes with a pretty map) got enthusiastic reviews and should tell the desperate story of a city under siege. From the handful pages I read I got the impression of World War II stories, down in the trenches and face to face with soldiers and their obsessions. The whole series has a good reputation, with the books filled with unrelenting action and good characters. It’s considered as some of the best military Sci-fi even outside the Warhammer setting (for example John Scalzi).
|Ciaphas Cain – Sandy Mitchell – 760 pag
Another omnibus, but non-Abnett. Good edition with plasticized cover. From what I read this was heartily recommended as very good stuff much different from the dark, gloomy apocalyptic setting typical of Warhammer 40k. More lightweight and humorous. The subtitle reads: “Surviving the 4ist millennium, one battle at a time”. It tells the story of a “hero of the Imperium” written down by himself years later. The peculiar part is that this hero is in truth a coward who only tries to come alive out of the most desperate situations with a mix of luck and survival instinct. This even got notes at the bottom of the page and commentary written by the “editor”, so I guess with humor emergent from the interaction of these parts. The series doesn’t end with this omnibus since there’s already another out and a third in preparation.
|Horus Rising – Dan Abnett – 412 pag
Back with Abnett but not omnibus this time. Meaning that instead of a 800 pages monster this one is 400 pages (written bigger). This should be the founding pillar of a series of 15 books “The Horus Heresy” (halfway through at this time) written by different authors. It’s the tale of probably the most important event in the whole 40k universe, with plenty of repercussions. The book is considered the best of the best Abnett wrote as of yet, on par with Eisenhorn (Abnett then has a total of three books of his own planned in this 15-book series, and even if quality depends on who’s writing, overall the series should stay high).
That solves the mystery of 5 books for a total of 13. Four omnibuses with 3 books each.
Lots of stuff to read. I’m rather sure that I narrowed the best stuff to get here. I’ve read mention even of other good authors but this should be (way) more than enough to figure if it’s good stuff or not. I expect at the very least some good fun and a “calmer” companion while I tackle Erikson.