Review: Pariah: Ravenor vs Eisenhorn / Author: Dan Abnett / Publisher: Black Library / Release Date: Out Now
Pariah sees Dan Abnett return to writing about Inquisitors, Warhammer 40,000’s super-cops who are a heady mix of detectives, super-powered badasses and Torquemada. This is the first book in a planned trilogy and follows on from his last two Inquisition inspired trilogies, Eisenhorn and Ravenor. This new book carries the sub-title Eisenhorn Versus Ravenor, so fans should know what to expect. However it’s much more than simply two extremely resourceful detectives duking it out.
Pariah follows the fate of a Beta Bequin, a name that has appeared in the previous two series, and is told from a first person perspective. The conceit is that this character is caught between a conflict involving the two main characters from the previous books. Abnett has created a powerful protagonist and placed her into a decidedly creepy world of spies and deep occult weirdness. Fans of the Cthullhu Mythos will be on familiar ground at key points here and though Warhammer 40,000 tends to draw inspiration from Lovecraftian creepiness, the author really has mined that source for all it’s worth and has pulled out some real gems, giving us a wonderful sense of occult horror tinged with a subtly surreal vibe.
Abnett is known for his strong, character focused writing and the protagonist is sympathetic and engaging, despite being quite damaged and a little strange. It’s worth remembering that the author also has the blackest of hearts and delights in pulling the wool over the eyes of his reader – expect shocks, revelations and to be knocked over by various twists, even when you’re sure that you know what’s coming.
There are a few flaws, of course. The pace is uneven, some of the stranger elements seem a little forced and some of the character descriptions seem deliberately obtuse at times. It’s also part of a trilogy, so the narrative doesn’t so much end as pause, as if waiting for the next novel. This is fine as you know more is coming, but it’s still frustrating. Fans will love this, and those who haven’t read Eisenhorn but are thinking about doing so can be assured that the series continues to improve and delight.