Plus BL needs female authors, full stop - my personal love would be for them to poach Una McCormack who writes excellent tie in lit , and is a cambridge sociology phd, now creative writing lecturer or seek out just female authors out in the big world of sci fi and fantasy - really some of the best lit in our genre is being produced by under-read female authors as important as Ursula K. LeGuin or Shelly. But urgh About two months ago Matt Farrer posted a picture on Twitter showing his laptop screen. This clearly had the Urdesh novel manuscript underway.
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People seeking to pick up this new release might be surprised to find that it is an omnibus length book, retaining the same page count as the entire Eisenhorn trilogy leading up to this work.
The reason for this is that it retains more or less every short story published surrounding the series to date. Is this bad? That said, for time constraints, this is going to skip those for the moment. Instead, this will focus purely on The Magos itself, and judge the qualities of that work. Brief bite-sized reviews of the short stories might come at a later date, but this is just going to cover the new story. The Synopsis "Inquisitor Gregor Eisenhorn has spent his life stalking the darkest and most dangerous limits of the Imperium in pursuit of heresy and Chaos.
But how long can a man walk that path without succumbing to the lure of the Warp? Is Eisenhorn still a champion of the Throne, or has he been seduced by the very evil that he hunts? This is definitely a great addition to the saga, but you need to go in blind to fully appreciate more than a few of its best points.
As such, the review below will highlight its best and worst qualities, but it might not be nearly so detailed as the usual reviews. You know this is going to be good as, even in the absolute worst of the short stories, they are still miles ahead of many of their contemporaries.
However, to offer a more detailed outline of the best qualities found within The Magos, you need to look into how it is set up. By the end of Malleus, everything was more or less finished. The titular Inquisitor had come to the very end of his promised arc, only to disappear in the final afterward. The characters broke up to follow their own lives, with several crossing over into the Ravenor trilogy. As such, this could have easily seemed like a needless one-shot, and yet it works near perfectly.
This is thanks as much to the overall depiction of its protagonist in its current state as the core villain. Instead, there is a noted effort to almost mentally ignore it. While difficult to describe without spoiling a few notable scenes, it makes for an interesting contrast with most variants of Inquisitor gone bad. Eisenhorn as he is neither fits into the extremist insisting that he is right nor even the unwitting pawn of Chaos. You can still easily see the man who fought against Glaw in there, and at times he seems almost unchanged.
The moment you do start to accept that, the book adds a brief but very sharp reminder of just what has transpired and what he now associates himself with. The core villain of the book is also a definite strength, turning what could have easily been a one-shot figure into a surprisingly memorable foe. In the past books, we had a solid string of antagonists. First there was the Glaw Household, with a full introduction and outline of their personas.
Then it was a shadowy figure of such power that Eisenhorn only confronted and even directly spoke with him at the last moment. Then it was a sin Eisenhorn had created, born of his own desperate need and a sign of how his compromises would come back to bite him.
So, adding in a figure for a single novel, after that character arc is finished, could have turned him into a simple obstacle to be overcome. Something which is parallel to the protagonist himself, and yet has been born from a very different origin. Saying anything more would be spoiling an excellent book but it is a welcome twist which grants the tome an identity of its own, rather than being some tacked on adventure.
The presentation of the fights and the engagements here are low key up to a point. Prior to that, however, the book tries to better emphasise the investigation and drama angles the series is best famed for. The characters accompanying Eisnehorn himself are spectacularly written, as is to be expected by this point. With a few returning faces and one particular daemonic entity, the story has plenty of well-developed individuals to call upon.
How some have reacted following the fall-out of past series is commented upon, and it is used to reflect on the current state of the group. Specifically what they have become and how they are required to operate now. Most are given a chance to shine within the work, and a few even benefit from short character arcs which cover several chapters. This offers them more to do than what was typically found in the main trilogy, and helps to better integrate the new faces into the overall work.
However, the use of interrogatories, detective work and subterfuge is where The Magos truly shines. The Bad The obvious inherent weakness of the book is simply the flaw all singular series suffer from - Continuity lockout. With an intended ongoing one, one with multiple arcs and planned to keep going as needed, you can create jumping on points and ease new readers into them.
In the case of The Magos, an inherent familiarity of the past tales is required to truly get to grips with it. Many minor or secondary elements which old hands might have forgotten and cannot simply be gleaned from skimming over a wikia page are present here, which makes it difficult to dive headlong into without prior preperation. This might sound odd, but even as someone who has read the original Eisenhorn and Ravenor series a dozen times over each, I was finding myself having to go back to see if I was misremembering events.
Furthermore, the book also pushes to be semi-self contained in a manner akin to the previous entries. Unlike those, a few later segments seem rushed in how they close out events. While past books - Especially Xenos - could write off characters thanks to the substantial time-skips or even the lifestyle of an Inquisitor, in this case it seems to force them closed. Almost as if part of the book were attempting to wipe the slate clean, while the other half left enough dangling elements to follow on later.
The problem is, the two do not quite mesh, creating a somewhat jarring situation. While previous installments had their fair share of shock deaths, dispensible fodder and minor figures, there was always a solid core of figures to fall back on. With so many of them removed here, several of the major players end up carrying out a very similar role. They are thankfully their own characters and remain distinct enough to be more than a simple substitute, but you can easily find yourself mentally noting that they have been added to cover for a specific role.
Perhaps the greatest flaw to be found within The Magos is how it ultimately tries to rely on atmosphere more than descriptions. Abnett himself tends to go back and forth on this point, with some works favouring creating a sense or specific emotion within a scene over lengthy details, while others build a distinct image. Neither one is particularly wrong, and Abnett tends to use one or the other depending upon what he is writing. The thing is, however, that the past Eisenhorn works favoured the latter, whereas The Magos is very much the former.
Many scenes in past books hinged very heavily on extremely detailed and very distinct environments, so to jump right from that to a very different approach can be discordant. The Verdict This was definitely the sort of book Pariah should have been. Along with the action being centred on a familiar protagonist over a new figure stuck in an invisible war on unfamiliar factions, it fills in many gaps and helps to set the scene for the events to come.
The only serious criticism truly is that it is heavily entrenched in past series continuity, and has been written with old fans in mind.
Dan Abnett bibliography
Dan Abnett is the best Black Library author. Shadowhawk reviews the latest Inquisition novel from Dan Abnett. In the battle of expectations versus reality, its my expectations that got bombed to hell. 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.
People seeking to pick up this new release might be surprised to find that it is an omnibus length book, retaining the same page count as the entire Eisenhorn trilogy leading up to this work. The reason for this is that it retains more or less every short story published surrounding the series to date. Is this bad? That said, for time constraints, this is going to skip those for the moment.
Bequin "trilogy"/Sequel to Pariah?