Ravenor by Dan Abnett – Review [Bane of Kings]
Bane of Kings reviews the first novel in the Ravenor Trilogy, by the New York Times bestselling author Dan Abnett, entitled Ravenor, after the main character, and published by Black Library.
“A well-crafted, no holds-barred read.” ~The Founding Fields
Back in August, whilst I was on holiday in France, I managed to clear a lot of books that I had to read. They included The Eisenhorn Omnibus, by Dan Abnett, which I adored, despite having trouble getting into it in the first place. I really, really loved it, and enjoyed it perhaps even better than a couple of his Gaunt’s Ghosts novels.
And then I knew that I wanted to read Ravenor as soon as possible. Although it took me a long time to finish the first novel in the Ravenor Omnibus, I did enjoy the book. In fact, whilst not as good as Xenos, the opening novel in the Eisenhorn series, Ravenor does certainly set the stage for the rest of the trilogy.
Focusing on Inquisitor Gideon Ravenor, the titular character, this novel, although not a direct sequel to the Eisenhorn novels and can be read without reading the aforementioned trilogy, it only adds to the experience.
Although, it does indeed let you down a bit. Because, although I liked Ravenor, I didn’t really enjoy it as I mentioned above. But, back to the characters. Obviously, Ravenor is the main star, with occasional snippets of Ravenor being told from his point of view, in first person.
Which leads me onto a flaw that I found with Ravenor. It changes point of view way too often, and we’re seeing from the eyes of different characters every couple of paragraphs or so.
Another disappointing element in Ravenor is the villains. There’s no really ‘big bad’ character introduced in this novel, and all the characters with the possible exception of rogue psyker Kinsky, don’t really have the potential to be a memorable mastermind in my opinion, with perhaps the hint of a person named Molotch at the beginning, who could go on to be something big.
One thing that Abnett does excel at though, is world building. Much of the current Warhammer 40,000 universe’s background has been written by Abnett, dropped in through his countless novels that he’s produced for Black Library.
Ravenor takes place in the same area of space that Eisenhorn was in, called the Scarus Sector, and this is what Abnett really has made his own, fleshing out all the details, and creating his unique names such as Lucky Space, which is called that for the following reason:
“Why’s it called Lucky Space?” He asked.
Nayl grinned a not-at-all-reassuring grin. “Because, once you’re out in it, you’re lucky if you last five minutes.”
I’ll return to the characters to talk about now, and we’ll start with the star of the show, Gideon Ravenor himself, the prodigy of Eisenhorn who made his first appearance in the Eisenhorn Omnibus, where we see him crippled and placed forevermore in a chair, where the use of psychic communicating allows him to contact other members on the job. The advantage of this though is that Ravenor’s mind can roam freely, allowing him to guide his team even if he’s not there himself.
In that sense, Ravenor is not only a unique protagonist in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, but in the subgenre that is Military Science Fiction as a whole, as to my knowledge. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.
The other members of Ravenor’s team get as much page time as the Inquisitor himself, and although they’re there, they don’t get as much development as perhaps they would have done if this was different to The Eisenhorn Omnibus. We get characters that are likeable though, such as Harlon Nayl – a bounty hunter, Kara Swole, somebody who excels in acrobatics, a skill that is actually more useful than you think, and another psyker, this time a female named Patience Kys, Carl Thonius, an Interrogator in-training, and the latest addition of a boy named Zael, who is much more than he appears when we first run into him.
And as part of the Ordo Xenos, they have to deal with all things alien, and so they’re assigned to track down and discover whoever’s supplying a dangerous drug known as a flect.
Ravenor also, like the Eisenhorn Omnibus before it, delves into the less-explained world of what’s going on behind the front lines. Abnett has managed to explore a setting that has left unexplored for too long, and has plenty of potential in it to be touched on in the future.
Right, with that out of the way and the novel finished, I can say that I will be reading Ravenor Returned as soon as I can. But next from me, should be Grave Peril by Jim Butcher. So stay tuned for that.
More Inquisitor Action: Xenos, Malleus, Hereticus, Ravenor, Ravenor Returned, Ravenor Rogue.
More Dan Abnett: Triumff, Embedded, Horus Rising, Legion, Prospero Burns, First and Only, Ghostmaker, Necropolis, Honour Guard, Straight Silver, The Guns of Tanith