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Sci-Fi Review: ‘Pariah’ by Dan Abnett

How does one review a book that follows two distinct trilogies?  A fan who has already read through ‘Eisenhorn’ and ‘Ravenor’ with no doubt be going after ‘Pariah,’ and no one else is going to bother.

So, if you have not read ‘Eisenhorn,’ check it out and see if it is for you.  It is the best written tie-in fiction I have found (for whatever that is worth), and I wrote a real rough review for it in February.  It was followed by the ‘Ravenor’ trilogy, which was almost as good.  ‘Pariah’ is the first book of the concluding trilogy.  Anyone still interested? Read on.

Sorry fellow fans, I was disappointed.  I can’t complain too much, Abnett still weaves a nice story, and I read this book in two sittings.  Beta (Alizabeth Bequin) is an interesting character.  She is smart and resourceful, and has been trained to be a perfect inquisition operative.  Something is off; this can’t be the Bequin from ‘Eisenhorn’ could it?  Her story doesn’t mesh, but it all will eventually be explained.  The book moves at a quick pace, and has some interesting diversions.  My favorite (and I have the feeling I won’t be the only one) comes from two living dolls with attitude.  Nothing new, corny as hell, but it actually works OK within the story.

My biggest problem with the book is it feels like 300 pages of fan service.  Look!  There is Gideon Ravenor!  What ho!  It’s Patience!  OMG, a Glaw sighting!  And it is not just people from the first two Abnett trilogies.  There were references I had to look up, greater Warhammer Lore is required (and I don’t have it).

The book is also misnamed.  Labeled Ravenor vs Eisenhorn, it should be called “set up for an eventual series called Ravenor vs Eisenhorn.”  You see the plot doesn’t go anywhere.  I read it so fast I didn’t notice this while reading.  But when collecting my thoughts for the review I started realizing just how much of a mess most the plot was.  While Beta is smart and resourceful, most of the time it doesn’t matter; she is obviously a pawn being coveted by several different powers, and is out of her league the whole book.  Every move she makes results in her being captured by one set of powers, and being ‘rescued’ by a different set.  This goes right on until the cliff hanger ending.  Not once is she in control.

This book may look better when the series is completed, and I am sure true WH4K fans will be salivating over it (that is what fan service is for).  The overall story may turn out great.  But for the casual fan like myself, it is a mess, and feels like I read half a book with absolutely no resolution in the plot.  A 300 page limit was hit, so book over, read the second part next year. 
2 Stars         


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