Book review: Eisenhorn: The Omnibus by Dan Abnett

Eisenhorn: The Omnibus by Dan Abnett

The Eisenhorn novels were the very first Warhammer 40k novels I read about twenty years ago now. Since then, I’ve read many more and, rather improbably, even written some. So I decided to go back to my original door to the 40k galaxy to see how they would read coming at them with the eyes of a writer of these stories as well as a reader.

The answer, of course, is very well. Dan Abnett is a very, very, very good writer, with an unmatched ability to coin words that not just fit into the 40k universe but with a single word engage the reader more fully into that universe.

But now, working from a 40k writer perspective, I’m pretty sure I know how Dan pitched the idea of these novels originally: this was James Bond in 40k. But James Bond with a 40k twist – which means that there’s no sex but even bigger guns. What the Eisenhorn novels and the Bond films share is a breakneck pace with a huge range of exotic locations: unusually for 40k, the stories escape the usual round of polluted hive cities to take in a far wider range of planets, some of which seem like they actually might be quite pleasant to live on (so long as you have money).

In another Bond trope, there’s an unusual emphasis on fine food and drink, with many meals described in loving detail. As an Inquisitor, Eisenhorn unfortunately couldn’t really have an interest in gambling, which is a shame as I’d have loved to have read Abnett’s take on a 40k casino.

As the stories progress, the tie to Bond lessens as the story and characters grow into themselves, but, yes, I still think that’s how they began, when Dan emailed the editors at Black Library and said, “Let’s do Bond in space!”


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