Book Review - Eisenhorn - Part 1 - Xenos

When my gaming group recently started playing the Warhammer 40k role playing game I realized that I didn't know much about the Warhammer 40k fluff. I was talking with our GM and he said that the Eisenhorn Trilogy by Dan Abnett was pretty much required reading. He said it really captured the feel that the RPG was going for. I read around a bit on the internet and decided to give it a try.

I went down to the local Borders and picked a copy of the Eisenhorn anthology up for less than $10. When I got home I started reading and from the opening paragraph I was hooked.

Abnett does an incredible job at grabbing your attention and setting the mood. The story opens in the middle of a fire fight inside a marvelous setting - a hibernation stasis facility on a frozen planet. The planet has a very short summer followed by months and months of inhabitable freezing weather. The noble and elite can afford to have themselves put on stasis during the winter so that they don't have to deal with any of the unpleasantness.

From here it only gets better. Eisenhorn chases his prey all through the facility and finally catches up with him. During this he discovers why his prey was on this planet and makes another strange discovery - an odd piece of advanced technology that no one knows what is.

It is also during this chapter that you meet several of Eisenhorn's allies that will be with him through most of the entire series. We meet Amos, Eisenhorn's eccentric savant, Betancore his pilot, and a host of others.

I say most because Abnett is vicious. I don't want to ruin it for you but characters that are present for several chapters that you really get attached to will suddenly and violently be killed. It is refreshing to see such ruthlessness. And it doesn't feel forced or like it was done just for shock value. It is just a reminder of how savage and cruel the Warhammer 40k universe is.

As the book continues you meet more and more characters. At first I was having a hard time keeping up with them, but soon I felt like I knew them. The level of skill in bringing the characters to life is amazing. The characters hop from planet to planet and ship to ship trying to hunt down the true person or persons behind the events on the frozen world.

The story feels very much like a mystery set in a space environment. I won't go into too much detail on the plot for fear of ruining anything for you. Rest assured it is good though.

I strongly recommend picking up this anthology. At less than $10 you really can't go wrong with it.