Abnett, Dan

About the Author:

 

Dan Abnett lives and works in Maidstone, Kent, UK.  He has written for Games Workshop, Marvel Comics, DC and 2000 AD.

 

AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:

4.3 out of 5

(4 books)

Horus Rising

The first book of the Horus Heresy series.  Anyone who's ever played the Warhammer 40,000 tabletop game or read any of its related novels will know of the Horus Heresy which forms the franchise's legendary history.  With this book Abnett begins to tell the tale of how Warmaster Horus, hero of Mankind, will eventually turn against his beloved Emperor, unleashing a civil war that devastates the Imperium of Man.  But, cleverly, this book is entirely set before all that and here we see Horus and his Luna Wolves Space Marines (who will eventually become Chaos Space Marines) as the Emperor's champions. 

What I enjoyed most about this book is that, unlike so much Games Workshop fiction, we're not thrown into a maelstrom of hideous daemons and corrupted heroes.  Instead we're given mere glimpses of what Chaos is, as the Luna Wolves encounter it for the first time themselves. 

I also very much enjoyed the last third of the book, in which Horus desperately tries to open diplomatic ties to a group of humans who his advisors are calling for to be destroyed.  There follows a scene of genuine tragedy in which the Warmaster's optimistic and benevolent efforts turn awry.  Overall this book shows a depth and emotional maturity that many of the books set in the same 'universe' sadly lack and was therefore a very enjoyable read.

4 out of 5

 

Primeval: Extinction Event

After dealing with a pair of entelodons which run rampant in London, Cutter, Abby and Connor are kidnapped by Russian agents who plan on using their expertise.  In the depths of Siberia a vast anomaly has opened on the Late Cretaceous period, drawing through countless dinosaurs and a far worse threat looms in the skies.  Meanwhile, Jenny has to make an unlikely alliance in order to rescue her friends.

I'm not well-versed in the Primeval TV series, having only really watched the first episode (so far, at least), but the truth is that as long as you can get onboard with the idea of windows in time bringing extinct creatures into our world, you'll be fine reading this book.  Abnett makes the clever choice of taking the main characters far away from the situations of their onscreen exploits, meaning that he has far more freedom in creating a new and significant adventure for them than he otherwise would do.

The author has also done very well with his choice of location, the atmospheric wilderness of Tunguska, and with the specific types of prehistoric monsters featured.  The dinosaurs of the Late Cretaceous are probably the most iconic and therefore you can look forward to our heroes encountering the likes of ankylosaurs, pachycephalosaurs and, best of all, a particularly mean tyrannosaurus.

An enjoyable tale in and of itself, this book also achieves its real-world aims of making me want to watch more of the TV series and maybe even read more of the associated original fiction.

4 out of 5

 

Riders Of The Dead

A Warhammer novel.  This book begins in an all too familiar way, with soldiers of the Empire preparing to fight a massive Chaos hoarde from the north.  No shocks there.  It focuses on two Imperial soldiers, the educated and open-minded Karl and the cruel and arrogant Gerlach. 

The first battle scene is the best in the book, as the two characters have to deal with a confused battle which goes completely against the Empire.  The rapid pace and confusion of this battle scene gives a respectable degree of realism.  After the battle Karl is a captive of the Chaos forces and Gerlach is alone in the endless steppes of Kislev. 

Where Abnett breaks from the predictable is in how his characters develop.  Karl, who we instinctively like at the beginning, is seduced by Chaos because he is educated and open-minded.  Gerlach, on the other hand, finds himself befriending a group of Kislevites when, at first, his intolerance almost makes enemies of them.  Ultimately, it is Gerlach who becomes the hero and Karl the villain, an interesting and believable switch in how we perceive the two characters. 

Better than most Warhammer books because Abnett is not afraid to stray from the sex, guts and swearing that other Games Workshop authors feel they have to provide for their teenage male fanbase.

4 out of 5

 

Titanicus

A Warhammer 40,000 novel.  When the forge world of Orestes is attacked by the forces of Chaos, the Titans of Legio Invicta respond to the Imperial Governor's call for aid.  However, as the war engines do battle, a schism is forming between the Imperium and their Mechanicus brethren which could lead to the destruction of both.

At first I struggled getting into this book as we're bombarded with new terminology like Omnissiah, princeps, executor fetial and moderati with little or no explanation.  However I soon came to respect Abnett for adopting a 'keep up or give up' attitude to the organisations, ranks and so forth he introduces.  There are two types of people: those who can extrapolate from incomplete information...  If you fall into the second catagory then you'll struggle with this book but, in truth, this book would've suffered greatly from another hundred pages of scene-setting exposition and the author wisely dispenses with it.  You'll definitely need some experience of the 40K universe but beyond that you should be able to figure the rest out as you go.

Abnett does a fantastic job of capturing the epic scope of the battle for Orestes by featuring a mix of POV characters ranging from a tank commander to a civilian shopkeeper, allowing us to see all aspects of the conflict across the planet.  I particularly enjoyed the storylines of Varco, the aforementioned tank commander, and Cally Samstag, a part-time militia soldier who finds herself in charge of a group of beleaguered fugitives.  These two characters in particular give a sense of scale to the fighting by being largely insignificant to it and merely trying to survive.

The battle sequences in this book are fantastic too.  The action never detracts from the overall narrative, as has happened in lots of other Games Workshop-based fiction, and actually leads to some of the book's best scenes.  The Titan vs Titan combat is a brilliant extrapolation of mechanised warfare and really manages to maintain both pace and tension.

Basically, if you've no experience of Warhammer 40,000 fiction, then don't start here.  For an old hand like myself, however, this is quite simply the best novel set in that universe that I've read to date.

5 out of 5

Collaborations & Anthologies:

Doctor Who: The Story Of Martha (here)

Hammers Of Ulric (here)

Marvel Platinum: The Definitive Guardians Of The Galaxy (here)

Thor/Iron Man: God Complex (here)

Read more...

Doctor Who (here)

Marvel (here)

Primeval (here)

Warhammer (here)

Warhammer 40,000 (here)