Friday, January 18, 2008

REVIEW: Malleus (book 2 of the Eisenhorn trilogy)

Review This bit doesn't give the plot of the book away

In Malleus, Dan Abnett follows up the accomplished Xenos with a worthy sequel. It expands and deepens the storyline begun in the first book and steers Gregor Eisenhorn away from the alien threat and toward the more insidious enemy which is Chaos. This subject matter allows Abnett to create one of the most complex and interesting Black Library books I have ever read. The thorny issue of Chaos goes right to the heart of the Inquisition and the inner workings of the Imperium itself, and the author guides us along the tricky path with a very sure footing.

Eisenhorn's own moral dilemmas are the main driving force as he tries to comes to terms with his own changing views on where the line is, and which other Inquisitors have crossed that line. Do the ends justify the means, or should you never use Chaos to fight Chaos? In the course of the novel, many complicated loyalties and factions are uncovered within the Inquisition, which often ends up fighting itself as much as its external enemies.

Dan's economy of prose, scene setting and dialogue are once again impeccable. The only complaint I have this time around is the ending. Everything feels a little rushed, as if the author has just realised he is almost out of space and has to tie up all the loose ends in half a dozen pages. Cherubael is used as a Deus ex Machina once too often and Eisenhorn's potential radicalism is explained away far too easily at the close.

These small problems are the only thing preventing me from giving Malleus a perfect ten, however, so don't let them put you off reading this fabulous book.

Malleus is essential reading for those who have completed Xenos, and anybody else wanting to delve a little more deeply into the Warhammer 40,000 universe.

Score 9/10


All of my reviews end in a score out of ten for the product. The table below explains what that score means.

  • 10/10 Perfect, absolutely nothing better
  • 9/10 Excellent, highly recommended
  • 8/10 Very good, recommended
  • 7/10 Good
  • 6/10 Above average, some problems
  • 5/10 Average, some good points some bad points
  • 4/10 Below average, some redeeming features
  • 3/10 Poor, major flaws
  • 2/10 Very poor, avoid if possible
  • 1/10 Absolutely appalling

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