Ravenor is an omnibus collection of the three books in the “Ravenor” sequence: Ravenor, Ravenor Returned and Ravenor Rogue, set in the Warhammer 40k universe. It’s a continuation of the Eisenhorn sequence, set some time after the events in those books. Eisenhorn is long gone – maybe dead, maybe just vanished – and his once protégé Ravenor is center stage in the story. Horrifically injured during Eisenhorn, he is cripple in a floating tank-like life-support mechanism. Helpless, except for his vast psyker powers. His team mostly takes care of the on-site physical details, with Ravenor himself overseeing everything psychically and taking direct control if needed. As a setup it’s interesting, since it places the main protagonist in the sidelines and makes his team the principal players. It works well, to the most part.
Like Eisenhorn, the story is twisty and turny, with lots of surprises I didn’t see coming. It starts off with Ravenor and his team investigating a new and sinister drug called “flects”. Possibly of xeno origin, it warps the minds of users and Ravenor, as part of the Inquisition, is most interested in tracking down the dealers because he wants to track down possible access to heretical and/or xeno artifacts. Events progress (at times in explosive fashion), and it turns out that the drug is just a side issue, with the main threat being a certain arch-heretic pulling the strings behind the scenes.
It’s a great read, and along with Eisenhorn is firmly among the best game-related fiction I’ve read. Abnett isn’t the greatest of characterizers out there, his characters tend to be somewhat flat and caricatures… but on the other hand, that’s less of an issue in Warhammer 40k than it might be elsewhere, with the whole game universe being one big caricature (in a way). What he’s good at is plots and scenes; the action happens in some weird places indeed and the twists, while a bit over the top at times, do keep up the pace. Abnett spends maybe a bit too much time describing what his characters wear and what gear they have – but otherwise, it reads like decent scifi/fantasy and not like your normal gaming fiction.
Recommended to anyone even vaguely interested in the Warhammer 40k universe.