Book 3 in the Eisenhorn series.
Hunted by his former allies as a radical and enemy of the Imperium, Inquisitor Gregor Eisenhorn must fight to prove that he remains loyal as he tracks down a dangerous heretic whom the Inquisition believes dead, the dread former Inquisitor Quixos. As he grows more desperate for victory, Eisenhorn uses ever darker means to achieve his goals, but how far can he go using the weapons of the enemy until he becomes that very enemy, and no different to the traitor he hunts?
Author: Dan Abnett
Narrator: Toby Longworth
Publisher: The Black Library
Series: Eisenhorn #3
Genre: Science Fiction
Running Time: 9hrs 48mins
Audio Release Date: 27/09/2017
My Rating of ‘Hereticus’: 4 out of 5
What was once considered a solid end to the Eisenhorn trilogy has since turned into a solid book three. Whether or not Black Library fancied milking the cash cow that is one of their highest selling trilogies of all time, or whether Dan has a seriously awesome story to tell that continues Gregor’s fight against Chaos, I shall find out soon (I have book four ready to read and am looking forward to it).
I think Hereticus, whilst far from my favourite book in the Warhammer 40k universe, was probably my favourite book of the Eisenhorn series. It had a lot going for it and one major drawback. That drawback was that Gregor Eisenhorn is billed to be one of the shining lights of the Imperium. An Inquisitor who is famous for just being awesome. But, in actual fact, he’s probably the most idiotic cretin that’s ever drawn breath. Had he done things as they were supposed to be done in book one, literally every problem he encountered and every death of a friend, just wouldn’t happen. He spends the entire book, and a good portion of book two, trying to convince the reader/himself, that he isn’t a heretic. But, when you look back at everything he did, even though he was doing a few of them for half-decent reasons, by Imperial understanding, he’s a card-carrying heretic.
My gripes about Gregor being an absolute moron aside, this book had so much going on. So much that, pretty early on, something entirely epic happened and I thought ‘why fire such a big shot so soon? What else are you going to fill the pages with Dan?’. A question Dan Abnett answered quite well. There were streaks of epicness and snatches of brilliance throughout. There were moments that had me seeing why this was the perfect end to the trilogy (moments that kind of feel cheapened by the knowledge that the series has been resurrected but, as mentioned before, I shall withhold judgement until having got through book four).
The main drawback is that, ever since book one, it feels like Eisenhorn has been fighting the same enemy. It’s a fight that feels needlessly long, rather than the battle for the ages I’m sure the publisher was hoping for. As mentioned above, if Gregor had behaved like a good little Inquisitor, rather than a moron, in the first book, his lengthy battles would have been over and we could have enjoyed a fresher story with different foes. Still, that gripe aside, the overall trilogy was enjoyable. It just wasn’t world-beating (to steal Boris Johnson’s favourite phrase).
I can only hope that the fourth book will at least feel like it’s going off in a new direction, rather than Gregor ham-fistedly plodding down the same beaten path. I say this mainly because I have the audio book version and it’s a little over twenty hours long. that’s a lot of time to spend punching old enemies in the face.
My overall feelings on Hereticus were ones of enjoyment and I feel it reached a definite high-point in the series. I do feel that, due to the dour, miserable and just downright dreary personality of Eisenhorn, it will truly be a struggle to ever get too emotionally invested in this series, mainly because the man seems so devoid of emotion himself. Because we view this from his POV, this lack of emotion feels as though it bleeds through into other characters as well. It just feels as if I’m experiencing something in black and white or greyscale rather than glorious technicolour.
The narration suits the aforementioned dreary style quite well. That’s in no way a dig at the narrator (he does a superb job) I’m just saying he did well at capturing the bleakness of the entire series.