Eisenhorn: the Omnibus Edition

by Dan Abnett

This is a massive collection of 4 novels and 4 short stories about Inquisitor Gregor Eisenhorn set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe.

  • “Regia Occulta”
  • Xenos
  • “Missing in Action”
  • Malleus
  • “Backcloth for a Crown Additional”
  • Hereticus
  • “The Keeler Image”
  • The Magos

I’ve never played Warhammer and this was my first encounter with the universe. The gist is that in the 41st century human scientific and social progress have ceased, humanity is united under a god-emperor, and humankind is fighting for survival against alien and occult forces.

It’s a pretty great setting, and these stories are a good read.

Of the novels, I thought The Magos was far and away the best. Although it is also the odd one out—the only story not told primarily from Eisenhorn’s first-person perspective. If you wanted to just dip your toe into this series to see if you like it, I would start with The Magos, and if you enjoy it, get the omnibus and start at the beginning. (Even though The Magos comes last in the timeline, I don’t think it spoils anything about the other stories.)

The Shadow of the Torturer

by Gene Wolfe

In the Earth’s far future humanity lives in the ruins of human civilization and an exiled torturer with a fantastic sword embarks on a journey. Before he makes it out of the city, he picks up a magic rock that provides the title for the sequel, ends up in a duel with plants as weapons, joins a troupe of traveling players, and finally leaves the city.

This book reminded me of Jack Vance’s The Dying Earth series, which is not a good thing. It is set so far in the future that anything goes and there’s no effort to justify anything. I call it space magic.

This book is a sterling example of the space magic genre. Unappealing characters. Nonsensical nouns. Supposedly super-advanced, totally unexplained technology (magic).

I did still read it, though. And I picked up the sequel, too. Although I wouldn’t recommend it. For a better take on deep future sci-fi, pick up Elder Race.

Elder Race

by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Arthur C. Clarke

That’s the premise for this book in a nutshell. A brave princess from a medieval town travels to an ancient wizard’s tower for help stopping a demon that threatens her land. But it’s vastly advanced technology, not magic or monsters. Good read.