I'm 2/3 of the way through the Eisenhorn omnibus trilogy and I fething love it! Over the last couple of years, I've wondered why the first 40k rpg ever released (Dark Heresy), along with many expensive supplements and add-ons, was based around the idea of being a part an Inquisitor's band, furrowing out mysteries in the grimdark far future. I don't even think you had the opportunity to rise to the rank of Inquisitor, itself, until one of the much later-released expansion books. And, with most (if not all, I can't remember off-hand) of these books being in hard-back, I couldn't understand why anyone would be interested in exploring this side of the 40k experience. Remember, at the time of release, Deathwatch, Rogue Trader, and Black Crusade were just twinkles in the eyes of Fantasy Flight Games developers.
Why couldn't we have an rpg about a party of ragtag misfits, comprised of a grim Space Marine, a wise-cracking Catachan Jungle Fighter, a sultry Eldar Banshee, a crazy Ork Freeboota, and their trusty Kroot Hound traipsing around the galaxy getting into all sorts of misadventures? No, not grim dark enough. Plus, you must remember that all the races in 40k pretty much hate each other, unlike the (slightly) more tolerant Old World of Warhammer Fantasy, where you can at least walk into the local tavern and possibly see an elf or dwarf, either of who would still sooner punch you in the face than talk to you, but regardless, the fact that they can be in the same breathing space as humans is telling.
But an rpg that was basically a detective story/Call of Cthulu in space? I didn't get it.
Until now. 2/3 of the way through the Eisenhorn omnibus. Thank you, Dan Abnett. Now I'm going to be purchasing the core rulebook for Dark Heresy, as well as the follow-up omnibus Ravenor, as well as some 40k Inquisitor models and the Grey Knight codex, which I swore I would never get because I don't like the idea of Grey Knights bathing in the blood of Battle Sisters (Waaaard!).
Really, though, what a great book. What a great story! Taking place over centuries in the illustrious career of Inquisitor Gregor Eisenhorn, it frames his grand adventures with a glimpse into the life of the rest of the Imperium. The civilians, and day-to-day workers, Arbites (cops), and citizens who fill the hive worlds, agri-worlds, and mining worlds that make up mankind's great domain.
Rarely do Space Marines come in to steal the spotlight, and that, in my opinion, is wonderful. As the be-all, end-all solution to all problems, praise be to the Emperor for the mighty Astartes, the Space Marines are almost a deus machina that a lazy author could just drop-pod in to save the day, and Dan Abnett is NOT a lazy author. He has done his 40k homework and has weaved a sector of Imperial space that lives and breathes, and is filled with terrific characters.
Thanks, Dan Abnett! I'm sorry I ever walked past this book and scoffed at reading about something other than Ultramarines or Space Wolves. Eisenhorn and his entourage prove that its cool to be a regular human being in the grim darkness of the 41st millenium.