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People seem to be raving about Dan Abnett. Based on the forum posts, he's the King.
I've only read one Black Library book and I'm now half way through the second one (neither of which were written by Abnett). At first I thought I wouldn't have enjoyed the books at all, but I have to say it's been fun. So I think the next one should be "an Abnett".
Is he really that good? What makes him stand out? Which one should I read and why?
I think hes pretty awesome, shame about him getting ill and having to slow down on his writing. He's written a couple of decent series and is a contributor to the Horus Heresy collection. Gaunts Ghosts, while a long series is pretty decent, but I would recommend starting with the Eisenhorn trilogy. Its epic and should be made into a kick ass movie.
His style of writing is good. He knows when to describe events/ people/ objects and when just to get on with the story. When i first went to read a book by him before i picked it up i wasn't sure if the quality of writing would be that good but when i finished i was pleasantly surprised how much i enjoyed it (was the first Gaunts Ghosts), very action packed.
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The Eisenhorn series is outstanding. I'm a big Abnett fan, although there are some other great 40k writers as well. My favorites, along with Abnett, are Michel Scanlon(sp?) and Graham McNeil.
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His main appeal is his ability to craft convincingly human characters in a genre where that's something of an exception to the rule. His plots tend to go in circles and it's sometimes hard to know exactly what's going on, but the quality of the language is consistently high and the pacing is usually excellent.
I'd recommend the Eisenhorn trilogy to start with, since that's generally considered one of his better series. He's also done Gaunt's Ghost's, obviously, but that series is massive and somewhat intimidating to get into. I like Brothers of the Snake, which is a recent one, but it's divided opinions - some people think it's an action-y cliche storm, but I think it captures the character of a space marine very accurately. Ravenor is readable but vastly dwarfed by Eisenhorn, which it's a spin-off of. It suffers from the constant jumping from first to third person in an attempt to capture the pacing and immersion of the former with the exposition of the latter. It's mostly just confusing and odd. He's also done a number of short stories and comics, which are of varying quality - there was a really good Ork one, a typical Black Templar with-a-twist one, and a pretty uneventful Guard/Tyranid one.
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I can't really think of an Abnett book I don't like! Kudos to the man, he's a great writer.
I won't give anything away, but I love the ending to the Ravenor trilogy. Marvellous.
He wrote the book 'double Eagle' which is the only book that focuses on dog fighting in the 40k universe. Having read it myself I can recommend it!
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to echo the comments above, Dan Abnett is a brilliant author. I can recommend his Gaunts ghosts novels. I'm currenly somewhere in the 2nd novel of the second omnibus. I wholey recommend them. Titanicus is a great read too (its all about the god machines) which is a welcome change to the foot sloggers!
i was i waterstone book store today and i noticed most of the black library books were on 3 for the price of 2 offers. So i picked up Ravenor - omnibus, Eisenhorn and a random other that i hadnt read. Bargain!