My Review: Pariah by Dan Abnett

Posted on January 7, 2013


I have not read any of Abnett’s work outside of the Games Workshop sandbox.  This is not the book that will have me making the jump.

There will be a spoiler soon.  Since it took me all of 3 pages to figure it out I don’t feel bad about it.

Pariah is the story of Alizabeth Bequin’s clone.  The problem, as I see it, clones are copies and when you make a copy of a support character it is somewhat thin and unrealized.  That’s a problem since the full title is Eisenhorn vs Ravenor: Pariah.  Eisenhorn and Ravenor are both strong characters.  It would be very easy for them to overshadow a new character if not handled correctly.

It was not handled correctly.

Beta, as she is called, because symbolism needs to be applied with a sledge hammer, is not the protagonist of this book.  She is the point of view, but she does nothing to drive the story.  She is a pawn of events.  The drivers of the story are Eisenhorn and Ravenor.  The only reason Beta is the viewpoint character is so that we do not have a direct view into what the actual protagonists are thinking.  She is simply a receptacle used for backstory until we make it to the interesting parts.

That’s an issue for a character who is supposed to drive the story for a trilogy.  This book was not interesting until the last 50 pages or so.  It wasn’t interesting until the actual protagonists showed up.  Abnett doesn’t know what to do with this character and it shows.  He tries to hide by having things go boom frequently but it doesn’t work.  His strength has always been creating interesting characters surrounded by the horror that is the 40k universe and Beta Bequin isn’t.

I’m hoping this is a fluke.  Given typical publishing schedules this book was written while Abnett was suffering through a variety of health issues.  That may have impacted the story.  I want that to be the truth.  I want to enjoy the next two books.  I’m not sure I’ll be able to.  Reading Pariah was reading a book about someone telling a story she saw happen, not a story she lived.  Eisenhorn and Ravenor may be characters to large to allow Beta to grow beyond that role.

I can’t recommend Pariah to anyone but fanatics about the two main characters.  I really don’t even recommend it to them.  And if the pattern of this book holds true for the next two, I won’t be able to recommend them either.