Issue 2 of Hachette’s Warhammer 40,000 Legends partwork series features a stone-cold 40k classic in the shape of Xenos by Dan Abnett. Originally published way back in 2001 and intended to tie in with Games Workshop’s latest game Inquisitor, it subsequently spawned two more books to complete the Eisenhorn trilogy, several short stories and audio dramas, a further trilogy featuring Eisenhorn’s protégé Ravenor, one book of a potential further trilogy (Pariah, which may or may not end up with two more novels to form a third trilogy), and computer game. Suffice to say it’s been quite popular.
I reviewed Xenos a little while ago – you can find that review here. I won’t say too much more about the plot, characters etc. here, other than to say that genuinely, honestly – if you like 40k, if you read Black Library books, and if you haven’t read the Eisenhorn trilogy…stop what you’re doing and start reading it now! You’ll thank me for it…
In terms of the physical book released as part of the Warhammer 40,000 Legends collection, it’s the same standard as The First Heretic – in other words it’s a lovely hardback and well worth the £10 price tag. The first feature to note is the cover – eschewing the later Alex Ovchinnikov artwork in favour of the original Adrian Smith cover art, it’s arguably even more effective here with the moody black and white stylings. Whatever your opinion on the cover itself though, this is a nicely put together book which feels good in the hand – it’s a little lighter than some hardback which can err on the weighty side, which means it’s nice and easy to read and doesn’t weigh your bag down too much if you’re lugging it around.
Inside there’s the same endpapers as The First Heretic, and a similar colour section which once again features full-colour versions of the cover art (both pieces) and various other related pieces of artwork, including some cool stills from the Eisenhorn computer game. There’s also the same 40k timeline, and a little bit of extra explanatory text about the Inquisition – it’s nothing new for old school fans, but a nice touch for any new readers just getting into the setting.
There’s one oddity about the book, which is the spine. It’s hard to tell which bits of the spine art are included here as there’s basically just a boltgun and the edge of someone’s cloak, but you might think that you could sit it alongside The First Heretic and match one edge up – but nope. Strangely, despite this being Issue 2 the number on the spine is…69. Obviously. Whether that’s a conscious decision from Hachette to not release the books sequentially in order to encourage people to buy them all (you can’t for instance just buy the first ten and get 1/7th of the artwork) or just an oddity of the publishing schedule remains to be seen. It’s definitely a bit weird though.
As for the choice of Xenos as Issue 2, well it’s an absolute no-brainer to have this book in the series, and early on especially. If I’d been asked to choose a book to start the series with I’d have probably gone with this over The First Heretic, but even if it’s not the very first title it’s definitely a good one to have early on in the series. Sure, it’s not got much of the standard Black Library bolter and chainsword action, but it’s easily one of the best books Black Library have ever released. Did I mention already that it’s amazing and if you haven’t already read it you should go out and buy it and start reading RIGHT NOW?
So overall an excellent choice, even if the numbering on the spine is a bit weird. If you’ve read Xenos and have any thoughts or comments, let me know!