February 22, 2011 by dracs
Following up the review on Missing in Action, I took a look over the other Eisenhorn short story e-book release Backcloth for a Crown Additional.
Set between the second and third books of the Eisenhorn series, Backcloth for a Crown Additional sees Inquisitor Gregor Eisenhorn investigating the mysterious death of a close friend. However, what looked to be a simple open and shut case, done merely as a favour to the family, quickly spirals into something far more sinister, as the terror of warp is revealed to have tainted even the sanctuary of Eisenhorn’s home planet.
Could things really be as innocent as they seem?
Did the man die simply of natural causes? Or are the foul forces of Chaos at work in this idealic place?
Out of these two e-books released by Black Library, Backcloth for a Crown Additional is my favourite of the two. It is less action orientated than the other, with more detail having gone into the detective sequences. This makes it a bit more exciting than the level of intrigue in Missing in Action, which was pretty much, everyone openly wearing a symbol of a corn sheaf… hmmm… maybe they’re connected?
That’s not to say that the plot lacks action and the ghostly final scene in the caravan is brilliant example of Dan Abnett’s skills as a writer.
The setting of the story makes for a rather pleasant change. In a galaxy, where stories are generally confined to large industrial planets or sweeping battlefields. This story is set in what appears to be a peaceful pastoral planet, which serves to highlight that the forces of Chaos do no restrain themselves to the bustling Hive cities, and it is this unusual backdrop that gives events a deliciously sinister edge.
Despite being set later in the series, Backcloth for a Crown Additional is actually more accessible to those new to the series than Missing in Action. It contains a fewer number of the established side characters and slightly less references to previous events of the series. However, I would still hesitate to recommend this story to those without some previous knowledge of the 40K world as it does still contain some more obscure references, which might puzzle the newcomer (such as why a death brought on by seizure at the age of 82 would be such a mystery.)
This short story more than lives up to the reputation of the series and its availability as an e-book, makes it the perfect way for those new to the Eisenhorn series to get an idea of whther they would like to read the main books. Along with Missing in Action, this story provides a thoroughly entertaining piece of readily available short fiction and I would not hesitate in recommending it to any fan of 40K novels and stories.