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infinite.jpg

Publisher: Black Library

Genre: Space Opera

Pages: 440

Publication Date: 2020

Verdict: 3/5

 

Tazyn the Infinite is a collector of history, roaming the Galaxy in search of new acquisitions for his collection. But as the Necrontyr prepare to rise from their millennia of slumber, he must work with Orikan, his greatest rival. Will they bring about the salvation of their people, or will treachery see them both returned to the grave . . ?

Robert Rath’s debut Black Library novel made a big splash when it hit shelves last year, for both the story itself and the fact it focused on xenos rather than Imperial characters. I missed out on the hardback (as I so often do) but the paperback release has been among my most anticipated books of 2021. A year on from that initial release, I’ve finally got my hands on The Infinite and the Divine. Maybe I built it up too much in my mind, but I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I hoped to. I suppose that’s the problem with hype. We get carried away, convincing ourselves that the new thing is the very best thing ever. And when it’s merely good rather than great, we can’t help but feel let down.

The Infinite and the Divine takes place over the course of ten thousand years, starting at the time of the Horus Heresy, and culminating in the current Warhammer 40,000 time frame. Despite this, you don’t need to be an expert in the lore to follow what happens. I caught a few of the more obvious references (the destruction of Cadia, for example), but I’m sure there are more to go around if you are more familiar with the game’s rich history. The main body of the story is less concerned with sweeping galactic politics than it is with a single planet. The bulk of the action occurs on the world of serenade, and this is where the epic time frame works best. We spend well over a thousand years with this planet, seeing it change hands and struggle against the odds.

For a book that opens with necrons fighting dinosaurs, I found the first half of The Infinite and the Divine a struggle to get into. I can see why Black Library have been low on the xenos content until recently, as the necron mindset is hard to get into. How much of this is intentional, and how much of this is Rath’s writing, I can’t say. I’ll have to read more of his work before making a final judgement. The other reason I struggled up until the second half is the involvement of the orks. 40k’s orks are the polar opposite of the necrons. They are moronic and comedic while the necrons have a tragic weight to their existence. I’m yet to find an ork book that I haven’t had issues with, and that is the case here. The factions are so different, both in narrative terms and stylistically, that they don’t feel as though they should exist in the same book.

The second half is an improvement. perhaps because of familiarity, but also because we get forward momentum with the plot. In this section, Trazyn and Orikan share a lot of page time, and it’s their interactions that carry the novel. Equal partnerships are sorely lacking in a lot of SF, and Rath balances the backstabbing with a healthy dose of banter. The jokes here land far better than the orkish shenanigans of earlier chapters. The interplay between these two immortals is something I’d happily see much more of, and the novel suffers whenever they are separated. I think this is a standalone, but there is definitely life in these characters yet.

Even though it doesn’t live up to expectations, The Infinite and the Divine has its share of moments, and hopefully signals a lot more xenos material in Black Library’s future.


8 responses to “BOOK REVIEW: The Infinite and the Divine, by Robert Rath”

  1. BOOK REVIEW: Broken City – At Boundary's Edge Avatar

    […] of which is Rath’s writing. I enjoyed this shorter offering substantially more than I did The Infinite and the Divine, and Rath’s bulletpoint-short chapters and tight prose ratchet up the tension page after page […]

    Like

  2. BOOK REVIEW: Ruin, by Nate Crowley – At Boundary's Edge Avatar

    […] first book, but we do see some ork-on-necron action. This is a battle we’ve seen a bit of in The Infinite and the Divine, but here we get a deeper look at the two species. On the face of it, they seem like they […]

    Like

  3. BOOK REVIEW: Inferno! Presents The Inquisition – At Boundary's Edge Avatar

    […] legendary Inquisitor Greyfax front and centre in a story with more than a few links to his novel The Infinite and the Divine. But the true joy of anthologies is not the stories you know you’ll enjoy, but the ones that […]

    Like

  4. BOOK REVIEW: Nexus + Other Stories – At Boundary's Edge Avatar

    […] it with a big orky grin, and makes me even more intrigued to start Brutal Kunnin. Rob Rath (of The Infinite and the Divine fame) dabbles with necrons once again in ‘War in the Museum,’ continuing to build his […]

    Like

  5. BOOK REVIEW: Brutal Kunnin, by Mike Brooks – At Boundary's Edge Avatar

    […] books started to change my opinion on that. Oddly enough, both were primarily about necrons. The Infinite and the Divine and Ruin both put the orks in direct contrast to the necorns, and that made me think. Maybe that […]

    Like

  6. BOOK REVIEW: Reign, by Nate Crowley – At Boundary's Edge Avatar

    […] Did you enjoy this book? If so, you may also like:Brutal Kunnin, by Mike BrooksSevered, by Nate CrowleyThe Infinite and the Divine, by Robert Rath […]

    Like

  7. BOOK REVIEW: Crisis of Faith, by Phil Kelly – At Boundary's Edge Avatar

    […] Did you enjoy this book? If so, you might also enjoy:Brutal Kunnin, by Mike BrooksRogue Trader, by Andy HoareThe Infinite and the Divine, by Robert Rath […]

    Like

  8. BOOK REVIEW: Assassinorum: Kingmaker, by Robert Rath – At Boundary's Edge Avatar

    […] you enjoy this book? If so, you might also like:Agents of the Imperium (Audio Drama)The Infinite and the Divine, by Robert RathIronclads, by Adrian […]

    Like

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