Publisher: Black Library (Audiobook – 10 October 2020)
Series: Warhammer 40,000
Length: 13 hours and 21 minutes
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Prepare to dive into one of the most entertaining and elaborate rivalries in Warhammer history with the outstanding and captivating read, The Infinite and The Divine, by the exceedingly talented Robert Rath.
Before I pause my current obsession with Warhammer fiction to pursue other recent books, I just had to read one more intriguing Warhammer 40,000 novel that I have been hearing a lot about in recent years, The Infinite and The Divine. The debut Warhammer 40,000 novel of exceptional author Robert Rath, who previously wowed me with last year’s epic book, Assassinorum: Kingmaker (one of my favourite books and audiobooks of 2022) The Infinite and The Divine dives into one of the more unique factions in the Warhammer universe, the Necron. This intriguing and fun novel follows two fantastic Necron characters as they engage in a bitter and lengthy feud across time and space. Pretty much every review I’d read about The Infinite and The Divine was highly positive and I just had to try it out, and boy did it live up to all my expectations.
Long before the Imperium of Man and the Emperor existed, before the fall of the Aeldari and even before the Necrons traded their flesh away for immortal metal, there existed something far more deadly and permanent, an undying conflict between two arrogant scholars. Even before they became immortal beings of metal, Trazyn the Infinite and Orikan The Divine were bitter rivals. While Trazyn glorifies the past and seeks to capture and contain anything of rare or historical value, Orikan looks only to the future, divining events that are to come and hoping to find a way to become a being of energy. But despite their differences, these two Necron are about to be drawn into the same obsession.
When Trazyn manages to obtain a rare Necron artefact, Orikan infiltrates Trazyn’s gallery to steal it, believing that it is the key to locating an ancient Necron tomb that could provide invaluable knowledge for the future of the Necrons. However, Trazyn is unwilling to lose such a treasure, nor let Orikan’s trespass go unanswered, and swiftly snatches the artefact back, hoping to locate and plunder the tomb for himself.
So begins a battle of cat and mouse that will last millennia. As both academics attempt to unlock the secrets of the artefact and gain the knowledge to find the tomb, they will engage in a series of deadly attacks and subterfuges to gain the advantage and destroy their opponent. Their battles will destroy planets and shape the future of civilizations as they proceed, unheeding of the cost to those around them. But the closer Trazyn and Orikan get to their goal, the more apparent it becomes that the treasure they seek is far beyond anything that the two rivals can ever imagine, and soon they and the entire Necron race sits on the precipice of destruction.
Wow, now that was an exceedingly epic and engaging Warhammer book. Rath really pulled out all the stops for his debut here as The Infinite and The Divine is an incredibly clever and captivating read that I had an exceedingly hard time putting down. Following two outstanding and petty protagonists, Rath hits the perfect blend of humour, intense action, and compelling lore expansions to elaborate Warhammer 40,000 lore, which turns The Infinite and The Divine into quite an elaborate and impressive read.
The Infinite and The Divine has a pretty epic and entertaining character driven story that essentially boils down to two highly arrogant immortals going on an elaborate scavenger hunt across the galaxy for thousands of years, while also simultaneously engaging in a petty and deadly feud to ensure they win and their opponent fails. This is an exceptional and highly amusing story concept which Rath utilises to his full ability, creating a captivating narrative that really drags you in and keeps you chuckling the entire way through. The book starts with Trazyn facing off against an offshoot tribe of dinosaur-riding Aeldari, which does a lot to grab your attention while also perfectly introducing one of the main characters. Rath keeps the momentum rolling after these initial fun fight scenes as Trazyn returns home to discover his rival, Orikan, invading his sanctum trying to steal one of his precious artefacts. After a compelling fight that really highlights the differences between the two characters, Orikan escapes, and this sets off their bitter feud.
What follows is a series of fights and schemes across several different battlefields and locations as the two trade their advantage back and forth by claiming and then losing the artefact, all while attempting to kill each other. There are some gloriously entertaining scraps throughout this book, especially as both Trazyn and Orikan have very different abilities and focuses, which Rath perfectly works into the story. I have to highlight a particularly awesome and funny trial sequence near the start that played out in several different and amusing ways as Orikan uses his mastery of time to rewind events to try and get a result that favours him. The two engage in some gloriously petty and hilarious methods to try and claim victory, and their reactions at being bested and the lengths they go to win really helps to turn this book into a fantastic and epic read. Rath does a great job of switching attention between these two excellent characters as the book continues and I loved seeing the intriguing differences of opinions and the elaborate schemes that swirl within both their minds as they squabble. The author adds in some great additional context of the wider universe throughout the story as well, and I loved the use of in-universe texts, such as the Necron epic The War in Heaven, at the start of each chapter, as they provide some subtle hints of what is to come.
The story gradually focuses on one specific planet which the Necron characters visit and fight across as they attempt to unlock the mysteries of the contested artefact and the treasure it unlocks. This part of the book is particularly intriguing, as Rath adds in some compelling examinations of the evolution of this planet, and it is fascinating to see how their feud influences the people within, often to everyone’s detriment. Trazyn and Orikan are eventually able to unlock the secrets of the artefact, which only intensifies their conflict, and I loved some of the very fun ways that they each try to knock off their opponents, especially as it often makes their own situation even worse. I also felt that it was very clever how the author worked in the planet’s history and culture into the solution of the main mystery, and it was great when seemingly innocuous discussions about human society were actually hints about major events to come. Everything leads up to the final opening of the tomb they have long been searching for, which of course only unleashes more problems. Rath did a really good job of layering in hints and clever clues about the final twist, and I deeply enjoyed the massive reveal that emerged. The protagonists are forced to work together in several spectacular scenes which did a wonderful job of highlighting the relationship the two formed throughout the conflict, while deeply upping the stakes and providing the reader with some memorable moments and entertaining battles. Everything ends on an amazing note, especially with some final great betrayals by the protagonists, and you come away from The Infinite and The Divine pretty damn satisfied and extremely amused.
I was deeply impressed with how Rath brought The Infinite and The Divine’s complex and entertaining story together and considering the outstanding way in which he dove into the subject matter, it is pretty remarkable that this was his first Warhammer novel. I was always going to be very interested in a book that focused on the Necrons, one of the more intriguing and distinctive factions in the Warhammer 40,000 canon, but I felt that Rath did a particularly exceptional job at capturing the essence of these immortal beings. The great humour and comedy that he brought to the protagonists’ eternal feud really helped to make these ethereal beings very relatable and I loved their fun and arrogant opinions about the other races in the galaxy. Rath manages to load a lot of snark into their observations about humans, orks and other species throughout their discussions, and it was quite fascinating to see their divergent opinions on the subject, as Orikan is determined to ignore and scorn all organics, while Trazyn is fascinated by culture and hopes to study or collect everything of value they have. However, Rath also goes a lot deeper and you get an intense and powerful examination of the Necron self, including how they feel about their current state of being, the decline of their empire and the many sacrifices they have made over the years. This, combined with an intriguing examination of their history, culture and personalities, gives readers a great understanding of the Necron race and any fan of this faction is absolutely going to love The Infinite and The Divine. Rath’s excellent descriptions of the events, history, and the elaborate battles and technology really paints a beautiful picture around the Necrons and I felt that he did a remarkable job fitting the story around this background lore. I especially loved the intriguing dive into Necron magic and other technology discussions, and it was really fun to see Orikan manipulate time throughout the book to make some very epic scenes. While a few elements were extremely lore heavy, especially when it came to decoding the artefact, this was a very good use of the Necrons, and I really hope that Rath dives into additional unique factions in the future.
Despite Rath’s impressive and compelling descriptions of the Necrons and the wider universe, I don’t think I would recommend The Infinite and The Divine to those new to the Warhammer franchise, as the sheer amount of lore might break their reading flow. However, for those a little more familiar with the history and background of the Warhammer 40,000 universe, this is a fantastic read which would serve as an exceptional transitional novel for those interested in checking out non-human stories in this canon. I really cannot emphasise how great a book this was for Necron fans though and I deeply enjoyed Rath’s vision of these aliens and their unique culture.
I also really must highlight the excellent and compelling central characters of this book who take the form of ancient Necrons, Trazyn the Infinite and Orikan The Divine. Ancient Necron lords who are the masters in their respective fields, Trazyn and Orikan are both particularly entertaining and fun in their own ways, as each of them believes themselves to be the smartest person in the room at all times. Due to this, and many other reasons, the two hate each other with a passion and they enter into their eternal feud over several perceived grievances. There is something delightfully entertaining about watching these supposedly highly evolved, ancient and wise beings engage in such petty actions against each other, and the way they bring out the worst in each other is so glorious, especially as it permeates the entire novel with some exceptional humour. I personally loved how both were just as bad as the other in this feud, as this ensures that you don’t actually care which one of them wins and you can just get lost in the resulting chaos. Ironically, the two protagonists actually have a lot in common, and when they are forced to work together they prove to be an effective team capable of so much more. There are some great flashes of a deeper potential friendship at times, although this never lasts, although it is entertaining and moving to see what could have been had their rivalry not consumed their lives. Throw in some very unique abilities, technology and artefacts between the two, which results in some particularly entertaining scenes and battles (watching Trazyn unleash his captured collections against his foes is always fun), and these two prove to be an outstanding central focus who really bring this exceptional story together. I had so much fun with Trazyn and Orikan and I hope we see much more of them in the future, especially if the future of their private war is revealed.
I naturally listened to The Infinite and The Divine on audiobook, which was an epic experience as always. The audiobook versions of all the Warhammer books are very effective at conveying the cool narratives, and I felt that The Infinite and The Divine’s audiobook really helped the reader to appreciate the elaborate story and the ton of lore that Rath fit into this book. With a run time of nearly 13 and a half hours, this is a decent length Warhammer audiobook, although dedicated readers will power through it once you get caught up in the story. I had a lot of fun listening to this audiobook, especially as they got the very talented Richard Reed to narrate the format. Reed is an outstanding voice actor, who has a lot of experience narrating Warhammer novels, such as the Warhammer Crime novel Grim Repast by Marc Collins. However, the main reason that I liked the use of Reed was because he also narrated the two The Twice-Dead King audiobooks, Ruin and Reign by Nate Crowley, which also focused on the Necrons. Reed once again expertly captures the ancient and deadly nature of these metal alien creatures in his narration, and I felt that both main characters, Trazyn and Orikan, were perfectly portrayed by him. Their intelligence and ancient emotions are shown to the listener, and I felt that Rath did a great job of showcasing their arrogance and pettiness through his voice work. Throw in some additional great portrayals of the other eclectic characters and aliens contained in this book, and you have an outstanding performance which really helped The Infinite and The Divine’s audiobook format shine. As such, this is absolutely the best way to enjoy this amazing novel and I cannot recommend it enough.
Robert Rath really cemented his Warhammer fiction legacy early with The Infinite and The Divine, which is one of the best and funniest Warhammer 40,000 novels I have read. The exceptional book presents the reader with a unique and captivating narrative that perfectly utilises the iconic Necron faction while also telling a deep, personal and humorous story of betrayal, antagonism and treasure hunting. I absolutely loved The Infinite and The Divine and I am really regretting not reading it earlier, especially as it lives up to all the hype. A highly recommend book that is frankly one of the better Warhammer tie-in novels out there.