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Bequin is a trilogy by Dan Abnett, a sequel to both his Eisenhorn and Ravenor series.
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The protagonist and narrator of the series is Alizabeth "Beta" Bequin, a pariah trained to be an agent of the Inquisition. When the organization that raised her is attacked and destroyed, she finds herself pursued by multiple competing factions for reasons she doesn't know, and in the process uncovers revelations with consequences for the entire Imperium of Man.


Tropes featured

  • Academy of Adventure: The Maze Undue, which is an independent, secret academy that teaches blanks the art of spycraft in service to the Emperor. The latter detail is a bit of obfuscation or twisting of its roots; it was founded by the Chaos-aligned Cognitae, though Eisenhorn later informs Beta that a number of secret societies shared the name of "Cognitae". Some were even extant at the same time and even fought one another. Curiously, the Maze Undue has a number of parallels with the Distaff, an organization which collected and trained blunters, and one of Eisenhorn's pet projects in his early years.
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  • Action Girl: Beta is a very cunning and well trained Inquisition agent, and can often hold her own in fights. The women in Eisenhorn and Ravenor's retinues would also count.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us:
    • In the first book, the Maze Undue is attacked in the dead of night by a heavily-armed task force led by Ravenor. Beta and the other students are forced to scatter into the city, and her efforts to find anyone else who made it out alive drive much of the initial plot.
    • In the second book, Eisenhorn's base of operations is attacked while Beta was out looking for Lightburn. By the time she gets back, the whole city block is ablaze and everyone but Nayl is missing and presumed dead.
  • Anti-Magic: Beta and the other wards of the Maze Undue are untouchable blanks, and their very presence negates sorcery and psychic powers.
  • Bad with the Bone: The crazed anatomists attack Beta with a variety of weaponized human bones, such as axes whose blades are sharpened scapulae and slings which use knucklebones as ammunition.
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  • Becoming the Mask: Waltur Aulay, an Inquisitor in the Ordo Malleus, had been assigned to infiltrate Sancour's aristocratic society in search of a heretic. He took a cover identity as an engraver, which he already enjoyed doing, and ingratiated himself with the nobles, particularly the drink-loving Crookley. Over time, he became so comfortable in his cover and fond of drinking that he gradually forgot about doing his job entirely, lost contact with his bosses, and became exactly the depraved alcoholic he seemed.
  • Blood from the Mouth: In a test of Enuncia.
  • Broken Pedestal: Penitent sees a couple of these occur. Medea participating in Eisenhorn's scheme to fake their deaths, thus getting Beta to contact Ravenor, causes Beta to decide that whatever else Medea is, she isn't a mother figure. For Patience Kys, learning that Ravenor was trying to work with the Aeldari for months smashes her trust in him.
  • Call-Back:
    • To Xenos.
      "Hello, little thing. I am Cherubael."
    • To the Ravenor trilogy. Once more, a heretical sect is trying to reconstruct Enuncia for the purpose of attaining ultimate power, and Ravenor is trying to stop them. This also isn’t the first time Ravenor’s raided and shut down a Cognitae-run school, either.
  • Cassandra Truth: The Pontifex knows an awful lot about what's going on and what's going to happen. Unfortunately, having that kind of power has heavily eroded his mind and most of what he says now is nonsense, making the really important and actually valid stuff hard to pick out.
  • Character Narrator: The trilogy is narrated from Beta's perspective.
  • Classical Tongue: Beta is one of the very, very few people anywhere who fluently speaks Ancient Franc, a language dead for over thirty millennia.
  • Cloning Blues: It's revealed that Beta was created using genetic material from the original Alizabeth Bequin (though she is technically not a clone as their genes are not identical). However, the trope is largely averted since Beta has far more pressing things to worry about.
    • In Penitent, things get worse: Beta discovers she’s not just a clone, she’s the latest in a whole line of Bequin clones, and it seems likely that every student in the Maze Undue is a part of a similar clone lineage. Also, they all end up serving the King in Yellow as one of the Eight.
  • Continuity Nod: The book has many references to the Eisenhorn and Ravenor trilogies, naturally. Some examples include:
  • Corrupt Church: The Ecclesiarchy, as usual. The Sancour branch takes it one step further by working with the Word Bearers.
  • Crapsack World: Sancour, filled with former soldiers whose minds are so burned out on combat drugs that they wander around the streets at night killing anything they come across. And that's just what's publicly known. Outside of public knowledge, a heretical cult is running a pariah breeding program whose existence is an open secret, the local Ecclesiarchy is studying Enuncia with the Word Bearers, one noble house arranges to have heretical texts and artifacts supplied for everyone else, and another noble house has an alliance with the Emperor's Children.
  • Creepy Doll: The two dolls in the display window of the Blackwards Emporium. They're especially creepy when they come to life and attack Beta later in the story. What's worse is that they aren't powered by psychic powers as one would expect, and thus are immune to Beta's blank ability.
  • Creepy Mortician: In the second book, Beta encounters a tribe of anatomists while exploring an underground ossuary. The anatomists have spent all their lives in this underground place in the company of death, and are quite mad: they use irregular bones to make grotesque sculptures, and they viciously attack anyone who enters their territory.
  • Cutting the Knot: Beta, Renner, and Saur are on a mission that requires geting to the top of a huge residential structure, and they find that the doorways are magically warded to prevent unwanted entry. Beta summons Comus to fly her to the top; Renner and Saur destroy the doorways to get around them.
  • Disney Villain Death: Beta knocks Patience Kys off a roof and assumes she's dead, but never actually sees her hit the ground. Patience later shows up, a bit miffed, and reveals that Ravenor used his powers to save her at the last second.
  • Dramatic Irony: Much of the tension comes from Beta’s unfamiliarity with characters and concepts that the reader should recognize from the previous two trilogies.
    • The Maze Undue was (most likekly) not actually in the service to the Inquisition and was actually a heretical project, its parent organization a cult dedicated to undermining the Imperium.
    • Early on, Beta confronts a female spy with telekinetic powers. The reader knows that this spy is Patience Kys, one of Ravenor’s people and a loyal member of the Inquisition. Beta doesn’t know this, however, and she lets Patience drop ten stories to her apparent death. If it weren't for Ravenor's telekinetic rescue, she would indeed have died.
    • In the fight at the basilica, Lightburn shoots the man that saved Beta from the Word Bearers and leaves him for dead. Beta doesn’t think too much of it, because she was just as scared of that man as she was of the Chaos Space Marines he saved her from, but the reader is likely freaking out because Lightburn just shot (and apparently killed) Eisenhorn.
    • Alace Qatorze reveals that her real name is Alace Glaw. To Beta, the name means nothing and comes as a disappointment. To the reader, who knows that the Glaws were heretics aligned with the Emperor’s Children, this is a sign that Beta’s situation is about to get even worse.
    • After learning that Deathrow is one of Eisenhorn’s “specialists” and seeing that he wears a false face, Beta asks Deathrow who he really is. His reply, “I am Alpharius”, means nothing to Beta. To the reader, it reveals that Eisenhorn is working with a Chaos Space Marine of the Alpha Legion.
    • Beta refuses to believe Kara when the latter tells her that Eisenhorn harnessed daemons, thinking the idea absurd. The reader knows that Kara is right, and sure enough, Eisenhorn sends Cherubael to retrieve Beta at the end of the book.
    • That the Ecclesiarchy is working with the Word Bearers. The latter is known to hate the Ecclesiarchy especially; though the Word Bearer's Primarch Lorgar can be considered the distant founder of the Ecclesiarchy, worshiping the Emperor embodies Lorgar's old ideals before the Emperor came and smacked him down for it.
  • Dying Town: Queen Mab was once the most prosperous city on Sancour, with a thriving shipbuilding industry, spaceports with luxurious apartments for foreign dignitaries, and a bustling economy from interstellar trade. All that was a long time ago. Now the shipyards are abandoned, the decaying spaceports have been taken over by squatters, and the city is slowly sinking into decrepitude.
  • Eldritch Location: The City of Dust. It exists in an "extimate space" outside the material world and can only be accessed through mystical means. When Beta enters it near the end of Penitent, she discovers a cyclopean palace of mind-numbing scale, sitting on a white beach next to an infinite black ocean underneath a black sky. The Eye of Terror fills that sky, and the ocean is the Warp itself. The sheer immensity of the place, and the realization that the King in Yellow controls every aspect of it right down to the atoms, nearly drives Beta mad.
  • Enemy Civil War: And how! The Word Bearers, Emperor's Children and Alpha Legion are all present on Sancour. Each has their own set of allies, respectively the Ecclesiarchy/House Blackward, House Glaw and apparently, Eisenhorn himself.
  • Enemy Mine: The threat posed by the Yellow King is so universe-shattering that factions which normally would be fighting to the death have allied with each other to stop it. Loyalist and Traitor Astartes work together as part of the Immaterial College, Cognitae agents attempt to contact Eisenhorn and consider a truce with Beta, and Ravenor is convinced to temporarily work with Eisenhorn again and to enlist the help of the Aeldari.
  • Faking the Dead: Eisenhorn again proves a master at this in Penitent. He takes advantage of the unanticipated attack on his hideout to fool Bequin into thinking he and Medea died, causing her to make contact with Ravenor and ultimately facilitating a truce meeting.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Cherubael, as always. In the second book he admits that he has grown fond of Beta, in his own twisted way. But in practically the same breath, he gleefully admits that he would love to hurt her and Patience, and that he will do just that if they don't return to Eisenhorn with him.
  • Foreshadowing: All over the place.
    • Judika and the Secretary react strangely when Beta asks them if the secret heretical society working against the Maze Undue might be the Cognitae. This is because they are Cognitae agents, as are all the Maze Undue’s staff and graduates.
    • Grael Magent first appears shortly after Judika tells Beta to turn on her cuff while they’re chasing the telekinetic spy. Later, when Magent is slashed by a Word Bearer’s cursed sword while rescuing Beta, Judika turns up soon afterward , badly hurt. Naturally, this is because he is Grael Magent, or at least the host of it.
    • The books which Lupan leaves out for Beta include one of Lilean Chase’s journals. Lilean Chase was the founder of the Cognitae, again foreshadowing the reveal that the Maze Undue is a Cognitae-run institution.
    • Alace Qatorze's true name, and her reaction to Beta asking her if there are children in the house, foreshadows the involvement of the Emperor’s Children.
    • When Beta complains that she would have trusted Nayl and Eisenhorn if they’d just identified themselves as agents of the Inquisition, Nayl asks Eisenhorn if they do that still. This innocuous comment foreshadows the reveal that the Inquisition has officially declared Eisenhorn a rogue and a heretic, and that he is not acting with their authority.
  • A Friend in Need: Deathrow unexpectedly saves Beta and Judika in the holloways. Also the Curst comes to her aid when Blackward wants to abduct her, and Nayl saves her from one of Blackward's mercenaries about midway. Beta even remarks that she is starting to find it disconcerting that strangers show up out of nowhere to intercede on her behalf. Perhaps the most disturbing case is Cherubael saving her from Revanor, of all people, at the very end of the book.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Beta. Deathrow and his hound immediately take a liking to her. Subverted: Deathrow/Alpharius is a member of Eisenhorn's retinue, who have been watching over Beta since she was a small child.
  • From Bad to Worse: Beta's situation slowly gets worse and worse as more about her true nature is revealed.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: Comus Nocturnus has no clothes or armour. This does not detract from his lethality in any way: he manages to kill a fully-armoured Night Lord with his bare hands.
  • Gambit Pileup: After the destruction of the Maze Undue at the hands of Ravenor, all of the factions' competing plots to obtain Beta start interfering with each other.
  • Godzilla Threshold: Mam Mordaunt has been in contact with the Immaterial College but is reluctant to forge an alliance with them because of how powerful and dangerous they are. Then Beta unwittingly leads the Eight to her secret hideout. Surrounded by dozens of graels with no chance of escape, Mam Mordaunt invokes the name of the Immaterial College, summoning the sorcerers and pledging herself to them so that they will defend her from the daemons.
  • Hidden Depths: Deathrow turns out to be an Alpha Legion Traitor Legionnaire. Oh, and he's working for Eisenhorn. Maybe.
  • Hidden Villain: The King in Yellow is a complete mystery. Nobody knows who he is or what he wants, and he makes no physical appearances in the trilogy’s first two books. The one thing his various enemies know for sure is that whatever he's planning will affect the whole galaxy for good or ill. Beta spends much of the second book trying to learn the King's identity, and finally discovers his name: Constantin Valdor.
  • Interrogating the Dead: In the second book, Ravenor performs a séance to summon the spirit of a recently deceased Cognitae agent. He, Kara and Beta then grill the spirit for information on the Cognitae's activities, learning a lot of useful stuff in the process.
  • Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: The King in Yellow is planning something that will change the galaxy, and people from all over are flocking to the planet to join him or stop him. What he's planning is a mystery. The people are also mysteries, working in secret and/or under assumed identities and/or having their own agendas. Nothing is what it seems to be, nobody is who they say they are, and everything is possible. Most of the story is about peeling back layers of obfuscation to reveal unlikely truths and puzzling out how they fit with the King.
  • Knife Nut: The Blackwards dolls wield knives as their weapons of choice.
  • Knight Templar: Ravenor, who is convinced that Eisenhorn is a heretic and will do anything necessary to bring him to justice.
  • I Know Your True Name: Ravenor believes that the King in Yellow is trying to learn the God-Emperor of Mankind’s one true name in order to control Him with Enuncia.
  • Language of Magic: Enuncia, the reality-warping proto-language first featured in the Ravenor books, makes a return here.
  • Like a Son to Me: Sister Bismillah to Beta.
  • Living Macguffin: There are at least seven factions that want Beta for one reason or another. And out of all of them only Eisenhorn and his people actually seem to have Beta's own good at heart, even if they also wants to use her as best they can.
  • Long Game: Eisenhorn and company have been investigating the Yellow King and the Maze Undue for nearly twenty years, claiming that they have the long term in mind. He criticizes Ravenor's tactics of kicking down the door in a single raid; while it did collapse the Maze Undue, it did also obfuscate their long term plans, scattered the survivors like Beta into the populace, and cut off the most direct avenue of investigation to the King in Yellow.
  • Mad Mathematician: The astronomer and mathematician Freddy Dance is obsessed with numbers and quite mad, albeit harmless. Beta seeks him out to see if he can crack the cipher for Lilean Chase's commonplace book.
  • Magic Mirror: The students and faculty of the Maze Undue use magical quizzing glasses to spy on people from afar. They can also be used in conjunction with Enuncia to enter the City of Dust.
  • My Nayme Is: Alizabeth and Alace are alternate spellings of Elizabeth and Alice respectively.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: A potentially apocalyptic one from Ravenor. Given that the King in Yellow's plans could cause enormous damage to the Aeldari, Ravenor contacted them in the hopes that they would be willing to lend aid. Unfortunately, the threat was so unthinkable the Aeldari decided that the best course of action was to send five craftworlds worth of forces to destroy the entire system. The best Ravenor can do is get them to give him a week to fix the problem, rather than attacking immediately.
  • Non-Indicative Name: The Eight is not made up of eight individuals. Hundreds of graels attack Mam Mordaunt's hideout in the second book.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: After having repeatedly reflected with disdain on Eisenhorn and Ravenor's willingness to sacrifice the lives of the people who follow them, Beta sends Comus into a battle he is likely to lose against Cherubael so that she and Patience can continue with her plan. She immediately acknowledges it, miserably noting that she has "all the makings of a true Inquisitor."
  • Only the Knowledgable May Pass: Beta is alerted by a clumsy attempt to use this.
  • Oh, Crap!
    • Everybody's reaction to when getting hit by Beta's Pariah field.
    • And one for the reader when Alace reveals that she is a Glaw, which means things are about to get a lot worse for Beta. Ironically, Beta's reaction to this revelation is disappointment, as she has no idea what that name signifies.
    • Teke when he realizes that Deathrow is one of the Alpha Legion, when he gets a brief glimpse through Deathrow's mask during their duel.
  • The Omniscient Council of Vagueness: The Yellow King and the Eight, who are only ever referred to and never seen in person. However, they're apparently the ones driving the events of the trilogy. There's not even just eight of the Eight: they're parasitic spider-daemons also called Graels, only called Eight because of their eight legs and because they're what their hosts ate.
  • Parrying Bullets: In the second book, Lightburn take a shot at Connort Timurlin, only for his target to smack the bullet out of the air with a sword.
  • The Penance: Renner Lightburn is a Curst, a type of penitent which lives in poverty and carries out any task asked of them, symbolically taking on another’s burden to atone for their own sins. They write their crimes on their skin in ink as a visual representation of the burdens they carry: Lightburn's crimes cover most of his body. His current burden is taking Beta to Mam Mordaunt. He reveals his original crime near the end of the book: as a temple guard, he gave shelter to a scared teenage girl being chased by a mob, unaware that she was an unsanctioned psyker.
  • Perpetual Smiler: Teke, the Smiling One. He's still smiling when he he's stabbed clean through his armor and stomach (and out through the back plating) by Deathrow and forced to make an undignified retreat.
  • Petal Power: Teke the Smiling One can control rose petals through sorcery. He can send them to attack people like a swarm of bees, or wrap them around himself and magically transform them into a bodyglove or a suit of power armour.
  • Pinball Protagonist: Beta spends most of the novel either fleeing from or captured by various groups that want to exploit her unique abilities.
  • Poisoned Weapons: The Blackwards dolls coat their knives in a nonlethal poison which incapacitates Beta after just a few cuts.
  • Poor Communication Kills: An example of poorly interpreting what was said. In the house of Alace Qatorze, Beta hears creepy childish laughter, something she learned to associate with the Blackwards Dolls. When Beta pointedly asks Alace if there are children in the house, her nervousness and despseration cause Alace to ignore the obvious meaning and think that Beta somehow found out her secret. Alace gives in and takes them to Teke, the Emperor's Children Chaos Space Marine, which made the situation even worse.
  • Power Limiter: The limiter cuffs, which dampen blank-ness.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Eisenhorn's retinue, which only consists of Nayl, Medea, Alpharius, and Cherubael.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: After the events of the Ravenor Trilogy, Ravenor is taken off active duty and spends his free time writing books until he later convinces the Inquisition to bring him back to hunt down the Yellow King.
  • Red Herring: Throughout the latter half of Penitent, Beta is led to believe that the King in Yellow might be one of the two Lost Primarchs. He isn't.
  • The Reveal:
    • Sister Bismillah is really Medea Betancore, and she has been watching over Beta at Eisenhorn's behest for most of Beta's life.
    • At the end of Penitent, Beta learns that the King in Yellow is apparently Constantin Valdor, the original leader of the Adeptus Custodes, who has been missing for approximately 10,000 years.
  • Secret Legacy: Beta's. She's the genetic daughter (not clone as she's not genetically identical) of Alizabeth Bequin from the Eisenhorn trilogy.
  • Shadow Archetype: The Cognitae is explicitly pointed out as being a sort of counter-Inquisition, working against the forces of the Imperium. To the point of telling its pupils, including Beta, that they are in fact the real Inquisition. The Horus Heresy novels would expand on this, noting that the Cognitae had probably existed since pre-history but under different forms and with different goals. It's possible that only the current version of the Cognitae opposes the Inquisition.
  • Shout-Out:
    • While investigating a antique shop, Beta comes across an ancient Soviet-era toy rocket.
    "What does C.C.C.P. mean?"
  • Spanner in the Works: Ravenor kicks off the plot with his raid on the Maze Undue, throwing everybody's Xanatos Gambits into disarray.
  • Speak of the Devil: The Immaterial College's name is mystically charged. Any mention of it draws the attention of its sorcerers, who will come to investigate immediately.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Sort of. The book is subtitled Ravenor Vs. Eisenhorn. The former turns up for two paragraphs 80 pages in and doesn't speak until nearly 300; the latter doesn't turn up for nearly 250 pages. Neither get more than a couple of dozen lines of dialogue. Beta takes up all space in between. Note, however, that the book series as a whole is collectively referred to as "The Bequin Trilogy."
  • Spy School: The Maze Undue is a secret institute that trains teenaged untouchables to become agents of the Inquisition. Pupils are regularly sent out on “functions” where they pass themselves off as other people in order to test their disguise and infiltration skills. It’s actually run by the Cognitae, a heretical society opposed to the Inquisition.
  • Summon to Hand: In the second book, Connort Timurlin keeps a sword called a blinkblade in a pocket dimension. He can make it appear in the blink of an eye.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: The members of the Immaterial College can barely stand one another, and only common cause—and the mystical bindings imposed on them by their leader—keep them from being at each other's throats. Two of them briefly stop chasing Beta to fight each other, because one struck the other for gloating and giving away sensitive information.
  • Time Skip: Several months pass between the end of Pariah and the beginning of Penitent.
  • Tomato in the Mirror/Tomato Surprise: Both Beta and the reader are lead to believe that the Maze Undue is a top secret Inquisition facility, and that their enemy is the Cognitae. However, it's later revealed that the Maze Undue is actually a Cognitae facility, making Beta a unknowing Cognitae agent.
  • Uncanny Valley: The Blackwards dolls are an in-universe example. Beta finds them deeply unsettling due to how highly detailed and lifelike they are: the girl doll has a wig of actual human hair, for example. She finds them even creepier when they come to life and attack her.
  • Under City: The modern Queen Mab sits atop many older layers of the city. These layers are collectively called the Below and have long been abandoned. Beta ventures into the Below to look for Lightburn during the events of Penitent.
  • Wham Line:
    • "I am Alpharius."
    • "The name of the King is Constantin Valdor."
  • Wicked Cultured: Teke gives off this vibe during his introduction, where he is seen relaxing in an armchair while reading and drinking from a goblet. Unusually, but not entirely out of tone, Teke comes off as A Man Of Wealth And Taste who appreciates the finer things in life, with only shades of being a Sense Freak. His Legion are notorious for worshiping the god(dess) of hedonism and excess, becoming extreme sense freaks and mixing it with Combat Sadomasochism, having gone from proud, cultured, and patrician soldiers to becoming one of the most debased and vile groups in 40k. Teke seems to have escaped his brothers' fate of losing themselves completely, unlike other Emperor's Children that showed up in the Eisenhorn trilogy.
  • Winged Humanoid: In the second book, Beta discovers the strung-up skeleton of a winged Astartes while lost in an underground ossuary. She then encounters a living one, Comus, not long afterward.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Beta's only home, the Maze Undue, is raided and destroyed by the Inquisition. Even worse is that most of the staff are later revealed to have been Cognitae agents.

Alternative Title(s): Ravenor Vs Eisenhorn

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