Saturday, May 09, 2009

The Grey Knights Omnibus, Ben Counter

"The Grey Knights are servants of the Ordo Malleus; imperious, incorruptible warriors whose very purpose is to seek out and destroy the most dangerous foes that humanity will ever face: daemons. Armed and armoured with the trappings of the daemonhunter, these stalwart Astartes bring death and destruction to the immortal denizens of the warp. Girded by faith, wielders of the nemesis force halberd, the Grey Knights step where others will not tread. Theirs is the hardest task, risking their immortal souls in pursuit of the hungry entities of Chaos, the Imperium’s arch foes. Without the Grey Knights, humanity would be but a feast on the sacrificial altar of darkness."

The omnibus brings together Grey Knights, Dark Adeptus and Hammer of Daemons, a trilogy that follows the exploits of Justicar Alaric of the Grey Knights.

The combination of Space Marines, the bio-engineered superhuman killing machines and the fertile backdrop of the 41st millennium are an immediate recipe for kickass storytelling. Now redefine the Space Marines as a single minded, elite order of warrior-monks dedicated to the destruction of daemonkind. Add in unshakeable faith in the Emperor of Mankind and consecrated armour engraved with prayers, litanies of hatred and wards that burn like the sun in the presence of their sworn foes.

Finally, mix in a liberal dose of Ben Counter’s enviable ability to make Alaric so much more than the sum of these parts and you’re left with a collection that will leave you slumped over the table exhausted but grinning.

Not to mention muttering “I am the Hammer..” under your breath at business meetings for days afterward.

Alaric’s a strong, likeable character who grows throughout the trilogy; Ben certainly puts him through the wringer, pitting him against the boundless malice of the Warp with nothing except his sense of duty to gird himself against the endless tide of evil. It couldn’t have been an easy undertaking to bring a character who is, by definition, a borderline sociopathic religious fanatic to life, letting him grow and find himself without compromising the tenets he lives, and dies, by. But that's just what Ben has done.

The books are jampacked with generous servings of utterly satisfying carnage; bodies and bolters roar across the pages. This is the 41st millennium, and it doesn't have time for flesh wounds.

If I had to pick a favourite of the three, I’d go for Grey Knights. The sequence where the Knights have to force a landing on Volcanis Ultor and fight their way to the Tomb is particularly tense and utterly engaging- it made me take my lunchbreak an hour early just so that I could scurry to Starbucks and see where it went!

If you intend buying/ reading them in single novel format, I’d definitely recommend reading the books in sequence to enjoy them properly.

The Grey Knights are a very welcome addition to my shelf- here’s hoping we get to see more of Alaric in the very near future!


MPVII said...

Great review! I've been curious about the Grey Knights series and this has helped. I would read it soon but I am on quite a restless Horus Heresy roll. Do check out the H.H series if you haven't already- promises to be a great read!

I've recently posted my thoughts on the opening three books to the series on my blog, do have a look!


Christopher said...

I just finished reading the first book in the Omnibus "Grey Knights" and I have to say, i've never read a book and found myself getting chills. But when you mentioned the "I am the hammer..." I had to comment, that was one of the lines that did it for me, for people that read your review I won't spoil it, but just the timing of the line and the person who delivers's a very powerful moment. After read this first book I have to say Counter is now probably my favorite author. I can't wait to read the rest of the Omnibus and move on to more of his 40k works. Great review on your part. I hope more people get into these books.

Mark said...

Thanks Christopher!

Now you've made me want to go back and read it all over again :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for that epic series of storys just finished reading the second one had zero sleep last night but oh well and if i had to pick favourites it would be the first one