Grey Knights: The Omnibus Paperback – May 5 2009
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About the Author
Ben Counter is fast becoming one of the Black Library’s most popular authors. An Ancient History graduate and avid miniature painter, he lives near Portsmouth, England.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The Grey Knights Omnibus collects the three Grey Knights novels Grey Knights, Dark Adeptus and Hammer of Daemons. The stories follow Justicar Alaric, a member of the special Grey Knights space marine chapter set in the futuristic and gothic Warhammer 40K series. A special branch of the space marines, the Grey Knights have psychic powers, more advanced armor and weapons and are some of the most powerful warriors available to humans in the grim futuristic setting. They specialize in hunting demons who threaten mankind, often the last line of defense against these powerful beings.
Grey Knights introduces the reader to Alaric and the Grey Knights chapter, delving some into their past and what their chapter is about. Alaric is sent on a mission to investigate the return of a demon that had plagued man a thousand years before. Alaric and his contingent are forced into a race against time to find the demon and battle its fodder, both other demons and humans alike, and keep him from returning from the warp to the real world. This is the strongest of the three books, filled with action and intrigue and never a dull moment.
Dark Adeptus revolves around Alaric being sent to a world that mysteriously reappears after centuries from the warp. Landing on the planet Alaric finds it to be infested with the forces of Chaos; the sworn enemy of mankind. This book has a totally different feel to it, with a more exotic environment and the sense that anything can happen at any time, and everyone must be watched. It is not as intriguing or battle heavy as the first novel, but still puts up a good showing.
The final book is Hammer of Daemons. In this Alaric and his men lose a battle and are captured, taken to the Chaos world in the Eye of Terror. Once there he is forced into gladiatorial combat and must devise a way to escape the hellish world. This novel is nothing like Dark Adeptus, so even though the setting on a Chaos planet is a main plot device that is one of the few things they have in common. Much like Grey Knights this novel is filled with action, the most of the three, and has some twists that you won't expect. I should also note there are not many Warhammer 40K novels that follow a path like this one.
Counter's writing is clear and concise, and he wastes no time in getting to his point. He manages to paint a vivid picture of the settings quickly and rarely do any point in these novels does the story drag. If he brings up something you don't know about don't worry; he'll get you all you need to know and you won't feel lost at all.
All in all the Grey Knights series was very good. Of the Warhammer 40K novels I have read Grey Knights is my favorite, and Hammer of Daemons is also near the top. Having all three books collected in one and at a lower price is well worth the buy. You won't regret picking this up, Warhammer 40K fan or not.
For those experienced in the Wh40k world, Grey Knights gives a glimpse into a world rarely covered, even within much of Games Workshop's canon - the inner planets of humanity's realms: Terra, Saturn, Mars. Grey Knights shows some of what occurs within the solar system.
The book is fairly well written, contains a decent amount of surprises, twists, and turns, and pits the Space Marines against foes usually only brushed against in other books.
While Ben Counter does a good job, there were many things that simply were not memorable enough to make the series truly noteworthy. Eisenhorn (A Warhammer 40,000 Omnibus) has etched itself into my memory, Ciaphas Cain: Hero of the Imperium worms his way in through absurdity, and Gaunt's Ghosts: The Founding (Gaunts Ghost) & Gaunt's Ghosts: The Saint keeps you wanting more.
That being said, while I would not have bought the books individually, together they are a bargain and well worth the purchase.
The first book, Gray Knights, blew me away. The action is non-stop and the twist that allows Alaric to stop the daemon made my jaw literally drop. But it is woven so subtly into the book that you don't realize how important it is until it smacks you in the face. Every once in a while, I go back and reread the reveal, just to relive the feeling of awe.
I did not like Dark Adeptus as well. It was good, but not as good as Gray Knights. Perhaps it was just me, but there seemed to be a lot more characters to have to keep track of (which I sometimes have a problem with, unless they are introduced slowly over time). The plot is more psychological thriller than action novel. This is not a bad thing, but it was not what I expected after reading Gray Knights. It also seemed more straight-forward, and the "great reveal" was obvious about halfway through.
Hammer of Daemons made up for the disappointment of Dark Adeptus, though it is not as good as Gray Knights. The book is more disjointed, almost a collection of vignettes more than a book. There was also a lack of suspense, because the reader already knows Alaric and the slaves escape. (Though the exact outcome of that was a surprise.)
This is the first book in the series. As it seems that most of the Omnibus books that I've read, the first book of my favorite. The closest thing I can compare it to the one I've read is Eisenhorn; it's similar in that it's something of a detective story. Alric the hero of the story and leader of the main squat agree nights that we see in this book has to team up with an inquisitor to try to track down a demon that was vanquished 1000 years before but is striving even now to return. There's quite a bit of action and a couple twists that I didn't see coming.
When I looked at some of the reviews of this book I was very skeptical. It talked about the gray knights being trapped on a planet that had emerged from the warp after many years. The only thing, it's a forge world for Titans. I'm not sure quite what I was picturing, maybe a squad being held in prisons and having to escape or something. I don't spoil any of the twists, but let's just say that isn't quite what this book is. I will say that not only do you get some nice battles on the surface of the planet, but there's some pretty decent space battles thrown in to boot. Instead of being a book where you spent half the time waiting to get into the action, the action starts very early on and just gets more and more intense. I really like the look into the cult of Mars.
The Hammer of Daemons
The final book is more what I thought the second book would be. Basically our hero suffers defeat and is captured and taken to a slave planet of chaos. Remove for most of his support, he has to find unusual allies and try to find a way to disrupt the enemy while being in a severely weakened state in defending his own life in gladiatorial games. I know I said that I was skeptical when I thought the second book to be like this, but ended up actually liking it was a real page turner. Again we do have some of the same problems with the author restating things to many times, but it's forgivable.
To sum up, if I do give individual scores would probably give the first two a five and the last one a four. I enjoyed the novel far more than I expected I would. I'm guessing the author is never going to do a fourth book, but if he did that at least look into buying it.
I really enjoyed the first two books. I was glad to see that though Alaric always wins, there are consequences, be it death to his battle brothers or mental & physical harm to himself.
The third book was the weakest of the 3 but made sense given what it all was leading up to. The villians were more mortal like and less overwhelmingly frightening in book three for some reason. It was a bit dumb in book three that he attempted a riot and was given a kind of leniency (yes a risk of damnation at the hands of a demon is not exactly leniency but it seemed tame). I was unconvinced that the demons in this final book cared as much about breaking him as he seemed convinced that he thought it was importante to them. The tone of book three therefore seemed lacking.
Still I look forward to potentially seeing our boy working directly as an inquisitor in the future...