About the Author:
Ben Counter is an Ancient History graduate and lives in the UK.
AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:
4 out of 5
A Warhammer 40,000 novel. The Grey Knights are the Space Marine warriors whose work for the Imperial Inquisition is focused on the destruction of daemons. When it is discovered that an immensely powerful daemon, banished for a thousand years, may be about to be summoned once more, the Grey Knights have to travel to the worlds of the Trail of St. Evisser to root out the heresy.
The opening chapter of this book had me worried, being the confusing daemon-infested gore-fest that other Games Workshop stories I've read never rise above. I was afraid that this would be an all-action novel with no subtlety, where the author devotes most of their time either to trying to creatively describe Chaos mutants or to just reeling off fan-service to players of the tabletop game. I've seen it before.
Thankfully, that's not how the rest of the novel goes at all. Although there are occasional elements of what I describe above, the core of this book is about how a small under-supported team can possibly hope to either root out their targets among millions or face an evil so powerful that it has been planning its moves millennia in advance. Counter brilliantly manages to convey the feeling of needle-in-a-haystack hopelessness that the task facing Justicar Alaric and Inquisitor Ligeia engenders. This comes to a head in the latter half of the book, where the handful of Grey Knights have to confront an entire world of opposition to win through to their goal.
I was also impressed with the subtlety the author employs in regard to the corruption of Chaos. In other GW works I've read it tends to boil down to 'this person is very intelligent and/or curious and therefore must turn evil'. You can almost always spot the character who's going to be corrupted straight away (and there is always at least one) and so the big reveal at the end has no impact at all. Here, however, Counter plays with that expectation and has the reveal about halfway through but then takes the character's corruption in an interesting new direction revealed much later. It was a twist that really worked for me.
It has to be said that this book is probably a bit longer than it needed to be and occasionally the author's dense prose and in-universe terminology makes it a bit of a slog to get through. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it overall.
4 out of 5