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-   -   Phalanx by Ben Counter (https://www.heresy-online.net/forums/black-library-book-reviews/98485-phalanx-ben-counter.html)

Brother Lucian 09-25-11 12:52 PM

Phalanx by Ben Counter
 
I bought the Hammer and Bolter ebook collection yesterday, which included the full version of Phalanx. So heres a quick review!


Phalanx is the sixth and final installment in the series about the Soul Drinkers, bringing the series to a satisfying conclusion.

I should note that I own and have read the limited edition booklet Daenyathos and i feel that Phalanx gives a lot more meaning if you read it beforehand.

Phalanx picks up where Hellforged left off, as the surviving Soul Drinkers is bought onboard the Phalanx for judgment by their peers. The chapter master of the Imperial Fists Vladimir Pugh having decided to hold a trial for the renegades, with many other chapters present whom have had encountered the Soul Drinkers in one or the other way.

Of particular interest is the tale of the Iron Knights encounter with the Soul Drinkers, with their captain coming close to have sympathy for them and becomming appointed as their defender. Which is not taken well by the Crimson Fists representative Reinez, whom have a bad grudge against the Soul Drinkers, and is now an outcast from his chapter with the role of acuser in the proceedings.

Spoiler


Eventually things heat up on the Phalanx, events distupting the proceedings and setting the Soul Drinkers loose, trying to defend themselves.

Super spoiler. Read at your own peril.


All in all I find it a quite satisfying book, providing a suitable closure to the series. The Soul Drinkers are almost no more, with a possibility of brief cameos by them in the future. But they left a legacy that would be remembered by their peers.

MontytheMighty 09-26-11 10:41 PM

hmm, a pity they're almost extinct
would've preferred to see more of them survive

Phoebus 09-28-11 10:14 PM

There was at least one item that left me confused.



The main battle disappointed me, frankly. My main issue was that I just couldn't overcome suspension of disbelief. Counter was (to me, at least) writing more of a traditional siege than a brutal battle throughout a gigantic spaceship. I also felt that many of his descriptions were just uninspired. At one point, for instance, the Soul Drinkers and their would-be judges fight it out in what is literally described as a reproduction of a village. Seriously?

With respect to Mr. Counter (and I mean this; I loved "Galaxy in Flames", for instance), he had an opportunity to describe one of the iconic places of the 41st Millennium. Imagine the coolest place a Space Marine could live in, and then let your imagination stretch as to what could have been added over ten thousand years. Or, failing that, check out any number of amazing illustrations commissioned by Games Workshop that show comparable settings and places. I just didn't get that "epic", grand feel.

Worse still, he tried selling the traditional "last stand against overwhelming odds" while adhering to simplistic, broad-stroke ideas about how that fight should be fought. Pugh (or was it the Inquisitor visiting?) at some point remarks about how the Astartes were just not made for these mass assaults against a heavily defended front--they're just too valuable. Yet that is all they were doing throughout the novel!

Did Phalanx have no defenses against any random idiot that managed to get in there? No strong-points, no barriers, no turrets, etc.? I don't write for a living, and opinions are like assholes, but I felt Rob Sanders (with "Iron Within", in the Age of Darkness collection) did a much better job of conveying the desperation of such a fight: the need to defend at all costs, to fall back to the next defensible position, etc.

And what is it with these ...



Other than that... Mr. Counter did do a good job of describing the horrors being unleashed on the Phalanx (from the Greater Daemons to the ghosts and environmental damage) ... if not describing Phalanx itself. The showdown between Sarpedon and Daenyathos is satisfying in that ...



The penultimate battle against Abraxes is also very well done, and Luko just gets ridiculous amounts of cool points.

All in all, "Phalanx" is a decent read, but it's hardly the best of Mr. Counter's work. It's entertaining, but it's not very ambitious. Fans of the Soul Drinkers will enjoy it (and should it get it) if for no other reason than that it concludes that Chapter's storyline. 40k readers not necessarily invested in the Soul Drinkers or even Space Marines will get some enjoyment from it, but I doubt they will really hang on to it after being done other than as a source of a couple interesting fluff points.

I give it 6.5 stars (which, in my grading scale, is decent).

Hindsight moment: I wonder if some of the issues I had with this story had to do with the fact that it was delivered in episodic form? Meaning, I don't know what Mr. Counter's deadlines were. Had he worked on it as a full novel, finished it, gotten a chance to edit and re-work it, etc., would it have been more solid? I don't know.

Cheers,
P.

Brother Lucian 09-28-11 10:21 PM

Spoiler reply

Phoebus 09-28-11 11:09 PM

Brother Lucian,

As for the first item, who knows? Personally, I think such symbolism would be VERY contrived. I just figured the Fists were wrong, and Sarpedon had to have been bleeding all over the place (I think; maybe his wounds were clotted).

Anyways, it's a mystery for another time. :)

Cheers,
P.

Brother Lucian 09-28-11 11:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Phoebus (Post 1075889)
Brother Lucian,

As for the first item, who knows? Personally, I think such symbolism would be VERY contrived. I just figured the Fists were wrong, and Sarpedon had to have been bleeding all over the place (I think; maybe his wounds were clotted).

Anyways, it's a mystery for another time. :)

Cheers,
P.

It was the angels sanguine whom had examined the Pilgrim, aka Michairah and found no trace of Dorn.

jimmy gunn 02-19-12 03:31 PM

I know this is old but I've just finished hellforged. And don't fancy paying £7 for the phalanx ebook when the hard copy is out soon and I'll rather have that for my collection.

Anyone know anywhere I could get it cheaper or just the first 3-4 chapters to tide me over till I can get the hard copy.

I've searched online but it brings up some dodgy sites I'd rather not go on.

Cheers guys.

Bane_of_Kings 02-19-12 03:40 PM

You can get it serialised in the Hammer and Bolter eBooks, I believe the first Hammer and Bolter has the first two chapters. You can pre-order it direct from BL's website, and by doing that you'll probably get it before its release date. Amazon probably have it cheaper, but you'll have to wait until they get their copies.

I've never ordered directly from BL myself (minus the two Horus Heresy novellas), but judging from other users experience, you should get yours before the release in store.

jimmy gunn 02-19-12 03:53 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bane_of_Kings (Post 1164113)
You can get it serialised in the Hammer and Bolter eBooks, I believe the first Hammer and Bolter has the first two chapters. You can pre-order it direct from BL's website, and by doing that you'll probably get it before its release date. Amazon probably have it cheaper, but you'll have to wait until they get their copies.

I've never ordered directly from BL myself (minus the two Horus Heresy novellas), but judging from other users experience, you should get yours before the release in store.


cheers dude, I refuse to buy ebooks that are priced only 50p-£1 cheaper than the hard copy. And H&B is still £2.50 for two chapter so I may as well wait.

The book was finished over a year ago, I don't know why they released it like this.
I'm old skool if i'm going to pay for a book I want to feel paper.

I downloaded from BL once and felt ripped off so won't be doing that again.


Thanks for replying but looks like i'll have to wait. And preorder like you said, cheers


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