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Ben Counter

Author of Galaxy in Flames

75+ Works 2,912 Members 41 Reviews 1 Favorited

About the Author

Includes the names: Counter Ben, Бен Каунтер

Series

Works by Ben Counter

Galaxy in Flames (2006) 748 copies
Battle for the Abyss (2008) 428 copies
The Soul Drinkers Omnibus (2006) 187 copies
Grey Knights (2004) 175 copies
The Grey Knights Omnibus (2009) 152 copies
Dark Adeptus (2005) 128 copies
Chapter War (2007) 109 copies
The Bleeding Chalice (2003) 103 copies
Hammer of Daemons (2008) 93 copies
Daemon World (2008) 92 copies
Soul Drinker (2002) 90 copies
Crimson Tears (2005) 66 copies
Hellforged (2009) 64 copies
Architect of Fate (2012) — Author — 54 copies
Plundered Vaults (2005) — Author — 51 copies
Phalanx (Soul Drinkers) (2012) 42 copies
Seventh Retribution (2013) 25 copies
The World Engine (2015) 24 copies
Deathwatch: Rites of Battle (2010) — Contributor — 23 copies
Van Horstmann (2013) 21 copies
Sanctus Reach (Space Marine Battles) (2015) — Author — 18 copies
Deathwatch: Ignition (2016) — Editor; Contributor — 16 copies
Daenyathos (2010) 15 copies
Deliverance and Damnation (Warhammer 40,000) (2021) — Contributor — 5 copies
Irixa (2012) 5 copies
Black Leviathan (2014) 3 copies
Kill Shot (2018) 3 copies
The Lords of Fenris (2017) 3 copies
End of Night (2014) 3 copies
Voyage of the Sunspear (2012) 3 copies
Heart of Decay (2017) 3 copies
Thunderwolf 2 copies
Daemonblood 2 copies
Agents of the Imperium (2019) — Author — 1 copy
Baron (2014) 1 copy
Iceclaw (2017) 1 copy
Defixio {short story} (2002) 1 copy
Rise (2018) 1 copy

Associated Works

Dark Heresy: Core Rulebook (2008) — Contributor, some editions — 173 copies
Let the Galaxy Burn (2006) — Contributor — 137 copies
Legends of the Space Marines (2010) — Contributor — 81 copies
Victories of the Space Marines (2011) — Contributor — 71 copies
Dark Imperium (2001) — Contributor — 59 copies
Words of Blood (2002) — Contributor — 46 copies
Damocles (Space Marine Battles) (2014) — Contributor — 26 copies
Deathwatch: Xenos Hunters (2014) — Contributor — 25 copies
Lords and Tyrants (2019) — Contributor — 24 copies
There Is Only War (Warhammer 40,000) (2013) — Contributor — 19 copies
The Successors (2022) — Contributor — 17 copies
Space Wolves (5) (Legends of the Dark Millennium) (2017) — Contributor — 12 copies
Warcry: The Anthology (2019) — Contributor — 11 copies
Direchasm (Warhammer Age of Sigmar) (2020) — Contributor — 8 copies
Inferno! Tales from the Worlds of Warhammer: Volume 5 (2020) — Contributor — 8 copies
Hammer and Bolter: Issue 1 (2010) — Contributor, some editions — 7 copies
Hammer and Bolter: Issue 5 (2011) — Contributor — 5 copies
Hammer and Bolter: Issue 7 (2011) — Contributor — 5 copies
Hammer and Bolter: Issue 2 (2010) — Contributor, some editions — 5 copies
Hammer and Bolter: Issue 3 (2010) — Contributor, some editions — 5 copies
Renegades of the Dark Millennium (2014) — Contributor — 5 copies
Hammer and Bolter: Issue 19 (2012) — Contributor — 3 copies
Hammer and Bolter: Issue 17 (2012) — Contributor — 3 copies
Space Marines: Angels of Death (2013) — Contributor — 2 copies
The Horus Heresy Starter Collection 1 (2023) — Contributor — 1 copy
Harlequins ebook collection (Warhammer 40,000) (2015) — Contributor — 1 copy
Ultramarines Collection II (2023) — Contributor — 1 copy

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Members

Reviews

 
Flagged
wolfric0 | 14 other reviews | Apr 28, 2024 |
I want to start by making a few things clear, before getting into this review:
- I was coming in so hype from Flight of the Eisenstein (I'm saving my re-read of Fulgrim for the whole Shattersong Omnibus following www.heresyomnibus.com) and I was at peak Warhammer, especially Horus Heresy, hyperfixation on a special interest and having a ball.
- I think Counter is a fantastic writer, I love a lot of his work, and he was so lovely when I randomly met him at a Magic: The Gathering re-release event many moons ago.
- They quality of the Horus Heresy books vacillates, but coming back to the opening quadrilogy after reading a whole lot in the last year and being shocked by how much they stand up and in my honest mood even surpass many far more respected books in terms of the way literature is critiqued (art is subjective and not a competition, but we understand their are certain qualities and attributes that raises the quality of a work), so I'm not going to be grading this series on a curve like I might do with other Black Library titles.
- Expanding on the above, if this had the white cover, bottom third cover art, big red title, and the the grey Aquila Space Marine Battles banner across the top, I would have very different expectations and reactions than the full cover art with top third black text box with outline and text in gold. I know this is ridiculously granular, but this was the eighth book released of a series which had established itself with certain qualities.
(No shade on Space Marine Battles in particular, I just think this has the feel of a good entry in that series, rather than as part of this one)

I feel a huge amount of relief at having this book finished because, while their are moments of quality writing with beautiful moments and gorgeous descriptions, this one really missed the mark for me. I feel awful for how much negative stuff I have to say, some of which I don't think is Counter's fault at all, and all of which is my own subjective opinion, especially as I remember having a good time with this previously.

The Word Bearers with the aid of what will eventually become the Dark/New Mechanicum/s make the biggest, baddest spaceship and are heading to go mark Calth up with it as the decisive sucker punch against the Ultramarines. A ragtag group of Astartes from various Legions, Space Wolves, World Eaters, and Thousand Sons, lead by Ultramarines and their commandeered ships have something to say about that.

I know I've been in a lot of pain and discomfort today, while reading the book and writing this review with my chronic conditions flaring like Warp storms, so maybe I'm being unfair in how I felt, or more importantly didn't feel, about this. But it was laid up listening to the good, the bad, the ugly, and the phenomenal that had me sobbing pretty much from start to finish of Horus Heresy audio dramas that made me begin this quest to finally actually fully complete the saga, especially with The End and the Death Part III released this year.

Unfortunately, I didn't like a lot of this (for a Horus Heresy novel).

I think in many ways this novel (and Counter) were given a raw deal in when this novel was released and what it had to do. The foundations this is built on are incredibly shaky, eschewing the established Horus Heresy formula of introducing a single Legion through their past and present, using this to specifically hone in on their reputation and perceived character, while exploring how they are and aren't like this. This is essential for creating a baseline, exposing misconceptions, establishing tensions that were fermenting long before Davin, let alone Isstvan, and, most importantly for anyone who isn't a 40k nerd, actually giving the reader an idea of who, what, why, where, when, and how. There is a ludicrous amount of lore, history, knowledge, and dramatic irony we nerds are aware of, but is all but impenetrable for someone coming in fresh. This is something I praised Horus Rising and whole opening quadrilogy for, as they gradually increase the scope and elements over the course of several novels. Honestly, to be fair to Counter here, I feel like this was a bad call on Black Library and the Horus Heresy planning team that he is taking the blow for, especially when The First Heretic and Know No Fear are so far away. I get that chronologically this makes sense to be before Know Know Fear, but chronology? The Horus Heresy doesn't know her, and introducing the stakes and reasons to care about the Shadow War: Red Vs Blue Heresy Boogaloo are far more important. Counter got done dirty and Black Library made logistical mistakes, which I know is hard to believe as, despite the quality of a lot of the work their authors create, they seem to be run with the same efficiency and methods as the Munitorum in the Dark Millennium.

Going by the release and almost all suggested reading orders, at least as far as the novels are concerned, outside of the odd character and reference, we know nothing about the Legions involved in this story. So far we have become familiar with and invested in the Lunar Wolves/ Sons of Horus, Emperor's Children, and Death Guard, as well as getting an introduction to the Dark Angels and a glimpse of the Alpha Legion. This novel doesn't do much to address this or really give the Space Marines much individual character, backstory, or motivations beyond being the absolute embodiment of the stereotypes and tropes of their respective Legions. They do develop as the story goes on, but not as much as I hoped and thought I remembered.

We have the drinking, fighting, good times, but hates Thousand Sons because of the Edict of Nikea (which we get a very brief explainer for), Space Wolf, the shamed and secluded, but really making making an effort to be an ambassador for his Legion, Thousand Son, a mega-scarred and lary World Eater (who has mutual distrust and not liking the mirror match with the Space Wolf), and a couple of Ultramarines, embodying the rather starched Roman legionary, but will do what's necessary of they have to thing going on. The only additional elements being given to these Ultramarines who are essentially the main protagonists is that they are lonely, homesick, and one had a vision (having a vision is not a personality trait). Don't get me started on this being the introduction to the Word Bearers (beyond Erebus), one of the most fascinating Legions and narratives in this whole saga, once they get the introduction they deserved in The First Heretic and Aurelian, being reduced to moustache-twirling villains without any aspect to them, beyond zealotry and cutthroat ambition that reduces them to slapstick buffoons! I know I am the bearer of the word of myth and foundation story archetypes, but they aren't presented like that and this novel lacks any of the mythic legend, outside of the David versus Goliath aspect.

Even as individuals and preexisting relationships between the Ultramarines and the Space Wolf, we have next to nothing to go on beyond Star Wars Prequels levels of told not shown relationships:
'Hello there, Ultrakin, remember when we brought that nest of gundarks to Compliance?'
'I do, master... I mean Fenrykenobi'

Another less Horus Heresy, more standard 40K fare is the curse of the Whedon dialogue that's infected nearly all genre media. My go to example of this the tonally bizarre, especially considering the context, Poe/ Kylo Ren dialogue that opens the Force Awakens as an instance of this in a film in generally love. I want to be clear that the Dark Millennia are ridiculous and silly in their grimdarkness; Blanchean, but unnaturally quipping Ultramarines giving it the classic 'that went well' (if I recall correctly, multiple times) in intense situations feels weird, forced and 'cool', rather than in character. Torgaddon is an archetypal fool and a constant joker in the previous books, but there soldierly camaraderie, almost dad joke quality to his humour, rather than Alan Tudyk in Macragge Blue power armour.

I also think themes and expressions honour, tragedy, and sacrifice are somewhat mishandled, certainly not to the same degree as in Honour to the Dead which I am rather dreading being the capstone of the Shadow War I Omnibus. I am all about and have genuinely felt bolstered in real life considering positive and meaningful moments that can exist in the micro within a galaxy where everything is awful and grimdark in the macro, but I think it's something, especially with the honour and Imperial Truth indoctrinated into Astartes and their whole worldview, that needs to be handled with deftness and care to not become affirming or apologia for the jingoistic nightmare that is the Imperium. Of course, most of the individual Space Marines feel this way and are true believers, so it is down to the author to construct the narrative and narrator's voice that doesn't reinforce that. If you really look for it the difference is definitely there and incredibly important, something Games Workshop and Black Library can be very slack on, particularly because the vast majority of media is presented as coming from the in universe perspective of the Imperium.

Never forget that 40K (and the surrounding millenia) is a satire of empire, authoritarianism, and religious extremism that used to be much more clear about how inhuman and monstrous a weapon Astartes are made to be. Don't get me wrong, I love my Lokens, Tarvitzes, Garros, etc., but I celebrate their personal victories and adore how their narratives explicitly criticise the state of things and show the inconsistencies and hypocrisy in the Imperium, and the tragedy of being stuck in the impossible situation the system has created, as much as the external threats, again, many of which are only threats because of the beliefs and actions of the Imperium. This is why the Night Haunter, the Red Angel, and Corax are my favourite Primarchs, and Khârn, Argal Tal, Torgaddon, and the Loyalists (and specifically how they are treated) of the Traitor Legions are some of my favourite characters. They truly embody the way both the Imperium and Immaterium choke all that is good with their dogma and brutality.

This book was the first time I started to fear Heresy Burnout, which is scary with how I've barely got started, but I am determined to pass the Rubicon and I am looking forward to Know No Fear being the next novel in this Omnibus, which is one of my favourites and, I believe, is widely acknowledged as being in the top tier Horus Heresy novels.

As much as I have had to criticise, I do have some positive things to say and there certainly are pockets of brilliance with a lot of competent, but unexciting logistics between them. The main thing Counter is fantastic about is how he handles anything to do with the Warp. His descriptions of the geography and denizens of the Immaterium as fragments and reflections of emotion are surrealist masterpieces! His command of presenting the uncanny unreality of the Aether is sublime. The way this is then channelled into the paranoia and horror of Warp entities on board the Loyalist ships and the way the Realm and sorcereries of Chaos affects the mind creates some wonderful 'The Thing' vibes is great and could have been given even more screen time to be honest. I am just infinitely fascinated with the Immaterium, Warp travel, and it's affects on the laws of physics and the psyche.

The description and story that go along with the gallery on the Furious Abyss are also really well done, as are elements of the World Eater and Space Wolf's storylines (and to an extent the Thousand Son), especially in the way they echo each other and the similarities and differences of what they go through and how they reflect on and experience feeling alone and disconnected from their battle bother cousins. There is one moment of the Space Wolf ruminating on his feelings and remembering a trial he went through as a neophyte that was one of the only times I actually felt any connection or emotion.

I absolutely powered through this, but not in my usual excited, insatiable way. Instead, I just let it wash over me while I've been laid up with chronic pain, stimming by rearranging my whole 40k ebook library by factions, which took all night, from the individual authors I had been sorting it into in recent weeks. I just needed to have this done, so it didn't bog me down.

The reason I have referred to the characters by their Legions is because, beyond Skraal and Cestus, I genuinely didn't recall or dare to learn their names, which, as someone who really needs to connect, positively, negatively, or otherwise, with characters to feel anything or have the stakes or tension mean anything, says everything about my experience.

There are moments of brilliance, where Counter's imagination, descriptive, and emotional flare shine through, but, ultimately, this is in my honest opinion a not great Horus Heresy novel released in an order that makes no sense that would be a pretty good 40k one. Honestly, swap the Thousand Son for a Grey Knight or any Librarius heavy Chapter, the World Eater for a Flesh Tearer and this works pretty much as is as a 40k novel, which I really don't think should be the case for what we have come to expect from the Horus Heresy.
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Flagged
RatGrrrl | 11 other reviews | Jan 28, 2024 |
Initial Reaction

I have read this book, which I consider one big book with Horus Rising and False Gods with parts of Flight of the Eisenstein as a coda, at least four times in the nearly 18 years since it was published, and every time it has made me cry. These books are incredible and the stories and characters within are something special.

I will be taking a little break to catch up on reviews and to keep on top of other reading, including a proper write up for this, after Flight of the Eisenstein, as well as reading the early stories and accounts of the Horus Heresy, including The Emperor and Horus by William King, The Horus Rebellion by Alan Merrett, and The Dornian Heresy for fun.

This whole saga continues to be an unbelievable undertaking, despite the wildly vacillating quality as things go on, but this opening trilogy is damn near perfect for what it is. I think some of the negative reviews I've seen don't seem to know what that is and judge it unfairly. I'm all for the joys of subjectivity and I know my brains mercurial and sporadic tastes, but I think complaints about characters making ridiculous choices and acting in 'unbelievable' ways make the mistake of viewing this as a traditional sci-fi story or space opera. The Horus Heresy is the foundation story for Warhammer 40K (with its own foundation stories, which spirals back on itself); it is myth and legend like the Eddas, Odyssey, Illiad, and The Contending of Horus and Seth. It draws on these and classic and foundational tales from across the globe, particularly the latter, both in form and through in universe references, surpassing the simple pig Latin Catholic allegory it began as, the just over 15 lines of small box text in the Book of the Astronomicon, as I mentioned in my Horus Rising review, to become a gestalt. It is a reflection and interpretation of all of these things through the medium of novels, novellas, short stories, audio drama, and a graphic novel about big dudes in armour with machine gun rocket launchers, giant cathedral spaceships, it's own eldritch horror, combining Cthulhu mythos with every concept of hell and the supernatural, and every alien in media on steroids.

I'm not saying this should be held up with Homer, Snorri, and Sîn-lēqi-unninni, but the mythological and allegorical nature are self evident, so some criticisms I've seen do have a ring of ‘cancelling’ Achilles for being too problematic a fave. Yeah, taking concubines is awful and pouting over having yours stolen because your king wanted a new one so you nearly lose a war and your ‘close personal friend’ and [roommate] seems absolutely ridiculous behaviour, but these aren't stories about realism and, in the case of the Astartes and Primarchs, being exactingly genetically engineered and going through truly inconceivable amounts of indoctrination will make you do some odd things.

Anyways, I need to stop acting as an Iterator for this series and come back after I get my head together enough to catch up on reviewing False Gods and this in full. But the tragedy of the tragedy of the Mournival, the death of the Great Crusade, the kindling of the Imperial Creed, Qruze embodying Milgram's obedience, Tarvitz stepping out of being a line officer and stepping up for his moment, the camaraderie between the Loyalist Captains, and Counters wonderfully visceral and vivid descriptions, without wallowing in florid detail are all glorious elements I have a lot more to say on another time.

For now, I have a Flight to catch with a certain Battle Captain on the commandeered Eisenstein.
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Flagged
RatGrrrl | 14 other reviews | Jan 23, 2024 |
Why 4 stars:
- one of my favorite warhammer 40 k novels
- a lot of mystery interwoven between the obligatory battles
- original in it's use of the warhammer 40k IP.
- Good plot lines, with some nice twists.

Who should read this?
Any fan of the warhammer 40k novels should enjoy this book.
Science fiction fans who have no prior knowledge of the 40K universe are perhaps better served by reading something like Gaunt's Ghosts. A little knowledge about the 40K universe is needed to fully enjoy this book.… (more)
 
Flagged
Specialflakes | 1 other review | Nov 28, 2023 |

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Associated Authors

Jason Marker Contributor
Owen Barnes Contributor
Graham Davey Contributor
Sam Stewart Contributor
Lee Gunby Contributor
Andy Chambers Contributor
Andy Hoare Contributor
Guy Haley Author
Darius Hinks Illustrator
Jon Sullivan Cover artist
Adrian Wood Illustrator
Steve Lyons Contributor
Braden Campbell Contributor
Ian St. Martin Contributor
Robbie MacNiven Contributor
Mark Clapham Contributor
Peter Fehervari Contributor
Justin D Hill Contributor
Chris Dows Contributor
Danie Ware Contributor
Justin Woolley Contributor
Gary Kloster Contributor
David Guymer Contributor
Neil Roberts Cover artist
Philip Sibbering Cover artist
Hardy Fowler Illustrator, Cover artist
Kate Flack Contributor
Tony Ackland Illustrator
Tony Parker Illustrator
Shawn Brown Cartographer
Chris Pramas Contributor
Karl Kopinsky Cover artist
H Maps
Evan Sass Editor
Hal Mangold Designer
Charles Elliot Cartographer
Russ Nicholson Illustrator
Fredrik Tyskerud Illustrator
Matt Bradbury Illustrator
Mark Raynor Designer
Ben Zweiful Illustrator
Tiernan Trevallion Illustrator
Alberto Bontempi Illustrator
Alex Davy Editor
Nikolaus Ingeneri Illustrator
Theo Stylianides Illustrator
Zachary Graves Illustrator
David Sondered Illustrator
Simon Eckert Illustrator
Nicholas Stohlman Illustrator
Kevin Rubitsky Contributor
Erich Schreiner Illustrator
Oleg Saakyan Illustrator
Chase Toole Illustrator
Tim Huckelbery Contributor
Hector Ortiz Illustrator
Nuala Kennedy Illustrator
James Hall Illustrator
Mark Smith Illustrator
Mark Gibbons Illustrator
David Griffith Illustrator
Adrian Smith Illustrator
Clint Langley Illustrator
Liu Yang Illustrator
Alex Boyd Illustrator
Wayne England Illustrator
Karl Kopinski Illustrator
Paul Dainton Illustrator
Dave Gallagher Illustrator
Karl Richardson Illustrator
Igor Kieryluk Illustrator
Andrea Uderzo Illustrator
Andrea Gausman Contributor
Michael Phillippi Cover artist
Stefan Kopinski Illustrator
Raymond Swanland Cover artist
John Banks Narrator, Performer
Tom Alexander Performer
Martyn Ellis Narrator
David Timson Narrator
Tim Bentinck Narrator
Peter Noble Narrator
Emma Gregory Performer
Saul Reichlin Narrator
Grant Griffin Cover artist
Matthew Hunt Narrator
Mac Smith Cover artist
Deeivya Meir Performer
Samuel Gunn Director

Statistics

Works
75
Also by
30
Members
2,912
Popularity
#8,792
Rating
½ 3.5
Reviews
41
ISBNs
126
Languages
6
Favorited
1

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