Ataegina was an isolated world of medieval castles and rich cultures – vibrant until the demons rose and slaughtered ninety percent of the planet s population. Swarms of lethal creatures with black husks, murderous claws, barbed tails and dreaded “tooth-tongues” rage across the land. Terrified survivors hide in ruined mountain keeps, where they eke out a meager existence. Skilled runners travel the treacherous paths between keeps, maintaining trade and sharing information. If caught, they die screaming.
Ahiliyah of Lemeth Hold is an exceptional runner, constantly risking her life for her people. When she and her closest companions discover a new weapon, it may offer the one last chance to end the demon plague. But to save humanity, the trio must fight their way to the tunnels of Black Smoke Mountain – the lair of the mythical Demon Mother.
Author: Scott Sigler
Publisher: Titan Books
Release Date: 25/02/2020
My Chosen Format: Paperback
My Rating of ‘Aliens: Phalanx’: 4 out of 5
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I’m a big fan of the alien franchise and have listened to the audio dramas on audible, but never read a book set in the Alien universe. So when I got the chance to see how Xenomorphs and a medieval world turned out, I jumped at the chance.
I felt the story took a little while to get going as nothing of major consequence happens for a good while. The first part is mostly character building/world building etc … but, considering the characters suffer from a fair bit of stereotyping (if you’re big for your age, you’re super strong and want to be a warrior. If you short and weak, you will be the most intelligent thing on two legs. If you’re a girl in a male dominant world and just happen to be the main character, you’re destined to break the mould.) there didn’t seem to be massive need for too much development.
That wasn’t necessarily a bad thing where the main characters are concerned as they are likeable and, despite the above mentioned stereotyping, quite interesting to read about. There’s a lot of conflict, some good-natured, some not, between them and it really adds something to the book.
Character work becomes a bit more of a problem when the secondary characters come into things. The ones I mean more than any are the rulers of the city. They are just so childish that any scene with them in just feels like how I’d expect a fifteen year old to write a councillor scene. Far too much petty squabbles (which I know do happen in real life, but they make themselves seem so childish and petty in front of actual children). The councillors aside, I didn’t really have any massive issues with any of the characters. Even liked the majority of them.
There were a few moments, when things got going, that made me force myself to stay awake so I could keep reading. When Scott wants to get the pulse going, he really knows how. There’s nothing like feeling a part of the scene, as a reader, when the characters are being hunted by xenomorphs. More than once I could feel my excitement rising and my pulse racing.
There were a fair few time jumps. Not massive ones but more like at the end of a chapter it would say ‘so and so is still two days walk from here’. The next chapter would be inside the gates of the city that was two days walk without any mention of what happened in between. Not a massive issue but it took some getting used to.
The story itself is an interesting one and, as a reader, I was constantly curious as to why things were as they were and how things would pan out. So I had plenty of incentive as far as page turning goes. Always a good sign.
I did feel certain elements of the plot came a little too easily to the characters. A certain weapon for instance and just how one of the characters was so smart that no problem was unsolvable to him. It also, at times, felt nothing like a medieval world. If I’m honest, had the word medieval not been in the blurb, there’s very little that would make a reader think that was the time period being aimed for.
The ending was a fairly good one even if it did suffer slightly from the ‘certain things’ happening too easily or too conveniently aspect I mentioned earlier. But, as a whole, it was a really fun and enjoyable read. I’m certainly glad I picked it up and the lasting feeling of having enjoyed it is what’s made me score it so highly.
Anyone who feels a bit put off for not having read any previous alien books, you can jump in without any prior knowledge of the plot lines already established (I did). It feels like a stand alone that will have little to no bearing on the future of the franchise story lines. Obviously, I could be wrong in that.
Ps … absolutely gorgeous cover. Love a savage alien!