Monday, May 31, 2010

Review: Sons of Dorn

This book by Chris Roberson tells the tale of some Imperial Fists as they go from being "regular" humans through their induction into the Fists, their time as scouts and their eventual elevation to full battle brothers.

This book is interesting because in the book Heroes of the Space Marines which was published a year or so ago, we see the main characters in the short story Gauntlet Run.  So this first story falls somewhere in the timeline of the novel, but isn't really discussed.

This wasn't a bad book but I kept having the feeling I'd seen it before. This is a story of "savages" taken by the sky warriors to become space marines. I was thinking, "I saw this in Space Wolf." They even have the plot device of Zatori hating du Quest because du Quest killed Zatori's master before both were taking up by the space marines. This is just like Ragnar hating Strybjorn in Space Wolf, but this is even better because in Sons of Dorn, you also have Taloc hating Zatori because Zatori killed Taloc's father! Its a hate three-way! So I'm sure that like Space Wolf, the three will finally come to an understanding that all of that drama was in their old lives, and their bond as battle brothers is stronger than past transgressions.


There is lots of "Zatori couldn't wait for the moment when it would fulfill his blood oath and kill the dog du Queste," but nothing ever comes of it. I was waiting for a paragraph at the end of the book saying they were all happy with each other now, but nada.

Another complaint I have had with a lot of the Black Library authors is their verbosity and loquaciousness (I had to look both of those words up). As Calvin put it, "these guys need to understand they are writing pulp fiction." But I fear that with Graham McNeill getting on the NY Times best seller list we'll see more of this. To give you an example of what I'm talking about, this is the first sentence of the book.

"In the exercise hall deep in the heart of the Imperial Fist strike cruiser Capulus, Captain Taelos swun his blade through the air in a two-handed grip, eyes closed and thoughts racing."

I think these guys are trying too hard. One of the best opening sentences in my opinion comes from The Gunslinger by Stephen King, "The man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed." Short, to the point and thats enough. Some of the other gems from Sons of Dorn are as follows.

"Ever since he'd been a mere neophyte, to perform the sword-forms had been for Taelos a meditative act, one which in even the most stressful and demanding of circumstances helped him order his thoughts and centre himself, pushing away distractions and focusing on the essential matter at hand."

"In the near distance, just north along the ocean's shore, rose a huge structure of some kind, and thought they could see little of its detail, they could clearly see the bright lights which twinkled merrily on towers and steeples, and the brilliantly bright yellow flames that danced atop the tallest spires."

Each one of those is just one sentence each! All in all the book isn't terrible, but I just couldn't get away from the overly wordy sentences, the contrived division between  the tree initiates and the total ass-hatitude of Imperial Fist Captain Lysander. I mean, that dude is a douchebag. I can't believe he wasn't exiled for the shit he pulled in this book. If I were the chapter master I'd be pretty pissed at the resources he had thrown away.

Anywho, I give it two slightly unsettling (as if yearning to be more than their humble beginnings as an arbitrary classifier to mediocre science fiction) stars out of five.


  1. So are there any books out that don't revolve around SM, Chaos, or IG?? I'd like to see a good Ork book. Now that would be fun reading!

  2. There were a couple Eldar books, and I have a Tau book, but I haven't seen any Ork books. Although I'd read it too!