Monday, 18 January 2010

Sons of Dorn by Chris Roberson

Way back in time ( further then I care to remember or admit) when being a grown up seemed like such a long time away, I was thrilled to buy Space Marine. This was a book about Space Marines, actual Space Marines blowing stuff up. Of course I was far too young and innocent at the time to 'get' some of the more hidden subtext. Anyway after a long time the Imperial Fists are finally back in their own novel, Sons of Dorn by Chris Roberson.

I was keen to read Sons of Dorn as I had read Chris Robersons offering from Solaris and Dawn of War II. But how does he fair with his first novel for the Black Library where he doesn't have a computer game script to fall back on.

It would be impossible to write a review about this book without mentioning Space Marine. Space Marine is a much loved novel from the early days of Games Workshop ( soon to be released in the new POD service from the Black Library) and it's inevitable that people will draw comparisons. I even heard someone refer to this book as Space Marine: The next generation! I don't know why people would compare the two novels as Space Marine was about three recruits who hated each other and finally became 'brothers' where as Sons of Dorn is about three recruits who hated each other and finally become........... wait a second!

Joking aside anyone expecting a retelling of Space Marine will be in for a surprise. Taking a tip from the latest Star Trek film the time between the protagonists arriving at the phalanx ( the Imperial Fists spaceborne fortress) and their first real campaign as scouts passes from the end of one chapter at the begining of the next. Which although surprising at first was probably a smart move on Mr Robersons part. He avoids the inevitable comparing of the two books and there are already plenty of novels and background material describing the process of turning a boy into a marine.

The finale is well written and action packed which it needed to be after a very slow start to the book. All of the main 'characters' from the Imperial fists appear such as Lord Pugh, Chaplain Lo Chang and not forgetting everyone's favourite giant hammer wielding terminator Captain Lysander, who seems to have become someone of a cold hearted SOB when it comes to tactics.

Reluctantly I will say that the book is not perfect. I can already hear the knives belonging to the background fanatics eagerly being sharpened. The Imperial Fists seems to have gone from a careful selection process of recruits, to a hap hazard conscription process where they seem to take whoever looks goods ( I think the book mentions thousands of potentials) and knock them out before stacking as many of them as possible into ships. Some of the technology also seems a bit too 'futurastic' such as the machine which enables one of the Captains to be taught three seperate languages so he can speak fluently to three different people on a planet that hasn't been visited for hundreds of years.

Still as a start to a series it's a strong offering, and offers shows that the author has plenty of potential as a Warhammer 40,000 author. If he is able to improve his 'grasp' of the 40k universe ( i.e making things more gothic and arcane) I can see him joining the top ranks of Black Library authors. He's close but not there just yet.

3.5 out of five.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Dark Creed by Anthony Reynolds

Well it's been a while folks, my apologies but I'm now back up to speed with my reading pile and there will be a flood of reviews to come over the next few days. I thought I'd kick things off with a book I was looking forward to. Dark Creed, the final book in the Word Bearers series.
Our Hero or in this case Anti-hero Dark Apostle Marduk faces challenges from within and without his own legion as he attempts to use the Nexus arrangement ( a hardy bit of necron technology he 'borrowed' in the first novel to turn the tide of battle for the Word Bearers and capture a vital sector.

Now Dark Creed is a good book, it's a great improvement on the last novel in the series and is by no means the worst book ever published by the Black Library. And therein lies the problem. Dark Creed has become a victim of Black Librarys increase in quality. It simply does not measure up to what it could and should have been as the finale to a much loved series.

It does have it's good points. The backstabbing between the Word Bearers does lead you to wonder if the Imperiums continued existance is down to Loyalist skill or the fact Chaos Marines can not work together. The interesting insight into what happened to Lorgar Primarch of the Word Bearers, and the Necrons ability to just rip through anything that stands between them and their arefact is down right chilling.

However the book also has it bad points, Chaos Space Marines die far too easily, the importance of the sector and the fact it has a stable route to Earth means you know automatically at the start of the novel that the Word Bearers aren't going to win and the White Counsuls, the loyalist Marines guarding the sector must be the most naive Space marines in need of a physic lessons in the galaxy. In a time of warp travel, space marines and the Demonic trusting that someone is who they say they are based on the sound of their voice is mind numblingly stupid. Plus it doesn't matter if a Space battle barge has any nuclear weapons on or not it's still going to hurt if it rams you!

In itself Dark Creed is a good novel, the fight scenes are fantastic but overall it's a disapointing end to a great series that started off so well.

A disappointing 2.5 out of five.