Monday, January 4, 2010

Review: Sons of Dorn by Chris Roberson


Sons of Dorn by Chris Roberson

Black Library Publishing

414 pages.


Sons of Dorn is a thrilling new Imperial Fists novel featuring a memorable cast of characters and all the intergalactic action associated with the Black Library.


It's a familiar tale: enemy warriors fighting a desperate battle only to be snatched up and put through a grueling series of tests and implantations to become Astartes. Eventually they learn to be a team and work together (or die) as scouts, neophytes, etc. If you've read the Space Wolves Omnibus (specifically Space Wolf) by William King then you know the story. Honestly, if you're a Space marine fan of any sort you likely are familiar with the story already. That's all there is to know, right?


While the process of creating a Space Marine may be fairly well-trodden ground, this is very much an Imperial Fists book, and Imperial Fists aren't your everyday Space Marine. The Imperial Fists are one of the original founding Legions, from which many smaller "chapters" were spawned. These aren't Ultramarines or some other cookie-cutter Codex Astartes clone...and they take their identity serious. The book has a lot of unique Imperial Fist flavor to say the very least.

Add to this that Chris Roberson isn't your everyday writer. He's got a unique feel to his writing style. Where the Space Wolf stories read like Icelandic Sagas of superheroes who are greater than gods...Roberson makes Astartes supermen without making them perfect in every 4-color way. These guys have an ounce of humanity left in them. Unlike some stories that lead you to believe that Space Marines are these perfectly indoctrinated controlled psychopaths who are nigh unstoppable...Chris Roberson gives them a little bit of feeling. A bit of color. A bit of inner turmoil and gives us as readers a bit of insight in to what it would be like to undergo such a life altering event, complete with missing or fuzzy memories and added hypnotherapy weirdness...and deal with it without going nuts.

Roberson tells a good yarn. He's really good at setting the stage, pacing and misdirection. He'll trick you. Most of the time these sort of stories play out fairly predictably. Chris Roberson does a great job in keeping you going and throwing curves and twists at you.

Is it a unique story? No. It is however done in a very creative manner. To be honest, I wasn't sure if another "making of a space marine" would be anything short of a snoozer, but Chris Roberson really does a great job at taking a well-worn concept and breathing fresh new life in to it.


3 of 5 (4 of 5 for IF fans)

Definitely an enjoyable read! I want to see Chris Roberson get cut loose on some fresh material...I'm sure he'll knock our socks off!


Anonymous said...

If I'm honest I quite enjoyed this book but I did find it hard going at times. The portrayal of the Imperial Fists is likeable if not always totally canon. The battles are nicely done and overall I think it's a good book.

Downsides are the 'twists' as it is put are telegraphed in a letter attached to a powerfist & rammed down your throat. The ending is entirely predictable but without taking from the quality of the book.

No suprises in store but a good read if you like the Imperial Fists. If you want to read about the process if transforming a Space Marine then read 'Space Marine' by Ian Watson.


Jeff said...

Heh, BL novels and "canon" often don't quite jive. I don't mind, but I know some folks really flip about it.