Friday, August 08, 2014

Booknote: Sons of Dorn

Chris Roberson, Sons of Dorn. Nottingham (UK): Black Library, 2010. ISBN: 9781844167890. (Imperial Fists novel, Warhammer 40,000).

I saw some reviews of this before I started that said the plot was one from other Black Library novels (the Space Wolves series to be precise). I have not read the other series, and I am fairly casual reader, so I am coming at this novel with that perspective. At any rate, that is stuff that the hardcore fans may know or may want to know. For the rest of us, the basic plot is that of three rivals who get recruited (or kidnapped and taken in) by the Imperial Fists Chapter of Space Marines in the hopes of turning them into Space Marines as well. From there, Roberson develops the story.

When I started reading this, I was a bit concerned that it was going to be similar to Descent of Angels (see my review of that here), where the novel took place, at least for some part, in a world before the Space Marines arrived. That author did not provide a good work and I saw some small similarities initially between the two novels. However, the world of our protagonists here is different. For one, it had been contacted by the Space Marines already, though not recently, so the locals sort of lost touch with the Imperium of Man. Roberson then goes on to give us a better story than Scanlon, setting up early the rivalry between DuQueste, Zatori, and Taloc. The three men, members of civilizations at war with each other, are culled right out of a battlefield along with many others by the Imperial Fists who are looking for, to borrow the sales pitch, "for a few good men." Initially, the three men are not it, but we'll get there. Once the culling happens, the novel actually becomes more interesting as it goes along. The three men go through their training and indoctrination.

The processing of a Space Marines recruit and then neophyte is something not seen often in these novels; it is a process that can vary in small ways from one Space Marines chapter to the next. The Imperial Fists certainly have their specific rules and procedures, some of them quite ruthless. Add to this that the three recruits each have a grudge against each other, but they cannot act upon it during the training or later when they make it to be scouts (don't worry, I am not spoiling here. The fact they do become scouts is mentioned in the book's blurp). Doing so would earn them severe punishment. Will they be able to at least put their grudges aside long enough to survive the training and their first combat missions? That tension does add to the pace and suspense of the novel.

The action does pick up when the new scouts reach their first combat assignment. It is a world that has been invaded by Traitor Space Marines and Traitor Guards (former Imperial forces that have turned against the Emperor to serve the Chaos forces). The world holds strategic value due to high fuel deposits. Our new scouts end up in a siege as they have to hold a central location that is also a refugee center from the onslaught of enemy forces. Now, the Imperial Fists are known as masters of siege warfare, but will they be able to hold out here long enough for reinforcements to arrive? You will have to read to find out.

Overall, this was a pretty entertaining read. It is a good standalone novel, which for me is a good thing as I sometimes just want to read one good piece of fiction. However, the ending does leave the possibility of other novels down the road. I do not know if there will be a sequel or not, but I would consider reading it if it happens. Basically this is a good action tale of Space Marines. Fans of the Imperial Fists will likely be pleased. More casual readers like me can enjoy it as well.

I'd give it four out of five stars if you ask me.

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