Title: The Last Son of Dorn (The Beast Arises, Book 10)
Author: David Guymer
Publisher: The Black Library
Date of Publication: September, 2016
Approximate Pages: 238
Review by: Anthony
Hi there all! So, it looks like our first review will be on The Last Son of Dorn. I’ve been taking my sweet time (alright, I haven’t had any free time) to finish the The Beast Arises series. You can read the other reviews over at my old blog here.
Just a quick note before I get into the actual review here – I finished The Last Son of Dorn a few weeks back (actually, I finished the last three books in TBA around that time). So, if these reviews are a bit shorter than usual, or a bit less detailed than previous entries, it’s only because some of the details and finer points may have seeped out of my brain.
In the last installment of The Beast Arises, Watchers in Death, Koorland created the iconic Deathwatch, much to the chagrin and protestation of the scheming High Lords of Terra. Also, on a side mission, Inquisitorial heavyweights Veritus and Weinand went globe trotting on a mission to find the fabled Sisters of Silence. And….success! They did indeed find the elusive anti-psykers.
This brings us to The Last Son of Dorn.
Koorland has the blueprint for one final strike at the Beast on Ullanor. Working from the previous knowledge that using an anti-psyker agent to muffle the mental power of ork weirdboyz; and letting it accumulate, will cause greenskin heads to literally pop en masse when it is released, he devises a plan to utilize the Deathwatch to grab some weirdboyz. From there, he’ll use the Sisters of Silence to muzzle their psychic force until it reaches a saturation point, and then move the Sisters, releasing the explosive mental tide, and hopefully popping the Beast’s noggin open like a watermelon laid bare before the full fury of Gallagher.
The mission to gather the weirdboyz is the focus early on (interspersed with some politicking on Terra). Later on, we have another venture to Ullanor to put the plan into action. This will be the final test for Koorland. His last chance as a Lord Commander to put past failures behind him; to unite what remains of the Imperium’s forces, and to lead his brother Astartes as the Last Son of Dorn.
So how does this installment, David Guymer’s second entry in the series, stack up? Well, I personally really enjoyed it. The Last Son of Dorn is a very strong piece in the TBA puzzle, and it is also the better of Guymer’s entries. Here are a few reasons why:
Great marks all across the board. At this point in the series where it is a necessity that all the characters “stand and deliver”, Guymer delivers with his portrayal. Characters like Koorland and Thane, somewhat bland and under-defined until now; and figures such as Bohemond, up until now played as a one-note caricature, have true depth and urgency, while still adhering to the rules of what defines them as transhumans.
Supporting characters are well-fleshed out also. There is a scene where a group in on a Thunderhawk; and it is a mixed group indeed – Astartes, AdMech techpriest and skitarii ranger, Tempestus Scion, Sister of Silence, Weinand, and an ork psyker – and in this scene, you can clearly distinguish acting in the appropriate manner as would fit their position. Too many authors would just pen this scene as another meeting of familiar names. Guymer’s work really reinforces what makes all of these factions distinct, and memorable.
Fairly good, and well spread out. The opening scenes, which start with the Deathwatch teams, are truly rousing. We get a chance to go back to Eidolica, and even spend some time on Valhalla. All very cool.
The action itself is good, but sometimes it gets out of Guymer’s hands and gets a bit scattershot. I can appreciate the scenes where he wants to keep it frenetic – war is indeed frenetic; but sometimes details start to meander. And when you are writing about a fast action; or a lot of fast action; the best way to challenge the reader to try and keep up is to keep the sentences moving just as fast.
Overall writing style:
Guymer sets a good tone here that moves at the right speed. His dialogue is nice and crisp, never stilted. For descriptions, he employs a healthy combination of intelligent, exact details, combined at times with colorful metaphors. For example, at one point, when ork bombers are taking off from a captured cryoforge, he describes their egress as “from the cracked minaret, like tentacles emerging from a black-veined egg sac.” That’s some good stuff there.
There are parts which call for some real emotional weight in this book as well. Glad to say that Guymer rose to the challenge in making them strong and poignant.
I will say, however, that Guymer has a penchant for using the verb “spank” quite a lot. In his universe, bullets spank off of walls and such quite often. This is a bit jarring, because I rarely want to see orks and spanking in the same picture.
Well, I said rarely, not never.
Other notes of interest:
First and foremost, one thing done right off the bat that is a marked improvement on Watchers in Death is the vastly improved diversity of chapter representation in the Deathwatch teams. Raven Guard, Iron Snakes, Iron Fathers, Flesh Tearers, and Doom Eagles, just to name a few. You really cannot beat that.
Second, you have to chuckle at the fact that even though everything in the Imperial arsenal was used up on the last assault on Ullanor, Koorland is still able to muster up a decent force to assail it once more.
Finally, as much as I enjoyed this book overall, there was one word; one single, solitary word used late in the book that ticked me off so much that I almost sailed the book across the room. It comes off as a word that might get tossed around in a half joking manner during meetings, but had absolutely no place in the final book. I’ll mention it in the next review, since it is a bit spoiler-y.
All in all, a really solid second outing for David Guymer.
Yes, I really like this portrayal of Koorland. Here he is, in his Terminator armor, ready to unleash all of his rage upon the enemy.
Again, I only wish they didn’t have to cut off so much of the weapons in formatting the original for the cover.
Cover Final Score: