Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Firstborn” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  4,059 ratings  ·  277 reviews
Of the son of a High Duke of the interstellar Empire, much glory is expected. And expected. And still expected, despite endless proof that young Dennison Crestmar has no talent whatsoever for war. But the life Dennison is forced to live will have its surprising lessons to impart.
Kindle Edition, 47 pages
Published July 14th 2010 by Tor Books (first published December 17th 2008)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Firstborn, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Firstborn

The Way of Kings by Brandon SandersonThe Final Empire by Brandon SandersonThe Hero of Ages by Brandon SandersonWords of Radiance by Brandon SandersonThe Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson
Best Brandon Sanderson Books
21st out of 27 books — 337 voters
Princess Academy by Shannon HaleFablehaven by Brandon MullThe Goose Girl by Shannon HalePrincess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day GeorgePrincess of Glass by Jessica Day George
Books by Utah Authors
194th out of 729 books — 362 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Mr. is with a heavy heart that I must report that this story contains a fair to moderate amount of... [image error]

2.0 stars. The fail is by no means EPIC or UBER, but given how much I loved the Mistborn series, it was, in the end, a disappointment. Now, I don't mean to imply that this SF short story is horrible or poorly written because that is not the case. I just found it to be very UNDERWHELMING and seasoned with a healthy sprinkling of is the very de
Tadiana ♕Part-Time Dictator♕
So look what I stumbled across this morning: a Brandon Sanderson novelette, free on, thus combining two of my favorite things, a Tor freebie and Sanderson. It's a space opera tale, full of spaceship battles and imperial galactic empires. Dennison, the younger son of a nobleman, feels completely overshadowed by his older brother, High Admiral Varion, the greatest military genius the empire has ever known. Dennison, unlike his older brother, is a complete failure at military command.
He mov
In this short story, acclaimed fantasy author Brandon Sanderson writes science fiction! It was incredibly interesting to read something of Sanderson's that wasn't fantasy, and though the story was lacking his amazing magic systems that I love so much, it was a really entertaining read. There were several twists to the story that really surprised me, and it was both fast paced and easy to jump into. I would definitely recommend this story to any Sanderson fans, or any sci-fi lovers looking for a ...more
Duffy Pratt
The story felt quaint and derivative. It's science fiction, but very light on the science, so SF in the same sense that Star Wars is SF. The closest Sanderson comes to explaining a scientific principle is to say that heavier objects move slower in space than lighter ones. Thus, a fleet of starships gets slowed down by the largest ship in the fleet.

Also, in the tradition of Star Wars, we have a highly advanced technological society whose political structure seems bound up with ideas of Empire an
Eh...didn't hate it. I did have trouble staying focused and probably drifted away too many times to really get what happened. But that's ok.

I didn't expect much, as it was a short science-fiction story. I mean, it's a short story and it's sci-fi. Two things that are suspect before I begin.

But it was worth killing an hour or so.
I'd love to see Sanderson write more sci-fi! Is there anything he can't write?
I've got mixed feelings about Brandon Sanderson -- I liked his Mistborn series, and I've gotten invested in his new doorstopper epic fantasy series The Stormlight Archive, but he's kind of a dork and sometimes he writes dorky stuff. He talks on his blog about being a big Magic: The Gathering player, the magic systems in his novels are very clearly based on spending his teen years as an RPGer, and while reading this short story, I pictured him pushing little cardboard chits around on a Starfleet ...more
This was OK... It just didn't really grab me. On a scale of 1 to 10, my interest in military battle theory is a -2, so I wasn't exactly engrossed here.

There were some interesting concepts though, such as the expectations that others put on us, and those we put on ourselves, and how we don't always live up to them, no matter what the potential is. Sometimes those very expectations backfire.

This wasn't terrible, but definitely not my favorite of Sanderson's stories.

I'd still give him a good leg
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dzemo Sh
I am a huge fan of Brandon Sanderson, and I love everything he writes. After reading so many of his longer works, I decided to read some of his shorter stories and see what I think about them, but also to catch up a little on my reading schedule.

This story was by no means perfect, but still it was better than I thought it would be and I was pleasantly surprised. I liked the main character a lot, and I liked how everything unfolded.

However it's better when Sanderson writes longer stories, becaus
I rounded out my reading of his short fiction with the e-book Firstborn. Originally released as a Kindle edition in 2008, it was later re-released by Tor in a DRM-free format. I purchased it on my nook color and read it on an iPad. I’m not accustomed to reading on digital devices yet, but it was the simplest way of acquiring this particular story. Firstborn is a different venture for Sanderson as well, as it is short form science fiction. It’s a story about a second son who lives in the shadow o ...more
I'm not generally a huge fan of short stories--I'm all about character-driven stories, and it's so hard to really make a character feel real in such a short period of time. But this is Brandon Sanderson we're talking about here, and you know? He manages! I liked Dennison a lot, as well as Kern, and even the emperor. Still, I feel like the short story is just not where Sanderson's real strength lies. There are a couple of twists in this one, but neither of them really came as much of a surprise t ...more
A sci-fi themed and fast-paced story told from the fantastic words of Sanderson. Considering that this cost next to nothing and it's pretty short in length the story does well and has good development and intrigue for its size. I love Sanderson's skill at forming a new world and believable characters every time I read his work. For a short snap of sci-fi or Sanderson pick this up. Recommended :-)
Robin Ambrose
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.

Firstborn is set in the technologically advanced future of outer space. Dennison Crestmar, a young inexperienced commander has spent his entire life trying to live up to his older brother Varion, who is an experienced war commander. Despite Dennison's repeated failures and continued self-doubt, his father sends him to learn the ways of war. Dennison knows that he is in trouble.


The ecology in Firstborn is of limited review. The setting for this short story takes place on multiple
I had planned on dropping the $0.99 on the Kindle version of this story when I realized that it was free on! Bonus. (link)

This is what short stories are all about. Just enough description to paint a vivid picture. Enough characterization and personality for the reader to relate to and get caught up in the protagonist. Twists and turns that one can see coming, but not too far ahead. A reversal of fortune through ingenuity and NOT through deus ex machina. I especially liked my mental image
Apr 11, 2011 Elise rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: His fans, sci-fi fans
Recommended to Elise by:
It's eighty pages long, for his short story. That would be um...half of my book? How is that short for anyone! Just kidding. I hope to be like Brandon Sanderson when I writerly grow up. Yeah, I've got writers jealousy from this author. Four out of five because it's short :) He totally could have made it a book and I'd've read it already. I have it on my phone so I can just read it if I've fogotten my book at home or something.
GR tells that 3 stars mean "I like it", and that's exactly the thing.
I'm pocking around Sanderson's short stories to decide whether his style is for me or not so I can start reading his big series. And I think the answer will be yes. He is very light with the language and wordbuilding is easy and imaginable. I have no problem with visualisation this space world in exact details: Sanderson doesn't have a notorious treat of fantasy writers -- ambiguity.

As for the story itself, the whole idea of c
I liked this one, it's about failure. I've spent my life surrounded by highly intelligent people, the kind of people who very seldomly fail and so never learn how to handle it. And then there's me, the dyslexic girl. Yeah, I can really relate.
Brittany (The Book Addict's Guide)
This was interesting! I liked that it was sci-fi like actually IN SPACE. Very neat to see that from Sanderson. It was kind of hard to get into at first because it's only a novella so it was just jumping into the story line for the sake of time. It took me just a little bit to get used to the world and the backstory (which is hard to do sometimes with sci-fi for me) but it all turned out just fine! A very fun story with a few little twists and I found myself really wishing I could read a whole bo ...more
Such a lovely short story, would love to read more of this but then wouldn't be lovely short story, wouldn't it?
First off, let me say that I love Brandon's writing. His Mistborn books are spectacular and I can't wait to start the Stormlight Archive. Let me also say that I have never read any hard science fiction before, but if it were like this story I'd be willing to try out some more.

Granted this was a long shirt story, the character was interesting, the sudden action was awesome, and there was some shocking moments too in a short time. The only complaint I have is the story ended rather abruptly, with
Jesse Booth
It is quite obvious that Brandon Sanderson is in his element in his long fiction works. That being said, I still love reading his short fiction. Firstborn was a quick, fun read. It felt like the story could have for in with Enders Game somehow. In a civil war kind of way, at least.

I like the concept of one person having his own personality, and yet a clone of the same person taking on a different personality. Even though the genetics and DNA might be identical, experiences really make up a lot o
Sanderson is like James Cameron in ink. Shut off your mind, sit back, grab popcorn, and enjoy!

Somehow Sanderson has sneaked-up as the most-read author in my bookshelves, or so tells me he is.

So, I can say with a little authority: This is not a good Sanderson story. A rare miss for him. In his defense, Sanderson is so consistent that if he didn't falter sometime, I would start suspecting he's an author robot with prose-machine-guns for hands... or some similar and totally believabl
Steven R. McEvoy
What an incredible story!

There are a few hallmarks of great stories, at lease in my opinion. One of the big one's for me is does the story stay with you. I finished this story about a month ago and yet it keep's coming back to me. I have now reread it. My first impressions were 'What an Incredible story!'. And that feeling has only intensified. This is likely the best science fiction short story I have ever read and to be honest probably the second best short story I have every read.

Two brother
Joe Martin

Dennison has spent his entire life watching Varion, his older brother by 20 years, win battle after battle. Varion has fought his battles flawlessly, perfectly, never losing. Dennison has fought his own battles valiantly, but hopelessly, never winning. And, yet, his father and his Emperor refuse to release him from military service. Why? What good does it do anyone for him to stay in arms? Especially when his brother is loyally advancing the Empire’s cause at every turn?

This was a pure impulse b

Sanderson read this for It's about an hour long, and as much as Sanderson warns about his shortcomings as an audiobook narrator, it's always enjoyable to hear an author read their own words.

The story is relatively simply, playing on a few sci-fi tropes, but Sanderson's love of genre-fiction (and knowledge of the canon) makes his story stronger than it has any right to be. This seems to be one of Sanderson's hallmarks, since I found it also true in "Mistborn 1: The Final Empire" (althoug
Becky B
Dennison is an officer in a gallactic army at war. He has spent his entire life under the shadow of his older brother, the mastermind at the head of the army who is 20 years older than him. Everyone expects him to be equally brilliant in military strategy, but he absolutely stinks at it. Eventually he is put on a ship under a superior officer who just has him study his brother's tactics for a year and do nothing else. He starts to move from pure resentment of this brother whose shadow he lives u ...more
Derek Jordan
Jan 19, 2012 Derek Jordan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Sci Fi Fans and Sanderson Fans
Recommended to Derek by: Amazon
Shelves: owned-kindle
I usually do not really get into short stories. Many times they feel as it they could only have been better with a few more details, but as well I have read some that just lacked any sort of hook to get me to even read it all.

Sanderson... ,ever since I read the Mistborn novels, has always been able to grab my attention. I started this and was immediacy understanding of the plight this younger son was having in his field as well as with his father. It may be because it was reminiscence of the re
A plot of epic scale somehow fit into a short story while rarely feeling rushed. I'm impressed. Brandon wastes no words getting from action piece to action piece. The story reads almost like a well developed outline. To its benefit, Firstborn is fast paced, has interesting twists, and has great closure. The problem with the outline feel is that some events don't have the emotional impact they could have if Brandon had the luxury of even a few thousand more words to develop characters.

After start
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Kiss Me Twice
  • The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere
  • After the Coup (Old Man's War, #4.5)
  • That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made
  • The Litany of Earth
  • The Face in the Window (Powder Mage, #0.6)
  • Some of the Best from 2012 Edition
  • The Nostalgist
  • The Rain Is a Lie
  • The Viscount and the Witch (Riyria Chronicles, #1.5)
  • By Grace and Banners Fallen: Prologue to A Memory of Light (Wheel of Time)
  • Unfettered
  • The Butcher of Anderson Station (Expanse, #0.5)
  • The Other Half of the Sky
January 2015 marks the release of Firefight , the sequel to Steelheart . When only evil people gain super powers and become tyrants, it's up to normal people to hunt them down. There is a free 5-chapter preview ebook of Steelheart that you should check out, with a corresponding sampler audiobook on Audible. The Firefight book tour in the US lasts throughout January.

Recent short releases are Leg
More about Brandon Sanderson...
The Final Empire (Mistborn, #1) The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive, #1) The Well of Ascension (Mistborn, #2) The Hero of Ages (Mistborn, #3) Elantris (Elantris, #1)

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“Better to be the failure who nobly strived than the success who never really had to.” 122 likes
More quotes…