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3.94  ·  Rating Details ·  5,483 Ratings  ·  352 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)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Feb 22, 2011 David rated it really liked it
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
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
Robin Ambrose
Jan 01, 2011 Robin Ambrose rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi, short-stories
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Apr 11, 2011 Elise rated it really liked it
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.
Duffy Pratt
Sep 24, 2013 Duffy Pratt rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
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
Feb 21, 2012 Chris rated it it was ok
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.
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
Nov 20, 2012 J.A. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 14, 2015 Kimikimi rated it really liked it
Shelves: tor-com
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.
Oct 31, 2013 Igor rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi, sanderson
Such a lovely short story, would love to read more of this but then wouldn't be lovely short story, wouldn't it?
Lukas Lovas
Aug 18, 2015 Lukas Lovas rated it it was amazing
Wow....I did not see that one coming....This book is special even among Sanderson's works...
Jan 26, 2014 Kaitlin rated it really liked it
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 :-)
Mar 26, 2014 Miki rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dzemo Sh
Jun 25, 2014 Dzemo Sh rated it really liked it
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
Oct 21, 2014 Monica rated it really liked it
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
Jan 21, 2015 Kaleb rated it really liked it
I'd love to see Sanderson write more sci-fi! Is there anything he can't write?
Oct 30, 2015 Kassandra rated it really liked it
4 stars. For some reason, the fact that Firstborn is only 47 pages in length gave me the ridiculous idea that I shouldn't expect too much out of it? Which is completely insane because Brandon. Sanderson. *cries* how could I have doubted.

47 pages long, but the plot? Crazy intense and altogether, surprising. The characters? They packed just enough emotional baggage to make the reading journey personal and honestly, relatable. I loved "the disappointment" vs. "Father's pride and joy" dynami
Jul 02, 2015 Paul rated it really liked it
A decent mini space opera with a good premise. Good writing especially considering it came quite early in Sandersons career before he perfected his short form. Its definitely a concept that could have stretched to a novel .
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
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
Denae Christine
Reader thoughts: I loved the brainstorming on how to defeat someone who is basically perfect. This guy is cleverer than everyone else and has more experience than everyone else. He has better technology and a larger army. How do you stop him?

Writer thoughts: This takes the idea of a big brother's shadow to a whole new level. Plenty of authors write about a younger sibling who doesn't quite measure up to their older sister/brother. The Two Princesses of Bamarre, The Runaway King, and Pr
Aug 30, 2015 Scott rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi
This is the first Sanderson that I have read that was science fiction and that made me skeptical.

But it's Brandon f'ing Sanderson people!

A novella about a seemingly failure of an officer who just happens to be the brother of the greatest military officer in history - someone who has never lost a battle - but what do you do when you have to fight yourself?

Just two or three days ago I posted about how down on sci-fi I have been this year and then I read Scalzi and now Sanderson and they have rede
Sep 09, 2015 Sana rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2015
This was decent and fun to read!
Rhett Bruno
Dec 30, 2015 Rhett Bruno rated it it was amazing
For what is only a novelette, this story certainly packed a punch. I’m not too familiar with Sanderson, but it seems that one of his few forays into science fiction was a success. Everything here worked, from the characters to the universe which is given just enough description to make it seem real.

Dennison is the protagonist, and he’s a failing military officer living in the shadow of his brother Varion. Where he can’t even win a simulated battle, Varion has all but defeated every enemy of the
Jun 19, 2016 David rated it liked it
"I strongly disapprove of suicide."
Jan 30, 2016 Tejas rated it liked it
Shelves: reads-2016
A story in sci-fi genre, not upto par with other epic works but it's good. A son of High Duke , raised in shadow of his living legend brother. How battles fought here reminds me of Ender's Game. Certainly a good read.

Better to be the failure who nobly strived than the success who never really had to.
Nope, a battle between some spaceships doesn't mean sci-fi. Nope.
My last try in reading BS' sci-fi experiments. I'll just stick to Stormlight.
Adam Collings
What starts as an inoccuous little character drama about a space commander who can't live up to the unreasonable expectations put on him because of his bloodline, twists into a desperate struggle to save an empire. The second half of the story keeps you biting your nails until the satisfying and clever ending.

This is the first science fiction I have read from Brandon Sanderson (other than his YA Superhero). It makes me all the more eager for his Mistborn Space Opera series.
Jul 25, 2016 Mary rated it it was amazing
Sanderson is something special

Wow. Another great story from the mind of Brandon Sanderson. If I could summon one-tenth of his imagination I would be overjoyed. So, so good.
Aki Tman
Aug 22, 2016 Aki Tman rated it really liked it
Cool, reminded me a little of Enders game.
Predicited everything but the last paragraph... kicking myself for missing that.
That being said, just because I saw the twists and turns coming, doesn't mean the ride wasn't enjoyable.
Sanderson gets a fair amount of world building done in a small amount of words. Which is difficult when you're under things like a word count constraint.

If Sanderson turns his hand to sci-fi, I will certainly be reading
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Brandon’s major books for the second half of 2016 are The Dark Talent, the final volume in Alcatraz Smedry’s autobiographical account of his battle against the Evil Librarians who secretly rule our world, and Arcanum Unbounded, the collection of short fiction in the Cosmere universe that includes the Mistborn series and the Stormlight
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“Better to be the failure who nobly strived than the success who never really had to.” 126 likes
“He moved like some ancient god of lore, presiding over a battlefield of miniature mortals who couldn’t see him, but certainly felt his almighty hand. Except, if Dennison was a god, his specialty certainly wasn’t war.” 1 likes
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