While on the surface just another of Dan Abnett's many, many entries into the Warhammer 40k universe, Brothers of the Snake is an excellent example of...moreWhile on the surface just another of Dan Abnett's many, many entries into the Warhammer 40k universe, Brothers of the Snake is an excellent example of what a talented author like Abnett can do even within the confines of an existing setting when left to chart his own course.
The Iron Snakes of Ithaka are a chapter of the fabled Space Marines, and while they, like all other Space Marines, are responsible for slaying the enemies of the Emperor of Mankind, they have taken a small sector of space known as the Reef Stars as their special protectorate, and do everything within their power to shield the hundreds of planets within from the many evils of the galaxy. These linked short stories follow Space Marine Priad from his first solo mission after becoming a full battle brother of the Iron Snakes to his rise as the sergeant of one of the most respected and capable squads of Space Marines in the Iron Snakes chapter.
Though a genetically-enhanced super-human, Priad's trials are still very human, as he succeeds to command of his squad in the middle of a battle and later must find recruits to fill the new holes in his command and weld them into a firm unit with his veterans.
This is another of Abnett's books which would make a good read for anyone who enjoys military sci-fi mixed with human drama, regardless of how much they know of the grim darkness of the far future in the 41st millennium. (less)
Unlike nearly all other Heinlein stories, this is a true fantasy. Like nearly all Heinlein, there's also a good deal of philosophy in this book, and t...moreUnlike nearly all other Heinlein stories, this is a true fantasy. Like nearly all Heinlein, there's also a good deal of philosophy in this book, and this is what I find most interesting about the story.
The putative plot of the book is that a young, multi-talented ex-soldier is bumming around Europe trying to figure out what to do with his life when he answers an add in the paper for a hero. This leads him into a fairly typical quest (the point of which he's never entirely certain about), complete with fair damsel, ugly but useful sidekick, and a number of other cliches. The quest goes essentially entirely with convention and without getting into much deeper-meaning territory (though some amusing throwaway commentary on democracies is present).
However, the book fails to end with the completion of the quest. And we enter the more philosophical area of the story. What, after all, happens to a hero when he's saved the universes and married the girl? He lives "happily ever after"...right? Those of us who have some experience with the so-called "real world" are aware that such things are rarely so simple, and this is also true of the hero. Heroes, after all, are great things to have around when stuff needs quested after, but what do they do when there's no quest? These are the issues "Glory Road" gets into with the final section of the story, and it's in their exploration that our hero begins to understand what it is to be a hero.(less)