The Ninjabot

Legion of the Damned: Why you gotta leave me hangin’ bra?

Posted on August 4, 2012 at 11:38 pm by GKDean

Cheesy sci-fi is near and dear to my heart.  And nothing is cheesier than a Black Library Warhammer 40,000 book about Space Marines, giant mutant humans who live only for the glory of the never-ending battle against anything not approved by a tyrannical, fascist dystopian galaxy spanning crumbling human feces of an empire.

Oh, does my heart flutter flutter.

Liking cheesy sci-fi reminds me that as much as I hate Twilight, everyone enjoys their own forms of literary butt vomit, so I really cannot judge.

Okay, okay, I judge all the time, and even I have to say, sigh, all love for cheesiness aside, Legion of the Damned by Rob Sanders is a meh book.   I picked it up because of the topic, which is a group of ghostly soldiers who show up at massacres, inexplicably and evilly, and yet seeming to actually serve the greater good of humanity.  They are wreathed in flames, they are ghosts in the shadows, and they are a complete mystery.  And yet, despite all of this possible fighting zombie army awesomeness, I felt a little cheated.   Let me explain in Sergio Leone style.


Courtesy of Black Library

The Good

Why was it good? Because it provided clues to something that is always a great source of mystery in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, which is the Legion of the Damned.  This is the lure of the book, where you get to learn something that has been a mystery in the fluff of the uber-geek tabletop wargame published by Games Workshop.

That right there, the fact that the story is based off a game, should tell you that I was a foolish little kender for thinking that I would be fulfilled and satisfied.

But that’s the bad.  Don’t want to lose focus here.  So the good.  The good…the story’s main character, who in some ways is an antagonist, is actually pretty well-layered.  A Space Marine who failed, and who has no eloquence whatsoever and yet has to be a leader, is something that is a little bit different.  The man is a killer, and the fact that we are suppose to like him is a hard sell, which is what I like.  It made me want to see how bad it would be for him, and it gets bad.

That was my second favorite part.  Be warned, no one, not even the aforementioned Space Marine is safe from getting his.  The best example of this comes with two different characters.  You think, no, Sanders wouldn’t do that, and yep, that character dies horribly, either by suicide or by the hands of demons.  Fun stuff, that.

And okay, yes, what little was given to me about the Legion of the Damned was pretty frakkin’ cool.  I got a sense of what makes the Legion work, what they do, and why they are the Damned, but arrrrrrrghhhh…I wanted more.

Segue-way into The Bad (and possible spoiler)

I could create a bulleted list.  But I won’t.  What I will do is say that while I got a little bit of what I wanted, which was something new, but really, I got the same formula.  I do not enjoy the fact that I know how each of the battle scenes will go, that you do not really get any hint of what the book is suppose to be about until near the end.

Also, I really think that unless you love Space Marines you will be tired of their carbon copy feeling of being the same no matter what weird little behaviors they have.  So far, the only good representation of a different take on Space Marines would be by Dan Abnett in Brothers of the Snake.

Let me break it down for you: Space Marines will be arrogant, they will pick fights with themselves based on honor for about the first 100 pages, then the next 100 pages they will have a running battle where they do not really know how they are being manipulated, and the last 100 pages is when everyone starts dying, and then finally in some glorious end-of-the-world save-the-galaxy battle they somehow pull out a victory.  There will be a sense that they are unstoppable, but that stray bullet or head-chomping demon will take them out like they are nothing.  This would be okay if I did not read other books which had the same plot, just with different colored armor.



Oh and now The Ugly (not a spoiler)

I will keep this very short.  The writing needs work.  I found myself reading and glossing over descriptive paragraphs because it was the same imagery over and over.  If I have to read ephemeral one more time to describe anything dealing with clouds, sky, light, breath, thoughts, and just about everything else, I will officially put it in Urban Dictionary with the definition of butt vomit writing.





I do not know what is worse, the fact that I wrote 833 words on a forgettable book, or that I know I will probably keep reading these books when I know better.

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