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4.3 out of 5 stars
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4.3 out of 5 stars
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I'm quite pleased that I finally got around to sampling the wares of William C. Dietz, a writer with an impressive number of science fiction novels under his belt already. Legion of the Damned is a well-paced, absorbing novel of futuristic military science fiction based on a premise I find fascinating. A couple of centuries into the future, murderers and their ilk are still being executed, but they are given a second chance - of sorts - to evade the permanent clutches of the Grim Reaper. Those who choose the option of resuscitation are, if approved, reborn in the form of cyborgs - basically, these are gigantic robots of death consisting of a human head inside an artificial and quite deadly body. (For the record, other humans, such as the terminally ill, also have the chance to opt in to the cyborg program.) The cyborgs serve under the command of the Legionnaires, a military force founded on the twentieth-century French Foreign Legion. While they serve in the military of imperial Earth, the Legion is their country (just as their motto says). By the time of the events described herein, the Legion has finally been granted a home of their own, exercising a form of self-autonomy on Algeron, near the outer rim of the Empire's control. Of course, there are many human Legionnaires, but the cyborgs pack most of the punch. Training is so rigorous that many fall along the way, and some even hope for a second death in order to finally fall into oblivion.
There is great trouble in the Empire. The Hudathans, a militaristic alien race, have begun decimating imperial planets on the outer rim and are obviously working their way toward Earth itself. The Admiral of the Imperial Navy is an opportunistic and power-hungry individual who supports a retreat of the Imperial Navy, ostensibly to prepare an overwhelming attack against the Hudathans when they move farther into the empire's region of space; in actuality, her desires are fuelled largely by a determination to make a hero out of herself and to finally rob the Legion of its might and power. Many on the home world (especially those with an economic interest in the planets that stand to be abandoned) argue that Earth's forces should engage the enemy now, while they are still in the outer rim. To the misfortune of everyone concerned, the Emperor is basically insane - as mad as Nero and possibly even more decadent. At least Nero didn't have seven advisors hard-coded into this brain as a child and left to fight amongst themselves inside his mind.
Obviously, a major space battle between Earth's Imperial Navy and the Hudathan fleet is to be expected as this novel wends its way to a conclusion. However, a war between the Imperial Navy and the Legionnaires on Algeron, a localized imperial civil war, looms even closer on the horizon, for the Legion is quite unwilling to give up its home base and allow its forces to be dispersed. Basically, a lot of action is to be found in these pages, and Dietz excels at describing the militaristic aspects of his plot. There are a number of sub-stories incorporated into this fictional fabric involving the formation of a cabal to oppose the Emperor on Earth, an inter-species love story (that never completely clicks, in my opinion), legalistic power-plays among the alien Hudathans themselves in preparation for cosmic war, and a coming together of two cyborgs who "met" in a most unusual fashion in their prior human lives. The ultimate conclusion seems to come a little too quickly and easily, but all in all this is a thoroughly enjoyable novel that all fans of military science fiction should quite enjoy reading.
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on 22 April 2017
Just could not get into it. In comparison to authors like Peter Hamilton it's very simplistic in its portrayal of our possible future. Probably no worse Han most sci-if though.
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on 15 March 2017
Nothing new in the plot but told with a great attention to detail along with some enjoyable concepts. If you liked the tone of the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica with a slightly harder tech edge in places you'll probably have a good time with this tale.
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on 22 December 2016
Who this book is for:
If you enjoy action movies and have no problem with any ridiculous and impossible feats, don't care much for science but enjoy fiction and believe Bond should always get the girl, this book is for you.

This book is not for you if:
You require a sense of reality and believability from your story, enjoy plausible science in your science fiction and enjoy when pacing and timing are believable.

Warning! This review may contain some spoilers!!!

Preface: While this book receives quite a bit of positive attention it has quite a bit of shortcomings if you fall under the second category mentioned above that make it difficult to read through. The following will be counter arguments to the 5 star reviews posted.

Initially the book is quite engaging. The concept of this futuristic legion with it's cyborgs, brain in a box technology and distinct culture and lifestyle offers quite a fascinating backdrop for what could've been a space opera epic. Unfortunately the execution leaves this story very wanting and at times frustrating. It's a space soap opera more than a space opera.

Let's start off with the characters. The personalities of all involved are all interchangeable within their tropes. The good guys, whether they are named Booly or St. James or Mosby, might as well all be the same actor alternating wigs and hats. The characters are bland to put it straight and all think along the same lines. Essentially not a problem but makes for less entertaining reading as the names are interchangeable and the only differing aspect is context. The problem bleeds over into a bigger pathology when interspecies differences are considered in the book but I will return to this point later.

No character manages to strike him or herself as a specific personality and they continue to shift their behaviour to perfectly fit the situation at hand. This may in some way be considered character development but in this case the characters develop to such a point that they are perfectly adaptable to any situation no matter the problem. the lack of creativity in variation in the character is strengthened by the fact that nearly each of the major characters at one point or another devolves into somewhat of sex crazed 16 year old. I'm only half embellishing when I say everyone has sex with atleast one other person even though that other person is a mortal enemy or killed them.

The romance of this book isn't romantic, attraction is played as some uncontrollable instinct that will eventually shack two people up and the intimacy is awkward at best. The intimate and romantic sequences of this book are mostly completely unimportant to the story, with the exception of one rather poorly excecuted Romeo and Juliette affair that ends happily.

The book is largely predictable and there is never a sense of urgency or danger. Despite insistence of human extinction abound the author fails to deliver any real perception of threat. Enemy masterminds, massive strength and technology are all swept aside quite easily at various point leaving the reader wondering, so what exactly was that hard about all this? Additionally the unfortunate stereotype that this genre has of recurring extreme luck saving the day is plentiful.

The style of writing also makes the story difficult to understand temporally. There is no real gage of whether somethings happen in the course of weeks, days or hours and there seems to be no permanence as to traveling speed or method. Things just pop up. Spaceships arrive out of a vacuum, pun intended.

Now returning to the concept of interspecies differences. Beyond the purely physical descriptions there are, well... None. Not only does the book suggest that at least two proposed completely different species from two completely different planets share the same mammalian anatomy, they also share the same DNA. A point that only comes across toward the end but is still frustrating to anyone who understands why a dog and a cat can't have babies.

The cultures are also along the same spectrum with humans showing approaches along the whole gama while any aliens fall within small pockets of the same whole. There is actually nothing truly alien about the aliens, save for their appearance, which is humanoid and inspired by earth fauna.

While reading the book I had to actively dumb down my expectations repeatedly and at the end felt a sense of being cheated. The concept proposed was in no way done justice and the only slight positive comment i can lobby that was consistently okay was the action description which offered enough descriptives to paint a pretty picture. The actual fighting, tactics and overall ware fare itself belong more in a Lego movie than anywhere else. As the reader you find yourself wondering how stupid and how much of a pushover the opponent is at critical moments.

As such if you are interested in a light and faint hearted read this is absolutely a book for you, but if you are hoping for an epic along the lines of revelation space or foundation, you are out of luck for sure.
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on 24 August 1998
One of Dietz's best and my personal favorite. The story features one of today's most fantasized military units, the French Foreign Legion. But in this future, the Legion is created of volunteers of condemned criminals, patients with terminal illnesses, and those who have simply given up on life. So upon death, their brains are removed and installed in high-tech military cyborgs which are armed with all sorts of deadly weapons. These thousands of cyborgs form the "Legion of the Damned." Their principle enemy...a highly aggressive race of aliens who want to turn earth into a giant crater. Chock full of action, suspense, and intrique. Definitely alot of fun to read.
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on 10 January 2009
I've just finished Legion of the Damned, and I'm not too pleased about that. I had a hard time putting the book down; Just wanting to read another page, another chapter, before turning in. The book is a great joyride, it's not without a few flaws, but it has a great deal of well-written action, fun characters and a great background setting. I'm truly hoping I will learn more about both the characters and the universe they live in, in the course of the next few books. Yes, that's right; I am definitely getting those books.
That being said, the book does have a few action-settings that aren't really that well explored; the last, climactic battles, especially, could definitely have used a few more pages, and some of the characters are just a little too flat.
Nevertheless, I heartily enjoyed myself reading the book and I'm really glad I spent my money on it. What more can you really ask for?
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on 22 February 1997
The human empire spans the galaxy and is fueled by
greed and the lust for power. Until a force of beings decides that it is time to attack the over extended and undermaned human empire. Now trust head long into this galatic stuggel a force of funded by worried business men led by bold leaders, and manned by seemingly unstoppable cyborgs goins the frey.
This force is fighting a two front war. The empire fearing colapse attacks these brave rebels and the aliens bent on total domination trust what seems to be an unstoppable blow. But through it all the love of a man and a woman(of diffrent races) survives.
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on 16 June 2014
This is a fast paced novel telling the story of an attack on the human race and their Empire - from the initial attack on a distant colony through to the final decisive battle closing the first stage of a war that will continue for many long years.

The key troops are the Legion. Originally The Foreign Legion this force is made from human volunteers and those being given a second chance - rescued from the point of death (those with terminal illnesses, victims of violent crime and those executed for committing violent crimes) their consciousness implanted into a cyborg.

Earth is ruled by an Emperor who oversees a government weakened by corruption and one-upmanship amongst the ruling elite and military leaders. Their response to the initial attack is slow and inappropriate - the Legion must fight on alone whilst their leader and members of the civilian elite work to over-throw the Emperor.

I’ve dropped one star because some of the sub plots and characters needed more development and the end felt rushed, I expected there to be a climactic battle - instead there was a bit of a skirmish and the rest left to the imagination . I read this book in one sitting and felt that it would have gained from being longer and taking the time to develop a bit more and creating a more substantial ending. The standard of writing is excellent and an additional one or even two-hundred pages would have been a pleasure to read.

There are more books to come in this series and I look forward to seeing how things develop.
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Legion of the Damned is basically exactly what you think it's going to be. It's a book about space war with space aliens and space robots. Let's be honest, if those things don't appeal to you, then why are you even reading this review...

I found the book entertaining, and I'll definitely read the next one if it happens to find itself under my nose.

Some things I thought were worth mentioning:

The book made me laugh - perhaps not on purpose. You are almost immediately introduced to the evil traitor Alec Baldwin!! My apologies, ALEX Baldwin. I don't know if this was intentional or not but needless to say once I'd misread the name, it stuck until the end. It amused me greatly.

I don't know enough about physics or military tactics to know if Dietz' more in-depth descriptions are accurate, I have to assume they are. It doesn't happen TOO often, but every now and then you'll get a fairly in-depth analysis of the an asteroid and an explanation of why you should care.

I'm quite happy with the use of sex in books. People have sex, it happens, I get it. This book occasionally walks the line between 'sex happens, and I'm telling you because it's important', and 'sex is happening, isn't it sexy?...Oh yeah, and I guess it moves the plot a bit!' It's not like it comes up a HUGE amount.

(Full disclosure: I received this free from the publisher to review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own and are not altered by this.)
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on 11 July 1998
I found this a very well written book. Rating up with the best military sci-fi authors, such as Drake, if not better!! Not just a blood and guts type book, Deitz looks at many different aspects of futuristic war, from both a human AND an alien perspective. Everything from heroic sacrifices to a commanders ultimate defeat/victory, to politics in the future!! All in all, a very well done book, and one of the best military sci-fi books I have read.
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