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4.4 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 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 9 September 2015
This was my first Dietz nove, and the first one i've read on my Kindle. It was hard getting into it, to be totally truthful, but so glad i stuck with it. Some excellent characters and they are built up nicely, so that you actually care what happens to them even, to a certain degree, the bad guys!
Plenty of characters to keep you occupied and some tasty battles too. Good to see some Legion history in their too.
All round, a very well written book. Looking forward to the sequel now.
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on 1 June 2015
I enjoyed reading this book. The writing is competent and the action scenes engaging. The main characters (both alien and allied) are well fleshed out, believable and the author is not afraid to kill off 'goodies' as well as 'baddies'. Excellent light reading.
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on 28 December 2015
Once you get round the initial confusion of the disparate story lines as they start to coalesce, the book becomes one of those rare 'un-put-down able' reads that have you carrying on until your eyes close, night after night!
Only fault with the book is the way it comes to a conclusion so abruptly, which considering the depth of detail every other facet goes into was a surprise!
But highly imaginative and an exciting read!
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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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on 11 July 2014
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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VINE VOICEon 11 November 2007
The premise of William C. Dietz's "Legion of the Damned" - which others have adequately outlined here - is a good one. But that's where the "good" in this book ends.

It is remarkable how Dietz could write a book with a good story and a narrative that in itself is complete and workable, and so completely fail to make an interesting book out of it. Here we have a story which not only involves a war against an alien race, but also a civil war between the cyborg Legion and a corrupt Imperial government. Such a story should have plenty of action and suspense, yes? Indeed, other reviewers have said that it does. But in fact, when you actually start to look for a major action set-piece in this book, it's basically impossible to find one. The final conflict, which was being built towards from the first chapter of the novel, is virtually over once it's begun, and the longest battle in the whole book is maybe three or four pages long. The problem is that Dietz tries too hard to work "characterisation" and oodles of unnecessary sex into this book, which is not what military sci-fi is meant to be about. By all means, include those things, but if you're going to write a book that promises a war between cyborgs and an alien race, that's the very least you should deliver. Dietz only provides it in an indirect manner, glossing over most of the juicy bits, it seems, and ultimately providing an anti-climactic, unsatisfactory novel which never gets out of first or second gear.

I'm hoping that the sequel, "The Final Battle", will be better.
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on 26 June 2014
I discovered military SF in my teens and have continued to enjoy it ever since. Drake's Hammers Slammers, an all time favourite. Heinlein's Starship Troopers. Busby's Star Rebel. Westerfeld's Killing of Worlds and Risen Empire and many many more have helped to stoke my passion for the genre. I first encountered William Dietz in the '80's when I came upon a copy of his War World which I bought for £2.99p and I still have it. I enjoyed it greatly without knowing that it was actually his first novel! Over the years I've continued to bump into his work from Halo " Flood" to that chancer Pik Lando in the "Drifter" books and others. What I really like about this man's books is that they are packed with plenty of action set against vividly described backgrounds which I feel I can "live" in alongside the characters. It's all good clear easy reading with plenty of rough tough hard troops and aliens, fearsomely violent weapons and other hardware - Not a dragon or magic spell in sight anywhere! Great!
If you enjoy all action military SF then you must read this - and his other stuff.
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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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