Earlier in the year I reviewed "Act of Creation" (one of the short stories in the Childe Cycle). Now it's time for the first novel I read in the series many years ago.
Throughout the Fourteen Worlds of humanity, no race is as feared and respected as the Dorsai. The ultimate warriors, they are known for their deadly rages, unbreakable honor, and fierce independence. No man rules the Dorsai, but their mastery of the art of war has made them the most valuable mercenaries in the known universe. Donal Graeme is Dorsai, taller and harder than any ordinary man. But he is different as well, with talents that amaze even his fellow Dorsai. And once he ventures out into the stars, the future will never be the same.
I remember being very impressed with the story of Donal on my first reading. It was one of the first science fiction books I read. Now I can see problems with this story.
Donal is too perfect. Dickson writes him as a superman who does not make mistakes. Battles where his side has no hope are no problem for Donal. Experienced military men are transparent to him. He can almost read their minds. Early in the book, he is led into a trap. No problem. It takes very little effort from Donal to save the day and turn the tables on the people behind the trap.
Donal only has one weakness. He cannot deal with women. He treats women with contempt. There is no place in his world for them.
The story gets more interesting towards the end as Dickson reveals more of the philosophy of the series.
Does this mean that I do not like the Childe Cycle? No. I remember later books (especially "Soldier, Ask Not") as being very good. This is an early Dickson novel. As he hones his skills, he definitely improves. I will continue to re-read the books in this series.