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Dorsai! (Leather Bound) Leather Bound – 1988

4.3 out of 5 stars 103 customer reviews
Book 1 of 11 in the Childe Cycle Series

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Product Details

  • Leather Bound
  • Publisher: Easton Press; Limited edition (1988)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (103 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,623,238 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael J. Mazza HALL OF FAME on July 24, 2005
Format: Paperback
"Dorsai!", by Gordon R. Dickson, is a science fiction novel set in a future wherein humanity has spread out to inhabit many different planets in several star systems. The different branches of humanity have evolved into a diverse group of different cultures. One of these branches of humanity is the Dorsai, a formidable warrior race. This novel follows the life and career of Donal Graeme, one of the Dorsai.

The 1993 TOR edition includes an introduction by David Drake, who notes that "Dorsai!" and Robert Heinlein's "Starship Troopers" were both first published in 1959, and together form "the standard against which the subgenre of military SF must be judged." "Dorsai!" is certainly an enjoyable and well-written space adventure. Dickson effectively structures the story; we follow Donal as he rises up the military ranks from Senior Cadet to higher levels of responsibility. Dickson fills the book with fascinating details about Donal's world. It's particularly intriguing to get glimpses of the divergent human cultures and of the conflicts that exist among them.

Along the way the book addresses many significant themes, such as military tactics, the role of religion in a military organization, and leadership. At its best, "Dorsai!" goes beyond being just a solid adventure novel and can be genuinely moving and thought-provoking. Recommended companion text: Joe Haldeman's "The Forever War," another gem of military science fiction.
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Format: Paperback
I wanted to give this book more than three stars ... I really did. If Amazon and these reviews had been around when I was in my early 20s, the first time I read this book, I'd have given it five. Having just reread it, I was disappointed that it didn't stand up the way some novels of that day did.

Dorsai! is the story of a young man from a world which trains the top warriors in the sphere of human colonization. Donal is totally focused on career and assignment, to the exclusion of almost everything else in life. In an odd sort of contrivance that doesn't ring true, Donal inspires great loyalty in those around him, yet he often exhibits little to no loyalty himself. More than thirty years after my first reading, I know from experience that type of loyalty imbalance is unlikely. The military strokes of genius in the book also don't come across to the older and more experienced me as nearly so brilliant as they did 30 years ago. His first major success ... having his command climb trees to avoid a surprise attack ... is actually highly flawed in both reasoning and sound small unit tactics. (Trees provide some measure of concealment, maybe, but no actual cover from fire, and if the enemy catches on and starts dropping your trees ... BIG trouble! LOL Dickson's surmise that the enemy might not catch on where the tree based fire is coming from is just silly.) Other battles are better thought out, but not exactly the uniquely shocking plans they are presented to be.

Donal is a surprisingly unappealing hero throughout. Other than the circumstance that as the lead in the story you know you are "supposed" to pull for him, Dickson doesn't really give you ANYTHING to like about him. He is focused, humorless, and relatively uncaring in all his relationships ...
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Format: Paperback
This is acclaimed as a masterpiece of military SF but there are better examples in my opinion (both Heinlein's Starship Troopers and Haldeman's Forever War are markedly better) since this really has little to do with the actual mechanics of the military and the gritty life of a soldier as much as how soldiers fit overall in Dickson's Childe Cycle. At this point we're at book four in the cycle and really this seems to have the least to do with any of the other circulating themes (probably because it was written first and then revised retroactively to fit into what Dickson was building) since there's barely any mention of the Final Encyclopedia or the need to merge the Splinter Cultures. However, there is some crossover from Soldier, Ask Not, so at least we get a sense that everyone lives in the same universe. So we have to judge this one on its merit and honestly it's an entertaining novel, Dickson takes his now pretty much worked out universe and goes nuts by throwing Donal Graeme, a Dorsai who is slightly better than the average Dorsai, into the mix, letting him loose and causing all kinds of havok, the reason for which isn't of course clear until near the end. If you're not a fan of Dickson to begin with, this won't change your mind, Donal is perhaps his strongest character but he's still only an inch away from being a cipher and like all of Dickson's other main character he's so good at everything that it just sucks all the suspense right away, the book is a great read, but don't expect any dramatic tension at all . . . alas, this also makes the book a poor cousin of Tactics of Mistake (the main character was his ancestor) which had the same basic setup, guy really good at intuition outthinks everyone else to a ridiculous degree.Read more ›
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is one in a collection called the Childe Cycle. The series is sometimes referred to as the Dorsai series, as the Dorsai people are central to the series. This is the first book written in the series.
The novels of the main Childe Cycle include:
Dorsai! (alternate title: The Genetic General) (1959)
Necromancer (1962) (vt No Room for Man)
Soldier, Ask Not (1967)
Tactics of Mistake (1971)
The Final Encyclopedia (1984)
The Chantry Guild (1988)
In addition, there are four shorter pieces and three novels that take place in the same fictional universe as the Childe Cycle, but are not part of the core cycle.
"Lost Dorsai" (novella) and "Warrior" (short story), published together in Lost Dorsai (1981)
"Amanda Morgan" and "Brothers" (short story), published together in The Spirit of Dorsai (1979)
In the latter volume, the stories are framed by a conversation between Hal Mayne and the Third Amanda Morgan, during the events of The Final Encyclopedia. "Warrior" (1965) and "Brothers" (1973) had previously appeared in other publications. The four works have since been collected in one volume as The Dorsai Companion (1986).
The three other novels are:
Young Bleys (1991)
Other (1994)
Antagonist (with David W. Wixon) (2007)
** This was based heavily on the Wikipedia article.
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