Eroldren continues his spotlight review over Blizzard’s Heart of the Swarm short story series.
“Unravels a fascinating yet twisted, dubious account into the mind of the Dominion’s scum and the Swarm’s will. One of Blizzard’s best short stories so far out yet.” – The Founding Fields
Regardless the fact that seeing an Infested Marine being featured on the art cover does spoil the storyline up to some extent the overall bulk of the story was rather impressive one to watch from start to end to see how it resolves that perked question.
As frontline troops who lead the way into battle, Dominion marines witness countless unsettling and terrifying sights. But the horrors of war pale compared to the ordeal Private First Class Geoff Shane is about to endure.
Without trying to give too much away of the story the Dominion Armed Forces does has its darker side that’s been seen here-and-there as background conflict we only seen explored in the novels and some short stories. If you’re StarCraft lore savvy you probably know what subject I’m talking about but I’ll beat around the bush to a point I’m not blatantly spoiling it upfront for newcomers. It’s been a story element has never been able to be portrayed in the games ever and only the tie-in fiction have been conveyed the general idea of it in more recent times. As much the games didn’t dwell upon that concept it was rather an iffy topic to fully understand as an outsider learning about it. Here in “The Education of PFC Shane” we get that full hands-on insight, however, Robert Brooks threw in Zerg infestation into the mix of things that makes his story even moreso exciting to read.
It wasn’t the straightforward story I was expecting on the basis of the blurb and my first impression (e.g. Dominion Marines vs. Zerg Swarm plus Infested Marines) but instead I find myself immersed in another fascinating ride. Somewhat like what Virgil Caine underwent in James Waugh’s “A War On”, Geoff Shane’s character as a Dominion marine and his past brought about something else refreshing to my understanding of StarCraft’s expanded universe.
As to commenting on everything else aside from the story content Robert Brooks’ writing came out quite very excellent. Whether it be the characterization of PFC Shane and the supporting cast, dialogue, tension, pacing, or that ambiguous ending he presented us with etc. Perhaps a few bumps in the road but for the most part he and Blizzard’s CDev have put out another great story on the table after he done “Icehouse” (jointly written alongside Michael O’Reilly). I would defiantly recommend giving “The Education of PFC Shane” a gander and keep your eyes alert to any of Brooks’ future writing again. In short, I think we have a new favorite add to the shelf.
Until next time, Live for the Swarm!
Overall Verdict: 9/10
Eroldren, a SFF follower of both tie-in media and original works, enjoys rereading books frequently. So be warned, he might bring out sometimes his share of older and heavy duty titles alongside the newcomers.