Death's Head by David Gunn

A book review by Bobulous.

Death's Head is David Gunn's first novel, a science-fiction tale of a soldier's war stories spread across numerous planets. The soldier's name is Sven, and he's a very unusual example of humanity, even for the far-flung future. His abilities, among them the ability to heal rapidly, have caught the attention of OctoV, victorious emperor and supreme commander of the elite Death's Head army. OctoV wishes to employ this hardened soldier for his own purposes, and so Sven Tveskoeg finds himself flung between bad situation and worse situation.

Death's Head is written in the first-person, with Sven narrating his thoughts and actions. And his thoughts and actions frequently enter the extreme. Sven usually doesn't think twice before snapping an opponent's neck, or forcing a knife into their heart or throat. And when Sven isn't killing people in active service, he's having sex with agreeable, young women in his leisure time. All of this is described explicitly, with no poetic sheen applied to any of it. The novel details a brutal world, and does so in brutal terms.

The story follows Sven's missions for the Death's Head. While the action and concepts may not be the most original, the tale is written very well and it progresses at a blazing pace. The narrative doesn't linger once, not even during the rare quiet moments between Sven's combat operations. There is always something happening, and it's usually something graphic and unpleasant.

As a piece of entertainment for the daily train journey, this book is an excellent choice.