Dan the Destructor Review

Review: Dan the Destructor by Rob Rimes

Dan the Destructor is a pulpy portal fantasy featuring cool warriors, heroic adventure, and gory action. This first novella in the Barbarians of the Storm series is a great summer read in the spirit of Conan the Barbarian.

Here at the Periapsis Press blog, we only post reviews of works we recommend, so you already know I enjoyed Dan the Destructor. I encourage you to check it out!

Disclaimer: We received a copy of this book from the author for the purpose of review. This in no way influences our opinions. (You can request a review here.)

This review contains minor spoilers.

Dan the Destructor Publisher Description:

There have been countless legends and with that, countless heroes destined to be the “chosen one”. Dan is not that person.

Sucked into an exotic, barbarous world, Dan meets a jovial warrior and finds himself on an adventure he could’ve never imagined – battling monsters, demons, armies, and evil sorcerers.

Dan the Destructor is a mixture of sword & sorcery and post-apocalyptic B-movies presented in a quick paced pulp novel format. It’s fun, badass, fantastical, and action-packed.



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Thud and Blunder

Dan the Destructor will feel particularly attractive to readers of L. Sprague de Camp’s contributions to the Conan the Barbarian series.

Familiar sword and sorcery pulp elements such as determined warriors, evil wizards, eldritch beings, and beautiful women all make an appearance, and plot tropes fall into the “Thud and Blunder” type. The story is action-packed right out of the gate, and sweeps the reader across multiple locations within the uchronic world for bloody battle.

The barbaric world Rimes shows us is populated by cool people (especially men) and cool things (chiefly weapons). A world where punching fixes things and lots of things need to be punched. Of course, blowing things up is equally effective!

The drive of the tale is pure, simple fun.

Portal Fantasy

The subgenre is portal fantasy, not isekai. Dan is brought into this strange world from the “normal” world via portal, of course, but there are other reader expectations at play here, as Dan the Destructor comes out of a clearly western tradition.

Common isekai tropes such as RPG elements and harem building are absent. Dan is an adult, not a vacant-faced high school boy.

Plot-wise, Dan has not been summoned into another world to be a hero, but fallen accidently. The character development hinges on Dan responding to his adventure and growing as a person, not the world being impacted and shaped by him. His past in the normal world continues to make an impact on him as a character, and—perhaps most importantly—he is not the sole connection between the normal world and this fantastic one.

Cool People, Cool Stuff

Rimes delivers on the genre expectations. The characters are cool people doing cool things!

Dan is a likeable reader surrogate—a man frustrated with his life and eager to embrace a simpler (not necessarily easier) heroic existence. Fenrik, the traditional barbarian-style warrior, is a positive person. He serves as both a foil to Dan and a guide, and their relationship is pleasant. Fenrik spurs Dan on to be a better man without sarcasm or derision, although there is some light ribbing about “female talk” when emotions become the subject of conversation.

The world is one of allies and good people, who all come together to fight evil with fists, swords, spears, guns, airships. The equipment in this story just keeps getting bigger and badder!

Short Story

This book includes a short story titled “The Forging of Foolpuddle.” It describes the backstory of a villain introduced in the last chapter of “Dan the Destructor,” and it is intense. Dan’s story has its share of violence (of course), language, and sexual elements, but Xulgog’s tale of loss and vengeance takes these to another level.

It is engaging, placing the villain in a sympathetic position without softening his character or excusing his behavior. I came away not feeling conflicted about the heroes or their goals, but rather convinced that this new enemy was more dangerous than the last and capable of anything. The short story deserves its placement here.

Civilization and Barbarism

Robert E. Howard, the original author of Conan, played around with themes of Civilization and Barbarism as well as individual freedom, particularly as restrained by civilization. Dan the Destructor has a few comments that brush on these themes. Dan’s character as a fish-out-of-water hero makes him uniquely positioned to comment on the pros and cons of each, so it will be interesting to see if Rimes develops these themes as the series progresses.

Check Out Dan the Destructor!

Dan the Destructor is a great summer read for enjoyers of portal fantasy and pulp sword and sorcery. It delivers fast and simple fun. I look forward to seeing how Barbarians of the Storm continues!

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4 Replies to “Dan the Destructor Review”

  1. An excellent review! Fenrik made the story for me, and I really like how some of the side characters develop later down the line.

    Also, Big Bad Bitch is objectively the best means of transportation in the world of BotS. Am I biased? Perhaps a little.

  2. Dan the Destructor was FUN! It remind me of cheesy 80’s action movies, which you can tell by the way Rob advertises that’s what he was going for.
    The writing is very simple and doesn’t waste your time, which works really well for the high adrenaline plot.
    The one issue I had was the present tense was a bit off putting at first, but as I got into the story I didn’t even notice it anymore.

  3. My review is also linked on my site here – https://cavetothecross.com/blog/dan-the-destructor/

    This book is a fish-out-of-water story where our hero shows up from our time and place to a new time and the tone is established when we are introduced to him by his first word of an explicative. So elements of humor will abound here. The good thing with fish-out-of-water stories is that the main character can be a foil for the audience. We learn when he learns and exposition dumps make sense and follow the story; which also helps the reader.

    Rimes treads on some sword and sorcery fantasy tropes to move the story and adds some technology to the mix. And when I say the story moves – it moves quick! There aren’t histories given of forests or rulers. Fight scenes and conversations take the time to get the message across and no more and then we’re moving again. So if your qualm with fantasy is the slow pace then the book doesn’t fall into this at all. The fish-out-of-water story can also get lost in the shock and “this isn’t real” refusal of the main character to continue. Again, moving the story quickly is the motivator.

    Our main character is fine enough, he is just an average Joe. Soft, pudgy American who is working a 9 to 5 office job. The one bit we find out later about him that will help him later in the story is that he was in the military at one time. I would have liked this tidbit to be dropped a little sooner and earlier in the story as when it’s revealed it seems more of a handwave explanation that something built into the character. Dan is almost a sidekick to his friend Fenrick. Fenrick is a fun Conan-like hero character who the story “should” be about in a traditional sense. Rimes makes the choice of giving Dan some special help to adapt him to his new world better. One is to give Dan the ability to understand everyone in English by the good ol’ classic “a wizard did it” Simpson’s explanation. The other help might be an issue for some as it seems a bit too easy.

    This other help is almost rendered moot by a revelation and gifts of assistance given by other characters to Dan. And here’s where I have my biggest issues with the book. The humorous tone of the book is the author’s choice to lean into. I just would have liked it leaned into more! Treading on fantasy motifs and putting a current-day average Joe allows for a lot of comedy, especially with the inclusion of later-revealed technology. And there is some of this, it’s just that Dan is given almost too much, and soon the story is over. Of course, this book is a series (what fantasy book is not part of a series these days?) but I like a book, especially the first book, to stand alone well on its own. Dan is critical of the bad guy’s plan in that it sounds like a “cheesy bad guy plan”. That’s great! But the story just kind of brushes over that with that line and continues on. But there are some great, epic-totally-rad-excellent-tubular! moments – and then the story ends in the middle of a quest. Some revelation occurs but there’s just an epic high-five “let’s do this” scene as the heroes go into the next scene which is the next book.

    There is an end story that’s a bit confusing as to why it’s added. It seems like a disconnected story to the main plot and the tone is changed to a serious fantasy one. It seems like the character shares one quality that Dan also gets but a change in subtlety is not expected from the quick-moving, humorous main story.

    Overall, the story is well-written and you can tell the author has a flair for the 80’s vibe with the humor and tone of the story. It would have been better to lean into that a bit more. The story moves very quickly so a lot of the fantasy tropes are used for the benefit of the story while not needing the long, drawn out world-building or endless walking scenes. I would maybe pick up the next book in the series but this review is just looking at this standalone book.

    Final Grade


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