The fourth installment in the Galaxy’s Edge series is a straight up mil-sf story chronicling the Battle of Tarrago. In this sense, it most resembles the first book in this series, “Legionnaire.” But whereas Legionnaire involved a small force of soldiers scrambling to survive on the outskirts of a larger action, “Attack of Shadows” is the chronicle of a full-blown invasion that plays out not only on the surfaces of a planet and its moon but also in open space. There is a full contingent of minor characters and any number of set pieces. There are dog fights between attack fighters, pitched infantry battles, kamikaze bombing runs and battle ships going toe to toe with the big guns. And then there is Goth Sullus, basically the bogey man. He is probably modelled after Darth Vader and shares many of his abilities and personality traits. If you’ve been following my book reviews of the series then you know that the authors have obviously riffed on some of the central features of the Star Wars story. There is a Galactic Republic rapidly turning into an Empire. Corrupt leaders are forcing normally loyal military men to become outlaws and apparently there is no shortage of smugglers, bounty hunters, space pirates and even princesses! And surprisingly, the imitation is far superior to the original. The characters are infinitely more interesting, the plots actually make sense and the action is extremely well done.
One of the interesting features of the story is the civil war aspect to the conflict. Basically, the fighting is taking place between Legionnaires fighting on both sides. And whereas the leaders on both sides are often shown as underhanded there are no cardboard cutout villains in the trenches fighting for either side. Valor is prominently on display on both sides and realistically, it is often rewarded with death.
Because of the large number of subplots and characters, the chapters are broken down into a very large number of independent scenes that ping pong the action back and forth between the two sides and the multiple locations. But the storytelling doesn’t suffer because of it and my interest was never lost.
From my point of view this book confirmed my feeling that the military sf aspects of this series are the best part of it. When the series veers into other scenarios like espionage or individual adventures the story is satisfactory but when the battle scenes erupt the story sings. It is definitely their strong suit.
So the rebels are led by Darth Vader. Who am I supposed to be cheering for? Actually, at this point I’m cheering for Darth Vader, uh, I mean Goth Sullus. And based on the way the elite leadership of the Republic despises the general population of the galaxy I wouldn’t be surprised if Goth takes of his helmet and is revealed to be Donald Trump.
So, do I have any complaints? Yes, there are a few too many women running their military and flying their fighter ships. But at least they don’t appear to be feminist scolds. And they haven’t tried to add women to the Legion. That elite fighting force is all men. So on balance no real problems with the world building.
Summing up, “Attack of Shadows” is the most entertaining book so far in the Galaxy’s Edge series and I highly recommend it to fans of military science fiction.