This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Attack of Shadows
Series: Galaxy’s Edge #4
Author: Jason Anspach & Nick Cole
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF/Space Opera
On the Black Fleet flagship Imperator, beyond Tarrago Prime, Goth Sullus begins his attack on the Galactic Republic by jumping his three new battleships, the Imperator, the Terror, and the Revenge into the Tarrago System. The plan is to launch an all-out assault on Tarrago and Tarrago Moon, which houses the grand defense of the Republic, a massive space-based gun cannon powerful enough to destroy any attacker. In addition, Tarrago is the home of the Kesselverks Shipyards which supplies capital ships to Republic Naval stations all over the galaxy. Controlling the shipyards will allow Sullus to choke off the Republic Navy’s supply lines. Taking control of the super-space gun will let him defend his new gain from any counter-attack.
The attack is being carried out with the knowledge and aid of House of Reason Delegate Orrin Kaar and Republic Navy Admiral Silas Devers, who Kaar has been grooming for command of the Navy for years. Their plan is for Sullus’s Black Fleet to seize the defense cannon and destroy the Republic Seventh Fleet while the Third Fleet, commanded by Devers, takes control of the system, allowing Kaar to dictate the terms of the Republic’s star lanes.
Sullus has plans of his own and Devers is reduced to complaining to Kaar about his being left out of the loop as the attack begins. The main objective is to kill or capture the planetary governor and declare Black Fleet rule over the system, then utilize the Kesselverks Shipyards to construct more ships for the Black Fleet.
Aboard the Terror, the tri-fighter squadron Pit Vipers launches, their pilots eager for glory and a bit of revenge as they strafe the gun emplacements of Fortress Omicron, the core of the Tarrago system’s defenses. The base has long since been infiltrated by assassins who worked to execute base personnel in key positions in order to keep the base’s defenses inoperative and their communications down.
Unfortunately for Sullus and his co-conspirators, the Republic legionnaires stationed on Tarrago are not about to allow their defenses to be breached, and are reinforced by Republic Army soldiers and Marines. Over the course of a morning, the Black Fleet’s fighter squadrons are reduced by the Republic’s combined Starfighter cover and anti-aircraft turrets, while a ground assault bogs down and quickly becomes a war of attrition between the Black Fleet troops and the defending legions.
The Republic Navy’s Seventh Fleet jumps out of hyperspace to see the Tarrago system under attack. Admiral Landoo, the fleet commanding officer, is under orders to defend the system but is less than enthusiastic about losing her fleet in the face of utter destruction. The Black Fleet’s battleships are massive, new, and never before encountered as opposed to her own ships which are more numerous but smaller, and their weapons and defenses are well known to any well-informed ship’s crew. Landoo calls Utopion for assistance as she engages the Black Fleet and is told that Admiral Devers is on the way.
The fleet engagement ensues, damaging Sullus’s battleships and doing real damage to the Seventh Fleet. A starfighter’s suicide attack on the Terror’s bridge wipes out the command structure but gunnery officer Vampa seizes the opportunity to turn the tables on Landoo’s forces, and swerves the Terror to head into the clustered formation of the republic destroyers, breaking their formation and stalling their attack. Thus distracted, the Imperator and Revenge are able to flank the Seventh Fleet and wreck a number of Republic destroyers.
As a precaution against the total loss of the system, Landoo tasks the Hammerhead Corvette Audacity with rescuing the remaining principal politicians and their families from the surface, despite its lack of weapons and resources (the ship is in the middle of a refit). Captain Desaix runs the gauntlet created by the remaining tri-fighters and lands on Fortress Omicron’s main landing pad, defies the governor’s orders for immediate lift off, and stays long enough to fill the ship with refugees.
Back in orbit, the Audacity disembarks its refugee passengers into the super-destroyer Atlantica’s hangar bay, and is immediately tasked with shielding the Seventh Fleet as its ships try to escape. Desaix intends to use the ship’s new multi-warhead torpedoes to delay the Black Fleet despite the fact that the missiles have no warheads. Through clever tactics and almost perfect timing, the corvette releases the torpedos and distracts the attacking battleships long enough for the fleet’s jump computers to pick their paths into hyperspace. The fleet jumps away and the Audacity is captured with its crew.
Back on Tarrago Prime, captives are unloaded from surviving Republic ships as the Black Fleet’s shock troopers take command of the system. Goth Sullus executes Admiral Devers for incompetence as Orrin Kaar realizes that he has no control over Sullus. Admiral Rommal, commander in chief of the Black Fleet, hails Sullus as the new Galactic Emperor, and his troops join in the salute.
Beyond the fact that I really enjoyed this book (probably the most in the series so far due to it being a very linear timeline this time), I’ve only have a few brief thoughts.
Anspach and Cole (the authors) do a wonderful job of portraying side characters and their motivations for joining Goth Sullus in his bid to bring down the Republic. Exo, one of the Legionnaires from the first book plays a large role and so we know already why he’s doing it. But we get fighter pilots, other Legionnaires, soldiers, etc. We get their personal stories of why they are fighting against the Republic and it becomes extremely easy to sympathize with them and even root for them. At the same time, you have the regular Legionnaires who are doing their best to hold the Republic together as they know that as bad as things are, a regime change will bring chaos and death to a huge number of worlds. And I was rooting for them too!
Make no mistake though, Goth Sullus is shown to be the figure of terror that he is. His own people are afraid to even say his name and near the end one of his generals has to decide whether to help Goth Sullus or to kill him and take his place. And the general, while a rebel, is generally portrayed as one of the good guys. On the Republic side, you get some real scumbags too. General Devers, who is an active traitor to the Republic and the character portrayed in the first book, waffles back and forth in deciding who he is going to actually support, all based on who he thinks he can get more power out of. The main politician of the Republic is using Goth Sullus without realizing that Sullus is using him. Despicable people and I wanted them to face the justice they deserved.
The battle was great too. I enjoyed this book and am looking forward to the next installment with anticipation.