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Title: Turning Point
Series: Galaxy’s Edge #7
Author: Jason Anspach & Nick Cole
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF/Space Opera
On the planet Wayste, Aeson Keel and Ravi encounter a pair of Black Fleet shock troopers while exhuming the remains of Kael Maydoon. One of the troopers is Exo, who used to serve under Keel during his time as Captain Aeson “Wraith” Ford in the 131st Republic Legion. Exo takes the opportunity to air a few grievances about Wraith’s conduct as a legionnaire and argue over who gets to keep Maydoon’s hand (Exo does, but Keel keeps one of the fingers). Exo invites himself and an unconscious Sgt. Bombassa to ride in the Indelible VI on their way to rescue Keel’s crew. When he wakes, Exo assures Bombassa that Ford can be trusted enough to get them to their destination. Keel refuses to take sides in the war between the Republic and the fledgling Empire, but agrees to provide transport to the Cresweil Bazaar on Porcha.
The Zhee, armed with new Republic ships and equipment, continue their spree against the Republic. Phasia, the capital city of the wealthy resort world Demetrion, is one such target, and is destroyed by a planet-cracker explosive device after Zhee gunners bombard it from orbit despite heavy legion resistance. The event comes to be known as the Sack of Phasia.
Back on Utopion, Legion Commander Keller and his adjutant, Colonel Speich meet X who informs him that his life is in danger and that he needs to communicate grave news: the House of Reason has turned over Fortress Gibraltaar on Ankalor to the Zhee as well as ten new battlecruisers and new legionnaire-style personal armor. This new equipment will make the Zhee a regional power in the Republic which Delegate Orrin Kaar and his allies believe they can manipulate. X tells Keller that it’s time for him to enact Article 19 of the Republic Constitution, which will give the Legion full control over the Republic government for six months, which it can use to dismantle the corrupt House of Reason and call for new elections. Dealing with the Zhee will provide political cover to manage the crisis.
Back aboard the Mercutio, Keller announces his intention to invoke Article 19 as a response to the House of Reason’s Grand Council’s decision to elevate the Zhee to a de facto regional power in the galaxy. Combined with certain delegates’ clandestine criminal activity with regards to the Mid-Core Rebellion, it represents a clear and present danger to the Galactic Republic’s political integrity. A vote by top legion officers is taken and passes. They agree to support Keller’s plan. The operation to defang the Zhee and clean up the government is known as Turning Point. This will involve pulling legions from disparate sections of the galaxy and form them into a new corp to lead the attack on Ankalor. General Hannubal, aka The Bloody Wolf, who has a reputation for utter ruthlessness on the battlefield is chosen to command the attack. Keller and Hannubal meet to plan the campaign.
Back on the Intrepid, Captain Chhun is faced with replacing empty slots on Victory Squad. Keel contacts him with news of locating Exo and his current allegiance to Goth Sullus, and their impending destination: the Cybar fleet. Chhun takes the news poorly. Aboard the Indelible VI, Keel, Exo, and Bombassa go over their decisions to leave the legion and examine their current loyalties. Keel decides the two shock troopers know their business and is willing to work with them against the Cybar, if it means getting his crew back.
On the Intrepid, Chhun and Owens compare notes about Ford’s intelligence gathering activity. Owens has another assignment for Victory Squad, as an infiltration unit to hit Ankalor while the main fleet attacks Fortress Gibraltaar. Chhun begs off to help Keel with his mission.
News of the attack plan filters throughout the fleet; Kill Team Zenith will infiltrate Ankalor and take down the fortress’s defense shields while the main attack will storm the fortress and take out the planetary defense shield. An orbital bombardment can finish the job of eliminating the facility. The combined forces of the Republic Army, Navy, and Marines will then perform a planet-wide landing operation and take control of its cities.
Keel and Ravi spend the next few days on the Indelible VI posing as potential recruits to learn as much as possible about the Black Fleet and its component parts from the shock troopers. Keel decides the Black Fleet is not be a viable replacement for the legion or the Republic. He does learn about General Nero’s plan to be on Tusca and contacts Harvel Keene to watch for the Black Fleet officer. They plan to catch up to Nero on Olik, and inform Chhun of his timetable.
Chhun takes the news of Nero’s travels to Captain Deynolds, Owen, and Keller and they judge that capturing Nero justifies sending Victory Squad on the mission. Op approved, despite Keller’s disappointment that Victory will not be the infiltration team involved in Turning Point.
The mission above Olik to capture Nero is a slugfest, pitting the Intrepid and her Raptor Strike Squadron 101 against the Black Fleet frigate Monstrous. During the fight, Nero’s shuttle is captured and pulled aboard the Intrepid while the Monstrous is destroyed. Nero effectively surrenders himself.
Keel arrives on Porcha with Exo and Bombassa in tow to deal with Gannon, an arms dealer with ties to the MCR. Keel and Ravi observe Gannon lifting a load of weapons and armor from a docked Black Fleet transport ship. Keel and the two shock troopers, in an attempt to intercept Gannon and the stolen gear are led into a running gun battle and speeder chase through the streets of the Bazaar. Only Ravi’s picking the men up in the Indelible VI saves them from death.
On Utopion, X returns to his office at the Carnivale and wonders how to manage the current situation: preventing the actions between the Dark Legion, the MCR, and the Republic Legion from blowing up into a galactic civil war. He contacts Orrin Kaar and informs him of Keller’s plans to invoke Article 19 and dissolve the current government.
The Dark Ops stealth shuttle Night Stalker is hit by anti-aircraft fire on approach to the planet and crashes in the slums of Ankalor City, killing most of Kill Team Zenith while the first platoon of Shadow Company crosses the Gordan wastes dressed as nomads in order to infiltrate and shut down the air defense towers of Fortress Gibraltaar. Platoon snipers successfully kill most but not all of the tower observers. The alarm is sounded and everything goes to hell. A series of brutal engagements occur along the hallways and upper floors of defense tower four. The battle continues to rage as the assault carrier Hurricane (lead ship of Task Force Whirlwind) enters the planet’s atmosphere.
Task Force Whirlwind (assault carriers Sirocco, Typhoon, and Hurricane and associated troops and gear) comes in hot and ready for action but General Hannubal decides that the Zhee have been tipped off, t judge by the extremely heavy resistance the assault carriers meet on their way to the surface. Learning that Kill Team Zenith’s shuttle was shot down only confirms this suspicion. While preparations for the assault continue, Shadow Company tries to carry out its mission in defense tower four.
What follows is a clash of empires that eventually becomes known as the Battle of the Blind, where legionnaires are blinded by SMAFF clouds as they engage their equally limited Zhee defenders. The Zhee hold extensive trench networks, bunkers, pillboxes, and other hardened structures as the legionnaires do their best to dig out the defenders. The legion advances the hard way, one trench at a time, at a savage cost in time and lives.
Having accepted General Nero’s surrender the Intrepid speeds to Ankalor space. Major Owens learns that legionnaire Trident is the sole survivor of KT Zenith and orders a quick response team to his position, while contacting Chhun who now has to take up Zenith’s mission: destroy Ankalor’s planetary defense shield.
Task Force Grinder, a legionnaire response team composed of combat sleds for transport and main battle tanks for support, battle bureaucracy from the point commanding their FOB, Camp Rex, and leave to support Trident. Zhee insurgents attack the column from alleyways and the shadows.
In the skies over Ankalor, the First Expeditionary Legion Fleet meets the fleet of Zhee battlecruisers (really Republic ships with Zhee crews). Happily for the Legion (and bad for the Zhee) the Aegis fire control system utilized by the legion ships works correctly and several Zhee ships are destroyed outright by concentrated fire. The Zhee formation breaks, and the legion fleet unleashes hell on their opponents. The Zhee fleet heads into hyperspace to buy time.
On Ankalor, officers from task Force Grinder break into the regional control center and convince two on-site contractors to help them blow up the defense shield surrounding Fortress Gibraltaar. The explosion is heard for miles as the shield comes down, even while the planetary shield remains in place.
Owens and Chhun prepare their rescue mission as the battle rages around the fortress. Ultimately they decide to ride a set of planetary defense drones down to the surface, carried part of the way by the Raptor squadron Gothic Serpents. Victory Squad meets up with the quick response force on the surface.
Back at Fortress Gibraltar, General Hannubal tasks Captain Besson with the mission of killing the Zhee war chief, Karshack Bum Kali, by combining surviving units and their equipment into a new unit: Dog Company. Dog Company fights its way through fifteen linked trenches at extreme cost and then come out the other side to see that more Zhee reinforcements have filled the trenches they’ve just fought through, surrounding them.
General Hannubal’s staff notices that new contacts are approaching the fortress from the desert, light speeders with Zhee bent on attack runs at the legionnaires. The grounded assault carrier Hurricane manages to dispatch large numbers of them while taking damage of its own. Hannubal orders the Tornado and Sirocco to his position for support and to prevent the Zhee from boarding the grounded carriers.
Dog Company penetrates further into the Zhee defenses and encounters the Crimson Knives, Zhee assassins who specialize in blind-fighting. Fighting past them costs more lives. Finally PFC Huzu climbs up to a mounted N-42 blaster and turns it on the defenders, cracking open Bum Kali’s bunker only to find that he was never in the fortress, but was hiding in the slums where he vows to never be taken alive.
A last Zhee bomb-jockey drives his speeder, laden with explosives, into the carrier Hurricane, dropping the ship and killing Hannubal.
In the House of Reason audience chamber Delegate Orrin Kaar announces a purging of the apparently treasonous legion, and also a peace treaty between the Republic and the leader of the Mid-Core Rebellion, putting an end to the fighting.
The First Expeditionary Legion Fleet, in orbit above Ankalor, confirms Hannubal’s KIA status and the de facto destruction of Fortress Gibraltaar. Kill Team Victory is engaged with local Zhee and is tasked with locating and eliminating Karshack Bum Kali while Task Force Grinder heads back to FOB Camp Rex. After a series of raids and firefights in the slums of Ankalor City, Bum Kali is located and subdued. KT Victory is exfiltrated with their prisoner.
The mop-up at Fortress Gibraltaar continues as Sgt. Major MakRaven reports his losses to the remaining officers.
Bum Kali, now aboard the Mercutio insists that he is a political prisoner and is entitled to release and restitution. Legion Commander Keller disagrees with this assessment, informing Bum Kali that since the House of Reason was dissolved, he has no rights, and with the legion dealing with the Black Fleet, any ideas he had about restitution are invalid. Keller executes Bum Kali on the spot.
Wanna know a secret? I only include those huge synopses to increase my average wordcount for my posts. I have discovered that posts with 500 words or less don’t get as many views, likes or comments as ones that are over 500. And yet, even with reviews like this and the Wheel of Time synopses, I’m still under 700. I guess I can just say more with less! 😉
This was just another fantastic entry in the Galaxys Edge series. There is a character, one of the Nether Ops leaders who thinks he knows better than everyone else how things should be, who manipulates events so that the Legion is betrayed even while still accomplishing their goals. He wanted to weaken all sides and it made me so mad that I had to put the book down for a bit. That shows some good writing right there!
Another aspect, which I can’t remember if I’ve talked about before or not, is that Goth Sullus is barely playing a part. At first, I found myself wanting to read more about him but then I realized that when I was reading the Star Wars Extended Universe books one of the complaints from a majority of the fans (myself included) was the inclusion of too many force users. Where were the regular people that made up the galaxy, we all complained. Well, Anspach and Cole have done just that and yet it took me a minute to really appreciate that. Sometimes fans don’t know what they actually want
There was a great big battle scene with the Legion attacking the fortress of Gibraltar. We got it from infiltration to the end where the Commander of the Entire Legion shoots the Zhee Warlord in the face during interrogation and kills him. It was refreshing to see authors admit that there are just bad people and bad cultures that deserve to be stomped out.
There are only 2 more books in this “Season One” of Galaxy’s Edge. Season Two has started and is currently being written out. I’m thinking I’ll track down some of the spin off series and read those while I wait for Season 2 to be completed. It took Anspach and Cole about 18’ish months to write the 9 books, so I’m hoping Season Two follows the same trajectory.