Retribution (Galaxy’s Edge #9) ★★★★✬


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: Retribution
Series: Galaxy’s Edge #9
Author: Jason Anspach & Nick Cole
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF/Space Opera
Pages: 327
Words: 111.5K



Synopsis:

From Galaxysedge.fandom.com

It’s been several months since the Legion fell. Chuun spent the down time working with Admiral Deynolds to consolidate the Intrepid and other ships loyal to the Legion into their own task force, the Legion Expeditionary Fleet. Legion Commander “Wash” Washam has been feeding Chhun information on the new Empire’s weak points.

Kill Team Victory is hiding out in cargo crates aboard the De Zuan, an Imperial corvette, preparing to take the vessel over in mid-flight while the Indelible VI shadows it. They arrive on the bridge and stun the passenger a Republic senator, only to learn the corvette is rigged with explosives. Chhun uses this information to bluff the commander of a nearby Imperial supply station Kappa-II into surrendering. Despite the station’s surrender, it’s also carrying a wing of Imperial tri-fighters which attack the Indelible VI as she attempts to pick up Kill Team Victory. Keel handles the fighters but the ship is cut off by an arriving Black Fleet Destroyer which launches its own fighters. Cut off, Chhun is unable to jump the corvette to hyperspace. They transfer the kill team and the senator to the Indelible and fight their way free with help from the just arrived Intrepid. Despite the help, the Indelible VI loses her shields and takes heavy damage. Garrett arranges for the suicide corvette to be drawn into the destroyer’s hangar bay and detonates it, destroying the capital ship but wrecking the Indelible’s drives.

While the freighter is repaired aboard Intrepid, Keel tells Chhun that the senator they retrieved is a Sinasian. The Sinasians hate the Republic and launched their own rebellion against it before the MCR was formed. In addition, the senator is dying. Keel wonders if they can use that to their advantage. Once the Senator is fully briefed on the politics and plans of the various factions he agrees to help the Legion despite his illness. The next battlefield is to be Sinasia, and David Lawrence, the sector commander, is loyal to the Legion. Deynolds doubts it will be a full frontal engagement considering the loses both sides took over Utopion and Tarrago’s still-limited production output. They need Keel to head to Sinasia to act as a local force liaison and intelligence source.

After Senator Van Cammack declares the Sinsasian Cluster’s independence from the Imperial Republic on One Republic News, Goth Sullus meets with his high council to plan the system’s destruction. Washam describes the appointee system, telling how it devolved into a market place where the rich and powerful could buy luxurious civilian posts or risk-free military appointments from political patrons. The Imperial Republic has no allies in Sinasia and there is disagreement over how easily any insurrection there can be put down by Imperial forces. Sullus decrees that the Sinasians may go for now, but if they don’t rejoin by the time the Empire repairs itself, they will be destroyed. Delegate Orrin Karr suggests giving the Zhee free reign to colonize the Sinasian Cluster. The Empire can intervene on a political pretense, to defend them from the Zhee. Sullus agrees.

On Taijing, Keel and Leenah contact Legion Major Giles Endiffron, a legion point who manages the local garrison and is eager to buy his way off world to avoid unpleasantness. Together they pump Endiffron for information about the legionnaires under his command who are loyal to the Imperial Legion as well as those who are plainly disloyal. Endiffron promises Wraith a contract to transport the supposed traitors off world. Leaving the meeting, an off-worlder tail tries to ambush Leenah and is ambushed by Keel. Keel kills the man after realizing he has no useful information.

Back aboard the ship, Leenah expresses disgust with Keel’s tactics but acknowledges their necessity, while she goes off to improve on the repairs the Intrepid’s crew made to the ship. Ravi informs Keel tha their contract has arrived. Keel contacts Chhun and lets him know that they have the names of the Tianjing legion garrison who are loyal to the Empire as well as those who are loyal to the real legion. They also have a copy of the House of Reason-approved forms used by Imperial legion points to secure assistance from non-military operators (smugglers, bounty hunters, etc). Only assassinations are out of bounds, as Nether Ops still specializes in those missions. The contract is worth 5 million credits and Keel is heading out to fulfill the agreement that night.

On En Shakar, Prisma is feeling lonely and out of sorts. Her powers seem to be dormant and while she has found some purpose in caring for the patients in Skyla Forster’s infirmary, she longs to hear songs from her childhood. She has not forgiven Hutch, the Nether Ops legionnaire who worked with Andien Broxin, for abducting her aboard the Indelible VI, even as she cares for his comatose body.

Bear leads KT Victory down to the Tianjing legion garrison and infiltrates the base, thereafter securing the appointed officers in the base mess hall. While that is going on, Keel in his Wraith persona, neutralizes the gate guards at Tianjing legion HQ and introduces himself to Legion Commander David Lawrence, with an offer to help him secure the planet.

Back on Intrepid, Chhun is learning to manage the work load of a general even as he wishes he were still running with KT Victory. A constant inflow of active and retired legionnaires has been helping him and Deynlods to build a proper Legion Navy out of surviving units and ships. To that end he promotes Bear to lieutenant and asks him to fold KT Victory in with KT Warbird. Bear agrees and asks to reactivate Sticks to fill a remaining hole in Victory, to which Chhun agrees. A call from Legion Commander Washam informs Chhun that Nether Ops has been pulled into serving as a secret police force, and that the Zhee are preparing to invade the Sinasia Cluster as a prelude to an Imperial response. Chhun’s best option is to prepare a trap for the Zhee and then move to work with the government on Cononga to support its independence

On En Shakar, Prisma works with Mrs. Renfree, an elderly patient in Skyla Forster’s infirmary. She is a kind lady who Dr. Forster diagnoses with dementia and delirium, but she has some lucid moments. During one of these moments, she tells Prisma about a horrific event that happened to her aboard a Savage warship when she was about Prisma’s age. Prisma has an emotional reaction to the story and finds that her powers work better under duress. Even Hutch seems to have shifted in his sleep.

Mrs. Renfree dies soon after. During her funeral a cargo ship arrives with refugees from Qadib, which is being attacked by the Zhee. Prisma takes advantage of the lull to sneak aboard the ship and contact Leenah on a comm and asks Lenah to sing to her. The song makes Prisma feel less alone. The ship’s crew returns and Prisma overhears the captain offering a crew position to a stranger. The stranger turns out to be Skrizz who has decided to leave. Captain Pereira and Mother Ree are adamant that Prisma remain behind and she storms off the ship. She has a hurried conversation with a spectral figure to find that Skrizz has chosen to stay with her after all.

Cononga is in the grip of a civil war as it has always been loyal to the legion over the Republic; Goth Sullus has sent MCR forces to quell the dissent. Chhun and Deynolds however are invited into the situation by the planet’s governor and the Legion is busy landing on the planet. During KT Victory’s drop, Sticks hits the ground too hard and suffers damage to his bionic legs. They breach into the presidential palace and encounter a team of shock troopers with the same apparent mission of recovering the president. Victory fights past the opposition and gets to the president first. The first floor of the building is still occupied by shock troopers as Bear calls for exfiltration. Task Force Grinder arrives and engages the hostiles.

Aboard the Zhee battlecruiser Bloody Horde, Captain Vampa is advising Zhee crews in their efforts against Sinasian forces. They are approached by the Intrepid and warned off. As they hold their ground the Intrepid engages and destroyed a Zhee battlecruiser, Divine Zephyr. Vampa threatens the Zhee admiral and is then attacked by the crew. Her bodyguards spirit her away in a shuttle (piloted by Kat Haladis) while the Zhee engage the Intrepid. Admiral Deynolds tricks the Zhee into following her through a mine field which destroys the ships Mad Demon’s Kankari, Call of Death, Brass Djinn, Rage and Fury, and Supreme Vengeance. The Zhee fleet is destroyed.

In the city of Kahl on Rawl Kima, X meets with reporter Steadron Pawoe. His plan is to use the desperate and disgraced journalist as a propaganda tool in to restart what he sees as a “cold” galactic conflict. When Pawoe reports the destruction of the Zhee fleet by Sinasian forces, Goth Sullus meets with X who expects to be elevated to Sullus’s high council. Sullus puts X in charge of Imperial Intelligence. X’s first instruction is to send the Imperial Legion to Ankalor to destroy the remaining Zhee for their failure at Sinasia. When Kaar objects, Sullus unleashes the powers of the Crux, killing him and dissolves both the House of Reason and Senate.

Paren Michale is managing his salvage empire on Ochnia when Sullus’s announcement of the new order comes through the news. As he tries to process the news, the Cybar titans re-activate and head toward a ship which takes them off the planet.

Since meeting the spectral stranger in the gardens, Prisma has shown vastly improved confidence and drive as she matures into womanhood. Her powers return with a vengeance and her abilities improve almost daily. While helping out in the infirmary, Hutch wakes up from his coma and, seemingly under Cybar control, attacks Prisma. Skyla keeps Hutch busy while she escapes, but Hutch is too strong and Skyla is killed. Hutch fights his way through a crowd of sanctuary residents as she runs off.

Hutch pursues Prisma deep into the ice caves, where she hides, biding her time. When Hutch finds her, the spectral figure demands that she choose whether she will live or die. She chooses to live. As she makes her choice, she extends her powers, nearly stopping time and freezes Hutch in place. The figure shows her what Hutch would have done had the Forresaw completed its mission: killed her and the crew of the Indelible VI as the Cybar fleet destroyed Utopion. She chooses to kill Hutch and his body falls into icy water taking her with it.

Wash and Chhun examine their options in the aftermath of the Republic’s dissolution. Wash’s imperial legion is not up to the task of maintaining order, and wiping out the Zhee world of Nidreem with nukes is next on the Empire’s plan. Wash plans to take the weapon stocks on Ankalor and deliver them to Chhun after taking the planet back.

Having rescued Prisma, Crash shows her an ancient ship he’s discovered in the ice caverns. Though old, the ship is operational and Prisma and Crash take it to travel to the planet Morghul, in order for her to learn how to destroy Goth Sullus from her spectral friend. The trip will take five years with Prisma in stasis and Crash piloting the craft.

Keel and crew meet up with the Intrepid in the Ponterran system. When they learn of the dissolution of the Republic government and Sullus’s plans to use the Cybar titans to execute all House of Reason delegates, they realize that without a House to purge, there is no Article 19 to enforce. Keel for one has had enough of the legion and the politics, but Chhun has a favor to ask: pick up a MARO the Legion purchased on Ponterra. Keel agrees as long as Leenah can head back to En Shakar aboard a shuttle.

Keel heads to Ponterra for the pickup and Ravi suggests he visit Doc, a former Dark Ops contact. They arrive to find trench coated thugs trying to break into the old man’s apartment. Keel blasts the attackers and escorts Doc back to the now-loaded ship. Despite the police’s intercession, Keel bluffs his way skyward and they head off world to deliver the weapon as Chhun decides on using the legionnaire resistance forces on Utopion to attack Sullus directly.

Meanwhile, X has been busy rebuilding his own spy network using trustworthy Nether Ops agents from the Carnivale. His intention is to support Goth Sullus as a benevolent dictator. As he gets the word that the reporter Steadron was killed by Nether Ops Team 5 which was under X’s orders, he spots Washam emerging from a legion bar. Knowing the distaste legionnaires have for points he decides that Washam needs to be watched.

Goth Sullus inspects the last two thousand Cybar titans and expects they will not be enough to conquer the rest of the galaxy. The entities in the ring note the death of the Zhee homeworld Nidreen and show him other forces at work as they solidify their hold on him, and he on them.

Chhun and Victory team take a civilian transport to Utopion to contact the resistance leaders. Their contact runs a combat sled blockade and splits up the team to avoid capture. Exo is captured by Nether Ops and interrogated.

News that the core world Spilursa has declared independence from the Empire spreads, along with news of riots on Utopion.

Goth Sullus, desperate to retain hold on his fragmenting empire, orders Admiral Crodus to annihilate the nine words that have announced their independence. Deep down he (as Casper) realizes this will unite the galaxy against him but he is determined to see his task through to the end.

The Indelible VI’s crew arrives on a pastoral world to hide the MARO and Keel and Doc get to talking. Doc’s opinion is that Wraith needs to be on Utopion when the push to kill Goth Sullus comes down, to finish the job that Rechs isn’t there to do.

Exo insists (under duress) on talking to Ordo (confusing X a bit) and Nether Ops abducts Washam from his Utopion office.

Leenah arrives on En Shakar too late to meet Prisma, and everyone at the sanctuary believes her to be dead at Hutch’s hands. Skrizz isn’t so sure, and hearing that Crash was with her gives Leenah hope they might still locate the girl. Keel reports that he’s heading to Utopion to deal with Goth Sullus while Ravi reports that the spectral figure that Prisma has been speaking to is the same force that turned Goth Sullus into a monster. Leenah and Skrizz get back in their shuttle and head to Utopion.

On Utopion, Chuun, Victory Squad, and a host of veteran legionnaires are preparing to make their move. Wash, under duress from X, contacts Chhun and gives the call sign for an emergency. Chhun understands the situation and plays along as Wash orders a 24 hour delay in the strike. When the call ends, X kills Wash then orders a clean-up crew to go over his apartment and engage all the legion forces they’ve identified.

The Nether Ops teams go in…and report massive losses against their targets. X orders all hands on deck and realizes too late that he’s out of hands. Goth Sullus demands that Adm. Crodus bring the Black Fleet to Utopion; he refuses, saying the fleet is not Sullus’s personal property. Crodus has in fact ceded command of the fleet to Admiral Deynolds. Casper makes a last attempt to make himself felt and throw away the ring but Goth Sullus is more powerful and retains it. The ring-bound entities return the Crux’s power to Sullus, who reaches out and kills Crodus from half way across the galaxy.

Chhun’s legion moves through Utopion’s Capitol District, heading to the Imperial Palace. They are especially concerned about attacks from Cybar warbots and cyborgs, but remain on mission. The fact that Utopion never installed a properly staffed or equipped military presence helps immensely as does the spotty response from Black Fleet shock troops. Goth Sullus find himself alone in the palace, his officers and staff having abandoned him in the face of overwhelming defeat. Even his otherworldly allies now threaten to leave. He heads down to the motor pool for one last stand. The legion Lt. Col OIC at the pool defies Sullus and is killed; his troops respond by attacking their emperor. Sullus destroys squads until the resistance peters out. He deploys the Cybar machines and the remaining combat vehicles from the motor pool.

Chhun spots the Cybar and responds by sending out snipers armed with N-18 rifles equipped with depleted uranium rounds. Squads armed with N-50 automatic blasters hold their lines against the onslaught. Between the specialized rounds and rotation of battlefield tactics, the legion troops wear the Cybar down.

Indelible VI arrives (having left Doc to watch the bolt hole) to see Chhun’s legion fully engaged and Goth Sullus on the battlefield, but an MCR blockade (a destroyer and a number of small ships) bars access to the planet. Keel dumps the MARO onto the destroyer, blowing it up, then heads to the surface and Goth Sullus.

X finally realizes the situation has spiraled out of his control and heads to the palace’s remaining corvettes for escape, just as the Legion Expeditionary Fleet arrives, causing the few remaining MCR ships to surrender instantly. X contacts Chhun using Exo as a hook to form an alliance. Chhun and Exo play along until Exo is released…and then kills X with the butt of a Nether Ops rifle.

Goth Sullus rides a main battle tank into the fray, smashing legionnaires with his powers and shots from its main gun. But the Legion advances just the same. The ring-entities offer him a chance to save everything by destroying everything…and he takes it.

Above the battlefield, Ravi alerts Keel that The End of Everything is near and the time to act is now or never. The ring-entities are the very ones that Ravi’s people—The Ancients—fled the galaxy to avoid. Keel hands the ship over to Garret and the IndelibleIV’s cheerful AI and jumps out of the ship, diving right for Sullus.

Exo climbs out of the Nether Ops dungeon beneath the palace, takes an aero-precision missile launcher and knocks out the tank that Sullus is standing on, which interrupts Sullus’s attempt to kill Masters. But Sullus is able to kill Exo, snapping his spine on the spot. Sullus releases the spectral entities from the ring and they settle across the battlefield, animating the corpses to attack the remaining legionnaires. Sulllus retreats to the imperial palace. Wraith lands near Exo’s body and heads after Sullus.

Masters manages to carry Bear to Leenah’s legion shuttle; they begin to load up wounded.

Sullus retreats to the palace courtyard, and opens a portal to the realm of spectral entities. More come into the world through the new gate. As he gathers his efforts to let them all in, Casper asserts his personality and fights for control, shrinking the gate but not closing it. The distraction is enough to let Wraith approach Sullus from behind and shoot him.

The gate closes.

The Empire is done.

The war is over.

My Thoughts:

The only reason I have included such a humongous synopsis is because it is easier to cut and paste it in its entirety from the Fandom page than to try to write up my own. If all my creative energies go toward writing the synopsis, that just doesn’t seem fair to the My Thoughts section. Especially considering how deep, indepth, detailed and generally totally kick ass this section tends to be. Besides, if I don’t do a good enough job, Future Me is going to look back and sneer and call me a lazy git. So you all have to suffer a 6 page synopsis (that is what it came out to in the OpenOffice doc I use to copy/paste).

This was a good ending to what is called Season One. The Republic is irreparably broken, Goth Sullus is destroyed, bigger threats are hinted at and Prisma goes off with what appears to be a real bad guy. Most of the storylines are wrapped up with just enough left open to give you a hint of what is to come. I like that.

I really liked just how much of a puppet Sullus turns out to be. Instead of being a strong man standing for his convictions, he’s shown as someone who time and again has done what is expedient and betrayed anyone who thought differently from him. It’s good to see him get his just desserts.

Prisma, the little girl with special powers, is starting to worry me. Her behavior is very similar to Anakin’s in Episode II: Attack of the Clones. That hasty, impatient, not listening to anyone else, do what they want attitude. While Redemption stories are right up my alley, I’d rather see a character fight against and resist the Fall. I guess we’ll see if Season 2 is about Prisma or not.

Overall, I couldn’t have been happier with this series. Besides the little hiccup between the first book and second (where the style drastically changes from an almost straight up MilSF to Space Opera), I have not had a bad read. While the first book of Season 2 is out, I think I’m going to wait until the whole thing is out before diving back in. Thankfully, there are several other series I can check out while waiting. Anspach and Cole have farmed out various sub-series and I plan on reading those. I will have to see if they keep creative and quality control or if they just rubberstamp it with their name. Michael Anderle did the rubberstamp option and made me pretty much abandon anything by him. I hope Anspach and Cole do a better job.

For the records, I have the Savage Wars (3 books), Tyrus Rechs (3 books), the Order of the Centurion (5 books) and the Dark Operator (5 books) to get through. I suspect that will be more than enough to let Anspach and Cole bust out Season 2 of Galaxy’s Edge!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Message for the Dead (Galaxy’s Edge #8) ★★★★✬


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: Message for the Dead
Series: Galaxy’s Edge #8
Author: Jason Anspach & Nick Cole
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF/Space Opera
Pages: 319
Words: 115.5K



Synopsis:

From Galaxysedge.fandom.com

Orbiting Porcha, Keel and Exo say farewell as Exo and Bombassa leave the Indelible VI, planning to return to their squad in the Dark Legion. Keel does his best to remind Exo that before he was Dark legion, he was Victory Company. Exo still has doubts about whether to trust the House of Reason or not, but does not trust Legion Commander Keller. Keel wagers his seamball card collection against Exo’s rifle scope to see who turns out to be right about which side to back. Exo agrees but before they part, a corvette with MCR markings drops out of hyperspace and launches Republic Lancer Starfighters. Bombassa convinces Keel to escort the imperial shuttle until it can jump out-system. Ravi reports that the fighters and shuttle are flying in formation and neither Exo nor Bombassa is able to raise their crew on S-comm. Ravi taps into the comm net to discover that Exo and Bombassa have orders to take control of the Indelible VI. If they don’t, the corvette has orders to destroy the ship. The corvette launches concussion warheads and the Indelible jumps to hyperspace.

The ship emerges near RX-17732 an abandoned mining station that Keel has visited before to take stock of the situation. The dark legionnaires admit they have no idea what’s going on and Keel admits that events they aren’t aware of seem to be in motion. That said, he is still heading to the Doomsday Fleet to get his crew back and he has Maydoon’s DNA while the Black Fleet does not. Re-assessing the situation, Exo decides to join Wraith.

Ravi scans the news feeds and mentions that Article 19 is in place and the Legion is being condemned for essentially invading Ankalor while the House of Reason has officially reconciled with the MCR, and both will seek alliance with Goth Sullus’s Empire. An image of Goth Sullus appearing wearing Tyrus Rechs’ armor convinces Bombassa to work with Keel as well. Ravi shows them the chaos erupting all over the galaxy and Keel orders him to locate Victory squad just in case events worsen. Ravi points out the asteroid where they find themselves is not RX-17732 after all but a private stash that Tyrus Rechs willed to Keel in his final affairs. Informing Keel of this (Ravi continues) is the reason that he stayed with Keel when the rest of his people (the Ancients) moved on beyond the galaxy, fleeing the chaotic forces encroaching at the edge of galactic space. Sullus’s tricks are the product of Ancient technology and tools. Ravi’s job was to find someone who could resist the approaching force and that seems to be Keel.

Entering the dead base, they find that the space inside populated by dead dog-like creatures which were apparently killed by Rechs’ legendary shooting skill (there are no missed shots in evidence). Keel discovers an inscription to an office-like room (“I didn’t leave nothing”) which he enters and examines. Inside, he finds one of Rechs’s old slug-thrower pistols and a box of depleted uranium rounds for it while Ravi checks the logs and Exo and Bombassa look at the armory. Keel activates an AI persona of Rechs, which displays a recording he apparently made for himself…and reviews his history from General Reeves, Savage War fighter to General Rex, legionnaire, to Tyrus Rechs, bounty hunter. Rechs has had many lives, many identities, and a life measured in centuries. Casper is named as someone who is attempting to harness Ancient power at the edge of the galaxy in order to enslave it. Keel surmises that Casper is actually the man they know as Goth Sullus. Unfortunately looting the armory frees more of the dog-like creatures who have been nesting in the base. The creatures attack and the crew escapes the base aboard the Indelible VI.

Keel takes the ship to the Ungmar system, last known location of the hidden Doomsday Fleet, the Cybar mother ship authorized by the House of Reason as a last ditch defense and sought by Goth Sullus as a bargaining chip in his war against the Republic. They pass the remains of Exo and Bombassa’s shuttle as they approach, destroyed for not having the correct DNA key aboard. The ship permits the Indelible VI to land but Ravi reports that the controlling AI will try to capture them once down. Bombassa for his part insists on carrying out Goth Sullus’s orders to capture the mother ship.

Debarking, the Indelible’s crew are met by CAT37 the Cybar admin bot who offers to take them to the confirmation terminal. Keel dispatches the bot with his blaster. Ravi links to the computer and shows them the route to the detention block and guides them to Prisma and Leenah’s cells. While they wonder what to do with the guard bot, Garret speaks from the intercom and reveals that he’s been hiding out aboard the ship along with Skrizz, Hutch, one of Andien Broxin’s Nether Ops legionnaires, and parts of Crash. Worse, if anyone but an interrogator (bot or replicant) releases the cell doors, a swarm of titan warbots will retaliate. Garret directs them to their hiding place but they find a butchered Moktaar on the way. They “capture” Hutch and Garret, who update them on the situation. Hutch and Keel figure out who is actually working for whom and Hutch describes the robotic components of the Cybar ship: the titans warbots, the spiders, and crawlers. There are also pilot bots, AI drones and battle bots. There are also stealthy bots that pick out high profile targets for execution. Worst of all, CRONUS, the AI that runs the ship, is fully independent and the equal of any super-destroyer. Hutch and Garret believe that it is fully capable of taking over the galaxy. Thanks to their description, Bombassa is willing to work with Keel on retrieving his crew and escaping from the ship.

Garret is sent back to the Indelible IV to wait with Ravi and remote control what gadgets needs tweaking for an escape. They release Leenah then head to Prisma’s cell, where they discover a replicant of Leenah asking Prisma about her ability to make objects move. Keel kills the replicant and Leenah take charge of Prisma who has learned that CRONUS is keeping her alive because deep down it fears her potential to destroy the Cybar machines.

Titans appear to block their escape and destroying even one of them takes all of Keel, Exo and Bombassa’s battlefield skill. Prisma discovers that her commands carry real weight, and she accidentally stuns Hutch and Leenah. Keel promises that if Prisma can get Leenah and the others to the Indelible VI he will stay behind to retrieve Skrizz and destroy the Cybar ship.

Spider-bots appear and attack the group, with Exo and Bombassa clearing a path for the others, dragging a badly wounded Hutch, only to be met by more Titans at the landing bay. They clamber aboard and man the Indelible’s burst turrets instructed by Ravi, who heads back to help Keel.

Skrizz saves Keel from a Titan patrol and they catch each other up on the situation. Keel urges Skrizz to head back to the ship while Keel sabotages the mother ship. Skrizz leads Keel to the main generator, but on the way they discover the hull of the republic corvette Deluvia, a deep space survey vessel. Skrizz points out the reactor is inside the dead ship, then vanishes from sight while Keel enters the hulk. He tells Garret to leave as soon as Skrizz arrives and picks his brain for information about the Deluvia while Ravi arrives and tries to talk Keel out of the suicide mission he’s undertaken. As the ship’s defenses activate Keel abandons his intention and he and Ravi fight past swarms of robots in their effort to escape to the Indelible VI while garret closes blast doors to help out. Leenah and Keel pull a clear the deck maneuver to wipe out the bots with the ship’s drives while Leenah swings the ship around to pick him, Ravi and Skrizz up.

Starfighters approach as the Indelible VI leaves the mother ship. Keel shows Bombassa how to manage the fake transponder collection in order to jump to hyperspace, on the way to En Shakar.

Meanwhile, at Bantaar Reef, the Republic Seventh Fleet is at rest. Admiral Landoo, who lost the only naval engagement between the Black Fleet and the Republic Navy, meets with X and his assistant. X reasons that even if Landoo succeeds vs. the Black Fleet she’ll still have to fight the Legion, since Article 19 is in effect and wants to know her plans. Landoo sees the Legion as criminals. X tries to convince her that the House of Reason is at odds with her navy oath. Landoo receives news that the Black Fleet has jumped into the Reef and the discussion is rendered moot as the fleet is ordered to battle stations. X introduces his assistant, Major Ellek Owens, who has an offer. Finally, X manages to convince Landoo not to throw her fleet into ruin against the Black Fleet battleships and instead jump her fleet to Utopion to link up with the Legion.

Aboard the newly renamed Audacity, a former Black Fleet corvette, Capt Desaix takes stock of his crew of rescued POWs and is alarmed about the impending battle. All three of Goth Sullus’s battleships arrive and position themselves to cut off all escape from the naval depot. Admiral Landoo contacts Desaix with a mission: transport Owens anywhere he wants to go and follow his orders.

Aboard the battleship Terror, Lt. Cmdr Kat Haladis watches the Black Fleet’s assault on Bantaar Reef, advises Capt. Vampa on how to cut that retreat off.

X and Owens board the Audacity and are ordered to Tarrago by X and engage fighters from the Terror as she battleship moves to cut her off. Atumna Fal pilots the ship as she would a fighter to avoid serious damage, and jumps to Tarrago.

At Tarrago, X delivers a diplomatic message for Goth Sullus. In it, Orrin Kaar suggests an alliance between the Republic and the fledgling Empire. The Audacity is permitted to land aboard the Imperial Dreadnought Overlord to discuss terms. That done, the crew is imprisoned while X and Owens are taken to meet Armiral Ordo, from Imperial Intelligence, who confirms their identities and after warning them allows them to meet Goth Sullus. Sullus uses his mind-mojo on X who spills everything he knows while Owen’s implants record the whole meeting.

Owens steals a shock trooper’s blaster and flees, relying on his escape and evasion skills to lead his pursuers further into the ship while backtracking to Desaix and informing him of X’s ploy (or treason depending on your POV). Escape requires that the ship’s docking tractor be disabled, which Owens will do while Desaix follows Casso back to Audacity with a message Owens recorded for Legion General Keller on Utopion.

Desaix leads his crew back to the Audacity with Jory taking a blaster hit and passing out, while Owens runs interference, heading for the tractor array control section. As the troopers close in, Owens overloads the tractor beam and dies as the crew of the Audacity escapes in their ship.

Landoo and Keller agree on a plan to defend Utopion: Landoo will command the Seventh fleet, Ubesk commands the Combined Fleets Task Force, and Capt. Durad will be a liaison aboard the carrier Freedom. The hope is that the Back Fleet jumps to Utopion, where it will see a Legion and Seventh Fleet ostensibly at war with other. As the Black Fleet attacks the Legion, the Seventh Fleet will attack the Black Fleet’s flank, knocking their battleships out, launch SSMs, and run for deep space, leaving the Legion to board the Black Fleet ships.

Goth Sullus boards the Imperator, as the Black Fleet rearms and jumps for Utopion, without the Overlord, months ahead of schedule. When the Black Fleet arrives, they are engaged by elements of the Republic defense. The Imperator destroys three corvettes with her ion cannon; two shots hit the destroyer Marathon which loses power, but Landoo denies the CO permission to abandon ship. The Republic corvette Simpkin is destroyed when it collides with a wrecked frigate. 15 SSMS survive the black fleet’s point defense cannon fire and strike the Imperator, crippling the battleship. The Republic destroyer Hidalgo takes critical volleys from the Terror and Revenge; the ship’s engineer scuttles her.

On the Imperator, Admiral Rommal takes a message from Capt. Vampa aboard the Terror and tells him the legion assault fleet is heading straight for their battle group. He denies her permission to launch interceptors to cover a retreat, and believes the battle is still manageable. On the Freedom, Landoo’s adjutant gives her a fleet status report: they’ve lost 8 hammerhead corvettes, 14 escort frigates and two destroyers. The Masstaar reports heavy casualties and a reactor leak. Landoo is ordered by Ubesk to concentrate fire on the Terror, and orders a launch of all fighters to cover the legion assault transports, which face fighter groups from the black fleet ships as they launch boarding actions against the Revenge. The legionnaires succeed in damaging the ship while taking heavy losses, leaving Terror as the only battleship able to fire its main guns. The fighting between boarding parties and defenders intensifies until a new contact appears in Utopion space: the Cybar mother ship. Goth Sullus orders his fleets to continue the fighting. He will deal with the newcomers personally.

Aboard the Cybar ship, CRONUS is anticipating the perfect opportunity to destroy both Republic and Black fleets and wipe out Utopion, and launches fighters against both fleets. Sullus prepares to head out to the mother ship but is delayed by heavy damage to the Imperator’s hangar deck and his shuttle’s destruction. Kat Haladis volunteers to fly a shuttle from the Terror to Imperator to pick Sullus up and transport him to the mother ship.

Aboard the Mercutio, Keller and Ubesk sort through plans to deal with the Cybar and ask Landoo her opinion. She decides to shift the fleet’s attack to the Cybar ship.

The Audacity jumps into Utopion space and dock with Mercutio. The Cybar interceptors carry out surgical strikes with advanced micro-missiles and effectively neutralize both the Revenge and the Freedom as the Cybar mother ship approaches the Seventh fleet and vaporizes it with its Mauler main gun.

After listening to Owens’s report, Keller instructs Desaix and his crew to transmit the message to Wraith, and records a message of his own to be transmitted as well. Desaix heads out with his new orders.

More legionnaires land on the Imperator to bolster the boarding parties’ attack as Goth Sullus lands aboard the Cybar ship. They meet resistance from Cybar titans but Sullus uses the power of the Crux to sweep them as side even as his guard takes casualties. As they penetrate further Sullus and Capt. Sturm realize the Cybar are testing them, learning their strengths.

Cybar Titans begin to land on the Imperator to hose down legionnaires and shock troopers alike. Goth Sullus loses most of his guard as they reach the center of the Cybar ship, and telepathically contacts Adm. Rommal, showing his exactly what part of the mother ship to attack with the Imperator’s main ion guns. Rommal obeys and Sullus uses the Crux to push his armor’s force bubble far enough to shield himself and his guard from the ion cannon damage. He confronts the intelligence at the center of the ship and learns that the aliens are utterly ancient, and willing to serve him. He slips on the ring of power just as the Imperator explodes, Rommal’s last act being to activate the self-destruct.

Ubesk orders the Republic fleet to retreat and the legion fleet is essentially destroyed, juts as an MCR fleet leaves hyperspace.

The Legion is no more.

Epilogue:

Owens and Chhun have a heart to heart aboard the Intrepid. Owens notes that Kill Team Victory has been taking consistent and heavy losses, and has decided to de-activate the team. He then offers Chhun the chance to take his place as Dark Ops commander for the teams stationed aboard Intrepid. An eventual promotion to Major goes with the assignment. Chhun accepts as long as he gets to re-assign Bear and Masters personally. He assigns Bear as TL of KT Outlaw, and gets to work.

While going over kill team after-action reports, Chhun is asked to consult on a transmission from Legion Commander Washam, who uses a security clearance (“Libre Shine 1611”) to inform Chhun as Dark Ops commander that a new clandestine prison for political prisoners has been set up on the planet Gallobren to replace the one lost on Herbeer. He recommends that a kill team be sent to disrupt the facility by facilitating an inmate uprising. Washam will do everything he can to stall the site’s re-supply for two weeks, and notes only planetary militia defend the facility while Delegate Nimh Arushi who oversees the site is on hand as well.

Chhun and Admiral Deynolds discuss the likelihood that the message from Washam is real. Deynolds promises her full support.

Chhun throws himself into the new role of Dark Ops Sector Commander, trying to verify the truth of Washam’s report. Washam himself is a veteran of the Psydon campaign, the first major battle to see points in action. One combat memoir speaks highly of Washam despite his appointed status, and speaks to the loyalty of the troops under Washam’s command. Convinced of Washam’s honest intent, Chhun creates an op for his kill teams. Some will recover Delegate Nimh Arushi and the rest will liberate the prisoners located on the clandestine prison on Gallobren. First Battalion from the 25th legion will be dropped by Intrepid for support.

Chhun and Task Force Granite drop to the surface of Gallobren and swim to Arushi’s yacht, then plant charges on the hull to prevent its escape. They track Arushi to her hotel while the rest of the task force prepares to assault the prison. Arushi is apprehended and led away. While Task Force Granite frees the prisoners, explosions are heard, but it’s not the Intrepid. Another ship has arrived and is bombarding the facility. Comm officer Lambert aboard the Intrepid informs Chhun that fighter-supported drop pods are on the way for exfiltration and support forces are on the way down. But a lot more pods are dropping than Intrepid can account for. Chhun commandeers a TT15 observation bot and determines that the opposing force is made entirely of warbots…the same Titans from the Cybar mother ship.

Chhun puts two and two together and begins giving orders to prepare for a counter-attack. But the Intrepid has its own problems fighting off the mother ship in orbit and plans for the legion’s exfiltration fall apart. The warbots encircle Task Force Granite and isolate it in the heart of the city, turning a city park into a battlefield. Intrepid sends down a squadron of fighter-bombers to support the legionnaires, but cannot aid them directly, nor would shuttles survive planetfall. Reaper Squadron leader Dax Danns rides herd on a command shuttle that attempts to make pickup for Chhun’s unit, but the shuttle is destroyed before landing. It dawns on Chhun that Intrepid is being forced to retreat and his unit is stranded. He sets up a looping distress call to Indelible VI, blows up his command post and swims for the shore.

Aboard the Indelible VI, Garret plays Chhun’s message for Keel. Exo, Bombassa, and Keel agree that they must help. Garret sends a text message that help is on the way. Travel time through hyperspace is three hours.

Chhun meets up with the surviving legionnaires of Granite who have decided to let Delegate Arushi go considering the circumstances. They are ambushed by a platoon of warbots who kill all but Bear, Masters, and Chuun. They head back to Granite’s original landing zone to wait for possible rescue, working their ways through the drain pipes to avoid being seen. The corpses of soldiers and civilians both impede their progress, while sanitation bots mindlessly work to clear the pipe. Up top, they see the city turned into a vast killing field, rampant destruction and death wrecking the pristine core world’s environment. As they scavenge for supplies, it occurs to them that a rogue AI bent on galactic destruction would be a horrific opponent. They hide and avoid capture by the warbots until Wraith can arrive, turning on their rescue transponder only when the ETA time is near.

When Wraith does arrive he has six Cybar fighters on his tail, which the legionnaires immediately attack with shoulder-fired AP rockets. Between the AP rounds and the ship’s guns they knock down the remaining fighters, but warbots appear around their position. Wraith hovers his ship as the leejes run for the ramp and Exo and Bombassa strafe the warbots with blasters. The three leejes jump aboard and Wraith climbs into the sky.

Wraith travels to Mother Ree’s Sanctuary on En Shakar to give his crew and passengers some rest and recovery time. Ree informs Chhun that the Cybar have been stopped but the “the galaxy has lost its last ember of freedom as a result.” The Indelible VI’s crew gathers at the ship to listen to the recording Owens made of X’s confession in front of Goth Sullus, and Keller’s final recorded orders to Ford are to do what he must with the information. Wraith confirms that the House of Reason is under Goth Sullus’s control. Wraith vows to kill X and Chhun acknowledges that Kill Team Victory is back at full strength. And, Chhun says, “We’re Victory Squad. And we’re gonna make ‘em pay.”

My Thoughts:

This was the most enjoyable Galaxy’s Edge book so far. I seriously thought about bumping it up to a 5star, but upon consideration, it’s just not “quite” there. At the same time, something about the story line grabbed me harder than the previous ones and just made me do the Manly Fist Pump and Macho Man Dance (said maneuvers are highly classified amongst the male part of the world’s population and should not be shown to just anyone). Goth Sullus having a larger part to play was definitely up there. I did have to laugh and laugh loud and uproariously, when the Ring of Power made it’s appearance. I bet Anspach and Cole (the authors) had a blast writing that Tolkien homage into their Star Wars’esque universe. One more nod to a fandom, a “we get you” kind of scene.

One thing that was hard was watching the Galactic Republic fall apart and Legionnaires be destroyed. Seeing how the damned politicians had been in league with Goth Sullus from the start and how Sullus was simply outmaneuvering almost everyone, that was hard. You want to think that the good guys have an ace in the hole, someone who can come out of no-where to save the day, like Luke Skywalker. The thing is, here? Luke Skywalker is a little girl with a temper and whose daddy was killed. Gotta admit, things aren’t looking too good. Plus, the destruction of the Legion as a galactic wide fighting force really cuts out the heart of those fighting against Sullus and his minions.

Of course, all this just means that things are going to get really awesome. With Sullus becoming an amalgam of Sith, Sauron and Cylon (oh, did I forget to mention that the One Ring was created by machine intelligence?), how can it not help but be awesome?

Anspach and Cole continue to impress me with their story telling acumen. It is exactly what I want and in turn makes me angry, has me chortling with glee, has me Macho Man dancing and then lying down wondering how everything is going to be ok. Just fantastic and I am loving this.

I have decided to give this series the “Favorite” tag. It has definitely earned it!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Turning Point (Galaxy’s Edge #7) ★★★★☆

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 & Bookhype by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Turning Point
Series: Galaxy’s Edge #7
Author: Jason Anspach & Nick Cole
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF/Space Opera
Pages: 251
Words: 86K



Synopsis:

From Galaxysedge.fandom.com

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.

My Thoughts:

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.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Copper Assassin (Tales of Wyverna #1) ★★★☆☆


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 & Bookhype by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Copper Assassin
Series: Tales of Wyverna #1
Author: Madolyn Rogers
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 238
Words: 88K



Synopsis:

Gorbo Oribul, a young rich spoiled youngling of a semi-important house, has too much time on his hands. When the pleasures that keep his peers occupied begin to pale for him, he starts looking elsewhere. When an assignation with a water wizards leads him to overhearing of a plot to destroy the ruler of the city of Wyvernia, Gorbo starts down a path he can never turn back from.

Having found out that an unstoppable magical construct, known as the Copper Assassin, has been recovered from a city that destroyed itself using the Assassin, Gorbo must figure out how to stop the assassin from killing the Warlord and plunging Wyvernia into civil war and utter ruin.

Overcoming many odds, picking up a magical spider sidekick, making his way through magical obstacles, Gorbo is able to warn the Warlord. She in turns uses the confusion of events to take down the usurper, control the construct and recruit Gorbo into her ranks.

The book ends with Gorbo realizing he’s entered a phase of life that he desperately wants to escape from. The problem is the only way to escape is to go deeper into the system setup by the Warlord.

My Thoughts:

This was an “ok” read. I have a bad feeling I’m reaching that stage of life where I’m starting to see more and more of “read that, been there”. This had some cool ideas and while the world building was a bit rough nothing in it turned me off. But it just felt like I’ve read it all before.

I’m going to lump all my negatives in one paragraph, just so it doesn’t seem I’m doing nothing but ragging on this book. First off, Gorbo gets break after break and it really bothered me. Plus, at 18 he’s preternaturally wise. Then there was this couple of sentences and one in particular really bothered me:

Gorgo prowled forward, nerves on edge. No sound startled him, no shadow moved, yet the frozen deathliness of that place only frayed his nerves more. The view around him never changed. The icy glob of light never neared. Hairs prickled along the back of his neck, and sweat chilled his skin.

Can you pick out the offending sentence? I asked Mrs B, our household’s resident holder of a Bachelors English Lit degree and she said it was technically correct. It felt like fingernails on a chalkboard to me though. Finally, the Copper Assassin is described as a female even when in construct form. I’m including a high res cover at the end of this review because it is so awesome. Does that look in anyway what you’d describe as female? Nothing in the book description led me to the conclusion that it was female and while covers usually lie their backsides off, I’m still choosing to say the cover adequately shows the Copper Assassin.

Most of the good stuff was more like “not bad” stuff. For an indie book, I noticed no errors nor did the writing throw me out of the story. Gorbo (Mr Gorbo, TEAR DOWN THAT WALL! Hahahahahhahaa) was fleshed out enough as a character that he had zero cardboard attached to him. He wasn’t an idea of a character but WAS a character. Sometimes indies seem to have problems with that, but not here thankfully. The little magical spider was a good touch and wasn’t the least bit creepy.

To end, if there had been more books immediately available (this was released this past March I believe) I would have read them. As it is, I’ll wait a couple of years to see what else Mrs Rogers produces in this series. Hopefully I’ll remember :-/

I’d like to thank Off the TBR for bringing this book to my attention. He showcased it in a Book Haul and the cover immediately caught my eye. I don’t think he’s reviewed it but I couldn’t find any way to search his site to confirm one way or another.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Prisoners of Darkness (Galaxy’s Edge #6) ★★★★☆


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: Prisoners of Darkness
Series: Galaxy’s Edge #6
Author: Jason Anspach & Nick Cole
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF/Space Opera
Pages: 215
Words: 76.5K



Synopsis:

From Galaxysedge.fandom.com

Having heard nothing from operative Andien Broxin, Nether Ops leader X waits at the Carnivale landing site as the tactical assault ship Forresaw returns, two weeks late and without warning. X considers the possibilities of what her unannounced return might mean, and none of them are good for the Republic. He becomes agitated enough to alert a sniper team at the landing site to active status, along with Sergeant Major Avers, the Carnivale’s combat trainer. After landing, Andien Broxin emerges alone from the ship and tries to kill X. Avers and the sniper team return fire and destroys the Forresaw as it tries to escape.

Major Ellek Owens has been arrested on charges of treason to the Republic and multiple counts of assassination. While this is not unexpected (Legion Commander Keller had previously let him know that Keller himself would not be taking the fall for the Dark Ops destruction of the Kesselverks Shipyards on Tarrago Prime) it is the apparent end to an otherwise impressive career. A number of Dark Ops legionnaires make things difficult for Republic Army officer Lt. Lynne Pratell, who is under orders to deliver Owens to a military tribunal, but she persists and carries out her mission. The tribunal itself is for show rather than to determine Owens’ guilt or innocence, and he is sentenced to life at hard labor in the Synth mines of Herbeer.

At the Republic Navy depot at Bantaar Reef, Admiral Landoo is trying to figure out how to respond to her near-complete loss of the 7th Fleet at Tarrago Prime and the more recent destruction of a super-destroyer to Imperial forces. She discovers that there is no viable military response as the fabled fifteen fleets of the Republic were so much propaganda; the Seventh Fleet was the only active task force in the galaxy. In addition, the House of Reason will not allow her to reposition any of the remaining super-destroyer groups from their current stations. She has been scraping together auxiliary ships for her own response, however. While she considers her options, Imperial tri-fighters attack Bantaar Reef and succeed in destroying the Ship-to-Ship Munitions (SSM) facility there, crippling their heavy torpedo production. A single Republic officer is identified as someone who could have let the Imperial forces inside the defense perimeter and he can’t be located.

Lt. Pratell’s Republic Army detail delivers Owens to Herbeer as Indelible VI pursues Andien Broxin for kidnapping Aeson Keel’s crew. Ravi alerts them to Broxin’s destination: the Echo Comm Node station in the Antilles system. Keel, though he cannot abide the thought of dealing with Broxin, does ask Chhun for his help in resolving the situation, who agrees. A brief refuel and re-supply stop on the Intrepid ends with a meeting with the ship’s CO, Captain Deynolds.

Imperial assault frigate Wolf arrives at the gas mining station on Jasilaar 9 to capture the station and mining facility. Goth Sullus’ Empire (aka the Imperial Republic) needs to constantly expand its labor force and resources to maintain its operations and the only way to do that is to capture existing industrial stations. Unexpectedly loyal and capable Republic Marines defeat them soundly, at the cost of the station’s destruction. This is a major setback for the Empire. Only a single escape pod survives.

In the Muratawa system, a Mid-Core Rebel fleet led by Jona Crimm engages a far more (apparently) capable Republic fleet. Crimm is a rising star in the MCR and is looking to boost his reputation even further with this engagement. The Republic admiral calculates that hios super-destroyer’s Aegis Point Defense System is sufficient to destroy the MCR’s fighter cover and so delays launching his own Raptor squadrons. This gives the MCR forces the chance to launch heavy torpedoes inside their defense perimeter and destroy the picket destroyer Pegasus. With the loss of the Pegasus, the Republic fleet can no longer co-ordinate its fire control systems and falls apart, disabling several more ships. The Captain of the Republic destroyer Imminent drops his ship into the planet’s atmosphere to dissuade MRC fighters from following…which Crimm had planned for, and orders MCR forces to attack her from the planet’s surface. The Imminent is a total loss and crashes. The engagement is a serious defeat for the Republic and Jona Crimm’s reputation soars further as the man who won the Battle (Victory) of Muratawa.

Back on the Intrepid, it becomes clear that Ford has been following orders and Deynolds is well aware of his double life as the pirate captain Aeson Keel and the bounty hunter Wraith. Joining the meeting by hologram are Delagates Orrin Kaar, Aletha A’lill’n, and Valon Uprecht of the House of Reason Security Council, and Legion Commander Keller. The meetings brings the legionnaires up to speed on recent events including the death of Admiral Silas Devers (no great loss), and the fact that the kill team attack on Tarrago was in direct violation of the House Security Council’s orders. Ford and Chhun are offered a chance to confess that Owens was the sole initiator of the attack on the Kesselverks Shipyards. Signing the confessions would absolve the two legionnaires of responsibility in the matter. Both sign under protest, while Kaar promises them both the Order of Centurion for their loyalty. The Delegates disconnect and Keller acknowledges that Owens is a sop to a corrupt political process, and was already convicted and sentenced to a life of hard labor on Herbeer. Keller believes that with Owens out of the way, the House will make a grab for control of the Legion. And if Keel and Chhun were to head to Herbeer and rescue Owens from prison, well, they would all be considered co-conspirators. But they would also be able to resist the House’s plans for a coup.

After a heated exchange between Keel and Chhun, Keel decides not to join Chhun’s kill team on their rescue op.

At the Grand Pavillion of the Zhee tribes on Ankalor, Republic academic Jebba Monteau meets with the Grand Kahn of the Zhee to secure the race’s help in the Republic’s fight against the Empire. Jebba, although himself an academic expert on Zhee language, history, and culture slowly realizes that he’s in over his head but insists on completing his mission. He informs the Kahn that the Republic has been building advanced warships, weapons, and armor in secret all of which will be provided to the Zhee if the Kahn agrees to use his followers as troops for use by the House of Reason to attack Empire strongholds. The Kahn agrees, and Jebba becomes the most important part of the Zhee ritual, the Paradise of a Thousand Cuts.

In the Synth mines of Herbeer, Owens becomes acquainted with the work routine. Inmates are expected to mine three grams of synth each day, and prisoners often steal synth from each other to ease the quotas. The mines are run as a Gomarii slaving operation as well, and between the liberal installation of auto-turrets and a network of corrupt guards, escape is apparently impossible. Owens is befriended by Crux, an aged Savage War veteran who’s been working the mines for years and gives him the essentials on how to survive the harsh environment. Crux introduces Owens to “Rowdy,” First Sergeant Robert Cosler, a leej who was sentenced to life on Herbeer for shooting a point instead of following an illegal order. Cosler has banded together with other such former legionnaires, who now call themselves Synth Squad and keep each other safe from the Gomarii and other prisoners.

The base at Tarrago Prime has been converted by Imperial shock troopers into a detention and interrogation facility collectively known by Imperial troops as “Camp Spirit”. Republic soldiers are encouraged to give up vital information and join the Empire and many take advantage of this offer. Some of the more enduring resistors include Captain Thales, the (former) Chief Gunnery Officer of Fortress Omicron, Captain Desaix of the (now destroyed) corvette Audacity, Jory Moncray, a crewman from the Seventh Fleet, Raptor pilot Atumna Fal, legionnaire Corporal Casso, marine Jidoo Nadoori, and Rocokizzi, gunner’s mate from the Audacity. Desaix manages to head up an escape attempt, with Casso, Nadoori, and Rocokizzi in tow. Once outside the prison they hijack a ground transport containing Thales and Fal. By eliminating guards and hacking into the Imperial S-comm, they brazen their ways onto a grounded corvette and steal it, fighting their way out of Camp Spirit, while Desaix is nearly killed dealing with a trooper who is sabotaging the jump computer. Desaix defeats the saboteur, fixes the computer, and they make a clean jump into hyperspace.

Victory Squad has taken up residence on Deep Space Survival Outpost Tully 3, one of many such outposts throughout the galaxy, which are intended to benefit stranded space travelers. A new person arrives at the station: Lao Pak, a sometime associate of Aeson Keel. Pak’s job is to get them to Herbeer in Keel’s absence.

On Herbeer, Cosler is happy enough to hand command of his squad to Owens, in order to restore some semblance of legion order to their routine; having a legionnaire Major in charge would do that. Owens accepts the post and they begin to figure out how to wreck the Gomarii slavery ring and also figure out how an escape might happen.

Despite Lao Pak’s Galaxy-class transport ship’s problems, his awful piloting skills, and the fact that Pak is carrying an MCR prisoner who he intends to sell to the Gomarii, Victory squad successfully arrives at Herbeer.

Meanwhile, Hutch and Garret have holed up in a part of the Cybar warship Mother the warbots can’t access and Garret has learned how to gain entry into the controlling AI’s internal defense network, so that they can see what the machine sees. The mechanical intelligence that runs the ship has been pitting Skrizz against the ship’s warbots to test his resolve and combat ability. Skrizz has been through a number of contests and always seems to win. Prisma Maydoon is still being held as well. After considerable study, Garret believes he can gain control of MAGNUS, the ship’s controlling intelligence. Prisma has been practicing her mind-over-matter skills and has grown them considerably.

On Herbeer, Owens, Crux, and Rowdy appear to start a fight in order to distract the Gomarii. Owens uses a Dark Ops alias, Herron Knight, to promise wealth and power if the slavers can mitigate his sentence, and move him near the control room. Owens plans to get inside the room and turn off the auto-turrets and then instigate a riot.

While this is going on, Chhun’s kill team waits aboard the Galaxy-class freighter while Lao Pak talks their way into the mine’s docking bay, using the MCR prisoner as a shield.

Onboard Mother, it is revealed that MAGNUS has been micromanaging the conflict between the MCR and the Republic, and the Empire as a strategy meant to get the warring factions to wipe each other out, or at least to exhaust each other’s military capabilities. To that end, it has been sending organic replicants to strategic locations to facilitate chaos. The attack on X, Bantaar Reef, the Battle of Muratawa, and the destruction of the mining base on Jasilaar 9 were all due to replicants operating on MAGNUS’s orders. MAGNUS learns that there is another far more alien intelligence lurking within its programming…and it will make itself known in good time.

On Herbeer, Owens’ riot breaks out just as Chhun’s kill team infiltrates the mine. More by chance than planning, Chhun makes contact with Owens inside the control center, and now their mission is to shut down the auto-turret controls before the defenses kill the prisoners.

During the fight, Masters and Pike are attacked (and Pike is swallowed whole) by an indigenous worm-like life form, and Masters deduces these monsters are what the auto-turrets were designed to defend against. Lao Pak sees the fight on monitors and abandons Chhun’s team to its fate. Owens and Chuun’s team put down the Gomarii and break into the guarded section of the mine to find that there are hundreds of prisoners waiting in cages, to be sold in the Gomarii slave market. Owens recognizes one as Lt. Pratell, and surmises that the operation is used to silence the Republic’s political opponents.

At this point everyone with a working blaster is attacking the creature that is still rampaging through the mine, eating what it can catch. Pike however is still conscious and triggers a belt of grenades he was wearing when the attack came. The blast destroys the monster. Owens gets on the comm and declares that the Legion is now in control of the facility.

In the aftermath of the inmate rebellion, the former prisoners re-purpose a Republic shuttle for use after locating it in a maintenance bay, before it had been stripped for parts. Owens and Victory squad are due to leave the planet, while Rowdy and Synth Squad remain behind to run the prison, with Lt. Pratell as their new CO. Crux, who died in the fight, will receive a proper leej burial aboard the Mercutio. Owens contacts the Mercutio from orbit informing them of the situation, and plans a rendezvous with the destroyer.

On the planet Wayste, Ravi and Keel head into the deep desert to locate the remains of Kael Maydoon and do so with local help, but are intercepted by Imperial shock troopers. Keel recognizes one of them: Exo.

My Thoughts:

Whoever has been writing these synopses has my admiration and I’d place them against Mr Torval (the guy who has been writing the Wheel of Time synopses) and call it a dead heat. Place your bets now, folks, step right up, step right up, place your bets on who can write a longer synospses! All wagers accepted, except for used pancakes, we refuse to bet with used pancakes, step right up, step right up there! Place your bets, today might be your lucky day …..

This was yet another excellent entry in the Galaxy’s Edge series. Starting the book out with adding “replicants” to the mix made me sit up and holler an outloud “Oh Yeah!”. Battlestar Galactica, here we come! There was also a scene where some Republic prisoners were escaping and how it was worded and everything just made me do a fist pump of excitement. It was exciting writing and brought a grin to my face.

I think I’ve finally gotten used to Captain Ford/Keel/Wraith all being the same person. One man having 3 different personnas and names was a bit confusing but I think its all sorted now. It helps that he’s pretty much chosen the Rogue Keel as who he is now.

In a previous review I’d talked about how this Galaxy’s Edge universe seemed to be growing faster than ever. Well, there is another sub-series co-written called Order of the Centurion and there was another one called Dark Operator about the Dark Ops. I haven’t read any sub-series written by other authors yet and I plan on holding off doing that until I’m caught up to what Anspach and Cole have put out themselves. Michael Anderle has done something similar with his Kurtherian Universe and most of the co-written spinoffs pretty much just had his name on the cover and the contents were typical atrocious indie junk. I can’t say that is the case for Anspach and Cole but I’m keeping that in the back of my head. I do wish there were more reviews on WordPress, as when I look I found very few people have reviewed these books on their blogs.

This series continues to impress me and give me boat loads of fun reading. I look forward to each new book that comes my way. KTF!

★★★★☆

Breakout (Fugitive Marines #1) ★★☆☆½

breakout (Custom)

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: Breakout
Series: Fugitive Marines #1
Author: David Ryker & Douglas Scott
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 244
Words: 73.5K

Synopsis:

From Davidryker.com

When a meteor strike unleashes an alien intelligence bent on taking over the human race, only a ragtag band of ex-Marines can stop them.

The only problem is, they’re in prison for a crime they didn’t commit. For the next 98 years.

And their prison is two and a half billion kilometers from Earth on a good day.

And their fellow inmates want them dead.

Hey, nobody ever said saving the world would be easy.

My Thoughts:

While this wasn’t “bad”, I did have much higher hopes that weren’t met.

The entire tone of the book was of the flip, I’m so qualified that I’m not worried about you, light humor. After a while it began to grate. Here are 4 (or was it 5? I honestly couldn’t tell you by the end of the book how many were in the group, more on that later) Marines in space jail for a crime they don’t remember committing, suddenly fighting off an alien body snatcher invasion. And they quip and one liner for the entire time?

Of course, Mr Quinn, their leader, but not Captain because he’s been stripped of that (we’re reminded by him of this constantly), is Mr Muscles from Brussels (I wanted to write muskles from bruskles to imitate Popeye, but wasn’t sure anyone would get the phrase if I mangled it that much) who is so conscientious and takes everything so seriously. But it fails, completely. He’s an idea of a person, not an actual person.

That is probably my biggest issue with this book, everyone had their place and were the idea, not the person. And that is why I couldn’t tell you if there were 4 or 5 guys in the force. There were first names, last names, possibly some nick names. They all had defining characteristics, but they weren’t people. I don’t know how to describe the lack, but it was evident. Then you had Miss Rich Love Interest Who Loves Everybody So Much that She Goes Outside Her Comfort Zone into Real Combat as a Medic. You know she and Captain Not Captain Muscles are going to fall in love, they have to. Their very character type demands it.

The background of the world was quite interesting. A world war that has seen the world divided into economic unions and space the new frontier. It had great underpinnings, just not the follow through. If you are looking for some quick Mil-SF to hoover through, you’ll probably like this series. There are 4 books currently out, but I’m done. I simply don’t care about the alien threat or how the Guys will solve their problems. They’ll solve it and laugh and beat some heads and Miss RLIWLESMSGOHCZRCB and CnC Muscles will probably smooch. But the problem won’t be fully solved, so you’ll have to read the next book.

Waiter, I’d like my check please.

★★☆☆½

Sword of the Legion (Galaxy’s Edge #5) ★★★★☆

swordofthelegion (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained thereinshall 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:
Sword of the Legion
Series: Galaxy’s Edge #5
Author: Jason Anspach & Nick Cole
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF/Space Opera
Pages: 217
Words: 72K

Synopsis:

From Galaxysedge.fandom.com

In Sword of the Legion, we find Dark Ops Kill Team Victory Squad on the planet Rawl Kima in pursuit of a Mid-Core Rebel VIP. Victory Squad has been operating out of the Republic destroyer Illustrious for some time, on a continuing mission to locate and capture or kill a never-ending series of individuals who are categorized as MCR VIPs by Dark Ops. After years of this kind of activity, Captain Cohen Chhun is still a dutiful, competent soldier but the continual fighting is wearing him down emotionally.

Worse, despite the loss of the arms dealer Scarpia, Rawl Kima is a hotbed of MCR activity and Victory Squad is hard pressed to stay alive in the face of political decisions made by the local garrison commander.

Earlier, Dark Ops Major Ellek Owens and Nether Ops operative Andien Broxin are contacted by Legion Commander Keller with a new mission: they are to destroy the Kesselverks Shipyards at Tarrago Prime, which is under attack by a new player, Goth Sullus’s Black Fleet. Sullus’s goal is uncertain, but his intent is clear and the Republic must deny his fleet the use of the ship construction facilities at all costs. That calls for the best kill team they have and that is Victory Squad. And that means extracting them from the mess on Rawl Kima.

Owens contacts Captain Aeson Keel, aka Wraith, aka Captain Ford, former legionnaire, to extract Victory Squad from their current assignment with his ship the Indelible VI.

Owens’ message is simple: Keel and his crew must fight their way down to Rawl Kima, extract Victory Squad, and transport them to Tarrago Prime ASAP. Keel is intent on dealing with Silas Devers, the navy admiral who Keel discovered to be working with House of Reason Representative Orrin Karr to seize control of the Republic government. Owens assures him that as bad as Devers is, Goth Sullus’ gaining the ability to build starships by the dozen is many times worse. Keel accepts the job.

As the Indelible VI approaches Rawl Kima, Keel tries to explain his current point of view to Leenah the Enduran engineer (and former mid-core rebel), but the situation is complicated, involving a sense of duty to the Republic Legion combined with an intense need to survive the conflict that is growing around them. Additionally, Wraith’s bounty hunting career has been extremely lucrative, thanks to a huge payment by Tyrus Rechs. Leenah has a more white-and-black view of the conflict, which begins and ends with protecting Prisma Maydoon, now a part of Keel’s crew.

Keel denotes his ship “Rescue One” and contacts Victory Squad who is expecting him. The fighting on the ground grows fierce and Keel, Skrizz, and Leenah work together to lay down suppressive fire and drop the ship low enough for the surviving team members to board. Leenah especially is conflicted about the need to kill in defense of one’s allies. On its way out of the system the Illustrious attempts to force the Indelible VI to land aboard for customs violations, but Keel micro-jumps the ship to safety and introduces his crew to his old legion buddy, Cohen Chhun.

Aboard the ship, the two crews get to know each other. Masters and Prisma especially take a liking to each other, as he reminds her of a kinder, nobler version of Tyrus Rechs and he thinks she’s both brave and resourceful. Crash’s presence unnerves everyone. News of Keel’s alliance with Tyrus Rechs is good for some awe among the legionnaires.

Keel shows Victory Squad his extremely well-stocked armory and the team gears up while a holoprojected Major Owens explains the mission and provides a bit of background: Nether Ops operatives destroyed the Chiasm and Camp Forge back on Kublar. The Republic government is literally working against its own best interest and the government is in danger of fragmenting over the conflict. Owens forbids Victory Squad and the crew of the Indelible VI from going after Sullus directly. Denying him the use of the shipyards is their primary concern. Neither are they expected to secure the orbital defense gun, as that would require the team to hold until relieved and there is no relief coming.

As the freighter jumps into Tarrago system, they witness the mother of all space battles, with Black Fleet battleships and Republic Seventh Fleet capital ships flying around each other, trying to inflict as much damage as possible. Part of the problem is just identifying who the real enemies are but they assume the black fighters belong to Sullus’s fleet. Keel’s aggressive flying keeps the fighters at bay while avoiding a minefield deployed over the planet. Garret upgrades the weapons AI such that the newly upgraded missiles will fire from any direction and pursue a target in any position, then sets about upgrading Crash’s software for combat. In warbot mode, Crash deploys ahead of the ship in order to act as a fire suppression platform in advance of the ship’s landing.

Having landed the ship, Keel dons his old legion armor and feels like Wraith again, then joins the op with Victory Squad, which carries out their objective. The team picks their way through the jungle to the shipyards, and use a Black Fleet S-comm to avoid roving patrols of occupying shock troopers. Once inside the base, Victory Squad rigs the drive core of a partially constructed republic destroyer to blow as they fight their way out of the structure.

Wraith orders the Indelible VI to pick the team up and finds that hails to the ship go unanswered. Forced to rely on the ship’s hyper-enthusiastic AI computer, Keel coaxes it into flying the ship to their position and they manage to board to find the ship deserted except for Ravi.

Meanwhile, the crew of the Indelible VI awakens in the hold of the freighter Forresaw, and are introduced to Andien Broxin, agent of Nether Ops, and the Ghost Squad, the legion kill team which is aiding her. Andien explains that the Republic Seventh Fleet is gone and there are no other fleets available to stop Goth Sullus. The truth is that there were never any grand fleets; it was a propaganda tool used by the Republic to maintain order and prevent local systems from trying to gain too much power on their own. Now that the Seventh Fleet is no more, it is her intention to utilize Prisma to unlock a fleet of robotic warships known collectively as the Doomsday Fleet, a fail-safe created by the Republic House of Reason in case any attempt to wipe out the Republic should come to pass. Kael Maydoon was a principal of the project and he created a digital key that could only be activated with his daughter’s DNA. Which makes Prisma Maydoon the most important person in the galaxy at this juncture.

The true location of the Doomsday Fleet is known to no one, which meant the Forresaw needs to stop at Antilles to make use of the comm node there to discover the fleet’s true location. Ghost Squad deploys to infiltrate the base, but the op goes sideways when pre-positioned special force of shock troopers attack Andien’s team. During the fighting, Prisma is able to use a terminal and discover the location of the Doomsday fleet: a planet at the edge of the galaxy, Umanar. The surviving crew and troops return to the Forresaw and make their escape.

As she reviews the fight that got three of her men killed and then defuses a racial feud between Skrizz, the acting pilot and Ruh-Ro, the first officer/gunner, Andien realizes that her team is compromised. She can’t return to Owens or Chhun or hand Prisma over to any Republic agent as everyone is now suspect. She judges the only move that won’t give them away is to proceed directly to Umanar. At least that way the ultimate mission goal is preserved and the Republic gets its reinforcements. During the jump, Ravi gives Prisma a gift–a small marble–and a mission of her own: learn to move it with her mind.

As the Forresaw arrives at Umanar, they find no fleet per se, but only a single capital ship, of massive size and completely automated. As they land they are met by an apparent admin bot who introduces itself as CAT37 and is reluctant to answer their questions. As they descend further into the ship, they see legions of warbots kept in storage. As they arrive, CAT37 reveals that its designation stands for Capture-Acquire-Terminate, and the group is attacked by large numbers of highly advanced warbots. While fighting for Prisma’s life, crash is destroyed, and while trying to fall back to the Forresaw, the remaining members of Ghost Squad are picked off one by one.

It is revealed that the mechanical intelligence behind the Doomsday Fleet is known as CRONUS (Cybernetic Robot Organism Network Uber Sybil), a wholly self-sufficient mechanical entity, which was built under top secret conditions by the Republic military using captured Cybar technology. On top of that, CRONUS at one point came into contact with an alien intelligence from outside the galaxy and took on a new directive: the systematic eradication of all life in the galaxy.

Andien and the crew of the Six are imprisoned by CRONUS and periodically interrogated by the mechanical intelligence. In the lulls between these sessions, Prisma Maydoon manages to move Ravi’s marble with her mind.

My Thoughts:

With these synopses from Fandom, I’m probably not going to ever re-read these books. Considering that I’ve got into these two authors (Anspach and Cole) late enough, there is a huge backlog for me to work through and they really churn out the books, so it will be YEARS before I’m caught up, much less think about a re-read. With all the spin-off series, etc, this is just a huge universe to explore. The more I read, the more I want to read! I can’t think of much higher praise than that.

And I’d love to end my review with that. Short and pithy. Not being a huge fan of long reviews, as I want to spend that time reading a book, not a review, I tend to write what I would want to read. Surprisingly, which I’m sure will shock the majority of everyone who reads this, a lot of other bloggers don’t seem to share that opinion. * raises hands in disbelief * I know, right? So because I’m just such an understanding fellah and want to please everyone else, I guess I’ll write some more. I do apologize to those of you whom this development will shock. If your feelings really get hurt, please leave a comment so I can grovel appropriately and beg for your forgiveness. I live for my readers approval and accolades.

Ok, with that out of my system…

This series is simply everything I ever wanted from the Star Wars franchise. Great characters, awesome stories, huge massive veiled threats at the edge of the galaxy. I feel like this is the Star Wars That Should Have Been. I know I am constantly referring to Star Wars in these reviews, and it will continue, but I was such a huge fan of the franchise for so long, that to rediscover something that fills that void within exactly is almost miraculous. It isn’t coincidental, as I’ve heard that Anspach and Cole set out to write this series in opposition to the dumpster fire that the recent movies turned the franchise into. I for one wholeheartedly approve.

I don’t even mind that things get muddled morally. In terms of various characters following someone like Goth Sullus I mean. The authors are showing the conflict within people when a beloved institution, the Republic, is going rotten at its very core and how they choose to respond to that rot. It directly addresses what a large segment of the American population at large (yours truly included) are dealing with. But at the same time, this never ONCE gets into Message Territory. The authors keep the story first and foremost and any message is part of the story, not a Message. Really, when a Message takes precedent over the story, that is what used to be called Propaganda. A lot of books today are nothing but propaganda. Sigh.

I have to admit that the constant jumping around of groups of characters and timelines from book to book still confuses me a bit. Not as bad as the second book did, but it is still there. It is probably the main reason why I would re-read these at some point, as I’m sure I could follow the time jumps better and slot things into their appropriate place much easier second time around. It didn’t help that when I was reading this I was also having a week from hell in terms of work.

Ok, that is long enough. The My Thoughts part is almost 600 words, which considering that my average whole (according to wordpress) is just under 700, I am WAY ahead of the numbers with that synopsis!

★★★★☆

Attack of Shadows (Galaxy’s Edge #4) ★★★★☆

attackofshadows (Custom)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
Pages: 338
Words: 84.5K

 

Synopsis:

From Galaxysedge.fandom.com

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.

 

My Thoughts:

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.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Kill Team (Galaxy’s Edge #3) ★★★★☆

killteam (Custom)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: Kill Team
Series: Galaxy’s Edge #3
Author: Jason Anspach & Nick Cole
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF/Space Opera
Pages: 340
Words: 85K

 

Synopsis:

From Galaxysedge.fandom.com

The Battle of Kublar rages while Victory company is extracted by the Mercutio. On the destroyer’s hangar deck the remains of Doomsday Squad spy an assault shuttle preparing to attack the Ohio-class ship bombarding the planet. Chhun, Exo, Wraith, and Specialist Kags convince the shuttle crew to let them join the assault. The marines agree, and the Ohio-class ship is boarded and captured by the legionnaires and Republic marines. The boarding parties recover snippets of data regarding who planned and executed the MCR attack.

Two months earlier, X, leader of the Nether Ops office known as the Carnivale, is preparing a new assignment known as Operation Ghost Hunter. X explains the mission to an operative code-named Tom Delo. Tom’s mission is to infiltrate the illegal arms market on Ankalor and follow the chain of contacts to the supplier who is providing the Mid Core Rebellion with their weapons.

Tom discovers the man behind the supply is known as Scarpia and begins to track him. His first contact is a local enforcer known as Frogg, who leads him to a talkative reported named Steadron. On the way to the Night Market, they are attacked by Zhee, humanoid aliens with a long history of religious zealotry. At the Night Market, Tom learns that the bombs that destroyed the Chaism and Camp Forge were MAROs, portable anti-matter bombs, and finds the republic officer going by the street name Abo can sell him two for three million credits each. On the way to the delivery site, Tom learns more about Frogg, who was once a legionnaire who was so uncontrollably violent that he was dishonorably discharged from the legion.

Frogg takes Tom to meet Scarpia, who gives Tom a mission: plant one of the acquired MAROs on the Chiasm and the other at Camp Forge. Tom goes through with the mission in order to secure his place in Scarpia’s inner circle, but increasingly chafes against his orders from X. Still, orders are orders, and Tom continues in his undercover role.

Lt. Chhun and Captain Ford get their first bit of down-time on the Mercutio and are introduced to Legion Commander Keller, who confirms the permanence of their new ranks and introduces to Captain Ellek Owens. Owens works for Dark Ops, a clandestine office that specializes in assassinations and spycraft. Owens is creating a Kill Team to go after the MCR rebels who destroyed the Chiasm and invites Chhun and Wraith to be part of it. Both accept.

Their first mission is on Kublar, along with Andien Broxin who they now learn works for Nether Ops. Andien retrieves a data cell from the Chiasm that reveals that the ship was destroyed with a MARO, difficult to get except through the illegal arms market.

Back aboard the Merutio, Owens, Chhun, and Wraith start picking troops for their squad, including Kags, Twenties, Masters, and Exo. Getting ahold of Exo is difficult as Capt. Devers has ordered Exo to be court-martialed for assaulting him on Kublar. Owens visits Devers in sick bay and violently convinces him to release Exo from the proceedings which Devers does.

Tom takes the freighter Hoplyte to meet Scarpia at Smuggler’s End, his private estate on Pthalo, with Illuria, his concubine, and attendant friends and staff. Over the next days, Scarpia alludes to a much bigger plan, one to sell the leaders of the MCR the equipment they need to launch a major attack against the Republic, while Tom and Illuria spend time together and grow closer.

Owens’ kill team travels to Utopion and locate Exo, who agrees to join the team. Their trail leads them to the various links in Tom Delo’s chain of contacts who are intercepted and interrogated one by one.

Back on Pthalo, Scarpia finally tells Tom the big plan: loading up a stolen republic corvette with crustbuster bombs and crashing it into the House of Reason on Utopion. Tom is taken aback by the magnitude of the plan but stays with his cover, agreeing to be part of it. A preliminary mission is to kill the officer who sold the MAROs to Tom back on Ankalor. Tom and Frogg take the Hoplyte to Ootani Station and succeed in killing Abo, but Frog loses control and kills three legionnaires as well. Tom arranges an escape for them aboard a life pod.

On Ankalor, Owen’s kill team is sent to interrogate the Zhee militia leader who knows the whole story of the MCR attack on Kublar and the weapons deals leading from and up to it. Missing the Zhee, they do locate Steadron who tells them the Zhee’s name: Jarref Varuud. Andien contacts Varuud who reveals Scarpia’s place in the sales and Owens declares that bringing in Scarpia is now the kill team’s primary objective.

Tom tries to figure out how to deal with the new situation; he can’t let the House of reason be destroyed as it would mean the destruction of the republic, but he can’t blow his cover, either. His relationship with Illuria deepens and she tells him the rendezvous point for the corvette-bomb: Makchuria, and also agrees to send a coded message to X via RepubNet when she heads off world on a shopping trip the next day.

Now that the location and nature of the attack is known, Owens’ team begins to train for it aboard the Intrepid, Owens’ base destroyer. They fail repeatedly using standard legionnaire doctrine and agree they need to change their tactics to board the corvette in time to avert the attack.

The day of the rendezvous, legion super-destroyers gather at Makchuria but no corvette is in sight. Tom learns from Scarpia that he merely told the MCR leaders he was on board with their plan but has actually sold the corvette to the Zhee who have a different plan in mind, a suicide mission. The corvette is actually going to Ankalor to board a battalion of Zhee fanatics and then head to Utopion. The Intrepid detects the corvette jump in above Ankalor, and changes course to pursue without the support fleet at Makchuria.

Over Utopion, Owens’ kill team boards the MCR corvette while Tom Delo takes over the bridge, and together they kill the zhee rebels and avert the attack.

Back at the Carnivale, X closes the book on Operation Ghost Hunter and Tom returns to his wife, and his daughter, Prisma.

 

My Thoughts:

Good stuff! Star Wars lives again.

I am getting really strong Karen Traviss and the Republic Commando vibes here. Except it is all good, not mixed with hatred like Traviss had for Star Wars. These Legionnaires are what the 501st should have been like instead of thugs for Vader. It is GOOD to see some heroism.

That being said, I can afford to have some complaints. First, I still mix characters up. Between first names, last names, code names and nick names, half the time I am not keeping track of who is who. Kind of annoying. Second, and bigger for me, is how the authors have chosen to skip around in time. In this book we return to the aftermath of the first book AND a timeline leading up to the first book AND a timeline leading up to the second book. I can understand why the authors wrote it this way (it keeps things moving and keeps the readers interested and doesn’t get caught up in sloggy moments) but I really like moving from Point A to Point B to Point C in a straight line. None of this connect the dots for me, thank you very much.

I wasn’t excited while I was reading but I was completely satisfied by the end. To put this in food terms (here’s a shoutout to Lashaan who always ribs me (ha!) for these food analogies), this was like a serving of Cheesecake Factory Loaded Baked Potato Tots.

CCF_Social_LoadedBakedPotatoTots (Small)

Those suckers are good! I always get them when we go to the Cheesecake Factory for our anniversary and to be honest, I’ve thought about ordering 2 or 3 servings and making that my main dish. Dipped in the sriracha sauce, mmmhmmmm! It’s not like the cheesecake, but it is warm, satisfying and filling.

I continue to be happy with these books and how the authors are handling everything (even if I don’t like how the timeline is handled). There are 9 books in this series, several spin off series and a standalone novel or two. Thank goodness it is all listed over at the Fandom page! As long as the quality stays up to par, I should have plenty more adventures in this Dumpster Fire of a Galaxy Far, Far Away!

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

Ghost of a Chance (Arcane Casebook #2) ★★★★☆

ghostofachance (Custom)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: Ghost of a Chance
Series: Arcane Casebook #2
Author: Dan Willis
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 361
Words: 117K

 

Synopsis:

From Danwillisauthor.com & Me

When a bizarre string of locked-room murders terrorize New York, the police reluctantly turn to their magical consultant, private detective Alex Lockerby, to catch a killer who can walk through walls.  Dubbed the Ghost by the tabloids, Alex will need every rune in his book to solve the case with no suspects, no leads, and no time to spare.

Unfortunately Alex’s magic hasn’t been working very well of late.  He can’t even manage to track down several truckloads of stolen goods, including one belonging to New York’s preeminent sorcerer, Andrew Barton.  To make matters worse, Alex and his clients are being stalked by a shadowy cabal with strange powers that Alex has never seen before.

With the Ghost seemingly able to murder at will and the tabloids, the public, and Alex’s clients demanding results, Alex will need a miracle to keep himself, his clients, and his reputation alive.

Alex also has to deal with the effects of his Escape Rune from the previous book that has shaved an unknown number of years off of his lifespan. Iggy, his mentor, puts him in touch with an alchemist and Alex gets involved with her apprentice.

All of the cases are almost tied together, as the Ghost turns out to be a man killing the group of people who cheated him out of his land years ago, land which could have been sold to raise money to save his wife. Barton’s missing motor is linked to a group that wants to steal a literal boatload of gold in a museum and the presence of Mayan Runes are revealed. The same shadowy Man of Mystery is the one supplying both groups with Mayan runes that allow them to do the extraordinary things they do.

Alex solves everything, gets a lot of money and publicity, thinks Jessica (the assistant alchemist) might be the One and both Alex and Iggy wonder who the Shadow Master is.

 

My Thoughts:

This was fun! I think what I liked the most was that the author makes what Alex does at the end of the first book (using the Escape Rune) really matter here. He’s not just shrugging off a broken leg or something. He’s lost years, possibly decades, of his life and it’s showing. His hair is white, he doesn’t have the energy and strength he used to, his hands shake (which for a rune wright is disastrous) and generally he’s “old”.

Getting introduced to another Sorcerer was interesting and I’m glad we’re not stuck on Sorsha. With him getting interested in Jessica though, we’ll see what happens between him and Sorsha. Jessica seems a bit too absorbed in her work for something to work out long term with Alex. I just hope the author doesn’t go into Triangle Territory. And honestly, deep characterization isn’t his forte.

The multiple mysteries were just as fast and furious as in the first book. I’d prepared myself though, so it didn’t overwhelm me. I still found myself wishing that one or more had been cut and a greater depth given to the remaining ones. That’s not even really a complaint, just more of a “wish”.

I liked this even more than the first book and have the 3rd and 4th books already lined up. I’m really glad that Larry Correia recommended this author to his fans, as it has turned out to be a huge hit with me. It shouldn’t have, as urban fantasy set in an alternate 1930’s isn’t my thing, but I guess just like the Grimnoir Chronicles, if it is done exactly right, it hits me like a ton of bricks. And I love every brick hitting me!

Finally, the covers. The author has some high res covers on his website and while I’m not using them for these reviews, I can already tell they are going to win all the Cover Love awards at the end of the month. I think the real decision will be whether I include them all or try to pick the best of the bunch. I’ve included a link to the high res cover. But come on, a rune infested shotgun, suspenders and a burning rune? And I wish my chin and hair looked like that. High Res Cover.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)