Hey Space Cadets, here is the next installment in my series of book reviews. As I’ve mentioned earlier, I’m a member of the TRMN. It’s a fan club for the Honor Harrington Universe by David Weber, and they do contests for their members all the time. There is a reading contest currently going on, and we get points for page reads. I’m thrilled as it prompted me to read more, as I’ve let writing get in the way of reading! In addition to reading more in the last few months, this month I’ve been working the editorial revisions for book four, the final book of The Sleeping Legion Series. Finally, if you haven’t read it, Operation Breakout and For a Few Credits More are live!
But enough about me, onto this specific review. Now let’s get to it!
Author: Jason Anspach and Nick Cole
Price: USD 3.99 (Kindle Edition)
Obtained: I bought this novel from Amazon, upon hearing about it from the Keystroke Medium vlog.
Rating: 5/5 Grenades
First, let me say that none of what I’ll say in this section couldn’t be found on the back copy of the novel. Heck, I cribbed this summary from the back, and then I add my own twist! And not even much of one, since most of the books I read have kick butt descriptions (aka blurbs). If the blurb doesn’t catch my eye, then I tend to skip the book unless a friend recommends it. Generally speaking, my goal is to provide a spoiler-free review, so here goes nothing!
In the aftermath of the Battle of Kublar and the destruction of the battleship Chiasm, the Legion recruits Victory Company’s survivors into Dark Ops. They’re called to live up to their mantra; Always Make ‘Em Pay. We’re again reunited with Chhun, Wraith, Exo, Kags, and Twenties as the survivors of Victory Company form an elite Kill Team. They become the embodiment of legionnaire lethality. Their secret mission is as clear as it is deadly: find and eliminate those responsible for the Kublar disaster. Standing between them and their objectives are a maze of corrupt Republic officials, a spy on the verge of losing himself to the allure of his deep cover, and the Zhee. These aliens are a murderous species who will stop at nothing to bring their death god to life. But perhaps the biggest threat to the galaxy is the truth they seek to uncover. It’s a truth that could ignite a revolution, and engulf the galaxy in flames… unless the Kill Team is willing to finish the job. At any cost.
If you like epic space opera, with a side of military science fiction, you should read this series. Plenty of explosions, with authentically gritty combat. If this sounds like your flavor of badassery, then you’ve come to the right place! This novel is a brilliant continuation to the Galaxy’s Edge Universe, where they fix everything George Lucas broke in this Star-Wars-Not-Star-Wars adventure. I wish I could give you an easy comparison, if you enjoyed Book X, buy this book but I really feel like Nick and Jason broke new ground here. They’ve revived that sense of newness and fun that we loved as children, that brought most of us to the science fiction genre! There are other military sci-fi books out there, but none quite like this!
In this novel, we catch up with the survivors of Victory Company and two Nether Ops agents, but the main characters are Legionnaire Lieutenant Cohen Chhun, Tom, and Mr. X. None of them felt flat, and you could definitely relate to them as people. You definitely won’t have anything to complain about in this regards, these were real people and not cardboard cutouts. Seriously. When they cried, I cried. When they laughed, I laughed. Everything you want from your fictional characters! But let’s move past the platitudes and talk specifics. There were several main characters in this novel, so I’ll break them down for you.
Cohen Chhun: He’s a grizzled veteran of the numerous campaigns, but he felt real and not one of those stereotypical military killers. He was badass, a consummate professional and genuinely good officer for his troops. He’s the kind of guy you’d want on your side in a firefight, and he seems to be more relaxed and less of an ass than he was in the first novel. I would definitely say we’ve seen some character growth from Chhun, which made his character even more enjoyable in this book. I know, after his appearance in Legionnaire it’s hard to imagine that he got even more awesome! In this instance, it just seems like his growth is part of the larger Dark Ops culture. Less parade ground, more covert assassin. In the previous review, I said that the lack of growth from Chhun felt like they’re building something huge, and boy was I right! Wow, he was my favorite character in this novel! Overall, I really liked him and felt like there was so much more to come from him!
Tom: He’s a deep cover operative, seeking to uncover which bad guys are selling weapons to the evil MCR. The Mid-Core Rebellion must be stopped, and he just might be the man to do it! Can’t say more in a spoiler-free review, but he seemed like a stand-up fellow caught in a nasty game of cat and mouse. Or whatever the intergalactic version of it is?
Mr. X.: He’s a deep cover operative in the Carnivale Department of Nether Ops. He runs their clandestine operations and is Tom’s handler for his covert mission. We don’t know much about him, even the Mister part could be a ploy to hide the feminine mystique. What we do know is he’s survived to reach the top of a deadly covert counter-intelligence operation, and that alone makes him a force to be reckoned with. Hopefully, we learn more about him as the next few novels.
In addition to the main characters, there were other Legionnaires in Victory Company that we meet as well. All of these warriors felt flushed out and three-dimensional. They all added to what is clearly a vast and expansive universe. All of the characters were a lot of fun to get to know and made me feel like I was back in the Army again. I especially liked seeing Kags again and watching how he evolved and grew from a Repub Army soldier into a legionnaire. Basically, I still felt like I could relate to them as people, and I would love to hang out and drink a beer with them. If you were going into harm’s way, you’d want Victory Company with you. Even if there are less of them than there was before.
Overall, I will give these characters 5 out of 5 Grenades and can’t wait to see where the author takes this character throughout this new series!
Like most of the military fiction, I love to read, this was an action-packed novel. The story is set in a galaxy far, far away in a Star-Wars-Not-Star-Wars Universe. The grand premise for this series was to take the kind of Star Wars stories we used to love, strip out all of the political messaging, and just tell fun tales. Escapism and enjoyment, under the banner of intergalactic science fiction. We again get to see the world through a first-person point-of-view, which didn’t even bother me this time around. I’ve come to appreciate this point of view, at least when it’s executed well. And like book two, we see the world from multiple points of view in this novel. Like in the previous novel, you feel the chaos and confusion that combat and intergalactic intrigue brings. It was a good set-up and well-executed premise that held my interest from the first sentence. The plot grew and expanded from where we left it in Galactic Outlaw, and I can only imagine even bigger things coming from the Galaxy’s Edge world.
The authors balanced the action with the exposition and world-building, so the story never felt flat. Unlike the first book, I never felt confused by the universe, as the world felt intuitive and you could so easily immerse yourself in the book. More of the world was being threaded together and woven into a tapestry of epic awesomeness, and I heartily approve! This book answered any remaining questions from book one in regards to world building, and it did this without negatively impacting the plot. Heck, those answers were part of the main story arc for this novel. I think that I’ve become conditioned to these vast expansive worlds because of the copious amounts of space opera that I read. I only remind you of that, to point out that your mileage may vary on some of the ways I adapted to this story. With the fast pacing, this action-packed adventure story never slowed down and left you wanting more. I’m seriously concerned about the withdrawal symptoms I’ll experience when I catch up and finish the 5th book. I’ll likely finish book 4 before the next one is released and then what will I do?
As you can tell by the gushing, I’m still addicted to this universe. I couldn’t put it down, the plot was that compelling. I really loved the premise, and more importantly, I enjoyed how the execution. The pacing was excellent, and there was never a slow moment. I couldn’t ask for anything more; a fun premise, perfect execution, and incredible pacing! I again give Anspach and Cole 5 out of 5 Grenades!
This is the third book in the Galaxy’s Edge Series, and I absolutely loved it. Can I say that enough? Seriously, each one’s been better than the last! Okay, onward to the nitty-gritty of the review. This novel, like its predecessors, had a very fleshed out world. It was consistent, made sense and sucked you in. As usual, the world Anspach and Cole created visceral emotions that made you want to punch the bad guys and suit up with the good guys. The authors still manage to covertly insert new tidbits about the larger universe, and it was smooth like butter! The authors fit in the universe history in such a way that left you wanting more, while not pulling you out of the story. If you weren’t looking for it, your probably wouldn’t even notice. In previous reviews I mentioned that it felt like parts of the world building were intentionally left out, creating the feel of a much larger universe. I have to say, in this novel, they delivered on many of those threads and woven them into a very compelling rope that they used to climb Mount Awesome with! I’m still digging it, and it still makes me want to become part of the larger world. Seriously, I need to convince the wife to let me buy some Galaxy’s Edge swag? I’m hooked, and now I want all of it! Heck, if I had the skills I would make myself some Legionnaire armor. I definitely see room for CosPlay and a fandom for this world, and can’t wait for my own space ship! Think they could wrap an Ohio Class Battleship for me? I mean, for research of course. It’d be tax deductible, I’m sure of it! Anspach and Cole described the world with plenty of details, and there wasn’t a scene where I couldn’t picture it. They didn’t reinvent the wheel and built on the existing tropes of science fiction. They just made it sexier! Overall, the world building was well done, and I was sold on the way it happened. It felt believable, and the characters fit within the universe Anspach and Cole created. It was a fun ride that made me wanna suit up…which is the goal of action/adventure authors! Like most of the stories I read, this one didn’t take itself too seriously, which allowed you to focus on the fun which is why I read in the first place. I give the world building 5 out of 5 Grenades.
I have to give it to the authors, this novel was chalk full of visualization, and you could definitely imagine yourself in this world. Even three books in, they continue to described things across the sensory spectrum; sights, sounds, smells and even how the world felt. This is how it’s done, and I hope to get that good someday. While I could visualize all of the planets, I would still love it if the authors shared artists renderings from this immersive world! If it’s only a tenth as cool as what I pictured in my head, it would be worth every penny. Unlike previous books, I didn’t notice that the authors were lite on details until I sat down to write this review. And like before, I was too busy picturing them as Storm-Troopers-Not-Storm-Troopers. A huge plus for me was Nick Cole and Jason Anspach’s descriptive use of language, they balanced the explanation of this new world with the need to move a story along. Basically, they took what worked from the previous two novels and kept it going. This book was a hit in the description categories. This book didn’t have a single place where I couldn’t picture the scenery and the equipment, which added to the world that felt tangible and I enjoyed it. The author’s description of their universe was evocative, and converted me into an uber fan! Seriously, the level of description made you wanna take a moment and explore every nook and cranny, but that’s a sign of an amazingly built universe. I’ve heard that they’ve got more books in this universe planned and I can’t hardly wait because a little birdy told me that they DO intend to explore those nooks and crannies! In summary, I didn’t find any issues with the descriptions and was impressed by the literary skills of the authors. The action was gripping, and the story was fun. If you want the action, the adventure, and the PEW PEW, then this is the book for you! Nick Cole and Jason Anspach brought it, they were definitely their A game. I give them 5 out of 5 grenades in this category.
I really loved this book, it was a lot of fun to read. It brought back the epic space romps I read and loved as a kid. No deep messages, or political themes, just good clean fun. Anspach and Cole have kept everything that was awesome with the first two books and kept it going. Heck, they turned it up a notch! I’ve taken to using these books as a reward to myself for accomplishing my daily tasks. Kill Team was a compelling story and made me want to join the Legion even more. Well, maybe the Dark Ops cause they’re more relaxed with cooler toys. Let’s be real, my fighting days are over, but I could forget that while I read this book. I could be young and spry again, capable of chewing lead, spitting out bullets and walking through fire. And isn’t that the essence of why we read military science fiction? So we could again reach for greatness and be gods among men?
This novel definitely gave me a case of the feels, and I found myself wanting to be a part of it all. I started a fan club on Facebook because I loved it that much and you should join us as we nerd out over the epic goodness of this space adventure. While I wasn’t one of those who found this universe before it went live, preventing me from becoming a paying member of the Galactic Legion, I could at least serve in an auxiliary role by spreading the word. I don’t want to come on too strong, but I loved this book! Each book has been better than the last, and I’m loving this book like a fat boy loves cake! It’s right up there with Terry Mixon’s Empire of Bones series. I’m just goNick Colenna commit and say that there’s just something about a few old Army guys telling stories that I love. Go Army, Beat Navy!
Now that I’ve got that out of my system let me continue my review! When I read this book, I mourned the loss of the brave warriors killed in battle. I can’t tell you which soldiers because that would be a spoiler, but I’ll raise my beer and toast in their honor! This was my third Nick Cole and Jason Anspach novel, and I’ve moved them over into the “auto-buy” list. The first thing that caught my eye was the fantastic cover, it was amazingly compelling. I’m stuck though since I loved Legionnaire’s cover as well. I think these two are tied for the best cover ever award! Seriously, if I weren’t colorblind and art dumb, I’d add a section to the book review template on the covers because so many of them are kicking butt these days! The Galaxy’s Edge covers remind me of the fun comic images I loved as a kid. Or movie posters from the action adventures I read when I was supposed to be studying. Seriously, hats off to their cover designer. When I finally have a dedicated office or man cave, I’m decorating it with these covers! The good thing is that they sell swag now so I can make it happen!
Anyway, onward to the book itself. The military culture shown was spot on, just what I’d expect from an Army veteran. If you’ve ever seen a movie describing the culture of the special forces, you could relate to the temperament of the kill teams of the Dark Ops. That’s right, Nick Cole served in the US Army, and it showed in his understanding of the culture of the grunt! Speaking of, I really need to corner him so I can do one of my warrior weekend interviews of him! Because of this real-world experience, and a healthy dose of common sense, Nick and Jason didn’t fall into some of the traps most military sci-fi did. The troops run out of ammo, dumb luck happens, and good soldiers still die. The ground combat was primal, immersive, and easy to visualize. Everything you could possibly want from this genre. The battle scenes were believable, gripping and I never felt like the author missed a chance to get creative with the tactics. It was textbook KTF, the mantra of the Legionnaire! Kill them first! Such a detailed portrayal of the tactics is rare. The characters were well written and helped flush out the larger world, which all lent itself to a perfectly executed plot. Each individual element of this novel was executed perfectly, but it was in the union of the various aspects of the story that the universe really shined. It all tied together nicely, and by the end of this novel you couldn’t help but say AH HA as the parts fit nicely together into a creation that was greater than the sum of its parts.
Seriously, I realize I’ve gone full fanboy, but the authors have definitely raised the bar for military science fiction authors everywhere. I was hooked from the first page! They wove the action in such a compelling way that you wanted to jump into the Legionnaire Armor myself. Okay, maybe Dark Ops since they’ve got a cooler kit! Basically, they had me hooked from the beginning and kept it going throughout the whole novel. This is a book I would happily recommend, and an author I will definitely read again. Buy the novel! I give this novel a 5 out of 5 grenades! If it weren’t cheating, I’d give it 6 grenades!
If this book sounds like it’s right up your alley, check it out, you won’t regret it! Well, unless it inspired you to serve the Legion. And you enlist, get kitted up, only to realize that your armor is made of shiny wax paper. Then you’re put on the front lines, getting to be on the tip of the spear. In your first firefight, you’ll realize that the pretty uniforms won’t save you. And then the other shoe drops, you figure out that the weapons aren’t calibrated, and you can’t hit the broad side of a barn. But, alas, every rebel scum is a crack shot. Well yeah, I guess this could be bad for you. Or maybe you’ll be okay? I mean, you could be the first trooper to make it out alive? On second thought, be warned, fanboy/fangirl syndrome just MIGHT kill you. Be wary, you were warned and if you have to go out like that at least enjoy the view from the end times!
Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!
–> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are used on the Fair Use Doctrine.