Book Review: Attack of Shadows

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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.  The last reading contest recently ended, and it was so fun that there is another one. Like before, we get points for page reads.  I’m thrilled that it prompted me to continue reading, 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 on the editorial revisions for my next book.

But enough about me, onto this specific review.  Now let’s get to it! 

 

Title:  Attack of Shadows (Galaxy’s Edge Book 4 )

Author:  Jason Anspach and Nick Cole

Price:  USD 4.99 (Kindle Edition)

Obtained:  I bought this novel from Amazon

Pages:  340

 

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Rating:  5/5 Grenades

 

 Summary:

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!

 

Things are in chaos since we left the galaxy at the edge of the universe. The bedlam has spread, and the End of the Republic begins now. The galaxy ignites as Goth Sullus and his fleet unleash a devastating surprise assault on the Republic. All that stands in his way are the 7th Fleet and the Legion. But with allies hidden in the very heart of the Republic, Sullus looks to reshape the galaxy in his own image. Fleets collide in a moment-by-moment account of tactics, heroism, sacrifice, and the start of the final war of the Republic. The stakes have never been higher, and it’s winner take all.

 

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 of 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!

 

 

Characters: 

In this novel, we didn’t follow a small group of characters like in the previous three novels. Instead we meet a diverse group of Legionnaires, Black Fleet Shock Troopers, and sailors from both fleets. While there were a lot of characters, I liked that each of them had their own world view and weren’t cardboard cut-outs of the cheap military clichés. They were all consummate professionals, and skilled at their jobs. It made it hard to know whom to root for, and I loved it. These were hard men and women, in a dangerous universe, protecting the Republic from rebel scum! Or they were stone cold killers, set on destroying the corruption of the House of Reason. All of these fighters felt a bit rushed, but that was because of the decision to show the chaos of the first major naval battle the galaxy has seen in living memory. Artistically, I understood why this decision was made, but I was left wanting to know more about these characters. Maybe those that lived will get there own series some day? Regardless of how quick our look at these characters were, 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 what to know more so (hint, hint) start working on those side novels!

 

Overall, it seems like the overabundance of secondary chararacters are building something huge, and you end up hopeful that you’ll get to see big things from him in the future. I will give these characters 4 out of 5 Grenades and can’t wait to see where the author takes the survivors for the rest of this new series!

 

 

Plot: 

The 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. This book was like most of the military fiction I love to read, it was an action-packed novel. The story is set as the galaxy is in turmoil, reeling from the arrival of the instability caused by Goth Sullus’s arrival. We get to see the world through a several characters, too many to count in this novel. It took some getting used to, but let you feel the chaos and confusion that combat brings. We see the world from the eyes of many of the lower level warriors and pilots who were doing the actual fighting. The conventional wisdom is that so many POVs would limit the novel, making it confusing but I was able to get used to it. Eventually you won’t notice and will just ride the waves of awesomeness into the promised land of space combat. I never felt cheated, or like I should’ve seen bits that happened off screen because they used this style of narration. It was a good set-up and well-executed premise that held my interest from the first sentence. The multiple character views did make it harder to read the book, since I often had to back track a chapter or two to follow it again but I think it was a fair trade off for showing the chaos of an epic space battle. This allowed the plot to grow and expanded, and I can only image bigger things coming from the Galaxy’s Edge world. I think that this is partly because I’ve become conditioned to these large expansive worlds because of the copious amounts of space opera that I read.  Maybe your mileage will vary, but it’s definitely worth checking this book out. As you can tell by the gushing, despite the confusion of multiple POVs, I really got into this book.  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 unique premise, perfect execution, and incredible pacing!  I again give Nick Cole and Jason Anspach 5 out of 5 Grenades!

 

 

World Building:

This is the fourth book in the Galaxy’s Edge Series, and I absolutely loved it.  Can I say that enough?  Okay, back to the nitty gritty of the review.  This novel had a very flushed out world that was consistent, made sense and sucked you in. I loved the way they handled inserting the back stories of the new characters in such a way that you didn’t even notice. They did it so well that you never felt like you were missing anything important about the larger world. There were parts that felt like they weren’t there, because the characters were rushed. However, rather than detract from the world building, it made the universe feel that much larger. In the end it gave us so many windows into the battle on the Tarrago moon, and of the space battle in the voids above. It definitely made me want to become part of the larger world. I liked reading about the technology used by the various services, and how they’ve evolved over the scope of this series. I especially loved the tri-fighters and the raptors. Seriously, when can I buy some Galaxy’s Edge battle armor? And I want to travel the galaxy in my own battleship. Who wouldn’t want an ion cannon to forge your own galactic empire?  I was hooked, and now I want to know it all! I definitely see room for CosPlay and a fandom for this world, and can’t wait for my own Legionnaire armor! They 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 troupes 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 Nick Cole and Jason Anspach 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.

 

 

Description: 

I have to give it to the authors, this novel was chalk full of visualization, and you could definitely imagine yourself in this world. He 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 some day. While I could visualize all of the characters, I would still love it if the authors shared artists renderings for them. Also, some of the ships were harder to imagine in this book. It wasn’t too bad, but I had trouble visualizing them. Could be my head injury, I can be slow sometims so your mileage may vary. I’ve said it before, but there is a trend to be lighter on the details so the imnagination can fill in the rest and I’d prefer a little more. There has to be a happy medium somewhere, but I’m mentioning it so you know my own preferences and biases for my review. If that isn’t something you notice, you would be pleased with the level of detail here. This hasn’t been an issue before because the legionnaire armor covered the lack of physical details but there were so many sailors who weren’t in body armor that it stuck out this round. Luckily, the fast paced action kept you from dwelling on it because you were quickly swept away in the chaos of the massive battle. One huge plus for me was Nick Cole and Jason Anspach’s descriptive use of language, a skill they’ve carried through the first three books as well. They balanced the explanation of this new world with the need to move a story along. 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 only issue where I couldn’t imagine things was the spaceships, but everything else was crystal clear. The author’s description of their universe was evocative, and converted me into an uber fan! The only slight draw back of how descriptive they were, it was was a little bit distracting. Seriously, it made you wanna take a moment and explore every nook and cranny, but that’s a sign of an amazingly built universe.  And a little birdy told me that they DO intend to explore those nooks and crannies! The proof of that was the release of the Goth Sullus origin story, Imperator. 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 4 out of 5 grenades in this category. If I could’ve envisioned the fighters and more of the characters, it would’ve been a perfect score.

 

 

Overall:

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. This was definitely a lot closer to the fast paced space combat full of explosions and the fog of war than the previous three novels, which was a fun change of pace. There were no deep messages, or political themes, just good clean fun. Like the previous novels, this story was compelling and made me want to know more. I would say it made me want to join the Legion, but it was hard to tell if they were the good guys in this one. There was good and evil to be found on both sides, and the waters were a tad murkier than in the previous books in this series. One change in this book was set that it was a third person view, which was a change from the first three books. One thing I’ve enjoyed about this series was that each novel was a slightly different style, watching as the authors experimented with this modern classic. From a craft point of view, that evolution has been fun to follow, but that could just be the writer in me geeking out.

 

Like the previous novels in this universe, the first thing that caught my eye was the fantastic cover. Seriously, they’re all amazingly compelling. If you want to learn more about them, the Galaxy’s Edge mailing list will show you how the covers evolved to their final version. This was one series were I wished I weren’t color blind, 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! I don’t know if the authors are setting that trend, or following it, but I don’t care because we the readers are winning on this front! The Galaxy’s Edge covers reminded me of the iconic science fiction covers I loved as a kid, or the movie posters from the action adventures I watched when I was supposed to be studying. When I finally have a dedicated office or man cave, I’m decorating it with these covers!  And whenever they sell swag, that too!

 

Now onto the book itself! The military culture shown was spot on, just what I’d expect from an Army veteran. Nobody felt like cookie cutter clichés or paradoies of the warrior, and the ethos was spot on. This deadly literary duo clearly understand the culture of the grunt! Nick and Jason made it clear that their world was flushed out, and 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. My god, lots of them! Rivers of blood ran throughout this novel, the action was intense and the characters responded as you’d expect in those circumstances. Moving right along, the ground combat described was primal, and immersive. It was everything you want from the 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 text book KTF, the mantra of the Legionnaire! Kill them first! Such a detailed portrayal of the tactics is rare. Where the battle lacked were the space scenes, because as I’ve mentioned previously, I couldn’t visualize the fighters or the massive capital ships.

 

Seriously, I realize I’ve gone full fanboy, but the authors have definitely raised the bar for military science fiction authors everywhere. Even with the flaws of this novel, it was still leaps and bounds above most of what’s out there! I was hooked from the first page, because they wove the action in such a compelling way that you wanted to jump into the page and join the party.  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!  But hey, it’s easy to spend someone else’s money!  I give this novel a 5 out of 5 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 fire fight, 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 Shock Trooper traitor’s 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!

brown_bess

JR

 

–> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are used on the Fair Use Doctrine.

 

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