Book Review: Message for the Dead (Galaxy’s Edge Book 8)

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Hey Space Cadets, here is the next installment in my series of Galaxy’s Edge book reviews. I’ve been super busy finishing some real-life things, dealing with health insurance and the like, but I still made time to read (mostly on hold), so here is my next book review! I hope Santa brings me a new Kindle, then I can get back into the swing of reading even more awesome books. Speaking of book reviews, please remember to rate anything you’ve read on Amazon and/or GoodReads when you get a chance! Anyway, I wanted to share what I just finished with you! So, let’s get to it!

Title: Message for the Dead (Galaxy’s Edge 8)

Author:  Jason Anspach and Nick Cole

Price:  USD 5.99 (Kindle Edition)

Obtained:  I bought this novel from Amazon

Pages:  498

Rating:  5/5 Grenades

5 Grenade

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 added 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!

 

The Legion must survive. The more desperate the struggle against the forces arrayed against the Republic are, the more the citizens will need their heroes keeping the wolves at bay. As Legion Commander Keller attempts to coax the Republic and Black Fleet into a winner-take-all battle at the heart of the Galactic Core, Wraith uncovers secrets from Tyrus Rechs’s past. Determined to liberate his crew from the clutches of a dormant fleet controlled by a hostile AI, the soldier-turned-rogue comes face to face with the galaxy’s greatest threat.

 

Meanwhile, Chhun and Kill Team Victory find themselves taking on new roles inside the Legion, and the fight for control of the Galactic Republic hits its zenith with the arrival of the malevolent Cybar.

 

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 new series popping up that follow this vibe, I’ve heard of them… but until I read them, I can’t recommend them. So, until then, I will stick with the belief that there are other military sci-fi books out there, but none quite like this!

 

 

Characters: 

In this novel, we again followed a small group of characters, which I find is how I like this universe. We again meet Chhun and Wraith, a few miscellaneous Shock Troopers and Exo. Basically, the band is back together again. All of the characters were a lot of fun to spend time with again and made me want the book to never end (hint, hint)!

 

Captain Cohen Chhun: He’s a grizzled veteran officer 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. This book showed a lot of character growth from Chhun, he’s already adapted into his role as the Victory Team Leader but the Legion demands more of him. I can’t be more specific without spoilers, but you’ll like the grown-up version of Chhun. He’s fully come into his own, becoming everything, we knew he could be. Throughout his arc this book we got to marvel at all his KTF glory. He was my favorite character in this novel, I enjoyed following him again! Overall, I really liked him and felt like there was so much more to come from him!

 

Wraith/Captain Aenson Keel/Captain Ford: He’s an enigmatic character, former/current Legion officer and all around killing machine. The multiple personas that he portrays on his covert quest to blend in with the local rabble he was tasked with watching felt mildly schizophrenic but in a good way. I felt like his character became deeper and even more complex in this novel. He’s still a beast, physically, but now we see an even more complex side of him that’s compassionate for the downtrodden while remaining ruthless with his enemies. He’s come to terms with having feelings for Leenah and his erstwhile missing crew, re-devoting himself to the quest for her salvation. He’s not soft, mind you, just judicious on whom he decides to include in his family of choice. Overall, I felt proud of his choices in this novel. He’s becoming the sort of honorable man he was in the beginning, it’s like we’ve come full circle as we watch his character come alive on the page. It was also nice to see him back in a combat role, getting in some series KTF-ing.

 

Exo: He’s the elusive former Victory Company legionnaire and a character I enjoy reading about. He’s an all-around killing machine, who takes care of people the Republic can’t admit they screwed over and booted out of the Legion. He was screwed over by his corrupt nation and joined the Black Fleet in a desperate bid to save the leejes he left behind. He was an extremely believable and sympathetic character, and I hated how the galaxy conspired against him. I felt like he was well rounded, and felt like he was the Every Man Legionnaire, reminiscent of the troops I met in the Army. This novel brought his character arc full circle, but again I can’t elaborate without spoilers. Trust me, you’ll like him again!

 

Major Elleck Ownes: He’s the illusive leader of the Legion Dark Ops and a character I enjoy reading about. He’s an all-around killing machine, who takes care of people the Republic can’t admit they want eliminated. The DarkOps is the Legion’s answer to NetherOps, and Major Owens is the leader, and Victory Kill Team’s handler. He was an extremly believable and sympathetic character, and I love him. I felt like he was well rounded, and felt like he was the Every Man Spec Ops guy I met in the Army. Without giving anything away, I will say that Owens kicked his KTF-ing up a dozen notches in this novel. We definitely need to see more of his origin story in a series of books!

 

Major Thales, Repub Army: He was a Repub Army officer, in charge of the artillery on the Tarragon Moon. He was too pudgy and bookish to fit the perfect image that the House of Reason and the Repub Army choose to permit. However, he was the driving force that kept Goth Sullus’ from completely wiping the Repub Navy from the area. He was a lot of fun, and a very relatable character. In the end, he proved he was stronger than we knew, surviving the torture from the Empire. I’ll say it right here, he needed more screen time than he got! He was an awesome character we need to see more of! We see him steadily prove that the Repub Army is a force that could be saved, if properly led and you’ll love Thales for that! Go Army, Beat Navy! HOOAH!

 

Captain Desiax, Repub Navy: He’s a Repub Naval officer, and ship’s captain who commanded the corvette Audacity during the escape from Tarrago Prime. He bought the carrier Freedom just enough time to allow it to escape, showing the heroic cut of his jib! I loved his saucy nature, the irreverence with which he carried himself! He served some time in Goth Sullus’ prison camps as a POW after the Battle of Tarragon, but he didn’t give in or break under torture. When he’s recaptured by the Shock Troopers, he’s as cool as a cucumber. He was an awesome character who we need to see more of! Maybe some tales from the Repub Navy? Some PEW PEW in space? More epic dog fights by massive capital ships? Is more even possible?

 

Prisma Maydoon: She’s a young girl/woman who sometimes seems to be a teenager, and sometimes appears to be only nine or ten. It’s easy to feel sorry for her and to see her potential as she ages, but for now, she’s annoyingly useless. In previous novels, she was a wanna be bounty hunter bent on revenge, being trained by T-Rex himself, but in this novel, she alternates between scared little girl and Jedi-Not-Jedi Force user. She’s still the key to a secret weapon buried inside her, but that weapon was taken off the board by forces that I can’t name without spoilers. She does start to grow on you in this book, she’s feisty! We still don’t see much of her in this book, but what we see leaves us feeling sorry for the kid.

 

Overall, it seems like the return to the main team we started within Legionnaire. I give these characters 5 out of 5 Grenades and can’t wait to see where the author takes the survivors of this massive three-sided intergalactic war with Goth Sullus and the machines!

 

 

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, like the rest of the novels in this series, fit squarely within the scope of the military fiction that I love to read. I loved that this was an action-packed novel with a defined plot. Except this novel kicked that action up a dozen notches, pulled at my cold dead heart and made me feel things. The story is set as the galaxy is in turmoil, reeling from the events surrounding what looks to be the final showdown between Goth Sullus and the Republic military forces. Despite their best efforts at securing peace for their ungrateful galaxy, political corruption continues to stymie them at every turn. With the initiation of Article 19 and the support of Repub Navy’s 7th Fleet, things might finally be looking up. We get to see a war fought by the Legion war dogs after they were unchained and set free to do what they do; KTF. We see the world from the eyes of the survivors of Kublar, the tragedy that ignited the powder keg of the Republic. We learn about what went on behind the scenes and see how that was orchestrated. All of that created the sad current state of affairs the Repub found itself embroiled in. The plot was darkly fun, but there were times when it was too emotional, and I had to put the novel down for a few days. This story is chalk full of tension and excitement as we waited on bated breath to find out if the Legion was up to the task of ending the threat of Goth Sullus and the Black Fleet once and for all. It was never boring, and the characters and universe behaved in a way that made sense for the worlds the authors created. It was a good set-up and well-executed premise that held my interest from the first sentence. They built on what came before this novel, allowing the plot to grow and expanded until the arc of this series came full circle. Maybe your mileage will vary, but this is one story you don’t want to miss! I can’t wait to start book nine, as I try to figure out the fate of the galaxy. As you can tell by the gushing, I really got into this book. The plot was compelling, emotional and hit ya in the feels. I really loved the premise, and more importantly, I enjoyed how the execution. The pacing was excellent, and there was never a slow moment. There was never a point where the plot was confusing, or that I couldn’t figure out what was going on. 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 eighth book in the Galaxy’s Edge Series, ninth if you count the prequel story, Tin Man. After all of those books, I still absolutely loved it. Each novel keeps getting better, and I’m more hooked than ever. Can I say that enough? Okay, back to the nitty-gritty of the review. This novel had a very fleshed out world that was consistent, made sense and sucked you in. Some of the details that seemed inconsequential in previous seven novels finally proved to be critically important, adding even more depth to the world at the edge of the galaxy. It definitely made me want to become part of the larger world, but now I add the caveat that I want some guarantees that I won’t die! I mean, they kill off a hell of a lot of leejes! I liked reading more about the technology used by the Cybar Fleet and by the ancient bounty hunter Tyrus Rex. We get to see how the weaponry and technology have evolved over the scope of this universe, even the bits that came before the series that launched them all. I could picture every setting described, easily envisioning myself living there. They described the world with plenty of details, and there wasn’t a scene where I couldn’t imagine what Anspach and Cole described. They’ve upped their game though, adding more sensory input to the mix; sights, sounds, smells, and feelings. 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 Nick Cole, and Jason Anspach created. 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. They described things across the sensory spectrum; sights, sounds, smells and even how the world felt. This is extremely important when you’re writing and/or reading military science fiction. Combat can’t just be seen, it must be experienced and Anspach and Cole brought that to you. I could almost smell the burnt ozone from the blaster fire and feel the ground shaking from the artillery shells bombarding enemy locations. This is how it’s done, and I hope to get that good someday. While I could visualize all of the characters, I would still love it if the authors shared artists renderings for them. The cover for the next book has a few of the characters, but I always want more! I feel like an addict saying that, but meh… I like it when we have the visuals to go along with my novels. While the authors did a great job at description, they didn’t describe every blade of grass. Instead, they gave you the building blocks you needed to see it for yourself. One huge plus for me was Nick Cole and Jason Anspach’s descriptive use of language, a skill they’ve carried through the first seven books. 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 author’s description of their universe was evocative, and enough to please rookies and uber fans alike! This is similar to what I said in the previous books, but their descriptive game has been superb throughout the series, and I can’t think of a place I’d like to improve it.

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, more if I could!

 

 

Overall:

I really loved this book, though it wasn’t as fun to read as the previous novels. Wait, stick with me. This novel was so emotional I had to read it in chunks and put it down several times. Some of my favorite characters died and it really hit me in the feels.  That said, it was still an awesome read. It brought back the epic sci-fi battles that I acted out as a kid, laying in the grass playing with my action figures. As I read this novel, I found myself wishing for toys I could share with my son’s. I want them to be able to experience this setting with me, we could bond over the epic tales of heroism and duty. I could envision teaching them about the complexity of the world, of how black and white thinking didn’t always work. This world could serve as the perfect social story for the boys, if I could find a way to get them hooked.

 

Despite the serious nature of my review, this novel harkened back to what I loved about the first book Legionnaire. The combat was gritty and visceral, sucking you in through the pages and into another world. So about that world I was sucked into… the vibe of this story is amazing. I loved every nail-biting second of this novel! 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. This novel was another one where I found myself unsure of whom to root for. I feel like the Legion post-Article 19 and the Goth Sullus’ Black Fleet were trying to excise the rot at the core of the House of Reason. It was hard to find fault with what the Black Fleet was trying to do. The complexity and nuance in this novel made it hard to determine who I was supposed to root for, the Legion. The political entities were garbage, but the Legion was the beacon of hope in a galaxy shrouded in darkness. Unlike the last book, Goth Sullus wasn’t the only “big bad guy” in this book. Instead, we finally see the Cybar for the existential danger that they represent. Sadly, the House of Reason doesn’t see it, they’re too busy re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

 

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. You’ll also get a free short story, Tin Man! 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. The image of a robot standing on a pile of corpses set the perfect tone for this novel, and even I could see the dark undertones of this image. Seriously, the cover is amazing and 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 parodies of the warrior, and the ethos was spot on. I liked how they handled Goth Sullus’ decisions with regards to the Cybar Fleet. The deadly literary duo of Anspach and Cole understand the culture of the grunt and don’t shy away from the consequences of war! They show when the leaders make the hard choices under fire, choices that are distasteful to armchair generals judging from the safety of the sidelines. War is an ugly thing, and these authors lean into it and make sure the readers appreciate the consequences of the Pew Pew we love to read about. None of these combat actions happen in a vacuum, effecting the soldiers who are forced to make them. As someone who’s been there, I can relate to this level of attention to the details of the soldiers who fight and die under the banner of the Legion and/or Black Fleet. The soldiers don’t come away unscathed, and we see that in some of the final decisions made by Goth Sullus.

 

Aside from how Nick and Jason covered the military troops themselves, they 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. (Still bitter) Lots of them, sadly. Fighting the Black Fleet wasn’t easy, not when the corrupt politicians tried playing all sides against themselves, so they could serve their own interests. As a consequence, rivers of blood ran throughout this novel, putting Turning Point to shame! 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. They even made the space combat, which normally isn’t my preference, exciting. I had to rethink my life choices after reading this novel! 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 textbook KTF, the mantra of the Legionnaire! Kill them first! Such a detailed portrayal of the tactics is rare.

 

Other than killing one of my favorite secondary character, I didn’t find anything wrong with this novel. No grammatical or technical issues with this book, least not that I found. My only real complaint was where they chose to end the story, it was way too depressing. I mean, that was my leej and those evil authors killed him. Sigh, I’ll get over it… eventually. Since I didn’t have to wait a month like people that read it on release day, I shouldn’t really complain too much. As soon as I write this review, I get to jump in the book 9 before I jump into their expanding universe. I’ve got those two series that exist on the periphery to occupy my time once I finish Season 1 of Galaxy’s Edge Series. Seriously though, if this is my biggest complaint can’t really be that bad. If you’re just starting the series, they’ll have finished this adventure story before you catch up with them.

 

Seriously, I realize I’ve gone full fanboy, but the authors have definitely raised the bar for military science fiction authors everywhere. I imagine you aren’t surprised that I fanboy out over this, I mean I did start their fan club on Facebook. 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. Some of that was because I’m already invested in this world, but if you’ve been following me, you already know that. 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 wax paper. But then Article 19 is initiated, so you’re safe, right? They promised they’d give you back the good armor, they promised. But it’s made by the lowest bidder, so everything will work out… right? And then the other shoe drops, you figure out that the weapons were calibrated by the same company, and the damned blaster might kill you before you can KTF anyone. But, alas, the rebel scum has superior kit and are crack shots.  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 Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are used on the Fair Use Doctrine.

Sleeping Legion

 

2 thoughts on “Book Review: Message for the Dead (Galaxy’s Edge Book 8)

  1. JOHN LAKEY

    I enjoyed the psychological development of the characters in BREACH TEAM. Please write a follow up to this book!!! I want to see how the Captain changes her position on John disobeying orders when he achieves results

    Like

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