Book Review: Retribution (Galaxy’s Edge Book 9)

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Hey Space Cadets, here is the final installment in my series of Galaxy’s Edge book reviews. Well, the first season anyway! There are more side stories to explore and explore them I will! Sorry for the dead blog lately, 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 while on hold), so here is my next book review! I hope Santa brings me a new Kindle because I used and abused mine until it finally surrendered. 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: Retribution (Galaxy’s Edge 9)

Author:  Jason Anspach and Nick Cole

Price:  USD 3.99 (Kindle Edition)

Obtained:  I bought this novel from Amazon.

Pages:  496

Galaxy's Edge Retribution

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!

 

VICTORY is at hand. Now, with the galaxy in tatters, Chhun and Wraith lead Kill Team Victory and the remnants of the Legion in a clandestine final effort to bring about Article Nineteen. It’s needed now more than ever as the Republic’s new emperor, Goth Sullus, grows increasingly enigmatic and tyrannical in his rule, leaving some to question their roles in bringing the mysterious leader of the Black Fleet to power. Meanwhile, a dark traveler finds Prisma Maydoon at the sanctuary of Mother Ree and bids her depart from the path of the Ancients.

 

Experience the exciting conclusion of Galaxy’s Edge Season One, as a desperate, daring raid on Utopian itself leaves Kill Team Victory torn between duty to the Legion and the need to make those responsible for its demise finally pay!

 

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. Fans who enjoyed The Ember Wars by Richard Fox will want to buy this book because it’ll be right up your alley! These universes have revived that sense of newness and fun that we loved as children, that brought most of us to the science fiction genre!

 

 

Characters: 

In this novel, we again followed an ever-shrinking group of characters, as a war of attrition takes its toll on the universe. We again meet Chhun and Wraith; am the rest of the leejes we’ve grown to love. 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)! Further, I really loved that they gave us flawed heroes instead of cardboard cutouts. It made the adventures that much more compelling because the characters were ever so relatable.

 

General Cohen Chhun: He’s a grizzled veteran Legion officer of the numerous campaigns, but he felt real and not one of those stereotypical military killing machines. 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 Legion’s commander, but the galaxy demands even 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. His entire arc in this series has been leading up to this, and now we get to marvel at all his KTF glory. He was one of my favorite characters 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 in Season 2!

 

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 we’ve finally seen his character as a thoroughly fleshed out and complex individual in this novel. He’s still a beast, physically, but now we see a deeper 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 crew, re-devoting himself to the quest for her love. 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.

 

Caleb Gutierrez, “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. In the end, he felt let down by Goth Sullus and rejoined Chhun and the Light side. He was an extremely believable and sympathetic character, and I hated how the galaxy conspired against him. I felt like he was well rounded, 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 in this final installment of Season 1!

 

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 because her role in this universe is being set up to shine in Season 2. However, we finally see her acting on her own in a way that gave a hint of what we’ve all suspected she could be. In previous novels, she was a wannabe bounty hunter bent on revenge, being trained by T-Rex himself, but in this novel, she fully embraces her Jedi-Not-Jedi Force/Crux user. She finally started that growth we’ve suspected was there and now she’s a feisty critter! We see a lot more of her in this book, which leaves us wanting to see where her journey finally ends.

 

Leenah: She’s a wonderful character that we didn’t get to see enough of. She’s an Endurian princess, from a planet where everyone is royalty, and the royal title won’t even buy you a stale ale on a mid-Core planet. She’s an awesome mechanic who can fix anything and make it better than it was when it rolled off the factory floor. She’s a former MCR rebel, who hasn’t changed sides, so much as she’s just tried to make her way in the unforgiving galaxy. Growing up poor, she just wanted options and the chance to survive and thrive. She was one of my favorite characters and definitely needs more screen time in Season 2.

 

Goth Sullus: Your prototypical bad guy, but this time we get to spend more time with him! Most of the time, we see him through the lens of the main characters, so any sneak peek into his mind is a lot of fun! He’s dark and scary, someone who drives the plot and makes the Galaxy’s Edge series resonate emotionally with you. I can’t say more without spoilers, but you’ll wanna read to find out!

 

Overall, this book is a return to the primary team whom 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 intergalactic war with Goth Sullus and the dark powers lurking in the shadows!

 

 

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, fits 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, the Imperial Republic military forces, and the one true Legion. During this book, 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 current sad state of affairs the Repub found itself embroiled in. The plot was darkly fun, but this book was the light at the end of the tunnel that was the dumpster fire of the galaxy. This story is chock-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 his forces 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! 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 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 ninth book in the main Galaxy’s Edge Series, tenth if you count the prequel story, Tin Man. After all of those books, I still absolutely love this world. 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 the previous eight 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 Black Fleet and then the Imperial Republic forces. We get to see a continual evolution of the weaponry and technology in 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 chock-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. Luckily, we got some of that from this book’s cover, but more about that in the proper section. It hit the spot, 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 all of the previous 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 on their A-game.  I give them 5 out of 5 grenades in this category, more if I could!

 

 

Book Cover:

Before I introduce this section of the review, this is my obligatory reminder that I am indeed colorblind. Obviously, I don’t see things the way you normies do… I’m just cool like that! Okay, back to your regularly scheduled cover commentary. Wow, just wow! How much can I gush over this cover before you tell me to shut up? Like with all books, one of the first things you notice about any story you read is the cover. We get a portrait of three of the characters who played pivotal roles in the first season of this epic adventure, which helps enhance the mind canon we already had from reading the previous 8 books. The choice of the font was spot on, fitting with the rest of the series and labeling this as one of the Galaxy’s Edge Universe books. It managed to blend functional and sexy into one kick-ass book cover. Indeed, this is cover art as it should be designed. Overall, I give the cover illustrators and designers 5 out of 5 grenades for their performance.

 

 

Overall:

I really loved this book, though it wasn’t as fun to read as the first eight novels. Wait, stick with me. This novel and the last one (Message for the Dead) were so emotional that 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 sons. 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 my boys as they become young men in these troubled times. I just have to 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 profound messages, or political themes, just good clean fun. Like the previous novels, this story was compelling and made me want to know more. Unlike previous novels, this one made it very clear whom to root for. I loved the idea of an empire that solved the problems of the failing Republic, someone to put out the dumpster fire. Sadly, Goth Sullus wasn’t that guy. Couldn’t be that guy. Sigh… but I’d had such high hopes for him! It was hard to find fault with what the Black Fleet was trying to do. It was the execution via the Imperial Republic where we were let down. The complexity and nuance in this novel made the payout worth the ride. The political entities were garbage, all of them, but the Legion was a 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 tools they were and learn whom they serve.

 

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 three of the more iconic characters from this franchise set the perfect tone for this novel that closed most of the open plot loops. Seriously, the cover is fantastic 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 leaders making 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 Imperial Republic Fleet. The soldiers don’t come away unscathed, and we see that in some of the final decisions made by Goth Sullus.

 

Speaking of Goth Sullus, I really loved how they showed his own inner struggle with who he was, who he wanted to be, and who he became. I love that he wasn’t made into some comic book villain; in the end, he was just a flawed human being whose hubris wreaked havoc on the Galaxy. He became the personification of one of the overarching themes of the series, that of good versus evil. We really see the complex nature of this struggle, because instead of one easy villain, this galaxy has the hydra of evil. When you cut off the head of one monstrous ne’er-do-well, we’re given many more who will rise up to take its place. I suspect that this is the role Prisma will serve in Season 2, but I’m just guessing. There wasn’t a simple solution for the characters in this plot, although, in the end, justice was meted out to all of the parties who deserved it. The justice was harsh and final, but I can’t say more without hitting deep into spoiler territory.

 

We can’t talk about the conclusion of Goth Sullus’ arc without talking about the overall ending of this series. Part of what I liked is that there were no neat endings, no sunshine and roses wrapped up in pretty bows. The conclusions were messy, the reactions were real, making the outcomes intrinsically satisfying. Instead of completely closing the arc of the dumpster fire that is Galaxy’s Edge, we see the phoenix rising from the ashes. There is plenty of potential for new beginnings in the ending we were given. And new beginnings there shall be because we know that Season 2 is coming!

 

About those new beginnings, let’s talk about Prisma Maydoon. I really liked what they did with her character, I feel like she finally became more than a plot device. In this book, she came alive and set up perfectly what was to come. Everything old is new again, so I expect we’ll see more of her in Season 2. Will she be a Goth Sullus Redux? Only time will tell, so I’ll keep reading!

 

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 Goth Sullus wasn’t easy, not when your opponent is the very embodiment of evil. As a consequence, rivers of blood ran throughout this novel, putting all of the previous books 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 with such visceral prose used that you felt what they felt. 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 another one of my favorite secondary characters, 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 because I didn’t want it to end. Luckily, as soon as I write this review, I get to jump into their ever-expanding universe. I’ve got those three series that exist on the periphery to occupy my time until they start Season 2, the next run of the 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 the next adventure story before you catch up with them. Well, assuming you’re not a speed reader.

 

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 a 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.

 

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