This first novel-length offering in the Galaxy’s Edge universe from Anspach and Cole reads like a front-line memoir from The Clone Wars. An expertly rendered (and unrepentant) homage to Star Wars and other great space opera / military sci-fi of the last half-century (Aliens, anyone?), Legionnaire is the epitome of what good military sci-fi should be: grounded in ground-pounding detail; alive with action and adventure; and, most of all, so well written you forget you’re reading a story at all.
Obviously influenced by historical memoirs from battle-hardened veteran-survivors of actual wars, the novel drops you smack-dab in the middle of the action with Victory Company as they try to walk the fine line of policing a hostile planet in turmoil and conducting a diplomacy-in-force. Told from the point of view of Sergeant Chhun, we get the in-the-ranks nitty-gritty of fighting on the front line—the camaraderie, the fear, the dedication to duty, the desire to survive. You can feel the sizzle of laser fire, and you might even get a little itchy in your armor when the sandstorms kick up.
Occasionally Chhun and his legionnaires (and the reader) can pause for brief respites between the excitement of battle, and it’s in those moments where the humanity of the characters—the reason you want these guys and gals to make it—shines through. It’s not all pew-pew sizzle and diving for cover, and it’s in the quieter moments where the authors’ talents really shine through as their very human characters find themselves ground down like cogs in the very military machine they’re a part of—and yet, they persevere to do their duty. Chhun is a wisecracking, can-do NCO who cares first and foremost about his men and second about his mission (caring about himself comes a distant third). His character is unique to the needs of this science-fiction story but will feel familiar to fans of historical fiction. He comes from a long line of literary grandfathers (see: Forester’s Horatio Hornblower, Cornwell’s Richard Sharpe, O’Brian’s Jack Aubrey, Lambdin’s Alan Lewrie). His voice is your voice; his fears are your fears; his courage is your courage.
Dive in a fox hole with Legionnaire, but block out a few hours—you’ll want to finish it once you start. Ooah!