Review: Legionnaire

Posted: July 19, 2023 by in Books We Like (3.6/5 single_star) Meta: Jason Anspach, Nick Cole, Military SF, Science Fiction, Speculatively Lite

I’m always on the lookout for a great, quick read, and when I came across this one, I decided pretty quickly that it fit the bill.

LEGIONNAIRE is the first in the Galaxy’s Edge series of books that are solidly military science fiction. As of the writing of this review, there are 18 main-series books listed on Amazon from the same two co-authors, and there also seems to be a decent number of offshoot series that the authors did in conjunction with others. When I first read that this book, the beginning of the entire series, was published in December of 2018, I had to do a lengthy double-take. That’s a serious number of books, churned out in less than 5 years. I mean just, whoa. I’ve heard tell of the crazy pace at which some self-published media gets churned out, but this was the first time I’d actually taken a solid look at the details. Pretty impressive.

Sergeant Cohen Chhun is one of the upper leadership for Victory Company, which has been tasked with a diplomatic mission on the far-flung planet of Kublar. His team are made up of an elite band of legionnaire soldiers, trained in combat, tactics, and teamwork, and they’ve been sent to do what no simple band of soldiers can. The Kublareans (koobs for short, though that’s used in a fairly derogatory way for most of the book) are a tribal species of aliens that are known for their shifting alliances and short tempers. Although not a technically advanced species, they’re still not completely lacking in dangerous weaponry, and to say that this company of soldiers is on edge would be to understate it immensely. It isn’t long before a battle breaks out, and one surprise leads to the next, digging them deeper an deeper into a position where there can be no escape.

The story itself is really simple to slide into. The prose is lean and mean and doesn’t take a lot of time to fill in on unnecessary detail. The important details to this story are those that involve the members of Victory Company and anyone else that decides they want to impact their team. Diplomats are viewed as frequently incompetent and consistently frustrating. Members of their team are trusted and relied upon, saving one another’s lives with the simple efficiency of a well-oiled piece of clockwork. Alien combatants are despised and dispatched without remorse. Victory Company is here to do a job and then move on. Make no mistake.

The one downside to the thinness of the prose is the fact that scenes can frequently devolve into what I’ve seen referred to elsewhere as “talking heads”, with several characters minimally interacting with one another to the exclusion of all else. So while the action continues to drive the story forward, there’s only a very thin veneer, if any surfacing at all in parts, to the wider space surrounding the team. That method of storytelling can work in the short term, but when it’s used in large degree, I typically find that it can drag down my overall impression. By the end of the book, that had started to happen a little, but the forward progress of the story constantly made me forget how things were happening and instead to focus on what was happening, and that’s a good thing indeed.

A company of Legionnaire soldiers is tasked with a simple mission that goes sideways and instead they have to resort to trying to stay alive

In so many of the military stories I’ve read in the past, I’ve felt like a core sense of brotherhood had been missing. Not so here. Each member of this team supports and protects every other member. Their interactions felt familiar. They know how each other thinks, and what to expect from certain interactions. When someone is hurt, there is genuine concern and sometimes heroic efforts completed in order to bring them back home. I didn’t realize just how much I’d been missing this sense of cohesiveness until I found it in these pages.

Besides the leanness of the prose, my one critique of this beginning to a much larger series is how minimally the science fiction played part in the story at hand. Yes there’s aliens and fancy weapons and cool transports, but none of it really played a critical role in the story at hand. This will be a moot point for many readers, but it’s something that I think is of particular importance. If that concept hasn’t yet been solidified in your mind with my harping on it for the past three reviews. 🙂

I think there’s a LOT to like in this book, and many will find exactly what they’re looking for in this quick, militaristic read. It’s full of adventure, and aliens, and shootouts with your brother at your back.

  • Recommended Age: 14+ for war violence
  • Language: Surprisingly, very little
  • Violence: Lots of war violence and shooting, some gory detail
  • Sex: Not at all

There’s a website dedicated to the series as a whole that you can find HERE.

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