Legend of the Galactic Heroes is an oddball in terms of its actual existence.
This is a series of novels that’s being released on amazon, with twelve separate volumes making up the whole of the series. You may be asking yourselves, why these novels are worth mentioning, especially considering their appearance. One would be fooled into thinking that this was just a standard space opera with the usual dose of melodrama and epic fight scenes in space, of which there is no lack of in this book. But when I said this book was an odditity, I was not jesting.
The Legend of the Galactic Heroes series has some rather unique traits to it. Being among the tiny sliver of Japanese genre fiction that manages to make it all the way into the west, the fact that more than one of these books are already released in English serves as a sign. And while the name might attest otherwise, the status of the characters in these books as “Heroes” can be dubious at best.
When I bought the first volume “Dawn” I was expecting just a fun sci-fi book that I could pick up every now and then, but before I knew it, I was binge reading the hell out of it.
When you first start reading you’ll see that the description in the books are rather sparse, but the quality of those scant traces of vivid text are superb in how they’re presented. The books flow like your reading a historical documentary of a fictional universe, and this works miracles in its advantage. The Omniscient narrator employed by the author, Yoshiki Tanaka, is used to portray the thoughts of both friend and foe in grand intergalactic battles. The author frequently zooms into small microcosms of the prolonged engagement between the Galactic Empire and the Free Planet’s Alliance, allowing the reader to see various perspectives from major players in the way to minor characters in the background, giving the chance to watch how each of their motivations stack against those of the others.
But the writing style isn’t all there is to the book.
When you’re first hooked by the brief but effective prose, you’ll grow to meet the two complex leads of Reinhard von Lohengramm of the Galactic Empire and Yang Wen-Li of the Free Planet’s Alliance. These two characters are given the largest share of time alloted to them in the books, and for good reason. What really made me stay with the books glued to my face was how the personalities and views of these two serve as foils to one another.
Reinhard is a noblemen whose defining characteristic could be identified as ambition. And despite being complex himself, he’s the closest thing to a standard protagonist in this kind of story, but he subverts a great deal of tropes related to that archetype. Reinhard is ruthless in how he seeks to accomplish his goals, that glorious act he plays when around other people is just that. An act. When one reads his thoughts in the books and sees his actions, you will see that behind that mask of gold is a calculating, Machiavellian mind that plans out everything with pure precision. But Reinhard is contrasted by his counterpart in the Free Planet’s Alliance, Yang Wen-Li.
An aspiring historian turned soldier, Yang loathes participating in military campaigns. His pessimism about war contrasts with Reinhard’s optimism in using war to achieve one’s goals. Yang would take any opportunity he has to leave military service, ironically, he’s the best Admiral to take command of the fleets in the Free Planet’s Alliance. While Yang is just as calculating as Reinhard, if not more, he has none of the nobleman’s ruthlessness. Despite his occupation, Yang’s character toys with pacifism quite often and he resorts to the least damaging forms of engagement in the battlefield.
These two present opposed worldviews of a single a universe, that shed light on the corruption of the political and military class, and this isn’t even counting the dozens of other characters with similar depth. The horrors of war are not spared for either side of the conflict,and in addition to stunning scenes of combat in space, there are even more of the Powers that Be conspiring behind the curtains.
I would urge all of you to read these books, considering the fact that the more people who consume them, the higher chances we have of more being localized. And we all want that don’t we? *Wink*
Buy on Amazon:
Legend of the Galactic Heroes, Vol 1: Dawn; here
Legend of the Galactic Heroes, Vol 2: Ambition; here
Featured Image: Source