It is time for a discussion of the first volume of Legend of the Galactic Heroes, featuring me, Carriage, and Gee! This post will contain lots of spoilers, so it’s recommended you read the book first. (Amazon — Audible — Barnes and Noble — Book Depository — Rightstuf)
To check on the Summer Reading Program 2018 schedule, click here.
Cho: Welcome to the year 3596
Carriage: Now is that is Imperial years…or?
Gee: Are we going by SE or Imperial?
Cho: Ha ha, according to Wikipedia, our story (not the prologue) starts “SE 796/IC 487/AD 3596”
But we’re still using paper, and haven’t cured the common cold 🙂
We do have cool sleep tanks though
Today’s discussion will be us three — thanks for joining in, Gee and Carriage
How did you like this one?
Gee: I went into this book not really knowing anything about the series, so the prologue had me gasping “Oh no!” at least three times.
The book was very good though, I enjoyed it a lot
Carriage: Thanks for having us Cho, and I enjoyed the book a lot. I started it after finishing the anime that just finished and it really filled in a lot of details!
Cho: The new anime is pretty nice, isn’t it? I saw the first two episodes the other day.
(I’ll note that this is my second time reading volume 1 of this, and I went with the audiobook version both times.)
Gee: I hope to one day watch the anime, but I’m always in catchup mode, so who knows when I actually will
Cho: I’ll be curious to see how the general perception toward the franchise may or may not shift. In years past, most anime fans only knew of the old and very long OVA series, and it kind of had a cult classic status that probably intimidated a lot of people.
The books themselves feel pretty approachable to me at least though — I’m not big on military sci-fi, but the story’s entertaining and the characters memorable.
Gee: I agree. I’m also not a big “hard” sci-fi fan, but this book was still really engaging
Carriage: That’s really good to hear since the book to me seemed a lot more inaccessible than the anime did
…Especially with that long prologue, haha
Cho: Oh yes, that prologue. (I had skipped it in this re-read actually, ha ha)
Gee: So much prologue
Cho: The author is definitely a big history buff, that’s for sure
Carriage: I thought that it would never end
Gee: Really throwing you in the thick of it, and you either drown or swim
Cho: I think I noted in my review a couple years ago that the writing in general could come off as dry.
And noted that the audiobook presentation of the text likely spiced things up for me
Gee: It’s very dense indeed. It did take longer for me to read this one than I usually do
Carriage: I’m so glad that it wasn’t just me then!
Gee: It is an actual novel though, compared to the light novels I’ve been reading recently for the site. That, plus its age makes all the difference I’m sure
Cho: The LN that feels most comparable to me in this respect is probably Tanya the Evil — I would’ve preferred an audiobobok for that one too
I think in the case of LoGH though, what kept me going were the characters
Gee: I agree! I really loved the interactions with Yang and Julian (and Yang with anyone, haha)
Cho: Yang is quite entertaining, and uncomfortably on-the-nose
Gee: Who ever said this series was subtle🤣
Carriage: This novel sure does feel painfully relevant sometimes, haha.
Cho: History sure likes to repeat itself /yangvoice
Gee: Hence my various “Oh no”s in the prologue
Cho: Yang is likely the easiest character to relate to, in this respect — we can’t help but feel frustrated when those with the power continue to do what they tend to do
I find it interesting how the story takes the time to show how even with vastly different governments, human nature tends to make a mess of things
Carriage: Definitely. It carries a kind of inherently pessimistic view on humans which is a hard pill to swallow. I think the moment where Yang talked about how he didn’t want to change because of the frustration he felt towards the world was one of the strongest ones for me in the novel.
Gee: The fact that Yang is a mostly uninvested & uninterested party to the power struggle, yet is so obviously crucial to success is what makes him the one we get invested in with this book
His pessimism of the morality on both sides is very apt
And yet he continues to be drawn into it
Cho: The Longest Sigh Ever when Yang secures a victory that should achieve some kind of peace, only for the war to be continued for the sake of leaders hoping to get re-elected in a couple months
Gee: It’s almost TOO relevant.
It caused me physical pain
Cho: We’ve talked mostly about Yang — how did you like Reinhard as a character?
Gee: I think he has some very understandable motivations and noble intentions, but the execution is problematic.
The path to hell is paved with good intentions, and all that
Carriage: I feel like Reinhard, at first, got a lot less in the way of backstory and explanation of his motivations so it was a little harder to come around to his side but Siegfried definitely helped with that
Gee: I found his relationship with Siegfried (and his sister) was definitely what elevated his character
Cho: Siegfried Kircheis is definitely Reinhard’s moral compass, and Annerose his sympathetic motivation
I think without them, Reinhard would be too “distant” to really connect with, since he’s such a larger-than-life figure
Gee: Like with Yang and Julian, it’s the more personal human relationships these characters have that make them ones you want to support (or at least read more about)
Carriage: I completely agree but with one exception. The landesharr of phazzan was a character that I was immensely interested in even without very many of his connections visible to us
What did you two think of this phantom third party?
Gee: They’re definitely an unknown at this point, but I can see the Phazzans acting as more and more of an involved participant going into the future.
There are a lot of possibilities for subsequent books
Cho: Rubinsky’s inclusion in this volume seems mainly to hint at future developments for the story, and show that there’s always going to be other forces at work in the background during any major conflict between two states
Gee: Agreed. War is never just impacted by the two direct sides in conflict
Cho: The final chapter also hinted at a religious(?) entity on Earth, which will surely affect things
Gee: Even if the payoff for that is “only” the weaponification of hope and faith, it’ll be interesting to see (and also very relevant)
Cho: And at the same time, there are the old-hat royals in the Galactic Empire, and the crazy nationalists in the Free Planets Alliance — lots to keep track of, ha ha
And wouldn’t it be nice if they could all just get along
Gee: HAHAHAHAHA HA ha haaah….
Carriage: I too wish for a world where Yang could finally retire
Cho: Time to write that coffee shop AU
Gee: Let that tired man restᵀᴹ
Cho: How did you feel about the battles themselves in this book. Were you able to follow along easily enough?
Gee: I didn’t have any problems. I thought the Iserlohn infiltration was the best, although not a battle in the literal sense
Carriage: I came into the novel with a good picture of what was going on because of the anime but I was surprised to see a similar kind of clarity in the novel too, so I’d say it was good.
It might’ve helped that they even re-told the events of Astarte to Rubinsky to really drive it in, haha
Cho: The “overview of what just happened” was helpful for me at least
Gee: For a book this dense, it helps us poor readers
Cho: The Iserlohn infiltration was probably my favorite bit too, though that was partly because it was surprisingly quick 🙂
Gee: Quick and ingenious
Carriage: Agreed, haha
Cho: If you give Yang an impossible mission, you’ll have to allow him to be sneaky about it
Gee: I appreciate the mental scheming, rather than the BIG GUN FIGHTS
A scifi Trojan horse
Carriage: That’s the only way you could ever hope to invade the literal death star
Cho: Unfortunately for Yang though, no Force and no Jedi to be found
And Reinhard will have to conquer the galaxy the old-fashioned way
Cho: Any negative points for this book? (Other than the very long prologue, perhaps)
Gee: I think the blatant evilness of some of the “old guard” and the empire at large made it less of a moral struggle between two sides, and instead is a very Star Wars-esque good vs evil.
The lack of subtlety is both a good and bad thing
Carriage: I definitely felt that too, especially with how incompetent they all seemed to be.
Cho: A complaint for the series I saw thrown around during the new anime adaptation was that the enemies (either of Yang or of Reinhard) were generally buffoons, which I’ll agree is an issue worth bringing up
Though I will also note this is just volume 1, and the author will likely (hopefully?) give the protagonists greater challenges in the stories to come
Gee: It might be a point of those in power are always the least qualified for it, but yes. Is everyone really this inept?
Cho: The main takeaway seems to be that you shouldn’t assume things will go smoothly for you on the battlefront =P
What works one time won’t work every other time
Gee: The fact that they’re top ranking military would usually imply some battle knowledge or war strategy, but yet…
Cho: The book does tend to explain each commander’s line of thinking behind each of their fatal decisions, but yeah, there’s definitely a need to step back and see the bigger picture, and be more willing to do the smart thing rather than the heroic/noble thing
Retreating is good, retreating means not dying /yangvoice
Gee: Not everything is won thanks to barrelling in, guns blazing
Cho: Probably time to wind down — are there any final questions either of you would like to throw out?
Gee: No questions, but this book makes me more motivated to watch the anime adaptations sooner rather than later!!
Carriage: It’s the same for me on all points, haha. I’m certainly looking forward to following the anime and the novels, although as the order of those things, I’m not entirely sure myself.
Cho: I’m interested enough to continue with both — though I do hope Viz will release more audiobooks (at the moment they only have that option for the first three volumes)
I believe for paperback/ebook, they’re at six volumes (out of 10), soon to release the seventh
Gee: Yes, that’s right.
It would be nice to see more audiobooks for it then, in that case! I’m curious now to listen to them 🤔
Carriage: I’d be interested to check out the audio books as well! Sounds like a much easier way to digest the novels, haha
Cho: The reader for it does a delightful job with all the characters’ voices — Yang and Reinhard’s personalities clash all the more blatantly (and amusingly)
And this concludes the first July battle of the Summer Reading program, next time we’ll go barrelling in, guns blazing with Keiichi Sigsawa’s SAO fanfic
Carriage: That’ll be a fun one for sure. Especially for you non-anime watchers (I’m looking at you, Justus)
Cho: I haven’t seen any of the anime for it, so it’ll be all new for me too (though not my first read from the author)
Cho: That’s it for our discussion on Legend of the Galactic Heroes volume 1. Now it’s your turn! What are some of your thoughts on this book?