For general information on this series: Legend of the Galactic Heroes entry
This review is for the third volume of Legend of the Galactic Heroes by Yoshiki Tanaka. The English edition was released by Viz Media’s Haikasoru imprint in November 2016. At the moment there are eight volumes available in English. The series is completed with ten volumes in Japan, released from 1982 to 1987.
Note: There will be some spoilers for the previous two volumes here, as this is a difficult series to review without referring to past events.
Volume 3 for this series is essentially what you’d expect to happen next, directly following the conclusion of volume 2. It’s good storytelling, but also something of a transitory interlude. It’s more or less Yang Wen-li and Reinhard von Lohengramm dealing with the repercussions of their newfound respective roles: a beloved war hero for Yang, and the prime minister of the entire Galactic Empire for Reinhard. Unlike the first two entries, which divided the story time between the two leads fairly equally, this volume is much more focused on Yang–and his adopted son Julian, resident Good Boy and rookie soldier for the Free Planets Alliance (much to Yang’s consternation). And though I called Yang a beloved war hero, it is worth noting he is decidedly not beloved by the Alliance’s political leaders, and this constitutes one of the two main conflicts for this galactic episode.
Thanks to a little nudge from Rubinsky of Fezzan, the ruling politicians of the Alliance are afraid Yang will seek to dispose them and rule the Alliance himself, as Reinhard has managed in the Empire. Yang of course has no desire for power, or even to be a war hero–but still he is ordered to leave the strategically-critical Iserlohn Fortress in order for him to be grilled in a farcical court trial concerning certain decisions he has made. It’s all rather over-the-top, but the author (Yoshiki Tanaka) is not here to be subtle. He has strong points he wants to make about politics, and over the course of this story the dichotomy between the Alliance and the Empire only becomes more apparent. While the Empire is a totalitarian state, Reinhard is a competent leader who is genuinely making life better for the vast majority of its citizens. Meanwhile the Alliance is a democracy, but the leaders are incompetent and repeatedly fail to uphold the ideals that their nation was founded upon. Rubinski put it bluntly:
It’s just like the Alliance’s current leadership to do something like that. They extol the virtues of democracy with their mouths, while in reality they ignore laws and regulations, turning them into hollow shells. That’s a makeshift and dangerous way of doing things. And it’s because their authorities have no respect for the laws themselves, that their societal norms are becoming unglued. A symptom that they’re entering the terminal phase.”
The second main conflict entails the Empire’s counter-attack on Iserlohn Fortress. They lost it thanks to Yang the Magician, but a wild idea has been concocted for winning it back. (The plan is delightful in its simplicity, but I won’t spoil it here.) Reinhard gives the okay, but beyond that he is not directly involved in most of the actual warfare for this volume–he is more concerned with domestic affairs at this point, though I’m sure he will shift gears back to focusing on conquering the Alliance soon enough.
All in all this is a volume that delivers the sort of content fans will expect. It’s not as flashy and dramatic as the previous two volumes, but the plot is steadily moving forward–and the direction it’s moving in does not look pleasant for Yang, which certainly leaves me concerned. I’ll have to read on, though I sure wish the rest of the series was available in audiobook form. I listened to the first three installments via Audible, but all subsequent entries are currently only available in paperback or ebook formats. I might delay moving on to volume 4 for a while, just in case an announcement is made…
Cho’s Rating: Recommended
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