The Galaxy’s Edge series is a mix of military sci-fi and space opera, set in a Universe that draws heavily on Star Wars without using any of its proper names. At first, you’ll find yourself spotting all the Star Wars similarities (or reversals, such as the stormtroopers being crack shots, or a Han Solo-style character always asking his robot sidekick to tell him the odds), but after a while, the Galaxy’s Edge universe becomes a distinct place in your mind, as real and vivid as the Star Wars universe, maybe even more so.
I’ve listened to the first six books in this series as three audiobooks (two books recorded in each audiobook), and I did little note-taking, so it’s possible I’ll describe a detail or two in the wrong book. Here’s my rundown of what worked or didn’t work in each book:
Legionnaire — Star Wars told from the perspective of the stormtroopers (In Galaxy’s Edge, called Legionnaires). How do they feel about the state of The Republic and the missions they’re assigned to? I stole the opening line of the book for my blog post title: “The galaxy is a dumpster fire.” The events of this book also take place on a planet reminiscent of Afghanistan, so that should tell you something about the story’s tone. Legionnaire was the winner of the 2017 Planetary Award for best novel, and now that I’ve read the book, I can call the victory well-deserved.
Galactic Outlaws — This novel is less military and more space opera, and, for me, suffers from too many characters syndrome. Some of the characters don’t become important until later books, but receive a disproportionate share of page time here. I’ve seen this in other works, where there’s a rush to introduce all the characters of a sweeping epic up front, while I’d prefer that they were introduced closer to the point they become significant.
The people eventually making up the good-guy adventurer group included: A captain who I thought would be the Han Solo-type, his Wookie-analogue copilot, the actual Han Solo-type, his robot sidekick, two different Legionnaires turned bounty hunters, a little girl looking for revenge “True Grit”-style, her robot butler who is a former warbot, a rebel princess, a rebel general, and a tech whiz-kid hacker type. (Some of the descriptions I’ve given aren’t what the characters ultimately are, but I didn’t want to introduce spoilers.) There are also various bad guys, a 100-pound female bodyguard, a corrupt corporate executive, a comedy-relief pirate leader, and a psychic woman at a temple.
Kill Team — The events in this book are all chronologically before the second book, and some of them are even before the first book. The survivors of book one are recruited into “Dark Ops”. Much of the book is devoted to a new character, who works for “Nether Ops”, the Dark Ops within Dark Ops. He is a spy who takes on various bad guys, including some aliens who are basically Space ISIS. The aliens’ behavior is frightening, to the point that I began to imagine sinister visages of their otherwise-innocuous appearance — their faces look like those of donkeys. I thought that might be a reference to there being so many donkeys in the Middle East, but I’ve seen it suggested that it’s a dig at the US Democratic party.
For me, the main drawback to this book was the use of a weird form of second person for the spy’s storyline. I found it a distracting at first, but was eventually able to tune it out.
Attack of Shadows — If I remember correctly, almost all of this book was a single, gigantic space and ground battle for control of a planet containing one of The Republic’s biggest shipyards, and the planet’s moon which holds a giant defensive cannon.
The battle was awesome, but there was too much jumping between perspectives for me. There were too many pilots, naval officers, ground soldiers, civilian workers, and politicians, often only present for short scenes. On top of that, there were perspectives from both sides of the battle, so there were times where, at the beginning of a scene, I wasn’t sure which side a pilot was fighting for.
Sword of the Legion — At this point, I’m starting to get into spoiler territory, so I’ll just say that this book covers some military missions that needed to take place due to the events of the previous book. The writing goes back to my preferred style, with limited perspectives, a straightforward timeline, and no second person.
Prisoners of Darkness — Again, I don’t want to get into spoilers, so I won’t say much about this one. Some prisoners need rescuing due to the events in the previous book. Again, no complaints with the writing style.
This is as far as I’ve gotten in the series, as I’m waiting for more audio releases. I have some guesses, but at this point, I really don’t know where the plot of the series will go. It’s not because I’m confused, it’s just that there are so many factions that have the potential to become the main antagonist, or even to flip and become the protagonist side:
- The Republic is growing more corrupt and less competent every day. The legislative body, the “House of Reason”, is filling the military officer ranks with political appointees. (The Legionnaires call these officers “points”, a word that will give you a gut reaction after a few of these books.)
- “The Empire”, a warlord who managed to build his own fleet in secret and recruit disgruntled military men from the republic.
- The Legion itself, as there are hints they could stage a military coup.
- An AI fleet built in secret by the House of Reason, in case its human officers ever quit following orders, because AIs always follow orders. They never decide to exterminate all human life instead. Never.
- The House of Reason also decided to build another fleet in secret, and give it to Space ISIS, because Space ISIS would certainly only attack the people they were ordered to attack. Certainly.
- The Mid-Core Rebellion, this series’ answer to Star Wars’ Rebel Alliance. They haven’t been a match for the Legion up to now, but they have a new leader who has pulled off some victories.
There are two additional books out in print (but not yet on audio), Turning Point and Message for the Dead. Another book is scheduled for release in October, Retribution, and there are also some prequels and spin-off stories.
Those of you who are indie authors may want to look to this writing duo for selling tips. They have apparently cracked the code on getting large numbers of readers without the marketing might of a traditional publishing house. They might have some good advice for you if you search out their interviews and blog posts, and they even offer a course on their method. In my opinion, an author would need a base audience before being able to use many of their techniques, but I haven’t taken their course, so I can’t say for sure. I’m surprised they haven’t started a publishing company to take advantage of their formula, but apparently they’ve decided to develop a loose network of cooperating authors instead.
Leave a comment below if you have an opinion on the books or the authors’ sales success.