Monday, September 24, 2018

Galaxy's Edge: Order of the Centurion

“The Order of the Centurion is the highest award that can be bestowed upon an individual serving in, or with, the Legion. When such an individual displays exceptional valor in action against an enemy force, and uncommon loyalty and devotion to the Legion and its legionnaires, refusing to abandon post, mission, or brothers, even unto death, the Legion dutifully recognizes such courage with this award.”

Tired of sitting out the war on Psydon in a mobile office hab, Legion Lieutenant Washam agrees to undertake a covert and unsanctioned mission with a band of Republic Recon Marines. Inserted deep behind enemy lines, the strike force uncovers a surprise key to ending a bitter war. Now they must navigate a hostile jungle teeming with murderous alien rebels, pushing themselves to the limits of their abilities, to get this vital intel to Legion Command--if they can survive that long. 

With Order of the Centurion, Galaxy's Edge begins its third series of books, dealing with standalone stories of Medal of Honor-level valor--and survival rates. If the main series is Anspach and Cole's take on the Clone Wars, this is their Rogue One. And after two disappointing Tyrus Rexs/Rechs bounty hunter books (the spelling tends to change with the author), the return to infantry combat is welcome. At their best, Anspach and Cole are the best straight infantry military science fiction writers out there, with a cinematic style unencumbered by the all too commonly expected digressions into strategy and why-we-fight motivations. Sure, Wash's personal motivations are explored, but we are not treated to yet more lessons in History and Moral Philosophy by Jean Dubois.

The action is excellent, the description is choke-on-the-dust vivid, and the camaraderie is true. Anspach and Cole set aside their literary flourishes and experiments for what is essentially a timeless war movie set in the Galaxy's Edge universe. It would not be a surprise to learn that this novel was optioned for a screenplay in the near future. That said, this is also the least Galaxy's Edge to date, with only a gloss of science fiction over the well-known tale of heroism from a unit that stumbled into more than it could handle.

If you like your war movies like We Were Soldiers and Black Hawk Down, you need to read Order of the Centurion.

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