Book Review: Galaxy’s Edge – Takeover by Jason Anspach & Nick Cole

Book Title: Galaxy’s Edge: Takeover: Season Two, Book One

Authors: Jason Anspach and Nick Cole

Publication Date: May 18, 2020

Available on: Amazon as an eBook, a paperback and as an audiobook

Indie Athenaeum Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars


Months after the climactic events of Retribution, the final book in season one of the Galaxy’s Edge series, the ruling government of the Republic is shattered. Goth Sullus has been defeated. The galaxy is in chaos, trying to pick up the pieces and is trying to re-establish law and order.

One mysterious man, Mister Nilo, is a wealthy ge-legionairrebenefactor to a group of mercenaries and former special forces. He has a vision for the galaxy and he also has the financial and military resources of his company, Black Leaf, to try to turn this vision into a reality.

Seeing an opportunity on the planet of Kublar, he sends in his forces to take advantage of the situation there, bend it to his advantage and use it as the first step in his plan. But this involves pitting the native Kublarens against the zhee interlopers who have previously established settlements on the planet!

Into this chaos strides Black Leaf, hiring mercenary forces filled with former Republic marines and Legionnaires. Led by Carter and his team with specialized skills, they’re directed into battle exploiting the natural tension between the Kublarens and the zhee, a culture of religious zealots. When the simmering tension turns into full-scale war, the mission begins to expel them from the planet once and for all!

ge-2Meanwhile, Jack Bowie is a former Naval Intelligence officer sent on a near-impossible mission to grab a valuable briefcase from someone important in the underworld on Kublar. If he succeeds, he’ll have gainful employment from a very big player striding onto the galaxy’s stage. But will he live long enough to reap the rewards?

As the threads of both storylines begin to interweave, there are other factions working behind the scenes. Enacting their secret agendas, they implement undercover operations hidden amidst the violence erupting on Kublar to try and complicate what Black Leaf is trying to achieve. Will they succeed in their goals or will these hidden forces sabotage their goals?

Carter’s band of mercenaries includes a varied group of individuals. Some are wet behind the ears, like Winters. Others, like the sniper Abers, the medic Lana or the big muscular guy who’s also quiet, Lashley, also round out the group. Each one has a distinctive personality and a deadly level of skills that they bring to the group.

Carter himself not only the team leader, but he ge-3also has a wife and young daughters that he’s far away from. This well-paying job helps support his family and their interactions not only illustrate their long-distance struggles, it also grounds him in a way that makes him more relatable. It also provides a stronger motivation for him than just money and adds an extra dimension to his character.

Bowie is also a well-developed character. A man with a complicated history and a high level of cunning, he’s the one given a mission that has some unexpected turns to it as he faces one difficult obstacle after another.

The Kublaran culture is also expanded on here. We last spent a lot of time with them during the eruption of their civil war back in “Legionnaire”, the first book ever in the Galaxy’s Edge series. Now, we see what’s it’s like to ally with them and we learn more about their tribal culture and their history. It’s a nice callback to the previous novel while also presenting them in new ways.

ge-4This novel has a lot to establish. It introduces Mister Nilo and his organization Black Leaf, a new force in the galaxy to be reckoned with. It establishes Carter’s motley group of mercenaries and their military campaign with their Kublaren allies against the zhee forces. It has an undercover mission for Bowie combining spycraft, secret missions, and special gadgets in a James Bond-like story with ramifications for the galaxy at large.

It also illuminates the galaxy-wide reorganization going on at all levels of government in the aftermath of Goth Sullus’ defeat. Combining all those elements, it also sets the stage for the storylines for season two storylines, giving you some tantalizing hints of where the series will be going next.

That final chapter, though, serves two functions. ge-5One is an epilogue to this story, illuminating some of these secret agendas and power plays furtively going on in the background. The other is to set the stage for the second book in season two of the Galaxy’s Edge series. This final chapter just begs for a follow-up and makes you salivate for the second book in season two to become available already.

While the emphasis is on the military actions of Carter’s motley group of mercenaries and Bowie’s clandestine mission, their dissimilar stories provide a nice contrast from one another with each chapter. When it switches from one viewpoint to another, each one was equally gripping and I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next.

I couldn’t pick a favorite among them either, as they were both varied and rich in both action, purpose, and characterization. It’s an impressive balance between the two different types of stories that cleverly begins to blend them together in unexpected ways.

ge-6It would be easy for the authors to just continue to give readers more of the same stories that they’ve published in the past. Admittedly, those stories set a very high bar of quality for all future stories to be compared against. But these authors are not content to sit on their laurels. Instead, they continue to intriguingly build on what has come before while expanding the mythos of the Galaxy’s Edge universe with new characters and new situations. In the process, they continue to set a new standard for themselves.

They also continue to develop the history of this universe as they draw from stories set in the past, most notably from The Savage Wars trilogy, and how they impact the present and the future of what is happening in this galaxy currently. I continue to be in awe of the continuity they have established between past and present novels in this universe as they develop these connections further, both small and large. There are many fascinating links to the Savage Wars trilogy, including one major jaw-dropper.

If you’ve never read the Galaxy’s Edge series, you ge-7could start here and be introduced to the sensational fiction franchise the authors have established and built here. These are all new characters being introduced to the Galaxy’s Edge series, so for readers who have never read a Galaxy’s Edge novel, this is a perfect jumping-on point. For old readers, there are some real stunning associations to characters we’ve met before and gotten to know better in previous novels. I’m glad to see those followed up on here.

However, if you start at the beginning with Legionnaire, which set the precedent for all the stories to come, you’ll come to find that it has evolved far beyond the initial idea established there, which was “stormtroopers in Afghanistan” in a Star Wars-like universe.

ge-8I continue to be mesmerized by the stories in the Galaxy’s Edge universe and would advise you to read them all from the beginning for maximum surprises and enthralling storytelling. This novel only exemplifies these ideas and sets the stage for the next season of stories to come. Go ahead and start reading for the military science fiction action-adventure aspects and stay for the imaginative and innovative galaxy filled with wonder and unpredictability.

If you found this review to be helpful to you, please click here to go to the review on Amazon. Then navigate to the bottom of this review and click on the “helpful” button.

Previous Indie Athenaeum book reviews or audiobook reviews about Galaxy’s Edge stories co-authored by Jason Anspach and Nick Cole include “Galaxy’s Edge – Madame Guillotine,” “Galaxy’s Edge – Requiem For Medusa“, “Iron Wolves – Order of the Centurion – Book 2“, co-authored with Jonathan Yanez and “The Reservist – Galaxy’s Edge: Order of the Centurion, Book 5“, co-authored with J.R. Handley.

Previous Indie Athenaeum reviews of short ge-retribution bookstories or audiobooks written by Jason Anspach include “’til Death – Book 1 in the Rockwell Return Files” & “Bridge Across the Stars – A Sci-Fi Bridge Original Anthology“.

Previous Indie Athenaeum reviews of novels or audiobooks written by Nick Cole include “CTRL ALT Revolt!” & “The End of the World as We Knew It“.

Previous Indie Athenaeum reviews of anthologies featuring stories by Jason Anspach and Nick Cole include “In Your Closet and In Your Head: A Monster Anthology“.

 

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