Legionnaire: Galaxy's Edge #1
by Jason Anspach and Nick Cole
Kindle Edition, 308 pages
Published June 12th 2017 by Galaxy's Edge
Jason Anspach and Nick Cole's Galaxy's Edge series has been described as "more Star Wars than Star Wars". After reading the first volume, Legionnaire, I wholly agree. Anspach and Cole nailed the feel of being a stormtrooper, if stormtroopers were actually the elite shock troops described by Ben Kenobi in A New Hope, instead of the comically inept mooks who were slaughtered by Ewoks in Return of the Jedi.
The Republic Legionnaires, leejes for short, have the technological resources of the whole galaxy to call upon, and it feels like it. Their gear is both effective [their armor actually works!], and fantastically expensive [because it is both sophisticated and an exercise in pork barrel politics], which makes the Legionnaires fierce and effective fighters, but limits their numbers.
As to the purposes to which all that warfighting capability is turned...that's over their pay grade. Legionnaires are usually happy to do what they are told, which for the most part is kill people and break stuff. However, like many elite units, a Legionnaire's primary loyalty is to the Legion, which in practice is your fellow Legionnaires. Politics are pretty abstract, except and unless it affects the chances of you and your buddies getting dead.
There is a tradition of military sci-fi books from the grunt's point of view going back at least to Heinlein's Starship Troopers, but the books that Legionnaire most closely resembles are Pournelle and Stirling's Falkenberg's Legion series, as well as David Drake's Hammer's Slammers. The hallmarks of these books are realism about the ugly face of war, a love of technological detail about the tools and gear of conflict, and an imitation of the military tactics of a particular era.
For Pournelle and Stirling, that era was 80s and 90s maneuver warfare as practiced by Western militaries. For Anspach and Cole, the model feels like Afghanistan blended with Star Wars and Imperial Rome. And I think they nailed it. I am a fan of this style of fiction in general, but I love how Anspach and Cole were able to riff off of the Star Wars universe, and end up with something that is both familiar and different.
I really, really enjoyed reading Legionnaire, and I'm excited that there is a whole series full of books to follow.