Attack of Shadows: Galaxy's Edge #4
by Jason Anspach and Nick Cole
Kindle Edition, 340 pages
Published September 14th 2017 by Galaxy's Edge
That, was intense.
I keep being surprised by the storytelling of Cole and Anspach. This volume in the Galaxy's Edge series represents only a few hours, yet it is one of the most frenetic things I have ever read. We see the course of a single battle through the eyes of the men and women caught up in it.
Pitched battle is spoken of by its survivors as disjointed and confusing in retrospect. Both an eternity and an instant. The structure of the book recapitulates this in words, switching back and forth between the viewpoints of the combatants on all sides with disconcerting rapidity. Each chapter is grounded by a location and a timestamp. For the most part, the book proceeds in chronological sequence, but the brief intervals between sections serve as a reminder of just how fast everything happened.
When Goth Sullus comes to the shipyards at the Tarrago system, it feels like the Somme, Stalingrad, and Lepanto all at once. This is something of an exaggeration, since the first two were mass conflicts, the nation at war, fought at the pinnacle of state power. War for the Legion, both the Republican forces and Goth Sullus' grimmer copies, is more like the era of heavy cavalry, where the most powerful weapons are wielded only by experts. The loss of life in the battle is astonishing, but the same thing used to happen on the Western Front every day during an offensive.
Since we are allowed to see through the eyes of so many, Attack of Shadows allows us to understand why so many good people would choose to take up arms against the corruption and venality of the Republic. We see their wounded hearts, and share their thoughts, as they seek justice, or vengeance, against their oppressors. On the other hand, we also see the that any revolution will attract its share of psychopaths, malcontents, and adventurers, who just want to watch the world burn.
On the gripping hand, despite its many faults, there are men and women of honor who still fight for the Republic, or perhaps for what they think it should really stand for, instead of what it does. These true sons and daughters of Martha, Captain Thane of the Republic Artillery, Captain Arwen of the Legion, Ensign Fal of the Republic Navy, do their duty despite the odds.
And the odds don't look good. Goth Sullus knows that the Republic is riddled with incompetence, and weakened by self-serving lies. It is easy for him to find recruits in a galaxy characterized by casual betrayal; where money and connections matter more than character or competence. And the Republic clearly deserves everything it is getting, good and hard.
Yet, for all that, I still root for the Republic, or at least for its defenders who retain their integrity. Perhaps I'm not so much pro-Republic as anti-Sullus, whose millenarian cult of personality we see blossoming. I don't yet know what drives Sullus, but I suspect that whatever it is, it has already consumed his humanity long before we ever met him. Most revolutions don't live up to their promises, and I don't have any reason to think that this one will be any different.