In Iron Wolves, we get to see a part of the Legion inhabited by men less high-minded than Cohen Chhun or Subs, the Dark Ops legionnaire from Order of the Centurion. Men on the borderline of control. Men interested in chasing skirts. Men who might have trouble adjusting to civilian life again, if they live that long.
Sergeant Sam Samson [who knows, maybe back on lost Earth, his distant ancestors were from Iceland] can KTF with the best of them, but he gets a little too enthusiastic about it. Since this isn’t exactly what the Legion is looking for in a recruitment holo, Sam has been promoted to Sergeant and busted back down more times than he would probably like to think about. I get the impression that if Sam ever gets out of the Legion alive, he is going to find civilian life bewildering, at best.
Yet, Sam isn’t a heartless monster who’ll coolly [or heatedly] pull the trigger on anyone he is ordered to, or someone who looks at him funny. His problem is a lack of control, not a lack of a conscience. Sam Samson is not a nice guy, but he does at least try to be good, even if he frequently fails. Guys like him can find a place in the military sometimes, which can put that impulsiveness to use in the field. I bet Sam would be a nightmare on barracks duty though.
Going back 95 years to Beau Geste, or alternatively in the more modern They Shall Not Grow Old, men like Sam have been seen as the foundation of the armed forces. Whether in the conscript armies of the early twentieth century, or the volunteer services we have now in the Anglosphere, men like Sam, crass but loyal, with no real home outside of military life, have been the solid core. They provide the cultural continuity that makes an army work.
But to be a Legionnaire in the waning days of the Galactic Republic is to find your loyalty tested. I take Iron Wolves, like all of the Galaxy’s Edge books, to be a reflection on the lived experience of the men who served. In this book, the central question is: how do you know when following orders is not the right thing to do? When it comes down to it, to whom are you truly loyal?
A persistent problem over time with militaries with strong esprit-de-corps is that the men tend to be loyal to each other, and their commanders, far more than their political masters. In the United States, the strong tradition of civilian control of the military is intended to counter precisely this tendency. At Galaxy’s Edge, the points, appointed officers, are likewise intended to subvert this, for the Legion was intended from the beginning to be inward-looking.
An interesting wrinkle is that professional soldiers like Sam often find themselves growing fond of the peoples and places where they are stationed. They can find a home in many ways more welcoming than their own. Thus when the politicians no longer see benefit in these remote places, and cynically withdraw support, it is not just abstract honor that is offended, but a very real love of place and a sense of belonging. The very things that make men fight.
What Sam Samson and the rest of the Iron Wolves do in response to political cynicism is simply what they do best: kill the other guy before he kills you and let the chips fall where they may. This was the first Order of the Centurion book primarily written by someone other than Jason and Nick, and so far I pleased with how their experiment is turning out.
Galaxy’s Edge season 1:
Legionnaire: Galaxy's Edge #1 book review
Galactic Outlaws: Galaxy's Edge #2 book review
Kill Team: Galaxy's Edge #3 book review
Attack of Shadows: Galaxy's Edge #4 book review
Sword of the Legion: Galaxy's Edge #5 Book Review
Tin Man: Galaxy's Edge Book Review
Prisoners of Darkness: Galaxy's Edge #6 Book Review
Imperator: Galaxy's Edge Book Review
Turning Point: Galaxy's Edge #7 Book Review
Message for the Dead: Galaxy's Edge #8 Book Review
Retribution: Galaxy’s Edge #9 Book Review
Tyrus Rechs: Contracts & Terminations:
Requiem for Medusa: Tyrus Rechs: Contracts & Terminations Book 1 Review
Order of the Centurion
Order of the Centurion #1 book review