Charles's Reviews > Legionnaire

Legionnaire by Jason Anspach
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it was ok

Tense...and Xenophobic, Racist, Classist, Sexist, and Jingoistic

As a military tale, Legionnaire is old school. The sci-fi equivalent of a 1950s war film, the pacing and action relentless. The characters, standard archetypes differentiated by class, separated into two primary groups. Those the main character and his men consider to be real soldiers, the Legionnaires, and those who are not, which is everyone else. Trial by combat will judge who is worthy of the respect of the main character, a Legionnaire through and through.

There are hints early on that authors Jason Anspach and Nick Cole understand their story is populated by bigots, including their lead character. Foreshadowing a character arc in which he will confront his own very human prejudices. Anspach and Cole have no interest in that journey, as the introduction of the lone female character given anything to do, and an overly long epilogue, will definitively confirm.

This is a somber view of hyper masculinity as an admirable trait. A screed about the idiots in government prioritizing quick economic gain over the lives of good men. Good men sent to far away lands to die by the hands of an uncivilized, duplicitous other.

What's most disturbing is that Anspach and Cole are too damn good at pulling readers into the fray. We just don't want the Legionnaries to get the hell off of Kublar, we want them to kill as many Koobs as possible. Remove the sci-fi trappings, Kublar is Iraq. Afghanistan. Any place that is predominantly populated by brown and black peoples, and is in perpetual turmoil when viewed through a militarized and Western lens.

I wish I could give this more of a recommendation.

The battles in military sci-fi is often the descriptive slog one has to power through, if not outright skim, to get to the book's end. Hopefully, picking up on the information that is relevant to the plot and has impact on the characters along the way. Spatial relationships are near impossible to discern. The battles are repetitive, padding out the page count. Regardless of outcome, previous battles don't shape the ones that follow.

Anspach and Cole know how to build tension, sustain it, and not undercut it. Their action is clear. You know where characters are, what they are doing, and how their decisions influence the direction of the battle. And Each battle is distinct from the last. As the locations change--as the characters learn new information--so do the tactics. While the characters who aren't fleshed out, you know who is who, and you develop a vague sense of they are. It's enough to make every death sting, even if you immediately forget the name of the man who just died.

It is doubtful I could move on to the next book without feeling complicit in supporting an unquestioning view of the military. As a mundane, thankless job real men aren't afraid to do, cowards avoid, and the powerful elite exploit for their own ends. And a tacit thesis that militarized violence can be justified when the other is different in custom and language, strange in appearance, and a killable, disposable enemy based on nothing more than the word of a faceless authority.
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Reading Progress

September 2, 2017 – Started Reading
September 2, 2017 – Shelved
September 9, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-11 of 11 (11 new)

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message 1: by Sadie (new)

Sadie Forsythe Great review.

Steelwhisper Nailed it.

message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

Nothing more than limp wristed SJW virtue signaling. Just keep walking. There are better, more relevant reviews to be seen.

Kapi Spot on review

message 5: by Julius (new)

Julius You had me at the tagline

A.R. Holloway With regards to the politics, I think you are purposefully looking and reading and reviewing this book through your own personal lens. Reviewing and rating books based on YOUR politics, or the political back drop that surrounds the fantastic worlds that authors create is as ivory tower arrogant as you can get. Blaming the authors for your projection is ridiculous.

I've read the entire series, and honestly if you where this bothered by the first? You should DEFINITELY not read on. But, if you can act like an adult and a real critic of the genre and you can read something from a perspective that is different from your own without shading the entire series with your personal politics, its a great read!

First thing you need to do is know ANYTHING about the genre of Military Sci Fi. If you did then you would know that this is actually rather tame on the conservative (read libertarian classical liberal) perspectives in the story. This series is actually ANTI-needless political war, but pro-warrior / soldier just like most successful military sci fi. I find it amusing to the umpteenth degree that much of what you criticized the book about, the book actually addresses directly as negative, and typically agrees with you on, even if not for the reasons you hold that view.

Just because the book doesn't portray a Mary Sue cast of perfectly liberal characters that hold your exact and perfect views on every political issue you seem incapable of empathizing with them as people. Which, if I may be so blunt, is at least part of the underlying problem with your review.

Lets look at the stances that the author/ the main characters in the book hold on the issues you raised okay?

Political / economic wars of conquest? Looked down on from the perspective of the soldier as they see, and we as the readers see otherwise really good Leeges and men/women get killed over purely political wars on Kublar.

Overly hyped masculinity? A tool used by the men and women in the Leeg (mainly men, because lets face it men are inherently biologically driven to be more violent and protective, though there is a cast of more then a couple of female leads as the story progresses), to hide from the horrors they are forced to confront due to the terrible decisions of both greedy politicians, and politically appointed officers (or POINTS).

Xenophobia? Well, if you bothered to read the next book, and as these are rather short reads meant to be read back to back, I find it strange you refuse to read on in order to be able to provide a proper review, you would find a whole cast of alien and human characters both good and evil that run the gambit. Even the "Islam" analogue in the story, though portrayed from the perspective of the soldier as savage, is acknowledged to have once had a wonderful civilization that sadly was destroyed and now those peoples ancestors live in barbarity... its a useful analogue for much of the middle east actually... but you know what? Sure, I'll give you that. Do you remember who we are following? Leeges.

Soldiers who are fighting and dieing against suicide, and murderous tactics that are ultimately self defeating on the part of that race (a real world perspective of US Soldiers that should and needs to be explored). So what? Characters can't have flaws? Perhaps this is a flaw in the soldiers that the authors are writing in (the authors specifically say that it is in... i think its the third book? During a bit of an exposition dump about the Jee race), did you think of that? I doubt it. Because you where to focused on your politics to read and really understand what you where reading.

Most of your hyper emotional knee jerk political sckreed against this book is both addressed, and for the most part agreed with by the authors (who are both typically libertarian in their political views, most military sci fi authors are). This entire exercise by you is both as pointless as it is lacking in skill.

Charles Thank you for your response Aaron. Your points are well taken.

Steelwhisper Charles wrote: "Thank you for your response Aaron. Your points are well taken."


message 9: by Sadie (new)

Sadie Forsythe Aaron has been a member since 2017 and has rated 1 book. I think Aaron is a sock puppet for or of the author, just saying. No doubt I'm not the only one to think it, but I'm saying it. (And yes, I do expect a ranting response.)

Steelwhisper Sadie wrote: "Aaron has been a member since 2017 and has rated 1 book. I think Aaron is a sock puppet for or of the author, just saying. No doubt I'm not the only one to think it, but I'm saying it. (And yes, I ..."

That's why I giggled... ;)

Charles Sadie & Steelwhisper: 🤗

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