Top positive review
Enjoyable but unoriginal and predictable prequel
on 18 December 2014
Andromeda's Fall (2012) is the first of a new trilogy from William Dietz that takes place before his Legion of the Damned series.
I rather liked the book, although perhaps not as much as the first ones in the original series, with Legion of the Damned remaining my all-time favourite from this author. The reason for this is simple, subjective, and perhaps also a bit unfair. The first volume had a number of original features. This one, coming in as number nine, has only a few, if any at all. As suggested in the title of this review, it is also quite predictable, unsurprising and, at times, the story may be somewhat hard to believe, meaning that I had to make a (slight) effort to remain engaged, at times.
The unoriginal pieces include the rich-girl – spoiled socialite falling from her pedestal and becoming a hunted fugitive who finds anonymity and asylum of sorts by joining the Legion under an assumed name. I found her single-handed escape exciting, although also rather hard to believe coming from someone that nothing had prepared for such a traumatising shift.
The reason for this is a rather bloody coup that begins with the Emperor’s assassination and his replacement with his over-ambitious, tyrannical and paranoid sister. The coup itself is rather well-told. So are some of its sequels such as the night raid of the mansion of the Carlettos. The Empress’ ruthless purge of just about anyone formally associated with her brother, is harder to believe with some three thousand influential people needing to be assassinated on numerous planets across the far flung Empire through various “accidents”.
The Foreign Legion pieces are perhaps the less original of all, even the action is still enjoyable. The enlisting, basic training cum bullying and first posting are of the kind you can find in numerous half-decent military science fiction books. The Legion’s cyborgs, here T1s (for Trooper 1) are mostly accessory to the story although they are included because our heroin happens to join the 1er REC (a cavalry regiment with the cyborgs being both the vehicles and autonomous armoured combatants in their own right.
Our heroin’s conduct under fire will, of course, be hugely heroic, because her actions happen to succeed although in reality they are quite foolhardy. This, of course, leads to battlefield promotions, especially given the huge – and somewhat incredible - casualty rates that the Legion forces seem to suffer in most engagements. This, however, is interspersed with actions that any organised armed forces would find perfectly unacceptable and unforgiveable, including an attempted desertion. Finally, the somewhat unavoidable piece of romance felt a bit contrived and also hard to believe.
If you are, as another reviewer put it, looking for something to “pass an afternoon on the sofa”, want to read an uncomplicated “shoot’em up” book and happen to like military science fiction, then this one will do the trick. It is not among the very best I have read, not even among this author’s best, but it is good enough and you might enjoy reading it for a few hours, as long as you do not start thinking too much about it. Four stars, mainly because I did liked it and it definitely served its purpose, despite all its limitations.