First published under the title Ginga Eiyu Densetsu volume 5, 1984’s Mobilization is the fifth volume in Yoshiki Tanaka’s Legend of the Galactic Heroes1. Tyran Grillo’s translation was published by Haikasoru in 2017.
Reinhard von Lohengramm has conquered the Phezzan Dominion for the Galactic Empire, which puts him one step closer to unifying all of humanity’s worlds under one Emperor. Currently, that Emperor is an Empress: young Katharin Katchen I. As soon as it suits his purposes, von Lohengramm will replace her with von Lohengramm.
There’s only one catch.
The only independent power left is the Free Planets Alliance. On paper, the fall of Phezzan has left the Alliance in a poor defensive situation. In reality, the Alliance boasts the services of Yang Wen-li. While one military genius may seem like a slender reed on which to base their hopes, Yang has a long history of out-thinking the Empire.
Handed yet another dismal military challenge, Yang has to admit that numbers and deployment favour the Empire. The Alliance’s days seem numbered. And yet, so much of the Empire’s success is thanks to von Lohengramm’s military insight. The solution seems straightforward to Yang: entice von Lohengramm into open combat and kill him.
Yang understands how difficult his plan will be. What he does not fully appreciate is that his worst enemies may not be von Lohengramm and the Imperial forces, but rather the leaders of the Alliance.…
Lamentably, the prose in this instalment is distractingly wooden. Stock phrases are repeated over and over. For example, supporting character Oskar von Reuentahl’s heterochromatic eyes seem to be mentioned any time he is. I am used to a certain level of stilted phrasing in translated fiction, but at times this volume approached David Weber levels of wooden prose.
The events of the novel do provide the two antagonists a rare opportunity to meet face to face. Previous encounters have been in the context of open battle in deep space. Exploding thermonuclear weapons make a poor accompaniment to conversation. Von Lohengramm’s attempt to sell Yang on the merits of autocracy under a paragon such as himself fall on deaf ears. Yang retorts:
The crime of autocracy is that the people can displace the evils of their government to someone else. Compared to the enormity of that sin, the good deeds of a hundred wise rulers2 are insignificant.
Readers may find the sudden resolution of this instalment disappointing, but it does not come out of left field. It is rooted in the abundant flaws of the Alliance government. Think of it less as a monumental defeat for poor Yang (and a complete waste of the lives lost trying to trap von Lohengramm) but rather the Alliance government providing Yang with an opportunity for further brilliance. We can confidently expect that Yang will outfox his enemies and defeat von Lohengramm — again. After all, the series is only half over.
1: My review of Dawn can be found here.
My review of Ambition can be found here.
My review of Endurance can be found here.
My review of Stratagem can be found here.
2: Of course, the Empire has never had a hundred wise rulers. In its nearly 500 years, the Goldenbaum dynasty has had just thirty-eight emperors. Very few of them could be deemed anything like wise.