No One Ever Died From Wanting Too Much
Ambition (Legend of the Galactic Heroes, volume 2)
By Yoshiki Tanaka
Ambition is the second volume in Yoshi Tanaka’s Legends of the Galactic Heroes space opera series. It was translated into English by Daniel Huddleston.
Kaiser Friedrich IV is dead! Long live the new Kaiser! As soon as the warring factions within the Empire settle just who that new Kaiser will be!
Reinhard von Lohengramm favours Erwin Josef, and Imperial law is on his side. Ambitious arch-conservatives Baron Otto von Braunschweig and Marquis Wilhelm von Littenheim, both married to daughters of the late emperor, both keen to be imperial regents, favour their own daughters. For now, the pair are willing to ally long enough to deal with Erwin Josef and his upstart supporter.
Reinhard does not support Emperor Erwin Josef II merely because he is the late Friedrich’s legitimate heir. Erwin Josef is only five, a perfect playing piece in Reinhard’s long game. Friedrich’s death may have freed Reinhard’s sister from concubinage but Reinhard’s grudge again the Goldenbaum Dynasty is in no sense abated. Reinhard will ensure Friedrich’s dynasty soon follows into the grave.
Civil war will leave the Empire terribly vulnerable to incursions from its rival, the Free Planets Alliance. The Alliance must somehow be distracted and what better distraction than a civil war of its own. Reinhard’s great rival Yang Wen-li suspects what Reinhard’s next move against the Alliance must be but even Wen-li is unable to prevent Reinhard’s gambit from destabilizing the Alliance. All Wen-li can do is try to put the pieces back together.
Tanaka has dialed back the wodges of exposition in this, although he’s still pretty comfortable with simply telling the reader what Tanaka feels they need to know. I expect fans of old timey space opera won’t mind, nor will they mind the appearance of nigh-unstoppable giants armed with space-axes.
Wen-li might do better against Reinhard if Wen-li were not so essentially reactive. He’s hobbled by his philosophical outlook; being painfully aware of all the suffering his actions cause, he has to be forced by circumstance to take any action at all. Too bad his context did not allow Wen-li to be the obscure, tea-drinking scholar he wanted to be. As it is, I do not see a path to victory for Wen-li. Not one he would be willing to take.
Reinhard in contrast is a born instigator and as a result he is well on the way to collecting all the tokens. All it’s going to cost him is everyone he cares about. And his soul. That’s not so high a price to ask, is it?
This is not exactly a subtle series but it is as addictive as popcorn. The only possible way it could be more addictive is if there was a musical version, which, ha ha, it turns out there was. Sadly not of the whole story — yet.
Ambition is available here (Amazon) and here (Chapter-Indigo).
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