That’s No Moon That’s Waiting There
Endurance (Legend of the Galactic Heroes, volume 3)
By Yoshiki Tanaka
1984’s Endurance is the third volume in Yoshiki Tanaka’s MilSpaceOpera manga series, Legend of the Galactic Heroes. The 2016 English language edition was translated by Daniel Huddleston.
Two civil wars have ended; both the Galactic Empire and its deadly enemy, the Free Planets Alliance, are at peace. Reinhard uses the respite to consolidate his control over the Empire, becoming Emperor in all but formal title.
The FPA uses peace for an entirely different purpose.
One faction inside the FPA power structure is bent on punishing Yang, the military genius who ended the civil war and saved the FPA from the Empire (again and again). The stated reasons for their offensive are vague … perhaps because nobody wants to say “his competence makes the rest of us look bad by comparison” out loud. It’s a situation that Yi Sun-sin would find all too familiar.
Yang is subjected to a trial of dubious legality, carried out according to nebulous rules, for a purpose that cannot be in the Free Planets’ best interest. It’s an immense waste of everyone’s time. It also distracts the FPA government from the still looming threat from the Empire.
The Empire is determined to conquer the FPA’s Iserlohn Fortress. So far the Empire has relied on brute force in their attempts to retake or destroy the moon-sized facility; so far brute force has failed.
But the Empire will not let mere facts derail their cunning plan. After all, the plan was proposed by the Empire’s aristocrats, who can never be wrong. Or at least publicly admitted to be so. The solution: a bigger hammer. A much bigger hammer. A forty trillion ton hammer that will to reduce Iserlohn to rubble. Or so it is hoped.
Time for Yang to save the day again! Or it would be if if the senseless trial had not detained him so far from Iserlohn.
There is a cast of characters, which contains a huge spoiler for Ambition, the previous book in the series. Do not look at the cast list unless you have read Ambition.
I understand why Tanaka set things up the way he did, but it’s a weird galaxy that contains only three nations. It’s more like a board game than anything one might see in the historical record. It’s not the most unrealistic aspect of his galaxy — this is a Milky Way that seems odd two dimensional, given Iserlohn’s ability to block traffic — but it is pretty odd.
How the game might develop: to some extent, the FPA’s mistakes can be blamed on the crafty manipulators of Phezzan, whom I’ve largely ignored in my reviews. I find international conspiracies of religiously inspired financiers more than a little problematic. But the FPA’s repeated own-goals are also due to a war-stressed government sliding towards oligarchy, an oligarchy that can be just as ossified and stupid as the Empire’s aristocracy. The Empire, in contrast, is being reinvented by Reinhard. He is pushing his system towards limited democracy, mobilizing commoners to limit the power of the aristocrats.
This sets up the possibility that the corrupt oligarchs of the FPA may ally themselves with the anti-Reinhard conservative faction within the Empire. Will they? I will have to track down the fourth book to find out.
Endurance is available here (Amazon) and here (Chapters-Indigo).
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(20 minutes this time)
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