The Legend of Galactic Heroes is a… well, legendary anime series. What far fewer people have experienced is the novels upon which it is based. I’m probably something of an outlier here–having only read some of the books while not having seen the anime. I wanted to write about the series of novels to encourage others to read them.
Volume 3: Endurance
Endurance marks a shift in the overarching story of Legend of the Galactic Heroes. Yes, the focus remains on the conflict between the Galactic Empire and the Free Planets Alliance, but the Phezzan Dominion grows in import and the major main characters of the first two books have lesser roles here.
Yang Wen-Li spends much of the book being summoned to face an inquest and fighting politics, which leads to a number of satisfying scenes when the politicos realize they’ve done messed up. Meanwhile, Reinhard is largely aloof throughout the novel, making major decisions on what gets done while staying out of most of the action himself. Side characters get more time to shine, like Yang’s protégé Julian Mintz’s exploits in fighter combat.
The big set piece here, though, is a massive scale battle between Iserlohn fortress and a fortress brought into place to try to destroy it. The battle takes up a large portion of the book, in between other scenes, as it starts with a standoff, ramps up into mutually assured destruction, and evolves from there. Tanaka takes the massive scale of the combat and makes it believable for this anime-like scenario he’s developed. The obscene size of the forces involved are so over-the-top that it could become simply comical, but Tanaka navigates that deftly by taking it all seriously enough that readers are forced to decide to either take it seriously themselves or move on.
The series continues to feature women very little. When they do appear, they’re as aides or other minor roles. It’s perhaps the largest strike against the series. The translation in this volume also seems a bit smoother than Volume 1 especially.
Endurance is another great entry in Legend of the Galactic Heroes. It gives us more time to focus on some other characters, introduces more facets of the conflict, and delivers epic space battles.
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