Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Endurance

By Yoshiki Tanaka. Released in Japan as “Ginga Eiyū Densetsu” by Tokuma Shoten. Released in North America by Haikasoru. Translated by Daniel Huddleston.

When we last checked in with this epic space opera, I was saying that this book would show us which direction the series was going to go, and I’m not sure that ended up being the case. Don’t get me wrong, this is an excellent book, with great battles and character examination, but at the end of 300-odd pages I am left with the feeling that not much has changed since we started. Except there are a lot more soldiers dead. Because above all else, Legend of the Galactic Heroes wants to tell us about the folly of war, specifically war for the sake of war. And it does this quite well, whether it be via Yang Wen-li having a long inner monologue about what history has taught us about the military or an evacuation order leading to the deaths of hundreds as panicking soldiers kill other panicking soldiers in their efforts to flee a doomed Death Star.


Of course, it’s not called a Death Star in the book, but a giant circular battle station that functions as a planetoid for its inhabitants is going to make one think of Star Wars, especially as Japan released this volume in 1984, when that sort of thing was at its height. The plot that kicks off this volume is an ambitious technical general coming up with the idea of building a 2nd Death Star, warping it into position, and then fighting it out with Iserlohn, the old one currently occupied by Yang and his Republic forces. It’s an all-or-nothing plan, and normally Siegfried would be around to try to talk Reinhard into being more sensible. But Siegfried is dead, and while Reinhard is trying to do his best to imagine what the young man would recommend to him (we see this later when he spares the life of another young general), he’s still not very good at it, and spends most of the book unemotionally doing his job and closing himself off from most human contact.

Reinhard and Yang are usually compared and contrasted, and Yang also spends a good deal of this book cut off from his allies. Not by his own design, though, as the Republic have called him in for “a court of inquiry”, which is different from a court martial in that they don’t have to tell anyone or have any actual charges. In point of fact, they imprison Yang for weeks because they just don’t like him, and it drives everyone to distraction – especially the people back on Iserlohn, who are now forced to fight for over a month against the enemy without their tactical genius. The book does especially well in paralleling the Empire and Republic, Reinhard and Yang this time around. They both have corrupt glory hounds, they both assume that people who hold respect and are held in high regard will want absolute power (after all, it’s what they would do). And they both have beautiful young secretaries who have designs on them, though Yang is a little ahead here – he and Frederica are more like awkward teenagers, whereas Hildegarde is having difficulty getting Reinhard to even admit emotion exists after Siegfried’s death.

This was great fun to read, but again, after the whole book we’re mostly in the same place we were. We do learn a lot more about Phezzan, though, which has designs in trying to eliminate one side and prop the other up – as puppets for their economic tyranny. Oh yes, and there’s still the Church. I suspect the next book will have a lot more politics to it. And we get a next book, as Haikasoru have picked up the next three in the series. Great news.

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