Legend of the Galactic Heroes Volume 1: Dawn Review

An Amazon reviewer once described Legend of the Galactic Heroes as “like a well-written history book” and I think that’s one of the best comparisons anyone could make.

Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Dawn opens with a prologue that summarizes over 500 years of human history in the span of less than 20 pages. It wastes no time on conversations and character-building, nor on fancy prose and wistful remembrance. It delivers the facts to you in a straightforward manner, and does not waste time on what is “unnecessary” for the lesson it is attempting to impart on you. The audience is made aware of the development of humanity in space, the rise of Rudolf Von Goldenbaum and the Galactic Empire, and the establishment of a rebellion in the form of the Free Planets Alliance.

Then the real story begins.

As much as Legend of the Galactic Heroes is about a macrocosmic conflict between two major nations in space, is also about a microcosmic conflict between two men. Reinhard Von Lohengramm of the Imperial Navy is an ambitious and capable young officer, who holds within his heart a hatred for the Galactic Empire and the Goldenbaum Dynasty. A tactical genius and resourceful officer in just about every way, Reinhard intends to rise the ranks of the Imperial Navy and take control of the Galactic Empire. He is convinced that none within the Free Planets Alliance or the Empire could stand in his way.

Yang Wen-Li, of the Free Planets Alliance, would much rather sleep than wage war. A quiet and unassuming man, his passions are military history and brandy. Yet through a cruel twist of fate, he has found himself enlisted into military service and indebted to the state for the cost of his education. A minor officer on the flagship Patroklos, Yang is somebody who nobody would give the time of day or even a second glance.

Except Yang happens to be one of the best tactical geniuses in the Free Planets Alliance.

After Yang stops the destruction of his fleet by Reinhard and forces him into a withdrawal, he finds himself flung into increasingly ridiculous and impossible scenarios. Managing his way to victory time and time again, Yang develops a reputation as a miracle worker and rises through the ranks. At the same time, Reinhard Von Lohengramm becomes more and more aware of how much of a threat Yang presents him. In this way, the most unambitious and lazy commander in the Free Planets Alliance becomes the target of one of the most powerful men in the galaxy.

The first entry in Yoshiki Tanaka’s epic space opera, Dawn does a fantastic job of introducing readers to the world and characters of Legend of the Galactic Heroes. Information is delivered in a straightforward manner and with a dry wit that is not unlike a lecture from a particularly engaging professor. The comparison to a good history book is apt, as the series draws heavily from both military and political history for its stories and characters.

Daniel Huddleston’s localization is fantastic, and really conveys the sarcasm and dry wit of the book perfectly. Localizing books can be a more difficult proposition than localizing other forms of media, but Huddleston and Haika Soru have knocked it out of the park with Dawn.

If you are at all interested in sci-fi and space operas, I cannot recommend Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Dawn highly enough.

Legend of the Galactic Heroes can be bought from Amazon or other book retailers in physical, digital, and audiobook versions.

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