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Science Fiction Fantasy Blog

Our discussion of Legend of the Galactic Heroes, Vol. 1: Dawn

This Japanese SF saga contains multiple books and has been made into anime, manga and film. So far, only three volumes are available in the US. Dawn, the first book in the series, was originally published in 1982.

“The Golden Brat” Reinhard von Lohengramm, a military prodigy and admiral of the Galactic Empire, has ambitions beyond protecting the borders or even defeating the Empire’s enemies. He seeks to overthrow the old order and become a truly absolute—yet benevolent—dictator. His rival, the humble Yang Wen-li of the Free Planets Alliance, wishes to preserve democracy even if he must sacrifice his political ideals to defeat the Empire. Their political and military battles play out over a galactic chessboard in an epic saga fifteen centuries in the making! – Goodreads

Below is a sampling of our comments:

  • The author was very focused on body type and physical descriptions which makes sense as this was turned into anime.
  • I really like how there are no “bad” or “good” sides, just good and bad people on all sides.
  • The translation was not the best and was jarring at times – formal language and then “gonna” was thrown in.
  • Sometimes the German words that were used were not accurate. Plus, instead of dukes and marquises, shouldn’t there have been a Kaiser?
  • The history in the beginning and the list of minor, never to be heard from, characters in each chapter was unnecessary.
  • The book reminded me of The Lost Fleet by Campbell – both Yang and that captain found new and better ways to do things.
  • The battles were hard to follow – it was a little like reading a description of a football game.
  • These were land battles in space, not sea battles in space.
  • The economic and political issues were timely even though the book was written 35 years ago – everything can be applied to today. The arguments for invading for “freedom” were a little too real.
  • It was strange how the author switched from scenes with the Alliance to scenes with the Empire paragraph to paragraph, with no warning.
  • The Rebel Alliance vs. the Empire was very Star Wars.
  • Yang was a good hero – he was the only one with common sense in the Alliance.
  • The sense of scale was more realistic than we usually see - thousands of ships with millions of crew on each side.
  • It was disturbing that the millions of crew members were just cannon fodder and we never got to know any of them – we really only got to know 3-4 characters.
  • Female characters were completely underrepresented. It was not great that the female “sub-lieutenant” existed only to bring Yang food and drinks.
  • This is what would happen if Ayn Rand wrote a space opera!
  • The author did a good job of leaving most mentions of technology out – the elite loved to have humans do tasks for them instead of using robots as a sign of wealth. Because of this, the book isn’t as dated as it would be if it had introduced a lot of technology.
  • The book seemed to dip into satire when Commander Fork fainted and the doctor said the only thing that would help him was if everyone did whatever Fork wanted…
  • What was up with sinister Earth suddenly becoming a player at the end?

Please add any additional thoughts or comments you may have about Legend of the Galactic Heroes, Volume 1: Dawn. We gave this title the codes MIL, SOP, POL, & ETH with an average rating of 3.

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