Monday, October 9, 2017

Book review: The Bastard Legion by Gavin Smith


Title: The Bastard Legion
Author: Gavin Smith
Release date: 5th October 2017
Publisher: Gollancz 
Genre: Science Fiction 
Series: The Bastard Legion #1
Source: Review copy from the publisher

Description: Four hundred years in the future, the most dangerous criminals are kept in suspended animation aboard prison ships and "rehabilitated" in a shared virtual reality environment. But Miska Corbin, a thief and hacker with a background in black ops, has stolen one of these ships, the Hangman's Daughter, and made it her own. Controlled by explosive collars and trained in virtual reality by the electronic ghost of a dead marine sergeant, the thieves, gangsters, murderers, and worse are transformed into Miska's own private indentured army: the Bastard Legion. Are the mercenaries just for fun and profit, or does Miska have a hidden purpose connected to her covert past?

My thoughts: I loved the concept of the book as soon as I heard it, and since I'd heard good things about Gavin Smith's writing, I thought it would be a good book to start with. The story starts as Miska is about to take a small group of the prisoners she has been trying up onto an asteroid to take back control of it from a rebel group. It quickly becomes apparent when they arrive that Miska has not been given the full story about the rebels, their capabilities, and any reasons they might have to rebell. The bulk of the story focuses on the campaign to take over the asteroid, with occasional flashbacks to Miska's past: partly as she was securing the job and beginning to train the prisoners and partly looking at the events that led her to steal the prison ship in the first place and the bigger reasons for her taking it.

There aren't too many scientific terms or explanations in the book, but there are a lot of sci-fi weapons, equipment and body modifications. The fights between Miska's team and the rebels, and a few other people, are described in great detail. Personally I didn't need to know the names of each weapon being used at any time, but as Miska has been a marine, I think it makes sense that she (as the narrator) would call things by their proper names, so I adjusted to it after a while.

I liked the characters, particularly Miska who we get to know best. Some of the others are very intriguing as well, and I'll be interested to see how they develop over the trilogy and to learn more about their backgrounds. Overall I enjoyed the book - it's a fun read with a lot of mouthy mercenaries and vivid gunfights, as well as some interesting imaginings of technology and society in the future. I'm giving The Bastard Legion  by Gavin Smith 7/10. And I'm glad to hear that book 2 is also out this month, on ebook! 

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