The Bastard Legion is an action-packed thrill-ride into space warfare. Gavin Smith stays in the very top tier of science fiction writers with his future mercenaries. When I first saw the back of the book, I thought this military science fiction sounds like Suicide Squad. And I was right - it even has a science fiction Australian guy with a killer boomerang. The next question: is this space opera more like the mess of the movie or the well-crafted graphic novels?
The answer is dramatically the latter. This is a wonderful addition to Smith's amazing fiction of imaginary wars and battles. When this book introduces the characters and violent tone it was just OK, but it quickly gets more interesting. I did not see many of the plot twists or developments coming. This book has a takes-no-prisoners heroine, some awesome battles, and a mysterious backstory. There is also fantastic characters, non-cheesy humor, and some realistic dialog. We also get slick technology and most important lots of room for an ongoing series for our special forces.
Miska is well-developed, has complex motivations and is deeper than she first seems. Two characters I loved are the Australian Aboriginal descendant Nyukuti and the mass-murderer Ultra. Other cast members show up in the intricately-plotted storyline and range from complex to cannon-fodder. What makes Gavin Smith stand out is his surefooted, quality writing about these thieves. This series about space-flight seems designed to bring his work more fans.
Once every few chapters are descriptive flashback chapters, which can make things confusing. The flashbacks usually break the flow up for me a bit because they occur right when the action is building up. One jarring example is when Miska shows how she made the Artificial Intelligence Sergeant in the past when people were dying in the present. Other than that this was a quite good read and I can't wait to read more about our former convicts gone mercenaries.