Pros: Interesting characters and world; engrossing plot
Cons: Lack of chemistry in a pairing
Rating: 4 out of 5
Catherine Carletto is a wealthy socialite, and her family has close ties to the Emperor. When the Emperor’s sister, Ophelia, decides to stage a violent coup, she sets some of her people to finding and killing anyone who supported her brother. Cat’s uncle gets word to her just in time, and she manages to evade her pursuers. She does the only thing she can think of to disappear: she enlists in the Legion. The Legion is filled with people who want to escape their previous lives, so no one asks questions or probes too deeply. And besides, Cat wants to learn how to kill people so one day she might kill Ophelia.
As Andromeda McKee, Cat soon gets sent into combat. She’s a loner, but manages to make an unlikely friend out of one of her comrades, Larkin. Her superiors are impressed with her drive and common sense and she rises through the non-com ranks faster than she could have expected. Soon she’s responsible for more lives than her own, and she’s forced to make some tough choices. The Legion works side-by-side with the Empress’s troops, and when they take a family captive simply because the family supported the Emperor, Andromeda recognizes a friend from her school years. She’ll have to decide whose side to take and how to take it.
William C. Dietz’s Andromeda’s Fall (Legion of the Damned) is a very enjoyable military SF novel. The fact that the Legion knowingly harbors fugitives and criminals provides a decent excuse for how, in a tech-oriented future, someone might be able to hide in plain sight. Andromeda’s drive and focus get her through her training as a recruit, but I love that she isn’t perfect at everything. Larkin is an unexpectedly fantastic character–he has a surprising amount of depth to him, and I like that his ultimate loyalty to Andromeda has no hint of sexual attraction or romantic interest.
I enjoyed the action in Andromeda’s Fall–it kept me absorbed in the book, and I stayed up a bit late to finish reading the book (something that doesn’t happen often as I get older and need more sleep). There’s plenty going on, roping in the natives of the planet the Legion is on into the mix, as well as another race that would like to wipe humans out. One of the few things that confused me a bit was the use of “T-1” … sort of power-armor, kinda, except that they have personalities and human operators are harnessed to their backs. I couldn’t let go of the feeling that this arrangement seemed less than optimal.
The only other thing that bugged me was a romantic relationship that eventually emerged. I didn’t feel any chemistry between Andromeda and her paramour, so the last-minute addition of this plot felt jarring and out-of-place. Other than that, however, I loved this book and look forward to reading its follow-on!