Homefall by Chris Bunch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Homefall was a great book and I am sad to have finished it because, since it was the fourth and final book in the Last Legion series, and a really great series that I have seriously enjoyed is now over. It’s a real pity. This book was quite different from the three preceding it in that the Legion is no longer having to defend Cumbre from attackers and rebels. Instead, Garvin and Njangu and the rest decide to finally go looking for the Confederation, the giant mystery hanging around the neck of each book. They’re part of the Confederation’s military machine, sent to Cumbre for duty, when all contact with the Confederation ended and no one has heard from or of it for a decade. No one knows what has happened. It seems to have literally disintegrated. Garvin decides to get a group together and disguise themselves as a circus troop going from system to system until they finally reach the home system of Centrum, hoping to find out the cause of the mystery and, if the Confederation is indeed dead, perhaps to jump start it back to life. Why a circus? Garvin comes from a long line of circus performers and in a dangerous universe, what better way to travel than as nonthreatening entertainers?
They get a massive ship, load it with a zillion weapons and a number of specialized fighters, about 150 soldiers, and then they go to a real circus planet to hire real circus people and animals. Which they do. And they practice. And then they hit the road, er skies. And the shit hits the fan. Every world the come to is freaking insane! Everyone tries to kill each other and kill them. There are insane plots, treacheries, dictators, paramilitary groups and private armies, with everyone enjoying watching the circus perform until they realize they can either make use of them and their equipment, etc., or until they realize they just want to kill them. In either case, the Legion comes under attack, has to fight back, and escapes, usually just barely. There’s one system that’s particularly evil and insane and I wasn’t sure at all how they were going to escape that particular trap. But they did. And found the home system. And what they found was not what they hoped for.
Since the first three books were about their wars with the rebels, the aliens, and their planetary neighbors and since they no longer had any enemies nearby, I thought this would be more of a political book, but I was wrong. This book was about the journey and it was all intrigue and action. Serious tension too. Very well written, great plot. My only complaint is the ending. The final chapter is a mere two pages, with them arriving back home and splitting up, going their separate ways. I was a little shocked, because there had been romances and relationships, bonds that were established, futures to be groomed, and it was all shot to hell in two pages. No one rode off into the sunset with the girl. Hell, the two best buds didn’t even end up going off together to do their own thing. Even they split up and went their separate ways, in the space of a few paragraphs, and that seemed really unlike their characters. Really unbelievable. I found the final chapter really hard to swallow and thought about downgrading the rating a star, but I enjoyed the book and the series so much overall, that I’m still giving it five stars. This book, unlike the previous two, could possibly be read as a stand alone book, but I would start with the first one and read the series in order. I think readers would get much more out of that. Best series ever? No. Really damn good? Damn straight! Definitely recommended.