Review: Legend of the Galactic Heroes Volume 9: Upheaval By Yoshiki Tanaka

translated by Matt Treyvaud


July 16, 2019

224 pages

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* here be spoilers

Aaaaand I still can’t believe that Yang Wen-li is dead.

But moving on. Volume 9 picks up with Julian Mintz and his small community on Iserlohn also trying to move forward and establish their position in relation to the vastly larger Galactic Empire, still headed by Reinhard von Lohengramm. Julian gets through each day by asking himself first “What Would Yang Do?” and then “what would Yang want me to do?” and he seems to be making some good, rational decisions, so so far so good.

Meanwhile, all of these admirals and vice admirals and marshals and whatnot (and especially Reinhard) over on the Galactic Empire’s side are just itching to do some fighting, any fighting, to dispel what they see as the boredom of peace. Everything’s cool for a while, though, until the dastardly Church of Terra worms its way into an Empire stronghold and makes it look like one of Reinhard’s top men is trying to assassinate the emperor and take power for himself. Of course, we know that Oskar von Reuentahl (he of the heterochromatic eyes) would never do such a thing, but von Reuentahl has a big ego and can’t bring himself to go before Reinhard and beg for mercy and whine that someone set him up. So what can he do, you ask? Well, take the conflict to its logical conclusion! So yes, von Reuentahl takes a bunch of ships and men and sets out to face down the emperor, only to find that his best friend, Wolfgang Mittermeier, has convinced the emperor that Mittermeier needs to do the job himself. And in a dicey bit of political maneuvering during the battle, Julian decides to let the Galactic Empire ships pass by Iserlohn without shooting them down, which proves to be a wise decision.

After the smoke clears, von Reuentahl is mortally wounded and dies very very slowly, saving his last bit of energy to shoot the low-down-dirty Job Trunicht. Oh, and just before he dies, von Reuentahl finds out that he has a son, a son who is quickly adopted by Mittermeier and his wife.

And did I mention that Reinhard, the golden-haired ruler of an empire and leader of billions, finally and fumblingly asks Hildegard von Mariendorf to marry him? She’s all like “ummmmmm” and he’s like “you think about it” and she’s finally like “yeah, let’s do this thing.” Oh, and she’s pregnant with his child, the heir to the empire, so there’s that.

As always, my favorite part of the novel is not necessarily the plot but how Tanaka discusses how historians discuss the events recounted above. We get diary entries, snippets of “histories,” and more, all commented on by the narrator, who is apparently writing a historiography that we read as fiction called Legend of the Galactic Heroes. Let you brain chew on that for a minute.

One more volume to go! It’s been a long, enjoyable journey with Yoshiki Tanaka, and I’m planning to write a big thing about the entire series after I review Volume 10, so stay tuned!

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