The Lazarus War: Origins – A Retrospective

I haven’t written about the same series twice before. I like to write about them once they are completed, so that I can come at the review and analysis with the full picture and a resolved plot. It is definitely a neater way to do it so I’ve tried to maintain that. This becomes a problem with a series, especially an ongoing one, so I suppose this will be something I face on this blog again in the future. Especially when I read a book that is so good, that gets me so excited about it, that I just have to write about it, to tell people about it. The Lazarus War: Artefact was one of those. You can read my initial review here.

So, I blasted my review off after finishing Artefact, in the afterglow. I was immensely excited by the knowledge that the third book in the trilogy had recently been released. The full trilogy was ready for me to binge on. I didn’t really think about it at the time, but now that I’ve finished Origins, I need to come back to it and write about it again, as a whole. This will not only be a review of Origins, which is incredible, but also a reflection on the series as a whole. I feel it’s fitting to dedicate a post to the beginning, and one to the end. This series deserves it. I’ll avoid spoilers, and keep this as reader friendly as possible.

Artefact was our introduction to Harris and the Lazarus Legion. We got to know these people, sympathise with them, worry about them as conflict and risks increase. They all make an impact and Sawyer’s choice of a first person narrative is vital to our stake in it, I think. Following Artefact’s climax, we enter a very different world in the second novel, Legion. Legion follows on from the ramifications of the first novel and explores the muddy political waters of human space. The Directorate make their presence known in this book; they are horrific, and insidious. They are a threat far closer to home than the Krell, and in many ways, more dangerous. Seriously, these people are anxiety inducing.

The Lazarus Legion become increasingly wearied, frayed and damaged. Stakes are higher, danger is more present than ever, and the tension is charged. Harris is driven to the point of obsession in his quest, and his fervour is alienating. His squad have moments of doubt, such is his drive. The conflict arising from this, and our perception of Harris’ mental wellbeing, is harrowingly compelling. This book raises a lot of questions.

(As an aside, Legion also houses a moment I had been waiting for since Artefact. I won’t spoil it too much, but one of the Legion wields a futuristic space sword. In their marine combat armour. Sawyer delivers. It was definitely a hell yeah moment.)

Legion is a tremendous book, even more so for the fact that it’s the second book in a trilogy, the bridging novel. The middle book can be a curse, but Legion excelled for me. The world for Harris and his Legion, and the game, fundamentally changes in Legion. Legion introduces new powers and players throughout and it all goes toward setting up Origins and the final climax with a pretty devastating finale of it’s own. Legion is a harrowing book. Artefact forms the foundation and Legion is the step into the big leagues.

Origins is where it all comes together. All of the clues, hints, actions and consequences of the previous two books come into play here. This is vital, because Artefact and Legion left me with a host of questions. Luckily, Origins is a book of answers, in it’s own way. Long plot arcs are tied up and resolved in Origins. Things that are teased and hinted at throughout the entire series are addressed, explained and made available. There is nothing better than reaching those ‘Oh! So that’s it!’ moments of discovery and illumination. The Lazarus War makes a lot of promises and Origins is where Sawyer delivers in spades; he shows us things only hinted at, and the climactic moments are scintillating.

Origins follows in the tradition of Artefact and Legion by again exponentially increasing the balances of risk and reward for the central characters. There is so much conflict and danger that it is almost unbearably tense, but undeniably compelling. This book is riddled with more highs and lows than any other in the trilogy. Nearing the end I really had no idea how things were going to land for our lovable squad of badasses. The odds that they face throughout Legion and Origins are such that utter destruction and devastation are a significant possibility. You just have to keep turning the pages.

It’s quite bittersweet finishing the finale of a trilogy that I loved as much as this. But I take solace in the fact that the entire thing is very well tied up, with a very fitting ending. There are still some questions left hanging, toward the end, but they are largely on the periphery of the primary narrative, and some of them are resolved by implication. It leaves me intensely curious about visiting this universe again, though. I honestly hope that this isn’t the last time that Jamie Sawyer provides us with a window into it. Whatever he does next, I’ll be very interested in it. I’m a fan now, no doubt.

I read a lot of Sci-Fi, but when I think about the stuff that I’ve loved best recently, I can distil it to three voices:

James S. A. Corey, Pierce Brown and now, definitively, Jamie Sawyer.

The future of the genre is very bright. I’m gushing but I don’t care.

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