Review of 'Mecha Samurai Empire'

Mecha Samurai Empire by Peter Tieryas
2nd book in the 'United States of Japan' series

mecha_samurai_empire.jpg In a North America where the Japanese and Germans won the second world war Makoto (Mac) Fujimoto wants nothing more than to be a mecha pilot for the United States of Japan (USJ) by being accepted by the Berkeley Military Academy (BEMA). After an attack by the terrorist group National Revolutionaries of America (NARA) disrupts his exams and an over-protective military officer scuppers his acceptance into BEMA Mac decides to try to gain acceptance by first joining the RAMDET (Rapid Mobile Defense Team) for experience. Trouble follows him to RAMDET where a simple mission to protect a train goes awry when they are attacked by a sophisticated new mecha that destroys the rest of his team. He never seems to get a break and his friendship with a German Nazi is not helping him much either…

I have to admit I was given this book as part of a “goody bag” at a recent book event (SFX Book Con 2) as it is not something that would normally caught my eye though, admittedly, I will read pretty much anything. I am glad I did read it though, it is much better than many might expect. A key element to the story is the unusual political landscape that sees the Japanese as a major world power and the German Nazis accepted in a similar fashion. Though this scenario is not altogether convincing once you accept it the tensions this causes plays intrinsically to the plot which is a typical coming of age story with the reader never really knowing what will happen next. The action is frequent and easy to follow with the big mecha pounding on each other in vivid prose. A lot of thought has gone into the way the technology would work and how this would play in the political landscape of the USJ which shows which helps you get drawn into the world and really care for the characters involved. Mac seems to have everything against him: An orphan, rejected on his first application into BEMA, friends with a girl from distrusted Nazi Germany, attacked and almost killed on a simple mission…on the other hand he is determined and has a natural talent in piloting the complex mecha robots.

A story that would appeal to fans of quirky Science Fiction, mecha and/or alternative realities, “Mecha Samurai Empire” is more than it seems on the tin and a damn good “big robots pounding the you-know-what out of each other” story. A terrific page turner and a lot of…er…fun.

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2019-01-13

Genre: Science Fiction

Publisher: Ace

Publication Date: 2018

ISBN: 9780451490995