With Deathstalker Legacy, Simon R Green returns to the unashamed, tongue-in-cheek space opera of Deathstalker (1995) and its many prequels and sequels.
Owen Deathstalker, saviour of humanity, perished nobly two centuries ago. The family burden of glory and bad luck now falls on Lewis Deathstalker, one of the galactic Empire's peacekeeping Paragons--warriors so tough that each can police a whole planet single-handed. When Lewis is elevated to the high rank of King's Champion, the bad luck begins. Our hero unfortunately falls for his friend the King's wife-to-be. His splendid new black leather armour chafes in all the wrong places. And a rival Paragon who expected to become Champion switches in a trice to the dark side:
[He] decided to make them all pay for this insult. He would be the worm in the perfect apple, the canker in the rose, the hidden flaw to fracture the perfect dream. He would do whatever was necessary, to bring the Empire down. To destroy its King, burn down the Golden Age... Though it's supposed to be a Golden Age, there are plenty of troublemaking factions to help our arch-villain. The Esper Liberation Front commits routine atrocities via mind control, the Hellfire Club revels in murder and sacrilege, the aristocratic Shadow Court longs for the bad old days of the evil Empress and the Neumen are human-centric racists enraged by proposals to give aliens the vote. When all four groups try to assassinate Lewis Deathstalker at the same time, the effect is farcical.
Chaos spreads rapidly as Parliament dithers, Paragons are killed, Neumen subvert the Church, various aliens, AIs and peaceful espers make awkward demands, and Lewis ends up in disgrace. Like the original Deathstalker, he escapes into space with an ill-assorted team in hope of saving the galaxy not only from civil war but from the long-prophesied Terror which has begun to gnaw at the Empire's edge... a many-dimensioned horror like Lovecraft's Cthulhu, spreading madness and gobbling worlds.
Much blood flows and many a swash is buckled as swords clash, disrupter beams belch, innocent bystanders get slaughtered in droves, and villainy seems everywhere victorious. Although you can't believe a word of it, Green drives his preposterous plot at a rattling pace and is clearly having great fun. Inevitably, sequels will follow. --David Langford