Why did I like Rogue One so much? And to some extent, Solo? No space wizards or force wielders… The Star Wars galaxy needs more stories about regular dudes. The men and women in the trenches, gun-wells, and cockpits. The complicated heroes and, not so heroic characters, who fight on both sides. The Force is discussed in passing in the novel as junk science, fake news, hocus pocus… nothing these rank soldiers ever deal with.
The stories of Yrica Quell, Nath Tensent, and Adan Caern. Each drawn to the rebellion for different reasons. Yrica is a recent defector who switched sides after the Empire’s first counter attack after Endor. She’s seen too much of the cruelty and decides it may be time to use her knowledge to help the Rebellion. Nath has a bit of Han Solo in him. He’s content to make his money on a little out-of-the-way station after his own defection. Adan is the organizer of the Alphabet Squadron, and it isn’t too clear about what motivates him to serve. But they all gravitate towards a common goal: Vengence.
The core story arc focuses on the formation of a new squadron in order to hunt down an elite fleet of Tie Fighters. The 204th is still out there doing the dead Emperor’s dirty work.
I’ve got a list of things I loved:
1. A fully fleshed-out cast of five pilots. What brought them to the rebellion… and what are their motivations to join the Alphabet Squadron?
2. Space dog fights… a plethora of different ships… A, B, Y, X, U- Wings!
3. Favorite Quote: ‘… but there was truth to the idea that the Empire valued squadrons and the Rebellion valued pilots.’
4. Some excellent cameos from past SW stories. I don’t want to give up any spoilers, but I think Freed does a great job integrating some less-heralded characters into the mix.
5. The last battle. I was riveted for the last quarter of the book. Most of my favorite SW films and novels come down to a creative battle plan.. and there’s a distinct difference between a Rebel plan and an Imperial plan. Freed shows that difference, proves it on every page.
6. New droids. In the first chapter, we meet an Imperial interrogation droid named IT-O who has been reprogramed into a psychologist of sorts for the defectors. And a couple new X-Wing mechs to help out in the midst of battle… also, a straight-up eerie dark side robot…
7. Storytelling: Every character is given a chance to tell his/her story, and Freed’s storytelling changes nicely between the confessional or disinformational spills…
Highly Recommended for those looking for a multi-layered exploration into the grunts of the Star Wars universe.