Solo Command is book seven of the X-wing series and third and last book dealing with Wraith Squadron. Part of Han Solo’s fleet group alongside several capital ships and Rogue Squadron, the Wraiths continue hunting Zsinj. The plan is to lure him and his mighty flagship Iron Fist somewhere the Super Star Destroyer can easily be destroyed. But assassination attempts by non-humans on Admiral Ackbar, Mon Mothma, Wedge Antilles and others fuel old distrusts throughout the ranks of New Republic military. Meanwhile, Lara Notsil’s cover becomes thinner as Myn Donos of all people declares romantic interest in his squad mate.
Solo Command is a usual X-wing book: fast paced, well-written action and a little dry humor. In this instance, some intriguing intelligence work adds to the book’s qualities. Typical weaknesses regarding characters are not as dominant in this book as in some of its prequels but still there. All in all, it is a decent final book for the Wraiths who enter stage again only during the New Jedi Order series.
Iron Fist by Aaron Allston is volume six of the X-Wing series. After their ingenious coup in book five, the Wraiths have earned a reputation. So the shady squad is padded to full strength and sent on a similar, yet potentially more dangerous but also more worthwhile mission: Wraith Squadron is to pose as pirate gang in order to be employed by warlord Zsinj and then expose him to attacks by New Republic military.
Iron Fist is a fun, action packed read despite some sad episodes. Similar to the prequel, the mission itself gives plenty opportunity for curious twists and the less-than-correct attitude of Wraith Squadron makes for lots of inter-character humor. Introduction and development of the new guys is too hasty for my taste, but still acceptable for the format: there are many leaps in time that keep proceedings plausible but also skip exactly those vital integration episodes.
All in all, Iron Fist is a worthy X-Wing book and maybe even one of the better ones, given that there are losses and consequently sad moments.
My other read-in-progress was too big for the plane, so I picked up book five of the X-Wing series, Wraith Squadron. After having been on covert operations repeatedly with the Rogues, Wedge Antilles realises that his pilots are rather unsuited for this kind of mission. Since he believes in the worth of sneaky precision as complement to open warfare, he wants to found a sneaky squadron. He collects the washouts of New Republic navy, people that have no future in regular fighter squadrons and have their main talents elsewhere. He ends up with a bunch of peculiar individuals, everything from slicer over actor to demolition expert. All can handle their fighter, though. Since all of them have problems with authority and themselves, there is plenty of room for conflict. After the newly formed squad accidentally takes over a gunship belonging to warlord Zsinj’s forces, it is ordered to operate the vessel as if it was still occupied by its original owners. This way, they infiltrate New Republic’s now most dangerous enemy for the purpose of data mining and demolition.
Wraith Squadron is a great idea and makes for quite Soloesque reading experience. The Rogues became old since Stackpole’s action focused writing style does not really support longer series. Allston sticks to this paradigm so we get a very entertaining novel. I wonder how Allston is able to keep characters interesting in the subsequent books, given that they are rather shallow. In any case, the squad’s creative problem solving and slow integration into a proper unit is fun to read. Sadly, the big final takes place in space; it might be nice to have a climatic ground or even spy battle for once in Star Wars. The ending is appropriate, without big surprises but with proper payment.
The twelfth volume of The New Jedi Order Rebel Stand continues the story lines begun in its immediate predecessor Rebel Dream. Luke and Mara Skywalker, accompanied by young Jedi Tahiri and elements of Wraith squadron, infiltrate Coruscant in a risky way. They want to find out what causes the strange, dark ripples in the Force and deal with it as well as organise resistance against the Yuuzhan Vong. Old heroes Han and Leia Solo visit yet unconquered worlds in order to inspire local governments not to appease the invadors and, of course, set up resistance cells on their own. In the meanwhile, Wedge Antilles and his subordinates keep defending Borleias from the aggressive Vong attackers that keep probing their way forward. Knowing that eventual defeat is inevitable, Antilles wants to taunt the enemy commander into an all out attack that leaves him open to a clever ploy that might result in a victory for the Resistance while losing the battle.
Rebel Stand is even better than its predecessor. The different storylines are entertaining to read, if for very different reasons. The infiltration of Coruscant is very gloomy and sad to read, with a generous hint of dark humor provided by Wraiths. The Solos’ plot is good old scoundrel style with a lot of goodhearted cheer, even slapstick. Borleias’ defense is less humorous but leaves a grim and determined impression. Therefore, the three parts balance out nicely and underscore facts nicely with fitting atmosphere. So I have to say that Aaron Allston definitely did a good job with this duology; it is a pity that this his only two contributions to The New Jedi Order.
Aaron Allston’s Rebel Dream is the eleventh installment of The New Jedi Order and the first in his duology Enemy Lines. After the fall of Coruscant, Wedge Antilles leads what is left of his command and what troops he can pick up to Borleias. This world is situated close to Coruscant and can be used both as fallback point and staging area for attempts to retake the former capital planet. Due to superior numbers and firepower, Antilles can take Borleias easily and starts to dig in. It soon becomes apparent that what is left of the New Republik is ready to give up and does not care for further aggression against the Yuuzhan Vong; Antilles has to play all his cards not to be stripped from both forces and command. Being under constant Vong pressure he has to find a way to trick the enemy commanders into both underestimating him but also considering Borleias valuable enough to come for it.
Realizing that the New Republic has essentially fallen, Antilles decides to do what he and his friends know best: form a new Rebellion, a resistance movement organised in isolated cells, in order to imploy guerilla tactics on the Yuuzhan Vong. With utmost secrecy, the Insiders prepare to gather material, form cells throughout the galaxy and methodically misinform the enemy using his own spies against him. Meanwhile, Coruscant is vongformed at an amazing pace. Billions of people that were not able to flee die to Vong warriors, falling wreckage and starvation. Luke Skywalker feels through the Force that something Dark is stirring on Coruscant and decides to set out with an intelligence detail to do what he can to prevent an even worse catastrophe than the one that is already happening. Read more »