As I said in my favourite things of 2015 post, Star Wars is back. Now I realize these books are no longer canon – they’ve been downgraded to legendary status, but I read the X-Wing series back in high school and really enjoyed them. Since I got back into novel reading a couple years back, as part of getting into novel writing, I’ve been tempted time and time again to finally re-read these books. And now, after having watched The Force Awakens twice, I finally found the motivation to read the first book.
Before I start, here’s a confession. I finished this book on December 30th and wrote this post shortly after. I just kept forgetting to edit this until now, while I’m setting up my new laptop that just came in. Without further to do, here’s X-Wing: Rogue Squadron by Michael A. Stackpole.
The premise is simple. This takes place about a year after Return of the Jedi. Commander Wedge and the Alliance want to rebuild Rogue Squadron, made up of only the best fighter pilots the Alliance has to offer. A good chunk of this book’s opening is dedicated to some of the potential pilots flying simulation missions to see how they score, most notably Corran Horn, who is possibly the most skilled pilot of the new recruits. Some members of the squadron are explored more than others, but they each have their own personality that helps mix this book up. Their first major mission is to prepare for the invasion of Coruscant by taking over an Imperial stronghold. This book is also as good as I remember.
One thing that’s great about this book is that it goes into technical details on how the X-Wing fighters work, without going overboard or distracting from the plot. How long a fuel supply will last is explored in detail before the final mission in the book for example, when the very nature of the mission will cut everything close. It also describes some of the techniques behind the crazier maneuvers that Corran and Wedge pull off.
The book is written in third person and with the exception of one scene, is always from the perspective of Wedge, Corran, or an Imperial intelligence officer tasked with destroying the squadron. The exception is a character who’s introduced about half-way through the book, so I won’t spoil who they are or what their motivations are in case you decide to read this. In a lot of ways this book is mostly setting up the rest of the series, but it still manages to tell a complete story on its own.
The only complaint I can think about is that, while a couple character deaths in this kind of series isn’t unusual, the characters that die are underdeveloped, with the exception of one. It’s hard to care about the other characters we know little to nothing about when they’re killed off. Apart from that, this is a great book. If next year’s Rogue One movie is anything like this, starring a group of pilots like this, it could be quite good. Then again, it could be like this and suck, or it could be different yet good. We’ll see, but for now, this is worth checking out if anyone’s interested in a fighter pilot book taking place in the Star Wars Universe.
My next book will probably be Throne of Glass, and then I’ll finally complete the Harry Potter saga before reading either the next X-Wing book or one of the books taking place between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. After that, I’ll probably mix it up with fantasy, vampire books and more Star Wars.