Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Book Review: Rogue Squadron (Star Wars) - Michael Stackpole

"Rogue Squadron" is the first book (of 9) in the X-Wing series set in the Star Wars universe. The Rogue Squadron is legendary. Responsible for the destruction of both Death Stars, as well as being one of the primary defense forces on Hoth, the Rogue Squadron is given the toughest missions and has the highest death rate in the entire Rebel Alliance. Commander Wedge Antilles has been given a new mission for his Rogue Squadron, straight from Admiral Ackbar and the leadership of the Alliance: assemble the best of the best pilots and reform Rogue Squadron to tackle the highest profile, most difficult missions and try and end this war against the Empire.

Emperor Palpatine might be two years dead by the start of "Rogue Squadron", but the Empire is vast and top Empire officials have taken hold of the Empire (even as it splinters apart). Some planets may not even know of his death, yet. It was a major victory, but the war still rages on. Ysanne Isard, the head of Imperial Intelligence runs the Empire in everything but name. Nicknamed "Iceheart", she is exactly that. Isard is cold, ruthless, and subtle in her actions: a true intelligence officer. She continues to hunt the Alliance, and in particular, the symbol that is Rogue Squadron.

The primary protagonist of "Rogue Squadron" is the Correllian Corran Horn, a former member of the Correllian Security (CorSec). He is one of the best in Rogue Squadron, which makes him one of the elite pilots in the galaxy. Corran Horn, while a great pilot and an asset to the Alliance, is also a hunted man. Kirtan Loor, an underling of Isard and a man with a grudge against Horn, is put in charge of the mission to destroy Rogue Squadron and protect the Empire.

Being a novel about an X-Wing fighter squadron, "Rogue Squadron" is filled with space battles and dog fights and is action packed. This is a fast paced Star Wars novel and is one of the better ones that I have read. Being set after "Return of the Jedi" means that we don't know how the story is going to play out or what the future is for the Alliance (every prequel novel has to fit itself into the known events of the movies). This frees the story up a bit, and with a novel built around characters who were not even in the films (except for minor characters like Wedge), there is a sense of freedom here. It helps that Michael Stackpole is able to tell an entertaining story that also serves to build the overreaching plotline of the X-Wing series. For a reader looking to discover what happens after "Return of the Jedi", "Rogue Squadron" is the perfect place to begin.

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