X-Wing - Rogue Squadron
by Michael Stackpole
Published by Bantam Publishing
Scott's Rating: 4 out of 4
Darin's Rating: 3.5 out of 4
After Return of the Jedi, it seemed that the battle, for the most part, was over. Boy, is THAT wrong. The Imperials still have a strong military prescence in the core of the galaxy and the Alliance must overcome them before they can truly claim victory.
After destroying two Death Stars and seemingly always overcoming impossible odds, Wedge Antilles' Rogue Squadron has become nothing short of legendary, not to mention a prime target for the Imperials. Ackbar and the Alliance decide that Rogue Squadron will become a group of the best fighter pilots they have to offer and their purpose will be to tackle some of the more difficult, higher profile missions.
With that in mind, Wedge begins to assemble all of the Hotshots he can find. One of his recruits is a Corellian named Corran Horn who just happens to be a former 'cop' for the Corellian Security Adgency. He has quite a few skeletons in his closet that just happen to jump up and bite Rogue Squadron in the butt. He also is the best pilot of the Squadron, after Wedge, that is. Brought on as an advisor is Tycho Celchu (sp?), who helped make the run, in an A-Wing, on the second Death Star with Wedge. However, he is not totally trusted by Wedge's superiors because he once was imprisoned and possibly brainwashed by Imperials. Can he be trusted?
With their assembly, Rogue Squadron sets in motion a series of missions that will ultimately lead them to Imperial Center, Coruscant, held by the evil Ysanne Isard (the Ice Queen).
This was a really cool book! It had action, it had humor, it had mystery, romance, etc, etc. It was a lot of fun! If you like fighter books, you'll love this. I really like all of the new characters. What's great about them is that the author has free reign with them. He can have them grow and develop, put them in jeopardy, anything else, without having to worry about Lucasfilm telling him they don't want him doing that to their main moneymaker. It makes for a lot more exciting book knowing that your favorite caharcter is in real danger and that his friends are dying left and right. I also like learning more about Wedge and his background. The tie ins with the comics by Dark Horse were also pleasing to see. I can tell that Stackpole had his plot well thought out long before he started writing the first words. This series is really good.
These books are basically an extension of the X-Wing and TIE Fighter games put out by LucasArts. There is a lot of action, fighter pilot slang, mystery, etc. as well. What really makes these books shine is that they are based around the actions of minor characters. What major characters from the trilogy (with the exception of Wedge, who was a sub-major character) are in here are left to their little scenes. The major characters do not carry these books, the minor characters do. Rouge Squadron gets caught up in some very realistic situations (such as political battles and political assignment of members). The sub-plots are woven very well into the fabric of the whole book. Iceheart is a well crafted villianess. Rather than brute force and power being her strong points, the author made her very cunning and ruthless in her treachory. (You see this better in the third book) She is very subtle, just like a woman! (sorry, I couldn't resist!) Overall, a very fine book (and set of books) that is very enjoyable to read.
In some of the fighter scenes, I had an extremely hard time visualizing what was going on. Many of the flying scenes were confusing. I had to go look up port and starboard in order to remember which was left and which was right. Also, there are so many characters, sometimes I had trouble remembering who was who. Sometimes they would be killed off before I could remember who they were! Also, it is extremely hard going from the books to the comics. The continuity seems all screwed up to me. I really need it laid out in front of me in order to follow it.
I agree with Scott in that it is hard to visualize the flight scenes as they were described. I didn't have to look up port and starboard (I'm a rocket scientist, so go figure), but the author liked to use the term sideslip in a totally incorrect manner (it's really hard to define angle-of-attack and sideslip in outer space--unless you are in orbit, in which case you can use LVLH). This probably won't bother those of you who aren't Aero Engineers or Pilots. A better term to use would've been juked (which he does use a bit).
I'm losing my touch! I can't think of anything ugly at the moment!
Umm, I was going to say "Wedge's pimply butt," but I don't know what some pervert out there might think of me. So nothing ugly.