Posts Tagged ‘michael_stackpole’

Novel Review: X-Wing: Rogue Squadron

- Spoiler Review -

The most convincing scene in Rogue Squadron for me is when Corran Horn tells a fellow squadmate that she isn’t in love with him. She only thinks she is, because she’s had a near-death experience and wants to feel alive. That emphasis on motives, and how those motives can be used for good or ill, continues throughout the book. The characters are wonderful, and I would be happy to read a book that’s entirely about the squad featured here goofing off and mocking on one another. Rogue Squadron is at its weakest when plot starts taking over.

Michael Stackpole uses dialogue to further his plot whenever possible; like in the Star Wars movies, no dogfight is silent. When the pilots are out of the cockpit the dialogue is just as well-done. It takes its time: a conversation about how to deal with loss weaves in and out of the story of the first Death Star explosion without sounding like it’s trying too hard to be relevant to the movies. The death of one character leads to Gavin Darklighter coming to terms with not that specific death but that of his cousin in A New Hope. The feeling that there’s more going on in the characters’ heads, and a lot of imperfect logic, makes the members of Rogue Squadron feel real. Some characters sound too similar to each other: Admiral Ackbar talks a lot like Wedge, which made it hard to hear his distorted voice from Return of the Jedi making those snappy remarks. In a way that’s a good thing, but it also makes the book feel a bit separate from the Star Wars universe.

In almost all other ways, though, it’s like watching a movie. The characters are down-to-earth working people, and they aren’t paraded in front of the audience like heroes. People worry and lose face and cause as much trouble for themselves as the Imperials do for them. Corran brings his policing skills to the war, showing off skills as a leader and tactician that he will later refine in the Jedi academy. He’s one of my favorite characters because through both his own clarity of sight and all the different kinds of battles he’s been through, he never stops learning. His little moments of kindness and pity for both the people and the droids around him make him a hero. A scene where he attempts to jettison his astromech droid to save it from an upcoming suicide mission goes by in about five lines of dialogue, but tells a lot about Corran as a person. It’s easy to forget now that Rogue Squadron was one of the first novels that did not heavily feature characters from the movies.

The novel takes into account realistic disadvantages the still-struggling Rebellion faces, including not having enough ships for all of their pilots to use. There is no sense that any resource is unlimited, and this also makes the Star Wars universe feel realistic.

The book has a nice balance of talk and action, but I could talk about that all day without addressing the fact that the action doesn’t build up. This is the first in a series, so the lack of a large ending battle was understandable, but fell flat. None of this is to say that the ending wasn’t thrilling: Corran Horn used all his talents at the end, and his future wife Mirax made a great appearance. However, the stakes in the rest of the book remained relatively low. Kirtan Loor and Ysanne Isard remain for me unconvincing villains, cut out from the Moff mold in an effort to serve as Vader and Tarkin. Loor has his own motives and I almost feel sorry for him at points, but he isn’t frightening and isn’t particularly good at being a bad guy – and Isard points this out.

I would recommend Rogue Squadron to both new and old Star Wars fans alike. For newcomers, it introduces a lot of characters but all of them can stand on their own, and form a new Rogue Squadron didn’t inspire in me the fanaticism that I have seen some people express about identity together.the later installments of the series, but it was a solid adventure story. It’s a great fit for anybody who wants to know what it’s like to fly an X-Wing.


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Cover Synopsis:

They are sleek, swift, and deadly. The are the X-wing fighters. And as the struggle rages across the vastness of space, the fearless men and women who pilot them risk both their lives and their machines. Their mission: to defend the Rebel Alliance against a still-powerful and battle-hardened Imperial foe in a last-ditch effort to control the stars!

Its very name strikes fear into enemy hearts. So when Rebel hero Wedge Antilles rebuilds the legendary Rogue Squadron, he seeks out only the best — the most skilled, the most daring X-wing pilots. Through arduous training and dangerous missions, he weeds out the weak from the strong, assembling a group of hard-bitten warriors willing to fight, ready to die. Antilles knows the grim truth: that even with the best X-wing jockeys in the galaxy, many will not survive their near-suicidal missions. But when Rogue Squadron is ordered to assist in the assault on the heavily fortified Imperial stronghold of Black Moon, even the bravest must wonder if any at all will survive. . . .

Review: I, Jedi

- Minor Spoiler Review -

For several years now, I’ve been told that I, Jedi is an amazing read; a bright spot in the vast Expanded Universe timeline. Having read the X-Wing series, I had no reason to doubt this claim. Michael Stackpole and Aaron Allston created quite an exciting series full of memorable characters and fun adventures. After reading it, I am pleased to say that the fun and excitement continues in I, Jedi.

One thing I noticed immediately is that the entire novel is written in a first-person narrative. We follow the perspective of Corran Horn during his greatest challenge yet: Finding his wife who has vanished. Corran decides that the best way to do this is to take on Jedi training, because he does have a connection to the Force and the possibility exists for him to become a Jedi. Going to the newly established Jedi Academy established by Luke Skywalker is the obvious next step for Corran, but by no means is the training an easy task. The quest to find his wife takes Corran across the galaxy, as he journeys from one planet to the next, in an effort to become a Jedi, learn about his heritage, and track the kidnappers before they do any harm to Mirax.

The events in I, Jedi parallel those in the Jedi Academy Trilogy written by Kevin J. Anderson, though many of them are retold from a different perspective, which enhances the experience greatly. We learn much more about the Jedi training, and how it affects the students and Luke Skywalker himself. As the events of the Jedi Academy Trilogy are retold through the eyes of Corran Horn, more is revealed about the other students, including Kyp Durron, and the evil presence they must fight against, namely, the spirit of the Dark Lord Exar Kun.

With the paperback edition at nearly 600 pages, I, Jedi is no small read, but in this case that’s a great thing. The book starts with a bang and keeps the reader focused even though it does revisit the Jedi Academy Trilogy. I did feel that the final showdown between Corran and Leonia Tavira ended rather abruptly, considering the events of this long journey led up to that moment. I had a feeling of really, that’s it? But in my opinion, that’s a really small gripe for an overall satisfying book.

Are you a fan of action, adventure, intrigue, and surprises? Do you enjoy the fun and excitement from the X-Wing series? Does learning more about the techniques and ways of Jedi training interest you? If you answered yes to those questions, you should get yourself a copy of I, Jedi today.

Paperback Cover Synopsis:

New York Times bestselling author Michael A. Stackpole presents a stirring new tale set in the Star Wars universe: the dramatic story of a heroic X-wing pilot on the razor’s edge between the Force—and the dark side.

Corran Horn has distinguished himself as one of the best and brightest of Rogue Squadron’s elite fighting force. Then his wife, Mirax, vanishes on a covert mission for the New Republic, and Corran vows to find her. To do so, he knows he must develop the latent Force powers inherited from his grandfather, a legendary Jedi hero. He joins Luke Skywalker’s famed Jedi academy to begin training, only to quit in frustration at Skywalker’s methods. Now Corran is on his own. Using his Corellian undercover experience, he must infiltrate, sabotage, and destroy a ruthless organization in order to find his wife. But to succeed, Corran will have to come to terms with his Jedi heritage—and make a terrible choice: surrender to the dark side…or die.

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