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X-Wing #1

By Michael A. Stackpole
6.5 years after ANH

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This is the first book of a series of eight (so far) which highlights the exploits of the star -fighter pilots who get the job done when the fight against the Empire demands action-sequences.


After Return of the Jedi, it might seem like all is well with the universe, and the Rebel Alliance has triumphed. But in the Star Wars Galaxy, as is often the case in other galaxies, destroying the second Death Star and killing the Emperor is only part of the war that needs to be won. The Empire ain't dead yet, folks; they still control large segments of the universe, and, more importantly, they still control the governmental and symbolic center of the universe: the planet Coruscant.

If you are an avid fan, you know just who Wedge Antilles is. In the movies, he is the only fighter pilot to survive all 3 original films. In this novel, he is now Commander Antilles, and as such, is called upon by the powers-that-be in the Alliance (now the New Republic) to re-form the A-Number-One X-Wing Squadron known as Rogue Squadron. This first book is really the set-up for the series to follow. We are re-introduced to Wedge; let's face it, we didn't really get to "know" him in his fairly minor role in the flics. We are introduced to the pilots, as they are introduced to the squadron. We see them get comfortable with their new status as rebel-elite, and get comfortable with each other. And we see them through several missions, all of which are set-ups for the big mission to come: the capture of Coruscant from the remnants of the Empire.

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This is a very entertaining book, and a marvelous start to a series. Wedge Antilles as a protagonist offers the author the comfort-level for the fan of familiarity, with the protection for the author from the overly-avid fan of icon status. And Michael Stackpole really runs with it. In addition to Antilles, Stackpole offers us a whole squadron of fairly well-fleshed-out pilots. There are several species represented, and a nice, sort of P.C. ratio of male-to-female. (Princess Leia is a wonderful, go-getter action chick; nice to know she's not the only one in the Star Wars galaxy, eh?) One of the main characters, and often the point-of-view protagonist, is Corran Horn. He is a former Corellian Security Agent (a Corellian Cop, in essence), with a compelling back-story, a relaxed sense of humor, a willingness to learn and grow in his new career,…..oh, and a really hot-hand on an X-Wing joystick. Other pilots have nice personal histories as well, and Stackpole gives even the smaller roles enough "meat" that you feel you know and care about them. And the good guys are up against a strong bad "guy", to boot. Ysanne Isard, de-facto ruler of the remaining Empire, is a well-drawn, Machiavellian nemesis.

X-Wing Rogue Squadron has plenty of action sequences, but even if you're not a big fighter-pilot fan, there's still plenty to enjoy about this book. I am someone who is not usually into flyboy books, and who ordinarily has trouble visualizing written fight scenes, but Michael Stackpole has me converted. I was always clear on who was where in the flying battles, and found them almost cinematically exciting. Additionally, the book's characters are interesting and involving, and the politics of establishing a new government out of former rebels , and the politcal in-fighting between legislative and military branches were well thought out and intriguing. There is the added suspense too, since most of the characters are new creations….and thus unprotected by sacrosanct heroes-must-live dictums….of not knowing if or when a favored pilot might die. (I mean, we know Luke ain't going anywhere, right?) While the big-name characters are off doing the big heroic deeds, X-Wing Rogue Squadron shows us what happens "down in the trenches" to make the big heroic deeds get done. These are the details that help make the Star Wars universe as rich and rewarding as it is.

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