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X-Wing #6
X-WING #6 Iron Fist
By Aaron Allston
8 years after ANH

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This is the sixth 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.


The first four books, Rogue Squadron, Wedge's Gamble, The Krytos Trap, and The Bacta War, all written by author Michael Stackpole, formed a four-book arc involving the Rebel capture of the ruling planet Coruscant, and the defeat of the evil Imperial Security Chief, Ysanne Isard. Iron Fist is the second book in a new story arc, a 3-book series by writer Aaron Allston.

In book one of this series, Wraith Squadron, we were introduced to the group of misfits and malcontents who happen to have the special-ops skills required to handle the sneakier missions in the larger plan to vanquish the ruthless Warlord Zsinj. In book two, Iron Fist, the New Republic continues the search for Zsinj and his Super Star Destroyer-led fleet, and the Wraiths go under-cover as pirates to trick Zsinj into letting down his guard. Along the way, a spy infiltrates the squad, a prejudiced green recruit grapples with his discomfort when forced into close proximity with non-human species, and Wedge Antilles must learn new command strategies to accommodate this less orthodox unit.


Just as with Wraith Squadron, Iron Fist is a B-level effort. It is entertaining and fast-paced, but…..as they say in puppetry….."the strings are showing." While we get to know the Wraiths better in this book than in the first Aaron Allston effort , most of the character development is heavy-handed. Author Allston consistently makes one of two mistakes: In the first sort of sloppy writing, we miss the "through-line" of how someone gets emotionally from point "A" to point "C". Reactions and personal growth occur so quickly as to be jarring and unbelievable. A few sentences of rationalizing….falling under the boo-boo heading of "show me, don't tell me"…..and pilots have undergone some magical transformation. On the other hand, some plot components and character changes are so heavily foreshadowed as to feel like they're waving a sign. One Wraith comes out looking like one of those red-shirted Star Trek extras, so obviously is his doom augurred.

But the plot itself is inventive, and moves quickly enough that the book's short-comings are not an onerous detractor. The writing for the character of Wedge Antilles is consistent with his other Star Wars Expanded Universe appearances. Han Solo also plays a supporting role in Iron Fist, and "feels right". (One of my personal "bug-a-boos" is EU scribes who don't portray the movie protagonists appropriately). And although much of the emotional description is facile and amateurish, we still connect to these pilots and care enough about them for their fates to really matter. The pilot mentioned above whose death is so predictable, none-the-less is mourned, and the circumstances of the loss are genuinely sad. Iron Fist is worth the read. This Allston 3-book saga fills in the details leading up to the final confrontation between the New Republic and the tyrant Zsinj. If you are a completist, you can't miss this important part of the story.