“You know your squadron will fight, but will they fight for you?”
– Hera Syndulla
I like Alexander Freed.
As a fan of Star Wars Battlefront: Twilight Company and the novelization of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story I kinda already knew that but here we are.
In fact, even if you hadn’t read either of those books I think you can kind of take the tone of Rogue One and understand the tone of his writing in these books.
Also, I’m a fan of Michael Stackpole and Aaron Allston. In the Legends days, the Rogue Squadron and Wraith Squadron books were definitely VERY HIGH on my personal favorite lists. When Alphabet Squadron was announced, I was happy for a “space battle” type book in canon but also VERY aware of the high bar set by those legends books.
In my opinion, Alphabet Squadron sits up there in quality among those stories but also separates itself in tone and stylistically. Looking back on the Legends stories now, the X-Wing books had a lot of fun with their stories. I think being the first books NOT dealing with the Big Three they probably were able to take more chances and not take things so seriously.
… a lesson maybe some fans could learn from…
Alphabet Squadron doesn’t have a lot of “fun” moments but really fits MUCH more in line with the Rogue One and Battlefront mentality.
Every day people in war.
No heroes, just the mission, and all those who live on for the next one.
I really enjoyed this book and love meeting new Star Wars characters.
The setting is about 5 months after the Battle of Endor and we watch these characters um… assemble?
Can I say that? That’s what it felt like.
When the time came for them to do what we knew they were supposed to do it felt momentous!
Also… the audiobook ROCKS. This might not be the first time I’m hearing some unfamiliar music but it definitely stands out and elevates the material! The performance and production as always is on point!
So let’s lock our S-foils into attack position and accelerate to attack speed!
SLIGHT SPOILERS AHEAD!
Yrica Quell and Traitors’ Remorse
So the leader of this squadron is Yrica Quell. She’s an imp(erial) defector who didn’t really agree with the whole Operation Cinder messiness. There’s a really cool little place where imp defectors are placed called Traitors’ Remorse. I enjoyed that vibe. She’s constantly doubted and not trusted by her senior Intelligence agent Caern Adan but she is needed for her intelligence as a former Shadow Wing member, which much of the plot revolves around. Her therapist is a reprogrammed Imperial torture droid which is awesome. She flies an X-Wing but still has to get used to… shields and things they don’t have on TIEs. She’s no-nonsense, has a soldier mentality, and is not really social. So it’s hardest on her that she has to be the one to lead. It’s my favorite thing to see an imp have to learn to think like a rebel.
Oh, I’m sorry…
Nath Tensent and Revengeance
Nath is the older more pessimistic of the group. Older, grizzled. Much like his Y-Wing. He is out for personal stakes as he lost most of his last squadron to Shadow Wing but he really sometimes almost seems the chaos center of the group. He’ll obey the order or maybe just see what happens. I also appreciate that his copilot is an old C1 droid.
Wyl Lark and Missing Home
Wyl is the young idealistic one of the group. He comes from a planet where they fly creatures and left his home to help the Rebellion. He’s a veteran of the Battle of Endor and often regales the others with stories about his adventures. His also seems to be the one to miss his home and really looks forward to the day he can return. I love the relationship he has with Nath. The grizzled old dude and the bright-eyed kid trope is fun. He also saved Chass one time but oddly she isn’t super happy about it. He’s also the most superstitious of the group and that plays out REALLY cool in my humblest opinion.
Chass ne Chaddic and the Fallen Heroes
Chass is the badass B-Wing pilot who cranks Herglic rage metal in her cockpit and idolizes all those who heroes who died in a blaze of heroic glory. She is somehow simultaneously the most idealistic and the most saddeningly realistic about their odds. It’s almost as if she’s searching for her own blaze of glory.
Kairos A Star Wars Mystery
Kairos is a really cool looking person (see above) who flies a U-Wing.
She is female and looks really cool.
That’s… most of what we know. Her past is classified and she pretty much never talks. I really enjoyed her presence in the book and there was a really cool scene with her that was probably the most info we can… interpret. Also, she is super useful in the commando sense as well as a pilot. I mean… I guess that makes sense. She drops in with the U-Wing then jumps out and wrecks shop with the commando homies as well. Since this is the first book a trilogy I hope we get more of her past and character in the next ones!
So Alphabet Squadron ends up serving the New Republic on The Lodestar which is commanded by General Hera Syndulla herself. Not only is that awesome in itself but Hera becomes a pretty cool part of the book while alluding to a few reminders of her life with her former crew. As a super-duper Star Wars Rebels fan you KNOW I appreciate any and all connections to that animated awesomeness. But also, I’m just really happy when Star Wars characters grow beyond their inception and cross into the larger canon. Much like Saw Gerrera, born in The Clone Wars and found his way to Rogue One, and Jedi: Fallen Order! I am very happy that Hera and many more characters join other media and sort of move beyond simply being “Oh you mean the pilot for that Star Wars Rebels show?”
The Lost Temple
At one point the squadron is sent to a mysterious temple to recover supplies and they find…
drum roll, please…
A Jedi Temple…
This is one of my favorite parts of the book as the squadron is able to really bond and a lot of growth happens there. But also we hear a bit more about the history of the Jedi and how much the Empire has really scrubbed the past and altered the facts. Just another moment of great world-building.
At one point Luke is mentioned. Everyone knows him and there are rumors of him being a Jedi… even though most people don’t even really know what that is.
ABC Soup… I mean Squadron
I know what you’re all thinking.
I mean… this is a cool spaceship thingie with lasers and stuff. Why does it sound like soup?
I mean, what about Wraith Squadron, Hazard Squadron, Death Squadron, Phoenix Squadron, or like… Rogue Squadron!!
I thought the same.
But in the end, the story of these people coming together and the moniker they end up using is one of the strongest payoffs.
Now, I’m all aboard. And in a Rogue One kinda way, this book makes sense. It’s so inspiring that these disparate broken individuals come together for a common cause and find a way to work together and support each other. Just like my favorite Star Wars movie.
Bits and Pieces
There’s a lot of little cool things that I dug in this book. Operation Cinder, the Emperor’s Messenger, the balasar, Liana Hallik, Separatists, The Spectres, Verpines on Abednedo, Ghosts in the Jendorn system, HERA SYNDULLA, Wings of the Master memories, Mon Mothma’s speech, masked martial arts, General Skywalker, “Rebellions are built of hope”, The Cavern Angels, an alphabet tattoo, The sympathetic torture droid, and Shadow Wing!
This book is super enjoyable does a really good job of starfighter action and as the opening of a trilogy does its job! There’s also a tie in Marvel comic called TIE Fighter that connects to the story a bit and tells some Shadow Wing business. I can’t wait to see what’s next for Alphabet Squadron and I’m eager to spend more time with these characters!
– Sal P.
“War is always monstrous. But that doesn’t make us monsters.”
– Soren Keize