Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Surprisingly Wonderful!

Just finished reading this delightful book: Battelfront: Twilight Company, by Alexander Freed (2015). I must say I was pleasantly surprised with how much I liked this one. Being a tie-in to a video game and being an obvious nod to the more violent Disney-ification of Star Wars as of late, I was prepared to dislike this novel.

It won me over in many ways. First, there were a few new words. I learned at least 3 new words while I read, which is a measure (to some degree) of the 'seriousness' of the writer in question. Sounds a bit funny, of course, but I like when I learn something while reading, even something as minor as some extra vocabulary.

Great use of tech and equipment and ships. Great additions of numerous worlds where the company saw action, most of the names new. Great use of existing Star Wars storylines, weaving the tale into the existing fabric of the Galactic Civil War. As you might guess, this book follows a group of Rebel Alliance infantry as they fight across the stars.

There were a bunch of ground combat scenes, of course, and many beings on both sides of the war perished. Not too much in the way of egregious violence or graphic battlefield imagery, thankfully. The book hovers around a semi-dark place, in terms of tone, but never falls fully into the abyss. Always buoyed by some hope and the inspiring spark of resistance so central to the Rebellion.

I have to say that I was reminded throughout of Dan Abnett's incredible Gaunt's Ghosts novels. Realistic peeks into the inner workings of more or less hard sci-fi ground combat units. Freed similarly pulls no punches when it comes to tense conflict where the outcome is balanced on a razor's edge. Hard battles where even main characters meet their ends. Freed fills the pages with a big and interesting cast of characters bound by their shared mission and determined to slog it through, sometimes fighting more for the sake of the friends beside them than for the over-arching 'cause'.

This was a tale from the lowly infantryman's point of view. Barely a mention of high ranking Alliance personnel. Nothing too planet shattering (see what I did there?) in terms of objectives completed or enemies defeated. A good, rugged tale about, as the back cover of the book says, "The bravest soldiers. The toughest warriors. The ultimate survivors." 

Right up there with "Lost Stars" and "Lords of the Sith" as the best of the Disney canon thus far. Followed in second place by "Tarkin". Third is "A New Dawn". Fourth is "Heir to the Jedi". Last place is "Aftermath". Unknown where to rank "Dark Disciple"...I am not that interested in finding out, either.

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