Its back to a galaxy, far, far away this week as the Book Shelf takes on a Star Wars novel, based on a game, based on the universe George Lucas created. And you know what? It works, and it works well.
This one, put simply, is a war story, we get glimpses of a number of Rebels and Imperials, but for the most part, we spend our time serving along side Twilight Company. This rag tag battalion, is assembled from volunteers and they tend to be the unit that gets the dirtiest assignments, rescuing VIPs, holding the line during a retreat or getting into enemy territory.
There are no Jedis, no lightsabers (well, one, for a moment), and the familiar faces of the Original Trilogy are only mentioned in passing. This is not their story. This is the story of the common man and woman, rebels, all.
Set after the destruction of the Death Star, we join Namir, Gadren, Roach, Brand and others as the Rebellion begins to pull back to the Outer Rim after a series of devastating encounters with Imperial forces. Twilight is the last line, giving up ground that they had just previously claimed, something they don’t like. They want to take the fight to the Empire, and when a possible new ally reveals themselves, things could change for the Rebellion.
With their numbers falling, Twilight Company may have come up with an audacious plan that could shift the galactic war in their favour, but what will it cost them, and what are they really fighting for?
Freed gives us a tightly paced tale that takes us to planets both familiar and unknown, we see troops on both sides, and it reads tautly, full of detail and excitement. It really is hard to believe that the basis for this entire novel was inspired by the captivating, but story-less game.
We get glimpses of character’s pasts, their beliefs, and the things that motivate them, which works nicely for a few of the Imperial characters, because I’ve always wondered how some of them could serve something so oppressive. They are all real, and layered characters, and Namir one of the leaders of Twilight, struggles with the burdens of command, his own past, and finding something worth fighting for, and believing in.
It was fun to take a look at the Star Wars universe from the perspective of the common soldier, none of them ‘heroes’ in the sense of the films, but each of them fights, struggles, and sacrifices for those around them.
This really is a war story, there’s no glitter, no glam, it’s occasionally brutal, these characters languish and struggle to survive, to scrape by, to see themselves and their compatriots to the other side of the next battle.
A highly enjoyable, and different kind of Star Wars novel.