Novels > Post Original Trilogy Novels > X-Wing
February 1, 1998
X-Wing (Wraith Squadron)
Star Wars Saga Timeline:
They are the galaxy's most elite fighting force. And as the battle against the Empire rages, the X-wing fighters risk life and machine to protect the Rebel Alliance. Now they must go on a daring undercover mission--as the crew of an Imperial warship.
It is Wedge Antilles' boldest creation: a covert-action unit of X-wing fighters, its pilots drawn from the dregs of other units, castoffs and rejects given one last chance. But before the new pilots can complete their training, the squadron's base is attacked by former Imperial admiral Trigit, and Wraith Squadron is forced to swing into action--taking over an Imperial warship and impersonating its crew. The mission: to gain vital intelligence about Trigit's secret weapons, to sabotage the admiral's plans, and to lure him into an Alliance trap. But the high-stakes gamble pits Wraith Squadron's ragtag renegades against the Empire's most brilliant master of guile and deception.
Are they up to the challenge? If not, the penalty is instant death.
For the fifth book of the Star Wars: X-wing series, Wraith Squadron, Aaron Allston takes over writing duties from Michael Stackpole. Happily, the handoff is extremely smooth and Allston brings some new perspectives and strengths to the table.
Allston's first job is to introduce us to the titular group of fighter pilots. Wedge Antilles believes, based on his many experiences with Rogue Squadron, that a new team with a different focus is needed. Rogue are pilots first and commandos second; this new squadron will be the other way around, with the highest level of competency in ground-based missions supplanted by keen piloting experience. Allston does a superb job of quickly fleshing out over a dozen new characters, employing an entertaining interview sequence followed by training missions and various short scenes of exposition to get the reader comfortable with so many new additions at once.
Several pilots are of particular note. Wedge heads up the squadron with the help of his old squad mate Wes Janson, and they provide a necessary connection back to the earlier stories and the Rogue Squadron comics. Myn Donos, fresh from seeing his entire Talon Squadron wiped out around him in a mission gone awry, brings heaps of survivor's guilt and angst to his new job. Hohass "Runt" Ekwesh, who is depicted essentially as an bipedal horse, must grapple with his multiple personalities, making for some very entertaining dialogue. Garik "Face" Loran, a former child star of Imperial propaganda, and Ton Phanan, a cynical cyborg with medical skills, offer some great comical interludes between missions. Finally, Voort "Piggy" saBinring is a genetically altered Gamorrean with superlative mental abilities.
The plot of the book can be readily broken into two segments: the setting up of the squadron and the move to Folor Base for training, and then the missions that come after the surprise assault on Folor by Admiral Apwar Trigit. Trigit works for Admiral Zsinj, the warlord that has been lurking in the shadows of the prior few books. With Ysanne Isard out of the way, it's time for Zsinj to assume the spotlight.
In an early mission, the Wraiths manage to capture a Corellian Corvette employed by Zsinj, the Night Caller. This capture drives the remainder of the plot, as the Wraiths pose as Imperials and take the Night Caller on through her schedule of stops. The hints of a larger plot by Zsinj begin to unfold, although they are not woven together in this particular volume. The Night Caller storyline allows Allston to tie together a variety of ground and space-based missions that otherwise might feel somewhat disjointed.
X.Wing: Wraith Squadron receives highest marks for its outstanding characterizations and deftly-handled humor. Allston takes the baton from Stackpole with no glitches and introduces enough new twists to keep this book from feeling like a copy of the first four.