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Star Wars: Alphabet Squadron

On the verge of victory in a brutal war, five New Republic pilots transform from hunted to hunters in this epic STAR WARS adventure. Set after Return of the Jedi, Alphabet Squadron follows a unique team, each flying a different class of starfighter as they struggle to end their war once and for all.

The Emperor is dead. His final weapon has been destroyed. The Imperial Army is in disarray. In the aftermath, Yrica Quell is just one of thousands of defectors from her former cause living in a deserters’ shantytown—until she is selected to join Alphabet Squadron.

Cobbled together from an eclectic assortment of pilots and starfighters, the five members of Alphabet are tasked by New Republic general Hera Syndulla herself. Like Yrica, each is a talented pilot struggling to find their place in a changing galaxy. Their mission: to track down and destroy the mysterious Shadow Wing, a lethal force of TIE fighters exacting bloody, reckless vengeance in the twilight of their reign.

The newly formed unit embodies the heart and soul of the Rebellion: ragtag, resourceful, scrappy, and emboldened by their most audacious victory in decades. But going from underdog rebels to celebrated heroes isn’t as easy as it seems, and their inner demons threaten them as much as their enemies among the stars. The wayward warriors of Alphabet Squad will have to learn to fly together if they want to protect the new era of peace they’ve fought so hard to achieve.

Writer: Alexander Freed
Cover Artist: Jeff Langevin
Publisher: Del Rey/Century
Page Count: 408
ISBN: 9781984821980
Release Date: USA – 11th June and UK – 13th June

Alexander Freed has shown with Twilight Company and his wonderful adaptation of Rogue One that writing military personnel and their stories is his gift. With Alphabet Squadron, the first in a new trilogy, that trend continues. This novel is gritty, emotional and full of character. He has not only introduced a whole new cast with great deftness, he’s also shown the emotion of fighting for your cause, whether that be for the crumbling Empire or the infant New Republic.

It is this new cast of characters that truly give this story life, each is meticulously introduced with back stories that grip you and their progression throughout that the book feels lifelike. It is this reality to his characters that enables Freed to shine. This ragtag band of flyers are just like you and me. They hurt, they mourn, they bicker and they love. You can relate. Star Wars is full of heroes we know and love and ultimately aspire to be like. This lot? They’re just like us and that adds to the emotional intensity like not many Star Wars books can.

Who are these fighters? Yrica Quell, X-wing, their leader and former TIE fighter pilot. Nath
Tensent, Y-Wing, a mysterious and very untrustworthy man who fights for his own reasons. Wyl Lark, A-Wing, longs for Home but stays to finish the fight alongside his friends. Chass na Chadic, B-Wing, seeks to go out in flames but in her own way. Kairos, U-Wing, mysterious, silent and deadly.

The above are a team of nobodies, they’ve never met as a unit until Hera brings them together and asks them to take on the specialist TIE fighter squadron that has dealt a blow to each of them in the past. Quell is tasked to make them into a team and has to fight her own inner demons to even attempt this as well as try and overcome what each of her squad is bringing to the table. She knows that if she does make them a team then they shall crumble and it is this arc that truly took hold of me. Freed knows how to write people and how you can build solidarity from open friction and hostility.

As you can tell, Freed is able to write characters with skill, but what of the story? It’s gripping; full of daring, flying, tactics and spying. We get a sense of scope of how the New Republic is struggling to adapt to its change of circumstance, we read of how the Emperor’s most loyal and devout soldiers yearn to see a return to greatness but question their own actions in hindsight.

Hera Syndulla lights the the page whenever she enters with great wisdom and respect for all around her and the final battle (or is it?) is so well written and from so many character’s points of views. It never gets confusing and you find in yourself questioning morality and loyalty within the harshness of war. Every story has two sides and Freed gives us an opening in to both.

Before I finish, at the end of each part there is an epilogue of sorts, following Devon. Their identity is revealed on the final page and makes for a tantalising end to this first book. Devon’s story and character is gripping to read and I cannot wait for what comes in book 2.
Great start. Where’s book two?

Thanks to Century publishing for the advanced copy in order to do this review.

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Alphabet Squadron (Star Wars)
  • Alexander Freed
  • Publisher: Del Rey
  • Hardcover: 416 pages