Please allow me to take you down memory road for a moment…
Back in late 1998, the release of the highly anticipated N64/PC game ‘Rogue Squadron’ was something I was very excited for, that was right at the top my Christmas list.
In my preparation to be the best damned fighter pilot this side of the Rebellion I decided to do my research.
I watched the Battles of Yavin, Hoth and Ensor almost religiously (I even broke the rewind function on my VCR) and I spent that hard-earned pocket money on a new book, ‘Star Wars: X-Wing 1 – Rogue Squadron’ by Michael A. Stackpole.
And I don’t think I ever finished it…
As a twelve year old, for some reason, I struggled with this book. Probably because it wasn’t a how-to guide on piloting an X-Wing, which for some unknown reason I had it in my head that it was.
I tried revisiting it on a few occasions but that first time seemed to have left a sour taste in my mouth and I could never really get into it. And so, as did 95% of my Star Wars ‘Legends’ books, once Lucasfilm reset the Canon I put them out to the pasture, or rather to a book charity.
… Until now…
With the announcement of Patty Jenkins’ upcoming ‘Star Wars: Rogue Squadron’, my mind drifted to those X-Wing books that I never finished, hell, just because I enjoyed the first Chapter of ‘Rogue Squadron’ I bought books 2 and 3 and they never even got opened. So I did a bit of hunting for a copy of the book but they were way too overpriced (£50 for a paperback, you gotta be kidding), but I did have some Audible Credits burning a proverbial hole in my pocket so I picked up the first ‘X-Wing’ Audiobook, read by Henry Thomas (E.T.).
The audiobook has been abridged, so I’m sure listeners aren’t getting the full story, however, I found it to be extremely enjoyable (can someone smack 12 year old me please), and as it’s the bare bones of the story itself, one day I may pick up the book and give it another go.
The story follows Corran Horn, a New Republic Pilot who is picked by Wedge to join the newly reformed ‘Rogue Squadron’. Corran and his wing mates go on their first few missions over the course of the book, and Horn, in a truly stereotypical fashion goes from being the lone wolf type and learns to work as a part of a team. We are also introduced to Tycho Celchu, a former member of Rogue Squadron who has returned after escaping an Imperial Detention Facility, Mirax Terrik, Daughter of Smuggler Booster Terrik who was an infamous smuggler and Corran’s father’s nemesis. We are also introduced to Ysanne Isard, the Director of Imperial Intelligence and the main villain of the series and her subordinate, Kieran Loor who has been tasked with eliminating Rogue Squadron who has a tumultuous past with Corran.
Of course, Rogue Squadron would be nothing without their leader, Wedge Antilles who plays a major part in the training of the new recruits and also acts as a go-between the Military leaders and the Squadron.
The Squadron make their way through three major battles against Imperial forces, two of which are for the planet Borleias which is their first step in making their way deeper into the Galactic Core to retake Coruscant from Imperial Control.
It’s refreshing to see (or hear) stories where the characters do fail as they learn the ropes, and have character flaws that need addressing as the character develops. Corran, whilst being comfortable working as team prefers to work alone because that’s the only way he can be sure the job gets done, but by the end of the book he’s becoming more and more open to operating within the team. He shares some qualities with another well known pilot, he’s cocky and arrogant and he knows he’s a great pilot but the way he comes across at times you’re almost waiting for him to say it to the rest of the team, but this is a very different character to the Corran Horn from the book ‘I, Jedi’, set years later who feels a lot more grounded.
Stackpole’s first book in the series is a strong and enjoyable one, so much so that I have listened to the three hour audiobook twice (I listen at 1.5 speed so it’s shorter than that) and I have been a bit presumptuous and bought books two and three on Audible as well.
Whilst I’m sure Patty Jenkins won’t be adapting this book or series in her film, I do hope that she takes some cues from Stackpole and gives us some great and memorable characters like some we get here.
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