I recently had a disagreement with a few acquaintances of mine. They said that the Expanded Universe–I mean, “Legends” (thanks, Disney, for invalidating my childhood)*–was full of subpar novels and that they were glad it was all being wiped away. I responded that, considering the terms they were using to describe a library full of New York Times bestsellers, they seemed a little harsh, especially given their lack of specific objections.
After that, I wanted to go back and read some of the old favorites, since it’s been a few years. My first thought was Zahn’s Thrawn trilogy, the most unfairly maligned by these acquaintances, but my copies have long since been lost to the void of many moves and family members who may or may not have been the original owners. (My brother probably has them.) Without Zahn at my disposal, my next thought was the X-Wing series, which–thanks to my wife’s work managing my holiday wish lists–I have at least through the seventh installment.
Rogue Squadron is a great introductory work for the series. It lays a lot of groundwork for future installments, establishes the characters effectively, and sets us up for emotional turmoil when certain individuals kick the proverbial bucket. The conclusion of the book does not reveal all the secrets, but it doesn’t string us along too much. In short, this is a solid book, with high-quality writing, strong characters, and a plot that seems a reasonable extrapolation of the events closing out the original trilogy of films.
Not everything was perfect. There were a surprising number of typographical errors that I didn’t recall from previous reads, but it’s mostly the sort of thing that a spell-checker program would miss (if for is or it, that sort of thing). A few of the characters received minimal development, which let us treat them with relative dispassion on their passing.
But honestly, I forgave the author and the book, because the book had a lot of work to get done, and a few of the deaths really were emotionally charged for the reader.
At the end of the day, if I were being completely objective in my ratings, I’d drop this to 4 stars. If I were trying to be some kind of magazine reviewer, and my interest was primarily informational, then I might do something like that. As it stands, I’m nostalgic about this book, and I find its shortcomings easy to forgive; its rating stands at five stars in my book.
And those acquaintances of mine can go pound sand.
*I’m not saying Disney wasn’t justified, even–to a certain degree–required to make a statement like this. I’m just saying that when I was growing up, the Expanded Universe novels and games were a much deeper Star Wars experience than even the original trilogy. After the relative disappointment of the prequels, I realized that the EU was all up for grabs, and any future films would further alter what I had come to see as “reality” for the denizens of the Star Wars galaxy. I just wasn’t quite prepared for them to come out and say, “We’re doing whatever we want. Prepare to be disappointed when your favorite characters either (1) don’t make an appearance, or (2) don’t act like themselves if they do.” But I digress.