What One Has Begun…

… one must finish.

Spoilers follow!

Wedge's Gamble (Star Wars: X-Wing, #2)Wedge’s Gamble by Michael A. Stackpole
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The downgrade of a rating here may seem not in keeping with my practice, especially as regards Star Wars novels and some of my favorite authors–but I assure you, I had good cause.

Wedge’s Gamble is a great second installment–but it reads like a second installment, as part of a larger whole. Much of the book is laying the groundwork for the two novels to follow. Yes, it’s true, the target of the book is to capture Coruscant, and Rogue Squadron makes that happen–but it’s anticlimactic. We know that Isard has prepared for a devastating, even crippling, set of events for the Rebels, and we know that she has captured Corran Horn, as of the epilogue.

That is the grand picture of my weakened satisfaction with the book. It has about as many typos as Rogue Squadron did, which I suppose is not surprising, although I still wonder how so many professionally edited books come through with so many typographical errors (you know, you pay somebody for a job, and you expect them to follow through, right? What else do copy editors and proofreaders even do?).

One thing that struck me as especially peculiar, for the second book in the X-Wing series, is that the characters spend almost no time whatsoever in X-Wings. Some very brief space combat takes place at the beginning, then aerial combat is relegated to speeder bikes and Z-95s. It reminds me of what Don Bellisario said about the second season of NCIS–they tried to avoid having a single ship or military uniform on the screen. Perhaps it reaches a broader audience, but don’t you think it’s a little weird?

I also find Corran’s emotional rejection of Tycho a little… contrived. Clearly, Corran is getting too wrapped up in his own head–but so wrapped up that he’s missing the obvious right in front of him? Erisi, whose incessant inquisitiveness and attempts at seduction, along with her conspicuous absence from scenes contemporaneous with the actions of Rogue Squadron’s spy, make her the obvious candidate to a man who has dedicated his life to finding out the truth. Corran’s detective chops, which are fairly well established by this point, are being called into question every time he ignores Erisi on account of her pretty… face.

All that said, I still like the book very much. Again, nostalgia may play a part, and these books played a formative role for my inner writer, but I maintain that they’re well-written. Stackpole doesn’t neglect his other characters, just because Corran is the main one (an unfortunate tendency of which I am sure to be guilty myself), and aside from a few objections (voiced verbosely above), I find the book a delightful read. On to the next!

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