Review: “Star Wars–X-Wing: Mercy Kill” by Aaron Allston

Title: X-Wing: Mercy Kill
Author: Aaron Allston
Series: Star Wars: X-Wing #10 (Legends Canon)
Rating: *****
Publisher/Copyright: Del Rey, 2012

Do you remember fondly the Star Wars novels of the 90s? Are you into Star Wars but a newcomer to the Expanded Universe? Do you enjoy your Star Wars with an undertone of comedy, so long as a certain floppy-eared terror is nowhere in sight? If so, X-Wing: Mercy Kill may be a good book for you to check out.

Unlike most of the books being released set in the “modern” era of the Star Wars universe (44 ABY–i.e., 44 Years post-Episode IV), Mercy Kill lets you jump right in, more or less without knowing the situation to that point. A lot of the others you could read cold, but they wouldn’t make much sense. Mercy Kill, however, has little to do with the ongoing plot of the Expanded Universe. It’s rooted in recent events, but the setup is very simple and easily grasped. It would pay to know the characters from the X-Wing novels of the 90s, but even that is not really necessary. You could check out three or four articles on Wookiepedia and be fine–I did, just to refresh my memory.

So….here’s what you need to know. In the 90s, they published a series of comics and then novels based around Rogue Squadron, led by Wedge Antilles and a number of the X-Wing pilots from the films along with some new faces. These comics and the first four novels were written by Michael Stackpole, but after the fourth he dropped out for a while citing other commitments he had to work on. So they hired in Aaron Allston to continue the series. Allston decided to let the Rogues go off on their own adventures while he created a new team for his novels–Wraith Squadron, a team of X-Wing pilots who would work equally well as a ground-based commando team. The result was a cross between The A-Team and The Dirty Dozen, with some aerial action thrown in. For the purposes of this new novel, notable characters included Garik “Face” Loran, a child star turned soldier and the eventual commander of the Wraiths; and Voort “Piggy” SaBinring, a genetically-modified Gamorrean. There are a few other returning faces, but these were the better developed and you can probably get by just knowing them.

The Star Wars publishing event of the early 2000s was the New Jedi Order series, in which a race of extra-galactic aliens called the Yuuzhan Vong invaded the Galaxy Far, Far Away and sought to subjugate its people. They almost did it, and they changed the way Star Wars novels worked in the process. Characters–MAIN CHARACTERS–died. Chewbacca, Han and Leia’s youngest son Anakin Solo, and countless others fell to the military might of the invaders. There have been other upheavals since, most notably a second Galactic Civil War when Han and Leia’s oldest son Jacen Solo fell to the Dark Side. In the aftermath of that war, a conspiracy was formed to take over both the Galactic Alliance and the Empire and merge them together once again, recapturing the glory of the height of the Old Empire. This conspiracy failed, but it may not have been completely rooted out…..

In this book, Garik Loran is called out of retirement by the head of the Alliance military. He wants Loran to quietly look into rumors that an up-and-coming officer may have been connected to the Lecerson Conspiracy. Wraith Squadron is back in business! The resulting adventure is a fun trip, dealing both in nostalgia for those of us who read the adventures of the original Wraiths long ago and in action that newer fans can get into, all the while serving up Allston’s signature undertone of humor mixed with heart. I heartily recommend it. The one caveat I will mention for fans of the original books is that there is comparatively little aerial combat in this book. The plot doesn’t call for it, and I certainly didn’t really miss it too much, but some may be disappointed by that.

If you want more reading suggestions, the X-Wing: Rogue Squadron comics and X-Wing novels are quite good. If you wanted to enhance your experience with this book, I would have you read at least the novels, but you may not have the patience for all nine of the previous books. If not, I won’t hold it against you.

Content-wise, they keep the Star Wars novels pretty PG. Mild language, mild violence, mild innuendos…..nothing to worry about.

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Filed under Books, Novels, Reviews, Star Wars

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