Enemy Lines I: Rebel Dream by Aaron Allston (2002, Del Rey)
Aaron Allston, whose first Star Wars novels were the latter half of the X-wing series, made his foray into The New Jedi Order with a two-part series called Enemy Lines. Unsurprisingly (and much to my delight), the first book of this duology, Rebel Dream, reads a lot like one of Allston’s X-wing novels.
The book begins shortly after the fall of Coruscant in Star by Star. Rebel hero, two-time Death Star survivor, and all-around badass Wedge Antilles has withdrawn from Coruscant with a detachment of New Republic fighter squadrons to the (galactically speaking) nearby planet of Borleias. Long-time expanded universe readers will remember that, ironically, this is the planet from which Wedge and his pilots staged their push toward Coruscant in the first X-wing novel.
After capturing and holding the planet and having a very unfruitful meeting with the New Republic’s remaining bureaucrats, it becomes readily apparent to Wedge, Lando, Luke, and other members of Wedge’s trusted “Inner Circle” that the Republic is as good as gone, and the task that remains is for a new rebellion to be established—a resistance against the now-dominant Yuuzhan Vong.
Allston does a good job of balancing and servicing quite a few characters in this book. We have Wedge and the original trilogy cast, Corran Horn, Kyp Durron, members of Allston’s Wraith Squadron, and, of course, Jaina Solo, who, with Anakin dead, is poised to become the main series protagonist of the younger generation.
Wedge and his group decide to make continued use of the ruse Jaina began in Dark Journey, in an attempt to trick the more gullible of the Yuuzhan Vong into believing that Jaina is an avatar of the Vong trickster goddess, Yun-Harla. Most of Jaina’s time is taken up with posturing as the goddess and leading the hodge-podge Twin Suns fighter squadron against repeated attacks by the Vong. However, now that she’s mostly out of the woods with the whole dark side thing, she finds that she has to wrangle with her feelings for Jagged Fel, the dashing, chivalrous, and sometimes arrogant pilot who has joined her squadron.
Of course, all of this is going on with a mind-controlled, unwilling traitor in the midst.
Most enticing, however, are Luke’s premonitions of a dangerous dark side presence on Coruscant. Because the Yuuzhan Vong are somehow invisible in the Force, this indicates something different altogether lurking on the former capital world. Lando risks his neck to bring Luke, some of the Wraiths, and a party of additional Jedi to Coruscant, but this plot is largely left to be explored in the next book.
Rebel Dream, while remaining firmly a part of the New Jedi Order storyline, injects a lot of the flavor of the old Bantam novels, and the X-wing books in particular. A large cast of colorful characters, plenty of excitingly depicted space dogfights, and an overall lighter and more recognizably Star Wars tone pervade this book. Allston also peppers this novel with his distinct brand of witty dialogue, which is especially apt in the mouths of Han and Leia, whose wry banter is especially enjoyable in this novel. Allston manages this lightness of tone without ever letting the reader forget that Anakin Solo’s death is still taking its toll on the protagonists.
In short, Rebel Dream is a very fun read that combines the sensibilities of the New Jedi Order with those of older entries in the Star Wars canon. Next week, we’ll check out the second part of Enemy Lines, Rebel Stand.
(Big props to Dave Seeley, by the way. That’s the best cover I’ve seen on one of these books in a while.)