The Stolen Data Tapes
X-wing: Starfighters of Adumar by Aaron Allston (1999, Bantam)
Starfighters of Adumar is the ninth book in the X-wing series, and Aaron Allston’s fourth book therein. Unlike his other X-wing novels, this one doesn’t chronicle the adventures of Wraith Squadron. In fact, despite its being labeled as the ninth book in a series, it is a stand-alone novel that a reader with little to no knowledge of the expanded universe would have no trouble with.
When the planet Adumar is discovered after years of isolation from the galaxy at large, Wedge Antilles, of all people, is sent to oversee the New Republic’s diplomatic relations there. The reason for this is that Adumari culture honors starfighter pilots over people of any other profession. Honor, in fact, is very important in Adumari society—after a fashion. The Adumari are fond of dueling to the death, either in aerial dogfights or the through use of rather impractical weapons called “blastswords,” in order to accumulate prestige.

Wedge and his companions—Tycho Celchu, Wes Janson, “Hobbie” Klivian, and a documentarian named Hallis Saper, who wears a camera-equipped 3PO head on her shoulder—arrive on Adumar without having been briefed on any of this. Furthermore, Adumar is not a planetary government, but is rather comprised of many nations with contentious relationships. To top it all off, four pilots of the 181st Imperial Fighter Wing have already arrived, with aspirations to bring Adumar into what remains of the Empire.
As good as the resulting political maneuvering and moral dilemmas are, Starfighters of Adumar is further enhanced by the resolution of long-standing romantic tension between Wedge and New Republic Intelligence agent Iella Wessiri.

Iella first appeared in Michael A. Stackpole’s X-wing books, where, after the death of her husband, she and Wedge were established as potential love interests. The way in which Allston deals with Wedge’s existing relationship with Death Star scientist Qwi Xux is a little abrupt and smacks of a desire to just get her out of the way, but to be fair, that relationship, as developed in Kevin J. Anderson’s Jedi Academy Trilogy, isn’t entirely convincing (I was way too kind about it in my previous reviews). Allston does a far better job of writing romance that brings a cheesy grin to my face, rather than, as in the Jedi Academy books, a grimace at the cheesiness.
The Wedge/Iella relationship is just one example of Allston’s well-developed character dynamics. The friendship, teamwork, and banter of Wedge and his pilots is something at which Allston has always excelled. His use of dry humor throughout this book elicited many a smirk and chuckle from me.
Strong character work, dialogue, and plotting, as well as a massive air/space-battle climax, add up to make Starfighters of Adumar a great read. Many other reviews, message board comments, and the like that I’ve read about this book rate it as the best Star Wars novel. I wouldn’t necessarily go that far, but I won’t be surprised if, when all is said and done, it makes my top ten.

X-wing: Starfighters of Adumar by Aaron Allston (1999, Bantam)

Starfighters of Adumar is the ninth book in the X-wing series, and Aaron Allston’s fourth book therein. Unlike his other X-wing novels, this one doesn’t chronicle the adventures of Wraith Squadron. In fact, despite its being labeled as the ninth book in a series, it is a stand-alone novel that a reader with little to no knowledge of the expanded universe would have no trouble with.

When the planet Adumar is discovered after years of isolation from the galaxy at large, Wedge Antilles, of all people, is sent to oversee the New Republic’s diplomatic relations there. The reason for this is that Adumari culture honors starfighter pilots over people of any other profession. Honor, in fact, is very important in Adumari society—after a fashion. The Adumari are fond of dueling to the death, either in aerial dogfights or the through use of rather impractical weapons called “blastswords,” in order to accumulate prestige.

Wedge and his companions—Tycho Celchu, Wes Janson, “Hobbie” Klivian, and a documentarian named Hallis Saper, who wears a camera-equipped 3PO head on her shoulder—arrive on Adumar without having been briefed on any of this. Furthermore, Adumar is not a planetary government, but is rather comprised of many nations with contentious relationships. To top it all off, four pilots of the 181st Imperial Fighter Wing have already arrived, with aspirations to bring Adumar into what remains of the Empire.

As good as the resulting political maneuvering and moral dilemmas are, Starfighters of Adumar is further enhanced by the resolution of long-standing romantic tension between Wedge and New Republic Intelligence agent Iella Wessiri.

Iella first appeared in Michael A. Stackpole’s X-wing books, where, after the death of her husband, she and Wedge were established as potential love interests. The way in which Allston deals with Wedge’s existing relationship with Death Star scientist Qwi Xux is a little abrupt and smacks of a desire to just get her out of the way, but to be fair, that relationship, as developed in Kevin J. Anderson’s Jedi Academy Trilogy, isn’t entirely convincing (I was way too kind about it in my previous reviews). Allston does a far better job of writing romance that brings a cheesy grin to my face, rather than, as in the Jedi Academy books, a grimace at the cheesiness.

The Wedge/Iella relationship is just one example of Allston’s well-developed character dynamics. The friendship, teamwork, and banter of Wedge and his pilots is something at which Allston has always excelled. His use of dry humor throughout this book elicited many a smirk and chuckle from me.

Strong character work, dialogue, and plotting, as well as a massive air/space-battle climax, add up to make Starfighters of Adumar a great read. Many other reviews, message board comments, and the like that I’ve read about this book rate it as the best Star Wars novel. I wouldn’t necessarily go that far, but I won’t be surprised if, when all is said and done, it makes my top ten.

X-wing: Wraith Squadron by Aaron Allston (1998, Bantam)
Wraith Squadron is the fifth book in the X-wing series, which began with a sequence of four novels by Michael Stackpole and formed a complete and self-contained narrative. Wraith Squadron, written instead by Aaron Allston and featuring a largely different cast of characters, has always felt to me like the beginning of a new series.

There is some connective tissue here: Wraith Squadron’s first chapter opens with Rogue Squadron, the focus of the previous four novels, returning to Coruscant shortly after the events of The Bacta War; Wedge Antilles is once again one of the principal characters. For the most part, however, stylistic and thematic elements are what connect Wraith Squadron and its two direct sequels, Iron Fist and Solo Command, to the previous X-wing books. Allston’s X-wing novels deal with the group dynamics of an X-wing unit and feature plenty of fast-paced space battles and covert missions.

Previous missions have inspired Wedge to create a new squadron that will feature adept pilots that are also skilled with stealth, intrusion, and infiltration. Antilles decides to assemble the unit largely out of misfit pilots, who have gotten in trouble in the past or are otherwise considered unfit by their superiors.



These include: Kell Tainer, whose father, a Rebel pilot, was shot down by Wes Janson—now also assigned to Wraith Squadron— while deserting his squadron during a crucial mission; Voort “Piggy” SaBinring, a genetically altered Gamorrean involved in several physical altercations; Myn Donos, the sole survivor of his previous X-wing squadron; Garik “Face” Loran, a former Imperial propaganda child star; Ton Phanan, a doctor who has lost most of his body parts in battle; and… this guy:



To be entirely honest, when I first read the Wraith Squadron books as a kid, I never put together that Hohass “Runt” Ekwesh was a horse-man. The “short brown fur […], elongated face, huge brown eyes, […] broad, flattened nose, and […] mouth full of squarish white teeth” didn’t tip me off; nor did the fact that his name might as well be “Horse Equestrian.” Realizing it this time around made Runt (so nicknamed because of his small stature in relation to the Thakwaash species) a little difficult to take seriously, but one gets used to him. To be entirely fair, there are less silly-looking visual interpretations of the character:



While Rogue Squadron hooked me on its new characters and premise right away, Wraith Squadron was more of a slow burn. The characters, while colorful, took a while to grow on me; Allston doesn’t bring their defining traits to the fore as quickly as Stackpole did his characters’. While the new Rogue pilots spent a good portion of the novel in training as well, it seemed as if this book’s plot took longer to lift off than that of Rogue Squadron.  

Despite what I felt was a slower start, that gradual build does pay off. Folor Base—the moon installation where the Rogues also trained—is attacked by Admiral Apwar Trigit, a subordinate of the powerful Warlord Zsinj. Thanks to the efforts of the Wraiths, most of the New Republic personnel are able to escape. Shortly thereafter, the Wraiths capture the Corellian corvette Night Caller and impersonate its crew in a prolonged mission to capture or destroy Admiral Trigit’s Imperial Star Destroyer, the Implacable.
As stated above, Wraith Squadron didn’t hook me right away, but its diverse cast of “damaged goods”-type characters, quirky sense of humor, and series of intense stealth missions kept me turning pages and had me fully invested by the end.

Be sure to check back on Wednesday for my review of Iron Fist, and again on Friday for Solo Command.

X-wing: Wraith Squadron by Aaron Allston (1998, Bantam)

Wraith Squadron is the fifth book in the X-wing series, which began with a sequence of four novels by Michael Stackpole and formed a complete and self-contained narrative. Wraith Squadron, written instead by Aaron Allston and featuring a largely different cast of characters, has always felt to me like the beginning of a new series.

There is some connective tissue here: Wraith Squadron’s first chapter opens with Rogue Squadron, the focus of the previous four novels, returning to Coruscant shortly after the events of The Bacta War; Wedge Antilles is once again one of the principal characters. For the most part, however, stylistic and thematic elements are what connect Wraith Squadron and its two direct sequels, Iron Fist and Solo Command, to the previous X-wing books. Allston’s X-wing novels deal with the group dynamics of an X-wing unit and feature plenty of fast-paced space battles and covert missions.

Previous missions have inspired Wedge to create a new squadron that will feature adept pilots that are also skilled with stealth, intrusion, and infiltration. Antilles decides to assemble the unit largely out of misfit pilots, who have gotten in trouble in the past or are otherwise considered unfit by their superiors.

These include: Kell Tainer, whose father, a Rebel pilot, was shot down by Wes Janson—now also assigned to Wraith Squadron— while deserting his squadron during a crucial mission; Voort “Piggy” SaBinring, a genetically altered Gamorrean involved in several physical altercations; Myn Donos, the sole survivor of his previous X-wing squadron; Garik “Face” Loran, a former Imperial propaganda child star; Ton Phanan, a doctor who has lost most of his body parts in battle; and… this guy:

To be entirely honest, when I first read the Wraith Squadron books as a kid, I never put together that Hohass “Runt” Ekwesh was a horse-man. The “short brown fur […], elongated face, huge brown eyes, […] broad, flattened nose, and […] mouth full of squarish white teeth” didn’t tip me off; nor did the fact that his name might as well be “Horse Equestrian.” Realizing it this time around made Runt (so nicknamed because of his small stature in relation to the Thakwaash species) a little difficult to take seriously, but one gets used to him. To be entirely fair, there are less silly-looking visual interpretations of the character:

While Rogue Squadron hooked me on its new characters and premise right away, Wraith Squadron was more of a slow burn. The characters, while colorful, took a while to grow on me; Allston doesn’t bring their defining traits to the fore as quickly as Stackpole did his characters’. While the new Rogue pilots spent a good portion of the novel in training as well, it seemed as if this book’s plot took longer to lift off than that of Rogue Squadron.  

Despite what I felt was a slower start, that gradual build does pay off. Folor Base—the moon installation where the Rogues also trained—is attacked by Admiral Apwar Trigit, a subordinate of the powerful Warlord Zsinj. Thanks to the efforts of the Wraiths, most of the New Republic personnel are able to escape. Shortly thereafter, the Wraiths capture the Corellian corvette Night Caller and impersonate its crew in a prolonged mission to capture or destroy Admiral Trigit’s Imperial Star Destroyer, the Implacable.

As stated above, Wraith Squadron didn’t hook me right away, but its diverse cast of “damaged goods”-type characters, quirky sense of humor, and series of intense stealth missions kept me turning pages and had me fully invested by the end.

Be sure to check back on Wednesday for my review of Iron Fist, and again on Friday for Solo Command.