Friday, July 22, 2016

James Review -- Star Wars: Battlefront Twilight: Company

This week I decided to review Star Wars: Battlefront: Twilight Company by Alexander Freed.

In the aftermath of the Battle of Yavin, the Rebel Alliance launched a massive offensive into the Mid Rim. However, they overextended their forces and the Empire launched a counterattack. The main story begins on Haidoral Prime almost three months into the Alliance's fighting retreat. The Alliance's Sixty-First Mobile Infantry, or Twilight, Company receives a message about rebel prisoners being held in the Planetary Governor's mansion. A small team commanded by Sergeant Hazram Namir is sent to rescue the captives.

But when they arrive they find that the message was actually sent by Governor Everi Chalis who wishes to defect rather then face the wrath of her Imperial masters. Chalis is an expert on the Imperial supply grid and trade routes and she convinces Captain Micha Evon, otherwise known as Howl, who commands Twilight company, that her knowledge can allow the rebels to cripple the Empire. This leads to Twilight company being sent to the planet Coyerti which is the site of a major Imperial bioweapons lab.

But the Alliance must also defend the planet's natives who are temporarily all but defenseless due to their mating season. Eventually, Namir and Chalis find themselves stuck together on the Thunderstrike, Twilight Company's CR90 corvette, during a space battle and begin to become friends.  When Howl and Chalis are summoned to meet with Alliance High Command on Hoth, the former governor insists on Namir being an escort which leaves all three on Hoth when the Empire invades.

Namir and Chalis escape without Howl. Meanwhile, the Thunderstrike rescues the surviving crew of a rebel freighter but Brand, a former bounty hunter who originally joined the unit to claim the price on Howl's head but stayed her shot out of loyality to the friends she made, discovers that the rescued crew members are actually Imperial infiltrators. While Thunderstrike is saved, most of its officers are killed, leaving Namir in command of the company after they regroup. Chalis devises a campaign which will allow Twilight Company to take out the Imperial shipyards at Kuat.

But during an attack on Sullust--one of the battles intended to draw forces away from Kuat--the Empire begins a massive crackdown on the local population and Namir is forced to decide if his unit should prioritize crippling the Imperial starfleet or aiding the planet's population.

There are also a number of interludes showing scenes from Namir's life before he joined Twilight Company and short scenes focusing on Thara Nyende, a young woman from Sullust who becomes a stormtrooper seeking the means to aid her family and neighbors but finds her loyalties have made enemies from many of those she was trying to aid when the war comes to her homeland. Also included is the short story "Inbrief" by Janine K. Spendlove which focuses on the confrontation between Brand and Howl where she must choose her true allegiance.

I give this book 9 out of 10. The story is interesting and has enough surprises to keep from being too predictable. I enjoyed most of the combat sequences much more then I expected to and think they may be the best battles in recent Star Wars novels that I have read. However I feel that many of the flashbacks of Namir's life before Twilight Company added little to the story and wish the Thara Nyende plot had gotten more attention, especially once Twilight Company was on Sullust. I think getting to see one or more of the big battles that took place there from both sides would have been great, but it never happened.

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