Review: The Bacta War

by Michael A. Stackpole.

Book 4
Book 4

This worked out really cozy, didn’t it, one X-Wing book for every September Sunday?

In many ways, the initial X-Wing Series books parallel the original trilogy, with everyone being captive or dead by the end of the second installment and everyone having a big happy party at the end of the third, but there were so many hints throughout the closing chapters of The Krytos Trap that there was more to do and much more to come without a hint of the plot weakening. As usual, I’m reviewing a series and this means certain spoilers are intrinsic to the review! Don’t read a review for book 4 if you are worried about spoiling the end of book 2, for goodness’ sake.

The Rogues have gone rogue! With the squadron’s mass resignation from the fledgeling Republic in order to hunt down Ysanne Isard, Corran Horn and the others may have bitten off more than they can chew. On the other hand, the fifteen million credits given to Tycho Celchu to frame him as an Imperial agent are coming in very handy as they load up a new base and command structure.

Not that Isard has any intention of going quietly into that good night, and with her Super Star Destroyer and the galaxy’s entire bacta supply under her control, she can and will give them the fight of their lives — though she is beginning to reach the understanding that men like Wedge and Corran can’t be beaten by sheer numbers.

I ought to be annoyed by the trend of one-fakeout-death-per-book but somehow it doesn’t bother me at all. What is absolutely mesmerizing in these books is the societal aspects, the cultural references that make these these characters truly members of a population galaxies away, and not merely transplanted earthlings in space. The chapter dedicated to Tycho Celchu’s visit to the Alderaanian Graveyard makes clear the repercussions of the planet-killing so often taken for granted in the first movie. I also love Corran and Wedge’s highly analytical inner monologue; most authors would avoid giving us so much of their thought train, especially in the middle of an explosive Top Gun meets Green Berets kind of action book. But the characterization is what elevates this series above simple sequels to a popular space opera.

And just to add some icing to an already sweet cake — I absolutely love how Michael A. Stackpole weaves the entire timeline into his work. With the other books, it’s honestly anyone’s guess whether the author even looked at the preexisting books. Kevin J. Anderson throws in the required minor EU characters, but the way he writes Mara Jade makes one wonder if he even read the Thrawn Trilogy before getting to work. Not so with Stackpole: he has clearly done his homework, and with references to Zsinj and the appearance of Talon Karrde, he flawlessly connects the dots to make the EU that much more of a cohesive whole.

The X-Wing series is a masterpiece, Stackpole is a genius, and I have not grinned through a book like this since, well, the last one I just read from him! Indistputably awesome. Indisputably awesome.

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