X-Wing - Starfighters of Adumar
by Aaron Allston
Published by Bantam Publishing
Scott's Rating: 4 out of 4
Adrian's Rating: 3.5 out of 4
While still part of the X-Wing series, this is pretty much a stand alone novel that takes place some time after the Jedi Academy Trilogy. It is an adventure featuring Wedge Antilles and several of the other Rogues.
It starts out with Wedge breaking up with Qwi Xux from the Jedi Academy novels. When he's about to leave to sort things out, he's drafted into a diplomatic mission to Adumar. During the days of the Old Republic, some rebels were defeated and then hid on Adumar in exile. All these year later, they are discovered again. They are also prime makers of proton torpedoes, a much needed resource to both the remains of the Empire and the New Republic. Wedge and the gang are sent to woo them to the good guy's side. Unfortunately, he must deal with their odd language and culture. They love starfighter pilots and having duels to the death with each other for "honor". Wedge eventually has to face the Imperials, a corrupt New Republic diplomat, a civil war, and the Adumari love of battle in order to save the day. Along the way he also runs across Iella Wessari who is undercover as a spy, and they strike up their romance again.
I was very glad to see this stand alone book. Anyone could pick it up and follow the story without much trouble, unlike many of the other cool books in this series. It also starts the ball rolling on some character development in Wedge Antilles, which is very good. Considering that many of the books have not done much to progress the characters from the films, it is always a welcome change when the author does this.
This novel adds a cool new world with a unique culture with Adumar. The concept of dueling for honor on a regular basis was an interesting thing to explore. This book also has all the things you know and love from Star Wars - action, fight scenes, space battles, romance, and humor. Aaron Allston handles all this very well as he usually does.
The cover is also extremely cool, though I must comment that on the book covers, the painting looks like it was made from a color printer. There are lines and graininess in the artwork. Maybe it's my imagination, but it didn't seem as clear and crisp as past covers.
It is difficult to know where to begin for this section, as this is an excellent story, probably Allston's best Star Wars novel yet.
'Starfighters of Adumar' is an enjoyable and well-written book for a number of reasons. Firstly, it simplifies matters by reducing the number of main characters. This makes it easier to stay focused on the story, particularly as the main characters are those we are already familiar with; Wedge, Tycho, Janson, and Hobbie. Iella also plays an important role.
It was interesting to see Wedge really angry for once, particularly at a fellow New Republic General! The departure of Qwi and entrance of Iella into Wedge's love life was also handled well.
Some of the foes the Rogues face have appeared before, and both are worthy of reappearing. Admiral Rogriss (Solo Command) and Turr Phennir (X-Wing comics #22-25) appear to convince Adumar to join the Empire. I was glad to see them featured again, as both have the potential to be very interesting characters, neither being the 'generic Imperial warlord' type of character that has appeared from time to time. The appearance of the 181st Imperial Fighter Group (for real this time around!) was a nice touch.
That this is a stand-alone story makes for a pleasant change in the X-Wing series, as is the fact that the story basically takes place on one planet, dealing largely with a single, new society. These two factors mean that much better focus on the events at hand is possible.
That much of the flying and air combat takes place in Adumari craft was also a wise move on Allston's part, as it has been fairly comprehensively proven that Rogues in X-Wings are capable of just about anything. Yet more dogfights in which yet more hapless TIE Fighters are blown away by the X-Wings of Rogue Squadron have been featured quite a lot by this point, and having Wedge and his companions flying different craft also served to make them more vulnerable, and add some welcome variety. Having much of the air action utilize Adumari 'Blade' fighters gave a fresh angle to this story, and it was also enjoyable to see the Imperials flying superior craft for once!
In short, Allston avoids the problems that have appeared in prior X-Wing novels, creates an interesting setting, and tells a good story. The result is a very enjoyable novel.
I only have one minor gripe. Humor is one of Aaron Allston's strong points as I've always said. However, this book was a little TOO packed with humor. There were a couple of times where the pilots would joke back and forth for a couple of pages, and it kind of got old in places. There was also a point where Iella makes a joke to Wedge about using tickling as a weapon, and I about gagged on sugar overload. :) But don't getta me wrongo, I loved this book and Allston's writing.
There is not a huge amount that is wrong with this book, but there were some things that could have been done better. More detail could have been devoted to looking at the Imperial characters, such as what Phennir has been doing since he took charge of the 181st, where he got his scar, and what his background is generally. Admiral Rogriss could also have used some more time devoted to his beliefs and history, particularly given his dilemma and role in the plot.
Along the same lines, it would have been good to see Adumar developed a little more, with greater detail provided of its history and culture being revealed, and the dueling obsession could have been explained in a bit more detail than 'it is honourable'. On the other hand, European aristocrats managed to kill each other in large numbers through duels based on little more justification in centuries past. In short, more background information on the setting and antagonists would have served this story well.
The comment about multi-colored vomit. Ick.
Janson's suggested 'Wedge Purge', where the Adumari would be so impressed if Wedge threw up, that they would emulate him, eating different coloured foods to add variety. Ugh.