X-Wing - Iron Fist
by Aaron Allston
Published by Bantam
Scott's Rating: 4 out of 4
David's Rating: 4 out of 4
This is the sixth book in the X-Wing series and the second one featuring Wraith Squadron. Wraith Squadron continues their hunt for Warlord Zsinj and the Super Star Destroyer Iron Fist. In order to get closer to Zsinj's hidden empire, Wedge and the gang pose as a pirate group called the "Hawk-Bats" and begin attacking a Zsinj controlled planet with stolen TIE Interceptors. By displaying their fearsome capabilities, they hope Zsinj will take them into his confidence and reveal the location of his forces. However, can the Squadron overcome their own personal shortcomings and a spy in order to lead Han Solo to the renegade Imperial?
This is a very enjoyable book. It adds a few new cast members that are as intriguing as the original Wraiths. It also kills off a few that you care about just to show that it is not going to be predictable like with the movie characters. Not everyone makes it to the end of the book. It ain't called Star WARS for nothing. While I would not say anything major storywise takes place in this novel, there's a ton of interesting character development and some great action. You'll find yourself growing more and more fond of these characters. I especially like the addition of the spy Lara Notsil. She's going to be an important one to watch as the storyline progresses. And of course this novel has more of Aaron Allston's wonderful sense of humor. Few authors make me laugh out loud while reading like he does. He takes the joke of Lieutenant Kettch to new levels. Not only does he become even more of a laugh riot, he literally becomes an important part of the story at several points. I didn't see that coming, that's for sure. Finally, the cover is beautifully painted by Youll (though he's not credited in the book for some reason).
This book continues the tradition established by the previous X-Wing books: a lot of laughs, a lot of battles, and a death or two thrown in. Without giving too much away, the big death scene in this book is one of my favorites parts of any Star Wars book ever. I personally didn't see it coming at all. We finally meet the elusive Warlord Zsinj, and he becomes a villain the reader finds easy to hate. But what really grabbed me in this story was the humor. Allston has a real knack for writing funny situations and lines that don't seem forced, corny or out of place. The running gag of Lt. Kettch had me laughing out loud. This book has something for everyone.
The unfortunate thing about this book is that if you've read The Courtship of Princess Leia, you already know how the Zsinj conflict is going to end. Rather than thinking he might be nailed in this story, you know he makes it to that novel. While I love the idea of tying the novels all together, I think this book would have been better off creating another Warlord and having them face off against him. That way you wouldn't know how it ends in advance. Luckily, Allston and Stackpole are able to come up with a few surprises along the way which keeps it interesting.
I agree that it would have been better if Stackpole and Allston had come up with an original villain, so that we don't know the ending ahead of time, but other than that, there isn't a lot wrong with this book. If you haven't read the preceding X-Wing books, this one won't be nearly as great. On the other hand, anything that makes you read such a great series couldn't be bad!
Those bargain basement Imperial lobotomies. Ouch.
A psychopathic Talz. Scary.