X-Wing - Isard's Revenge
by Michael Stackpole
Published by Bantam Publishing
Scott's Rating: 3 out of 4
Josh Radke's Rating: 3.5 out of 4
There are spoilers ahead, so don't read if you want to be suprised!
Isard and an Imperial Warlord named Krennel team up to oppose the New Republic. Since they are some of the strongest remaining members of the Imperials, they make prime targets to take down. The fact that Isard still holds prisoners from the Lusankya also helps. Unfortunately, between the New Republic being weakened after facing Thrawn and the bad guy's scheming, that proves more difficult than they thought.
Eventually, through complicated plotting and scheming, Rogue Squadron ends up in the hands of the real Isard. Turns out the one working with Krennel is a clone operating independently. The real Isard offers to help the New Republic defeat Krennel and the clone and recover the prisoners in exchange for amnesty. To do this, the Rogues must train as TIE pilots with Isard's Imperials. Eventually, though, we learn that Isard has bigger plans in mind to take down the New Republic, and of course, she fails.
Before I forget, I must compliment Paul Youll on yet another fantastic cover. He was not credited in the book, but thankfully Stackpole gives him credits in the acknowledgments. Some truly beautiful artwork! As for the story, it comes with everything you've loved from the previous novels: great dogfights, big space battles, humor between the pilots, and, of course, some of the pilots dying. I thought the battle between the AT-AT's and the X-Wings (as shown on the cover) was great. But I kept wondering why X-Wings weren't used on Hoth since there didn't seem to be a contest between them here. Maybe cold adaption, I don't know. The ending battle was a lot of fun and very exciting. It helped pick up the story and move it along, IMO. I also enjoyed seeing Whistler in solo action. Give the droids their due! And finally the use of the Noghri from someone besides Zahn was a truly welcome addition, though I would have liked to have seen more of them. Overall, this was a pretty good X-Wing story.
If I could sum this book up into one word it would be: awesomegreatandunbelievable (hey, if some lady who uses an umbrella to fly can do it, then so can I — at least I used real words). Anywho, this book had it all: action, humor, suspense, romance, comedy, plot-twists (even IF some of them were predictable), and emotion--basically everything that should be in a book with a Star Wars label on it. Personally, I think that this was Stackpole’s best book about the further adventures of Rogue Squadron. How Mike Stackpole can take so many threads and weave them together without confusing the reader, I’ll never know. First off, I must say that I was very impressed with how he took the droids and gave them their very own adventure. I think that a lot of Star Wars fans out there (including myself) forget how really intelligent these little guys are and how really nice it is to have them in a really ugly situation. I also like Prince-Admiral Krennel. Not only is he an Imperial’s Imperial, but it’s nice to remind the readers that not all Imperial officers went tothe same academy Ozzel did. And also, this book really showed the importance of at least getting familiar with the material in the Star Wars comics. Though they aren’t essential to read this book, it really helps—A LOT. Some of my favorite parts were the X-wings vs. Walkers (in which Scott has already made a good point), Corran’s assault on the Ciutric prison, and Booster burying his large Corellian fist into that sleezy Bothan, Borsk Fey’l’ya. If an artist ever paints this scene I hope he/she makes it suitable for framing. And finally, I’m glad Mike finally took the time to promote our Rogues and mention the TIE Defenders.
I've always been a big promoter for crossovers between the comics and the novels, and that is done extensively here. Unfortunately, since I didn't read all of the X-Wing comics, I was a bit lost when there were references to them. You could get through the story without reading the comics, but I felt I was missing something. As for the plot point of teaming up with Isard, it didn't jive well with me. Admittedly, the Rogues didn't have much of a choice going into the situation, but it seemed to be accepted by the Rogues, and the New Republic, way too easily. And, as no suprise, she betrayed them. Many will probably say Isard's clone was a cheap plot device, but I can accept it. However, I don't think the idea was explored enough, and I'm afraid her demise was left open so that she could come back, which would be annoying. I unfortunately never got totally into the story. Maybe it's because halfway through reading it, Episode I came out and my interests shifted. It's a good, solid X-Wing story, don't getta me wrongo. But I just never got fully wrapped up into it, which is why I gave it 3 out of 4.
The only part of this book I didn’t like was Isard as a clone. I think that using any characters as clones is a cheap way to bring them back for one “last” hurrah and that’s the only reason why it’s a half a point from being a four. I think that the Dark Empire and the Thrawn Trilogies set a dangerous precedent by using clone characters. And as long as clones are allowed it makes it way too easy for a writer have ANY villain make are turn at ANY time instead of new bad guys being created to battle our heroes. The Star Wars universe is huge. I think we can kill off villains (and even some heroes) without worrying whether we can replace them. I hope that the New Jedi Order series gets away from the clone characters.
The remains of the stormtroopers after the Noghri get to them. Ack!
The death of Urlor Sette. That gave me chills.