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X-Wing - Wedge's Gamble
by Michael Stackpole

Published by Bantam Publishing

Scott's Rating:   3 out of 4
Darin's Rating:   3 out of 4

The leaders of the Rebel Alliance decide that it is time to invade Coruscant, the heart of the Empire. They call on Rogue Squadron to help them gather intelligence on the planet. Along the way, though, someone gets the bright idea that they need a cover, and that releasing criminals from Kessel will distract the Imperials from our favorite fighter pilots. Great idea, huh? Anyway, while all this is going on, it becomes apparent that there is a traitor among Rogue Squadron. Who could it be?

Meanwhile, Ysanne Isard, the Ice Queen, decides to prepare a little suprise for the Rebels. A deadly virus that only kills non-human aliens! How does this fit in with her plans? You'll see!

Finally, as Corran Horn finds himself torn between two loves, it becomes apparent that if the Rebels don't strike Coruscant quickly, they may lose their chance to capture the Imperial planet! Do they dare try?


    Like the first book in this series, it has a lot of action, cool dogfights, a lot of humor, mystery, etc. It was a very fun book to read. Again, Stackpole introduces more interesting characters and draws us closer to the ones who survived from the first novel. He has also created a truly evil villan who lives up to the nasty reputation she is given. Also, Stackpole addresses the question, " What would happed if a human fell in love with a non-human?" You know it had to be covered some time in the Star Wars storyline, and I think he handeled it pretty well. There was a really nice speederbike chase that was fun, and the big finish at the end, I thought, was pretty good. I also really liked how Corran handled himself when a woman was basically throwing herself at him. It's good to see a character enough in control of his hormones that he thinks about the consequences of a one night stand. You don't see that too often in books these days. After all, that is what Star Wars was about; good descisions and facing consequences.


    Being the middle book of a series, this one of course suffers from what I call the "bridge syndrome" (defined in "The Bad" later). However, Stackpole handles this quite well and turns out a book almost as exciting as the first one. As Scott mentioned, it is nice to see characters taking control over their hormones for once. Iceheart really gets defined better in this book, though I think the third book does the best. We get some more good flight/fight scenes and hone down who the major players in the third book will be. Overall, very enjoyable.


    I thought the logic behind releasing criminals to pester the Imperials was pretty weak. This was the main reason I gave it 3 death stars rather than 4. It seemed really stupid to me and not at all in character with how the leaders acted in the films. Also, I don't really like the refrences to Imperials as Imps and TIE Fighters as eyeballs. That's just my opinion. I just think they sound goofy. Also, the arguments by the aliens about Rogue Squadrom being racist didn't seem to hold water and was a waste of time, but then again, I've heard pretty dumb opinions in reality, so maybe it is more realistic than I give it credit for!


    I guess I better define "bridge syndrome." This is what happens in nearly every trilogy of novels out there. The first book is exciting in order to capture the audience, but you don't really get to know the characters all that well. In the second book (which suffers) the action is usually slower because the author has to set up all the situations and characters for the grand finale, which is of course in the final book. Thus, the second book serves primarily to bridge between the first and third books. This drags the book down (more boring details) because the entire plot-line could've been put into one or two books. To keep the intro and finale exciting, most of the fluff goes into the second book. This being a four-book series, it seems as if both the second and third books of the series got hit a little by this. The fourth book better be *really* exciting, because this author has wasted a lot of my time with fluff already. It seems to me that this four book series could be compressed into three books and be far more interesting.


    Aliens being devoured by the Ebola virus. That'll make you toss your cookies in a hurry!


    I second that.

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