People have asked me what my favorite Star Wars book is before. They’ve asked me what the best Star Wars book is. Those ideas always change for me, depending on what I’ve read most recently and what the newest Tim Zahn book is.
But if anyone ever thought to ask me which Star Wars book was the most fun, the answer would have to be Starfighters of Adumar, hands down. Click on the jump for more from our final X-wing retrospective as we gear up for Mercy Kill.
Why do I love this book?
Let’s start with the characterization. First, we get the Fab Four in Wedge, Tycho, Janson and Hobbie, and I’d like to point out that this is the first time we get an in-depth look at Hobbie. Stackpole had taken a good look at Wedge and Tycho in the first four X-wing books, Janson had gotten to shine during the Wraith Squadron books, but Hobbie hardly ever gets any attention. Suddenly, we have confirmation of what we’ve heard about in previous books: Hobbie is Janson’s best friend, and the two of them can get into plenty of trouble together.
Second, we get a look at Wedge the man, rather than Wedge the commander. What do I mean by this? Well, in most of the other X-wing books, we’ve had a focus on Wedge as the commander of the Rogues and the Wraiths, and most of his characterization has been defined by his military role. But in SoA, we finally get a look at Wedge as a man who has his own hopes and dreams and desires–namely, one Iella Wessiri. Did I mention that I love this book because Wedge and Iella finally get together? Because that’s another reason. The scene where Wedge refuses to leave Iella’s apartment because he knows that leaving will mean he never gets another chance with her is simply amazing and warms this unrepentant shipper’s heart.
Then there’s the plot. The plot of this book is great. A pilot-happy culture with manufacturing that could be converted to proton torpedo factories is deciding what side to take, and the New Republic and the Empire have both sent their best pilots as diplomatic envoys. But Wedge doesn’t play by the rules of New Republic Intelligence and refuses to sacrifice his morals to a so-called “greater good” of having Adumar join the New Republic. This nearly gets him and the other three pilots killed trying to escape one of the nation-states on the planet, and they find themselves leading a confederacy of other nations in order to stop a war of conquest in time to keep the Empire from returning in force.
But more than that, the plot is what I like about Star Wars. It’s not dark. It’s not gritty. But it still manages to deal with some pretty heavy concepts like honor, morality, and the greater good, while never delving into the harshness that much of the more recent books have been. The plot is simple, and I mean that in the best possible way. It’s streamlined, never convoluted, but it still requires you to stop and consider the implications of the choices the characters are making.
But without a doubt, the best part of this book comes down to the funny sections, usually coming from Janson and Hobbie. Janson and the flatscreen cloak with images of him dancing like a chorus girl. Hobbie volunteering to conduct a missile barrage. Of course, Wedge has his moments as well–the Antilles Four-Step Instant Speech, anyone?
Yet we never, ever forget that they’re soldiers. Every fight scene, whether on the ground or in the air, the four of them are lethal, and they know it. It’s almost chilling when Wedge runs into Turr Phennir and hears Janson’s vibroblade come out of its sheath behind him, just in case it’s needed. For all the levity, things are serious, and they know it.
On second thought, when it comes to my favorite Star Wars book, I think Starfighters of Adumar wins.