The Death Star has been destroyed. The Rebellion has delivered a massive tactical blow to the Empire, destroying its greatest weapon and killing almost everyone assigned to the space station.Only a few Imperial soldiers have survived. Darth Vader, legendary lord of the Sith, is one of them. TIE fighter pilot Iden Versio is another. In response to the rebel’s actions, Iden’s father, an Admiral with the Empire, comissions a new elite squad. The Inferno Squad.
This elite team are the protagonists in Christie Golden’s novel, “Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad.” The Inferno Squad, led by Iden, is also a main focus of the latest Star Wars video game, Battlefront II. Golden’s novel ties heavily into the events of both the original Star Wars film, aka “Episode IV: A New Hope.” It also ties heavily into the actions that occurred in Rogue One.
The Inferno Squad consists of four members. Iden, largely recognized as the best TIE Fighter pilot in the Empire. Gideon Hask, a fellow soldier and a friend for most of her life, is her closest ally. They are joined by Seyn Marana, an Intel officer, and Del Meeko, an ace engineer. The squad is given a series of missions from the admiral to prove their ability to work together. These missions, including crashing a wedding, require precise timing and trust. It is through this work that the team learns one another’s skills and abilities to adjust to survive.
The majority of the book centers around the Inferno Squad’s mission to infiltrate a faction of the rebellion. Just as their squad is the elite of the elite, the faction that they target is also extreme. Followers of the rebel extremist Saw Gurrera, the Dreamers seek to overthrow the Empire, regardless of the cost. Iden and her crew have the daunting task of infiltrating the Dreamers, learning what they know, identifying their sources, and putting an end to this wing of the rebellion.
Golden certainly knows the universe well. An author of over 50 novels, this is her fifth Star Wars novel. Die-hard fans will be able to follow along without blinking an eye. More casual readers may need to look up details to understand the anatomy of certain alien races. The names get slightly confusing, and at times, it may be difficult to remember them all. However, this is Star Wars, and that should be expected of a story taking place in this universe.
The Inferno Squad characters all have incredible depth. Golden explores some through their perspective, and reveals others through their actions. Often, she repeatedly uses a character’s strength only to have that strength turn into a vulnerability later. She uses dialogue with both reverence to the source material, and to unveil character’s true motives. “The Mentor thinks that rebellions are built on hope, “one character states, reciting Gurrera’s own words. He continues, “I don’t believe it. Rebellions are built on hate, Iden Versio.”
Inferno Squad is a thorough book that traverses sabotage, undercover work, and the ever changing dynamic of the Empire vs. the rebellion. The characters struggle with the plights of soldiers. They watch colleagues die in the name of service. Some make choices to save lives, while knowing that that choice may kill them in the process. Iden struggles for acceptance from her hard-nosed father. Each of the squad agonizes with the choice between following orders or betraying friends.
An excellent, fast-paced read that provides a view into its characters, Inferno Squad is a wonderful read. Star Wars hungry fans who don’t want to wait for the next movie or video game will definitely enjoy this one. Gamers who play Battlefront II will enjoy the gaming experience more after diving into Iden and her story.
Join the Inferno Squad, and follow along with Iden and her crew. Take up the mantle of the Empire, or side with the dreamers. The choice is yours.