X-Wing: Iron Fist
[Aaron Allston, Bantam Books, 1998]


This book's plot is similar to that of "Bacta War", in so far as the Rebels masquerade as pirates in order to hunt down and defeat an ISSD-based Imperial.

Lara, the Imperial infiltrator introduced in the previous book, joins the Wraiths - but Zsinj has tracked her down with the intent of using her as a spy.

The other new Wraiths include one who is actually an interesting character - a human data-slicer who has a prejudice against non-humans! Another point of note is that mention is made here of the Coruscant celebration scene shown at the end of "Return of the Jedi: Special Edition" - Isard's stormtroopers slaughtered the entire crowd, and the new slicer blames himself.

The Wraiths' undercover operation is successful - they join Zsinj's forces for a large-scale attack on one of the most heavily-defended targets in the galaxy.

The book ends on a minor cliffhanger - Allston's Zsinj is not the fool that Stackpole made him out to be, and he knows that one of the many pirate bands he employed has betrayed him. It is only a matter of time before he discovers the Wraiths...


Kell, hero of "Wraith Squadron", has far less to do in this book - now the main character is Face, and Lara has a much bigger role. There are good reasons for the switch - Kell's story was played out in the earlier book, and he has less room for character development now his conflict has been resolved. Unlike the irritating superhuman Corran Horn, Kell is now an expendable character!

The New Republic is setting up its own Empire, attacking peaceful and legitimate governments. Back in the good old days, Marvel Comics had Luke and his friends helping local rebels overthrow oppressive Imperials - these days, the Wraiths [just like Stackpole's Rogues] just invade and plunder.

Also incredibly hypocritical is the Republic's moralistic stance against "pirates" - they seem intent on wiping out anyone who is not a member of Starfleet/whatever the NR decides to call its government structures. Even worse, they ignore the fact that they themselves used privateers in their war against Palpatine!

Wedge shows an incredible lack of judgement in this story - he should know to keep troublemakers where he can keep an eye on them!

On the bright side, Lieutenant Kettch makes a comeback - yub yub, commander!

Also, the fact that some of the Wraiths actually die in this book makes it more palatable and convincing than Stackpole's books.

Rating: 85%

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