Part 3 of the X-Wing series starts with a memorial service for Corran Horn, missing believed killed, and a terrorist attack by Kirtan Loor.
Horn is, of course, not dead - and not merely sleeping either. He's held captive in Isard's top security prison, Lusankya. The other captives include Jan, an old white-bearded high-ranking Rebel, and General Derricote - demoted from head of the Krytos Virus research project to slave labour.
Tycho Chelchu stands trial for Horn's murder, and treason against the New Republic - Horn's former CorSec partner heads the investigation, and although the Rogues are all behind Tycho the evidence is not in his favour.
Flirry Vorru is empowered by the New Republic to establish a Coruscant Constabulary, the aim being to hunt down Loor's terrorist group, but Vorru has plans of his own.
In the climax of the book, two mid-ranking villains are killed, Horn escapes the Lusankya with shocking ease and discovers more of his "secret Jedi heritage"(tm), and the identity of the traitor is revealed.
Of course, there's plenty of scope for the next book - Isard and two mid-ranking villains remain, so we are promised a follow-up with more of the same.
This book moves us through several story arcs within the overall series; Horn's emnity with Loor, Horn's heritage, the traitor in Rogue Squadron and so on. The "Horn's heritage" arc is particularly irritating, with its total lack of subtlety.
The sudden appearance of the SSD is a shock - but hardly convincing. The Rebels knew of the second Executor, and the acquisition of millions of repulsorlift units, but NOBODY knew where the SSD was concealed? Inconceivable!
There are a couple of nods to other non-movie Star Wars sources; Horn, like Mara Jade in "The Last Command", finds a concealed blaster in an Imperial dignitary's bookshelf - obviously a sign of Stackpole's respect for Zahn's work. Also, the Rebel prisoners' leader "Jan" is General Dodonna, an MIA like Horn since the pre-ESB "Classic Star Wars" comics but revived by Veitch for "Dark Empire".
However, one can't help but feel the series is becoming ever more formulaic, the plots ever more drawn out - and the "cliffhanger" ending somewhat tedious. "Will the Rogues hunt down Isard and the traitor? Will they free Thyferra from Imperial tyranny?" Who cares?
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