X-Wing: Wedge's Gamble
[Michael A. Stackpole, Bantam Books, 1996]

Synopsis

Stackpole starts off with what he's best at - a space combat scene with Corran Horn against multiple adversaries.

Rogue Squadron is selected as the spearhead unit for the capture of Coruscant. Fallen comrades have been replaced, and the most noticeable new face is Pash Cracken, son of the WEG creation General Cracken.

Their mission comes in two parts - firstly to retrieve members of the "Black Sun" crime organisation from Kessel, and then to infiltrate Coruscant. Once inside the Empire's capital their task is to revive the "Black Sun" as a resistance movement, and to recce the Imperial defences for the forthcoming invasion.

However, Kirtan Loor - aware of their presence - is closing in on them.

Isard, Palpatine's successor, knows she cannot hold Coruscant and so plans a scorched-earth policy when she retreats. Her weapon of choice, the "Krytos" virus - genetically engineered to only attack non-humans.

By the end of the book the Rogues have succeeded in their mission, but at a terrible cost. Horn is missing-believed dead, though the readers are permitted to know that his fate is in fact worse than death.


Review

Stackpole has jam-packed this book full of references to the works of other SW novels. "Courtship of Princess Leia", as well as both Zahn's and KJA's trilogies get plugged here, and this reviewer feels that Stackpole's previous book was better for its lack of such references.

The references to Warlord Zsinj's infamous temper, for example, are clearly building up to the confrontation between him and Han Solo in Wolverton's book. Moruth Doole, product of the JA3, also appears - albeit briefly. We know that Stackpole has done his home on the Star Wars universe, but are all these cameo appearances truly necessary?

Another problem with this book - this time in the plotting, not the writing itself - is the number of unbelievable coincidences that occur. Stackpole expects us to believe that in a city which has a population of billions, a handful of characters keep bumping into each other whenever his story requires them to!

One aspect I did like about this novel, however, is the further exploration of the character of Kirtan Loor, Horn's nemesis. Stackpole has attempted to give his antagonist some depth, which in turn serves to improve the novel overall.

Rating: 60%

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