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Alphabet Squadron

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Listening Length: 13 hours and 51 minutes Penguin presents the audiobook edition of Alphabet Squadron, written by Alexander Freed, read by Saskia Maarleveld. On the verge of victory in a brutal war, five New Republic pilots transform from hunted to hunters in this epic Star Wars adventure. The Emperor is dead. His final weapon has been destroyed. The imperial army is in dis Listening Length: 13 hours and 51 minutes Penguin presents the audiobook edition of Alphabet Squadron, written by Alexander Freed, read by Saskia Maarleveld. On the verge of victory in a brutal war, five New Republic pilots transform from hunted to hunters in this epic Star Wars adventure. The Emperor is dead. His final weapon has been destroyed. The imperial army is in disarray. In the aftermath, Yrica Quell is just one of thousands of defectors from her former cause living in a deserters' shantytown - until she is selected to join Alphabet Squadron. Cobbled together from an eclectic assortment of pilots and starfighters, the five members of Alphabet are tasked by New Republic General Hera Syndulla herself. Like Yrica, each is a talented pilot struggling to find their place in a changing galaxy. Their mission: to track down and destroy the mysterious Shadow Wing, a lethal force of TIE fighters exacting bloody, reckless vengeance in the twilight of their reign. The newly formed unit embodies the heart and soul of the Rebellion: ragtag, resourceful, scrappy and emboldened by their most audacious victory in decades. But going from underdog rebels to celebrated heroes isn't as easy as it seems, and their inner demons threaten them as much as their enemies among the stars. The wayward warriors of Alphabet Squad will have to learn to fly together if they want to protect the new era of peace they've fought so hard to achieve.


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Listening Length: 13 hours and 51 minutes Penguin presents the audiobook edition of Alphabet Squadron, written by Alexander Freed, read by Saskia Maarleveld. On the verge of victory in a brutal war, five New Republic pilots transform from hunted to hunters in this epic Star Wars adventure. The Emperor is dead. His final weapon has been destroyed. The imperial army is in dis Listening Length: 13 hours and 51 minutes Penguin presents the audiobook edition of Alphabet Squadron, written by Alexander Freed, read by Saskia Maarleveld. On the verge of victory in a brutal war, five New Republic pilots transform from hunted to hunters in this epic Star Wars adventure. The Emperor is dead. His final weapon has been destroyed. The imperial army is in disarray. In the aftermath, Yrica Quell is just one of thousands of defectors from her former cause living in a deserters' shantytown - until she is selected to join Alphabet Squadron. Cobbled together from an eclectic assortment of pilots and starfighters, the five members of Alphabet are tasked by New Republic General Hera Syndulla herself. Like Yrica, each is a talented pilot struggling to find their place in a changing galaxy. Their mission: to track down and destroy the mysterious Shadow Wing, a lethal force of TIE fighters exacting bloody, reckless vengeance in the twilight of their reign. The newly formed unit embodies the heart and soul of the Rebellion: ragtag, resourceful, scrappy and emboldened by their most audacious victory in decades. But going from underdog rebels to celebrated heroes isn't as easy as it seems, and their inner demons threaten them as much as their enemies among the stars. The wayward warriors of Alphabet Squad will have to learn to fly together if they want to protect the new era of peace they've fought so hard to achieve.

30 review for Alphabet Squadron

  1. 4 out of 5

    Khurram

    I really did enjoy this book, and would give it 4 stars for the story but the extra star for potential. It is a bit slow at the beginning but this is good as it setting up completely new characters. The book is set in the transition era of (Disney) Star Wars. Six months after the Battle of Endor. The Empire has just been defeated, the new government is taking over, but in the frontlines the fighting continues. The New Republic gaining ground inch by inch, the stattered Empire now having to use go I really did enjoy this book, and would give it 4 stars for the story but the extra star for potential. It is a bit slow at the beginning but this is good as it setting up completely new characters. The book is set in the transition era of (Disney) Star Wars. Six months after the Battle of Endor. The Empire has just been defeated, the new government is taking over, but in the frontlines the fighting continues. The New Republic gaining ground inch by inch, the stattered Empire now having to use gorilla and scorched earth tactics. This is the introduction to the 204th Imperial unit known as Shadow Wing. This book is the sequel to the Tie Fighter comics. Imperials have three defect, disappear, or carry on fighting in the name of the dead Emperor. None of these choices are easy especially for the late defectors. Now a New Republic intelligence offices has made it his mission to take down Shadow Wing, for his own agenda, to do this he need the help of a defector formerly from that unit. He also recruits a patch work number of individuals/pilots as different as their fighters types. Each has their own reason for joining and their own secret. Is even a common enemy enough to keep this unit together. Being a huge fan of Star Wars and the Expanded Universe, I am glad that Disney decided on this approach. They are using their own characters (including a legend of their own TV series making), and developing them. Also they are doing it in an era that the EU largely ignored. The transition of power and government was very quick in the original universe, and the legendary characters from the universe I grew up with lived on expanding their legacies. If any of these characters were used in the book my first reaction would be to compare them to how I envisioned them (from the original movies and the EU), to how they were portrayed here. I really like and respect developing their own characters, and truly see potential in this book series.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Neil R. Coulter

    April 2021 review This is my second time through Alphabet Squadron, as I look forward to now getting to read the whole series straight through. I loved the book the first time I read it, but I was a little worried that it might not hold up so well the second time. I shouldn’t have worried: it’s brilliant. It is by far the best SW book I’ve read, and the reread was just as great as the first time. In addition to all that I wrote about it in the first review, below—apparently I had a lot of time to April 2021 review This is my second time through Alphabet Squadron, as I look forward to now getting to read the whole series straight through. I loved the book the first time I read it, but I was a little worried that it might not hold up so well the second time. I shouldn’t have worried: it’s brilliant. It is by far the best SW book I’ve read, and the reread was just as great as the first time. In addition to all that I wrote about it in the first review, below—apparently I had a lot of time to write a review that day—which I still agree with, what struck me this time was the way Alexander Freed captures small moments in the SW galaxy that most other creators overlook. There’s a scene, for example, where a pilot gets into her ship and flies it out of the carrier’s hangar and into space. Freed writes about that transition, moving through the brightly illuminated hangar exit and the feeling of suddenly being out in space. In another scene a pilot maneuvers up and down through a planet’s colorful atmosphere before continuing up into space. Scenes like this capture a wonder of being in Star Wars that hardly any creator has ever tapped into. Where most authors write scenes that go something like this—“Then they hopped into their starfighters and launched into space, where they had an awesome battle with an overwhelming number of enemy ships”—Freed intuitively feels what it would really be like to be in every moment. He makes SW real, which is something more than just making SW grittier, or more politically relevant, or tragic, or sarcastic and ironic, or any of the other tactics some authors have attempted in the new canon. Alphabet Squadron is not only the best SW book—it’s also at the same level as my favorite SW films. Please, Books 2 and 3, please don’t ruin this... July 2019 review Alphabet Squadron is the best Star Wars novel I’ve read, and Alexander Freed continues to be the best Star Wars novelist—at least 12 parsecs above any other SW writer. His previous novel, Battlefront: Twilight Squadron , was the first book in the new canon that finally started to explore the potential complexities that other SW books have missed entirely. Alphabet Squadron matches that earlier story and deepens the mythology still further. Freed is also bolder in this story: where Battlefront included cameos by Han Solo and Darth Vader, along with a new perspective on the Hoth battle from The Empire Strikes Back, the only familiar face in Alphabet Squadron is Hera Syndulla, from Rebels. Everyone else is new, and none of the locations are familiar. (Names and places from other stories are, of course, mentioned in a natural way, but the story doesn’t actually bring them in to play a role.) As with Battlefront, this means the first 50 pages or more of this book are very challenging to work through, as I was confronted with a barrage of new names, alien species that, even as a pretty knowledgeable SW fan, I often had to look up online to remember what they look like, and histories and backstories that don’t quite connect to anything I know. The difficulty is that there’s no way of knowing in those early pages which characters and details are going to be important later on. Enduring through those early chapters is worth it, however, and Alphabet Squadron is a SW book I look forward to re-reading. As I’ve read the books in the new SW canon, what I’ve wanted is for authors to take advantage of the size of the galaxy (not everything has to connect directly to Luke, Han, and Leia), and the possible connections to real-world issues. Very few authors have been able to accomplish that—and, to be fair, that may have more to do with restrictions from Lucasfilm than with the authors’ own skills and interests. I’ve also been disappointed that no new SW stories (including The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi) seem to know what to do with the post-Endor era. The Shattered Empire graphic novel was bland, Bloodline had to avoid too many important details because of future-movie restrictions, and the less said about the Aftermath trilogy, the better. Freed is given the right space to be able to avoid all of these pitfalls, and the story he crafts is a nuanced, complex, troubling reflection on the effects of war, even after a supposed “victory.” His characters bring backstories full of personal conflict—disloyalty to all sides, unresolved grief over fallen comrades, lack of clarity about the right path ahead, and self-doubt in almost everything. I especially resonated with a character who dreams of becoming a heroic martyr but is always denied the opportunity. The climax of this story is celebrated as a victory, but only because that’s the way the New Republic needs to spin it; the main protagonists feel it as a deeply disturbing near-catastrophe that they themselves caused. This doesn’t sound like a happy, action-movie kind of story, and it’s not—which is just what I’ve wanted in SW books. A question woven throughout the book is: How does a guerilla rebel group defeat tyranny and then, believing themselves to be in the right, rebuild a galactic government without perpetuating the same tyranny all over again? We see repeatedly that the New Republic struggles to comprehend the fact that they won—they’re no longer the underdog that has to use questionable tactics to achieve victory. In the final battle, we see that from a certain point of view, the New Republic looks a lot like the Empire in how they achieve peace. Freed also shows us Imperials in more close-up detail than we’ve seen before, allowing us to understand them as real people with motivations that make sense and valid reasons for despising the New Republic. This may sound similar to conflicts portrayed in Rogue One (Freed wrote the novelization), and it is, but the tension is a little different in this story, because it’s not about the ones who fall in battle, but about those who survive past the victory. I can tell Freed shares my admiration of Rogue One, as he sets up Jyn Erso as a martyr whose example continues to inspire people, even after Endor:“You know Jyn Erso?” she began, because if they didn’t the rest of the story would be meaningless. “The woman who started it all and destroyed the Death Star? The first one, the real one, I mean.””General Skywalker and Red Squadron destroyed the Death Star,” Nath said.”Skywalker fired the last shot, was all. Jyn did everything that mattered.” (259)Amen. You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become a grumpy old guy surrounded by porgs. Sometimes SW authors (and filmmakers) allow themselves to have too much fun being clever and referencing elements of other SW stories. Freed’s writing is serious and focused, but he occasionally has some verbal fun, and it always worked for me. For example, this is the first novel I’ve read that suggests the title “Star Wars” itself (“In the stars, Chass saw war” (262)), and the opening line of every trilogy movie:His voice dropped in pitch and volume. He told the story like a prayer, and Chass listened.“It feels like a long time ago now, far away from here” (96).Very fun! In the Acknowledgements, Freed says that this is the first book in a series of three. Yes! I hope the next books continue to probe the issue of what it means for there to be a galactic government, whether a galactic government is even necessary or right, and how a rebel faction could bring order after years of war. (Which we know they don’t, because the First Order still seems to have the upper hand some years after the events in Alphabet Squadron; which is sad.) I look forward to re-reading this book before the next one is published. I hope this is the direction (or at least a direction) SW moves from this point on. Books like this, movies like Rogue One, series like Rebels, and the early glimpses of The Mandalorian are reasons for optimism.

  3. 5 out of 5

    ♠ Tabi⁷ ♠

    yeah I love Star Wars with an immeasurable passion but tbh I'm mostly adding this because of that FIERCE cover mkay yeah I love Star Wars with an immeasurable passion but tbh I'm mostly adding this because of that FIERCE cover mkay

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tait Sougstad

    These characters are flatter than the paper they are printed on, and the plot dragged on like I was listening at x0.5 speed. There's the jaded Imperial turncoat, trying to earn some justification from her former enemy; the bureaucrat playing spy; the interrogator droid turned therapist; the guy with a good heart who lost everything, and the comrade who resents him for saving her; the other maverick turncoat who cares only for himself; a cameo from a very important canon character. Somehow, nearly These characters are flatter than the paper they are printed on, and the plot dragged on like I was listening at x0.5 speed. There's the jaded Imperial turncoat, trying to earn some justification from her former enemy; the bureaucrat playing spy; the interrogator droid turned therapist; the guy with a good heart who lost everything, and the comrade who resents him for saving her; the other maverick turncoat who cares only for himself; a cameo from a very important canon character. Somehow, nearly a third into the book, these people finally assemble. Chips from their shoulders assault the reader's face. Allusions to homosexuality are inconsequentially made to ensure the book meets the inclusivity quota. The mcguffin of the story is the search for the illusive 204th Imperial Fighter Wing. Why? Well, because they are... really tough. Super tough. They shoot down all the ships. But, for some reason, they are also really hard to find. If they can find them, maybe they can shoot them down before they shoot more others down, and save the day. We kind of barely get to see a little about them, but mostly they are ominous, nameless, faceless baddies, not really worth getting to know, I guess. But we have a chip on our shoulder about them! I can't believe this is the setup for a trilogy. It has no consequence. Characters barely develop. Even the space battle action is described so sparingly that I couldn't ever get a good picture in my mind of what it was supposed to look like and what was happening. Lots of time describing how angsty everyone is, and how big their chips are. So disappointing. It would be nice (I'm talking to you Disney!) if this mega money-making machine of a franchise would get it's act together and produce some content that stands up on it's own, rather than diluting it with fluff. It's like the novels are glorified back-story articles or pen-and-paper game plots rather than polished stories. There are a few canon nuggets in here, and hints at the direction of the final movie. People who are really into that kind of thing really seem to like this book. People looking for a decent story in the Star Wars universe continue to be disillusioned.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Bria

    You think you’re ready for this book. You’re so not ready. (I’d say I’d do whatever I had to in order to protect Yrica Quell but she’s never let me and I love her.)

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mogsy (MMOGC)

    3 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2019/12/26/... One of benefits and one of the things I appreciate most about reading the Star Wars tie-in novels is the way they bring attention to other happenings in the galaxy, away from the main story of the movies. There’s also been the recent trend of books exploring the conflict from all sides, because whether you are rebel or imperial, war is something everyone must confront. This is a prominent theme in Star Wars: Alphabet Squad 3 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2019/12/26/... One of benefits and one of the things I appreciate most about reading the Star Wars tie-in novels is the way they bring attention to other happenings in the galaxy, away from the main story of the movies. There’s also been the recent trend of books exploring the conflict from all sides, because whether you are rebel or imperial, war is something everyone must confront. This is a prominent theme in Star Wars: Alphabet Squadron, which focuses on the journey of a recently defected TIE fighter pilot who finds herself leading a New Republic squadron to hunt down her former compatriots. The Emperor is dead. The Empire is in shambles. But no surprise, following the chaos at the Battle of Endor, the nascent New Republic is in pretty rough shape too, with most of its efforts centered on regrouping and rebuilding, though in some cases, revenge. Too many good Rebel lives had been lost, many of them to Shadow Wing, a particularly nasty TIE fighter squadron that is still out there, in hiding. This has led Hera Syndulla of Star Wars Rebels fame, now a general, to put together a ragtag team of pilots to take care of the problem. Called Alphabet Squadron, this group is led by Yrica Quell, a former Imperial with intimate knowledge of Shadow Wing—because she used to be one of them. She has a lot to learn when it comes to commanding Republic pilots, so different than the strictly regimented and highly organized troops of the Empire. It doesn’t help that her teammates don’t trust her, or that no one expects them to succeed. From the get-go, it’s clear that in some ways this book was meant to fill the void left by Rogue Squadron, now made Legends and non-canonical. Star Wars needs another starfighter series, and today’s audience also demands something darker and edgier, so in that sense the premise behind Alphabet Squadron is perfect. Fans love grey characters, tragedy, long odds and underdogs, all of which this novel has in spades. I really don’t think anyone can fault its overall concept, which was a stroke of brilliance, and the idea of a disparate crew of misfits and rejects coming together to defeat evil is something I think that most of us can get behind. Unfortunately, where the book falters is the writing style and pacing. I get how important it is, especially for a story like this, to throw readers straight into the action. That said, it shouldn’t be done without establishing your core characters first. I never felt much of a connection to any of the five pilots of Alphabet Squadron, and I think it’s because we were missing this crucial first step. This throws off the overall balance of the story, which then takes too long trying to recover. I wanted to care about the characters and their relationships, but it’s difficult to form that emotional link when you’re starting from behind, so to speak. A part of the problem is also Quell herself, who is a rather flat protagonist. A stiff and strait-laced ex-Imperial, she had nothing that resembled charisma, and so it made reading about her very dry, even though the writing itself was fantastic. I’ve enjoyed Alexander Freed’s Star Wars books in the past, but I just think he has a lot less to work with in Quell, and the ideas and themes the story was supposed to convey were perhaps too ambitious. In sum, I had expected a lot more fun out of Alphabet Squadron, based on the book’s description and my hopes that it would be a more suspenseful, adventurous game of cat-and-mouse. Instead, it was bogged down by too much drama and not enough meaningful character development. To the book’s credit, it has some incredible scenes of dogfighting and epic space battles, which is a relief since I imagine those are the main selling points, so at least we’re covered on that front. As the first volume of a planned trilogy, I think this one shows a lot of promise, but I’m hoping that the next book won’t take as long to get revved up. Since we’ve already established the origins and characters of Alphabet Squadron here though, I’m feeling quite optimistic about it and will be looking forward to read more. Audiobook Comments: Saskia Maarleveld did a fantastic job narrating the book, and honestly, I would imagine bringing a character like Quell to life was no easy feat. They always get the best voice actors and actresses for Star Wars audiobooks though, so this was still a great listen despite some of my issues with the story and writing, and usual, the music and sound effects made the experience even more immersive.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    When we look at Star Wars, it’s all too easy to see the heroes and the villains in the original trilogy. In the prequel era, those lines became less clear. Instead of it being a story of black and white, we were introduced to the element of gray. Anakin Skywalker is the good guy who saves the day time after time, yet he’s the hero who’s tragic fall leads so many to death and misery. And yet, he’s the one who kills the Emperor and brings about the beginning of the end for the Empire. When looked When we look at Star Wars, it’s all too easy to see the heroes and the villains in the original trilogy. In the prequel era, those lines became less clear. Instead of it being a story of black and white, we were introduced to the element of gray. Anakin Skywalker is the good guy who saves the day time after time, yet he’s the hero who’s tragic fall leads so many to death and misery. And yet, he’s the one who kills the Emperor and brings about the beginning of the end for the Empire. When looked at as a whole, Star Wars is not such a simple story of heroes defeating villains. In that vein, Alexander Freed weaves a tale that is both complex and illuminating. Sure, in the broad sense it’s about the forces of good fighting the forces of evil, but who are the people on both sides of the conflict? What happens to those who try to leave the Empire and forge a new life for themselves? What happens to the heroes who have to live with the casualties of war? Alphabet Squadron dives into those themes, and many more, as it explores the consequences of war and the choices we make. First and foremost, Alphabet Squadron is a book that centers on its characters. There’s the Imperial deserter, Yrica Quell, who is recruited by New Republic intelligence to hunt down the Empire’s infamous Shadow Wing. Through her, we see the Rebellion through the eyes of the Empire. She’s been shaped by the propaganda of the Emperor, fought against the Rebels, seen the horrors of war, and through that hardship, has found herself now on the other side hoping to right a wrong. But fighting for the New Republic isn’t easy when no one trusts you. Alongside her is another Imperial defector, Nath Tensent. Unlike Quell, Nath deserted early, but that doesn’t make him a saint. He’s lived for himself over the years, by whatever means necessary, and often breaking the law in pursuit of credits. For all his charm, his fellow squad mates know he can’t be trusted entirely. Then there’s Wyl Lark, the most noble of the bunch. A talented pilot who yearns to return home now that the Empire has been mostly defeated. Yet events keep happening that keep him in the fight. Chass na Chadic, while lacking nobility, is certainly in it to fight the Empire. Her care free nature leads her to a love of music while blasting TIE’s out of the sky. However, her recklessness is a danger to everyone in her sights as well as those on her team. Kairos is one of the most mysterious characters in the book, let alone the members of Alphabet Squadron. She is a warrior hidden behind a mask who doesn’t speak. Her cryptic nature instills curiosity among her squad mates, but her actions often illicit fear with the brutality she’s able to administer. Rounding out the team is Adan Caern, a member of New Republic intelligence who forms Alphabet Squadron in order to hunt down and neutralize the threat of Shadow Wing. But Adan is not some clear cut good guy out to do what’s right and heroic. Sure, he wants to stop the Empire, and yeah, Shadow Wing is a threat, but this is also an opportunity for him to show how important he can be and perhaps a chance for him to climb the ranks. A victory against Shadow Wing would help him secure a promotion, more assets, more authority, and if he has to coerce and manipulate some ex-Imperials to get the job done, so be it. With this rag tag assortment of characters, flaws and all, this book builds a story around an intriguing cast. Each character, aside from Wyl who is pretty much a solid good guy, has their downsides as well as their heroic moments. They’re all complex characters who give the reader plenty to chew on and discover. Slowly, as the story progresses, you learn about their personalities, their backstories, their baggage and goals, and you see them progress as they work together and encounter new obstacles. Some of them you will continue to learn about throughout the book as they have secrets to keep. And while there is a story beyond the characters as they fight in battles and eventually hunt down Shadow Wing, it’s the characters that drive the story along and make the whole thing interesting. Alexander Freed does a great job of creating investment in the characters, slowing revealing some of the mystery around them, exploring their flaws and motivations, and showing them build a relationship with each other as they form into a squad. Oddly enough, you might not even like all the members of the squad as there will be times when you love them, and moments when you hate them. But in the end, you’ll grow attached to them because you know them. You’ll see their struggles, you’ll see their points of view, and one way or another, you’ll be able to emphasize. That delicate balance is one of the biggest joys in reading this book and it helps make the characters feel so real and believable. Aside from Alphabet Squadron, there are other characters in the book. Nearly halfway through, General Syndulla shows up and sticks around as the commander of the fleet Alphabet Squadron gets attached to. While she’s not a main character, she gets some page time and it’s something Star Wars Rebels fans will certainly enjoy. The villain of the story is Colonel Shakara, aka Grandmother, the commander of Shadow Wing. She’s an Imperial trying to keep the Empire alive despite the changing tide of the war. There are other characters and plot threads at work that keep the story interesting, as well as the general exploration of what happened after the battle of Endor. The book touches on Operation Cinder and the Emperor’s post-death wrath. It explores the weaknesses of the New Republic and the challenges before them. There’s also a nice little thread that reminds us of the heroism of Rebel heroes like Jyn Erso. But even with all of that, there’s always a character focus at play. If you’re not a fan of space battles and plot heavy tomes, then fear not, Alphabet Squadron may be just what you’re looking for. Yes, there are space battles, and there is a great story woven through the 416 pages in this novel, but all of that fails in comparison with the deep, intriguing character exploration that is at this book’s core. With an even handed approach to characters on both sides of the conflict, this story dives into the motivations, flaws and heroism that resides in us all. In the end, Alphabet Squadron tells an intriguing story, and builds up a solid cast for the books that will follow. I give it a five out of five.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ben Brown

    Reading a new “Star Wars” novel is a little like playing the lottery – sometimes you win big, other times (arguably, MOST times) you walk away a little poorer and slightly more jaded. Alexander Freed’s “Alphabet Squadron,” I’m happy to report, is the literature equivalent of a winning scratch ticket – it’s not quite like winning the Mega Millions, but it's still an unexpected treat. The first book in a proposed trilogy, “Alphabet Squadron” does yeoman’s work setting the table narratively, laying Reading a new “Star Wars” novel is a little like playing the lottery – sometimes you win big, other times (arguably, MOST times) you walk away a little poorer and slightly more jaded. Alexander Freed’s “Alphabet Squadron,” I’m happy to report, is the literature equivalent of a winning scratch ticket – it’s not quite like winning the Mega Millions, but it's still an unexpected treat. The first book in a proposed trilogy, “Alphabet Squadron” does yeoman’s work setting the table narratively, laying out the state of the galaxy and setting up the central conflicts while also introducing us to our cadre of characters. As a single story, it’s definitely more set-up than payoff, but that’s easy to forgive when the writing is as fun and the character work is as eloquent as it is here. It also doesn’t hurt that the novel is LOADED with cool Easter eggs and tie-ins to the broader “Star Wars” canon – for fans of the franchise, “Alphabet Squadron” represents a particular abundance of riches.

  9. 5 out of 5

    FanFiAddict

    Rating: 6.5/10 Thanks to Penguin Random House Audio, the author, and the narrator for a listening copy of Alphabet Squadron (Star Wars: Alphabet Squadron #1) in exchange for an honest review. Receiving this LC did not influence my thoughts or opinions on the novel. Alphabet Squadron is an intriguing story with plenty of spectacular dogfights and space battles, but falters when it comes to engaging the reader with its new set of characters and setting a consistent pace. I definitely recommend check Rating: 6.5/10 Thanks to Penguin Random House Audio, the author, and the narrator for a listening copy of Alphabet Squadron (Star Wars: Alphabet Squadron #1) in exchange for an honest review. Receiving this LC did not influence my thoughts or opinions on the novel. Alphabet Squadron is an intriguing story with plenty of spectacular dogfights and space battles, but falters when it comes to engaging the reader with its new set of characters and setting a consistent pace. I definitely recommend checking it out if you have been keeping up with the new canon as it does bring some new grittiness and darkness to the Star Wars universe, but temper expectations for the first book in a planned trilogy. The synopsis hooked me when it came to finding my next read as it had been a hot minute since I last read a novel in the Star Wars ever-expanding universe. Sure, the Republic has always seemed like a pretty scrounged together bunch, but the fact that a defector was going to be leading a squadron to hunt down her former comrades: count me in! This leads to several epic fight scenes and a hook-line-sinker conclusion, but somewhat paper-thin backstories and some very grey characters (which is honestly needed in a series where 90ish% is black/white). I think being dropped directly into the action at the start is a good and bad thing. For one, you are automatically engaged with what is going on in the story, but you are also given no context into who these new characters really are. You are left with tales of the past and current predicaments to piece together a unit of cobbled together flyers who you are meant to stick around with for three (3) books. I’ve seen this before, and it can work, but it unfortunately didn’t this time around. This was my first Alexander Freed novel, and though I wasn’t completely enamored or shouting from the rooftops about the story taking place, I do see myself continuing the Alphabet Squadron series, taking a stab at his novelization of Rogue One, and joining the ranks of the Sixty-First Mobile Infantry in Twighlight Company (Star Wars: Battlefront #1). There is enough here to keep even the average Star Wars fan entertained, and I am definitely looking forward to more from this ragtag group of pilots and starfighters. Lastly, I want to give a shoutout to the narrator, Saskia Maarleveld. While she has been a fixture in audiobook narration for years, having recorded over 160 of them, this is the first time I have heard her voice an entire novel. She did a fantastic job bringing these characters to life, especially Quell as she was the major fixture, but the rest of the squadron, too. Much like the Star Wars audiobooks done by Marc Thompson, all of the sound effects and music additions are a continued bonus to the overall production.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Christine Barth

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. A rag tag band of pilots, all lone survivors of their units, band together to help the New Republic. The main character is Yrica Quell, a defector from the Empire. The premise was good, but the execution was lacking. First of all, the book was too long. It took a long time to get to the point -- in fact I almost gave up. For all that set up, I didn't think the characters or their back stories were explained very well. I think the author was going for suspense, but I was confused. The last battle A rag tag band of pilots, all lone survivors of their units, band together to help the New Republic. The main character is Yrica Quell, a defector from the Empire. The premise was good, but the execution was lacking. First of all, the book was too long. It took a long time to get to the point -- in fact I almost gave up. For all that set up, I didn't think the characters or their back stories were explained very well. I think the author was going for suspense, but I was confused. The last battle scene was pretty cool, but I frankly didn't understand the beginning battles (who was on what side, who the characters were, who survived the battle). Some of the characters were aliens, but the physical descriptions didn't reveal that until hundreds of pages in. I want to know what happens, but I'm not sure I can read 2 more novels like this. Also, the Marvel graphic novel preview was inserted in the middle of a sentence - it definitely could have been at the end of a chapter.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    I was disappointed in this one, considering how much I've enjoyed Freed's other Star Wars stuff. Up until I read this book, I might have even told you he was the most talented Star Wars writer working today (Claudia Gray being a very close second). His Rogue One novelization was a piece of art. The short story he wrote for A Certain Point of View was extremely poignant. But Alphabet Squadron was just okay. There was really nothing special about it at all. Maybe I was just holding him to way too I was disappointed in this one, considering how much I've enjoyed Freed's other Star Wars stuff. Up until I read this book, I might have even told you he was the most talented Star Wars writer working today (Claudia Gray being a very close second). His Rogue One novelization was a piece of art. The short story he wrote for A Certain Point of View was extremely poignant. But Alphabet Squadron was just okay. There was really nothing special about it at all. Maybe I was just holding him to way too high of a standard, or maybe he just does his best work with other people's characters. I don't know. Is there any way to condense the rest of this review to the word 'meh'? This book takes place soon after Return of the Jedi, when the New Republic is trying to stabilize the Galaxy, and the remnants of the Empire's power are still around causing trouble. Our main character is Yrica Quell, a very recent ex-Imperial who is recruited to help track down her old Imperial Squadron, Shadow Wing. Yrica was a frustrating character. I always felt removed from her emotionally (I felt removed from the other characters as well, but she was the worst offender). She clearly regretted a lot of her actions while she was with the Empire, but for most of the novel she is alienated from everyone around her, and her inner monologue is morose. It just wasn't very entertaining to read, and I didn't feel that hook, that intangible thing that invests you in a story, until nearly the end when the ragtag squadron started to bond a little. The most excitement I got from the book was when Hera Syndulla (from Rebels) showed up. She was a tertiary character at best, so that says a lot, that she was my favorite part. I felt at the end of this book the way you're supposed to feel at the beginning, which was irritating. I mean, the book was fine. Really! I just expected it, wanted it, to be a lot better than "fine." Perhaps if I read the second book, I will get more enjoyment out of it than I did this one, but I don't know if I want to do that, for how little I really liked this one. I guess we'll see.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jim C

    Actual rating is 3.5 stars. This is the beginning of a new trilogy that takes place after the events of Return of the Jedi. In this one, there is remnants of the Empire still out there in the galaxy. There is one particular squadron, Shadow Wing, that the New Republic is concerned about and they turn to a former member of this squadron for help. This was better than I thought it was going to be. I was a little weary going into this because the former timeline of novels in this universe covered thi Actual rating is 3.5 stars. This is the beginning of a new trilogy that takes place after the events of Return of the Jedi. In this one, there is remnants of the Empire still out there in the galaxy. There is one particular squadron, Shadow Wing, that the New Republic is concerned about and they turn to a former member of this squadron for help. This was better than I thought it was going to be. I was a little weary going into this because the former timeline of novels in this universe covered this subject and I thought this might be a rehash. I do like this time period and the idea of pockets of the Empire still out there so I decided to give a try. The author does a terrific job with the setting as the New Republic has just won but now what. It isn't a total surrender by the Empire and the battle still continues. I loved the exploration of this concept. I also thought the author did a nice job with the action scenes and portraying the dire and frenetic nature of these scenes. The problem I had with scenes was the detail in trying to paint a picture of these battles. I didn't think it was the clearest picture. I could tell our characters were in a battle put not see how that battle was being played out. I also had a problem with the portrayals of the characters. The author never made me truly care about each character. I cared about them as a whole but not individually. Maybe that is the point as they are suppose to be a unit instead of a person in a battle. I loved the time setting and the actual story. I did think this book had some flaws and that is why I could not give this a full four star rating or higher. There were times I was totally invested and times I was checking out of the story. This is the start of a trilogy so maybe the following books will remedy these flaws.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Haden

    me: i love post-endor early new republic stuff and i LOVE fun pilot squadron family dynamics but i cannot STAND corran horn del rey: [slides this book across the table] @ every member of alphabet squadron: i would die for you.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    Argh, I haven’t agonized this much over a rating or review in a long time. A long time... OK, in the end I'm going to go with a full 4-stars because even though this wasn't necessarily the Star Wars book I wanted, perhaps it was the one we readers needed. Let me just warn you that if you pick this book up excited over the fact that novels about rag-tag Rebel fighter squadrons are back (a la the oevre of Michael A. Stackpole) or the fact there is a tie-in to a new Marvel comics series, so pew PEW P Argh, I haven’t agonized this much over a rating or review in a long time. A long time... OK, in the end I'm going to go with a full 4-stars because even though this wasn't necessarily the Star Wars book I wanted, perhaps it was the one we readers needed. Let me just warn you that if you pick this book up excited over the fact that novels about rag-tag Rebel fighter squadrons are back (a la the oevre of Michael A. Stackpole) or the fact there is a tie-in to a new Marvel comics series, so pew PEW PEW! BOOM! I would suggest looking elsewhere. Instead, the author presents us with a very mature meditation on allegiances, PTSD, redemption, and the terrifying reality of being in the front lines of deadly combat. Yrica Quell (despite having an amazing name) is a difficult protagonist to get behind at first. We meet her in a glorified PoW camp nicknamed "Traitor's Remorse" by other Johnny-come-lately Imperial defectors, and her guilt and truculence make her a hard character to warm up to. Freed plays a good slow burn hand, though, so by the end I, at least, was Team Yrica. Also, I liked how she was revealed to be bisexual in a matter-of-fact kind of way. This makes sense in-universe, as only in our own world do such personal choices still amount to a "Big Deal" in certain cultures and circles. I think that's enough, I don't want to drone on any longer, just be forewarned that this book is more of a Journey into Depression and (Partial) Redemption than a rollicking Space Opera. if you can dig a Star Wars book like that, give it a shot! (view spoiler)[Star Wars: Rebels animated series Hera Syndulla shows up in the final act to give the book a little stronger connective tissue to the rest of the Universe. It was nice to see what she was up to in those days! (hide spoiler)]

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lata

    Tense as the space battles were (and there were several in this story) what I really enjoyed was how Alexander Freed took us through the experiences and feelings of former Imperial pilots and how they dealt with the fallout from the Emperor's defeat, and their subsequent actions and the emotional costs. Following a number of characters, Freed shows us different sides of the war through the people, and what kept them on their side and fighting. I really liked Quell's ambivalence with her new form Tense as the space battles were (and there were several in this story) what I really enjoyed was how Alexander Freed took us through the experiences and feelings of former Imperial pilots and how they dealt with the fallout from the Emperor's defeat, and their subsequent actions and the emotional costs. Following a number of characters, Freed shows us different sides of the war through the people, and what kept them on their side and fighting. I really liked Quell's ambivalence with her new former Rebel compatriots, her difficulty fitting in with the different methods and attitudes, and her general inability to relate to others. I particularly liked the conversations she had with the reprogrammed torture droid. With the Rebellion characters, it's interesting to see how characters have to make the mental shift from rebels to winners and soon-to-be administrators and rebuilders. It's a rough transition, which is believable. I'm so glad there's more story coming; there are many interesting people here nursing mental and physical wounds, and struggling deeply to find who they are in this new situation.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Danny

    I can't wait to talk to all y'all Star Wars people about this book. I can't wait to talk to all y'all Star Wars people about this book.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jordan Anderson

    Hey. Are you looking for a non stop, no holds barred, rip roaring, action adventure novel? Are you hoping to read a Star Wars novel that puts all the rest of them to shame? Are you ready for a canon novel that finally beats the Disney curse and is actually good? Well, my friend, you’ve come to the wrong place. To put things bluntly, Alphabet Squadron is lame, unexciting, and the perfect example of just why so many new Star Wars novels have sucked. I’ll skip past the PC stuff that Disney must be fo Hey. Are you looking for a non stop, no holds barred, rip roaring, action adventure novel? Are you hoping to read a Star Wars novel that puts all the rest of them to shame? Are you ready for a canon novel that finally beats the Disney curse and is actually good? Well, my friend, you’ve come to the wrong place. To put things bluntly, Alphabet Squadron is lame, unexciting, and the perfect example of just why so many new Star Wars novels have sucked. I’ll skip past the PC stuff that Disney must be forcing their authors to cram into their books unnecessarily (seriously, why does every single new Star Wars novel have to have some character that the author makes sure we readers know is gay or bi or some other form of sexual orientation? It’s worse when these attributes of the characters have NOTHING to do with the plot) and just get right to the first reason I was immensely unsatisfied with Alphabet Squadron. It’s incredibly boring. And I know that’s weird since this is a novel that’s supposed to be centered around a ragtag group of rebel pilots. But the keyword there is “supposed”. In nearly the first half of this book (200 pages or so), hardly anything happens. Ok, that’s not 100% true since Freed uses that first half to set up how the titular squad comes together and why, but my God, it’s so inanely dull. Overwritten to the point of excessiveness. Every character has a ridiculously long backstory that takes forever to be explained, usually bringing nothing of any excitement or importance to the story itself. And when the many moments when alphabet squadron is shown to be in battle do occur, even those are relatively boring. Freed tries to make the action fast paced and edge of your seat, however it just comes off as wordy and repetitive. I guess it could have been a bit more bearable had the characters been at least remotely likeable. Unfortunately, not a single person in Alphabet Squadron brings anything relatable or interesting or fun or new to the literary table. Every character is a walking stereotype that’s been done in countless Star Wars novels before. There’s an imperial turned rebel because she saw how evil the empire was after Operation Cinder, there’s another ex imperial who was a turncoat from the very beginning, alien pilots who’s worlds were raped by the empire, a mysterious woman that doesn’t talk, an alien commander, and various bit players in this drama that do what they always do. And even worse, none of the characters are even remotely likeable. Quell, the main one, is conceited and rebellious, the pilots are basically indistinguishable from one another. Kairos, that mysterious woman, only serves as a distraction and doesn’t do anything important except stand around being strange. Even the Adan, the rebel commander, doesn’t do anything except drink and complain about Quell. Yeah, boring. And this goes on for 408 pages. Lastly, I’m left to wonder, what was the point? You’d think that in a novel this long, with such big stakes built right into its title, there would be closure or a conclusion that made sense. That doesn’t happen here. Oh, there’s an ending, in which Alphabet Squadron ain’t all it’s cracked up to be, but it’s so cliched and so disappointing that I was left with a feeling more akin to anger than closure. This is supposed to be an eventual trilogy, so I’m sure Freed has an eventual conclusion rising somewhere in his brain, but it definitely wasn’t done here. Another canon novel, another huge disappointment. It’s becoming so common these days that, other than the Vader: Dark Visions comic, I can’t even remember the last canon story I liked. I think it’s time I take a nice long break from Star Wars. This constant disappointment is making me become apathetic towards my favorite franchise.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Halleck

    Sitting on all the big things I want to say about Alexander Freed’s approach to Star Wars, waiting for the time and energy to put it into coherent form means that I haven’t yet given his other new canon book, Battlefront II: Twilight Company, the review it deserves. I don’t want that to happen to this book as well, so may this be a placeholder to edit or change or stay put based on whatever energy I have to give my thoughts in the future. The identity of Star Wars has been in flux in recent year Sitting on all the big things I want to say about Alexander Freed’s approach to Star Wars, waiting for the time and energy to put it into coherent form means that I haven’t yet given his other new canon book, Battlefront II: Twilight Company, the review it deserves. I don’t want that to happen to this book as well, so may this be a placeholder to edit or change or stay put based on whatever energy I have to give my thoughts in the future. The identity of Star Wars has been in flux in recent years, with its hits and misses dividing the fandom. Some people just want the magic and spectacle of space wizards and plucky groups of rag tag protagonists defeating bad guys. They want the validating pleasure of turning their brains off and watching the good guys win. They want quippy lines and cool spaceships and the archetypal hero’s journey. They want sci-fi action and PG romance. They want to wallow in the comfort of fan service, enjoy the stories with their kids, buy toys and worship cool-looking villains. There is a time and a place for all of those things. But, not unlike the latter seasons of Game of Thrones, when all the sophisticated politics and writing and performances and greater context, struggles and story were reduced down to the mistaken identity of “tits, dragons, betrayals, and soundbytes in lieu of characterization, development, or actual dialogue”, the soul of the creation is lost. What is marketable sells product but doesn’t hold up artistically. You can only coast so far when you’ve discarded (or misjudged) the foundation of your original success. New Star Wars canon has struggled with this. And to be fair, no one dislikes space wizards, plucky protagonists, earned fan service, et al. Even I am here for all of that. But ultimately, the meal that keeps me full, is the bigger story behind all of that. The Everyman struggle. The ideological struggles. The moral and political implications of a universe in which humanity spans an entire inhabited galaxy and a government like the Empire and a weapon like the Death Star is possible. The story isn’t over when the Death Star is destroyed. The galaxy isn’t redeemed when Anakin Skywalker rejects Darth Vader and throws the Emperor to his death. The actual work begins after the celebrations are finished and people from both sides scramble to figure out what victory or defeat means for them, for their people, and for the entire galaxy. Alexander Freed GETS IT. His characters lug their trauma through history in motion, regardless of what side they’re on. His stories capture the struggle of the idealogical, political, and personal scale of the people on the frontline of Star Wars history. From the micro to the macro, his characters live and breathe the consequences of both their own actions and the actions of the war around them. They grapple with their own motivations and demons. With nary a “I have a bad feeling about this” in sight, Freed consistently creates compelling, character-driven stories that have weight, gritty realness, accessibility, and compelling representations from ALL sides of the conflict. This is the Star Wars of Rogue One. This is less-kid friendly and omits space wizards almost entirely (but oh, how deft have Freed’s depictions of the non-Force users perception of Jedi and Sith and their abilities been over all his writing!). But it’s not without its own fun, space battles, or cool spaceships. There are endearing droids, interesting alien species, and inventive sci-fi locales. But Freed writes about people. He writes about ideas. He writes people grappling with events and ideas on a personal and ideological scale. And that always comes first. He never leads with the cool factor; it just follows because the heart and soul of his characters and their story is fully realized and intact. THIS is my Star Wars. This is where it is strongest, most compelling, and real. This is where it is most successful. This is the meal that keeps me full.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ozymandias

    Full disclosure: Michael Stackpole’s Rogue Squadron novels were my favorite of all the Star Wars Legends novels, barring only Zahn’s Heir to the Empire. The adventures of an elite fighter squadron taking on the worst the Empire could throw at them and even acting as a spec ops group when the situation called for it was exactly what the doctor ordered. It was the sort of adventure you didn’t know you needed until you found it. As a result it’s hard for me to judge this book in isolation. So let’s g Full disclosure: Michael Stackpole’s Rogue Squadron novels were my favorite of all the Star Wars Legends novels, barring only Zahn’s Heir to the Empire. The adventures of an elite fighter squadron taking on the worst the Empire could throw at them and even acting as a spec ops group when the situation called for it was exactly what the doctor ordered. It was the sort of adventure you didn’t know you needed until you found it. As a result it’s hard for me to judge this book in isolation. So let’s get this out of the way: this book’s not Rogue Squadron Mark II. Frankly, f it had been a direct copy it could never have competed. The squadron in here is not a band of brothers (and sisters) united in harmony under the command of the Rebellion’s greatest fighter pilot. Rather, they’re a group of misfits working for a sleazy New Republic Intelligence operative. The “squadron” is a group of four pilots each flying a different starfighter. The main theme of the book is their learning to come together and form an alliance despite not really liking or trusting each other. Given the decidedly ambivalent nature of the ending this seems to be a theme that’s going to be carried on throughout the trilogy. The lead character is fascinating and one I haven’t seen done in Star Wars before. She’s an ex-Imperial pilot, who only left after Endor and Operation Cinder proved too much for her. She’s not only untrusted as a result, she’s decidedly ambivalent about having changed sides. She believes in her heart it’s the right thing, but she’s constantly frustrated that the Rebels ignore orders and has to fight back her contempt. She most decidedly is not a warm and fuzzy commander. The writing is mostly good. The characters are clearly drawn and very distinct, although the book does approach most of them from a distance. Even knowing their precise thoughts doesn’t always bring characters to life. And the dialogue is never as effective as the internal narrative. The story is exciting and original, although the beginning is definitely a bit slow. The sense of mystery and danger is what keeps you going. Combat scenes can be hit-or-miss. The dogfighting scenes lack the precision and one-on-one encounters that you saw in Stackpole’s writing or the Biggles stories or anything like that. On the other hand, the overall focus is always clear and easy to get involved in. It’s a darker book than Rogue Squadron, in keeping with the darker universe of the new EU. Rebel leaders may still be sincere but they’re naive and willing to accept terrible things to achieve victory. And there are plenty of crooks among them. They’re none too fond of imperial defectors either, and perfectly capable of abusing or using them on suicide missions. And Freed has a certain degree of bothsiderism that can be frustrating outside his ex-imperials. There’s little fun in this war and those involved can’t wait for it to be over. Overall I really liked this book. It is, for the last time, no Rogue Squadron and never tries to be. But it does its own thing and does it well. I’m curious to see where the story goes and how some of these characters adapt. We’ve hardly had all our revelations about them.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    We've had a lot of opportunities to complain in the last decade about unnecessary and misguided sequels, but (in no small part thanks to the Star Wars EU) I still believe the premise is fundamentally sound, given thoughtful and bold execution. Alphabet Squadron provides a good illustration of the, to my mind, unavoidable perils of the opposite approach: writing a story only to justify (and sell) its sequels. I didn't realize this book was the first of a planned trilogy until I got to the acknowl We've had a lot of opportunities to complain in the last decade about unnecessary and misguided sequels, but (in no small part thanks to the Star Wars EU) I still believe the premise is fundamentally sound, given thoughtful and bold execution. Alphabet Squadron provides a good illustration of the, to my mind, unavoidable perils of the opposite approach: writing a story only to justify (and sell) its sequels. I didn't realize this book was the first of a planned trilogy until I got to the acknowledgments. If I had, it probably wouldn't have seemed so strange that there were so many point of view characters, or that so few things happen, or that some of the characters never intersect with the others. But that's not to say that this merely feels like the first third of a longer novel. Instead, it feels like a stand-alone story without a compelling plot. As the same kind of problem as Westworld. There are a lot of characters, and all of them have dark secrets or hidden motivations that have some ominous relevance to their relationships with other characters. But instead of making that tension the seedbed of drama, Freed just teases those mysteries bluntly and repeatedly, while the characters quite literally just kill time. They get busywork missions that force them to spend time together. Which is great, in theory; problem is that they just don't use that time to feel very fleshed out in terms of personality or drama or anything. It's all just wheel spinning in between heavy-handed reminders that some dark revelations are coming. And of course, whole reason this approach doesn't work is that once those revelations arrive, they don't have much impact, because there are no established expectations for them to contradict. I should say that Freed, as he's established in previous books, is far more competent than the average SW hack. In fact, one of the things that sinks this book is its unusual ambition. If it just went for the standard genre plot, things would be bad in a more familiar way, or perhaps even pretty good. Instead, it tries to develop this big cast of characters with different angles on a theme of faction and identity and responsibility at the end of conflict, and maybe all of that even goes somewhere by the third book. The problem isn't what he's trying to do in general. It's that he doesn't manage to use the bulk of this volume to support those themes or enrich the narrative world outside of them. And if a whole 80% of the first book is wasted, it's a bad sign for the trilogy. The kinds of ambiguity Freed is playing with here are interesting and necessary perspectives for Star Wars. It feels like a new kind of beast, far more interested in the narrow, oppressively emotional perspectives of individual soldiers than in the moral scope of the war. I just wish it had the structure and pacing to really dig into those ideas. By the end, when things actually started happening, I could see the thematic resonance of a few decisions, but mostly it was hard to follow and hard to care. You shouldn't keep secrets if the story is more interesting when they're out in the open, and this book makes that mistake like five times over.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Unseen Library

    I received a copy of Alphabet Squadron from Penguin Random House Australia to review. Rating of 4.5. The Star Wars expanded universe continues to grow as Alexander Freed presents a new and exciting adventure in the Star Wars canon, Alphabet Squadron. Following the death of the Emperor and the destruction of the second Death Star during the Battle of Endor, the Empire has fragmented. Without the Emperor’s leadership, the various Imperial commanders have devolved into infighting and are faltering in I received a copy of Alphabet Squadron from Penguin Random House Australia to review. Rating of 4.5. The Star Wars expanded universe continues to grow as Alexander Freed presents a new and exciting adventure in the Star Wars canon, Alphabet Squadron. Following the death of the Emperor and the destruction of the second Death Star during the Battle of Endor, the Empire has fragmented. Without the Emperor’s leadership, the various Imperial commanders have devolved into infighting and are faltering in the face of opposition from the united forces of the Rebel Alliance, who have renamed themselves as the New Republic. However, pockets of Imperial power still exist throughout the galaxy, many of which have the destructive potential to fulfil the Emperor’s final order, Operation Cinder, the devastation of as many planets as possible. Yrica Quell is a former Imperial TIE fighter pilot who deserted in the face of the Emperor’s final order. Living in exile with other Imperial deserters, Quell is recruited by Caern Adan from New Republic Intelligence to hunt down the remnants of the 204th Imperial Fighter Wing, Quell’s old unit. Known as Shadow Wing, the 204th, under the command of Colonel Nuress, has taken command of the planet of Pandem Nai, and is using it as a base to launch raids against New Republic targets. In order to find and defeat Shadow Wing, Quell and Adan bring together a group of talented pilots who have experienced loss at the hands of the 204th pilots. Flying an assortment of starfighters and given the name of Alphabet Squadron, these pilots must learn to work together if they wish to have a chance against Shadow Wing. As Alphabet Squadron launches under the command of New Republic General Hera Syndulla, they must face not only some of the most skilled pilots in the galaxy but also some dangerous secrets from Quell’s volatile past. View the full review at: https://unseenlibrary.com/2019/07/11/... An abridged version of this review ran in The Canberra Weekly on 11 July 2019: https://unseenlibrary.com/2019/07/11/... For other exciting reviews and content, check out my blog at: https://unseenlibrary.com/

  22. 5 out of 5

    Peter Hale

    Kathleen Kennedy: My apprentices: the galaxy has been shaken by their feelings of betrayal over the new canon. They have started a Rebellion; an Alliance to Restore the Expanded Universe. We must build a battle station the destroy the-- Alexander Freed: Hold on, uh, just a minute, Empress, er, Emperor Kathleen, just a minute: why don't we just copy the old books? Kathleen Kennedy: Wasn't that Aftermath trilogy to the Thrawn trilogy? We already tried ripping off that! Alexander Freed: Uh...how about Kathleen Kennedy: My apprentices: the galaxy has been shaken by their feelings of betrayal over the new canon. They have started a Rebellion; an Alliance to Restore the Expanded Universe. We must build a battle station the destroy the-- Alexander Freed: Hold on, uh, just a minute, Empress, er, Emperor Kathleen, just a minute: why don't we just copy the old books? Kathleen Kennedy: Wasn't that Aftermath trilogy to the Thrawn trilogy? We already tried ripping off that! Alexander Freed: Uh...how about Stackpole's X-Wing novels? Kathleen Kennedy: ... Alexander Freed: Corran Horn? "Piggy"? Kathleen Kennedy: ... Alexander Freed: Mirax Terrik, for God's sake?! Kathleen Kennedy: Ohhhhhhh. I remember. Yeah, you do that, my apprentice. Alexander Freed: Yessir! [Alexander leaves.] Kathleen Kennedy: This will be a day long remembered. Now, for Episode IX...

  23. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    *openly weeps* If you read no Star Wars books in your lifetime, that’s fine, but if you ever wanted to try one and didn’t know which one: PICK THIS ONE. Alexander Freed is really good at words and he’s really good at characters and he’s REALLY good at Star Wars. This book is a fantastic exploration of survivor’s guilt and defection and control and decisions, choices and family and plans gone awry. It’s a story about pilots that just so happens to be set in the Star Wars galaxy. It’s full to the *openly weeps* If you read no Star Wars books in your lifetime, that’s fine, but if you ever wanted to try one and didn’t know which one: PICK THIS ONE. Alexander Freed is really good at words and he’s really good at characters and he’s REALLY good at Star Wars. This book is a fantastic exploration of survivor’s guilt and defection and control and decisions, choices and family and plans gone awry. It’s a story about pilots that just so happens to be set in the Star Wars galaxy. It’s full to the brim of heart and soul. I cried a lot. I LIVETWEETED IT, SO IF YOU DON'T MIND SPOILERS OR HAVE FINISHED THE BOOK, GO ENJOY THAT: https://twitter.com/esseastri/status/...

  24. 4 out of 5

    Spencer

    This was a decent book, the story was interesting and the writing was pretty good... however all the characters seemed to be built around a single trait and this came to define them. This became rather repetitive when it came to dialogue and character development, hopefully this gets sorted out in the next book.

  25. 5 out of 5

    C.T. Phipps

    http://booknest.eu/reviews/charles/16... ALPHABET SQUADRON by Alexander Freed is a book that I was very eager to get into because it struck me as just up my alley. I've always been a huge fan of the Star Wars starfighter stories with Rogue Squadron, Wraith Squadron, the old TIE Fighter video game, and the recent Star Wars: Resistance. I also enjoyed the previously written Twilight Company by the author. Freed has a somewhat unromantic view of war as well as the Rebel Alliance's fight against the http://booknest.eu/reviews/charles/16... ALPHABET SQUADRON by Alexander Freed is a book that I was very eager to get into because it struck me as just up my alley. I've always been a huge fan of the Star Wars starfighter stories with Rogue Squadron, Wraith Squadron, the old TIE Fighter video game, and the recent Star Wars: Resistance. I also enjoyed the previously written Twilight Company by the author. Freed has a somewhat unromantic view of war as well as the Rebel Alliance's fight against the Empire. It's unsurprising he also wrote the adaptation of Rogue One where the cause is just but the people are flawed. Those who prefer a slightly more adult take on Star Wars will probably enjoy Alphabet Squadron. The Empire is still evil and the Rebellion (now New Republic) is still good but things are a bit more gray with the protagonists. Individual rebels don't necessarily care about the greater politics at work, may be personally reprehensible, or are flawed in realistic ways like wanting the credit for a big propaganda victory over just winning the war (now that the war is "won"). The Imperials are similarly humanized in a way that almost makes them worse. They engage in some of the worst atrocities of both Legends and NuCanon with no real consideration of the billions they're wiping out. It's just another day at the office for them. The premise is Yrica Quell (pronounced "Erica Quell"), is a former Imperial TIE fighter pilot. An elite, she was an ace in the service of Shadow Wing, that seems to have been one of the Empire's best and brightest. After Operation: Cinder, she defects to the New Republic because even she can't stand the slaughter anymore--or so she said. After an ugly stay in a prison camp, Yrica is recruited as an informant on her former squadmates. Yrica eagerly cooperates because she can't stand the thought of not flying anymore and does her best to adjust to the free-wheeling individualist New Republic's military. Yrica is an interesting character because she's a subversion of a lot of common Star Wars archetypes. Bluntly, she's not particularly likable and not even in a bomastic Imperial villain way. Yrica is a socially awkward reserved woman with questionable leadership skills and almost no real interest in politics. She joined the Empire in hopes of defecting to the Rebellion, only to find herself deciding just to fit in instead. Even after Operation: Cinder, she can't really wrap her head around the greater struggle but just wishes her life was more structured like it had been in the Empire. I'm neuroatypical myself and while it's unlikely that Star Wars has the same sort of categories for mental health as we do here, I wouldn't be surprised if she was written with the idea she's on the spectrum. Yrica is also one of Star Wars many new queer heroines (Doctor Aphra, Sana, Tolven, Lana Beniko, and others joining her) w/ references to both boyfriends as well as girlfriends. It's interesting to see fan favorite Hera Syndulla take Yrica under her wing, fully supporting her, and have the reader question whether this is wrong. Yrica is not a good leader and may actually belong in prison for her actions rather than receive forgiveness but that's just part of the book's deconstructive charm. The rest of Alphabet Squadron is composed of a similar band of misfits as Wraith Squadron: Nath Tensent (criminal Rebel), Wyl Lark (heroic farmboy), Kairos the mysterious, and Chass na Chadic (suicide martyr). The difference is that all of them are, well, terrible at coming together. They hate each other and their personality disorders make them less effective soldiers rather than a lovable band of rogues. It doesn't help that Yrica really misses the quiet professionalism of the Empire. You know, where individuality was stamped out and every pilot was disposable parts that could be easily replaced. As Hera says to her, her team doesn't know she'd fight for them and she doesn't know if they'd fight for her. They also have a floating ball torture droid as their therapist (I assume Wes Janson must have put this squadron together). The book's deconstruction of traditional Star Wars stories of A-team like oddballs coming together as a family then blowing up the Empire is both its strength as well as its weakness. It's a story that goes in surprising directions but also you kind of miss when Star Wars was about the glorious victories of the good guys over the bad. Yrica just can't wrap her head emotionally around the wrongness of the Empire even when she intellectually knows they're monsters. She's a soldier because that's her job, not because she's ever wanted to protect people. I also feel like this book suffered for the fact we don't have much perspective on the Imperial soldiers in the book. Shakara Nuress is the central antagonist of the book but barely appears, though those few scenes where she does are some of the best in the book. This isn't the kind of book for scene-chewing evil but I would have appreciated some more perspective from those still fighting the good fight against the Republic. Perhaps the author felt Yrica provided all the perspective they needed since she remains Imperial in mindset throughout. There's a lot of great starfighter action, impressive set pieces, and genuinely moving meditations on war as well as what people fight for. One of my favorite parts of the book is the encounter of the team with the Jedi Temple. Few of the pilots even know what a Jedi is but have started to become inspired by Luke Skywalker's legend (another is already inspired--in all the wrong ways--by Jyn Erso's). Its simple beauty and loveliness shakes Yrika's faith in the Empire even as she wonders if the Rebellion/New Republic is going to become a theocracy (because she does not understand them at all). In conclusion, this is a pretty good for a harder and grittier Star Wars novel. The protagonists are not trying to blow up the Death Star but simply remove a elite fighter wing (the twist there is impressive--no spoilers). They make mistakes, they don't always succeed, and they kind of do need to get their bantha poodoo together. Not everyone will learn the right lessons and some will get better than worse. It's a great insight into the year following the Battle of Endor but before the Battle of Jakku. I'm actively looking forward to the other two books set to be released in this years despite my few (minor) issues.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Liam || Books 'n Beards

    Ho boy, I am on such a Star Wars kick right now. I'm rewatching the Clone Wars TV series, in preparation for watching the Rebels TV series for the first time, following watching the Mandalorian TV series which I very much enjoyed, and as such I'm kind of just.. consuming Star Wars media as fast as I can grab it. Scrolling through the New Canon listings on Goodreads, Alphabet Squadron grabbed my attention because - let's be honest - that cover is gorgeous. However, digging a little deeper, it also Ho boy, I am on such a Star Wars kick right now. I'm rewatching the Clone Wars TV series, in preparation for watching the Rebels TV series for the first time, following watching the Mandalorian TV series which I very much enjoyed, and as such I'm kind of just.. consuming Star Wars media as fast as I can grab it. Scrolling through the New Canon listings on Goodreads, Alphabet Squadron grabbed my attention because - let's be honest - that cover is gorgeous. However, digging a little deeper, it also sounded like an interesting concept. A squadron of mismatched Rebel fighters doing special ops shit, hell yeah! Alphabet Squadron reads a bit like a New Canon equivalent of the old X-Wing novels, which were some of my favourite Star Wars media ever - however, X-Wing began with Rogue Squadron as an established and notorious thing, whereas Alphabet Squadron is more of an origin novel of its namesake. The main character, Yrica Quell, is a recent Imperial defector and a large amount of the book is her struggles coming to terms with abandoning her 'side' - justifying what she did while she flew for the Empire, while also understanding that what she was doing was, really, evil. I loved this - Imperial defectors have always been a big part of the Star Wars canon (Han Solo, ffs) but to my knowledge there's never really been a proper character study? Especially not of one so late, since Quell defects post-Endor when the Empire begins a galactic genocide campaign called Operation Cinder. She is our squadron leader in her X-wing, and she has to spend a lot of time learning how to lead a group of individuals rather than the efficient killing machine of her former TIE squadron. The other main characters are all quite fleshed out as well - another defector Nath, who flies a Y-Wing - he's the shadiest of the group and seems to be in the squadron for ulterior motives, and his character was the only one I didn't really like very much. He seems kind of douchey for the sake of having a douche in the squadron. Wyl and Chass are the sole survivors of their own squadrons of A-Wings and B-Wings respectively, and deal with that in different ways - both quite well done, though Chass goes a little overboard into edgelord territory - but I did love the detailed descriptions of how it would actually feel to pilot a B-Wing, with the rest of the ship rotating around you wildly. Crazy stuff. Kairos is the most mysterious, being an alien? Maybe? Who wears a helmet and speaks mostly in machine noises. No idea, but the concept is cool I suppose. I really enjoyed the look into the kind of Wild West post-Return of the Jedi Rebellion/New Republic, where nothing is really certain, the Empire is definitely still a thing, albeit fractured and scattered, and the victors.. really aren't sure what to do now. There's a great quote from Syndulla; "We're old hands at losing. We're still learning how to win." Really interesting, because going from underdog to occupier would be a lot more complex than just stepping into the Empire's shoes - I like that it's exploring that. The book hit all the bog standard 'getting the team together' notes you'd expect, but with nice Star Wars flair - and it just read well, which is something that I gather can't be said for a lot of the New Canon fiction. Hasn't topped X-Wing for me, yet, but I'm still very keen for future sequels.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Chris Evans

    Alphabet Soup is kind of silly gimmick I'd expect from a high schooler fan fiction that doesn't understand how a squadron of ships is supposed to function (let alone that they don't have enough fighters to be called a squadron). The book does little more than make me miss the Rogue Squadron book series. Hey, remember when a new Star Wars book advanced the universe, timeline and characters in a meaningful and impactful way? You might not since this book falls into the exact same trap as every othe Alphabet Soup is kind of silly gimmick I'd expect from a high schooler fan fiction that doesn't understand how a squadron of ships is supposed to function (let alone that they don't have enough fighters to be called a squadron). The book does little more than make me miss the Rogue Squadron book series. Hey, remember when a new Star Wars book advanced the universe, timeline and characters in a meaningful and impactful way? You might not since this book falls into the exact same trap as every other Disney Canon book, where side characters have a side adventure against side threats. Can't have anything important happen in a book in case they want to make a movie or tv show about it. -_- Anyone considering reading this should just go to Wookiepedia and look at the list of characters. Notice that all but one of them either has the (First appearance), (First mentioned), or (Mentioned only) label, Hera from rebels being the only previously established character to appear. Same goes for Events and even Locations, they can't even do the bare minimum to tie things together. My one praise for it, is at least it's not set between Ep 3 and 4. (all thought 4 ABY is getting pretty crowded at this point too.)

  28. 4 out of 5

    Joseph Born

    The premise of Alphabet Squadron is simple. The burgeoning New Republic needs a special task force and assembles an unlikely group of pilots, each flying a differing model of starfighter (hence the name), and assigns them with a tough mission... to track down and eliminate the deadly Shadow Wing TIE fighter squadron of the Empire. Alexander Freed writes military sci-fi well, and Alphabet Squadron was no exception. The space battles are described wonderfully, and the book immerses the reader in th The premise of Alphabet Squadron is simple. The burgeoning New Republic needs a special task force and assembles an unlikely group of pilots, each flying a differing model of starfighter (hence the name), and assigns them with a tough mission... to track down and eliminate the deadly Shadow Wing TIE fighter squadron of the Empire. Alexander Freed writes military sci-fi well, and Alphabet Squadron was no exception. The space battles are described wonderfully, and the book immerses the reader in the military world of Star Wars. The characters fall into some common tropes for military characters, but Freed manages to make them interesting and stand out. I was happy to have two aliens on the team too. The story is engaging, and the ending is very unexpected and will leave you ready for book 2. The story drags in some parts, which isn't surprising given this was supposed to be a standalone novel but was extended into a trilogy however this extra focus helps flesh out the story Freed is carving and expands on his characters as well as Shadow Wing more. Overall I recommend this for Star Wars fans, especially if you want more post-RotJ content or like the military aspect of the franchise.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Margaret Hanson

    Oh this book hit everything that I loved about the X-Wing books. No big fancy powers, just a story about a bunch of messed up people struggling to do what's right and work out what that even is. And Hera plays a role, which leads me to wonder if they wrote this specifically for me. (Though umm could someone please explain who's looking after Jacen, it's bothering me!) The X-Wing books shone because they had some of the strongest character work out of all of Legends and this book is truly a worthy Oh this book hit everything that I loved about the X-Wing books. No big fancy powers, just a story about a bunch of messed up people struggling to do what's right and work out what that even is. And Hera plays a role, which leads me to wonder if they wrote this specifically for me. (Though umm could someone please explain who's looking after Jacen, it's bothering me!) The X-Wing books shone because they had some of the strongest character work out of all of Legends and this book is truly a worthy successor. And about time they realized that if a book is truly about people you might want to put one on the cover lest potential readers be turned off thinking the story is only about space battles! I love all the new characters. Chass might be the current contender for favourite among the squadron, but Yrica is compelling, Wyl's a sweetie, Kairos is a mystery and... okay Nath probably isn't in the running for favourite, but I still love this squad. I also quite enjoyed the look at the new challenges that arrive when you suddenly start... winning.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Connor Daley

    This book was an enjoyable ride from the empire over to the rebel alliance. I found the inclusion of already established characters (Syndulla) to make the story nicely grounded while introducing the new characters and story. However I feel like there were elements that I won’t name that also came from the Aftermath trilogy so in a way it feels choppy because I read those first but this happened beforehand? Although I rated this 4* I found the ending to be drawn out and the fleshing out of charac This book was an enjoyable ride from the empire over to the rebel alliance. I found the inclusion of already established characters (Syndulla) to make the story nicely grounded while introducing the new characters and story. However I feel like there were elements that I won’t name that also came from the Aftermath trilogy so in a way it feels choppy because I read those first but this happened beforehand? Although I rated this 4* I found the ending to be drawn out and the fleshing out of characters to still be a little rough even towards the end. I understand this is the first of a trilogy (that I will most definitely continue to read) however this book definitely could have ended a hundred pages sooner??

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