Set: 6 ABY
It is the evil heart of a battered and reeling Empire: Coruscant, the giant city-world from whose massive towers the Imperial High Command directs the war. The Rebels will invade this mighty citadel in a daring move to bring the Empire to its knees. But first Wedge Antilles and his X-wing pilots must infiltrate Coruscant to gain vital intelligence information. Capture means death, or worse--enslavement by the vicious leader known as "Iceheart," Ysanne Isard, now Emperor in all but name. And one of Rogue Squadron's own is already her slave, a traitor hidden behind a mask of innocence, working to betray both colleagues and the Rebellion itself.
The second book in Michael A. Stackpole’s introduction to Rogue Squadron, X-Wing: Wedge’s Gamble focuses on Rogue Squadron as they find themselves at the heart of the Imperial universe, as well as at the heart of Imperial machinations.
There’s a spy within Rogue Squadron, the Imperials are planning something despicable, and Rogue Squadron are at the heart of everyone’s plans.
Stackpole once again delivers a brilliant book, with less of the hot-shot X-Wing pilot scenes and a look into the other skills that the pilots of Rogue Squadron were picked for. Finding themselves on Coruscant with the sole intent of gathering intel for a future invasion, they aren’t being as secretive as they think and the pilots soon find themselves fighting for their lives.
The relationship between Corran Horn and his friends and enemies continues to intrigue and spellbind. The moral centre from which Corran makes all his decisions gets him into and out of trouble, and pits him against a character who you’ve already grown to love. Wedge is trying to keep everything together, and then the Alliance leadership throw even more onto his shoulders.
One of the best aspects of Stackpole’s writing is his adeptness at writing the interpersonal relationships of his characters. Everyone has their quirks, their flaws and their sparks, and each is compelling in and of themselves. I cannot get enough of Ooryl Qrygg, and watching poor Gavin Darklighter deal with the advances of a feisty Bothan alone are worth the cover charge.
Concluding this book leads us directly into the third book which, from memory, serves as a massive detour to get us to a point that shouldn’t have been all that far away. Whether I enjoy it or not the second time through is something we’ll just have to wait and see.
For the moment though, the memories of X-Wing: Wedge’s Gamble make me positive about what comes next. The excitement level, intrigue, personalities and storytelling of the book are all well above average, and make for a book that had me up to 2am because I was just that close to finishing it. This book is definitely a reason to start reading the X-Wing series.
Review by Joshua S Hill
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