In Review: Star Wars Battlefront: Twilight Company

This is an excellent addition to the Star Wars canon.

Star Wars Battlefront: Twilight Company by Alexander Freed

Published by Del Rey, November 3, 2015. Hardcover of 416 pages at $28.00.

The cover: In a scene not shown in The Empire Strikes Back, six Rebels of the Sixty-First Mobile Infantry, aka Twilight Company, are battling for their lives on Hoth as Imperials storm their base. The familiar AT-AT and AT-ST are on the cover, but these characters are new, such as the Besalisk on the far right and the soldier in the jetpack trying to down the walker. The back of the cover continues the battle, showing several Snowspeeders about to enter the fray, the Ion Cannon that protected the base, and several ground troopers rushing in to assist the 61st. Beautiful illustration by Aaron McBride, with the jacket designed by Scott Biel. This cover was one of the reasons I purchased this book. Overall grade: A+

The premise: From the inside jacket cover, “Among the stars and across the vast expanses of space, the Galactic Civil War rages. On the battlefields of multiple worlds in the Mid Rim, legions of ruthless stormtroopers — bent on crushing resistance to the Empire wherever it arises — are waging close and brutal combat against an armada of freedom fighters. In the streets and alleys of ravaged cities, the front-line forces of the Rebel Alliance are taking the fight to the enemy, pushing deeper into Imperial territory and grappling with the savage flesh-and-blood realities of war on the ground. Leading the charge are the soldiers — men and women, human and nonhuman — of the Sixty-first Mobile Infantry, better known as Twilight Company. Hard-bitten, war-weary, and ferociously loyal to one another, the members of this renegade outfit doggedly survive where others perish, and defiance is their most powerful weapon against the deadliest odds. When orders come down for the rebels to fall back in the face of superior opposition numbers and firepower, Twilight reluctantly complies. Then an unlikely ally radically changes the strategic equation — and gives the alliance’s hardest-fighting warriors a crucial chance to turn retreat into resurgence. Orders or not, alone and outgunned but unbowed, Twilight Company locks, loads, and prepares to make its boldest maneuver — trading down-and-dirty battle in the trenches for a game-changing strike at the ultimate target: the very heart of the Empire’s military machine.” I have never played Star Wars: Battlefront, and don’t see myself doing so. That said, I picked this up because I’m a huge Star Wars fan and I want to read more stories set in that universe. I’m especially curious to see if this contains any new material that will fit into the new Disney Star Wars canon. I’m hoping to be entertained. Overall grade: A-

The characters: The protagonists are headed by Namir, a human male who’s the focus for much of the book. Why he joined and fights for the Rebellion is a story that’s slowly revealed, and he’s the type of solider you’d want covering your back. He doesn’t like to lead, but will do so if he must. He started out the book as the typical gruff, no nonsense soldier typical of war novels, but he grew immensely as the book progressed. Next is Brand, a female human who pops in and out of the story and becomes something of conscience for Namir. She was an extremely enjoyable character with a lot of mystery. Gadren is a Besalisk, the same species as Dexter the cook from Revenge of the Sith. He’s very different from the film character, and much more fun. Roach is a sixteen year old scrawny red head recruited from the locals at the end of the book’s first battle. She wants to fight, but has an issue that may interfere with her survival. Ajax is the loudmouthed braggart that everyone hates, but is another soldier one would want by their side during battle. The leader of Twilight Company is Micha “Howling Mad” Evon, or Howl as he’s better known to his troops. He tries to mentor Namir as best as he can, but knows it’s difficult for the soldier to see the big picture of galactic war. On the Imperial side is Captain Tabor Seitaron, recently assigned to assist young Prelate Verge aboard the Star Destroyer Herald to track the 61st. The twenty year old is a zealot of the Emperor and uses methods that Tabor has issues with. The wild card of the novel is Governor Everi Chalis, who is taken by the infantry in their first battle. She wishes to defect, because she fears what Darth Vader will do to her if captured by the Sith. She claims to have knowledge that will benefit the Rebellion, but can — and should — she be trusted? Namir doesn’t, but she seems to have Howl’s ear. There is a also a famous supporting character from Episode VI that plays a vital part in the novel in the final quarter. I enjoyed Namir, Brand, Chalis, and Verge the most, as their characters were well defined and grew the most. Overall grade: A

The settings: There are four main planets visited: Haidoral, Coyerti, Hoth, and the final I won’t reveal to keep from spoiling. Haidoral is a recently industrialized world, taken over by the Empire, and then smashed to pieces with the arrival of the Rebellion. It’s akin to a modern day city that’s become partially destroyed. Every corner could hide enemies, allies, or non-combatants. It’s a good setting for the Star Wars universe because it’s not often explored and I enjoyed travelling around it. Coyteri is a primarily a swamp world. The mire and insects leap off the page to assault readers as much as they do the Rebels. Also on this world is an Imperial settlement, which is investigated and has lasting effects on some characters. Hoth is just as frigid an environment as found in the film. It was very interesting to see this world from a new perspective, both at the Rebel base and during the assault by the Imperials. The final location is a world I’ve heard much of in many Star Wars venues, but never encountered any stories set there. It was very different from what I expected, given its inhabitants, but still very enjoyable. Overall grade: A

The action: This book is designed to capitalize on the release of the videogame and should please fans of it and Star Wars. There’s lots of action in different environments, with a variety of weapons employed. I was happy to see that this wasn’t just first person shooter action and that the characters have to think their way out of situations as much as shoot their way out. There’s group vs group combat, one on one combat, and ship combat. I was very satisfied with the action and Freed’s descriptions of it. Overall grade: A+

The conclusion: Some characters live, many more die. The war continues, but the final battle concludes unexpectedly and excellently. Overall grade: A+

The final line: This exceeded my expectations. Great characterization and terrific action. This is an excellent addition to the Star Wars canon. Freed is to be congratulated for what he’s created. More, please! Overall grade: A

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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