Note: This review is spoiler-free.
It’s a time of political and economic uncertainty. There is blatant and subtle discrimination, violence erupting everywhere, civilians caught in the middle. People are jaded and tired yet the machinations and ramifications of the political machine continues.
I could be describing the current situation in the United States, but this is the setting of Alexander Freed’s latest Star Wars novel, Shadow Fall, the second book in the Alphabet Squadron trilogy. The story is set after Return of the Jedi but before The Mandalorian. The New Republic is well-intentioned but disorganized; the Imperials are essentially beaten but in denial – both sides sickened by what’s happened and their respective parts. And Alphabet Squadron continues their hunt for Shadow Wing.
As usual, Freed’s writing is descriptive yet crisp. I could clearly picture the scenes described and feel the gritty emotions they evoke. The spaces between in asteroid belts, planets decimated by mining, others by war, the boredom of waiting, the “trophies” collected by soldiers, the music screaming in the background in pilots’ cockpits during strikes — it all paints a vivid picture of the Galaxy in flux.
Hera Syndulla, now a seasoned General, was my favorite character in this story. It was intriguing seeing her interactions with the title squadron’s members. In the first novel, the members of Alphabet Squadron just started to come together, in this novel, they are tighter as a squad but personal differences remain, ratcheting the already high tension in the story. A multitude of additional interesting characters keeps the plot moving, though at times, the sheer number of them, covering both the Imperial contingent and New Republic, was hard to keep straight. It helps to have Alphabet Squadron, the first novel, fresh in your memory. So not only is a re-read suggested, you’ll definitely want to have read the first entry beforehand and not enter the series here.
The feel of the novel, uncannily resembling the current quasi-quarantine and political upheaval here in the US, made the reading of Shadow Fall at times too intense for me. Instead of ripping through the novel like I normally do, I needed to take my time. And while I tend to strongly dislike the literary device of using aliens as a way to address discrimination and diversity, I did appreciate that those discussions were made. It did feel authentic to the characters rather than something added artificially.
Overall, Shadow Fall is a solid addition to the post-Return of the Jedi time period and I look forward to the final novel in Alphabet Squadron’s trilogy.
The publisher provided FANgirl with a copy of the book for review. As usual opinions are my own and do not necessarily represent the opinions of other contributors to this site.
Shadow Fall, An Alphabet Squadron Novel by Alexander Freed is out now from Del Rey / Penguin Random House in hardcover, ebook, and audio book formats.
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