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Battlefront: Twilight Company (Star Wars) Hardcover – November 3, 2015
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“A novel that ties in to a video game based on a sprawling sci-fi franchise shouldn’t be this good. . . . Battlefront: Twilight Company effortlessly thrusts readers onto the frontlines of the Galactic Civil War in a gripping tale.”—New York Daily News
“Compelling . . . an entertaining journey through a galaxy in turmoil . . . Battlefront: Twilight Company explores what happens to the cannon fodder fighting and dying in the background of space opera’s cinematic action sequences. Focusing on the life of a few low-ranking Rebel grunts caught up in a vast interstellar conflict, the novel is an enjoyable tale of interstellar adventure and drama.”—IGN
“Satisfyingly complex, immersive and moving . . . a war story unlike any Star Wars book that’s come before it.”—Roqoo Depot
“A military thriller [with] some pretty impressive actions scenes [and] the lived-in, gritty feel of the original trilogy . . . [Alexander] Freed shows us the military side of the Star Wars universe in a way that we haven’t seen much before, while also giving readers new perspectives on classic characters and moments.”—Tech Times
“Twilight Company is one of the greatest Star Wars stories ever about someone doggedly, cynically coming to understand why acting according to the light side is important.”—Den of Geek
“The strongest canon piece of Star Wars literature thus far . . . sure to be a fan-pleasing favorite . . . Explosive action scenes and dark humor only punctuate this character-driven tale [with] heavy world-building and cameos from other characters throughout the Star Wars pantheon.”—Alternative Nation
About the Author
Alexander Freed is the author of Star Wars: The Old Republic: The Lost Suns, as well as many short stories, comic books, and videogames. Born near Philadelphia, he endeavors to bring the city’s dour charm with him to his current home of Austin, Texas.
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Battlefront: Twilight Company explores several different viewpoint characters, but the focal point is Sergeant Namir. Namir is a squad leader in the Rebel Alliance’s 61st Mobile Infantry, also known as Twilight Company. As a grizzled veteran, he knows how to fight and strives to keep his people alive. Yet everything changes as they capture a high value Imperial target. With the Rebels retreating from the Mid Rim prior to the Battle of Hoth, this Imperial asset gives them a chance to strike back at the Empire and turn the tables. It leads to battles on far flung words and grueling campaigns in alien environments. The book puts the readers in the trenches with the soldiers as they sweat and bleed to stay alive. With Namir at its center, though, it’s not a rosy look at a band of freedom fighters striving to topple an evil empire. For Namir, fighting for the Rebel Alliance is just another war. He doesn’t have any stakes in the fight except to protect his people. He’s a soldier, it’s all he knows, and he’s good at it. Through the story, readers will get to learn more about him, his backstory, and what it is that makes him tick. The vast difference between him and big three—Luke, Han and Leia—makes his story rather refreshing. He’s not a wide eyed farm boy with Force skills, a scoundrel with a heart of gold, or a true believer of the Rebel cause. Instead, he’s something quite different.
Aside from Namir and several of the members of Twilight Company, the book also explores the Imperial side of things. On the planet Sullust, there’s a female stormtrooper named SP-457 who is used to show what it’s like for ordinary citizens who decide to join the ranks of the stormtrooper corps. SP-457’s story is interesting because it does not glamorize the Empire. They’re as complicated as any group, and with people like her, it shows how they’re not all mindless evil doers out for selfish kicks. Then there’s Captain Tabor, an Imperial instructor brought out of retirement by one of the Emperor’s favored servants, a prelate named Verge. Together they show a different viewpoint of the Empire, one that illustrates the differences between the old ways and the new. Verge is the prime example of what the Emperor’s New Order is creating. He’s as much a creature of their excess as he is a victim. On top of all of that, there’s the Imperial asset that Twilight Company captures who adds yet another viewpoint to it all. From all of the different perspectives, the entire picture slowly comes into view. But the surprising thing isn’t that they all show one crystal clear picture, it’s that they show just how complicated and messy the whole thing is. In the war between the Empire and the Rebels, there are a lot of shades of gray, and allegiances are not set in stone.
It’s worth noting that the book does jump around a bit. The main storyline follows Twilight Company in their present battles, goes through the Battle of Hoth, and then shows the battles that follow leading all the way up to Sullust. Scattered throughout that are flashbacks of Namir’s past life on a backwater planet riddled by war. Those scenes help reveal clues about his character. The book also jumps around from the different viewpoint characters. So while most of the book focuses on Twilight Company, you get a handful of chapters on SP-457 and her experiences on Sullust, which ties in later in the book. There’s also Tabor and Verge who get another handful of chapters as they hunt down Twilight Company. Everything comes together in the end and the format works well to break things up and showcase the different views of the war.
The highlight of the book, however, is how well Alexander Freed nails the feel of a war story. I’ve read a lot of war biographies, and Battlefront: Twlight Company feels like a soldier’s account of his campaign in the Galactic Civil War. The little details of battle, the discussions between the soldiers in their downtime, the bond between them, and the violence of war, it’s all captured brilliantly. This feels real. There’s no better way to put it than that. Yet it’s not just they way Freed captures a soldier’s story, but how he uses it to illuminate the complexities of the conflict. Everyone in this story has a different motivation for what they do, and none of them are straightforward. They’re all products of their experiences and mysteries for the readers to explore and discover. Even by the end of the book, not all of those questions about the characters are answered, but there are a enough clues for the reader to make their own conclusions. It’s satisfyingly complex, immersive and moving. If you’ve ever wondered what it must be like for a soldier in the Rebel Alliance, this is the book you need to read.
Having read over two hundred Star Wars books, it takes a lot to stand out and make an impression. What’s really impressive is that this is Alexander Freed’s first novel. With Battlefront: Twilight Company, he tells a war story like we’ve never seen before in Star Wars. It’s gripping, stirring storytelling that throws readers straight into the trenches with the soldiers of the Rebel Alliance. Who will live? Who will die? It’s all another step forward in the war against the Empire. I give it a five out of five.
We all know what the key players of the Star Wars saga are up to between Empire and Jedi. Twilight Company shows how the Galactic Civil War affects the rest of the galaxy. It adds a weight to the war that we have not really seen before.
I had a few complaints, but they were minor. There were some random flashbacks of the main character scattered throughout the book that I found hard to follow. They didn't really add a lot to the story, and I didn't feel they were adequately concluded. Some major characters die in this book, but they occur off page (off screen?). It was rather disappointing to connect with some of these characters and later on find out they died. I was hoping this would tie into the game, possibly the Battle of Jakku, unfortunately that wasn't the case. Nonetheless it was a good read.
While the story mostly focuses on the elite Rebel soldiers of Twilight Company, there are some interesting chapters from the Imperial perspective as well, including the life of a Stormtrooper who's just trying to do her duty. The "real" feel of the war raging around the soldiers means that nobody is safe, and when someone dies in this book, they stay dead. Taking place during the time period of the original trilogy, some of the key events of the movies are covered, including the Battle of Hoth displayed on the cover of the book.
The author does a good job with the characters as well. None of them really feel like cliches, and you even get a good sense of the complex relationships between the members of Twilight Company.
Overall, this is probably my favorite of the new canon novels, closely challenged by the Lost Stars. Alexander Freed did an amazing job with his very first novel, and we can only hope he gets a chance to write another Star Wars story.