Customer Reviews: The Bacta War (Star Wars: X-Wing Series, Book 4)
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on December 10, 1998
(And that goes for ALL of the X-wing books) I'm ashamed to say that when I first heard about the X-wing books, I decided not to read them because I figured there would be too many battles, and I hate reading battles, so I assumed the novels would be boring to me. But during a severe case of Star Wars withdrawal when I was ready to kill for something new, I figured, what the heck?
Boy was I wrong! The whole series (and especially this book specifically) was so incredible. The best thing about it was that it took us far away from the typical cut-and-dry Star Wars book formula. Wedge Antilles is the unsung hero who clearly proves something I've always thought important: you do not need the force to be heroic (I realize that Han already proved this, but he's in Luke's shadow all the time.)
The battles were honestly not that bad! I didn't understand the technical X-wing terms, but I like how all the characters worked together, and after a while I did get pretty knowledgeable about some things (like the difference between a squint and an eyeball).
Also the romance. I've always thought that Star Wars could use a little more romance, and not just Luke gets dumped by another girl because they just can't live with him. Stackpole not only put romance in the books, but he wrote it very well. Not mushy gushy, but real, open and honest, with realistic obstacles. For instance, Corran and Mirax learning to admit they were wrong in their prejudice about each other and learn to become friends.
My favorite is Pash Cracken. I don't know why, I just like hime a lot. I've also always liked A-wings.
The Bacta War was my favorite mostly because I have a tendency to like the last book in a set of books the best. Honestly I tend to think of trilogies and the like more as one great big book in volumes.
Read this book. Read the whole series!
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on May 21, 2008
The Bacta War by Michael Stackpole is the fourth book in the X-wing series and it brings the first major story arc to its conclusion. The stage set at the climax of the third book, The Krytos Trap, has Ysanne Isard escaping Coruscant and taking over the government of Thyferra, the primary producer of bacta in the galaxy. With the Krytos virus running rampant through the New Republic's alien populations, it is critical that access to Thyferra's bacta is restored and it is distributed as fairly as possible.

Unfortunately, since Isard is the legitimate head of the Thyferran government, the New Republic cannot overthrow her directly. In light of this, Wedge and the Rogues resign and take matters into their own hands, acquiring a new squadron of X-wings and making weapons deals with Huff Darklighter and Talon Karrde along the way. The task before the Rogues is to find a way using their limited resources to topple Isard from power and bring Thyferra back into the New Republic.

As always, Stackpole does an excellent job of managing a large cast of characters. Corran Horn continues as the primary focus of the story. Corran is grappling with revelations concerning his Jedi heritage and is unsure of how his potential ability with the Force jives with his service to the military. In this book Stackpole does a good job of not overly deifying Corran; he is confident of his pilot abilities but he is humanized by his fledgling explorations into the Force and his burgeoning relationship with Mirax Terrik. The introduction of Mirax's father Booster into the storyline is an immediately welcome addition.

Isard and her partners-in-crime Fliry Vorru and the traitorous pilot Erisi Dlarit spend many of their chapters plotting in Isard's office. Some of their dialogue is a bit too much in the mustache-twirling, stereotypically evil villain vein, but that was the case in parts of the prior books as well. The shifting alliances and power struggles in their group are engaging as they try to consolidate their power and take on the indomitable Rogues.

The methods Rogue Squadron use to take on Isard and her followers are quite cleverly written and thought out. Since the New Republic cannot officially back the effort, Wedge takes on the comfortable role he always had in the Rebellion, leading a small, scrappy group against seemingly insurmountable odds. The varied minor actions the Rogues take throughout the book build to a gripping climatic sequence starting at the Yag'Dhul space station they have been using as a base of operations and ending, of course, at Thyferra where Isard has made her lair.

Kudos to Stackpole for such a satisfying four-book storyline. He introduces a host of characters and plot points and does an admirable job of differentiating them enough to be easily memorable and of bringing them to solid conclusions at the end. Being free of the chains of using the primary Star Wars film characters has really paid off in this series, and the sense of danger is much higher when characters may actually die (and do). These four books are highly recommended.
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Although "The Bacta War" is the last of a tetrology, it stands more on its own than "Krytos Trap." It contains fewer dogfights than "Rogue Squadron," better character development than "Wedge's Gamble;" but the plotline was not quite up to snuff with "Krytos Trap," which I consider the best of the tetrology. I didn't feel the tension. I was not as engaged. However, the final battle scene was one of the best Michael Stackpole has offered in the series thus far. The military strategy was much better than in previous books.

Ysanne Isard finally gets center stage. She's not very threatening at all. In fact, I wonder why she's supposed to be such a natural heir to the Emperor's throne. She's not military command, she's military intelligence. She has no experience commanding the military and this lack of expertise really shows in "The Bacta War." It's even apparent to all who work under her. The lack of a capable villain does hurt the story. This is Star Wars and we're only in the fourth book of the X-Wing series, so of course we know who will prevail. But an incompetent villain is no challenge. I wasn't on the edge of my seat wondering what brilliant move she was going to make. I was just waiting for the next stupid mistake.

It was wonderful to see the dynamics between Corran, Mirax, Booster and Karrde. I wasn't a fan of Corran at first, but he's becoming more likeable. It's good he's finally found someone. I look forward to reading more about them in future books.

This was an entertaining read. Good but not great. The ending leaves more to be explored, reminding me this is only a part of a larger series, but I was left satisfied.
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on September 26, 2014
Fantastic book from a fantastic series. If you're like me and loved the Expanded Universe of Star Wars from before Disney decided to end it and do their own thing. While worth the read. Just keep in mind this is book 4. You will want to read 1-3 first.
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on March 14, 2015
The 4th X-Wing novel by Michael A. Stackpole, "The Bacta War", is exactly what it says it is - dealing with the war over the control of the Bacta supply needed to fight off the plague that is plaguing Corsuscant. The story itself deals with a somewhat resurrected Rogue Squadron & for the most part keeps us busy with another attack in the rebellion & the fight to secure this drug by any means necessary to save lives. Stackpole's story is pretty much run of the mill fare for this series & while advancing the plot doesn't do a lot else other than fill in a bit more of the backstories of a couple characters. Nearing the halfway point in this series & so far there's been nothing really to set it apart or reason to stop reading.
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on April 5, 2011
I highly recommend this book, but I am sure you would have read the first three before deciding to purchase this and would be buying it anyways! Finally the showdown between Ysane Isard and Rogue Squadron... An interesting romance blossoms... Old enemies... This has it all!
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on March 28, 2014
Great conclusion to the first 4 X-Wing books. Stackpole did a great job with this one. Although many have said that this is the best of his first four, I think it's the second best (my favorite being Wedge's Gamble). This book ties up the threads from the previous three books very well. The addition of Booster Terrik really made the book move forward and helped flush out the series. There are a few nice twists in the story that make this book great to read. My only real strong complaint is a lack of focus on Tycho (but since he was the main focus of the previous book this is allowable) I just wish he played a stronger role in this book. I'm excited to read I, Jedi and Isaard's Revenge to cap off the Corran/Rogues books.
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on March 19, 2008
X-Wing: The Bacta War picks up from where the Krytos Trap left off. Wedge, Corran, and the other members of Rogue Squadron have chosen to leave the New Republic so they can run Iceheart to ground on Thyferra (the planet famous for generating Bacta). To do this, Wedge and company occupy a space station that was "destroyed" by the New Republic and use this for a base of operation against Isard and her forces. The action is quick and sharp. Rogue Squadron leads with their strength (raiding) and bring in some new capabilities in the form of smugglers (we learn a little bit about Karrde and Booster).
The Good:
Mr. Stackpole put together a winner here! I was a little let down in The Krytos Trap because we went from space combat in snubfighters to fighter jocks acting as commandos and saboteurs; instead we get space action that fits what you expect from Rogue Squadron! Snubfighters ambushing freighters, engaging Star Destroyers, and smugglers working to help Rogue Squadron fight the Empire. The characters are strong, their dialog is good (Mr. Stackpole could do better by reading about dogfights or listening to dialog from the History Channel, but really not much), and most importantly they behave like I'd expect real people to behave. There's no seam going from The Krytos Trap to The Bacta Wars, and for me, I loved the fact that they had specialist working on the ground rather than fighter jocks (since when do you put highly trained fighter jocks doing Special Forces work). The head games between Isard and Wedge are realistic, as are those between Corran and Booster.
The Bad:
There's not many. A big weakness is that the story follows the tried and true of the Star Wars saga. Meaning Rebel (New Republic) forces engage in hit and run tactics till the Empire screws up and then they kill them. Mr. Stackpole covers for this by implying Isard is off her game, something I find a little hard to believe (she set the Krytos trap up herself). We're also told of great fracturing of the Empire's forces than we were lead to believe in the earlier books. Mr. Stackpole does play a little bit with Corran's "Jedi" powers, but not enough to disturb the story. The biggest weakness is the lack of losses for Rogue Squadron (especially considering what they're engaging).
This is a solid 4 star book for any lover of Star Wars (actually, I can see a Star Wars lover rating it 5 stars, however 4 from me). It's everything you look for with good writing to boot! Mr. Stackpoles X-Wing series is nicely put together with good flow and The Bacta War delivers nicely. If you're not a Star Wars fan I believe you'll enjoy the story, I do recommend starting with Rogue Squadron though and working your way to The Bacta War (however you could do the Star Wars thing and just start with this story). A good read, I look forward to reading more in the series and by Mr. Stackpole.
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on October 14, 1999
Well that's not sayin' a lot-- I love 'em all!!! I rank it inthe top 5 books I've read. (Among them: Vision of the Future, t. Zahn,and I, Jedi, m. Stackpole-- by the way I know they brainstormed ideas on that together!!) I laughed so hard when I read this my parents honestly thought I was going insane. Who knows? maybe I was!
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on January 9, 2014
As I said about 'The Krytos Trap' this is not my type of novel. Still, as a whole unit, all four of these first novels fit together nicely. The important characters are now well-established so that you empathize with their frustrations over the Republic. Wedge has been central throughout, with asides for Tycho and Corran and lesser subplots for many other characters that have developed each of the major players here. That means you really get into them becoming 'Rogues' from the Republic. I am not certain if Stackpole pitched all four novels at once or the idea came about in the writing, but it works.
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