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Wedge's Gamble (Star Wars: X-Wing Series, Book 2) Paperback – Abridged, May 2, 1996
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There are so many characters in this book, many of whom are indistinguishable, that things are very confusing. There are too many plotlines going on at once, with the main plotline of the book, Corran's plotline involving his father and people he used to work with, Loor's plotline, Wedge's plotline, Gavin's plotline, etc. But then there are tons of other minor characters to whom I can't put a distinct face or personality, and the net effect is confusion.
In addition, while thankfully there are less space battles in this book (the most difficult to visualize and follow), there's a heavy dosage of hard-to-follow shootouts here that are equally difficult to follow. And this book is supposed to portray none other than the taking of Coruscant.
I struggled through Rogue Squadron, and I struggled through this one. It's just not fun to read for me and I don't find myself connecting very well. I feel that Stackpole creates too many characters and gets bogged down in descriptions of battles whereas what we care about most (the taking of Coruscant by the Rebels) slides largely into the background and becomes secondary in importance to the romantic family drama.
In this way, I feel that what Stackpole does here is similar to what Traviss did with the Republican Commandos. They both have excellent subject matter at their hands but they push it to the side and instead focus heavily on relationships between non-film minor characters.
And don't get me wrong, I don't have a problem with action scenes in novels per se--Karen Traviss wrote them excellently in Hard Contact, for example--but you have to do them right. The author of the Corellian trilogy who spent like 40 pages describing a crash is an example of how NOT to do an action scene, and Stackpole is in this territory.
I'm glad people can appreciate these books, but honestly they're not for me.
As a villain, Kirtan Loor is hardly threatening. He's more like Ysanne Isard's messenger. Derricote does all the dirty work. I'm not sure why Isard doesn't order Derricote directly and just skip Loor. Although Isard is the true villain, she is very one-dimensional. The most we see of her is when she gives orders to Loor.
The actions scenes are so cluttered, I have difficulty envisioning them. All I know is there's a battle and who won. My eyes just want to glaze over and skip it all.
The dialogue is often stilted and unnatural. The author uses the characters' conversations as a way to explain everything to the reader. Consequently, one character asks a question and the other goes through a long-winded oratory spouting all the facts. Another question, another oratory. And so it goes. Information is crammed in as much as can be in a few pages. Imagine what conversations like that are like and you can imagine the dialogue. The characters dissect and analyze every single thought/action/emotion they experience and tell each other exactly what that is and why. They *tell* me everything. I don't *feel* anything. And what the characters fail to explain to each other, the author will provide in equally analytical narrative.
Despite it all the ending was quite good. The epilogue gripped me. So despite everything, I am left wanting to know more. I will be reading "Krytos Trap" and hope that each book in the series keeps improving.