To follow my re-read of the first Battlefront novel last week, I went with Battlefront II: Inferno Squad. This book gives us a lot of background on the characters that we grow to love (or hate) in Battlefront II's campaign. It also helps us learn a little bit more about the ramifications across the galaxy of the events of Rogue One and A New Hope. It's definitely a great book for worldbuilding, and I would highly recommend it if you enjoyed the Battlefront II campaign.
Spoilers ahead for Battlefront II: Inferno Squad by Christie Golden.
Obviously, I have to talk about how this book fleshes out the protagonist of Battlefront II, Iden Versio. The game's Del Meeko and Gideon Hask are also a part of the novel and have some interesting character exploration, but Iden's is the most interesting to me. A big part of her arc in the game is overcoming years of being raised as a "true Imperial" and becoming a rebel. She's only really Imperial in early parts of the game, most of the campaign you side with the rebellion. That makes it really, really fascinating to watch Iden still firmly in her Imperial beliefs. Seeing how she justifies horrible atrocities on the Empire's behalf is a little scary, but it also really makes you appreciate her arc in the game.
I'd also like to talk about Seyn Marana. She's one of the original members of Inferno Squad in the book with the other three, but unlike the rest, she isn't in the game at all. If you think you know where this is going, then congratulations- yes, she dies. But she was probably one of my favorite characters in the book. She is very smart and skilled at a variety of things (including knowing an impressive amount of languages), and has an eidetic memory that comes in handy very frequently. However, her story is sad. Her eidetic memory means that she can perfectly picture when someone sacrifices themselves on a mission. She sacrifices herself in the book too, when she accidentally lets slip that she knows more languages than she was pretending to for their cover, and throws herself on a blade to prevent the other members of Inferno Squad being discovered. It's a really heartbreaking scene, and really showed how well-written of a character Seyn is.
The main plot of the book is that post-Death Star destruction, Inferno Squad is infiltrating an offshoot of Saw Gerrera's partisans known as the Dreamers, hoping to discover where a leak in the Empire is coming from to give them information. They come up with elaborate covers to get into the Dreamers without drawing attention. Like Saw Gerrera, the Dreamers' tactics are too violent and allow civilians as collateral damage for the Rebellion. Regardless, I really fell in love with the Dreamers. My two favorites were a Twi'lek woman named Dahna, and an adorable Chadra-Fan named Piikow. The characters were complicated, but still endearing in their own ways, and even some of the Inferno Squad characters grew attached. Unfortunately, before they leave the Dreamers, Gideon slaughters all of them. Iden wanted to slip away quietly because of her compassion, but Gideon, true Imperial that he was, killed them all. It's a really sobering and heartbreaking scene, and really made the ending of this book pretty bitter, even if most of the protagonists were able to successfully complete their mission and escape.
Another interesting part about this book was the Dreamer character of "the Mentor," a mysterious man who would provide the Dreamers with the information that he got from an Imperial contact, but wouldn't go on missions and often opposed to the extreme violence that they would take part in. At the end, he's revealed to be Lux Bonteri from The Clone Wars. Lux wasn't a character I've ever been particularly a fan of, but it was really cool to see where he ended up after his teenage years in the show, and was definitely an unexpected cameo to see.