Book Review: Battlefront: Twilight Company
This week, I re-read Battlefront: Twilight Company. It's a good Star Wars book, especially if you're interested in the gritty war side of Star Wars. If your favorite scenes are the Battle of Scarif or the Battle of Hoth, then this book is probably for you. It's pretty dark, but we get to follow some interesting characters and really get into the trenches of battle with them.
Spoilers ahead for Battlefront: Twilight Company by Alexander Freed.
The majority of the book is following the rebels, the titular Twilight Company. Led by Commander Howl until his death at the Battle of Hoth, Twilight Company is fighting a gritty war across the Outer Rim, receiving orders from the Rebellion's High Command. Though the company is huge we mostly follow a man named Namir and his squadron of a host of interesting characters. I loved reading about their different perspectives on the war and seeing how they all (especially Namir) grow over the book. What was most interesting about the rebel parts was their rescue of Governor Chalis, who doesn't really believe in the rebel cause but is helping them with her vast array of useful knowledge.
She was a fascinating character, who held herself in a lot of self importance- to the point that she was disappointed that the Empire didn't hold her in high enough regard to send Darth Vader himself after her. I loved reading about how she struggles with Twilight Company as a whole's lack of trust in her, her grand plans that cost the company a lot, and how she eventually flees a battle, but first bombs a Star Destroyer to give the company a victory- something they never learn. Chalis was a really cool character, and definitely pulled me into the book.
Though we didn't spend as much time with them as we did with the rebels, we did follow some Imperials. There was Prelate Verge, a Palpatine-worshipping fanatic, and Tabor Seitaron, a somewhat disillusioned former Imperial officer who retired from the military to teach, only to be pulled back in on a hunt for Chalis. The dynamic between the two was definitely interesting, and their failure to bring in Chalis at the end because they underestimated her was satisfying. But the between the chapters where we follow the big main story of Twilight Company and Empire, we follow a young woman who is a stormtrooper on Sullust and believes in the justice of the Empire. She's far away from the action of the book for most of it, so we get to look into the mind of a stormtrooper who is trying to do their job, even though she unfortunately has Imperial beliefs. The final battle of the book is on Sullust, so she gets pulled into the action and survives, with the rebels emerging victorious and kicking the Empire off the planet. Despite people around her celebrating, though, she still feels some resentment towards the rebels and hopes to rejoin the Empire should they return. It was really interesting to get to put yourself in the white boots of a regular old stormtrooper, and I always looked forward to those little chapters.
The battle scenes in this book were really, really cool. This is definitely Star Wars' "war book" the way that Rogue One is its "war movie." You can really feel the desperation of the characters and how much they're struggling and sacrificing in every fight. I thought that Freed wrote those scenes very well, and I never felt like I was losing track of where people are in the fight or whats going on, which I think can happen very easily in large scale battle scenes with as many moving pieces as there often were in this book.
And finally, I have to say- I love a good scary Vader scene. I mean, who doesn't? This isn't a Vader-heavy book- fear of him and his name is present, but Darth Vader himself only makes one appearance. But oh boy, is it a good one. We see Vader on his march through the evacuated Echo Base on Hoth, slicing through rebels easily and his power in the Force and lightsaber intimidating our rebel heroes. It's really cool to read about Vader from the perspective of someone who has no idea about the Force or lightsabers, and it really, really just emphasizes how scary he is.