FSFH Book Review

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Abnett, Dan
Adams, Douglas
Aguirre-Sacasa, Roberto
Allen, Roger MacBride
Allie, Scott
Allston, Aaron
Anderson, Kevin J.
Barclay, James
Barnes, Steven
Baum, L. Frank
Bear, Greg
Bendis, Brian Michael
Bischoff, David
Bisson, Terry
Blackman, Haden
Bova, Ben
Bowen, Carl
Brooks, Terry
Canavan, Trudi
Card, Orson Scott
Chadwick, Paul
Clarke, Arthur C.
Clarke, Susanna
Clemens, James
Collins, Paul
Crichton, Michael
Crispin, A. C.
Cunningham, Elaine
Daley, Brian
David, Peter
DeMatteis, J. M.
Denning, Troy
Dick, Philip K.
Dickens, Charles
Dietz, William C.
Dixon, Chuck
Donaldson, Stephen
Eddings, David
Edginton, Ian
Elrod, P. N.
Erikson, Steven
Feist, Raymond E.
Foster, Alan Dean
Fraction, Matt
Furman, Simon
Gaiman, Neil
Gemmell, David A.
Gerber, Michael
Gibbons, Dave
Golden, Christopher
Goodkind, Terry
Goodwin, Archie
Graham, Mitchell
Grant, Alan
Green, Jonathan
Green, Laurence
Guggenheim, Marc
Hagberg, David
Hambly, Barbara
Hamilton, Laurell K.
Hand, Elizabeth
Harras, Bob
Harrison, Mick
Heinlein, Robert A.
Herbert, Frank
Herbert, James
Hine, David
Hobb, Robin
Howard, Robert E.
Jacques, Brian
James, Charlie Hamilton
Jenkins, Paul
Jeter, K. W.
Johns, Geoff
Jones, J. V.
Jordan, Robert
Jurgens, Dan
Karpyshyn, Drew
Kennedy, Mike
Kerr, Katharine
Keyes, Greg
King, Stephen
King, William
Knaak, Richard A.
Kube-McDowell, Michael P.
Lawhead, Stephen
Layman, John
Le Guin, Ursula K.
Lewis, C. S.
Lieberman, A. J.
Loeb, Jeph
Lorey, Dean
Lowder, James
Luceno, James
Lumley, Brian
Macan, Darko
Manning, Russ
Martin, George R. R.
Marz, Ron
Matheson, Richard
McCaffrey, Anne
McIntosh, Neil
McIntyre, Vonda
Michelinie, David
Millar, Mark
Miller, John Jackson
Miller, Karen
Milligan, Peter
Moench, Doug
Moesta, Rebecca
Moore, Alan
Nicholls, Stan
Nicieza, Fabian
Nylund, Eric
O'Neil, Dennis
Ostrander, John
Paolini, Christopher
Perry, S. D.
Perry, Steve
Pratchett, Terry
Pullman, Philip
Quinn, David
Reaves, Michael
Reed, A. W.
Reed, Brian
Rice, Anne
Richardson, Nancy
Roberts, Adam
Rowe, Matthew
Rowling, J. K.
Rubio, Kevin
Rusch, Kristine Kathryn
Salvatore, R.A.
Shelley, Mary
Shultz, Mark
Simone, Gail
Simonson, Louise
Simonson, Walter
Smith, L. Neil
Spurrier, Simon
Stackpole, Michael A.
Stevenson, Robert Louis
Stewart, Sean
Stoker, Bram
Stover, Matthew
Straczynski, J. Michael
Stradley, Randy
Strnad, Jan
Sutcliff, Rosemary
Tolkien, J.R.R.
Traviss, Karen
Truman, Tim
Turtledove, Harry
Tyers, Kathy
van Belkom, Edo
Veitch, Tom
Wagner, John
Watson, Jude
Whitman, John
Williams, Sean
Williams, Tad
Williams, Walter Jon
Windham, Ryder
Wolverton, Dave
Woodring, Jim
Wurts, Janny
Yeovil, Jack
Zahn, Timothy
Collaborations A - F
Collaborations G - M
Collaborations N - R
Collaborations S
Collaborations T - Z
Anthologies A - R
Anthologies S
Anthologies T - Z
Still to come
Reviewing Literature
The Books of Aaron Allston

In 1998 Aaron Allston entered the Star Wars universe with the unenviabe task of continuing the 'X-Wing' series of novels written by the excellent Michael A. Stackpole.  Rather than reusing Stackpole's Rogues, Allston created a new group of characters, Wraith Squadron, who are now a fixture of the SW expanded universe.  An award winning games designer, Allston lives in Roundrock, Texas.
Average Review Score: 4.8 out of 5 (9 books)

Star Wars: X-Wing - Wraith Squadron
Wedge Antilles begins the task of creating a squadron of infiltrators and commandos using only pilots who are one step away from being thrown out of the New Republic military. The story follows a similar plan to Michael A. Stackpole's 'Rogue Squadron', but with two major differences; Allston's interesting new characters and his use of humour. The new characters range from an alien with multiple personalities to a genetically engineered Gamorrean and each has a unique back story which we find out as the story progresses. The uniqueness of the new characters is by far an improvement over Stackpole's squadron, members of which are at times totally generic, but Allston does fall down in his use of Kell Tainer, who is basically a Corran Horn wannabe. As I say, this book's other strong factor is it's use of humour and between practical jokes staged by Wes Janson and the witty dialogue between Face and Phanan, I can almost guarantee you'll chuckle out loud.
5 out of 5
'Twelve X-Wing snubfighters roared down into the atmosphere.'

Star Wars: X-Wing - Iron Fist
Wraith Squadron's characters continue to develop as they begin their commando raids against the psychotic Warlord Zsinj. Allston also shows that like the other 'X-Wing' author, Michael A. Stackpole, he is capable of inventing wonderfully unorthodox stratagems that make the battle scenes all the more interesting and surprising. The strong vein of humour continues unabated and is taken up a notch by the arrival of Lieutenant Kettch, a stuffed Ewok toy that is the basis of several amusing practical jokes and eventually becomes an important member of the squadron! I'll reveal that a core member of the squadron does die, and that death sequence is handled expertly by Allston, who leaves you with a sense of having lost a companion of your own.
5 out of 5
'He made no pretense at being fully human.'

Star Wars: X-Wing - Solo Command
The humour, clever tactics and interesting character developments continue to improve and diversify as Wraith Squadron join Rogue Squadron in the front line against Warlord Zsinj, under the command of General Han Solo! In almost all over the other Star Wars novels available, we see Han rejecting the military and chain of command in order to do something suitably heroic, but here we see him as a leader who does not hold himself above his subordinates and is a very capable commander. It's such a rarity to actually see some character development in Han (it's Luke and Leia who get most of the attention) that this book stands out as a major part of the Star Wars saga. This is certainly the best of Allston's 'X-Wing' books and is the perfect prequel (or prelude) to 'The Courtship of Princess Leia' by Dave Wolverton. "Kiss my wookiee!"
5 out of 5
'Naval Lieutenant Jart Eyan looked rested and cheerful.'

Star Wars: X-Wing - Starfighters Of Adumar
Rogue Squadron's greatest heroes (Wedge Antilles, Tycho Celchu, Wes Janson and 'Hobbie' Klivian) are manipulated into travelling to the distant world of Adumar to secure it's weapons factories in the name of the New Republic. However, they are in contention with the Empire's 181st Squadron, they have to deal with a duplicitous New Republic ambassador and, above all, they are appalled by Adumari society which throws away life simply for prestige. Although the Star Wars core characters are Han, Luke and Leia, with Wedge, Tycho, Janson and Hobbie you get a very strong sense of reading about old friends who're so familiar. Tycho brings his calm professionalism, Hobbie brings his dry wit and Janson continues the hilarious brand of childish humour from Allston's previous X-Wing books. Ultimately, though, this book is about Wedge's coming of age. Here he takes on the roles of diplomat as well as General and resolves his confused personal life when he and Iella Wessiri are reunited on Adumar. All in all, this isn't a groundbreaking or historical pillar of a Star Wars novel, but it is fun to read and is an essential progression for fans of the four Rogues.
4 out of 5
'She was beautiful and fragile and he could not count the number of times he had told her he loved her.'

Star Wars: The New Jedi Order - Enemy Lines: Rebel Dream
Allston uses his first forray into the NJO to both continue the stories of the main characters, but also to update the situation of his Wraiths and how they are coping with the war against the Vong. The scattering remnants of the New Republic converge on Borleias and attempt to fight a desperate rearguard action under the command of General Wedge Antilles. Allston brings his unique humour back to the Star Wars universe and in the depressingly dark NJO books, it provides a welcome respite from death and defeat. The author's imaginative ability to create unconventional stratagems also proves to be a good addition to the series as it makes the simple victories against the Vong believable after a string of defeats. Once more, this isn't a pillar of the EU but it is a worthy continuation of the NJO story.
4 out of 5
'"A god cannot die," Charat Kraal said.'

Star Wars: The New Jedi Order - Enemy Lines: Rebel Stand
Very similar in style to 'Rebel Dream', 'Rebel Stand' continues the story of the futile defence of Borleias. The matching of wits between Wedge and Czulkang Lah (former Warmaster and father to Tsavong Lah!) makes for a strong vein of miltary tension as each commander tries to outwit and outguess each other. However, the best part of this book is the mission to occupied Coruscant. The Wraiths, along with Luke, Mara and Tahiri sneak onto the former capital world and witness it's rapid change at the hands of the Vong. Whilst the Wraiths begin preparing insurgents, the Jedi are led by Luke's dark visions into confrontation with Lord Nyax, a Dark Jedi of immense power. Nyax is a brillant new take on a dark avatar; having once been Irek Ismaren (from 'Children of the Jedi') he has been cybernetically altered into a giant with lightsabers implanted into his body and he has had his mind wiped, driven now only by a desire to dominate. The only thing more exciting in this book than seeing Nyax fight the Jedi is seeing Nyax as he slaughters an entire hunting party of Vong!
5 out of 5
'Jaina Solo banked her X-Wing starfighter into as tight a turn as she could endure.'

Star Wars: Legacy Of The Force - Betrayal
Allston kicks off the nine-part series which will also feature the talents of Karen Traviss and Troy Denning. It is forty years after Episode IV (four years after the end of Denning's Dark Nest trilogy) and the Galactic Alliance is facing insurrection from the planets of the Corellian system. As conflict breaks out between the GA and the Corellians, popular Star Wars heroes find themselves on opposite sides of the battle, fighting against friends and family. As you'd expect with Allston, there's some brilliant battle scenes which focus on starfighter combat. As well as familiar faces such as Han, Wedge and Jaina, Allston introduces an up and coming fighter ace; Wedge's daughter Syal, who shows great character potential. Meanwhile Jacen Solo and his apprentice (they're almost like the traditional Master/Padawan team now) Ben Skywalker investigate a dark presence which is trying to influence the coming war. Jacen and Ben in action make for great reading, particularly their adventures on Adumar and Centerpoint Station. So generally, this book is another Allston triumph. But then the author springs something on us that will simply blow you away; the Sith are about to return and the new Dark Lord is in a position to ruin the lives of all our favourite heroes. An excellent start to a series which (factoring in this book and the talents of Allston, Traviss and Denning) may turn out to be the best Star Wars series of all time.
5 out of 5
'"He doesn't exist."'

Star Wars: Legacy Of The Force - Exile
The fourth book of the series sees the conflict between the Galactic Alliance and the Corellians spread to engulf the galaxy in a new civil war. As Jacen Solo continues to gain power (and abuse it), Luke commits the Jedi to hunting down Lumiya and her pawn Alema Rar. Something I really liked about this book was seeing familiar faces pooling their talents once more. Among those who gather aboard the Errant Venture are Wedge, Iella, Han, Leia, Corran, Mirax, Luke, Mara and Myri Antilles. As with Syal in 'Betrayal', Allston has turned Wedge's other daughter into a fascinating new character with lots of future potential, albeit as a spy rather than a pilot. Although the main story presented here is the progression of the war, there is a great substory which follows the first solo adventure of Ben Skywalker. Determined to find out if he's worthy of being a Sith, Jacen and Lumiya manipulate Ben into undertaking an unauthorised mission to the Sith world of Ziost. There we get some great insight into Ben himself as he's torn between Jacen's amoral pragmatism and the morality and compassion imparted by his parents, Luke and Mara. The only thing that disappointed me with this book was that Allston decides not to actually describe the space battle at the end, merely sketching it out in a post-battle footnote type paragraph. This seems a waste of one of the author's best talents, but it's understandable if you remember that this series is more about the characters than the conflict.
5 out of 5
'It wasn't exactly guilt that kept Jacen awake night after night.'

Star Wars: Legacy Of The Force - Fury
The seventh book of the series is my favourite so far. As the new Sith Lord Darth Caedus (aka Jacen Solo) kidnaps his own daughter and attempts to crush those who would oppose him, the Jedi and their allies are finally galvanized into action. This is what I really enjoyed about this book, the fact that rather than all the indecision of the earlier books in the series, the heroes of the Star Wars galaxy decide to take proactive steps against the ruthless monster who was once one of them. Several character issues which have been at an impasse also get advanced here, such as Jaina's relationship with Jag Fel and Luke's debilitating grief. Another great element of this book is reading Jacen's feelings about Allana, his daughter. His undying love for Allana reveals that he has not completely lost his humanity and may, in fact, be able to find redemption (up until now I've wanted nothing more than to see Luke behead the insufferable git!) As well as all these great character-based elements, there's also a fair bit of other stuff going on too, with the final battle at Centerpoint Station being the best of it.
5 out of 5
'The Falcon banked over a vision of hell.'

If you liked Allston:
Then certainly read Michael A. Stackpole's Star Wars books as both authors share a similar style, albeit with a slightly different focus.

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