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With Star Wars Battlefront releasing this month Del Rey’s newest Star Wars offering Star Wars Battlefront: Twilight Company promises to give us a great reading experience in the trenches on the front lines of the battlefield. In the vein of the first-person style immersive shooting experience of the video game the book is based on the experiences of the various members of Twilight Company, aragtag group of frontline rebellion soldiers who battle against the Empire with their blasters, detonators, and wits.
Unlike most Star Wars stories (see what I did there?) full of daring space battles, hotshot pilots, and heroic Force users, this book focuses only on the soldiers who battle incredible odds with only blasters at their sides; it’s a very unique offering in the current canon but not something never before seen in Star Wars before. The Republic Commando series is probably the closest in tone, although that series had major Jedi characters. This book definitely dives into the trenches with the reader and shows us a much more savage face of war.
The book is divided into sections all based on the movements of the troops (such as Withdrawal or Regroupment) which is actually kind of interesting. Throughout the book there are flashbacks to Crucival in which we see some very interesting back story on our main character Namir. His upbringing on a technologically primitive but violent world call to mind some very interesting imagery of our real world locations that seem to share such a bloody lifestyle.
Twilight Company is the Alliance’s go-to infantry for impossible assault missions. Much like the Republic’s commandos or ARC troopers, these individuals fight the most dangerous battles against the most overwhelming odds. The tone of the book is very visceral, so much so that one can almost change some names and locations and this book could be about any of the wars in our own world. It’s a stunningly real look at the face of war and the death it brings on the battlefield. This isn’t a bad thing by any means, but a different look than most of the other looks into the galaxy far, far away.
The characters in this book are very well done. Namir our main protagonist is a bit of a hardened, jaded, war-weary, tough-as-nails soldier who almost fights without ideals. What is probably an overdone trope in most war books is intriguing and refreshing in a Star Wars book. Such a drastic step away from a Luke Skywalker, and even pretty far removed from a Han Solo, Namir’s outlook from the front lines is a point of view we don’t see too often in the Star Wars galaxy. We also have Brand the tough, quiet sniper; Gadren, the confident strong-hearted Besalisk; and Captain “Howl,” the man in command who make sure that Twilight Company lives on. These characters feel like refugees from familiar war films who all band together and make Twilight Company feel like a living, bleeding unit.
The story follows Twilight Company as it fights along the Alliance’s mid-Rim retreat, through the battle of Hoth, and upon its strikes against the Empire’s supply targets. Throughout the constant conflict there are heavy losses and Namir must find a mission for Twilight Company to fight. It’s a surprisingly poignant story about the nihilistic soldier finding a cause instead of simply living on the battlefield.
Throughout the story a few familiar faces and locations pop up. From General Rieekan to Nien Nunb and from Echo Base to Sullust. But one cameo stands out: a brief encounter with Darth Vader shows the horror of facing an unstoppable enemy who defies reason. I imagine this scene gives a wonderful narrative to what it must feel like when those playing the Battlefront video game finds themselves face to face with this particular powered up character.
I don’t need to go into to much detail but the way this book delves into the tactics and strategies of frontline war and the danger and death on the battlefield give this book a tone all its own. While this book is not necessarily one of my favorites, it was certainly an enjoyable read (although it did take a while to pick up). I’m sure that those looking for a more realistic, gritty, visceral Star Wars story might find this particular book right up their alley. I imagine the feel of this book fits a lot of what Rogue One has been described as. The story is worthwhile and exhilarating and the characters are driven and nuanced. I loved the cover art on this book and I think it captures the feel of the story pretty well. If you’ve been waiting to join the war and dive into the trenches, pick this book up.