Star Wars fans have been blessed with a mountain of content lately, especially in the form of books. The High Republic, books about Grand Admiral Thrawn, another story focused on Padmé Amidala, and the Alphabet Squadron trilogy. It’s strange because Star Wars is such a visual-oriented franchise, yet the various books have proven to be incredibly popular. The world of Star Wars is growing at an exceptional rate thanks to these stories. One that shines is Alexander Freed’s Alphabet Squadron which has now officially ended with the release of Victory’s Price.
What’s interesting about Victory’s Price, and the entire trilogy actually, is that even if you removed the elements that tie it into the Star Wars mythos, you’d still have a pretty great story. Rather than relying on too many familiar tropes, Freed is able to create a fairly multi-layered story that is brilliantly self contained. Even if you swapped the X-Wings and TIE Fighters out, the story would remain pretty much the same. Why is that? Well, Freed focuses more on elements that can be explored further and he uses that to his advantage. Rather than traditional aspects like the Jedi and Sith, Light and Dark. We’re presented with a group of mismatched pilots who are governed by their own histories, secrets, and choices. This is still a Star Wars story, but we’re getting new perspectives, characters, locations, and more complex themes.
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So while the epic Star Wars-esque dog-fights are still present, and to some extent very lengthy, Alphabet Squadron actually spends a great deal of time building and enhancing our experience with these new characters. We go on a journey with them, we watch them grow, and we see them change. As much as I love the spectacular image of X-Wing’s darting and dodging among the stars, which Freed absolutely nails, I adore the care that has gone into this extensive story which has ultimately led to a satisfying conclusion. Freed is able to tie his series into the Star Wars without sacrificing the integrity of the story and characters,
I also can’t deny my excitement of seeing Operation Cinder back in play, despite its awful intentions. It took me back to my days playing Battlefront II. But more importantly, its resurgence gives us an opportunity to explore the ruthlessness of the Empire. Remember, of course, that the Empire is dying so this is a new type of extreme. It’s desperation. Now, this opens a very interesting door. A door that has remained closed for quite sometime. Victory’s Price is key in not only defeating Shadow Wing, but also setting up the future for the New Republic. The morality of the New Republic is tested when it comes to determining the fate of Imperial loyalists. We’ve seen how they treat certain defectors, but what becomes of the Imperials that remain unfazed?
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While we watch as Yrica Quell joins Soran Keize at the helm of Operation Cinder, although it is made clear that all is not what it seems, the rest of the Alphabet Squadron must wrestle with the prospect of working with governments loyal to Emperor Palpatine. That’s an incredibly interesting twist and it was very refreshing to see it pan out. Rather than treating bad guys as bad guys, we get a lot ambiguity. Soon, it becomes clear that there is more to the Empire than we original thought. Especially in terms of indoctrination.
In addition to that, this final installment develops some very thought-provoking ideas regarding warfare. Ideas of good and bad become blurred. Much like Thanos in Engame, Soran’s goal can be seen as somewhat noble and just. We’re dealing with a lot in Victory’s Price. Not only are we dealing with Quell’s betrayal. We’re also tackling Keize’s motivations that incorporates the exciting return of the Emperor’s Messengers, a Squadron that is crumbling under the weight of their own struggles, and we’re gaining perspectives from both sides of the war. While this is all amazing stuff, it does become quite a lot to handle at some points.
Having said that, this is where Freed’s unique and detailed battle sequences come in handy. While some of them are quite long, they do provide a very nice break from the morality-driven and more politically involved aspects of Victory’s Price. Freed’s vibrant and descriptive action sequences allow you to escape into the void of space and participate in epic duels. You’d think that writing a book would limit an author in terms of theatricality. Well, not when Freed is concerned. His perfectly combined use of banter, depth and stakes accompanied by his vivid imagination help create battles that are worthy of the big screen. While they provide a break from the more intense nature of this finale, they do serve as a nice reminder. A reminder of the qualities that makes Star Wars… Star Wars.
Victory’s Price: An Alphabet Squadron novel
Victory’s Price is a well rounded conclusion. There were definitely things that seemed slightly rushed and pushed aside but they didn’t hinder my overall enjoyment. Freed has created a brilliant trilogy that is thoughtful and deep. He has also filled his world with likable characters that all have something to say and add. You can expect some really cool throwbacks and references, but the story never loses focus. For fans who love the space-battle aspect of Star Wars, then Freed’s trilogy is an absolute must.
If you are looking for a refresher, you can check out our overview of the trilogy. For new readers who want to explore something slightly different, Freed’s Alphabet Squadron is a perfect starting place. You can expect many epic fights, a wondrous journey through the galaxy, and so many twists and turns that you’ll be wondering whether you’re actually sat in the cockpit of an X-Wing. So, Why wait? Freed’s Alphabet Squadron trilogy is ready for you.
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