Battlefront II: Inferno Squad (Star Wars) By Christie Golden
Review by Richard Lynch
Inferno Squad opens on a scene familiar to any Star Wars fan, the Battle of Yavin rages as the Death Star inches toward its target and the destruction of the Rebellion. This time, however, we experience the battle from a new perspective, a young Imperial pilot named Iden Versio who, in moments will become one of the few Imperial survivors of the Death Star’s destruction.
Inferno Squad is a spy thriller, the Mission Impossible of Star Wars stories, meant to introduce the character we will play in the upcoming game, Battlefront II. In its pages, readers will experience unusual infiltration missions and thrilling heists on top of more traditional Star Wars action, all told through Imperial Eyes. As a pitch for the story mode of Battlefront II, it is an unmitigated success. The early missions of the titular squad show marvelous potential for gameplay. The main draw for many will be the way we are introduced to the entire team and what we learn a bit about their personalities.
The story of Inferno Squad is decidedly simple. A team of elite imperials is assembled to execute covert missions within the Empire and against the Rebellion. Golden’s greatest strength is in writing dark, morally complex characters without ever making them feel unrelatable. This book easily offers some of the most believablr pro Empire arguments we’ve seen in the EU. The Empire is about stability, something that will only work if everybody works toward the same goal. Unfortunately, the tradeoff is that the rebels we meet come across as murderous monsters, so much so that the author felt the need to differentiate them from Leia and the gang who are described as, being too soft to do what it takes. Describing the Rebels as terrorists is a valid argument but it lacks the subtlety needed to make a solid case for why the Empire goes to the lengths it does to defeat them.
Where the book succeeds the most is with its characters. Iden and company are all well-defined and likable despite their Imperial backgrounds. The level of depth put into each member of the squad is consistently surprising leaving just enough room for readers to wonder about certain motivations and how they became the soldiers they are. We also meet a diverse cast of Imperials and Partisans including Iden’s father Garrick who is a commander in the Imperial Security Bureau and few surprise appearances for hardcore fans.
Despite being a tie in novel, Inferno Squad works surprisingly well as a stand-alone book. There aren’t any obvious connections to upcoming films, and I can confirm that we don’t meet Snoke. But that shouldn’t scare away fans. This book is an excellent addition to the Star Wars canon and a perfect jumping off point for anybody looking to delve into the expanded universe for the first time.
The Geeked Gods Score: 8/10