Book Review: X-wing Mercy Kill

X-wing: Mercy Kill Review


Warning: This review may contain very minor spoilers.  Characters and locations are mentioned but no major plot points or events are revealed. 

I have a confession to make.  Until now I had never read an X-wing novel.  When I started reading the post Return of the Jedi novels back in the late 90’s I skipped right past the X-wing novels.  I read Star Wars novels to see what happened to the movie characters after they blew up two Death Stars.  I read Star Wars novels to learn more about the Jedi and the Force.  I wanted lightsabers and Luke Skywalker not space battles and Wedge Antilles.  I have since learned to appreciate Star Wars books that aren’t about Skywalker or the Jedi (although I still very much prefer those stories), but I am so far beyond the X-wing novels that I am not sure I will ever go back and read them all.

When I heard about X-wing Mercy Kill coming out I thought it might be another one to skip.  But lately I have been reading every new Star Wars novel and Mercy Kill was set after the events of Fate of the Jedi.  How could I not read the latest novel in the Expanded Universe timeline?  I had to, space battles or not.

Here is the official summary…

The intrepid spies, pilots, and sharpshooters of Wraith Squadron are back in an all-new Star Wars adventure, which transpires just after the events of the Fate of the Jedi series!

Three decades have passed since Wraith Squadron carried out its last mission. Taking on the most dangerous and daring operations, the rogues and misfits of the elite X-Wing unit became legends of the Rebellion and the Second Galactic Civil War, before breaking up and going their separate ways. Now their singular skills are back in vital demand—for a tailor-made Wraith Squadron mission.

A powerful general in the Galactic Alliance Army, once renowned for his valor, is suspected of participating in the infamous Lecersen Conspiracy, which nearly toppled the Alliance back into the merciless hands of the Empire. With orders to expose and apprehend the traitor—and license to do so by any and all means—the Wraiths will become thieves, pirates, impostors, forgers . . . and targets, as they put their guts, their guns, and their riskiest game plan to the test against the most lethal of adversaries.

The good news for new readers is that this book, although titled “X-wing”, is basically a stand-alone novel.  The story does not rely on prior knowledge of the X-wing series, but having that knowledge will most likely expand your enjoyment of the book.  I will give a bit of a warning though.  If you plan to read the initial run of the X-wing novels, you may want to do that before reading this book.  Yes it is a stand-alone story, but there are mentions of events from past novels and some of those mentions are spoilerific.

As I started reading the book I immediately got an A-Team sort of feel.  As the book went on I also got some Mission Impossible and maybe even some Ocean’s Eleven.  It is very much a special unit/team-up/caper/undercover kind of story.  I was also very happy that there weren’t a lot of space battles.  In fact there was only one time in the book where I found myself zoning out because of spaceships maneuvering and chasing each other.  Mostly it was just great characters planning missions, going on missions, and getting the bad guys.

And the characters really were great.  Initially I was turned off by the main protagonist, a genius Gammorean who goes by the name “Piggy”.  Being a big fan of the Expanded Universe I had heard of this character but had never really thought that much about him.  Now I was having to follow him as a main character.  It didn’t take long for me to warm up to him though, and his character progression was interesting to follow.  “Piggy” was also surrounded by a team full of impressive characters.  I really enjoyed most of the Wraiths in this book and I would love to see where some of this new generation end up in future books.  They even managed to slip a Force user onto the team which made this Jediphile very happy.

Aaron Allston really knows how to write humor and this book is full of it.  It maybe has a little too much.  I liked the lightheartedness of the book but it started to feel like every line was a quip or sarcastic jab.  I know many appreciate this type of humor in a Star Wars book but it got to be too much for my taste.  Not that there weren’t serious moments.  When Mercy Kill got serious, it got very serious.  Mixed in with the humor there were exciting moments of action and even some heart wrenching emotion.  Although a little heavy on the humor, It was actually a really good mix and I found myself highly entertained for most of the book.

As someone who needs lightsabers and the Force in my Star Wars I was not expecting to like this book nearly as much as I did.  It was the characters and storytelling that won me over.  Even though the book did not have some of my favorite Star Wars elements it did have things like Star Destroyers, X-wings, and familiar alien species that place it firmly into the correct universe.  Don’t expect any Luke or Han cameos or galaxy shaking events, but if you are looking for a fun stand-alone Star Wars story I would highly recommend this book to you.  Established fans of the X-wing series will utterly love this book.

Buy this book.

(More spoilery stuff below)

Random Thoughts

I loved the characters of Myri, Trey, and Jesmin and hope to see them again.
I didn’t really like the Vong character of Scut. Maybe I wasn’t supposed to.
I took the main character much more seriously when he was going by Voort instead of Piggy.
Referring to people by names, code names, AND numbers got really confusing.
A Clawdite Wraith.  Very convenient.
Using the Force to make people need to pee.  That’s a first.
Some great flashbacks fill us in on what’s been going on with the Wraiths.
Just when you thought you had heard the last of the pilot with a horse head.
Wedge cameo!
Look for me wearing my “Quad-Linked Militant Pacifists” shirt at Celebration 6 next month.

- Aaron Goins

 

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  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.morrell Marc Morrell

    Excellent review, Aaron. I am actually looking forward to reading this one, thanks to your review. Initially, I wasn’t thinking about picking this one up. So, thanks!

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  • http://www.facebook.com/nathan.p.butler Nathan Patrick Butler

    I have to say, as we’ll talk about in our Star Wars Beyond the Films coverage, the fact that Wedge is has a cameo, as you pointed out . . . yet he’s in the dramatis personae, is rather ridiculous.

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  • vmur

    I love this book so much I find myself listening to the audio book over and over.

    The characters are all great, The reviewer of the book (Mr. Goins) Nailed it perfectly

    the book really feels like a mix of Mission Impossible (the Original one) and Oceans 11. (did not get a A-team feel though)

    I will also agree initially that using Piggy in the book, was going to weaken the story
    In the original Wraith Squadron. I always felt that Piggy and his horse head buddy “Runt” were something like background noise. Plus back then it always felt like the writers went out of their way to make sure that both Piggy and Runt were essential members of the team. Perhaps they thought that people would think them not as intelligent or something else. In this book (Mercy kill) I felt they did the same thing with the Wookie member of the team. Huhunna

    for example in the book Jesmine Tanner says the following
    “…after which we go through the tree and use an old grapple and
    pulley system, which Huhunna is a geniuos with.”

    enough with that we know these characters are start , ok that was a tangent

    getting back to piggy, His character really blossoms in this book, Not only do you see his intelligence come shinning through but his ability to teach the new wraith and share his wealth of experience.
    One of the great parts of the book is how they switch from past experiences to the present. It helps to bring parts of the book together but importantly it really helps you understand Piggy’s (ah i’m sorry Vort’s ) pain in the book.

    The mix of some older wraiths in the new team helps as well. But as Piggy says in the book the Wraith team members may change but their rolls always stay the same.
    ” Piggy describes them, The Actor, the Sniper, The tech. The Comm Expert, The Demolitions expert, the strongman, the hand to hand combat specialist.”

    The cameo’s in the book were a lot of fun Wedge and (only mentioned Tyco) make show up in the book as does (and you will have to think hard at first ) Kirnee Slain
    she had a different name through most of the older books and her new name was only mentioned once. (side note I was kind of bothered in how they made Kirnee sound in the book. Her old character was very refined.however the way they portrayed her in this book was like she was a more rougher or working class.)
    Other cameo’s of the old wraith only show up in the flash back and that works for obvious reasons.
    One of my most roles in the book was how they portrayed “Face” his level of coolness has been refined to an art form. His experience really shows through and in the end he really comes off as the “Master Spy”
    As mentioned in the review you will have your excitement, action, heavy drama, and always a fun part the planning phases. But the funny parts and you get more than your share will have you laughing for sure” one example ( This is between old timer Char and new guy Trey I am paraphrasing
    ” Trey says turbo lifts to the right or if you want the exercise stairway to the left, Char: Hrmp. another joker. Trey: Tell me you don’t have another joker on your team and I will buy you a 60 year Corilleian whiskey .
    Char: (very dead pan) I don’t have a joker. Trey: But it has to be the truth!”
    another good is when new Character Thames says:
    ” Awe you can trust me I’m a wraith”
    In the end you will love this X-wing novel, I really hope that they make more of this team. You will come to love the characters, and in the end they will make you feel like you want more.

    Enjoy