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Star Wars: Battlefront: Twilight Company – A Beyond the Films Review

With recent events leading to a backlog of recorded episodes and episodes to record very soon (such as our two-part Aftermath discussion), Star Wars Beyond the Films‘ Nathan P. Butler will be posting short, non-spoiler reviews for new releases. Spoiler-filled discussion will follow in the weeks thereafter on the podcast.


Battlefront: Twilight Company by Alexander Freed (hardback, 2015)

EA and DICE’s Star Wars: Battlefront will arrive for PC, Xbox One, and Playstation 4 later this month. Star Wars has a varied history of tie-in novels for video games. Some, like The Force Unleashed and its sequel, were direct adaptations of video game stories with added details or perspectives. Others, such as Ruins of Dantooine and the novels under the banner of The Old Republic were not so much adaptations as stories set against a backdrop shared with a video game.

Battlefront: Twilight Company is something a little bit different. Since the upcoming Battlefront game has no real story to speak of, not even in terms of creating a backdrop or context for missions in the core game, Twilight Company is less of a game tie-in than it is a novel that uses the game’s concept as a thematic jumping-off point. Battlefront is about combat in the galaxy far, far away, where huge numbers of featureless, interchangeable soldiers do battle (and die . . . a lot).

Twilight Company takes the concept of the brutal realities of war and puts a face to the “faceless” soldiers that would, in most other stories, simply be killed on the battlefield without us ever knowing their names.

Twilight Company follows its namesake, a company of Rebel Alliance soldiers with a fair level of autonomy, who engage the Empire up close and personal. They are a ragtag group of skilled killers, thieves, and subversives that have been molded into a fighting force under an eccentric leader.

The tale follows Hazram Namir, a member of Twilight Company, When the company takes custody of an Imperial defector with promises of hitting the Empire where it hurts, the journey becomes one of trust and distrust, survival and sacrifice, heroes and those who would never apply that term to themselves no matter their heroic deeds.

Chronologically, the primary story begins a litlte over a month before The Empire Strikes Back, then crosses over with that film’s Battle of Hoth before moving on into the weeks following the evacuation of Hoth. Substantial flashbacks are included as well, showing multiple points in Namir’s life that shaped him into the character we follow throughout the novel.

Star Wars novels rarely go into this dark of territory when showing warfare. Prior to 1999, darker content was kept to a bare minimum. Once 1999’s Vector Prime launched the New Jedi Order saga and 2002 kicked off the (original, pre-cartoon) Clone Wars publishing era, darker topics became more commonplace. In general, though, those darker topics tended to center around stories with Jedi or clones, which distanced the stories from being as directly reflective of real world warfare and its toll as they could have been.

That is not the case with Twilight Company. With the exception of Darth Vader’s participation in the Battle of Hoth, one could easily strip out the Star Wars elements of the novel, swap starships for ocean-going vessels, swap planets for countries, and have a novel that could be used in a modern combat setting.

That is both the novel’s strength and its weakness. It is far more gritty and true-to-life than any decpition of Star Wars frontline warfare that we have seen before. However, in that parallel to modern war fiction, we do find similar drawbacks. There are few characters that the reader will actually find themselves invested in by the tale’s end, making certain deaths less emotionally impactful when they happen in realisticly unspectacular ways (which is the point, I believe – to show that war is not always flashy, just deadly). Instead, the ongoing strugles of Twilight Compnay are less about caring for individual characters (with a couple of exceptions) than they are about the ongoing meat-grinder of war and the struggle to find the will to keep fighting when losses, both tactial and in human terms, are mounting. While this serves the theme very well in the long run, it does make the novel a bit tough to get into. (This is definitely one to hang with, though, as the overall impact starts to snowball into a mood that is rather unique in Star Wars publishing by about halfway through.)

The primary character, Hazram Namir, is the only character (outside of perhaps the defector) to get significant character development, and the reader will come to feel a certain inevitibility to his role in Twilight Company. Much like in war-torn parts of the real world, conflict often breeds men for whom war is simply a way of life, having known nothing else. It makes Namir one of the most brutally realistic characters in recent memory for Star Wars.

The Verdict

In the end, Twilight Company is something different for Star Wars. It is a dark, realistic take on warfare applied to the Rebel-Imperial conflict that examines the nature of war with few punches pulled. It will not be for everyone, but I would urge readers to give it a try. Its unusual concept (at least for Star Wars) makes a nice change of pace among the Story Group’s novel lineup. For his first outing in writing a full-length novel, Alexander Freed has done better than one might have expected.

One would hope that we will perhaps see some of the survivors of this meat-grinder reappear in other stories later to give Twilight Company true relevance in the Story Group’s Canon, beyond just its general look at warfare. It’s just too bad that even this solid novel does not appear capable of making us care about the faceless, nameless legions of the video game it was tied into. I would certainly have enjoyed the opportunity to fight alongside the men and women that Freed has created.

Recommended for: Those looking for a change of pace, darker Star Wars warfare, or a story that requires no background knowledge beyond the films.

Not recommended for: Those looking for a story that feels relevant in the grand scheme of canon (at least not yet), those looking for the more fantastical elements of the saga (Jedi, the Force, etc.), or those expecting a novel to give meaning to the new Battlefront video game (though that is the game’s fault, not the novel’s).

Note: For the moment, Books-a-Million is still taking orders for autographied copies of Battlefront: Twilight Compnay.

Disclaimer: Del Rey provided an uncorrected proofs copy for review, then a final copy for review. That said, I did then purchase a signed copy at full price through Books-a-Million.

On Rebels, The Inquisitors Learn Not To Play With Their Food

Just a reminder: this isn’t a full review of the episode. If you want that (that’s totally fine :) ), there’s plenty of reviews elsewhere on the internet. Here we just look at a few things from each episode. Also, please do check out Rebels Recon, the official tie in video.

The title of this week’s episode of Star Wars Rebels is ‘Always Two There Are’, a Yoda quote for the two Inquisitors that happen to drop by for a nice chat, some creepy hebephilic flirting, and some slicing and dicing of various body parts. Nice people, those inquisitors. Though can I just say, it’s a little bit funny how the the only thing about the title that applies to this episode is the ‘two’ bit. First, the quote, in context, references the number of Sith at any given time; and second, there’s very probably very many more inquisitors than two.

This sounds like a minor quibble (and you’d be right) but, dang hell it, if I can’t use an awkward segue to begin my review then I don’t want to live in this universe. Send me to the alternate reality where I can, and preferably also where everyone has octopods for servants.

Anyway: these distinctions are important, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

The main draw of this week’s episode is, of course, the inquisitors, the Fifth Brother and the Seventh Sister (voiced by Philip Anthony-Rodriguez and Sarah Michelle Gellar), but that’s not how this episode begins, and that’s not the entirety of the show (though, of course, a large part) and I felt it would be remiss of me to not discuss The Other Part.

Emotional Growth

The show starts with Zeb and Sabine going off to get some supplies at an old, abandoned medical station – and let’s unpack this. I think it’s very odd how the show has spent 3 episodes dedicated to this plot. ‘Let’s spend two episodes getting a list of bases! Now let’s go to a base from the list!’, I’m hoping the next episode isn’t them doing inventory and Tarkin coming along to note how it’s all dusty and a how a good planetary explosion would clean things up nicely.

Would it have killed the Alderaanians to take a hoover to the place? Really, I did them a favour.

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Mirror Images: Reflections from the Saga in The Force Awakens Trailer

NOTE: Possible spoilers for The Force Awakens based on speculation and deduction from the trailers and other official sources. Spoilers at the end for the junior novel The Weapon of a Jedi: A Luke Skywalker Adventure.

In my previous article, Exposing the Hidden Clues in The Force Awakens Trailer, I compared some shots in the new trailer to moments from the original trilogy. There are, in fact, many comparisons to be made between much of the official information released for The Force Awakens and the entire Star Wars saga. I have left some similarities I have noticed out of this article for length considerations, and I’m sure I have missed some. The article will include virtually identical shots, shots reminiscent in theme, and inversions of themes. Some of these are rather clear and some are subjective and simply struck a chord in my imagination. Please feel free to add to the list.

In the new trailer, we see that Rey, like Luke and Anakin before her, has a desire to leave her desert home in search of a better, more adventurous life. Note that Anakin is the most optimistic of the three.

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This Week On Star Wars Rebels, The Empire Isn’t Just Evil, It’s Inept, Too

Review: Star Wars Rebels: Relics of the Old Republic

The latest episode of Star Wars Rebels, entitled Relics of the Old Republic, continues from where we left off in The Lost Commanders: Our Spectres and our relics, Captain Rex, Commander Wolffe and Commando Gregor, are on the run from Imperial forces after someone tips them off. Not saying who.

Just that someone will be in the dog house, tonight.

Just that someone will be in the dog house, tonight.

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Exposing the Hidden Clues in The Force Awakens Trailer

NOTE: Possible spoilers for a segment of The Force Awakens based on speculation and deduction from the trailers and other official sources.


When Star Wars fans around the world gathered to view the final trailer for The Force Awakens, we, in grand tradition, soaked in each frame, trying to discern as much as we could about the highly anticipated film. After the awe of that initial viewing, many of us went back over the trailer frame-by-frame, analyzing each shot over and over and speculating on their potential meaning to the plot of the film.

That night on Twitter, Bethany Blanton, Co-Founder of The Star Wars Report, posted a still from the trailer featuring our heroes approaching a large stone building adorned with multiple banners. Above the entrance of this building was a design that Bethany thought resembled a Stormtrooper helmet. I tweeted back that I thought it looked like the mask of Darth Vader. In all likelihood, it is probably neither, but wild imaginations are part of the fun of fandom.


However, there was something else familiar about this design that puzzled me. At first I thought it might be an existing symbol within the Star Wars universe. Several of us had already spotted what turned out to be two logos associated with the Mandalorians and Boba Fett among the designs on the numerous flags.


After some minutes searching in vain online, it finally hit me. I had seen that same design in a previous The Force Awakens picture. That picture was in the Force Awakens issue of Vanity Fair and featured the menacing Captain Phasma standing among the charred ruins of a stone structure. The caption read: “First Order officer Captain Phasma… surveys the rubble following an attack.” I then realized that it was the same building.

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