Lit Cynically Reliving the X-Wing Series

Discussion in 'Literature' started by Cynical_Ben, Jan 2, 2014.

  1. GrandAdmiralJello Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque

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    Member Since:
    Nov 28, 2000
    star 10
    yeah let's try to keep things at the OP's pace -- there's a reason we have these guided read-throughs. As far as I recall, we're still technically on Wraith Squadron.
    Last edited by GrandAdmiralJello, Feb 17, 2014
  2. CommanderDrenn Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 19, 2013
    star 4
    I also think simulator runs are one of the lamest ways to start a book.
    Here we are fighting... oh no! Two blew up! jk it's just a sim run.
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  3. Riven_JTAC Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2011
    star 3
    I disagree. I think it's a pretty good way to jump-start your story and get your audience engrossed right away without having any long-lasting detrimental effect on the story.
  4. Cynical_Ben Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 12, 2013
    star 4
    Well, we're supposedly on to the next book, the last of the Wraith books, Solo Command. I do enjoy this book a lot, really, it's one of the two books in this series I owned prior to last Christmas (the other being Rogue Squadron), but there were some flaws that stood out to me as I was reading.

    One: This was brought up earlier, but the New Republic loses far too few ships in this book. This is supposed to be the climatic campaign between Han and Zsinj, and while Han is a pretty good leader, he isn't good enough to not lose a single capital ship through the entire campaign. Yes, he loses some fighters, but he actually has a net gain in cap ships overall, after capturing one of Zsinj's ISDs. Han angsts over not being a good leader and getting men under his command killed, but it kinda falls flat to a degree when he only ever loses pilots. Even when his bridge takes a direct hit, the only one who dies is the communications officer, everyone else is fine.

    Two: As much as I am a sucker for the Manchurian candidate-style sleeper agent plots, Project Funeral is an odd beast, considering that unlike all of Zsinj's other plots, this one wasn't foreshadowed or hinted at in either of the previous books. While that does lend it an air of shock and surprise, especially when characters we know fall victim, it feels rushed in a way, especially for how shockingly well it works. You'd think that such effective means to create sleeper agents would come up again at some point.

    Really, though, those are minor things. Solo Command is still one of my favorite books in this series, since it has the Rogues, Wraiths, Han and Chewie all together to track down and end two of the most entertaining villains in the EU. I can't stress enough how much fun each and every chapter of this book is, not a single POV drags. Zsinj is so entertaining, an intelligent, charismatic, driven egotist who presents a different face to everyone he meets, obfuscating himself and his plans to the point that even today it's hard to decipher what his real plans and personality are.

    And this is the last book we got with the Wraiths until the NJO. Sad, sad, sad. We'll talk about Isard's Revenge next week, but for now I want to get people's thoughts on Solo Command and how it both concludes the main series and leads into CoPL.
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  5. Riven_JTAC Jedi Grand Master

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    Jun 28, 2011
    star 3
    Solo Command has the best character in all of Star Wars: The guy who looks like Wedge.

    That is all.
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  6. Tim Battershell Force Ghost

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    Sep 3, 2012
    star 5
  7. Ackbar's Fishsticks Jedi Grand Master

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    Aug 25, 2013
    star 2
    Great book. I think the Donoslane relationship might be my favorite part of it. Though of course, the ensemble of Rogues, Wraiths, and two of the main OT characters was fantastic as well.

    At the risk of derailing the discussion onto the broader EU, I'd have loved to see Han stay in the military - he wore it well in the Wraith books. Could've been a Jack O'Neill type of officer, a wisecracking pain in the ass whose original personality never really fades but whose life now has another direction besides hanging around cantinas talking to fringe characters. (Though I suppose that was nixed as early as the Thrawn Trilogy).
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  8. Cynical_Ben Force Ghost

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    Aug 12, 2013
    star 4
    It's amazing to me how Allston managed to make a romantic relationship between two incredibly mentally damaged people, one of whom considers the other responsible for the circumstances that led to their condition, and still managed to make it somewhat warm and fuzzy.
  9. CommanderDrenn Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 19, 2013
    star 4



    That's pretty much my problem with the whole series. I don't think there were any long-lasting Imperial victories that were significant. But, that's for later in my upcoming series review, which I doubt anyone will really care about but me. :D

    Just started Starfighters of Adumar today, but I'll hold off until we get there.
    Last edited by CommanderDrenn, Feb 18, 2014
  10. Havac Former Moderator

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    The brainwashing plotline is the one aspect that never did much for me. Brainwashing is always a little cheesy, especially when delivered in cheap-and-easy form as this is. To have it then affect characters we know is kind of hurtful. It's nice in one way that Allston was willing to take on existing characters, but it seems like a real shame for Tal'dira to go out this way, as a brainwashed extra blowing himself up.
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  11. CommanderDrenn Jedi Grand Master

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    Oct 19, 2013
    star 4
    I never really cared much for Tal'dira...tough, brave, not much to him.
  12. Revanfan1 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jun 3, 2013
    star 6
    This. The rest of SC was awesome, but I kept reading for MOAR Donoslane. And I'm usually the first guy to roll my eyes at a romance subplot.

    This is probably because this book rapidly make Myn Donos my favorite character, not just in this book, but possibly the entire X-Wing series. From him finally coming out of his funk and trying to overcome his grief, to stubbornly refusing to take "no" for an answer from Lara, everything about Myn rapidly made me become a huge fan. This guy is, like, the ultimate underdog. He lost everything, lived in a depression for a while, and came out not only on top of it, but actually for the better. Anyone less stubborn than Myn probably would've curled up and died, especially after he found out Lara was actually the person responsible for his squadron's destruction.

    I love his conversation with Janson in this book, especially when Janson jumps up and down on his bed, or when he makes Donos remove his left boot and prop his feet on the table. This is a guy who is the second-in-command of an entire squadron, and he's acting like a complete and utter buffoon. And not only that, but unless I'm mistaken, this is the book where we learn why he acts like a complete buffoon. And then he gets pranked, which is even more good.

    I was mad when Tal'dira died, honestly. He was another "generic Stackpole pilot," but I liked him a lot more than some of the other generic pilots, too. I didn't see it coming, which I guess I couldn't have because the subplot jumped out of nowhere. This brings me to the only point I disliked about the book: the "codeword" or whatever you want to call it that triggered Tal'dira's brainwashing. I mean, "Commander Antilles jumps up and down on one wooden leg" or whatever? What the kriff is that? I've never bought into the idea of the clones being brainwashed, but if they were, "Order 66" is a much more realistic codeword than telling the subject that someone's hopping up and down on a wooden leg. The. Kriff.
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  13. Zeta1127 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 2, 2012
    star 4
    I would be a liar if I didn't say that Myn Donos is probably my most favorite X-wing series character.
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  14. imiller Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 26, 2004
    star 3
    I wish I'd known about this thread sooner, but I'm glad to be here just as I'd gotten all the Allston X-Wing books on Kindle (I have them in various forms, but didn't have them all at my physical location, so I just got all the ebooks). And to join in on Solo Command, the book that occasionally nudges Starfighters of Adumar out of "favorite Star Wars book ever" depending on my mood? Fantastic! (I actually bought Solo Command on ebook over a year ago, because I loved it so much, while I bought the other four books last week).

    I do agree that Solo Command is remarkably casualty-light for such a huge conflict - but it is a Star Wars book, and to me that means a certain amount of idealistic and fun glossing over certain realities, like just how brutal war is on the average soldier. Having just reread Starship Troopers, I'm struck by the fact that while comradeship and a sense of belonging/unity is what keeps the Mobile Infantry fighting, there are basically two scenes where the main character has any kind of relationship with a peer soldier at all. The number of deaths in that conflict is staggering. If you want to tell a relatively fun military science fiction story, I think one either goes Heinlein's route and skims over the relationships that would make it a serious bummer when the statistical realities show up to take their toll, or you skip the statistical realities and develop those relationships as Allston did. I enjoy both, even while I know that Allston's choice (probably fairly deliberate) isn't "realistic." But then again, dramatically I think it works.

    The drama in Solo Command shouldn't be the same as that of Iron Fist, which brought home the pain of being in war and friends dying really hard. Wraith Squadron showed the pain of ensemble deaths, but Iron Fist hurt because Ton's friendship with Face was so warm and enjoyable, and Castin's death was full of realization and believable error and redemption. To try to replicate that for Solo Command, when the real drama is the healing of Donos's soul and the saving of Lara's, I believe would have duplicated effort for no good end.

    I do agree that the brainwashing is a bit contrived - but as drama and mystery, it was really exciting. And though I thought Taldira went out kind of like a punk (which saddened me, since I liked him in The Bacta War), I liked the fact that it didn't go for the easy save.

    It's really a shame that the chronological placement of the X-Wing books means that it leads into Courtship. That book is fine for what it wants to do (explore non-patriarchal societies in a Star Wars setting), but for the military elements, it falls down so many flights of stairs it's really painful to try to read it after Solo Command. I've read the book once, and have exactly zero desire to do so again, while I've probably read Solo Command about 10 times.

    And, of course, there's no part of me that doesn't love the Donoslane relationship. I adore Myn (and was really frustrated with Stackpole for not giving him anything to do but exposition, though at least the exposition tied into his history with Tyria - but really, when they're in disguise, why not give him a cool sniper thing to do? At least Stackpole didn't kill him off, which would have been fair since Allston did off Taldira), but it's really Lara's story for me (as my signature probably makes clear). I love redemption stories more than almost any type of story, and the way Allston handles it, acknowledging that she's deeply mentally messed up, but still someone worth redeeming at the end, completely works for me. The pain of everything she's forced to give up when Face makes his mistake was gut-wrenching to me, and when I thought she'd died at the end, I was way more upset than similar twists for much more famous characters, such as Batman in The Dark Knight Rises, or Michael Westen in Burn Notice.

    Finally, I am in awe that the payoff for a trilogy-long, incredibly heavily developed joke of Kettch becomes a moment that actually makes me weep in both joy and pain - "We're both lies that eventually became the truth" indeed.
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  15. Havac Former Moderator

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Fixed.
  16. stung4ever Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 17, 2002
    star 3
    Would you prefer something along the lines of "Gosh, that Italian family at the next table sure is quiet"?
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  17. CommanderDrenn Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 19, 2013
    star 4
    I finished Starfighters of Adumar today! The series was pretty good. Should I wait to post my review?
  18. Draconarius Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 27, 2005
    star 4
    It might sound goofy, but it does meet probably the most important criteria for a brainwashing code word (or code phrase, as the case may be) by not being something you'd ever hear in normal conversation, so there's next to no chance of your sleeper agents being activated by mistake.
    Last edited by Draconarius, Feb 24, 2014
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  19. Revanfan1 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jun 3, 2013
    star 6
    True. Though knowing Janson and Hobbie, it is quite surprising that "Commander Antilles hops on one wooden leg" hasn't come up in conversation before. :p
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  20. imiller Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 26, 2004
    star 3
    But that's why Wes had to stay in the Wraiths in Solo Command! So that no accidental brainwashing triggers would be pulled!

    Wait... :)
  21. Havac Former Moderator

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    TRANSPARISTEEL.

    Wedge Antilles hops on one transparisteel leg.
  22. Ackbar's Fishsticks Jedi Grand Master

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    Aug 25, 2013
    star 2
  23. Cynical_Ben Force Ghost

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    Aug 12, 2013
    star 4
  24. Ackbar's Fishsticks Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 25, 2013
    star 2
    Random thought before we move out of the Wraiths: it occurred to me, re the Stackpole villains versus Allston villains, that we basically saw the same exact thing again in the NJO. Stackpole gave us a villain (Ysanne Isard/Shedao Shai) who's a fanatic, a sadist, not thinking too clearly towards the end (the bones for a planet? For rizzle?) and that even the rest of the villains think doesn't have all her/his lights on. Then Allston gave us a villain (Zsinj/Czulkang Lah) who wasn't a nice person by any stretch, but at least had his head on straight, was a much better CO, and whose role was to play a game of wits against Wedge (and lose, but hey, that tends to be what happens when you play against Wedge Antilles).
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  25. Ackbar's Fishsticks Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 25, 2013
    star 2
    Well, you know what you have to do, then...