Lit The JC Lit Reviews Special: X-WING: MERCY KILL (Spoilers)

Discussion in 'Literature' started by Shepherd492, Sep 3, 2012.

  1. desh Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Sep 5, 2012
    Most of these links are broken since the forums moved ;(
  2. Charlemagne19 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2000
    star 7
    Wraith Squadron.

    Aaron Allston's arguable greatest creation and certainly so in the Star Wars universe, Wraith Squadron is a rag-tag collection of misfits in the already rag-tag collection of misfits we call the Rebellion/New Republic/Galactic Alliance.

    Wraith Squadron and its sequels were a breath of fresh air in an Expanded Universe that took itself far too seriously. They were silly, irreverent, and occasionally poignant. Wraith Squadron managed to routinely move between gut-bustingly hilarious and tragic without missing a step.

    Part of what made the Wraith Squadron books so entertaining was the idea they were practical jokers in their off-time but facing deadly serious stakes. They were professionals who often took refuge in audacity under the pretense no one would be so crazy as to lie about the things they did. It worked, too, because Star Wars is filled with strange stuff.

    A typical example of the fun personified of Wraith Squadron was Lieutenant Kettch. He was a genetically modified Ewok starship pilot who flew with the aid of a harness. That's insane and stupid, which is why he was just made up to mess with General Wedge Antilles' head. It made the actual genetically enhanced pilot, Vroot the Gamorrean, much more plausible.

    Well the original Wraith Squadron books ended before the New Jedi Order, where Star Wars as a whole became Darker and Edgier. There was no place for the fun but serious Wraiths in a world where pain-worshiping aliens wielded lightsaber-resistant snake-staves. Yeah, I wish I was making that up.

    Mercy Kill takes the Wraiths a number of decades into the future where the Star Wars galaxy has once more softened to the point silliness can exist alongside seriousness. Some of the old cast is dead, some of them have chips on their shoulders, others are entirely new members with chips on their shoulders.

    Yeah, that is the big problem with Mercy Kill. As much as the original Wraiths were a collection of dysfunctional individuals, the current squadron is even more so. Vroot, the Gamorrean Mathematics Professor (yes, you read that right), has even developed an appalling case of racism. Even when he learns his expected lesson, Vroot makes no apologies for it despite the fact the person he's racist to was born to slaves of his derision's object. It makes it difficult to care what happens to the guy.

    I applaud Aaron Allston avoiding the usual pitfalls of renegade Imperials, Dark Jedi, and alien invaders but another flaw of the book is its villain. The Wraiths are going after a corrupt member of the Galactic Alliance's Joint Chiefs of Staff. This would be impressive if not for the fact the guy is solely interested in lining his pockets. I'm not saying it's not a refreshing change but it's not exactly Darth Vader-level excitement.

    Finally, I regret the change done to the character of Garrik "Face" Loran. This book goes out of its way to portray him as a Thrawn-level manipulator and it undermines the excitement a bit. I never believed a twist the book pulled regarding him and I think the story would have benefited from him making a few mistakes as the story went along.

    Still, I enjoyed the book a great deal. The fact the book didn't focus on Jedi or Sith was an excellent change and it's wrong for me to complain too much about villains with comprehensible motivations. I'm also a fan of spy fiction and seeing the various plots they hatch is entertaining beyond belief.

    I'm especially fond of the characters of Bhindi and Myri Antilles. Both are intelligent, interesting, capable female characters in a franchise that occasionally lacks for them. Star Wars gave us Princess Leia but most of the authors are male and the recent loss of Mara Jade is something that has severely hurt the franchise as a whole. Bhindi as leader of Wrath Squadron is my favorite part of the book and Myri's growth as a soldier never stopped entertaining.

    In conclusion, I love Aaron Allston's writing and am eagerly awaiting his next addition to the Star Wars EU. If this book is the start of a new Wraith Squadron series, I can only say I'll be third or fourth in line to pick it up.

    8/10
    Last edited by Charlemagne19, Oct 25, 2012
  3. Havac Former Moderator

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Average score: 113.35/13 = 8.72
  4. JediMara77 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 5, 2004
    star 4
    I thought I'd already reviewed this here, but I guess not. I had some problems with Mercy Kill, mainly the villain, but it was such a fun read and I want to know more about these new fantastic characters. 9/10
  5. Havac Former Moderator

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Average score: 122.35/14 = 8.74
  6. Tim Battershell Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 3, 2012
    star 5
    Really enjoyed it! 9.5/10
  7. Sinrebirth SWC and EUC Forum Moderator

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Nov 15, 2004
    star 7
    I didn't enjoy this as much Lost Tribe, out of the two FotJ-related novels we have had recently, mainly for the Thaal point that has been made beforehand, and I found I struggled with so many new names and faces. There was a hunk of alliteration on names which didn't help me, but otherwise it was a good, solid tale which gave more depth to how important the Vong War was, and did some major continuity work on LotF and FotJ, which I deeply approve of, even though I enjoyed those arcs tremendously. Not perfect, but bloomin' good.

    9.5 out of 10.
  8. Havac Former Moderator

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Average score: 141.35/16 = 8.83
  9. Adalia-Durron Former RSA/EUC Empress.

    Member Since:
    Jun 3, 2003
    star 10
    9/10 for me.....loved it.
  10. Havac Former Moderator

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Average score: 150.35/17 = 8.84
  11. DavBacca Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 13, 2002
    star 2

    Here are the working links for all the threads in order of publication.

    Enemy Lines I: Rebel Dream, by Aaron Allston
    Enemy Lines II: Rebel Stand, by Aaron Allston
    Traitor, by Matthew Stover
    Destiny's Way, by Walter Jon Williams
    Force Heretic I: Remnant, by Sean Williams and Shane Dix
    Tatooine Ghost, by Troy Denning
    Force Heretic II: Refugee, by Sean Williams and Shane Dix
    Shatterpoint, by Matthew Stover
    Force Heretic III: Reunion, by Sean Williams and Shane Dix
    The Final Prophecy, by Greg Keyes
    The Unifying Force, by James Luceno
    Star Wars Galaxies: The Ruins of Dantooine, by Voronica Whitney-Robinson
    Survivor's Quest, by Timothy Zahn
    The Cestus Deception, by Steven Barnes
    Medstar I: Battle Surgeons, by Michael Reaves and Steve Perry
    Medstar II: Jedi Healer, by Michael Reaves and Steve Perry
    Jedi Trial, by David Sherman and Dan Cragg
    Republic Commando: Hard Contact, by Karen Traviss
    Yoda: Dark Rendezvous, by Sean Stewart
    Labyrinth of Evil, by James Luceno
    Revenge of the Sith, by Matthew Stover
    Dark Nest I: The Joiner King, by Troy Denning
    Dark Nest II: The Unseen Queen, by Troy Denning
    Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader, by James Luceno
    Dark Nest III: The Swarm War, by Troy Denning
    Outbound Flight, by Timothy Zahn
    Republic Commando: Triple Zero, by Karen Traviss
    Legacy of the Force I: Betrayal, by Aaron Allston
    Legacy of the Force II: Bloodlines, by Karen Traviss
    Darth Bane: Path of Destruction, by Drew Karpyshyn
    Legacy of the Force III: Tempest, by Troy Denning
    Allegiance, by Timothy Zahn
    Legacy of the Force IV: Exile, by Aaron Allston
    Legacy of the Force V: Sacrifice, by Karen Traviss
    Legacy of the Force VI: Inferno, by Troy Denning
    Death Star, by Michael Reaves and Steve Perry
    Republic Commando: True Colors, by Karen Traviss
    Legacy of the Force VII: Fury, by Aaron Allston
    Darth Bane: Rule of Two, by Drew Karpyshyn
    Legacy of the Force VIII: Revelation, by Karen Traviss
    Legacy of the Force IX: Invincible, by Troy Denning
    Coruscant Nights I: Jedi Twilight, by Michael Reaves
    The Clone Wars, by Karen Traviss
    The Force Unleashed, by Sean Williams
    Coruscant Nights II: Street of Shadows, by Michael Reaves
    Order 66: A Republic Commando Novel, by Karen Traviss
    Millennium Falcon, by James Luceno
    The Clone Wars: Wild Space, by Karen Miller
    Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor, by Matthew Stover
    Coruscant Nights III: Patterns of Force, by Michael Reaves
    Fate of the Jedi I: Outcast, by Aaron Allston
    The Clone Wars: No Prisoners, by Karen Traviss
    Fate of the Jedi II: Omen, by Christie Golden
    Fate of the Jedi III: Abyss, by Troy Denning
    Death Troopers, by Joe Schreiber
    Imperial Commando: 501st, by Karen Traviss
    Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil, by Drew Karpyshyn
    Crosscurrent, by Paul S. Kemp
    Clone Wars Gambit: Stealth, by Karen Miller
    Fate of the Jedi IV: Backlash, by Aaron Allston
    Fate of the Jedi V: Allies, by Christie Golden
    Clone Wars Gambit: Siege, by Karen Miller
    The Old Republic: Fatal Alliance, by Sean Wiliams
    The Force Unleashed II, by Sean Williams
    Fate of the Jedi VI: Vortex, by Troy Denning
    Red Harvest, by Joe Schreiber
    Knight Errant, by John Jackson Miller
    The Old Republic: Deceived, by Paul S. Kemp
    Fate of the Jedi VII: Conviction, by Aaron Allston
    Choices of One, by Timothy Zahn
    Fate of the Jedi VIII: Ascension, by Christie Golden
    Riptide, by Paul S. Kemp
    The Old Republic: Revan, by Drew Karpyshyn
    Shadow Games, by Michael Reaves and Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff
    Darth Plagueis, by James Luceno
    Fate of the Jedi IX: Apocalypse, by Troy Denning
    Scourge, by Jeff Grubb
    Lost Tribe of the Sith: The Collected Stories, by John Jackson Miller
    X-Wing: Mercy Kill, by Aaron Allston
    Last edited by DavBacca, Nov 15, 2012
    Shepherd492 likes this.
  12. Zeta1127 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 2, 2012
    star 4
    Was there seriously never a review thread on Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader?
  13. DavBacca Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 13, 2002
    star 2
    It's there, between Dark Nest II and III, that's the order the books came out and the threads were created.
  14. Zeta1127 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 2, 2012
    star 4
    Figures I wouldn't be paying attention to things since its right in the middle of DNT.
  15. Runjedirun Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Sep 3, 2012
    star 6
    9/10

    So much has already been said. Obviously I loved the book. There are a couple things I want to point out that have not been touched on in other reviews.

    First of all chapter 21, as many have pointed out we are given a great cast of new characters. However we haven't really gotten their background stories and suddenly the cast is doubled. The first time I read the book I really struggled to keep track of all the characters thrust upon me mid way through the book. I was just beginning to sort out the characters who had been thrust upon me in the beginning of the book.

    What I missed most was the romance in this novel. I didn't need a full blown love story, but there were things said between Jesmin and Trey that I really wanted explored further. Every other x-wing novel dove just a little further into relationships and I missed that in this one.

    If anyone is still considering this book, go read it. It's worth your time. I especially liked that the jokes were just as funny the 2nd time through.
  16. Havac Former Moderator

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Average score: 159.35/18 = 8.85
  17. DarthStymi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 10, 2002
    star 3
    I was fully expecting I would enjoy this Mercy Kill. However, the story just did not keep my attention very well. The book felt scattered to me, and there was also waaay to much exposition and not enough actual story.

    Good start and strong finish. Some sporadic, well done scenes in between. Some really excellent characters. But I did not feel we got to know them very well (and I would have liked too!). The characters also seemed to lack significant development. For large chunks, I was uninterested...bored even.

    Rating: 7/10
  18. Havac Former Moderator

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Average score: 166.35/19 = 8.76
  19. MistrX Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 20, 2006
    star 4
    Pretty decent read, and nice to return to some old friends while passing the torch to a new generation of Wraiths. Though it's a little odd to still call it an "X-Wing" novel since the "squadron" hardly flies. I actually reread the original Wraith books before picking this one up since I hadn't read them since they came out and I needed a refresher. I'd forgotten how good they were, especially Iron Fist and Solo Command, and honestly part of me wishes I hadn't because after those two excellent entries this one doesn't quite live up to the standards. It's still rather good, with a few familiar faces giving us a "where are they now?" refresher and a new set of characters who worked well in their own right, though I honestly hadn't remembered Sharr from the Enemy Lines duology, so he was like a new character to me.

    What works is getting to know this new team and following them as they try to figure out whether the general they're chasing is dirty and then figuring out how to expose that. Early on, we're taken on that journey and are learning with the Wraiths, which helps get into their heads as their investigation unfolds. Things became a little more confusing for me after Voort came up with his plan and we were given the pieces but not all of what parts they served, though it was nice to get everything explained by the end. Voort makes a welcome comeback and his journey is probably one of the highlights of the books. I think Piggy was one of the fan favorites from his five or so past appearances, so seeing him so changed since the YV War is affecting, disturbing but interesting and as a reader I think we all wanted to know what had changed in him. It's not often Star Wars shows one of its established protagonists affected in such an ugly way and finding out both why and seeing him come to some terms with his attitude adds a complexity that much of the rest of the book lacks.

    Outside of Voort, we get a typical, fun, crazy (sometimes confusing) Wraith operation, with the usual banter and humor and with characters I would love to see more of. It's more the Wraith Squad we saw in Enemy Lines and which the unit became at the end of Solo Command than the Wraith Squadron the old, and it works. Allston gets to world-build some of the post-NJO/LOTF/FOTJ galaxy and he does a fantastic job, showing us how the events of those books are affecting their government and military.

    I did find a few areas lacking, though. It's really Voort's book and we get mostly his perspective with smatterings of Myri, Bhindi, and a few scenes with the villain. As a consequence, I didn't think we got to meet some of the squad and explore them as some of Allston's past work had let us do, though we still get to know them to some satisfying extent, particularly Myri, Turman, and Scut (former Shamed One! I loved it!). Thaal failed up to the crazy high standards Allston had set for himself with Zsinj and Melvar and doesn't get fleshed out all that much. What we do see ends up being a little cliched (he's going to kill the "discovered" indigenes, surprise!) and even a little stupid. I mean, really, he rationalized that shooting that colonel would get him out of the situation? When he's surrounded by Navy, MPs, and Starfighter Command personnel? Good idea.

    I actually wasn't a major fan of Face's small storyline. He came across as a little Stu-ish this time around, never in any actual danger. He's always a step or two ahead of anyone he's interacting with, even his own two Squadrons and life is good in the family life (Star Wars does seem to prefer the First Girl Wins idea. Then again, so does much of fiction with any romance) I mean, really, did anyone believe he was dead? I was ready for Allston to surprise me and show that he perished, but no such luck.

    The story never reaches the highs of some of Allston's past stories and sometimes Buffyspeak just doesn't translate as well to the page for me. That said, it's a well done story for a new generation of heroes and like I said above, I'd love to see more stories with these characters. Three out of four stars = 7.5/10
  20. Havac Former Moderator

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Average score: 173.85/20 = 8.69
  21. Lane_Winree Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 30, 2006
    star 4
    Yikes I forgot to review this! I've got a longer writeup here but here's the gist:

    Allston seems to enjoy doing the impossible with characters, but that’s maybe underselling just what he accomplished with Mercy Kill. Perhaps I’m the only person that felt this way about the book, but I think Mercy Kill did something that I didn’t believe any author would ever be able to do. In this book, you have a story that links together and pays homage to three distinct eras in the Expanded Universe. All the while, Allston handles the realities and impacts of these eras with tremendous grace for both that material and the fans of those tales. It’s proof that even with as messy as things have gotten in the EU, a talented author can craft a novel that acknowledges and respects the characters and stories others have worked on and a wide array of fans with different loves and favorite elements.

    It’s proof that a supremely skilled author can take twenty years worth of Expanded Universe material and backstory and create a wonderfully compelling novel.

    Mercy Kill is everything I have been asking (pleading) for in an Expanded Universe novel. It’s self-contained and steps away from the Apocalypse of the Week in favor of a more intimate and fun plot. It diversifies the cast. It’s a book that illustrates you don’t have to be a male Jedi to be a hero and to get the job done. There’s levity, there’s drama, there’s action, there’s heartbreak. It’s a perfect tonal match for what drew me into Star Wars all those years ago

    I'd score this a 9.5/10. Mercy Kill is one of the most thoughtful and enjoyable EU novels I've read in years and I really hope this isn't Allston's last foray with these characters.
  22. Havac Former Moderator

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Average score: 183.35/21 = 8.73
  23. aalagartassle Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 11, 2011
    star 4
    My views are against the grain on this one. 3/10. I personally could not stand the constant backchat, the one liners and the one and the same codenames, gambler girl, gun boy PHHHT! . The Piggy saga of I'm back, but how I came back is beacuse I don't like to teach math. I will complain again and again and then be the leader because I'm more dedicated and know how to win really annoyed me.

    Scut was good and the inventions he came up with were interesting, though the crab at the end was less than desirable to be believed... no guards..perfect![ though the smell was somewhat funny]. Apart from that it read like here we go again, it's like the old trick we did 10 years ago, and thankyou daddy for saving us. Good job guys we had you all along. phhht!
    I am well aware Wraith hijinx and crazy situations is suppose to be light humor, it just didn't make me laugh.
    Last edited by aalagartassle, Aug 6, 2013
  24. Havac Former Moderator

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Average score: 186.35/22 = 8.47
  25. Todd the Jedi Mod and Sitcom Dad of SWTV - Vacationing and stuff

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Oct 16, 2008
    star 5
    After a decade-plus absence, the X-Wing series returns, and hopefully it'll stay around a little bit before disappearing again. Aaron Allston returns to do what he does best, continuing the adventures of Wraith Squadron. Only this time it's almost entirely newer, younger members, several of whom are children of the original Wraiths. Mercy Kill takes us through WS's latest mission, and all the twists and pitfalls the Wraiths stumble through to get the job done.

    First off I loved the intro scene. It really felt like a classic spy situation, with all the Wraiths in disguise in key locations throughout the club. In general I liked all the flashbacks, as we see the evolution of WS, specifically through Piggy's eyes. He was always a pretty big player in the original Wraith books, but this is his chance to shine, and I thought he worked really well as the grizzled, jaded veteran. Allston was always better than Stackpole at fleshing out each and every member of his squadron, and Mercy Kill is no exception. Each of the new Wraiths gets a lot of good setup and development throughout the book. The only person who didn't get the best development was Thaal, who doesn't even appear until about halfway through the book. I feel more villain scenes would have made his ultimate downfall more satisfying.

    The plot was pretty good. I liked how Voort was thrust right into the middle of the action, barely getting time to acquaint himself with the new Wraiths. I did like Bhindi was good as the leader, and Myri fit in quite well, given her small setup in Allston's LOTF books. I also liked the callback to Outcast in regards to Jesmin Tainer, and then Face's later use of her alias. I definitely liked the reveal of the second Wraith Squadron, and was glad to see Sharr Latt again. Face's apparent death has thrown the whole situation into chaos, as the two squads try to figure out how to salvage the mission. I did like Wedge and Kirney's cameos. It really isn't an X-Wing novel without the elder Antilles. :D I thought Bhindi's death was well-done, and Voort's later assessment to Scut of how her irrationality led to her death. On that topic, I really liked Scut. He shows that no species is inherently evil or twisted, and he got to use a lot of his own custom Vong tech for the good of the mission. In the eyes of the Vong, he'd basically be a heretical shaper. And Voort's animosity toward him was understandable given what Voort went through during the war (poor, poor Runt), as was Scut's disappointment that one of his heroes didn't live up to the hype. That was probably the best scene in the novel, when Voort realized that Scut was just like any other kid who idolized a bunch of war heroes and waited his whole life to actually work with them. It's a big character moment for Voort, and helps him realize why he never connected with his math students at the university.

    I liked the final scheme to take down Thaal, and Face's subsequent confrontation with General Maddeus. I liked how Allston left open the possibility for more Wraith Squadron stories. Mercy Kill was definitely a return to form for him, so more material like this would be quite welcome.

    I give this a 9.15 out of 10 for a fun return to the world of the Wraiths, even if there was very little actual straighter combat. :p