Star Wars: X-Wing Rogue Squadron
#6: In the Empire's Service

by Michael A. Stackpole, John Nadeau (Dark Horse, 1999)

This is the kind of exciting storytelling I hoped to find in X-Wing Rogue Squadron.

In the Empire's Service tells of a disputed planet that is pivotal both in the Rebellion's move to unite the galaxy and in a layers-within-layers plot to secure and/or seize power within the struggling Empire. But leave the politics aside; this book is good because it focuses on the famed Rebel squadron led by Wedge Antilles as well as its Imperial counterpart, the 181st Fighter Group led by Baron Fel, a former Academy instructor who not only taught many of the Rebellion's best pilots but also might still be their superior in flight combat.

That means there's action, and plenty of it, as well as character development on both sides of the battle lines. Fel in particular is a strong addition to the cast; he's loyal and quite devoted to the Imperial cause and he's very good at what he does, but at the same time he's saddled with superiors who are either inept or who are willing to sacrifice Fel and his pilots to advance a political cause.

Art by John Nadeau is not a selling point for this book, unfortunately; it is rough and lacks depth and detail. However, there are plenty of X-Wing on TIE dogfights to keep readers busy, and the story by Michael A. Stackpole -- along with a very important final line -- is worthy of the Star Wars brand.

review by
Tom Knapp

24 November 2007

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