By Xwraith 17 Comments
I'd been thinking about doing a review to celebrate 10,000 forum posts, but I was initially unsure of it.
Now that I've made up my mind, here's my review of Starfighters of Adumar, the ninth book in the Star Wars: X-wing series.
One of the things originally holding me back from doing a review was that it had been well over a year since I read this book. However, I am currently reading all the books I own by author Aaron Allston, following his death at the all too young age of 53.
The plot of Starfighters of Adumar is pretty straightforward: the neutral planet Adumar has decided to take a side in the Galactic Civil War, nine years after the events of Return of the Jedi. But rather than use professional diplomats, the New Republic contacts Wedge Antilles to lead the delegation, for starfighter pilots are held in the highest regard by the citizens of Adumar.
Wedge takes three other pilots - and his closest friends - as the rest of his delegation: Tycho Celchu, Wes Janson, and Derek "Hobbie" Klivian. However, they quickly find things unusual on Adumar: the planet does not have a single government, and the New Republic has apparently been in the nation of Cartann for some time, as evidenced by the presence of New Republic Intelligence officer Iella Wessiri - whom Wedge is trying to rebuild his relationship with.
The New Republic pilots are not entirely pleased with the society of Cartann, as they do not have much of a regard for life - they subscribe to the belief that killing an enemy in battle is the greatest of honors. On more than one occasion, Adumari pilots try to shoot Wedge down, for no reason other than to be "the man who killed Wedge Antilles." Gladiatorial combat is also popular, with the blastsword - a sword with a blaster barrel built into the tip - being the weapon of choice. Although our heroes find the fights in poor taste, Wes Janson falls in love with the blastsword. The others eventually take to carrying them, both to blend in with Adumari society and to ward off any further assassination attempts.
I would go a little further into the plot, but I wanted to keep this mostly spoiler-free.
I feel that the biggest strength of the X-wing series, and Starfighters of Adumar in particular, is character interaction. In his first three entries in the series, Aaron Allston added many well-rounded characters with distinct personalities to the Galaxy, Far Far Away. And while he did not create the four pilots starring in this book, he does an excellent job with their contrasting personalities: Wedge, the committed man of duty; the harder-edged Tycho; Wes, the "funnyman"; and the cynical but also humorous Hobbie. Humor abounds with their contrasting personalities; while not specifically a comedy, Starfighters is one of the most genuinely funny entries in the Star Wars canon.
The character interaction also influenced the name of the planet; Allston stated that he named Adumar after Alexandre Dumas, after drawing comparisons with the four main characters of Dumas' best-known work, The Three Musketeers. While I've compared the pilots of Red Flight (as they are designated in the book) to other fictional teams, it's a little less highbrow in my case...
Starfighters of Adumar is quite possibly the most fun read in the Star Wars Expanded Universe. While it tells a story very different than the films, with nary a Jedi or SIth to be seen, its well-developed, likable characters, engaging story, just the right amount of humor, and wealth of quotable lines make it very much in the spirit of Star Wars. I regularly tell people "if you only read one X-wing book, make it this one."
Also, I apologize if this review isn't the best written one out there - it's my first.