Shadow Fall

By Alexander Freed

Shadow Fall, a novel by Alexander Freed
Book details Books in the series About the author

If you look at the Star Wars timeline from afar it can seem a little depressing. An Old Republic falls only for an Empire to rise. That goes and you get The New Order. It seems that the rebels are always having to rebel against something. However, for the Sith to rise, there must be moments when the Rebel Alliance are in ascendance. A good example is after the events of The Return of the Jedi. The remnants of the Empire are splintered, and the New Republic is on the offensive, but when you are crushing your former oppressors what differentiates you from them? 

The Alphabet Squadron are you typical Star Wars ragtag collection of heroes brought together for a common goal. In this case to aid the New Republic by ridding them of one of their fiercest enemies, The Shadow Wing. This shadowy outfit are an elite Tie Fighter squadron who have now gone underground and are fighting a guerrilla war. Can Alphabet Squadron draw them out into the open and at what cost? 

Star Wars is always at its best when dealing with the grimier side of science fiction. You may think the series is a glossy space opera, but fans know that it is a dysfunctional universe often held together with spit and sawdust. The New Republic should be a new era and you could draw a line under what the Emperor did. We know this never happened as the movies surrounding The New Order are evidence that the former Empire gets its act together eventually. Shadow Fall by Alexander Freed sits in the short period that the rebels started to take control. 

A lot of Shadow is set on Troithe, a Coruscant like planet. The Rebels are ridding it of the last remnants of the Empire, but in doing so are destroying the infrastructure. Unbeknownst to the ground troops, they are part of a plot to draw out the Shadow Wing. One of the most interest elements of the book is the thin line that separates the Rebels from the Empire. Some of the actions that they are now taking are not dissimilar to what went on before. If is ok to bomb a port if it happens to be full of Empire citizens, rather than Rebels? 

In Alphabet Squadron, Freed introduced us to the various members of the squad. As these characters were numerous and new, it took a long time. The various threads of survivors from other squads and individuals had to be drawn together. By Shadow the core group are settled, and this allows Freed to really develop the crews. Quell is still the nominal main character and her story remains the most interesting. Events conspire in this outing that could jeopardise her life and position as squad leader. 

Another great feature is that Freed alternates from Rebels to Empire. Shadow Wing are given almost as much development and I have a soft spot for learning why the Empire can be as evil as they are. At one point an action is brushed aside as they feel it is not dissimilar to how the Rebels treated them. By swapping the power dynamic between the two factions you get to learn more about true motivations. Are the Rebels and Empire that different? 

I am someone who enjoys the deeper ideas and lore that comes in a Star Wars book and there is plenty to find here for fans. However, if you are just looking for a good action romp, you are also in luck. This is Star Wars at its most star fighting best. There are space battles aplenty. I lean more towards characterisation and there is plenty of that too. I feel the balance between the two is better in this outing as we have established characters and are not having to eliminate countless allies to get a core squad together. The series is developing nicely and is a respectable new version to the now de-cannoned Timothy Zhan's books that dealt with the post Return of the Jedi universe.  

Written on 25th June 2020 by .

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