Book Review: Battlefront: Twilight Company

Welcome to Book Reviews. In this series I will look to review any canon books that come out in the Star Wars galaxy. I am no expert in book critic or expert in writing (as you may be able to tell), so this is very much from a fan’s point of view. I will generally try to give a quick idea of what the story is about but avoid any spoilers. In each review, I will also try to point out a few “Moments in Canon” – moments that link into the wider canon and references to other canon stories – and also give my opinion if it is worth reading. Today I will be looking at Alexander Freed’s Battlefront Twilight Company.

swbook-battlefront-twilight-company.jpg

Background

With the release of DICE’s Star Wars Battlefront, a tie-in novel was written by Alexander Freed, which would include the story of the Siege of Inyusu Tor, a version of which would be playable in the game.

The Story

There were worse ways to die than fighting to defend one’s comrades.

Battlefront: Twilight Company is set just before and during The Empire Strikes Back and follows the soldiers of the Sixty-First Mobile Infantry in the fight against the Empire.

The main point of view is that of First Sergeant Hazram Namir (we also get some flashbacks to his life before the Rebellion), but some chapters are from the point of view of his fellow Rebel, Brand. The Imperial side is also seen through the eyes of Thara Nyende (a stormtrooper on Sullust) and Captain Tabor Seitaron (an Imperial officer who is chasing Twilight Company for much of the story).

Review

On planet after planet, Twilight had fought. Battles were won and battles were lost, and Namir stopped keeping score.

I didn’t really enjoy this novel the first time I read it – it was one of the first canon novels I read, a few years ago – however I enjoyed it much more reading it again for this review. While I would not consider the flashbacks to Namir’s past necessary, I really enjoyed his character this time – a veteran soldier who has fought for one side or another most of his life – and can understand how the flashbacks help to show he has become the man we see in this novel. I also really like as well how until meeting Twilight – just a few years before the novel is set – he had never left his planet, which was quite primitive, so his knowledge of the wider galaxy is very limited and there are in fact times that we realise we know more about the galaxy and its inhabitants than him. I like that he is not someone dedicated to the cause as we have seen in other cases, but is instead someone who has taken an opportunity and fights not for the Rebellion but instead for his fellow Twilight soldiers. All of the other soldiers each have their own character and role within the group in a way that feels natural.

Everi Challis was an interesting character, especially as she is seen largely from other people’s perspective, so we don’t necessarily understand her full motivations, but I do like the way her character changes throughout the story, especially following the events of the Battle of Hoth. As to the Imperials, I like Captain Seitaron’s motivation and that of Prelate Verge who he works with as they both have very clear but understandable reasons for what they are doing.

When the Empire’s troops in white had handed them rifles, told them to defend the tower against rebels from the sky, Hazram had looked at his band and seensurvivors. He’d seen the greatest warriors on Crucival.

They’d nearly all died in the first wave.

The one character I struggled to get into was that of Thara Nyende. I understand getting the Imperial perspective on Sullust and helping to show the situation on the planet ahead of Twilight’s appearance – and the passages that showed her hunting for rebels were great – but I found her motivations really hard to understand as one moment she is bringing supplies for the workers who come to her uncle’s cantina and ignoring anti-Empire comments from the workers, but the next moment she is turning her uncle in to the Imperials. I also felt that her story ended up going nowhere, with her not even taking part in the climactic battle, I struggle to see what impact her chapters had on the progression of the story.

I really like the story in this novel on the whole and think that while it is strange going into a novel with no recognisable characters other than quick cameos from Vader (and potentially Han Solo – if it’s not intended to be him then I’m a nerf herder!), it is really enjoyable seeing the wider part of the war – and also the darker side of the fighting, like in Rogue One. I have always found myself drawn to action-heavy stories and with Twilight fighting in a number of different locales and Namir’s involvement in the Battle of Hoth, there was plenty of action to keep me entertained as well as plenty of moments to allow us to get deeper into Namir’s psyche. I also really think that Freed’s writing style works very well for this story as he does a good job writing dark and gritty war stories like this and the novelisation of Rogue One, which also gets me more interested for his next Star Wars novel, Alphabet Squadron.

Should I Read It?

Victory would be measured in the number of survivors.

If your big focus in Star Wars books is towards the Force or characters from the movies, then this shouldn’t be high on your reading list, however if you prefer darker and grittier war stories, this could just be the book for you.

Moments In Canon

  • Chalis took over her role from Count Vidian after he was killed, an event which is shown in A New Dawn
  • Fresh meat (new recruits) often gave themselves new names, often naming themselves after heroes of the Rebellion like Leia
  • Chalis cites Tseebo (from series 1 of Rebels) and the destruction of the Death Star as examples of Imperial secrets falling into rebel hands
  • Gozanti cruisers are noted as landing the AT-ATs on Hoth, something suggested by their use in the wider canon but not seen in the movie
  • The Rebels are informed by Chalis that Vader now has a Super Star Destroyer (the Executor) for his flagship as opposed to the Devastator
  • Thara’s commanding officer is one of the original clone commandos, likely one of the last still in service by the time of this novel
  • Gadren tells a story of Twilight’s heavy losses on Ferrok Pax, something alluded to in one of Mon Mothma’s files during the novelisation of Rogue One

 

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts on it? Thanks for reading and May the Force be with you…

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