Book Review: Wedge’s Gamble (The Essential Legends Collection) – Quick Literature Review


Led by Wedge Antilles, the legendary pilots of Rogue Squadron prepare to risk everything in their battle against the Empire.

Sleek, fast and deadly, these are the X-wing fighters. And as the battle against the Empire rages in the vastness of space, the pilots risk their lives and their machines for the cause of the Rebel Alliance. Now they must embark on a dangerous spy mission, braving betrayal and death on the Imperial homeworld to crush the power of a ruthless enemy!

This is the evil heart of a beaten and shaken Empire: Coruscant, the giant city-world from whose massive towers the Imperial high command directs war. The rebels will invade this mighty citadel in a bold move to bring the Empire to its knees. But first, Wedge Antilles and its X-wing pilots must infiltrate Coruscant for vital intelligence. Capture means death, or worse, trapped in the clutches of the vicious leader known as “Iceheart”, Ysanne Isard, now emperor in all but name.

And one of the members of Rogue Squadron is already his slave, a traitor hidden behind a mask of innocence, working to betray both his colleagues and the rebellion itself.

Author: Michael A. Stackpole
Cover artist:
Doaly
Editor:
Del Rey Books
Release date:
April 5, 2022
Pages:
400
ISBN:
978-0593497074

What is it about ?

The galaxy is in turmoil after the Battle of Endor and the Emperor’s death. The Rebellion became the New Republic, and the Empire weakened and fractured into disparate rival groups, desperate to fill the power vacuum created by the loss of their leader.

As the New Republic goes from victory to victory, it becomes clear that its legitimacy will not be recognized until it controls the former Republic/Empire capital, Coruscant, and calms the Imperial propaganda that works against it. Currently under the control of the cold and ruthless Ysanne Isard and the largest and most recognized Imperial faction, the metropolitan and heavily defended world seems impenetrable, with a full frontal assault seemingly doomed to failure.

Fresh from their victory at Borleias, the surviving members of Rogue Squadron seem uniquely qualified for the task ahead. First, free key Black Sun members from Kessel and reintegrate them into Coruscant to sow discord and distract the Empire and second, abandon their X-wings and secretly infiltrate the Imperial Center to gauge the population’s inclinations and find a way to make the shields and defenses of the system inert.

Of course, it doesn’t quite go as planned…

Should I read this book?

Absolutely! If you are interested in the fall of the Empire and the evolution of the rebellion after Endor, this book is for you. It is a key title in the Legends recounting the last days of the Empire. This is the book where Coruscant falls. It’s obviously worth pointing out, though, that this is the second book in the X-Wing series, so I highly recommend that you read the first book, Rogue Squadron, before diving into this one. I personally struggled with Rogue Squadron, finding the descriptive air battles hard to follow and too long, but I’m glad I followed the series as this book has a very lively story with laser tracing and more characterization. thoughtful and balanced.

What did you like?

I’m a sucker for street-level stories and Wedge’s Gamble revels in basking in the majesty of Coruscant’s upper levels and wallowing in the dangerous, decrepit underground city. It’s as if Stackpole, with the help of a time machine, somehow recognized my issues with their first book and deleted everything, leaving a much simpler and more interesting story that allowed for a development of much more complete and thoughtful character. Corran Horn is a much more relatable protagonist here, having been humbled by the events and losses in Borleias. He went from the arrogant and aloof horndog of the first book to an inherently flawed yet caring and loyal hero. Sure, he’s still a bit too interested in the opposite sex, but it’s clear that in Wedge’s Gamble he tries and has his priorities straight, mostly.

Likewise, you feel the weight of the task at hand on Wedge’s shoulders. The stakes are incredibly high, and it’s hard not to back the rebel hero against increasingly insurmountable odds. Wedge is the strength and courage in these stories, taking with him the losses and sacrifices of all his former teammates and his reverence for Luke and Leia channeling it into his warm yet stoic leadership.

The supporting cast are stronger this time around, especially the female characters. My biggest criticism of Rogue Squadron was that it treated its female characters as over-sexualized, one-dimensional foils for Corran and I’m happy to say that this time around they’re mostly real, believable women. Mirax is still too jealous, but that balances out nicely with Corran’s romantic incompetence.

What didn’t you like?

There is some suspension of disbelief required as some of the key plot points are circumstantial and coincidental. Chance encounters and encounters that significantly inform the history of a world with a population of three trillion people make the galaxy seem much smaller than it is.

When the Snapes first infiltrate Coruscant, they are divided into different cells, and each story thread introduces new characters and situations. It takes some getting used to as it seems a little difficult trying to keep track of who is where and the mysterious new female character who is which. It becomes much clearer as the story progresses and I would say that becomes one of the strengths of the book.

And after?

The third book in the X-Wing series is The Krytos Trap. Originally released in 1996, the same year as Wedge’s Gamble, there are various editions to find, but you’ll be happy to hear that it will be released as part of the Essential Legends collection on August 2, 2022.

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