Star Wars Shadow Fall is the second novel by author Alexander Freed to feature Alphabet Squadron. So called because the group of pilots lead by Imperial defector Yrica Quell fly different space fighters. These include an X-wing, Y-wing, A-wing, B-Wing and the relatively new U-wing. Set about 6 months after the battle of Endor the story is a gritty tale of how the rebellion, now the New Republic, is gaining ground at the cost of the Empire. Shadow Fall is basically a direct sequel on Alphabet squadron and features the consequences of their victory over the 204th Wing at the battle of Pandem Nai. This time we even more of the story from the imperial side. Other than that Shadow Fall is perhaps an all too familiar sequel, that improves upon the original without drastically moving into a new direction.
As mentioned Shadow Fall still features defector Yrica Quell as its main character. She is still haunted by her time with the empire, culminating in the genocidal orders involving Operation Cinder. At the same time she still has problems integrating into the New Republic given everybody knows her history. Shadow Fall does little new in that regard, but several side plots are finally resolved allowing characters such as Quell some resolution. However, Shadow Fall imports one of the biggest problems of Alphabet Squadron, it focuses on too many characters. After reading a few chapters I often forget what a particular character had done previously. Despite attempts to distinguish characters they often feel very similar in nature. The story feels hard-boiler but also superfluous.
What does Shadow Fall do differently?
Shadow Fall stands out in that we read in-depth about the other side, the quickly collapsing empire. These were the parts I enjoyed for the most part, as it involves tie-fighters, indoctrination and the consequences of blind obedience. This part of the story focuses mostly on Soran Keize, the former ace fighter pilot who ordered Quell to defect. Soran himself deserted from the imperial ranks, but never managed to settle and lived a wandering existence. That is, before the event of Alphabet Squadron saw his return to 204th Wing. His fellow officers remain skeptical and it is never fully clarified how he managed to return. Soran remains cynical and deices to lead the Shadow Wing to its final demise as few of its current cadre would defect.
And so I finally come upon a conclusion regarding Shadow Fall, it is simply not that entertaining. This is evident by the fact the novel came out a month ago and I only just finished it. It is hard to pinpoint the exact reason for this. After all, the ingredients for a spectacular Star Wars novel are there: X-wings, Tie-fighters, gritty combat, cool characters. Yet, focusing on a small band of heroes, and villains, may have done the story disservice. It no longer feels like an epic, like Star Wars. It feels as if the trials and tribulations of this band of space fighters makes no difference overall. Alexander Freed has created some interesting characters with Quell and Soran Keize, but it is not enough to keep the novel afloat. As their story is over I hope we will not see a third novel.
A final conclusion
And so it is hard to recommend Shadow Fall. If you liked Alphabet Squadron then go ahead, its even better. If you liked games such as X-wing and its sequels and if you like the tech behind Star Wars then you will like Shadow Fall. However, if you want excitement you will probably want to pick up something else. I hope you enjoyed this review. Please fill out the subscribe button on the right if you want to be alerted when more content arrives.