Star Wars: Expanded Universe Read-Through: “X-Wing: Wedge’s Gamble” by Michael A. Stackpole

I’m on a quest to re-read all of my favorite (or least favorite that I kept for whatever reason) Star Wars novels in the Expanded Universe and beyond. Come along for the ride and check out my Star Wars Hub for more. There will be SPOILERS for the book discussed.

X-Wing: Wedge’s Gamble by Michael A. Stackpole

I’ve read so many novels in the Star Wars Expanded Universe but, as I said in my review of Rogue One, I missed the X-Wing novels. That means this is my first go-through of the series, and I’m having a blast.

Wedge’s Gamble is the story of the Rebellion attacking Coruscant, but most of the novel is the lead-up to that event. Stackpole starts it off with a blast as he shows off his ability to write a great space dogfighting scene. Does it make scientific sense? Absolutely not, but that’s not what you’re reading Star Wars for (I hope). It’s a great action scene and sets up Corran Horn as a major player again.

The novel fairly quickly moves to Rogue Squadron dealing with Black Sun and the planet of Kessel before diving into a plan for Rogue Squadron to lower the shields on Coruscant for the ultimate attack. The action drags in each of the major scenes, making it seem a bit overly long. This was especially evident in the scenes in which Rogue Squadron was on the ground in Coruscant, which clearly means they ought to be out in space fighting dogfights.

Ysanne Isard as a villain isn’t bad, but she’s almost comically evil. Like, I get the Empire is the baddies, but it can seem a bit over the top with how one-dimensional it seems. On the flip side, there was a surprisingly thoughtful scene in which Wedge and Iella see how the Empire has presented the history of the Jedi Knights and see Vader as “rooting out the evil” therein. It’s a brief scene, but shows how easily history can be reframed by people on different sides of a conflict, something which is clearly still an issue into today.

The way Isard is obsessed with a virus may be seen as a way to make it a less predictable final conflict for Coruscant, but it ultimately makes the conquest of this planet a bit anticlimactic. It’s the capital of the Empire and they decide to defend it with a virus? It didn’t sit right with me, and if there’s anywhere where a major space battle would make sense, it would seem to be on Coruscant.

X-Wing: Wedge’s Gamble is a fine read in the series, but not as mind-blowing as the first book. I’m looking forward to reading book 3!

The Good

+Great dogfights
+More development for side characters
+Captures Star Wars-esque feel
+Surprisingly thought-provoking

The Bad

-Pacing issues abound
-Enemies remain pretty one-dimensional
-Droids are mostly non-players again
-A bit anticlimactic

Cover Score: 5/10 – it’s an explosion with some ships in front of it. Though, to be fair, I spent quite a bit of time staring at the Lambda class on the cover.

Grade [measured against my super objective* Star Wars enjoyment factor]: C+ “It’s a good read but has pacing (and other) issues.”

*Not super objective and in fact wholly based on my feeling at the time of this review. Not measured against any other sci-fi works or really any other literature. This score is purely because I like giving scores to things.

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