Inferno Squad by Christie Golden.
Published: July 25th 2017 by Del Ray
“You know what they say, live in hope, die is despair.”
The Rebellion may have heroes like Jyn Erso and Luke Skywalker. But the Empire has Inferno Squad.
After the humiliating theft of the Death Star plans and the resulting destruction of the battle station, the Empire is on the defensive. In response to this stunning defeat, the Imperial Navy has authorized the formation of an elite team of soldiers, known as Inferno Squad. Their mission: infiltrate and eliminate the remnants of Saw Gerrera’s Partisans. Following the death of their leader, the Partisans have carried on his extremist legacy, determined to thwart the Empire—no matter what the cost. Now, Inferno Squad must prove their status as the best of the best and take down the Partisans from within. But as the danger intensifies and the threat of discovery grows, how far will Inferno Squad go to ensure the safety of the Empire?
The way I picked this book to read wasn’t my usual method. I decided to try out a free trial of the Battlefront II and after playing barely an hour of the story driven campaign mode I knew this game was for me. When I decided to buy the game the same site recommended Inferno Squad, a book about Iden Versio and her team whom I’d just spent an hour playing as and interacting with, I was mildly interested but wasn’t sure, I had so many other books on my TBR right now. Then I saw it was by Christie Golden, one of my all time favorite authors and that sealed the deal. Golden has written pretty much every one of my favorite Warcaft novels and I adore her story telling.
Inferno Squad is a prequel to the story we can play in campaign mode in the video game Battlefront II so I wasn’t expecting huge things from the story, maybe just a little world building and backstory and we did get that but we got so much more as well. Although you can tell from the way the book end that there is certainly more to come it’s still a good, enjoyable whole story. Inferno Squad takes place not long after the first Death Star is destroyed, which, being one of the only survivors we see from Iden’s point of view. Due to the time line I did find this book was a little more enhanced having watched the Rouge One film as the Partisan’s were originally led by Saw Guerra from the film, it’s not essential to enjoying the story but it just adds an extra dimension (and pain!).
Being a Christie Golden book I was pleased to find the writing was just as great as I remember. Inferno Squad features different points of view from the four team members and I was pleased to find that each POV was almost immediately distinguishable. Events flowed together well and it was a nice change to find that I was very rarely jolted out of the narrative. There are some fantastic lines of dialogue to be found in this book and I made a note of a lot of quotes but sadly most of them are too spoiler entwined to post. One of my favorites as done so well though that it felt like a literal punch in the gut.
Each of the four team members of the Inferno Squad are introduced well, easy to visualise and get a feel for almost straight away. Through their interactions with each other and the members of the partisan’s, the phrase “The best lies always hold a grain of truth” or something to that effect is used a lot and you can really see the team come through even while trying to infiltrate the enemy. They, like the Partisan’s themselves are very easy to become attached to and although they are agents of “The Empire” they are still for the most part, good people which leads to some fantastic scenes of moral dilemma, some of which are utterly heart wrenching.
Recently (especially after Phasma) I’ve quite enjoyed reading books from the Imperial/First Order side of things. Quite often a lot of these characters just want peace and feel that if they do the hard/dirty work others won’t have to. It’s quite strange seeing the good aspects in those on the side of “the bad guys” but it seems to be a running trait in almost every Star Wars book I’ve read so far and a part I enjoy. The idea that not everyone is just good or bad and the very real notion that good people can do bad things for what they feel is the right reason and vice versa. The Partisan’s as well are characters that are mostly very likable as well. We get to see a lot of these people when they are at their most vulnerable, we learn their passions and their weaknesses which make you feel very close to them, thus adding to the moral dilemma that I feel is completely central to this story.
This story feels less about the actual events that happen then about the progression and growth of it’s characters. The events are interesting and help to give this book their “Star Wars feel” but I think it’s the journey that every single one of these characters go on and the way you feel about each of them at the end that really makes this a great book, for me personally at least. The book on the whole is fantastic, it’s entertaining, engaging and thought provoking, I love any book that can do that easily and not at the expense of good character development. Although I feel I may have preferred the actual “story” of Bloodline, I don’t think I’ve become this attached to a group of characters in Star Wars outside of the films and even then maybe even more so in some cases. I look forward to playing the rest of the campaign and finding were Inferno Squad ends up at the end of it all. I would also like to request that Christie Golden write more books set in the Star Wars universe please!