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'Star Wars Battlefront: Twilight Company': book review

"Star Wars Battlefront: Twilight Company" puts readers on the ground with the soldiers of the Rebel Alliance.

“Star Wars Battlefront: Twilight Company” puts readers on the ground with the soldiers of the Rebel Alliance.

A novel that ties in to a video game based on a sprawling sci-fi franchise shouldn’t be this good.

“Star Wars Battlefront: Twilight Company,” the first novel from sci-fi writer Alexander Freed, offers readers an ordinary Rebel Alliance soldier’s perspective on the battlefield in the months following the destruction of the first Death Star.

We are introduced to the titular infantry unit as it battles on the streets of a backwater world, one of the many small operations that punctuate the novel. These scenes are fast-moving, fun to read and highlight the gritty nature of “Star Wars” conflict without the Force.

These soldiers must strike quickly and ruthlessly, which makes a refreshing change from the moral philosophizing of the typical Jedi protagonist we usually see in these novels.

We encounter very few familiar characters from the movies, which creates the sense that the new characters could be killed at any time. Freed capitalizes on this danger by making Stormtroopers seem like a genuine threat, because of their sheer numbers.


The nature of Twilight Company’s work takes a complex turn when they capture defecting Imperial Gov. Everi Chalis, who offers them intel on the best ways to hurt the Empire’s war efforts.

The novel focuses primarily on a group led by Sgt. Hazrim Namir, who isn’t a particular likeable character when we meet him. Most characters in “Star Wars” media are idealists, but he is cynical and angry. Thankfully the rapport he has with his comrades makes him to soften up as the story progresses, making him more relatable.

The other members of Namir’s team, Brand, Charmer and Gadren (a Besalisk, like Dexter in “Attack of the Clones”) aren’t explored in as much depth, but the background details we do learn flesh them out enough to make them sympathetic.

Namir’s perspective gives us a very different view on the Rebel Alliance leadership; Twilight Company is frequently left aimless as the Empire hunts High Command across the galaxy after the events of “A New Hope.” This proves to be a frequent source of tension, but gives the unit a degree of autonomy and adds to the novel’s unpredictability.

Gov. Chalis adds to this sense as her motives for defecting remain mysterious. She is a protégé of the late Imperial logistics expert Count Vidian (whose story was told in “A New Dawn”) and proves to be the novel’s most interesting character. Her scenes with Namir contain some great dialogue and their constant jabs are entertaining.

Freed also gives us an Imperial perspective on events, primarily through Stormtrooper Thara Nyende. She is stationed on Sullust, where citizens fear her as a symbol of an oppressive government. Despite this, she remains sympathetic to their plight and we finally see the human side to these iconic grunts. We even get a very cool description as she puts on her armor, revealing the technological advantages of working for the Empire.


We also see the more subtle drawbacks of Palpatine’s tyranny from the inside; where the rebels are brothers in arms, the Imperial forces are largely faceless and nameless. The Empire’s rules force Thara to lead a deeply impersonal working life and instill a constant fear of Alliance attacks into her.

Prelate Verge, a fanatical true believer in the Emperor’s doctrine, has been tasked with hunting Chalis down. His zealous nature is offset by Captain Tabor Seitaron, who has been brought out of retirement to lend Verge his experience.

Seitaron gives us a practical view of the insanity and cruelty of the Empire’s Ruling Council, as the young prelate punishes failure sadistically. This pair provide an interesting diversion from the main plot, but aren’t really developed as characters.

The action scenes that see Namir’s team taking on the Empire in smaller spaces are easily the novel’s most successful. Some of the large scale battles little impersonal; with secondary characters referenced and killed soon afterward. These improve as the story hurtles toward its satisfying conclusion, when readers will be comfortable with the surviving characters.

Freed also includes flashbacks to a conflict on the war-torn planet Crucival, which link smoothly with main plot and gradually reveal the arbitrary nature of Twilight Company’s recruitment.


Fans will see some fun links to the events of the wider “Star Wars” saga, with Namir getting embroiled in one big event from the Original Trilogy (where he possibly gets a nugget of wisdom from one of its heroes) and a subtle mention of a character from “Rebels.”

In many ways, Freed’s novel is the successor to Karen Traviss’ Clone Wars-era “Republic Commando” series (right down to the video game connection) and proves to be just as much fun. “Battlefront: Twilight Company” effortlessly thrusts readers onto the frontlines of the Galactic Civil War in a gripping tale.

The infantry company’s motto is “Twilight Survives”; with any luck, their novel series will too.

“Star Wars Battlefront: Twilight Company” by Alexander Freed, published by Random House, hits shelves Tuesday.



book reviews ,
star wars

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