Having long fought the Empire, the Rebellion is preparing to make a move that may decide the fate of the war and all its combatants; they will advance on Coruscant and attempt to take over the monumental planet. However, lots of preparations will be made to do this, including sending Rogue Squadron into the very heart of the Empire itself for an undercover mission that will either make or break the efforts of the Rebels to take the world.
I found Wedge’s Gamble to be a very solid sequel to its predecessor, Rogue Squadron. Its story was overall better than that of the first book in the series, with a bigger cast of characters, and some pretty big things happening. One of these things was the liberation of Coruscant, something I didn’t actually expect to happen so soon in the series. Regardless, it proved to be a great story, and I especially loved the development of existing characters and the fantastic new characters we were treated to. A couple of those new characters would be Winter (Hmmm…. No last name. I guess she was another “Zekk” for awhile) and Iella Wessiri. While these girls certainly couldn’t be considered “new” as of today (these are pretty old books, after all) it was still nice to see their introduction (Man, I am really behind the times), proving once more just how awesome they are.
Speaking of awesome characters… Wedge Antilles. I never knew quite how badass he was until I started the X-wing series. At this rate, by the time I’m done with these books, he may just be my favorite character overall. Which is saying a lot, considering my long-time allegiance to Anakin Solo.
One new character introduced actually kinda annoyed me: Inyri Forge. Lujayne was definitely cool, and even if it was a good move for the overall story, her death was sad (yet off-screen, which I’ll go into with another subject later… Damn it Stackpole!). Her sister, though, is a whiny character who just wants to be rebellious. In other words, she acts like an unappealing teenager. I’m not sure what the face of this character is, but if she continues with a major role throughout the series, I’m hoping she grows up a bit and stops being so annoying.
There are more politics in Wedge’s Gamble, including a certain movie character who was not present in the first book: Leia. There was a very nice scene with her and Wedge, and her inclusion in general, even if only a cameo, was very welcome. Hopefully she’ll feature more as the series goes on, but I’d be surprised if she didn’t, considering politics features consistently so far.
The story itself, like I mentioned before, was very good, providing a nice insight into the life on Coruscant in this period. Despite that fact, however, I have to admit that it did get a little boring at times, with the content often consisting of filler. It wasn’t filler I hated – certainly not. Character development like we got in huge doses in Wedge’s Gamble is always a welcome prospect for me. However, it doesn’t mean that things didn’t drag along just a little bit at times because of it, a problem that this novel’s predecessor didn’t face.
Also… I’m going to get my biggest complaint out of the way here. since when has killing a character off-screen – a major one, at that – been a good death for a character deserving more than that? Seriously. I have this theory that maybe this character might come back future in the series to serve as some twist to the plot simply because the death WAS off-screen, in which case I wouldn’t know about it since this is my first read through of the series and therefore this complaint might be a moot point. However, I don’t think he will come back, because (Corran’s “death” aside) a Heroes-esque thing with characters constantly coming back to life doesn’t really seem like the X-wing series’ style. Plus, considering a few specific details in the novel, it wouldn’t really make sense. As a side note, I bet all the many, many people who have read and finished the whole X-wing series are laughing at me at this point, speculating on such old books.
However, the last… Oh, fifty pages or so, were very exciting and made up for how boring some other parts of the novel had been. Heck, I was even loving the space battles at this point – maybe because there was such a lack of them in the book as a whole, but still. Anyway, this is another thing in which this book had a strength over the last book, or actually any other book I’ve read recently. It left you with a feeling of wanting more, as well as with a great cliffhanger, so much so that I picked up the third book in the series and started it before I had even really gotten into writing this review. I even passed up reading Vortex to continue this series! Now that’s saying something.
The element of romance was once more present in Wedge’s Gamble, in even bigger amounts this time around – the love triangle between Corran, Mirax and Erisi comes to an apparent end with a satisfying conclusion (even if I knew already who he’d end up with, considering… Well, anyone who’s up-to-date on the EU knows who that is). We also meet a new love interest for Gavin: Asyr, a Bothan on Coruscant who initially wants to kill Gavin but eventually warms up to him. Gavin even has “The Talk” with Corran. Oh my. I knew about this romance before I started this book, and even though I always looked at the prospect of a Bothan/human romance sort of… well… weird (I don’t mean to be an ass but come on, you know the first time you read it/heard of it you thought it was odd too!) I actually like this pairing.
All in all, Wedge’s Gamble was a great follow-up to Rogue Squadron, even if there were a few things about it that weren’t great, like the consistent filler. However, the new characters introduced, adding even more diversity to the cast, as well as the great overall story and fantastic ending totally made up for all of that. If you read and enjoyed the first X-wing book, then there’s no reason you wouldn’t like this as well; Heck, even if you thought the first one was so-so you might like this better just because there are fewer things like space battles and more focus on undercover ground missions.