Hello, everyone! Today I’m reviewing the final installment of the Alphabet Squadron trilogy, Victory’s Price by Alexander Freed. I’ve had this one on my shelf for over a year, and it was on two different TBRs last year. I never got to it, though. So, I’m happy to have finally gotten around to it and finished off this trilogy.
The aces of the New Republic have one final chance to defeat the darkness of Shadow Wing in this thrilling conclusion to the Star Wars: Alphabet Squadron trilogy!
In the wake of Yrica Quell’s shocking decision—and one of the fiercest battles of their lives—the remnants of Alphabet Squadron seek answers and closure across a galaxy whose old war scars are threatening to reopen.
Soran Keize has returned to the tip of Shadow Wing’s spear. Operation Cinder, the terrifying protocol of planetary extermination that began in the twilight of the Imperial era, burns throughout the galaxy. Shadow Wing is no longer wounded prey fleeing the hunters of the New Republic. With its leader, its strength has returned, and its Star Destroyers and TIE squadrons lurk in the darkness between stars, carrying out the fallen Emperor’s final edict of destruction—as well as another, stranger mission, one Keize has championed not for the dying Empire, but for its loyal soldiers.
Alphabet Squadron’s ships are as ramshackle and damaged as their spirits, but they’ve always had one another. Now, as they face the might of Keize’s reborn juggernaut, they aren’t sure they even have that. How do you catch a shadow? How do you kill it? And when you’re finally victorious, who pays the price?
I haven’t always been the biggest fan of this series or of Freed’s dense narrative style, but I really enjoyed this book. I was surprised by how much I’ve come to care for these characters after feeling rather apathetic about the first book. Each of them had really great arcs in this story with a mix of many bad ass and emotional moments. I particularly liked all the Hera Syndulla content, and I think the author completely captured her essence. As always, Freed did a fantastic job of creating immersive space battle scenes that had me on the edge of my seat. There was lots of action throughout the book, and the pace kept things pretty intense. However, there were also plenty of great quieter moments between the characters, which gave this book a nice balance. I liked the focus on the New Republic and its struggle to gain control without resorting to becoming like the Empire. It explored the ongoing war in a way that wasn’t black and white while illustrating the humanity of both sides. This was definitely an interesting and tumultuous time period for the Star Wars galaxy, and I hope to see even more content from this era in the future. Overall, this book was an excellent conclusion that has shifted my feelings for the series in a more positive direction. Therefore, I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars.
I move forward, because dwelling on my shame doesn’t help anyone.
Shadow Fall, page 333
Shadow Fall is the second book of the Alphabet Squadron trilogy by Alexander Freed. This story sets off in the aftermath of the destruction and revelations that occurred in the first book. Yrica Quell and the rest of Alphabet Squadron are attempting to defeat Imperial remnants on a planet of strategic value to the New Republic. They decide to lay a trap to lure the elusive and dangerous Shadow Squadron to them. The goal is to minimize losses and defeat them without ship to ship combat. Against this backdrop, the crew of Alphabet Squadron struggle to overcome their own demons and the impacts of war on their psyche.
What I Liked
I enjoyed this book more than the first book in this series. This was largely because I liked the characters more in this book than the last. They faced interesting dilemmas and almost all of them experienced some character growth. Each character seemed to portray a different struggle commonly faced by those involved in war. I particularly enjoyed Yrica’s journey of dealing with her shame and guilt…even though the outcome made me angry at the character. I also liked seeing Wyl come into his own as a leader while struggling to deal with how best to use his empathy for others in a war-time setting. Chas’s journey to figure out where she belongs after the war was also compelling. Overall, the characters were one of the greatest parts of the novel.
I also loved the way this author depicted the battles and flight sequences. He does a fantastic job of making you feel like you are in the trenches or cockpit with the characters. These descriptions and the peeks into the character’s mindsets during the battles made the last half of the book hard to put down. The ending of the book left me wanting more, and I am looking forward to reading the last book in the series.
Another random tidbit…I enjoyed the torture robot turned therapist droid, IT-O. His backstory was expanded upon in this book and was well-done. His interactions with Yrica were one of my favorite things about the book.
What I Didn’t Like
This book was difficult to get through in the beginning. The first third of this book was mind-numbingly boring to me. There was some characterization and a small amount of flight battles in that bit, but it wasn’t very interesting. I almost gave up on it, and I do not DNF books very often, especially Star Wars books. The plot also seemed very forced at different points in the story and felt as though certain things happened only because they had to in order to move the story along. I was a bit disappointed that Kairos got sidelined for most of the book, especially since most of the other characters grew throughout the story. I’m hoping she will be more of a major player in the next book because I want to learn more about her.
In summary, this book was a mix of beautiful battle descriptions, interesting character growth, boring swaths of writing, and a somewhat shaky plot. It did a pretty good job of tackling the mindset of those experiencing brutal warfare and processing the impact of shame and guilt on the psyche of soldiers. However, it was a very boring read for most of the first half of the book and sidelined one of the most interesting characters. So, I rate it 3 out of 5 stars.