Before Star Wars: Battlefront arrived to your consoles, Del Rey released a novel inspired by the events of the game. Battlefront: Twilight Company by Alexander Freed sort of reads like a documentary. You experience key events of the Rebel Alliance’s fight against the Empire as a member of a ragtag group of soldiers who, above all else, survive. Twilight Company is the detachment sent to places no one else wants to go, that no one else is prepared to handle. They have a high fatality rate, but the group never stops.
This book is intriguing for a few reasons. Mostly, it shows us a side of the Rebellion that hasn’t been explored yet in the canonical stories. These aren’t people who are pilots (mostly), and they weren’t part of the attack on the Death Star. They’re everyday sort of folks fighting for different reasons, or merely fighting because it’s what they do. We get to see day-to-day operations and some flaws within the Rebel Alliance. It’s war. It’s not glamorous. The consequences faced by soldiers and civilians is a concept handled and explored throughout the pages.
The focus is put on a handful of particular members of the company. I like the scope being so small; it puts the reaches of the galactic battle into perspective. You’re reminded of that galactic part without ever going too deep into the big picture. It’s about how this group of soldiers in particular affects the tides and whether they are, in fact, making any sort of difference.
Twilight Company is comprised of a cadre of humans and aliens with various personalities. You have Brand, the tough and unreadable soldier who gets the job done and follows orders; Namir, the lead of the story and a man who doesn’t know why he’s fighting; Gadren, a thoughtful and compassionate, but fierce, fighter; and Roach, a new recruit who overcomes hardship to make her mark. On the surface, it sounds a touch cliché and they definitely venture into tried and true territory, but at the end, every one of those characters and some others—particularly a governor who betrays the Empire—follows an arc. Some end up in different places, and some have more subtle growth.
Battlefront: Twilight Company is an engaging book that is visceral in the way it puts you on the ground alongside the soldiers. It gives, I think, a more accurate picture of what the Rebellion is like for most enlisted. The large majority of Rebels never interacted with Luke Skywalker or understood the force of nature that was Darth Vader. This book shows us soldiers in a war and explores the idea of fighting as a way of life rather than because of a belief in the cause. For those elements alone, I recommend it.
There were aspects I didn’t care for. The flashbacks to Namir’s past were jarring and fragmented the primary narrative in a distracting fashion. I didn’t need to see so much of who he was to understand who he is—his backstory could have been incorporated in other just as effective ways. And for an action-packed book all about battles and secret plans, I wasn’t drawn in and obsessed with reading. The tough subject material possibly contributed to that.
Do you plan on reading Battlefront: Twilight Company? Let me know in the comments.
Images: Del Rey
This review was completed using a copy of the book provided by Del Rey.