The Republic is reeling from its most devastating blow yet. Coruscant has fallen, and our heroes are on the run. An assault let by General Wedge Antilles allows Republic forces to set up a base in the nearby Pyria system, on the same planet that the fledgling New Republic once launched their own assault on Coruscant against the Empire. The situation for the Republic is grim; a visit from a number of councilors demonstrates to Wedge and our main characters reinforces his belief that the surviving senators from Coruscant have already given up the Republic as lost, and are preparing to accept a Yuuzhan Vong victory.
Wedge, however, doesn’t accept that so easily. He’s used to fighting impossible odds, as the former commander of Rogue Squadron-an elite squadron of X-Wings-and he’s quite prepared to do so again. And the only way he can see to do it is to return to the earliest days of the Rebel Alliance, and operate separately-and secretly-from the Republic. While he still answers to the Republic from a technical standpoint, he recognizes that everyone in the Pyria system have been left to die. But it is also a strategic location to aid survivors and refugees from Coruscant, so he plans to hold on to it as long as possible.
The characters definitely start looking at things with a somewhat different point of view in Rebel Dream, the first part of the two part Enemy Lines arc. I also had high expectations for this book, because of Aaron Allston. Allston wrote the Wraith Squadron set of X-Wing novels (as well as Starfighters of Adumar), and all of those books were highly enjoyable. So when I learned he would be writing a pair for the New Jedi Order, I was hoping for something equally enjoyable.
He does not disappoint. The heroes start working proactively for a change; Han and Leia are out to start learning who to rely on in this new resistance; Jaina Solo makes use of the reputation that the Vong have given her, continuing psychological warfare against them with the aid of Jagged Fel and Kyp Durron. Wedge organizes the defense of the world Borleias with the aid of his longtime comrade Tycho Celchu. And Lando Calrissian prepares to insert a number of Jedi-including Luke and Mara Skywalker-secretly into Coruscant, with the aid of the Intelligence commandos of Wraith Squadron.
One of the hallmarks of Allston’s writing (at least in the Star Wars universe; haven’t read any of his other works) is the humorous side of Star Wars. I wasn’t sure how I’d handle it, given the darker nature of the New Jedi Order series, but I found it to be a welcome return. This isn’t to say the book is a laugh riot-it’s not-but it’s easy to forget that Han has a fairly sharp wit, and it was great to see some of the folks from the Wraith Squadron books again (laughing at danger in many ways is a hobby with them, I think). The only part that gave me some problems was the glossing over of Jaina’s flirtation with the Dark Side of the Force. I can overlook that, though, because he shows some great insights about why she’s having her emotional problems, and helps continue to develop the relationship between herself, Kyp, and Jagged.
Lest I forget, however…the Yuuzhan Vong don’t get shorted for time, either. Viqi Shesh, who will undoubtedly go down in Republic history as its biggest traitor, manages to keep herself alive in the face of Warmaster Tsavong Lah-by exposing certain suspicions as to why his hand graft (well, claw anyway) has been giving him so much trouble. The political picture gets a little more complicated as well, as he puts his father in command of a war fleet to crush Borleias. And to keep matters even more interesting, there is a traitor put among the folks at Borleias as well….
Allston has done a nice job with Rebel Dream, managing a number of characters that could become unwieldy (a problem that this series is beginning to develop). It likely helps that this is spread over two books, because there is a lot happening. I’m looking forward to reading his next one soon.