Star Wars: Alphabet Squadron Gets An “A” (book review)

Hera fans rejoice!

Finally, we find out what happened to Hera after the Battle of Endor. So far beyond her days as a fledgling member of the Ghost crew from Star Wars Rebels she is now on a level with Admiral Ackbar, Mon Mothma, and other leaders of the New Republic. We learn she is still leading troops to help bring a final end to the long war. She is still as devoted as ever to her son Jacen. And we find out the Ghost is still her trusty steed.

But Alphabet Squadron isn’t just Hera’s story. It’s the story of a ragtag group of unlikely heroes who came together in the midst of tragedy. Wyl Lark, A-Wing pilot and peacemaker who hopes to rise above the conflict; Chass na Chadic, B-Wing pilot and music lover who has a deep fascination with Jyn Erso; Kairos, U-Wing pilot and mysterious woman whose armor hides more than her features; Nath Tensent, Y-Wing pilot and all-around scoundrel who is perhaps the most unlikely of heroes; and Yrica Quell, X-Wing pilot, leader of Alphabet Squadron, and former Imperial ace pilot who defects to the New Republic – or has she?

Title: Alphabet Squadron
Author: Alexander Freed / Audiobook read by January LaVoy
Cost: $28.99 ($16.08 on Amazon) / $45 audiobook ($35.73 on CD or $14.95 on Audible Amazon)
Age: 12 and up
Publisher: Del Rey
Genre: Star Wars, Science Fiction

Author Alexander Freed did an amazing job of weaving together a complex story where good and bad are painted with mixed brushstrokes. Nearly everyone has a muddled background. Wyl who struggles with the taking of life and concern for the people on both sides of the conflict. Chass who has a hard time letting go of her cultist past and feeling accepted by her comrades. Kairos who is torn between the traditions of her people and her loyalty to her friends. Nath, a man who is a reluctant hero – many times over. And Quell who still dances the line between loyalty to her team and breaking the bonds with her former colleagues. Even the “enemy,” Soran Keize isn’t so clear cut. What Freed did so well was fleshing each character out to be a true human being with qualities all of us have.

itle: Shadow Fall
Author: Alexander Freed / Audiobook read by Carol Monda
Cost: $28.99 ($14.06 on Amazon) / $45 audiobook ($30.17 on CD or $14.95 on Audible Amazon)
Age: 12 and up
Publisher: Del Rey
Genre: Star Wars, Science Fiction

Laced through the story of these comrades and pilots is the story of Star Wars. Ties to those parts of Star Wars history fans are familiar with give the book a grounding in this universe, but Freed does it in a way that feels organic. He adds touches and brushstrokes to the larger painting that makes it seem more alive and more in depth rather than just fan service. The Alphabet Squadron novels follow the efforts of the New Republic from the fall of Endor to the Battle of Jakku and gives more insight into that progression. What the movies gloss over – the difficulties of the end of war – is something explored in the novels and captures your imagination and heart.

Title: Victory’s Price
Author: Alexander Freed / Audiobook read by January LaVoy
Cost: $28.99 ($20.28 on Amazon) / $45 audiobook ($14.95 on Audible)
Age: 12 and up
Publisher: Del Rey
Genre: Star Wars, Science Fiction

The audiobooks for this trilogy were excellent adaptations of Freed’s words. Both January LaVoy who reads the first and third books, and Carol Monda, who reads Shadow Fall the second book, do a wonderful job. Each voice actor has slightly different takes on each character and I found myself liking one version of each character better than the other, but both adding their own touches to the story and making it more rich and deep. The sound effects and background music added tension, excitement, heroics, and more than just the words by itself. And while I often enjoy reading the words on my own and adding my own soundtrack in my head, often there were nice touches I wouldn’t have thought of that made it an equally fun experience. If you’re looking for something to listen to in the car, on a trip, or just to relax and hear a good story, these are all worthwhile.

Alphabet Squadron, Shadow Fall, and Victory’s Price are all worthy additions to the Star Wars saga and showcase the fine tradition of Del Rey publishing amazing books!

  • Thanks to Del Rey Publishing for supplying both print and audio copies of these books for review.

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