Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad (Book)
Following the death of their leader, the Partisans have carried on his extremist legacy, determined to thwart the Empire—no matter the cost. Now Inferno Squad must prove its status as the best of the best and take down the Partisans from within. But the growing threat of being discovered in their enemy’s midst turns an already dangerous operation into a do-or-die acid test they dare not fail. To protect and preserve the Empire, to what lengths will Inferno Squad go . . . and how far beyond them?
Get to know the new characters you’ll be playing with/as in Star Wars: Battlefront II with the launch of Inferno Squad, a prequel book that gives background on the new characters, while telling a gripping story. Come inside to learn more in my full review.
The book presents itself as a direct sequel (of sorts) to both Rogue One and A New Hope, picking up right as the Rebels destroy the Death Star. Ace TIE pilot, Iden Versio, is one of the few survivors of the Death Star and she’s looking to settle the score. Her, along with three other Imperials, comprise the best that the Empire has to offer. This makes them perfect for a top secret team put together by Admiral Garrick Versio (Iden’s father).
Inferno Squad’s ultimate job is to be “cleaners” for the Empire, to take on missions to root out problems and take care of them. In the course of these duties, the team is given the job of infiltrating the remainder of Saw Gerrera’s “Partisans” (those who survived the attack on Jedha from Rogue One) to discover a significant information leak.
It’s this mission that comprises the novel’s primary plot and brings about some interesting themes on morality, with a couple surprises for long time fans to enjoy as well. The team has to go under deep cover to infiltrate the notorious group of Rebels, ingratiating themselves with the very enemy they’ve sworn to destroy.
Through all this we’re given a story that combines intrigue, sabotage, and plenty of action. It’s a great team based adventure, and if you’re a fan of the Legends books is VERY reminiscent of the Rogue Squadron/Wraith Squadron books (on the Imperial side of course). In a lot of ways it’s a more condensed story, in that it doesn’t cover a large span of time or multiple major events. However, there are some big implications behind the actions of the team and gives a fun “behind the scenes” look at the other part of the war than what we see in the films.
In the effort to keep things spoiler-free, this is about as far as I’m going to go in talking about the specific story. There are some reveals along the way that can be a lot of fun for fans that are worth reading to get to.
Heroes on Both Sides
While the story is interesting enough, the appeal of Inferno Squad comes from the characters in the story. Despite being “villains” you can’t help but find yourself becoming attached to them and empathizing with their thought process, if not their actions. Golden has a strong writing style geared towards characters, making them feel realistic and easy to relate to within just a few chapters.
Her strongest aspect in writing (which was true in all of her Star Wars books, even the canon Dark Disciple), is her strong ability to show, rather than tell. Each member of the squad is introduced within a single, or partial, chapter before they’re thrust together. Even within such a short span of time, however, you get a sense of their characters, their history, and general personalities. By the time they’re thrown together and get started (which is pretty damn quick), you already feel like you know them and have some familiarity. Thus, when things begin to go down, you’re already emotionally invested and the tension is ratcheted up.
This connection to the team, however, brings up some interesting ideas and an ever pervasive theme: what is good and evil? By and large, the members of Inferno Squad are bad guys, and all they do is to serve an oppressive regime. They feel the Death Star explosion was a tragedy and act of terror, while feeling nothing for the innocents at Alderaan.
This disconnect becomes even more pronounced as they interact with the members of the Partisans. Throughout the book, the characters are constantly faced with both sides of the conflict, and as they put real faces and emotions to their enemy, things get complicated. The best part, however, is that their reactions aren’t typical to how these stories typically go, making them tough characters to like, but easy to enjoy.
It really dives you deep into the head of stalwart Imperials...Not just the regular mustache twirling villains, and greedy/power hungry people. The members of Inferno Squad genuinely believe in the Imperial propaganda, and feel what they’re doing is the right thing for the galaxy.
Despite that, the book doesn’t skirt around the fact that they’re still bad guys doing, generally, bad things. This makes it all the more impressive just how emotionally attached to these characters you become. All of this makes for a story that delves deep into some heavy themes, questions of morality, and puts the bigger conflict into a more personal view.
An Emotional Adventure, Beyond a Typical Game Tie-In
Ostensibly, Inferno Squad is meant to act as an introduction to the team members you’ll be playing as in Star Wars: Battlefront II later on this year (which will bring a brand new story altogether). The final result, however, goes far deeper than a simple tie-in novel and brings us one of the more emotionally engaging Star Wars novels launched under the new canon.