Much like the many of the new canon novels, Battlefront starts out a snail’s pace. However, unlike the other new novels, Battlefront does this set up in a way that highlights the visceral brutality that accompanies ground war troops as they slog their way through blaster fire, bio weaponry, and artillery. The slow set-up adds a rich layer to the story of Twilight Company’s tour of the galaxy, showcasing that war on the front lines is hell, even for those who have lived it their entire lives.
Ultimately, the slow set-up works in the novel’s favor, proving essential in setting up the characters. Every character is rich, complex and nuanced, especially its lifelong soldier, anti-hero protagonist as well as an Imperial governor turned Rebel informant. Named characters continually perish in the novel just as you grow to appreciate them, making this the only novel, thus far, that hit me emotionally. The settings are widely varied, from the jungles of Coyerti to the snowbanks of Hoth to the sweltering lava beds of Sullust, and gives you an idea of just how vast the Galactic Civil War is. Best of all, it re-canonizes Kuat and its (in)famous Star Destroyer shipyards.
The only weak part of the novel is the sidestory of Stormtrooper SP-475. Although her viewpoint does add to the novel by highlighting that Stormtroopers are people, too, and does have a payoff at the end, it, unfortunately, felt like a distraction and would have been better served to be apart of a Battlefront novel from the Imperial point of view. Despite this, Battlefront is, easily, the best novel from Del Rey thus far, and a wonderful debut for new novelist Alexander Freed. I’m hopeful that we’ll see Freed continue writing new Star Wars novels as well as see Battlefront become a series.
Verdict: Battlefront: Twilight Company proves to be the best Del Rey novel of the new canon thus far, showcasing the dirty, gritty details of the ground war during the OT. If you have any interest in the infantry forces of Star Wars, this is a must read. Even if that doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, this is, easily, the best written Del Rey novel you’ll find in the new canon with rich characters, colorful and varied settings, and complex, intriguing themes. This is a SW novel not to miss.
Book reviewed by Space Dragon contributor Matt Pellegrino