I’ve got a soft spot for the Star Wars Expanded Universe for quite a few reasons. When I was younger, these were the books that really got me back into reading by taking advantage of the geek inside me and coming up with some fantastic stories. Not only that, and more importantly now that I’m older, the huge range of writers who have contributed to this universe is incredible, and they all offer something different – a different view on Star Wars – to keep me hooked.
The X-Wing series is an excellent way into the Expanded Universe (EU) for anyone looking for an entry point. They are suitably separate from the overriding stories present in other books, and are very easy reads – you can go through each book very quickly thanks to a superb flow from both authors, Michael A. Stackpole and Aaron Allston. This series of books is probably the funniest in the whole EU – even though a lot of novels have their moments – The X-Wing books thrive off of this feature. Focusing on minor characters from the films, and new introductions all the time, this element keeps readers interested and invested in these characters, who rarely turn up elsewhere.
X-Wing: Mercy Kill is the tenth book in the series, taking place towards the end of the Fate of the Jedi series. Many of the characters are new, but the focus is on the leader of Wraith Squadron, Face, and our favourite Gamorrean, Piggy – although he prefers to go by Voort now! There are some family names too, with Wedge Antilles’ daughter carrying on her father’s work – that’s a nice touch to say Wedge is a fan favourite and X-Wing legend!
There are a lot of flashbacks throughout the novel, all focused on Piggy – I mean, Voort – and his decision to retire. Despite a thrilling, and often hilarious, adventure Piggy is battling his demons throughout and it was great to see a new side to the character, who was always one of my favourites from the Wraiths. There’s a lot for Piggy to contend with, including a Yuuzahn Vong (I know, right?!) and a second Wraith Squadron but nothing was given away too soon.
The flashbacks did annoy me a little, I admit. I think it was bordering on too many and took some of the focus away from the newer Wraiths, who all have their own stories to tell. As such, we missed out on some of that and it’s only because I’ve caught snippets of information from other stories I could put the pieces together. For the newcomer to the EU, Mercy Kill might not be the best starting point as the trips through memory lane, and the references to other Wraiths, will be lost.
This is a fantastic book, but not the entry point the other X-Wing books are. It’s much darker in nature and humour, following the path the Expanded Universe has taken since the New Jedi Order series.
If you have some knowledge of the EU, then this is definitely worth a read. If you’re new to the Star Wars books, I’d read at least the older X-Wing books and the Fate of the Jedi series at the very least before tackling this one.