We all dream of a better tomorrow. A galaxy of peace. Planets full of smiling children playing away, with no worry wrinkles across their brows. But some dreamers… Revolutionaries… Delusionists want to rip away those dreams into nightmares. So begins the tale of Iden Versio, Seyn Marana, Del Meeko, and Gideon Hask of the elite group known as Inferno Squad. Four brave patriots doing their duty, for a greater Imperial tomorrow. Driven by the destruction of the Death Star this team must play their role in eradicating the remnants of Saw Gerrera’s Partisans that survived the destruction of Jedha City. Below is my review of the novel Battlefront II: Inferno Squad by Christie Golden.
Before We Begin
This is the fourth novel that I have read of Christie Golden. My first exposure to her writing style was Dark Disciple, where she did a wonderful job of transforming The Clone Wars episode scripts into a compelling novel. The second and third were World of Warcraft tie in fiction to the Warcraft movie (Durotan and Warcraft novelization). As a former player to the MMORPG World of Warcraft, those novels added a lot of context I missed while playing through the game. My excitement to read how Golden would tackle Inferno Squad had me excited.
Interestingly, the announcement of Inferno Squad did confuse me a bit. All we originally got was a title, and very vague synopsis. Fortunately, I happened to be watching the Battlefront live stream at Celebration Orlando, where they brought Golden on to reveal that Inferno Squad was prequel story to the singleplayer story campaign in Battlefront II! Suddenly, my hype train had gone full speed, and July could not get here soon enough.
The story of Inferno Squad had a great set up. We learn how the team was formed, and got to see how the team gelled on their first couple of assignments. Then everything goes topsy turvy as the team must go deep undercover. This stripping away of everyone’s comfort zone, and having to utilize different skillsets added a wonderful layer to the story. There is something special as having the rug pulled from under people, and seeing them work to get back on their feet.
The Dreamers were an interesting foil to Inferno Squad. Their sense of reality shifted as they scrap for what little control they have left. When everyone they worked with was gone. How hope fueled them forward. Plus, it was great to see how manipulated both sides were to the ideals they held strong from growing up on either side of the war. This gave way to compare and contrast each side on how easily it could be to be a good person, but do bad things.
Evil on Both Sides
What makes this novel special is the blurred lines between the good and the bad. As the first Star Wars movie was able to cast a clear cut black and white line in the sand, this novel allows the reader to see the humanity and madness on both sides. As Golden recently mentioned in an interview with Variety (interview found here), “The world was a very different place back then. We now have a better chance than ever to know the people who aren’t like us…It’s not as easy to demonize people and make them one dimensional any longer, because you can look at them as people.”
In addition, the story takes a big shift to the left on the overall Star Wars timeline. Fans are familiar, with the Empire versus the Rebels. However, the rebel group we meet in this novel are no way in affiliation, with the Rebel Alliance. This opened up the possibilities to the story tremendously, because everyone’s fate was left in question (outside the characters confirmed for the Battlefront II video game). The Partisans and later The Dreamers felt like a natural response to the events surrounding the galaxy.
Twilight Company versus Inferno Squad
Since this story is a tie in story to the Battlefront video game series it was inevitable that comparisons to the other novel will be made. I personally enjoy both approaches Alexander Freed and Christie Golden made to their own stories. They both offer a point of view from opposing sides that felt genuine. Freed’s approach in Battlefront: Twilight Company (review here) was on the rebellion side, with a story that mixed a ground soldier’s journal over a campaign, and a tale of picking up the pieces to a losing campaign. Golden’s approach was on the Imperial side, with a story about the formation of an elite team to “clean up” messes left by the Rebellion, and later a deep undercover mission that would test everyone on the squad. Both stories offer fresh perspectives on each side of the war, with each one ending on a positive note (from a certain point of view). I am super excited to see what direction they take, with Battlefront III!
The choice to have Janina Gavankar (Iden Versio herself!) record the audiobook was a fantastic choice! Not only did she do a wonderful job, but it was her first audiobook! Voice work on audiobooks is a different beast to voice acting, because of the demand on voicing different characters, and the amount of audio to record. Hearing her performance sounded like she had been narrating books for years. Not to mention, her enthusiasm and passion burst through the speakers! I highly recommend it to everyone! One thing I am always impressed with is the quality the Star Wars audiobooks offer.
How to Get More Out the Novel
As Star Wars is known to have connective tissue to other stories, Inferno Squad is no exception. Below are stories that will enhance the enjoyment of the novel:
“Bounty” episode of The Clone Wars TV series: This is one of my favorite episodes of the show, and it introduces the Kage Warriors, who later make an appearance in the Kanan comic. The story is about Asajj Ventress on her first bounty hunter mission, and the outcome of events that spurs her into a new direction in life.
Onderon arc from The Clone Wars TV series (episodes include “A War on Two Fronts,” “Front Runners,” “The Soft War,” and “Tipping Points”): This arc is the nucleus of Saw and Steela Gerrera’s rebel group and what would later turn into the Partisans. Set before the Republic fell into the darkness that became the Galactic Empire, this arc showcases how long they have been fighting.
“Kindred Spirits” by Christie Golden (Review here): *Mild spoilers to Inferno Squad* This short story set before the novel Dark Disciple introduces the pirate Lassa Rhayme and her Blood Bone Order. Rhayme makes an appearance in this novel. In this short story Lassa Rhayme and Asajj Ventress cross paths, with a common goal against a familiar enemy… This short story is bundled in the Dark Disciple paperback edition!
Catalyst by James Luceno: Set before and after the events of Revenge of the Sith, this story introduces the scientists Galen and Lyra Erso, and the nefarious Orson Krennic. Included are the pieces laid bare on the game board as the Erso’s escape the clutches of Krennic’s unscrupulous grip to their destiny. We also learn how Saw Gerrera met the Erso family.
Guardians of the Whills by Greg Rucka (review here): Set about a year before Rogue One is the tale of two Guardians of the Whills struggling to find piece on Jedha among the tumultuous waves of Imperial oppression. Having caught the attention of the radical rebel cell called the Partisans, a symbiotic relationship forms. However, how long will it last?
Rebel Rising by Beth Revis (review here): This story takes place in the black space between the prologue and beginning of Rogue One. Jyn Erso was rescued by Saw Gerrera as a little girl. He made her into the image of the person he cared about the most until the dangers of having her around became too great. On her own, Jyn forged her own path as the Rebellion and Empire brought wave after wave of misery into her life, until her inevitable imprisonment on Wobani Labor Camp.
Rogue One novelization by Alexander Freed (review here): The novelization adds in so much connective tissue to the other novels that it is a must read. What we learn of Jyn and Saw’s Partisans. What they have become since the last time she saw them.
“Last Call at Zero Angle” by Jason Fry: This short story might be out of reach, for most people due to it being an exclusive to Star Wars Insider magazine. What the story is about is an Imperial TIE Fighter bar that has a little rivalry between space and atmosphere pilots. Before tensions become too high, the unthinkable happens, when news about the Battle of Endor reaches them…
“For the Empire!” – Seyn Marana
Will you stand up and take your chance?
Battlefront II: Inferno Squad by Christie Golden was a wonderful beginning to Iden Versio and her elite team that are set to appear in the singleplayer campaign of Battlefront II. I enjoyed how different it was to Twilight Company, and the audiobook was excellent. May there one day be a time when the flags of the Empire reign peacefully across the galaxy. Yet, as long as demons be driven, there will be madness. There will be people singing in the street. Dreams will be dreamed. Control will be obtained. Order.