Thursday, May 24, 2018

Battlefront II: Inferno Squad, by Christie Golden

Today I'm looking at another Star Wars book, Battlefront II: Inferno Squad, which is a tie-in with the video game Battlefront II and with the Clone Wars animated series. The book focuses on the titular unit, Inferno Squad, an Imperial special forces unit that handles tasks that the regular Imperial military or the Imperial Security Bureau can't handle. Inferno Squad is charged with infiltrating the Dreamers, an extremist rebel faction led by survivors of Saw Garrera's Partisans. The Dreamers have been hitting multiple high-level Imperial targets and appear to have access to restricted Imperial information so Inferno Squad's goal is to discover where their information is coming from, seal the leak, and then eliminate the Dreamers.

I'll be honest, I didn't much care for this book and mostly because it's a continuation of this evolution that the Star Wars universe has taken and I'm not sure if I much care for it. There seems to have been a movement in Star Wars towards a darker and grittier universe, where not only are the Imperials a ruthless and sinister lot, but the Rebels are as well. Both sides engage in indiscriminate killings and torture to achieve their goals, making the line between good guys and bad guys blur. Now I'm not opposed to there being good Imperials, in fact in the old EU the Imperial officer Gilad Pellaeon was one of my favorite characters. But for a universe whose theme seems to be that there's always hope, it's a little concerning that the universe seems to be taking a darker turn. I'm not saying that there can't be bad Rebels or morally ambiguous Rebels, but I'm not used to the Star Wars universe being so darn dark.

I also have to say it's difficult for me to care over much about the characters in the book, especially the Imperials. At the beginning the book the Imperial characters basically justify destroying Alderaan with the argument that the Rebel children would only grow up to be adult Rebels who would kill more innocent Imperials, so it's best that they were killed when they were young. Now the Rebels make the same argument about killing a bunch of Imperial children, but far more of the Rebels raise objections to killing children than any Imperials do to the same. The problem with trying to make the Rebels and the Empire equivalent is that the factions really aren't, because the Empire practices slavery, restricts personal freedoms, and blows up planets. There really isn't any moral equivalency between the two of them.

It also was very hard for me to empathize with the characters because they were so blase about torturing or murdering people. I feel like there's an attempt to make the Imperial characters more sympathetic by having them develop personal relationships with the Dreamers, but this doesn't work for a couple of reasons. First, Inferno Squad is trying to ingratiate themselves with the Dreamers so they pretend to be friends with the Dreamers to make that goal easier. A second reason is that they kill all the Dreamers at the end of the book. Like, seriously, just execute all of the Dreamers and be proud about it as well. So it's really hard for me to like the members of Inferno Squad as characters.

Overall I was kind of disappointed with this book. It's kind of funny because when Disney first bought Star Wars a lot of people were worried that they'd Disney-fy the franchise and turn it into upbeat kid-friendly musicals. But it seems like under the Disney leadership, Star Wars has taken a darker and edgier turn and I'm not sure if I really like that. I'm willing to admit that this is probably me being an old person who's complaining about how they changed things and different things are bad, but I still feel like a grimdark universe isn't quite right for Star Wars.

- Kalpar

No comments:

Post a Comment