In the 1990s, authors Michael A. Stackpole and Aaron Allston contributed nine novels to the acclaimed Bantam Spectra/Del Rey. Star Wars: X-Wing series in the expanded universe of the Lucasfilm franchise, with the tenth and final book being released in 2012.
Now that the Star Wars Expanded Universe has been designated as the “Legends” timeline following Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm, Del Rey has re-released the best and most popular of these titles through the Essential Legends Collection. The second book in the X-Wing series, Star Wars: Wedge’s bet by Michael A. Stackpole, was released with a new cover in early April, and the novel also received its first-ever unabridged audiobook edition on the same day.
As a silly teenager (as opposed to the perhaps even more silly adult I am now), I bought and read the paperback editions of the first X-wing books when they came out in the 90s. So it was great to have the opportunity to review Wedge’s bet read by the very talented and prolific Marc Thompson, who recently gave us his vocal interpretation of Star Wars: Thrawn Ascendancy – Greater Good by Timothy Zahn in the canonical world of Del Rey’s Star Wars novels. Star Wars: Wedge’s bet concerns the nascent government and military efforts of the New Republic to retake the city-planet of Coruscant, which remained an Imperial stronghold for years after the events of Return of the Jedi in the continuity of the Legends.
It’s clear to me now (just as much as it was over 25 years ago) that Stackpole has a wonderful command of the language of Star Wars, and has been able to reliably deliver countless meaningful character moments interspersed with tense and high-energy action sequences while writing for the franchise. Listening to the voice of Marc Thompson describing the attempt by Wedge Antilles and Rogue Squadron to infiltrate the Imperial capital and confront the de facto ruler of the Empire, Ysanne Isard, I was reminded how much I loved those books. in my teens, and as a result I now plan to see the others again as soon as I get the chance.
But I want to pay special attention to Thompson’s efforts here. It’s a dense novel with a lot of text (the unabridged audiobook edition is nearly 13 hours, while most unabridged versions star wars books these days average around eight to ten) and as always, the actor – who has voiced characters in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, G.I. Joeand Mobile Suit Gundam, among many others – makes the surely grueling process almost effortless. And like Stackpole in his writing, Marc Thompson has the ability to capture character voices all the way… his impressions of many familiar voices are odd, while his quirky choices for characters yet to be portrayed. on screen are as entertaining as ever. All in all, I’m still absolutely thrilled that Del Rey decided to give these Legends re-releases the love and attention they so richly deserve. Ensuring that books that were previously cut for their audio versions receive unabridged editions makes The Essential Legends Collection even more exciting.