Michael A. Stackpole is a master. The first book was about fighter pilot jocks; the second was about a covert operation behind enemy lines. The Krytos Trap is a courtroom drama, prison escape, dogfight extravaganza.
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The first novel in the "X-Wing" series was a straight up military adventure story, a sort of Top Gun for Star Wars in many ways. I had anticipated the rest of the novels following a similar structure. Once again the series hops genres and this time plays itself as a John Grisham courtroom drama mixed with a little bit of The Great Escape thrown in for good measure.
Incidentally, I found it to be the most engaging novel in the series thus far, with the twists and turns of the courtroom drama moving at such a brisk pace and in a manner that invited a great deal of speculation on the part of the reader. With the secondary plot of the supposedly dead pilot trapped in the infamous Lusankya prison, the tone is evocative of films like The Great Escape, with our rebel pilot having a twinge of Steve McQueen in his character from the get-go, the comparison is more than adequate.
His escape attempt, in which we learn that he is in fact descended from Jedi stock could have been considered a bit cliche if not for the fact that hints had been dropped since the first book in the series that this might be the case.
There is of course a tendency to want to tie things to the Jedi in the Star Wars universe, and the revelation could have come out like badly written fan fiction if the writer had decided out of the blue to make one of his main characters a Jedi on whim, instead we get a major plot point that informs the climax of the novel and sets up the next installment.
The choice of either becoming a Jedi and abandoning Rogue Squadron or remaining with the team and making good on promises made earlier in the narrative becomes the crux of the denouement here and leaves the reader energized to read the next installment, almost knowing that things that have been building over the course of three books and 1, pages worth of story will seemingly get a final payoff. The next book in the series is the last for the author and the saga is taken over by perennial Star Wars writer Aaron Allston for books five through seven, so there is an expectation of closure with The Bacta War.
Whether that holds true is yet to be seen, as it could be much as it was with the Republic Commando series and only leads further down the rabbit hole.
With a convoluted plot and an engaging writing style, this one is just how I like my space operas.
The Krytos Trap
The first four books were written by Michael A. As the first novel in the series, it introduces the primary character, Corran Horn, as well as a host of other characters, including Mirax Terrik, Erisi Dlarit, and Tycho Celchu. The novel culminates in a daring attack on the Imperial stronghold of Borleias, the first step in an invasion of the capital world Coruscant. Following the conquest of Borleias, the Rebels and Rogue Squadron must handle Imperial espionage ordered by the rogue imperial Warlord Zsinj. The apparent death of member Bror Jace, the subsequent recruiting by the squadron introduces new, hot-shot members, Aril Nunb and Pash Cracken. A decision is handed down that criminals from the Black Sun, a criminal organization, who have been imprisoned in the Spice Mines of Kessel, would be released on Coruscant as saboteurs and to weaken resistance against for the coming invasion, the Rogues are first sent to Kessel.
Star Wars: X-wing (book series)
The Krytos Trap (1996)