Christie Golden delivers once again with Battlefront II: Inferno Squad.*Major Spoilers Ahead*
My initial impressions on Inferno Squad by Christie Golden have stayed strong, and even grown, in the week that it’s been since I’ve read the novel.
My favorite aspect of the novel is that the point of view is of someone within in the Empire, who honestly believes they are doing things for the greater good. The novel also depicts the Rebel Alliance as terrorists and traitors, which is a side of the story that we rarely get. We get a taste of that in the film Rogue One, but this entire novel is from the full perspective of the Imperial forces of the Empire.
Photo Credit: Lucasfilm
Building relationships and digging deep into characters are the greatest strengths of Golden’s writing ability. Just like Star Wars: Dark Disciple before it with Asajj Ventress and Jedi Quinlan Vos, she does the same with The Dreamer and Iden in Inferno Squad.
In both stories, a character goes undercover with a so-called enemy, then later falls in love ( Dark Disciple) or gains empathy and a friendship like in Inferno Squad. This ability invested me in the relationships of the characters and riding that thin line of what each character believes true and what is false due to the role of the espionage aspect affecting their perspective relationships.
So when the spam hits the fan, so to speak, I find myself rooting for both Iden and The Dreamer to both stay on the same side, even though I know it’s an impossible fate for the two.
What exactly is the Inferno Squad?
This mission statement by the founder of Inferno Squad, Admiral Garrick Versio, describes what Inferno Squad is all about.
"“We need to recover anything and everything, anyone and everyone, who might pose the slightest threat to the Empire. You are all accustomed to being part of something larger than yourselves. To being a part of a vast machine. But this unit will be a microcosm of only four. You’ll performing the majority of your duties without direction from me- in fact, there may be lengthy periods of time when you will not be in contact with me at all. It is impertive that you learn very quickly how to work together smoothly and efficiently. You’ll find that a great deal of weight will be resting on your shoulders.” ( excerpt from Inferno Squad novel. Admiral Garrick Versio)."
Small in number, four to be exact, the mission statement of Inferno Squad is to quietly protect and even cover up, potential threats to the Galactic Empire.
The main character, Iden Versio, who is the daughter of Imperial Admiral Garrick Versio, both hail from the planet Vardos. This is a world that is a proud member of the Empire, with the often oppressed non-human species of the time treated fairly there, which is rare for the regime of the Galactic Empire.
Iden is a graduate (with honors) at the Imperial Academy on Coruscant. She also served as a TIE Fighter pilot at the Battle of Yavin, where the novel begins, is one of only a handful of survivors, which includes the ruthless Sith Lord Darth Vader.
The young Imperial is only 22 years of age at the time where the novel starts( during the Battle of Yavin), yet someone who is highly respected by someone with such youth.
The group is comprised of four Imperial standouts: Commander Iden (Versio) as the group’s leader, Gideon Hask as second in command, Seyn Merana, and Del Meeko.
After a time of intense training, then a failed mission, Admiral Versio tasks the four to go undercover at the location of Saw Gerrera’s surviving group of partisans called The Dreamers located on the planet Tellik IV.
Does “Save the rebellion, save the dream!” ring a bell?!
Photo Credit: Lucasfilm
With the first three members of the group going undercover with The Dreamers one by one and at different times, Iden lastly joins the group as the only one who’s true identity is known. She gives the perception and commits an act that brands her as an Imperial traitor ( even though she is not) to gain the attention and the trust of The Dreamers. That approach works, with The Dreamers kidnapping her, but for the intentions of her becoming a leader and inspiration for their group.
While undercover with The Dreamers, Iden learns how to be a very articulate and effective public speaker, which was a weakness for the Imperial before her time with the insurgents. Even though she was already highly trained in combat and with firearms, Iden learns to be even more effective in hand-to-hand combat and in battle.
With the members of the Inferno Squadron devising a plan to kill The Dreamers, they find it to be a difficult task of achieving that goal. Their time went from days to months without accomplishing this and the risk of being revealed as spies grow greater and greater each day.
The four realize that the only way to take down The Dreamers is to pave the way for some internal fighting within the terrorist group itself.
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Eventually, the Inferno Squad causes the two leaders of The Dreamers, The Mentor, and Staven, to turn on one another. Staven is known for brutal tactics that would even make Saw Gerrea shudder, while The Mentor takes a more mild and humane approach when attacking Imperial interests.
Before that happens, one member of the Inferno Squad meets her demise. Seyn is found out as a spy and is executed for such betrayal. She does go out with courage and not as a coward, which displays the reason she was chosen for the group in the first place.
Before Staven is able to send a group of his loyalists to kill The Mentor, Iden tracks him down first. She then learns his true identity (stay tuned for the reveal on that) and after a heartfelt conversation with Iden revealing her true intentions and learning of The Mentor’s reasons for his actions, she then shoots him with a blaster. It is hinted that she may have only stunned him, but Golden leaves us guessing with his true fate.
The novel concludes with the Inferno Squad then killing the entire partisan group, after their internal fighting paved the way, with the fate of Lux being left up in the air.
Each Star Wars novel has a handful of memorable moments and cool connections to the canon of a galaxy far, far way. Inferno Squad is no different, with my favorites below.
Iden Versio had the highest kill count during the Battle of Yavin
Photo Credit: Lucasfilm
During the Battle of Yavin, Iden Versio had the highest kill count of any pilot in combat during the conflict. Yes, even more than the six kills of Darth Vader himself.
No wonder the young Imperial was tasked as the leader of Inferno Squad with her mad flying and sharp-shooting skills.
I will never watch A New Hope in the same way again during the Battle of Yavin, knowing that Iden is one of the TIE Fighter pilots in that exact space battle. The question is, which one is she?
Lux Bonteri is alive and becomes a leader for the partisan group The Dreamers
Photo Credit: Lucasfilm
First introduced in the Clone Wars as a Senator on the world of Onderon, also the home planet of Saw Gerrea, Lux Bonteri is now a member of Gerrera’s partisan survivors.
During the Clone Wars and prior to Gerrera’s death, both he and Lux did not always see eye to eye with the brutal tactics used by Gerrea. However; after the death of Gerrea on Jedha during the events of Rogue One, Lux finally joins the remaining members of Gerrera’s partisans. Taking on the new alias known as the Mentor, Lux’s goal is to defeat the Imperials at every chance he gets, but doing so with dignity and honor.
The fate of Lux is left in the air when he is shot by Iden Versio. The fact that their relationship blossoms into a true friendship make me think that Iden let the former Senator live. Even though Iden is as loyal and dedicated to the Imperial cause as anyone, her feelings most likely hindered her from actually pulling the trigger causing the death blow to Lux.
Iden’s fancy droid
Photo Credit: Lucasfilm
In Inferno Squad, and soon to be in the new Battlefront II video game story-mode, Iden Versio has maybe the coolest droid assassin in Star Wars history. Similar to that of the 7th sister in Rebels, Iden has at her side and command an ID10 seeker droid. If you ever see this thing in your rear-view mirror, just hope that you can outrun it!
The state of the Empire after the Rebel Alliance’s victory at the Battle of Endor.
The Inferno Squad novel begins with Iden’s perspective of the Empire’s defeat at the Battle of Yavin, while the Battlefront II video story-mode (which is actually a sequel to Inferno Squad) mirrors Iden’s perspective of the Battle of Endor’s defeat at the Battle of Yavin. Poor girl can’t catch a break!
The Empire is now reeling, but Imperials like Iden will do whatever it takes to preserve the Empire.
We know the Empire is eventually defeated during the Battle of Jakku one year after the battle of Endor, so will Iden be one of the select few who flees into the Unknown Regions to later rise as The First Order? I can’t wait to find out!