The X-Wing series is a sizable part of the Star Wars Expanded Universe. This page covers the comic book series and the novel series, which were produced more or less in that order, although several of the books came out after the main comics series ended and the most recent comic book was in 2005. As the page image says, the character Wedge Antilles and the X-Wing starfighter are the absolute constants. The games, being only vaguely connected, each have their own pages.The comics are collectively titled "Rogue Squadron". They started coming out in 1995, and ended abruptly in late 1998. Stackpole (see below) certainly had a hand in them, but exactly how much influence he had appears to vary from issue to issue and arc to arc. These are set not very long after the Battle of Endor. Initially the comics were supposed to run through three arcs, about twelve issues, but they ran for a good thirty-five issues, not counting the bonus short comic "Rogue Squadron One Half" or Rogue Leader, which was a three-issue arc that came out in 2005, did not involve any input from Stackpole, and is generally considered inferior due to Off Model art and rampant decompression.The books are written by Michael Stackpole and Aaron Allston. Most of those run directly from the end of one book to the beginning of the next, but Isard's Revenge starts just after the last book of the The Thrawn Trilogy, and Starfighters of Adumar and Mercy Kill each take place following several years. Each book is prefaced with "Star Wars: X-Wing", but we're trying not to develop Colon Cancer here. The books are:
The Krytos Trap
The Bacta War
Written by Stackpole starting in 1996, these novels are collectively and informally known as the Rogue Squadron series. It's a self-contained plot concerning members of Rogue Squadron, a starfighter formation famous for two things: achieving mission goals that are thought suicidal and losing a lot of personnel in the process. Ascended Extra Wedge "Look at the size of that thing!" Antilles rebuilds the squadron from the ground up, bringing in pilots from all walks of life, including Ensemble Darkhorse Tycho Celchu and untrained Jedi Corran Horn. They have a crucial role in the New Republic strike to retake the Imperial capital of Coruscant, or Imperial Center as it is currently called. Their big enemy is Ysanne Isard, head of Imperial Intelligence and current leader of the Empire, whose tactics include torturing/brainwashing people into becoming Manchurian Agents, using The Mole, and designing the Krytos Plague to induce a major case of Divided We Fall.
These novels, written by Allston, concern a second squadron founded by Wedge, and are informally called the Wraith Squadron series. Starting just after the end of The Bacta War, this series keeps Wedge and X-Wings but takes on an entirely new squadron. Literally — Wedge forms it in the first book, looking back on the most successful Rogue rosters and realizing that they were fundamentally composed of pilots with commando skills, then mixing that idea with the odd Career Building Blunder and amping it up as part of a gambit to avoid being promoted to General and becoming a Desk Officer. The Wraiths are a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits, commandos with flying skills, formed exclusively of pilots who are on the verge of being kicked out of service due to their various dysfunctions; their long-term opponent is the Large Ham Warlord Zsinj, who uses a Harmless Villain facade as Obfuscating Stupidity. This series is known for being much more focused on characters and humor than Stackpole's novels, but isn't without deeper themes. The end of Solo Command leads right up into the earlier-written The Courtship of Princess Leia.Three more novels were released, one by Stackpole and two by Allston.Isard's Revenge takes place directly after The Thrawn Trilogy and concerns the efforts of Rogue Squadron to bring justice to Stackpole's Big Bad, who escaped — twice — despite her defeat in the Bacta War, and ties up a few loose ends left after the end of the comics.Starfighters Of Adumar, though marketed as a Rogue Squadron novel, it's really about Wedge himself; this is essentially his Day In The Limelight, focusing on his life, career, friends and love life (or lack thereof) during a diplomatic mission in which he attempts to bring the planet Adumar into the New Republic by winning a flying-duel-based popularity contest.While the Rogues and Wraiths also appeared in the New Jedi Order and Legacy of the Force, the latest true outing of the X-Wing series is another Wraith Squadron novel: Mercy Kill, written by Allston, which was released in August 2012. It takes place primarily in the immediate aftermath of the Fate of the Jedi series, but fills in the time from the end of the Wraith Squadron books up to the "present."Half mention also goes to I, Jedi, written by Stackpole and starring Corran Horn.Unlike later multiple-authored series, the X-Wing novels are somewhat smaller in scope and fit into events established by other books and comics, often retconning little things to make events more sensible. There are some references between the games, the comics, and the novels; ties are most obvious between later comics and Stackpole's novels. Stackpole is known for getting along well with Timothy Zahn, and the two trade Shout Outs with some frequency. Aaron Allston also incorporates characters and events from the series into his mainstream entries of the saga, such as Wedge and the Wraiths in the Enemy Lines duology, or Wedge's family in his Legacy of the Force volumes.Has a character sheet.
Just about every pilot character in the series is or becomes an ace. Or dies. Or both. Since Rogue Squadron is made up consistently of the absolute best pilots in the galaxy, this is almost required before joining.
The Wraiths are less focused on flying, but they also have a few, like Kell Tainer, Face Loran, and Falynn Sandskimmer, who was already a Y-Wing ace before joining. A few other members also make ace in the course of the series.
Virtually every female pilot, since not all combat takes place in a cockpit. Plourr is possibly the most obvious example. Just look at her!◊
Also Iella Wessiri. Not a pilot, but a police officer turned intelligence agent, who helps the Rogues take Coruscant and partners up with the aforementioned Plourr to run guerrilla cells on Thyferra. She's also the one who ultimately gets to kill Isard.
A Day in the Limelight: The entire series is this for Wedge Antilles, but more specifically, each Wraith Squadron book is this for at least one of the members.
Wraith Squadron - Kell
Iron Fist - Face, Lara
Solo Command - Myn, Lara
Mercy Kill - Piggy
Aerial Canyon Chase: Shows up about once per book, usually with a reference to the "trench run" on the original Death Star.
Aerith and Bob: As in the rest of the Expanded Universe, Tatooinians such as Gavin Darklighter are more likely to have real-life human names than the rest of the human characters.
Always Second Best: Falynn Sandskimmer from Wraith Squadron insecurely feels that she's never more than the second best at anything. At the end of the book, she finally feels vindicated when she becomes the first pilot ever to fly INSIDE a Star Destroyer and shoot it up from the inside, but dies in the process. This is very much a case of Grass Is Greener, because one of the pilots Falynn feels inferior to (Tyria, as regards her tracking skills) is even more insecure and feels she's the worst pilot full stop. Worse for Falynn, she never even considers her versatility as a quality (yes, she was "always second best", but to different people).
Inyri Forge has a similar resentful relationship toward her sister Lujayne for being a New Republic pilot and member of Rogue Squadron whose accomplishments she believes she can never measure up to. This becomes even worse when Lujayne is killed and becomes something of a martyr to the family, particularly since she is suddenly the one put under (self-inflicted) pressure to make something of herself and prove someone from Kessel can have worth. Unfortunately this leads into her becoming the Black Sheep through her rebellious actions; see Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling and My Sibling Will Live Through Me.
And Now for Someone Completely Different: The first four books have Rogue Squadron, with Corran Horn sharing the limelight with Wedge. The next three have Wedge leaving the Rogues and founding a new squadron. The non-Wedge protagonist character in Wraith Squadron is undoubtedly Kell Tainer, but his character arc ended with that novel. The next two Wraith books have no single central character - Iron Fist focuses more on Face, Phanan and Wedge while Solo Command deals primarily with Gara/Lara and Myn Donos. Isard's Revenge is another Corran focused story, but in Mercy Kill Face takes over the Wedge role while Voort/Piggy and Wedge's daughter Myri pick up the slack.
And Now For Something Completely Different: The first four books are relatively straight military SF in Stackpole's Beige Prose, which revolves pretty resolutely around Corran Horn; all other characters are secondary. The next three are along those lines, but Corran is absent and a good deal of humour and personal issues creep in. The eighth is another Corran book, but the ninth is almost entirely Wedge's personal story about duty versus doing the right thing, as well as having more jokes than any other book in the EU. The tenth is back to the same style and unit as five, six and seven, but decades later and an almost-entirely new cast (made up mostly by the kids of the previous protagonists, a fact lampshaded multiple times).
Anyone Can Die: Except for Wedge. Or anyone else who made appearances in earlier books set chronologically later.
Artificial Limbs: As a plot point — Nawara Ven gets an artificial limb that reduces his piloting skill enough to drop him out of the squadron. He still stays on as the Executive Officer, however. And, of course, there's Ton Phanan.
Asskicking Equals Authority: The more badass Rogues quickly shoot up the ranks. Late in the series and in other EU books, old Rogue and Wraith squadron members later become Generals, Admirals, and other high ranking individuals.
Isard. When one of her ship captain minions betrays her, her response is to order not just his death, but the death of his girlfriend's entire family; a calmly delivered, easily missable line reveals that she started killing the families of all the ship's crew hours ago. Her management style was mocked in one of the later Wraith Squadron books by a more Affably Evil villain, who noted that anyone who worked for a capricious psycho like Isard only had one of two things to look forward to: You Have Outlived Your Usefulness, or You Have Failed Me.note Of course, Admiral Trigit, the Imp in question, is not much better. He's a Benevolent Boss as long as this are running smoothly, but when the chips are down, he's perfectly willing to sacrifice his Star Destroyer and everyone aboard to save his own sorry ass.
Isard: I got this hologram three hours ago. Extermination of the crew's families began then. Do recall, as Director of Imperial Intelligence, I have been through this routine before.
Even Isard's co-conspirators hold her in such contempt for her excesses that one of them (who's the POV character for the scene above, and has pretty well already decided to betray her) decides that he'll make sure the people in question remain safe despite not giving a damn whether they live or die, just because it'll annoy her.
Her backstory in the comics and a mini-novel by Stackpole and Timothy Zahn makes it abundantly clear she's willing to throw anyone to the rancors to advance her own agenda. Including her own father, whom she has arrested for treason before taking over his post as Director of Imperial Intelligence.
On the other hand, this trope is zigzagged with Zsinj, who is sometimes prone to You Have Failed Me, but other times displays a Thrawn-like pragmatism. It's implied in Zsinj's case that his ruthlessness may be part of his Obfuscating Stupidity: execute the real failures to get a reputation, but competent people get promoted/rewarded. (Which actually is very similar to Thrawn's treatment of his subordinates.) One example of the latter: he gave a commission to a former enemy stormtrooper who tried to help Zsinj at the last minute—that attempt failed, but through no fault of said stormtrooper.
Badass Crew: Both the Rogues and the Wraiths, naturally, which is par for the course for squadrons captained by Wedge Antilles. The four pilots of Red Flight from Starfighters of Adumar are also quite badass. They're the four Rogues that were there since before Hoth, and they know what they're doing.
Several pilots tend to be a bit mild-mannered, but Piggy is jarringly so among the rest of the slightly-messed-up Wraiths, not even raising his voice. The one time he loses his temper, after being gut-shot by an assassin out to kill Admiral Ackbar, he picks up Ackbar's desk and hits the assassin with it so hard that the wall behind him bows out and knocks unconcious an ensign on the other side.
His defense against the false charge that got him in the Wraith selection pool — striking a superior officer — is that none of the people he did hit (during well-moderated challenge matches) were able to speak coherently within a half hour, the time it was filed.
Wedge himself. He's a good guy with a sense of duty that outweighs everything else, he's very accepting of Imperial defectors, he has survivor's guilt and doesn't lessen his opinion of someone when they dislike a friend of his. But he can be pressed too far. Remember "The Phantom Affair" and "Mandatory Retirement"?
The Adumar situation even caused Hobbie ("The Dour One") to snap. When Wedge suggested that a pilot go ahead and ambush the Cartann pilots, Hobbie was astoundingly the first one to volunteer.
"I'm sick to death of 'Hello, I'm so-and-so and I've killed this many enemies, and I challenge you, and we bow and go by the rules and say cute things to one another, and isn't it nice that we're all dead now?' Tycho, I want to shoot something. I want to blow something up. No apologies. No advance warning. Just lethal efficiency. Before frustration kills me."
In Wraith Squadron, after the titular group was ambushed by a group of pilots that Zsinj was trying to ally himself with (resulting in the death of Jesmin Ackbar and a Heroic BSOD for Donos), he walks in on the pirates with a terrifying glare on his face. The pirate leader tries to bluff him by saying the battle had taken place in an unclaimed star system and so there were no laws there and they had the right to defend themselves. Wedge agrees and says in that case they were free to go — but of course if there were no laws that also meant there were no laws against the Wraiths killing all the pirates and looting their supplies. The pirate leader changes his mind about if there were any laws in the star system.
Tyria Sarkin. Apparently the most stable member of Wraith Squadron. Nice lady, mild manners. Punched three hells out of Eurrsk "Grinder" Thriag when a proposition he made in jest hit her Berserk Button.
Wraith Squadron gets a moment that's both this and Let's Get Dangerous after they fall into a deadly trap at the Saffalore complex. After just barely escaping the incinerator (leaving Shalla's hair and Runt's fur on fire, Face's back so badly burned—in stripes!—he leaves a huge blood smear on the wall, and Dia dazed and burned as well), all bets are off, with the whole team united in wanting to a) escape and b) destroy anyone or anything who gets in their path—even the normally mild-mannered Runt and the happy-go-lucky Janson, who has gone utterly silent, serious, and coldly ruthless. Face gives the order to take the kid gloves off at least partly because he knows the squad wouldn't accept any other orders at that point.
Big Bad: Ysanne Isard in the Rogue Squadron books. Warlord Zsinj in the Wraith Squadron series.
Big Damn Gunship: While escorting a bacta convoy in the Alderaan Graveyard, Rogue Squadron is ambushed by a Victory-class Star Destroyer and an Interdictor Cruiser. Suddenly, an ancient, automated Alderaanian frigate appears and starts blasting away at the Imperials, tipping the battle into the Rogues' favor.
In the midst of a battle, Krennel orders an interdiction field to be raised, preventing the New Republic ships present from retreating. Ackbar, upon hearing this, begins phase 2 of his plan which involves having reinforcements jump into the system, using the field to drop right on top of the enemy ships—one of Thrawn's tricks, whom the book notes Ackbar learned a lot from.
Brick Joke: The series in general is fond of them. Some even span entirely separate series. For example, in Wraith Squadron Kell tells off Grinder for calling him "Demolition Boy" ("That's 'Demolition Boy Sir'") while by the time of the New Jedi Order books the Wraiths are using nicknames of this type as standard code names (Face is "Poster Boy", Kell is "Explosions Boy", Bhindi is "Circuitry Girl").
Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": As the books deal with everyday life more than most EU books, we get a lot of Star Wars terms for items. For example, refrigerators are 'conservators' and bathrooms are 'refreshers'.
Allston pulls off a brilliant 'bilingual' pun with the latter one in Starfighters of Adumar when Tomer Darpen mentions the local ablution facilities are a bit more primitive than what they're used to and they may need teaching how to use them. Hobbie immediately quips "A refresher course." Janson is SO angry he couldn't make that joke.
Captain Crash: Hobbie and his much joked about tendency to spend long periods of time in Bacta tanks after spectacular crashes. Which among other things, results in jokes that he should be getting endorsement deals from the bacta cartel. Despite this, he's unquestionably an Ace Pilot.
"The ground and I get along so well we sometimes get together a little too vigorously."
The Chains of Commanding: Every time a pilot dies, Wedge has to write the letter to the family. It Never Gets Any Easier. And it certainly doesn't help when he has to write one to his own long-time commanding officer, Admiral Ackbar, telling him that his niece is dead. On another note, his loyalty to the New Republic is such that if it's for the good of the Republic, he'll do it. No matter how he feels about being jerked around to serve. He has some survivor's guilt. By Starfighters of Adumar, Wedge at least briefly ponders resigning his commission when asked to do something he views as unethical. (He takes a third option, however.)
"I'm the quintessential soldier who does his job very well. But what is that job? Two things: neutralizing Imperials and, the part I take most seriously, keeping my people alive."
In Bacta War, there is an offhand comment how Tycho decided to use an old Alderaanian IFF code for his fighter. Later in the novel, the squadron goes into the Alderaan debris field to escort some freighters. Tycho keeps receiving anomalous pings to his IFF, but just assumes it's some leftover satellite. Then it turns out his Alderaanian IFF just summoned a Alderaanian War Frigate, which arrives just in time to fend off an Imperial ambush, and even starts using Tycho's targeting data to attack the Imperial ships.
In Wraith Squadron, Wedge orders that a new scenario (the sneak attack that annihilated Talon Squadron), be programmed into the flight simulators. At the time, the pilots-in-training wonder why Myn is excluded from that scenario. Later, the other pilots snap Myn out of his Heroic BSOD by strapping him into a simulator and forcing him to relive the massacre.
In Isard's Revenge it is briefly mentioned early on that the Super Star Destroyer Lusankya had been repaired and refitted by the New Republic, and was nearly ready for deployment in the upcoming campaign against an Imperial warlord. Admiral Ackbar dismisses the idea, saying that the ship wouldn't be operational in time to participate in the battle. Lusankya is then not heard from again until the very end of the book when Isard attempts to steal back the ship with a team of commandos, but ends up being foiled by the heroes.
Mostly in the Stackpole books, which have lots of bits referring to characters and situations from the comics. Wedge's Gamble also has two nods to Timothy Zahn's The Thrawn Trilogy, with Winter Celchu being code-named Targeter and mention of ch'hala trees on Imperial Center/Coruscant. For those who've read Zahn's trilogy it also explains some of how Isard knows Rogue Squadron is on planet.
Corran had overheard from the numerous tour guide droids that ch'hala trees had been a favourite of the Emperor's and placed here at his specific request.
And there's the hold-out blaster found in the datacard file for Corvis Minor (Which gets only briefly mentioned when the Rogues - including Corran - later go on a mission to Corvis Minor), which also started as a Zahn thing. The two authors have collaborated together and don't come to blows in person, so perhaps it's not surprising. Some fans like it, some find these Zahn nods to be unnecessary or contradictory (for example, Winter was supposed to use the Targeter codename only while with one cell on a single planet, and it wasn't for the taking of Coruscant).
Zahn later repaid the favour by giving several of Stackpole's characters substantial roles in his Hand of Thrawn duology.
Stackpole also namedrops a lot of species, events, and places established in other novels. Black Sun from Shadows of the Empire has a role, for example.
There's a rather adorable one to this series in a much later book. Myn Donos and Gara/Lara/Kirney Slane have a complicated and eventually abortive love affair, but it's implied that there's some hope at the very end of the series. Much later, in Betrayal, there's a company mentioned called Donoslane Excursions. D'awww...
Gara/Lara/Kirney shows up in Mercy Kill. She and Myn are married and have a family, and she made Voort repeat himself, four times, that he would not recruit her children like Face had recruited Wedge and Kell's (And Shalla's nephew).
After a shoot-out at Chalmun's Cantina, Wuher the bartender can be heard calling dibs on a Rodian's corpse as a reference to his appearance in Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina.
A less funny one here: You remember one of the celebration cuts at the end of Episode Six? The one on Coruscant with the statue falling? In Iron Fist it's revealed that one was violently broken up by stormtroopers who fired blasters (that WEREN'T on stun) into the crowd.
Corrupt Corporate Executive: Basically the entire Xucphra bacta cartel Bacta War. The rival Xaltin cartel, on the other hand, clued in that not being corrupt is good for business. During the Wraith Squadron arc, Zsinj has secret deals with a number of corporations in unaligned and even Republic controlled systems in order to supply his fleet, although several of those were made under the "I have a Super Star Destroyer, so I will give you either credits or orbital bombardment, your choice" school of negotiation.
General Thaal from Mercy Kill aspires to be this, planning to fake his death and reappear under a new identity as a tycoon. It doesn't work out.
A somewhat mild version between Corran, a former space cop, and Mirax, a smuggler. The fact that Corran's father was the space cop who arrested Mirax's smuggler father and sent him to Kessel doesn't exactly help...
Deadpan Snarker: Many, many examples among the Rogues and Wraiths. Most notably Hobbie, Janson, Face, Phanan, and Wedge himself. Corran also does it, though a lot of that is his own interior monologue.
Declining Promotion:Commander Wedge Antilles spends more than half the X-Wing Series trying to keep Admiral Ackbar from promoting him to general and out of the pilot's chair. The two of them even make a bet in the Wraith Squadron sub-series on whether the squadron will fail, and if Wedge loses he has to take the promotion. He finally accepts in Isard's Revenge upon finding out that his pilots have also been refusing deserved promotions, following his example.
Do Anything Soldier: Invoked. When Wedge is rebuilding Rogue Squadron and has to choose between two pilots of roughly equal skill, he picks the one who has useful ground-based skills as well. Done the other way around in the Wraith Squadron books, where Wedge wants commandos who can fly... although in contrast to his selection process for Rogue Squadron, picking the Wraiths comes down less to selecting between stellar candidates and more to trying to cobble together a stable squadron out of a gallery of astounding misfits.
Dramatis Personae: This series started the trend of including these in Star Wars novels.
In Rogue Squadron, while the new group is sharing personal history, it comes out that Corran has a death sentence against him for the murder and vivisection of six smugglers. When Corran busts out laughing at this, it freaks everyone out. Realizing how bad it looks, Corran quickly provides the mathematical key which lets their droid verify the true story: the smugglers never existed, and their "murders" were part of the cover story that let him escape Corellia.
Wraith Squadron has Grinder's joking offer that he could slice into Tyria's records and improve her piloting scores in exchange for a favor. Unfortunately, he hit a nerve with that suggestion—he couldn't have known, but someone had done exactly that in Tyria's past.
When Kirtan Loor is dying, he remembers that Corran once stated that there's nothing worse than dying alone, and realizes that he was right.
Happens to most of the pilots who die in the series, due to them being in one-man fighters when they are killed in battle.
Early-Bird Cameo: These are particularly common in "Rogue Squadron", which includes both Call Forwards to events from books written earlier but set chronologically later (Thrawn, Zsinj, the Hapans) as well as featuring things that will come up in later X-wing books such as the planet Toprawa.
Tomer "Ejector" Darpen: At least I managed to save the astromech.
Enemy Mine: In the Allston books, Han and an Imperial commander hatch a secret plan to combine forces against Zsinj. Then there's Isard's Revenge, in which several Rogues die and the others end up having to work with an old enemy.
Sate Pestage not only believes Imperial ideology with regards to aliens being nothing but animals, but is convinced that Wedge and the other human Rebels must know it too and that any claims to the contrary are "merely propaganda." This eventually leads to one of the few moments in which Wedge loses his cool when Pestage refers to a dead Rogue Squadron pilot as "animal waste."
During their brief alliance in Isard's Revenge, Ysanne Isard cannot understand why Corran keeps trying to get a message out to his wife reassuring her that he's alive and well, since he'll be able to do it as soon as the operation's over. That Corran might want to spare a month's worth of pain and heartbreak to someone he loves simply never occurred to her.
Evilutionary Biologist: General Derricote, creator of the Krytos Virus, and Dr. Gast, in charge of Zsinj's Frankensteinian experiments on various non-human species.
Expecting Someone Taller: Comes up a lot, since pilots tend to be shorter than average due to the small size of cockpits.
Also Corran on occasion. According to other books, it's a Horn family trait.
Hohass "Runt" Ekwesh, is over two meters tall, but is considered very short for his species, hence the nickname. It works to his advantage, however, since it means he can actually fit into a cockpit.
Imperials don't tend to regard nonhumans highly. This becomes a major plot point in the first four, where an alien resistance cell on Coruscant decides it hates the human members of the Rogues, and in the three after, where one of Zsinj's plans involves using Manchurian Agents to encourage mistrust between the human and nonhuman members of the New Republic.
One of the members of the resistance was Asyr Sei'lar, and she decides to kill her future boyfriend as a speciesist because he won't stop plotting in order to dance with her. Misjudged a little there, Asyr.
Castin Donn was in an all-human resistance cell on Coruscant. According to Wedge, anti-Imperial groups like that were typically also anti-alien. This leads to... friction.
Borsk Fey'lya definitely fits this trope: while he claims to be advocating for alien species trampled under the Empire, it quickly becomes clear that his beef is with humanity in general, which he considers inherently prone to oppression and powermongering. It reaches the point where he threatens to use all of his political power to ruin Bothan hero and Rogue Squadron pilot Asyr Sei'lar's career if she doesn't break off her relationship with a human pilot, which he considers sets the wrong example for Bothans.
In Rogue Squadron Wedge complains that the New Republic is trying to turn Rogue Squadron into one to act as a propaganda symbol, meaning he's having to accept pilots based on political considerations rather than absolute skill. The most absurd case is that the New Republic wants Thyferra on side because it is the only world in the galaxy that can cost-effectively produce the best medicine in the galaxy... but Thyferra is ruled by a corporate cartel duopoly of two big companies who hate each other, so Wedge has to take on two Thyferran pilots, one from each side.
In Wraith Squadron Wedge makes a plea against this trope, arguing that a squadron assembled for pragmatic purposes is more effective than a squadron meant to appear good to the public. He even compares the use of this trope, specifically picking hologenic pilots that appeal to an arbitrary standard of beauty, to the Empire's xenophobic habits. True, a few of the pilots selected happen to fall into the "looks good" category (especially Face and Kell), but many don't—and they all get the nod for their skills, not their looks.
Allston also fixes (with Lampshade Hanging) a slight continuity error on Stackpole's part, where Corran Horn meets Han Solo for the first time in I Jedi, despite having served on his ship during the Zsinj campaign several years earlier. Allston has the pilots have an In-UniverseRunning Gag that Horn and Solo are the same person, despite being completely diffent physically, because thanks to several coincidences they are never seen at the same time in the same room.
This is also justified in-universe, as Horn's father was a Corellian Security officer who unsuccessfully tried to catch Solo when he was a smuggler, so it's natural the two would want to avoid the awkwardness of this matter being raised. Humorously enough, in the course of I, Jedi, Corran ends up using the same alias that Han had been using when Hal Horn tried to arrest him. Without either Corran or his knows-virtually-everything-in-the-underworld father-in-law realizing it.
Foreshadowing: In Iron Fist, while the Wraiths are trying to figure out what makes Zsinj tick, Face nearly gives Wedge a heart attack by mentioning his theory that Ysanne Isard is still alive, pointing out how odd it was that she was shot down in a shuttle she was never seen boarding, after having shown a tendency for going to ground during losses instead of fleeing. Sure enough, two books later...
A-wing fighters; most of their pilots are consequently speed-obsessed.
In one instance in Wraith Squadron where two of the Wraiths actually beat two A-Wings in an impromptu race (the A-Wings took the safe route, the Wraiths, being Wraiths, took a shorter but insane one), the A-Wing pilots laugh it off with this line:
Tycho Celchu, having a background in TIE Fighters and A-Wings, uses this kind of piloting style. When they were stuck in big, slow Blade fighters on Adumar, Hobbie beat him in a simulated dogfight (it's usually the other way around). Even regular TIE Fighters are this in the hands of good pilots (and especially compared to Blades), as seen for instance in Starfighters of Adumar where Tycho, despite being an excellent pilot, is unable to shake one that's on his tail; most of the problem with TIE Fighters boils down to good pilots being rare specifically because of the "Fragile" part.
Gambit Pileup: The Rogues' mission to Alderaan in The Krytos Trap had at least four plans going on at the same time, including ones by Kirtan Loor and Zsinj. The winners of that mess: Isard mostly, though New Republic Intelligence and Mirax got a minor side benefit. As for who lost...the New Republic as a whole lost a great deal because of the bacta destroyed, Zsinj gained an untrustworthy reputation and vaulted ahead of Isard as the New Republic's primary target for elimination, and Loor was outed as a traitor to Isard.
The Empire is hurt by this in Rogue Squadron when General Kre'fey attempts to take Borleias. If he had succeeded, the Imperial Star Destroyer Eviscerator would then have come in and destroyed the Rebels on the ground, giving them a considerable setback. However, Borleias' commander General Derricote had his own secret defensive plans that managed to defeat Kre'fey, acting as a Spanner in the Works that ultimately hurt the Rebels less than expected.
Near the end of Solo Command, both Warlord Zsinj and Han Solo have come up with plans to try and get the other to bring their flagship into a situation where they can be trapped, and both have (different) plans involving a fake copy of a well-known ship. This naturally leads to lots of Not So Different duelling dialogue scenes.
Wraith Squadron had a Talz try out for the squadron. He did well during the simulation (a replay of the Battle of Endor) but his adrenaline and heart rate were skyrocketing all the way through, showing that he wasn't comfortable even against simulated targets.
Piggy as well. Cultured, intelligent, and overall a very kind being, he is also capable of hitting a wall so hard that a person on the other side is knocked unconscious.
Captain Uwlla Iillor in the first two books goes from being an Imperial Interdictor commander to defecting to the Rebels, mainly due to being mistreated by Isard and her subordinates; she and her ship are then instrumental in the conquest of Coruscant.
Captain Sair Yonka does so in The Bacta War, giving Isard an epic "The Reason You Suck" Speech on the way out. Yonka's turn was accelerated by Wedge offering him a hefty bribe, but based on his career afterward it's clear that he'd have switched sides on his own the moment Isard ordered him to engage in one of her various atrocities. The only reason he'd stuck with the Empire as long as he did was because he'd managed to spend his career to that point doing actually good things, like taking down pirate gangs.
On a more humorous note, one of Virar Needa's subordinates suggests that he pull a posthumous turn for his cousin (Captain Needa from Empire Strikes Back) by claiming that the captain privately confessed his Rebel leanings to him and thus allowed the Millennium Falcon to escape Hoth; all to save the collective skins of the orbital mirror crew as Coruscant was changing hands.
Face and Phanan. Phanan, who has no family, made Face his emergency contact and the beneficiary of his will. We learn this after his Tear Jerker death. Then there's his last messageto Face, and his will, which forces Face to acknowledge that he doesn't have to be The Atoner for the rest of his life because of what he did as a child. Face notes that within a couple of days of meeting Phanan, they were best friends to the point of completing each other's sentences.
Wedge and Wes Janson, to a degree. They've been friends longer than any of the other pilots, having been pilot/gunner together at the Battle of Hoth as well as being first-generation Rouge Squadron veterans. Wedge eagerly brings Wes along when he forms Wraith Squadron, and then brings him to Adumar when told he can choose 3 other pilots out of the entire New Republic military.
Rogue Squadron is made up on some of the best pilots in the galaxy including several Force Users. The Wraiths are merely pretty good, but they make up for it in other ways, most importantly their Crazy Awesome improvised tactics. This skill is Lampshaded by one of their superiors.
General Crespin: Foolish of us to bring along Rogue Squadron, all those A-wings, Home One, and a pair of frigates when all it takes is Wraith Squadron and a battered corvette to deal with the enemy.
Crespin and his A-Wings count as well, even being referenced in-universe. Given that A-Wings are the Fragile Speedster type — not quite as bad as TIE Fighters, but still pretty dinky — his wing's pilots must be very good to keep consistent numbers.
The top example is the entirety of the Wraith Squadron book, where the Wraiths maintain a disguise as Imperial operatives for several weeks without even being suspected, despite having their cover blown fully during a battle. They take out everyone else on the other side, and turn around and tell the boss that they were ambushed and escaped, the only survivors, and the enemy BUYS it! It reaches Refuge in Audacity levels.
Tycho is probably the second best X-Wing pilot in the New Republic, behind Wedge, and is in command of Rogue Squadron by the time of Starfighters of Adumar. And yet, in said book, he gets shot down three times. Allston mentions why in his FAQ. Part of the fairly long answer about why Tycho didn't do so well:
After reviewing Tycho's flying history (training originally in TIEs, moving to A-Wings and X-Wings when he moved to the Rebel Alliance) and his performance in I Jedi, I concluded that Tycho's strengths as a pilot might not translate so well to less maneuverable spacecraft. In short, Blades, Y-Wings and the lot can't really keep up with the speed of his own physical reactions.
Second, and perhaps even more minor, example of this is Kell from Wraith Squadron. He does relatively little on-screen with bombs, despite being demolitions. His best example was slapping charges into place to damage structures, and slapping a charge onto a probe droid. However, he DOES do a good bit of off-screen bomb defusal, puts together some small explosive charges for Shalla's infiltration of the Razor's Kiss, and manages to design a bomb in his head. He's on the border, but it's interesting.
Unlike most examples...he's still made pretty awesome. He's just not awesome at his niche.
Kell actually does manage to show off his bomb making expertise in the preview for Mercy Kill, where he manages to build a bomb that looks like a priceless gemstone sculpture, is powerful enough take out several city blocks, and is programmed to detonate when it reaches a certain depth below ground. He considers the bomb a work of art and gets highly offended when somebody suggests otherwise.
Interspecies Romance: Gavin and Asyr, Nawara and Rhysati, Face and Dia. In the comics, Ibitsam and Nrin, neither of them human (the romance wasn't outright stated, but the implication could hardly be more obvious and it was confirmed in The Essential Guide to Alien Species). Corran tells a story about a brief relationship with a Selonian that dealt with some of the issues of such a romance; their personal chemistry was fine, but their biochemistry was incompatible (Corran's sweat was acidic enough to irritate Chertyl's skin, and he was mildly allergic to her fur) and they parted amicably. One arc that's poorly regarded for different reasons has very strong hints of more temporary human/Bothan encounters.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Bror Jace of Rogue Squadron and Ton Phanan of Wraith Squadron both receive Character Development that turns them into this eventually. Castin Donn, too, although his development came right before his death. Wraith Squadron's first slicer, Grinder, is just a relatively harmless Jerkass, but gets a Redemption Equals Death moment. Booster Terrik is a Jerkass in general (and to Corran Horn in particular), but is very protective of his daughter Mirax, and his adopted son Wedge.
Zsinj and his crony General Melvar are entertaining, but we're not allowed to forget that they're the bad guys.
Also, after Corran had caught Bossk (who had been responsible for his father's murder), Kirtan Loor managed to appeal it as collateral damage and got Bossk released. It's outright revealed that he did this just to spite Corran.
Legacy Character: Several members of both squadrons are younger relations of Rebels from the film era (Pash Cracken is General Cracken's son, Jesmin Ackbar is Admiral Ackbar's niece, Bhindi Drayson is Admiral Drayson's daughter). Then in Mercy Kill several of the original Wraith Squadron members' children have joined the squad. Kirney Slane is very adamant that hers will not be among them.
Limited Advancement Opportunities: Wedge repeatedly passes up promotion, preferring to be a Commander. Forming Wraith Squadron was actually part of a bet — if he couldn't get them functioning as a full-fledged squadron within three months, he would be forced to accept promotion to General. He wins the bet, of course, but eventually (as in, a year later) he takes the promotion, mostly because his pilots have been refusing promotions too.
Loads and Loads of Characters: A squadron has twelve pilots, up to twelve potentially distinct (i.e. quirky) astromech droids, a lead mechanic and his team, a quartermaster, and a couple of superior officers. Main characters also have love interests, friends, and enemies. Pilots who die are replaced by new pilots, with new astromechs. There are two primary squadrons in the series, plus the occasional extra character for good measure. And that's just the good guys... Allston is better at this. A lot of the members of Stackpole's cast tend to fade into the background.
How you take down a Super Star Destroyer if all you have is snubfighters, a 30-year-old frigate and some freighters? (That and a Crowning Moment Of Awesome when the Lusankya'sSmug Snake captain is told that his ship has been painted with more than three hundred missile locks...) This is adopted throughout the books as a way for starfighters to take down capital ships. It is a sub-tactic of "Trench Run Disease," the tactics that killed both Death Stars: starfighter missiles can damage capital ships in large numbers, but the turbolasers on most capital ships are too big and fire too slow to effectively target individual fighters.
The Loran Spitball. In its first deployment, there were nine X-Wings in the bow hangar of a ship. The hangar opens while facing an enemy frigate, resulting in a full eighteen torpedos into the engines. The ship is badly crippled right off the bat, and another barrage later in the battle causes the frigate to literally split in two. The second time this technique is used (against a Star Destroyer), the effects are far less devastating, but they still manage to cripple the larger vessel's shields.
Rogue Squadron. As an adjective, one definition is "no longer obedient, belonging, or accepted and hence not controllable or answerable; deviating, renegade." The squadron was founded by Luke after Yavin; he leaves the squad several times during the war for Jedi training and exercises. When Wedge takes over, he gets a reputation for sometimes creatively misinterpreting orders (but still getting the job done), his pilots (when he reforms the squadron after Endor) are often seen as cliquish and a bit elitist, and at one point the entire squad resigns their commissions.
Invoked with Wraith Squadron where the name is picked to represent the squadron's (supposedly) stealthy nature.
Runt: What is a wraith? Tyria: Something I heard about in my childhood. Dark things that come in the night for you. That's what I think we are. For the Empire, for the warlords, we're the phantoms under the bed, the monsters in the storage cubicles.
Also parodied with the suggestion Dinner Squadron, meaning "Face came up with this after missing dinner".
The Lusankya was named after the infamous KGB prison Lubyanka.
Mighty Glacier: B-wing bombers. Wedge once used one and said he felt less like a pilot and more like a driver, but on the other hand they can both take and dish out vast amounts of punishment.
Mildly Military: Both Rogue and Wraith squadrons are noted to be far less rulebound than most squadrons, though the Rogues at least follow military discipline in-cockpit and during formal brief/debrief sessions. The Wraiths... Not so much.
Military Maverick: Wedge is one of these, while in book four the Rogues go, well, rogue. The Wraiths, however, surpass them by several orders of magnitude.
He really has no one but himself to blame, since this was why he put together the unit in the first place.
The Mole: Erisi Dlarit in the first four, Lara Notsil in the next three. Lara starts out the series as a bad guy Mook, is portrayed sympathetically, has ethical dilemmas about her role, and eventually makes a Heel-Face Turn. The other is a perfect mole whose secret is kept from the characters and the reader until the end of the third book.
Mook Mobile: TIE Fighters. Wedge absolutely loathes them because of this:
Multinational Team: Both Rogue and Wraith squadrons had members from a whole slew of planets. And half of Rogue Squadron's initial roster were political appointees, which annoyed Wedge intensely.
My Species Doth Protest Too Much: Both Twi'leks and Bothans are annoyed that they get stereotyped as merchants and spies respectively, and pilots or other warriors from those races often feel they have to prove themselves. Wedge actually lampshades this in a negative fashion in Rogue Squadron. The assault on Borealis is being commanded by a Bothan general who's very confident in his intelligence, but Wedge brings up that the Bothans are also proud of their sacrifices in getting information on the second Death Star...which turned out to be a trap. It should be a humiliating mistake, but the Bothans wear it like a badge of honor.
At the start of Isard's Revenge, which shows the Battle of Bilbringi from The Thrawn Trilogy from Corran's perspective, Corran muses that he'd like to meet Thrawn and shake his hand. (And then kill him, of course.) In the short story Side Trip co-written by Zahn and Stackpole and set years earlier, Corran indeed met Thrawn and shook his hand — while Thrawn was disguised as the bounty hunter Jodo Kast.
Ysanne Isard is nicknamed 'Iceheart' (similar to the pronunciation of her last name) by both her own subordinates and her Rebel enemies. Analogously, her Rebel counterpart Airen Cracken is nicknamed 'Kraken' by Imperials.
And, as usual, the names of Imperial ships. Wedge has a discussion on the subject with Teren Rogriss in Starfighters of Adumar:
Wedge: Admiral, have you ever wondered why the Emperor gave such nasty names to his Star Destroyers? Executor, Agonizer, Iron Fist, Venom?
The above even foils an attempt by Adm. Trigit to pass his Star Destroyer off as a freighter to Commenor flight control. One of the Wraiths notes that it has the kind of name the Empire gives to ISDs, not freighters.
Never Tell Me the Odds: Apparently Corellia's hat. Quietly subverted with Wedge. He jokes about it, but he actually does care about the odds.
Amusing, Wedge's R5 Gate appears to have acquired this attitude by the time of Isard's Revenge, responding to Whistler saying the odds of them succeeding were low with 'his microprocessing time was too valuable to waste analyzing meaningless odds'.
Janson challenges an Adumari to a blastsword duel, quickly discards his weapon, and proceeds to treat the royal court to a display of down-and-dirty knuckle-brawling, ending with a humiliating bitch-slap. Janson being Janson, he also works a CMOF into this CMOA by drawing stick-figures in the air with his weapon beforehand.
"Your orders are simple. I punch, you suffer. Got it?"
Tyria gives one to Grinder when he offers (in jest) to hack into a computer and change her training scores in exchange for future favors. This was a Berserk Button for Tyria thanks to that being a personal Moral Event Horizon that she crossed when she was blackmailed in the past.
Not Enough to Bury: Happens to many characters, but the prize goes to Peshk Vry'sik: ion cannons fire upon a warship, one of the blasts shivers a little as if it had hit a shield but leaves no debris behind... and Wedge, Peshk's wingman, only realizes what has happened when he subsequently fails to raise the Bothan pilot on comm.
Not Quite Dead: No one ever comes back from actual death, but there are many times when a character is believed dead and isn't. Corran Horn is king of this. If you count the number of times his friends have thought him dead, his enemies have thought him dead, and the reader has thought him dead, it actually amounts to more times than he has appearances in the X-Wing series, if each novel featuring him counts as one appearance. This went noticed In-Universe and gave birth to a joke: the day Corran really dies, everyone will just assume he's alive somewhere and will reappear soon.
Obfuscating Disability: At one point, Wedge Antilles disguises himself as Colonel Roat, an Imperial pilot who was badly wounded and given clumsy, poorly-functioning temporary prosthetics, on his way to Coruscant to get them replaced with sleeker models. Imperials at once look down on obvious cyborgs, generally thinking that only someone very clumsy or unlucky can be injured so badly as to need cybernetics, and at the same time respect the character played as a survivor and a war hero, and so feel guilt and shame if they get caught staring...so no one managed to connect him to the second most famous Rebel pilot. He played the character a second time, and while he had similar prosthetics to wear, they were not "dialed down" and he was able to act and fly more or less normally; the Imperials he met weren't rude enough to react visibly.
Warlord Zsinj, who in an earlier book was just a dullwitted fat sadist with a love of theatrics who somehow had enough ships to threaten the New Republic. The X-Wing novels retcon him into a very smart fat sadist with a love of theatrics who had the ships, money, and tactics to threaten the New Republic. It's mentioned that a lot of the people he works with see through his facade, but he enjoys playing to an audience.
Lod, Dod, and Fod Nobrin of Agamar (actually Wraith Squadron pilots in disguise).
Hallis Saper. Her initial stated reasons for wearing "Whitecap" (A 3PO droid's head with her holography equipment inside) were that 3PO droids were found to be reassuring to children. (Whitecap actually provoked other reactions in-universe; Wedge noted the creepiness of the setup.) It turns out to be a cunning method of disguise; while she wore Whitecap, people paid attention to the droid head and not to Hallis's face. Hallis also had other, more covert methods of disguising her holography equipment, some of which were seen later on.
In Iron Fist, when the Wraiths have been playing pirate against a nonaligned system to try and bring Zsinj in as their protector — and succeed a little too well, with a ship's silhouette appearing over the horizon:
"A cruiser?" "A Star Destroyer. At least." (Gilligan Cut to narration) It was a Super Star Destroyer, by name Iron Fist...
"I...don't know, sir." "That was a rhetorical question, Flight Officer Phanan. Do not re-enter this conversation."
Wedge, during his attack run on the Star Destroyer Corrupter, has one when an Alderaanian War Frigate appears directly in front of him. He is immensely relieved to learn that the frigate is on his side.
Face has one in Solo Command when he prepares to confront Lara with what he has discovered about her over a secure channel, is interrupted when he has to help save another pilot from an enemy attack, then returns to his conversation with Lara...and then realises he forgot to go back to the secure channel and it all went out to everyone.
Old-School Dogfight: Both averted and played straight. Alliance pilots tend to initiate fights with their missiles and proton torpedoes to soften up the often numerically superior Imperials (it also helps that most TIE fighters are only armed with lasers). However, there are still many opportunities and situations for fighters to mix it up old school style.
Averted. Bail Antilles, the Alderaanian captain killed by Lord Vader in A New Hope, happened to be the former owner of the Wraith's quartermaster, one of the droids aboard ship. He's pleased to be serving another of the same name, though they aren't related, and he hopes he has better luck. It's implied that "Antilles" in Star Wars is like "Smith", a rather common last name. For example, there's a Jedi named Jon Antilles (his real name is unknown, with the alias being chosen apparently to be as generic as possible).
Only Known by Their Nickname: Hobbie's real name is Derek Klivian, but not many people actually call him that. Wraith Squadron also gives us Face, Piggy, Runt, and Grinder. Bonus points for Scut: even his "real" name, Viull Gorsat, is one he adopted (as a Take That to Yuuzhan Vong warriors) rather than one he was born with.
Wedge, while a career military man, tends to be relaxed with his pilots. This means that when he suddenly starts invoking rank with Castin Donn, after the latter has told Wedge (in front of the whole squadron, and without even a With Due Respect) that he thinks Wedge is wrong, everyone in the room realizes that Castin has dug himself a shallow grave.
Likewise the wisecracking, fun-loving Wes Janson. When injured, surrounded by enemies, and him and his friends needing to cut though anything standing in their way to escape, he can become a very dangerous person.
When Wedge finally accepts promotion to General, in order to alleviate the Limited Advancement Opportunities his prior refusals had created for his fellow pilots, other longstanding members of Rogue Squadron were promoted en masse. This results in Rogue Squadron's roster including General Antilles, Colonel Celchu, Majors Janson and Klivian, and Captains Horn and Darklighter. Other squadrons mentioned in the series are depicted as being commanded by Captains or Commandersnote a rank between Captain and Major while Generals typically command at least a wing of fighters - General Solo leads an entire task force.
Averted in the case of Pash Cracken, who voluntarily accepts a demotion to join Rogue Squadron.
Paranoia Fuel: An in-universe example with the various types of undetectable brainwashing available to the enemy.
In a slightly unfortunate for continuity case of Depending on the Writer, in the Stackpole books everyone's swearword of choice is Sithspawn, whereas in the Allston books it becomes the earthier Sithspit.
In The Bacta War, the captain of a Star Destroyer with the unfortunate name of Sair Yonka (the captain, not his Impstar) fusses over which outfit his lover would prefer to see him in, and has a gift for her, not knowing about her Rebel sympathies. The Rogues bribe him into switching sides.
In Isard's Revenge, the captain of a different Star Destroyer ascended to his position after his predecessor refused to annihilate a village that had produced someone who tried to assassinate Prince-Admiral Krennel. This new captaindid wipe out the village, but first he took a shuttle down to the town square, explained that bombardment would commence as soon as he was back in the big ship, laid out the plan in minute detail, then dawdled in the shuttle making weapons checks for three hours. Not a building was left standing, but no one died. This captain later surrendered to the New Republic in battle after being pounded... by a task force containing Captain Yonka and his ship.
Gara Petothel is a staunch supporter of the Imperials, and later Zsinj, but she draws the line at an admiral's sacrifice of thousands of his troops to cover his escape. She issues an abandon-ship order and tells the Wraiths where to find Trigit; he's taken out before he can escape. It serves as the start of her Heel-Face Turn via Reverse Mole.
Agamar is seen as the planet of stupid hicks, though that's really just a stereotype (although it is a mostly agricultural world). At one point, three Wraiths plan to go undercover as Agamarians and ask the captain of their ship, who actually is from Agamar, to help them flesh out the stereotypes. Said Captain is a Mauve Shirt...he doesn't make it
Adumar appears to be the planet of blood sport, pilot-worship, and melodrama, but as it turns out only one country is that obsessed, and its people can be coaxed into seeing the problems with how they're thinking. Alderaan was always labeled as the planet of pacifists, and in the comics Tycho liked to respond to hearing that by swinging a punch at whoever had spoken. Worth noting is that the mentioned planets are human-populated, so it's less a species thing and more of a culture or perceived culture thing.
Tycho: "One of the problems we all have is that we try to think of ourselves in general terms, and that smooths over some of the inconsistencies that make us who we are. We see all Imperials as rancors and they see all of us as nerfs. The very fact that we see them as a united front is ridiculous, just the same as we're not all united."
The Twi'leks are thought of as a race of merchants and smugglers, which tends to piss off their warriors, as seen in The Krytos Trap. Zsinj then takes advantage of this in Solo Command - it's become common knowledge that there are touchy Twi'lek Proud Warrior Race Guys around, so people will take his using Twi'leks as killer Manchurian Agents as being a real radical-militant development in the race.
Lorrd, Face's homeworld, is a relatively straight example of this trope (it was introduced in earlier books). Lorrd's hat is observation and control of body language, but this is justified by backstory - the planet was once enslaved by aliens who forbade verbal communication, so the Lorrdians were forced to develop complex body and sign language instead.
Posthumous Character: Wedge, Tycho and Janson often mention the pilots who died in Rogue Squadron's early years (i.e. in the films) such as Jek Porkins and Biggs Darklighter. The Stackpole books also often have Corran Horn thinking and talking about his deceased father. Voort often dwells over the death of Runt in Mercy Kill.
Proud Merchant Race: The Twi'leks are generally perceived like this, but they have an increasingly vocal minority who resent the stereotype as they would rather be a Proud Warrior Race. This first shows up in "The Krytos Trap" and is later exploited by Zsinj in "Solo Command" (see below).
The people of Adumar have this in spades, and it's Deconstructed a little by Wedge. Some of the X-Wing pilots may also be part of one.
The first part of one of Zsinj's plans hinges largely on Gotals and Twi'leks being viewed like this, so when brainwashed agents begin to act on his schemes, the overall plan is to foment distrust of these two races precisely because of their Proud Warrior Raceishness. And because he's just proven that they can be converted very quickly into Manchurian Agents.
Krennel literally has an obvious prosthetic right hand which glows red. An old nemesis of Corran's is half-human and has Hellish Pupils.
Loka Hask, the man who caused the deaths of Wedge's parents, has a Corellian limpet covering half of his head, including an ear and an eye, with tentacles reaching into his nose and mouth.
Captain Semtin has obvious, creepy prosthetic eyeballs and mechanical thingies in his ears. He abandons some of his soldiers on Ryloth, which has local rules that offworlders with no influence or transportation get sold into slavery. The soldiers promptly switch sides.
Allston's books tend to subvert this. Several good guys have stereotypically villainous-looking appearances, such as Ton Phanan and General Crespin, while Zsinj's General Melvar does have razor-sharp metal fingernails, but this is a deliberate act to make enemies underestimate him as a cardboard cutout villain.
Wedge invokes this as Colonel Roat, using obvious (and fake) prosthetics to draw attention away from his real distinguishing features. Hallis Saper does a similar thing with Whitecap in Starfighters of Adumar.
In the Michael Stackpole books. Generally a bunch of characters are introduced and get maybe 1 or 2 lines at best, and then are barely mentioned until they die later on.
In the Rogue books: Peshk gets no lines outside his cockpit. Andoorni says "Inspiring, Horn" (plus a few other lines in-cockpit) and actually survives their first real perilous situation, then dies with Peshk at Borleias. In The Bacta WarShiel bites the bullet after literally getting one line in the second book of the series and one more line after that (in book four). Isard's Revenge continues the trend, with both all of the never-before seen additions to the squadron dying: Lyr and Khe.
Aaron Allston's books tend to avoid this trope, and for that matter it's generally averted in the comics, too. Well, mostly. There were two pilots who signed on at the start of the arc and died one after the other by the end, whose only characterization was that they participated in a Bar Brawl with Plourr. There's also Standro Jcir; he doesn't do or say very much between the time he's introduced and the time he gets blown up. Rodians appearing in any EU story from the '90s are likely to get the red-shirt treatment, with the ironic exception of Koobis Nu in Solo Command, who has the rather undesirable nickname "Target".
The series is good about making previously-established contradicting elements fit together. (In fact, one of the explicit challenges Allston took on for Starfighters of Adumar was squaring away the fact that Wedge went from dating-Qwi Xux to married-to-Iella Wessiri with no explanation.)
Another example is from Iron Fist, where Allston managed to come up with a plausible explanation for how the titular vessel had been blown up... twice... in a later-set, but earlier-written, novel.
Also in Iron Fist, Allston had to modify Warlord Zsinj's personality in The Courtship of Princess Leia of being a generic frothing-at-the-mouth-when-things-go-bad Imperial into a character with actual panache that could pull off victory after victory against the New Republic for novels at a time. He does this by making Zsinj into a skilled actor who pretends to be overly evil and angry on occasion either to impress and mislead his viewers or for his own amusement. The only disadvantage to this otherwise very successful reinvention is that it makes Zsinj's final defeat in the chronologically later Courtship seem very dissappointing in retrospect, considering he is barely even a character in that novel.
There are quite a few to other Star Wars works and authors. Besides the Zahn references, there is also the Requiem scenario, which is based off an actual level in the X-Wing game.
Elassar Targon's name references two The Lord of the Rings characters... Elessar is, of course, Aragorn's other name (Elessar being the Wraiths' new medic, Aragorn being a ranger and king with healing skills and powers), and Targon is the blink-and-you'll-miss-him armorer in The Return of the King.
Possible in Iron Fist. A stormtrooper begins to ask Castin "What's your— (operating number, presumably)" but Castin just starts blasting his way out straight away.
The name Lusankya is inspired by Lubyanka, the infamous KGB prison in which similar activities went on.
Subtle one in Isard's Revenge. Wedge, in disguise as Colonel Roat and pretending to be a standard Imperial racist, complains that the "wait-beasts" serving him on another planet once tried to serve him red wine with fish, very similar to a line from the James Bond movie From Russia with Love in which a spy pretending to be an officer of culture drinks red wine with fish, which Bond notes as suspicious.
Wedge's Gamble has one of the squadron's pilots tell a stormtrooper, "You don't need to see her identification," while offering him a bribe. It works.The Bacta War has untrained Jedi Corran Horn mind trick another stormtrooper with the words, "I can go about my business." It fails horribly.
Hobbie comments that Red Flight has been given nicknames by the inhabitants of Adumar, calling them things like "the dour one," a reference to the nicknames given to the Beatles when they came to America.
Small Name, Big Ego: Wedge remarks on this to another officer about the Bothans, who have a smug sense of superiority about so many Rebel Bothans dying to get the information on the second Death Star, yet conveniently leave out the fact that they were meant to get the plans and the Rebel fleet was nearly destroyed because of it, but the Bothans wear that deception "Like a badge of honor".
While there are a few of them, Kirtan Loor is by far the most notable.
Dr. Edda Gast. There's not a scene in the entire novel Solo Command where you don't want to give her a smack upside the head. At least. Her little "I'm human so I'm better than you" rant in Solo Command might make you want to punch her. Saying that to Nawara Ven of all people, who is most likely one of the most diplomatic people in Rogue Squadron and should not be talked to that way... The Laser-Guided Karma is one of the best parts of the book.
Soft Glass: Averted at every opportunity. In chronological order:
During the swoop bike chase in Wedge's Gamble, Corran gets rid of a sidecar by flinging it through what from a distance appears to be an advertising screen. It's a window upon closer inspection, and coincidentally Wedge and some of the other Rogues are inside. Wedge overturns a sofa and hides everyone behind it, but the flying transparisteel shards still injure him.
When Corran breaks a glass display case in The Krytos Trap, he wraps his hand in cloth to try and keep from injuring himself. It still hurts, but he prioritizes getting the lightsaber inside over avoiding injury.
Played for laughs and then later drama in Iron Fist. The Wraiths instigate a bar brawl with a group of Imperial pilots by having one of their members hitting a fellow teammate in the head with a glass bottle. The bottle shatters because it is made out of stage glass. After the fight, the team member who took the bottle to the face stated that the first bottle didn't hurt him but complained that he was hit by a second bottle and that one was made out of real glass (the bottle didn't even break). Earlier in the book, in their inspiration for setting up the scene later, a person who instigated a bar brawl for similar reasons smacked Runt on the head with a bottle, which not only didn't break but gave him a minor concussion and left him unable to fight for a while.
Space Is Cold: Used quite often. The magnetic containment ("mag-con") fields around ejected pilots and covering open launch bays explicitly keep atmosphere in, but the heat tends to escape. It comes up pretty often, what with all the holes getting punched in spaceships and pilots having to punch out of them (i.e., eject).
The Squadette: The series was perhaps the first piece of Star Wars fiction to show female grunts to any major degree (if ace fighter pilots can be called 'grunts'). Interestingly, reading the series suddenly makes you realise how odd the absence of female pilots in the films is, especially all the Rebel pilots who went against the Death Stars. (It's doubly so if you've seen the stills from deleted scenes of female pilots at the Battle of Endor...)
Suicide Mission: This is Rogue Squadron's bread and butter, and because they're elite, they always manage to make it out alive (minus the Red Shirts and Mauve Shirts in the squadron). Defied by Xarcce Huwla; she was given the honor of being assigned to Rogue Squadron, and immediately asked for a transfer. When Wedge asked her why, she stated that the death toll of the squadron was far too high for her liking.
Kirtan Loor attempts one after capturing Gil Bastra at the beginning of Rogue Squadron.It backfires, and Gil gets to give one in return by revealing that he allowed Loor to catch him and had actually been using himself as bait the entire time, because as long as Loor was chasing him, he wasn't chasing Corran Horn or Gil's other ex Corellian Security Force colleagues.
Corran Horn to Zekka Thyne:
Corran: My father was smarter than you. Thyne: He's dead. Corran: My point stands.
Corran Horn and Booster Terrik go all out on each other in The Bacta War. Booster accusing Corran, as an ex-cop, of having been a lapdog for the Empire for far too long while real men (like himself) were out there challenging it. Corran responds that Booster wasn't a freedom fighter, just a black marketeer who helped criminals like the Hutts thrive while dodging the taxes legitimate society is built on. Subverted in that Wedge tells them to put a sock in it before they can go any farther, and reminds them that since Mirax (Booster's daughter, Corran's fiance) loves both of them a great deal, they have more in common than they think.
As noted above, Sair Yonka in the same book, who upon his defection, leaves Isard a holographic message noting that she was, among other things, irrational, narcissistic, sociopathic and unfit for command.
Corran to Isard in Isard's Revenge. "The one thing I trust about you is that you'll be true to your nature. And that nature, Madam Director, is what will kill you in the end." He's proven right by the end of the book.
Janson delivers a few Reason You Suck Quips to Adumari noble Thanaer Ke Sekae in the Starfighters of Adumar before and during their duel. First, he challenges him to a duel, but only if the stakes are Cheriss' life (a grievous insult in Adumari culture since it means he's only dueling as a means to an end and not for the honor it brings him, which Janson confirms by saying Thanaer's "just not good enough" to duel for the honor points). Then mocks him just before the fighting starts by drawing a picture of him in the air with the glowing trail left by his blastsword—it's a stick figure with a ridiculously small head. Then beats the crap out of him with everything but his blastsword, pointing out that "real warriors" fight with their hands, their feet, the head, whatever's available, but that Thanaer can't do that because he's "just a dilettante."
Theme Naming: The planet Contruum enforces this strictly for its ships, with virtues only being used for warships. This causes problems for Zsinj when one of his spy ships in Wedge's Gamble is disguised as a freighter called Contruum's Pride and Rogue Squadron includes Pash Cracken, a native of Contruum.
Third-Person Person: Ooryl. Apparently, among Gands, using the first person makes the arrogant assumption that you're so famous that anyone ought to know your name. By the end of The Bacta War, Ooryl is judged by a trio of high officials in Gand society to have become sufficiently famous that any other Gand should know who he is, making it appropriate to refer to himself in the first person.
It goes further than that. A Gand who has accomplished nothing of note is to refer to himself as "Gand". They can as earn the right to use first their surname and then their given name as a self-reference through accomplishments in their respective career; for example, Ooryl earned the right to call himself "Qrygg" through learning basic piloting, and to call himself "Ooryl" by completing advanced flight training. And when a Gand feels ashamed due to a perceived failure (or, as in Wedge's Gamble, has other need for anonymity), they will temporarily "demote" themselves to a lower level of naming.
And nobody will hire a cargo pilot with Ewoks up his nose...
Emtrey has "Shut up. Shut up. Shut up!" activate some ultimately-benign hidden programming, while telling him to 'scrounge something' causes him to flip from fussy beauraucrat to expert barterer. The former gets fixed later due to understandable security concerns, and even the "scrounger" personality is implied to be throttled back.
The first book starts with the pilots running the infamous Redemption scenarionote This is based on a mission from X-Wingnotorious for its difficulty, and the strategies described are, in fact, the recommended tactics for that mission (also called Requiem, for obvious reasons). The Redemption scenario isn't perceived in story as being unwinnable, but it is very difficult, especially on the first try. Corran Horn legitimately manages to win the level—barely—an impressive feat on its own.
Donos' new squadron is ambushed at the beginning of Book 5, and only he escapes. This becomes a notoriously difficult training simulation for the Rogues and Wraiths later.
Subverted with Kell's first training scenario: The given objectives are failed before you start... the ACTUAL objective is simply to escape alive. It's a nice bait-and-switch exercise.
Watch Zsinj be informed that Dr. Gast has been captured, along with all her secrets. Watch Zsinj flip the fuck out. Most of the time, when Zsinj expresses extreme rage, it's an exaggeration to play up his public image. This time? It's in private, and he's not faking a thing.
Solo Command is sort of a Villainous Breakdown in slow motion; as all of Zsinj's schemes fall to pieces, he sinks farther into depression. While he seems to have recovered his control at the end of the book, it's possible that the obfuscating stupidity has become non-obfuscating madness by the time of The Courtship of Princess Leia...
Isard has a number of choice moments during The Bacta War, but the best is when she watches Captain Sair Yonka's message explaining his defection. Her subordinates get to watch as she begins ranting at his recording.
You Can't Go Home Again: Some pilots in Rogue and Wraith squadron can't return to their home planets due to various reasons. Wedge and Tycho's homes were blown up, and Corran is (falsely) accused of murder in Corellia. The most tragic example, however, would be Tyria's home planet. Her people helped pass along the Death Star plans to the Alliance, and as punishment, the Empire bombed their planet to the Stone Age and enslaved the survivors.
Isard is the Queen of this trope, whose murderous punishments for failure were known to go as far as Familicide. Isard's love affair with this trope is skewered in one of Allston's novels, where the slightly more benevolent Admiral Trigit notes that anyone working for a capricious psycho like Isard had nothing to look forward to except either death by the Rebels, or death by her.
Averted once by her in the first novel (before we really get to know her, possibly?). When someone he's interrogating dies before giving up the information he needs, Kirtan Loor is summoned back to Imperial Center by Isard, Empress in all but name. All along the way, even while marveling at the view, he's sweating and expecting her to kill him. She doesn't—not at that point in time—but she does make her displeasure at his poor thinking clear, and wants him to perform better. It's notable that his shuttle docked at the same port as the one Vader was summoned to after Yavin—and that, we learned in Zahn's novels, the Emperor nearly killed Vader for failing to prevent the Death Star's destruction...
Zsinj goes back and forth on this trope. On the one hand, he has had a number of subordinates killed—some for major things (losing a highly valuable Ewok test subject, then lying about it), and some for not-so-major things (slacking off on the bridge one time too many)note An officer playing flight simulator games because he wanted to be a pilot, after being ordered to stop. Zsinj says he abhors the waste, but you can't have pilots who disobey orders.. On the other hand, he knows when to shut up and let people do their jobs, as in Solo Command when fighting off Lara's sabotage-bots—even giving the chief engineer a bonus for fixing his ship early (he approves of efficiency).
Part of the friction between Kell Tainer and Wes in Wraith Squadron. Tainer's father was killed by Janson because he panicked and fled during a mission. Wes shot him down not because he chickened out, but because the mission was a stealth mission and the guy was in danger of blowing their cover. Kell however grows up assuming that Janson was simply a cold-blooded General Ripper type.
Zany Scheme: Minimum one per book. Especially prevalent in the Wraith Squadron series. I mean, just look at how many times it's referenced on this very page!
From time to time the Rogues or the Wraiths find themselves severely, insanely outnumbered, due to Imperial doctrine being to throw clouds of TIEs at them.
In Starfighters of Adumar and The Bacta War, their opponents are all basically rookies (in some cases, flying their first mission ever) and/or in undergunned and underdefended ships. Numbers are the only thing the enemy have going for them during those engagements... and, as we know from history (such as the 1982 Lebanon War), superior training and equipment can be the equal, or superior, of sheer numbers.
That's a common Star Wars trope, as TIE Fighters are cheap-but-fragile craft in comparison to the Rebels' more durable, but hard-to-obtain, fighters. Which is why the TIE Fighter video game was such a change - as an Imperial pilot, your character was drastically outgunned (on an individual basis) most of the time, but had a lot of friends.
Finally averted in Isard's Revenge and Starfighters of Adumar when they face enormous odds (six-to-one in the former case) and lose. In the first case, several Rogues are killed and the rest only survive due to being rescued by Imperials, while in the second Wedge's flight is forced down to the ground, although they do really well against the Adumari — four against thirty, and they kill the thirty — before the odds finally get them.
Happens as early as the first novel.
Tycho: We recorded thirty-four kills out of a possible thirty-six with no losses. If I hadn't been there, I'd think it was propaganda.
Used interestingly. The Vratix, a species of insectoids, trust their sense of touch above all others. While we don't see their outright art, we do find that they build their homes with texturing on every surface, and a human character mentions that the textures seem to conjure up emotions.
Played with when Rogue Squadron personalizes their fighters' paint jobs. The human pilots opt for paint schemes that are personally meaningful or symbolic of their home planets. Ooryl Qrygg, as a Gand the least humanoid of Rogue Squadron's pilots, has a fighter that appears plain white to human eyes; the squadron's chief mechanic, a Verpine, assures his colleagues that it is "a masterpiece" if you can see in the UV spectrum.
Altar the Speed: Corran Horn and Mirax Terrik become engaged partway through The Bacta War. When Mirax's father Booster finds out about this later, he strongly objects (understandably, as Corran was the son of the policeman who caught him and sent him to Kessel for five years). He's called away on business, but fully intends to "discuss" things with them once he's finished. To avoid this, they have a brief marriage ceremony aboard Lusankya (with Commander Antilles, temporary captain of the ship, in the role of "priest", and a few droids as witnesses). Booster takes the marriage itself relatively well, but not how it happened... mostly because fellow smuggler Talon Karrde had wagered a large amount of money with Booster that Corran and Mirax would do exactly this.
Artistic License - Ships: In-Universe example in Wedge's Gamble. During a patrol the Rogues run across a couple of freighters, one of them christened Contruum's Pride. Lt. Pash Cracken, new to the squadron this book, is from Contruum and asserts that the ship is bad guys (it turns out to be Zsinj's people) because Contruuan naming conventions restrict virtues to warships. Cargo ships are supposed to be named after rivers and beasts of burden.
Ascended Extra: Wedge, Wes, and Hobbie were relatively minor names and faces in the movies. Wedge was a Mauve Shirt who somehow managed to survive all three movies despite being a minor character, Wes was Wedge's gunner during the battle of Hoth ("Good shot, Janson!"), Hobbie was the guy who asked, "Two fighters against a Star Destroyer?" Tycho was retconned in; Stackpole picked a random A-Wing at Endor and said "That's him."
Another case is Pash Cracken. In Zahn's books, he's known only for creating the 'Cracken Twist' and for his appearance in the briefing for the Bilbringi mission. In Stackpole's novels, he becomes a fleshed out pilot almost as good as Wedge but lacking the ego.
Bizarre Alien Biology: Ooryl Qrygg sees in the far-ultraviolet. His race doesn't sleep much and can in fact "store" rest for later, and some Gand can also regenerate lost limbs, too. It's admitted that even the Rebel medics are just as surprised by all this as Ooryl's squadmates. He also kills a stormtrooper at one point by... punching him in the back of the head through his armor. Ow.
Ooryl Qrygg:Ooryl does not respire. Inyri Forge: What? Ooryl Qrygg: Gands do not respire. Ooryl gets the metabolic ingredients Ooryl needs through ingestion, not respiration. Fex-M3d will not affect Ooryl.
Book Safe: During his escape from the Lusankya, Corran Horn discovers a blaster hidden in the purported casing of The Complete History of Corvis Minor, in a reference to The Thrawn Trilogy. He then spends some searching the library in hopes of finding The Complete History of Corvis Major, to no success.
In Wedge's Gamble the Rebels recruit troublemakers from Moruth Doole's prison camp on Kessel, while in The Bacta War Isard gets assistance from the Imperial warlords Teradoc and Harrsk (Jedi Academy Trilogy).
In Rogue Squadron Corran bitterly reflects that the old Corellian Security Force of his youth has been turned into the Secret Police organisation called the Public Security Service, which will appear in The Corellian Trilogy.
Citadel Planet: Coruscant is quite well defended with a fleet and double-layered planetary shield. Wedge's Gamble has the Rogues trying to shut down said shield.
Clear Their Name: Tycho is framed for being an Imperial sleeper agent and causing the death of a teammate (Corran). His friends have to track down the real evidence and defend him in court. The murder trial, of course, is called off in short order when the supposed victim arrives to provide testimony. Since Tycho's lawyer was absent at the time, there was no opportunity for "The defense calls Corran Horn," unfortunately. And the charges of treason and espionage are cleared away immediately afterwards with evidence provided by Corran, Wedge Antilles, and General Cracken.
Inverted in The Krytos Trap when the buried SSD Lusankya blasts its way out from underneath Coruscant, killing millions.
Defied in The Bacta War when the captain of SSD Lusankya has an apparent psychotic break and threatens to ram his ship into Thyferra rather than surrender to the Rogues. Before he can do it, his first officer shoots him and then surrenders.
Continuity Porn: Stackpole likes the Continuity Nod, but the first book Rogue Squadron qualifies for this trope, as it manages to reference just about every single other EU book published at the time.
Contrived Coincidence: In a series of interlocking chapters in Wedge's Gamble, Corran Horn flees from an attack by his Arch-Enemy Zekka Thyne that results in him accidentally sending an empty speeder sidecar crashing into an apartment where Wedge, Iella, and Winter are conversing, then finally crashing right into a warehouse where Gavin and his group had been taken by the human-hostile Alien Combine movement—an act which both saves the undercover Rogues from being executed and provides a distraction to help them all get away from an Imperial raid (and incidentally become alliesbecause of it). (And also results in Corran saving Inyri Forge's life, so that she in turn later has a Heel-Face Turn, saves him from her boyfriend Thyne, and joins Rogue Squadron.)
Disproportionate Retribution: Isard responds to the repeated Rogue Squadron pirate attacks on her bacta convoys by sending a Victory-class Star Destroyer to a defenseless colony whose "crime" had been to accept the stolen bacta from the Rogues (in order to cure a plague) since, like a lot of people, they couldn't afford the ridiculously high prices set by Isard and her allies. Isard decides that if the bacta can't be reclaimed, that's because it's given the colonists life; therefore, if she can't take the bacta, she'll take all of their lives.
Fling a Light into the Future: Shortly before they went fully pacifist, the Alderaanians loaded all of their weapons into a cruiser called the Another Chance, crewed it with droids, and sent it off into space with a trio of automated frigates to serve as escorts. The intention was that Alderaan could call the cruiser back if the planet ever needed to rearm. Then the planet got blown up. The Alliance eventually found the Another Chance and one of the frigates around the time of The Empire Strikes Back. The third frigate had become separated from them and returned to Alderaan, where it saved the Rogues' bacon in The Bacta War.
Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Inyri and Lujayne Forge, respectively. The latter became a Rogue Squadron pilot, brave and intelligent, a good friend to Corran Horn who provides him with the wake-up call he needed to know he was too distant and isolated from the other pilots...and then dies senselessly during a stormtrooper infiltration on Talasea. Inyri, now suddenly put under the pressure to step into her sister's footprints and make a good name for the family, but always living in Lujayne's martyred shadow and blaming the Rogues (and by extension the New Republic) for her death, rebels by abandoning her family and joining Zekka Thyne as his girlfriend and co-conspirator.
Gambit Roulette: Subverted. When Corran returns from the Lusankya with information exonerating Tycho, someone wonders if the information could have been planted to keep the accused Imperial sleeper in place. This is casually dismissed, as it would have required an absurd level of planning and foreknowledge of completely random events.
Gravity Screw: Exploited by the Imperials who run Lusankya, which to its inmates seems to be a penal mining outpost, but in fact they are in an area with artificial gravity and are standing on the ceiling. Thus, if they try to escape, they will try to go 'up' to the surface, which is actually deeper into the facility.
Her Boyfriend's Jacket: The first indication of a relationship starting between Corran and Mirax is her walking into the fighter bay wearing his flight jacket. She even pulls it closer around her when she notices one of the female pilots glaring at her.
Humongous Mecha: Part of the Rogues' Crazy Awesome plan for disabling the Coruscant shield network involves hijacking a giant construction robot and rampaging around a section of the city.
La Résistance: The Ashern are a Vratix badass resistance group dedicated to freeing their fellow Vratix from virtual slavery under the bacta cartels. They're later joined by remnants of the Zaltin cartel after Xucphra stages a hostile takeover.
Late-Arrival Spoiler: References commonly give a huge hint to the massive Plot Twist at the end of The Krytos Trap by giving "Lusankya" in italics, hinting that it's the name of a ship. In the books themselves, it is never given in italics until after The Reveal.
The Needless: As revealed in Wedge's Gamble, Gands such as Ooryl Qrygg don't breathe, meaning inhaled poisons have no effect on them. When asked how he talks, Ooryl explains that the air goes in, crosses the vocal cord equivalent, and goes right back out.
Even when Corran Horn is actually really dead, they won't find his body.
In The Krytos Trap, Wedge lampshades this by noting that every once in a while he half-expects dead squadmates to walk through the door because they Never Found the Body. (The body having gone up with their starfighter, admittedly.)
He and his childhood friend Mirax Terrik discuss how they were taught by Mirax's father Booster never to trust that somebody's dead if you don't see it yourself, because he made that mistake himself and ended up losing an eye to that presumed-dead enemy. As they're talking about Corran, this is actually a nice bit of Dramatic Irony; the audience knows he's alive, but they don't.
In Rogue Squadron the New Republic ISD Emancipator uses one to try to bring down the deflector shield of the Imperial base on Borleias. Wedge thinks to himself during the mission briefing that ground attack (i.e. the Hoth solution) has historically been more successful. In the end it doesn't matter thanks to General Derricote having an extra power supply for the shield.
In the background of Wedge's Gamble Warlord Zsinj uses the Iron Fist for a hit-and-run attack on the New Republic base on Noquivzor.
Corran half-jokes that this is how he would begin a theoretical plan for a raid on Chalmun's Cantina
Orgy of Evidence: Tycho Celchu is accused of being a sleeper agent, as well as for murdering Corran Horn. His lawyer is quick to point out to the military tribunal that there is an overwhelming amount of evidence that proves Tycho's guilt, but that someone has been actively destroying anything that could exonerate Tycho. In the end, Tycho is found not guilty after other clues come up, like the fact that Corran himself walks into the room and declares that Tycho wasn't the one who tried to kill him.
Loads of them, many but by no means all of them Isard's doing.
Emtrey. Alliance Intelligence already knew about Emtrey's "special" programming and deliberately assigned him to Rogue Squadron. This was to find out if Tycho was really a sleeper agent or not, since Emtrey would have been the perfect droid for a spy to exploit.
Batman Gambit: the titular Krytos Trap of the third book—Isard wanted the Rebels to conquer Coruscant, as she had infected its alien population with a disease that the Republic would be hard-pressed to cure and then all the bad publicity would land on the Republic's doorstep. However, halfway through the book it's revealed that Coruscant fell two weeks earlier than Isard wanted (thanks to the Rogues), with the result that the plague was nowhere near as bad as it should have been.
Ramming Always Works: In the Redemption Scenario at the start of Rogue Squadron, Corran at one point rams an opposing TIE Bomber with his X-Wing. The text makes a point of mentioning that if Corran had hit head-on, the bomber's mass advantage would've been enough to overcome the X-Wing's shields, obliterating both ships. What actually happened was that Corran struck a glancing blow, reducing his shields to a third and getting the bomber's controls bent up to the point where it went careening out of control and out of the fight.
Synthetic Plague: Krytos, tailor-made by the Empire to kill non-humans in an impressively squicky fashion.
The Syndicate: Black Sun plays a role in Stackpole's run of X-wing novels as a third party in the Galactic Civil War: both the New Republic and the Empire try to enlist kingpin Flirry Vorru in their campaign against the other side, only to have it blow up in their faces.
Visual Pun: The marquee of the Headquarters, a bar on Coruscant that Corran finds his way to in Wedge's Gamble. It features a stormtrooper's helmet being torn into four pieces.
Artistic License - Alien Biology: In Iron Fist, Castin comes across a group of imperial scientists experimenting on a Talz The Talz is described to open its mouth and roar during the experiment. Just how wide can those little things open?
Awesomeness by Analysis: Face has a Holmesian ability to determine someone's planet of origin and past just by the way they walk. His homeworld has a cultural specialty in body language, and he was trained as an actor from a young age to recognize, analyze, and adopt body language.
Becoming the Mask: Gara Petothel was an Intelligence officer who managed to get herself into Wraith Squadron so she could rat on them to Warlord Zsinj. However, she quickly came to realize that A: she didn't agree with the underhanded methods of Zsinj and his followers, and B: she was addicted to the genuine welcome and trust she received from the Wraiths. It caused her some serious identity issues, mostly because her Intelligence training really screwed up her sense of personal identity.
Captain's Log: Taken a few steps further in Wraith Squadron, where the Ragtag Bunch of Misfits captures the starship Night Caller and find that the Small Name, Big Ego Captain stores his Captain's Log in hologram form. We're talking hours of holo-footage here. There's so much of it that the Wraiths are able to use it cobble together a CGI Captain to mess around with the Big Bad of the novel in a rather delicious Indy Ploy.
Coincidence Magnet: Wraith Squadron's members include not one, but two pilots who are the only member of their species piloting in the New Republic military (and have to pretend to have a third later on), as well as The Mole.
Cold Sniper: Myn Donos, due to the psychological trauma he suffered when he lost his previous squadron in an Imperial ambush. Even after partially working through it in Wraith Squadron he's still very aloof with everyone except Lara Notsil.
Cybernetics Eat Your Future: Ton Phanan feels that his increasingly robotic body is symptomatic of not having a future to look forward to.
Defictionalization: An in-universe example - the Ewok pilot Lieutenant Kettch started out as a Running Gag among the pilots in Wraith Squadron, then in Iron Fist Face claims to Zsinj that he's real and Wedge has to fly his TIE interceptor with an Ewok puppet in his lap. (Wedge wears a black flight suit to blend in with the cockpit's black background, so that only people who looked in the cockpit very closely would notice that the "Ewok" was sitting on somebody.) Finally, in Solo Command, Lara discovers that Zsinj has an actual Ewok pilot called Kolot. (Which he had created after hearing about Kettch from Face.)
Do-Anything Robot: Played for laughs in one of the Wraith Squadron books. Face Loran has his R2 unit modified to produce cold bottles of beer on command. And Wedge then has it secretly reprogrammed so that he can also use the 'dispense beer' command.
Emotional Torque: Allston's writing is composed primarily of Funny, Awesome, Tearjerkers, and Heartwarming. It borders on Mood Whiplash sometimes. In the later books the emotional torque itself is a large part of the plot. Since so many bad things keep happening, Wedge is constantly trying to find ways to keep the mood and morale up, but Zsinj or just his own pilots keep on bringing it down.
Kell's fear and hatred of the man who killed his father and his, for lack of a better term, performance anxiety are cured this way. The first is after he realizes that Janson isn't the You Have Failed Me type, the second when it dawns on him just what running away will mean to the love of his life. (It's not quite so simple, as it's mentioned Kell will never get rid of the fear entirely... but then the fear is mentioned only fleetingly.)
Tearjerkingly used in the case of Myn Donos. After entering a Heroic BSOD after his astromech (the last survivor of his previous squadron) is destroyed in battle, the other pilots wait until he falls asleep and then strap him into a simulator, forcing him to relive the battle where Talon Squadron was annihiliated in order to force him to confront his feelings rather than keep repressing them. Surprisingly, it works, allowing him to come out of his depression and begin moving on.
These two cases are related; Kell realizes he was wrong about Janson because while doing repairs, he overhears Janson talking with Wedge about Donos's breakdown. He's surprised to hear that Wes wants to wait and see if Donos recovers, while pretending they never knew about his issues, instead of just booting him out of the squadron (as they'd have every right to do).
Escalating War: The prank war in the Wraith Squadron books. The moral of the story: Wedge doesn't have a particular love or knack for practical jokes, but he does have resources.
Lara, stuck on Zsinj's flagship Iron Fist, sees an MSE-6 mouse droid and pictures herself as being as small and beneath-notice as the droid...and then realises she can use them to destroy the ship.
The Rogues and other squadrons are pursuing Iron Fist into an asteroid field when Donos has a sense that he remembers being here before, and tells the others to break off and that it's an ambush. Wedge initially thinks Donos has snapped again due to his PTSD from an ambush that wiped out his squadron, but actually Donos was remembering an earlier incident from a training simulation based on an old battle, when the original Iron Fist under Captain Zsinj had wiped out a fighter squadron by luring them into an asteroid field and then blasting the asteroids to destructive shards.
Fake Static: A variant. When Wedge attempts to recall members of Wraith Squadron during a major battle, they claim his signal's breaking up as static comes through on the radio. Wedge recognizes the old trick of rubbing one's gloves over the microphone, since he's done it himself a few times.
Former Child Star: Garik "Face" Loran used to be a child actor in Imperial propaganda holodramas. He regrets his involvement, and now uses his piloting skills and considerable acting ability to help the New Republic.
Fun Personified: Wes Janson. Making it all the more dissonant in Wraith Squadron that Kell (because of being misinformed of the manner of his father's death) is terrified of him, believing him to be a General Ripper prone to You Have Failed Me.
Game of Chicken: Used as a tactic by Zsinj in Solo Command when Han Solo traps his fleet with a borrowed Interdictor Cruiser. Zsinj has the Victory Star Destroyer Serpent's Smile position itself in front of the Interdictor to force it to change course, knowing that the Smile`s captain is a bigger Determinator than that Interdictor's captain. He realises his mistake when it turns out that Admiral Rogriss is commanding the Interdictor personally, but then the Smile`s bridge tower is destroyed so it can't flinch first anyway.
Genius Bruiser: Voort is a Gammorrean whose brain chemistry was altered, making him intelligent and stable enough to become a very good pilot. As well as being such a mathematical genius that he probably doesn't even need an astromech; he can make the hyperspace calculations in his head. And he has a habit of being able to knock out any human in one punch.
Wes: I killed his father. He hates me. He knows how to make bombs. Tell me, Wedge, how does this end?
Tyria: This isn't going to be one of those squadrons with one female pilot that all the men are chasing, isn't it?
And in Iron Fist, after Castin's plan to sneak aboard Zsinj's ship gets shot down by Wedge, the Wraiths going on the mission are savvy enough to check their ship for a stowaway. Too bad they don't look hard enough...
Face: All right, strap in and prep for space. We have an appointment to keep. No, wait a minute: Kell, drag Castin out of the smuggling compartment and send him packing. We can't have any stowaways.
Good Feels Good: Along with realizing just how bad her side was, this is the big reason for Lara's Heel-Face Turn. "The one thing Lara understood was the expressions turned on her. They were the eyes of a group to whom she belonged. Not since her parents' loss had she seen that expression."
Good with Numbers: Voort "Piggy" saBinring's engineered intelligence makes him a mathematical genius who can do hyperspace calculations in his head, making the "navigator" portion of the astromech droid's role redundant. Basically, any R2 unit assigned to Piggy's X-Wing is just along for the ride unless in-flight repairs become necessary. He later on manages to also act as a kind of tactical computer.
Donos starts Wraith Squadron with his sanity hanging by a thread, loses it twice during his time with his new squadron (slipping into an Angst Coma in one case), and comes perilously close at least one other time. Near the end of Solo Command, he thinks he's about to lose it again... but realizes the truth in time to save most of his fellow pilots from a dangerous trap.
Kell gets a couple of smaller examples during Wraith Squadron, especially after failing to save Jesmin, and almost panicking like his father did during the battle against the Implacable. Nothing quite up to Donos standards.
Historical Villain Upgrade: (Well, "historical" in the sense that Zsinj's character had been invented by another author a few years earlier). Warlord Zsinj and his lieutenant General Melvar, who previously appeared in The Courtship of Princess Leia as cardboard cutout Imperial villains, are given a Not-So-Harmless Villain upgrade with Allston showing that this stereotypical villainy is just an elaborate act to make their enemies underestimate them. That, each is a Large Ham who enjoys playing the part of a stereotypical villain.
Ironic Echo: Sometimes done with entire paragraphs of narration.
Iron Fist begins with a description of a cyborg attacking the Wraiths in a bar, all part of a setup for Zsinj to have them taken out. The Wraiths (after thwarting this) borrow his idea, and a few chapters later, an almost identical opening describes Phanan pulling the same setup on an Imperial planet as part of a scheme to steal some TIE fighters.
In another example from Solo Command, Han and Warlord Zsinj each oversee work on a secret project, the Millennium Falsehood and the Second Death respectively, and both of them consider what they're looking at the "ugliest ship they'd ever seen". (This is Played for Laughs on Han's end, since the phrase is a Call Back regarding the actual Falcon, but he thinks the fake looks nothing like the real one.) Wraith Squadron itself opens with what will become an Ironic Echo, the "twelve snubfighters swooping down through the sky" appearing first as the newly-reinstated Rogue Squadron performing for Leia and the Provisional Council, then as Myn Donos's doomed Talon Squadron.
And again in Solo Command (Allston really likes this trope) as part of the Evil Counterpart/Shadow Archetype between Han and Zsinj: At the battle of Comkin Five, Zsinj and Han each are eager for the other to bring in their flagship, actually speaking to the viewscreen "Come on, bring in [Mon Remonda/Iron Fist]". When the New Republic fleet gets away, Zsinj has a near Despair Event Horizon where he bemoans, "I can't kill him, I don't know the formula, I don't have the plan" which is then echoed by Han at the battle of Vahaba: "I can't beat him."
"Elassar Targon, master of the universe, reporting for duty!" Hilarity Ensues and Wes withdraws his objection that, being fresh from the Academy, Targon isn't enough of a misfit for the Wraiths. Wedge, for his part, wonders if they've gotten such a reputation for being crazy that a new member would feel comfortable introducing himself that way, or if Fleet Command really had found another lunatic for him. It turns out to be a little of both.
Also, Captain Darillian of the Night Caller. Until they had to scrape him off the ceiling. And Face, especially when he's impersonating him.
Zsinj and Melvar. Possibly a case of Obfuscating Ham-osity.
Loving a Shadow: In Wraith Squadron, Kell gets a crush on Tyria almost immediately, but is shot down in flames when she figures out that she only fits the criteria for his perfect mate and that he doesn't know the real Tyria. In a bit of a subversion, after Kell takes the time to get to know Tyria, he confesses his love again... and she immediately jumps him. Turns out she'd fallen for him at first sight, but wanted to make sure he could properly return the sentiment.
Man Child: Wes Janson acts like this a lot. He enjoys life wholeheartedly and likes pranks, puns, and having fun without caring about dignity. A fellow pilot once says that getting him up to the mental age of twelve, maybe thirteen would be impossible. However, despite evidence to the contrary, he's actually a responsible person, and he's perfectly capable of being serious when the situation calls for it.
Meaningful Rename: Warlord Zsinj renames every ship he personally commands, including his Executor-class Super Star Destroyer at the time of the books, after his first command, a humble Victory Star Destroyer.
The accidental kind, concerning Kell's Kalidor Crescent. He received it for pulling off a series of crazy maneuvers trying to save a fellow pilot's life, and he's disgusted with it because he failed. And in the comics, Fel is given an ugly one for following stupid orders.
There's also the "Award of the Mechanic's Nightmare," awarded to Face after returning his ship in a state almost as bad as its pilot's. It consists of a little statuette of a mechanic with a wrench upraised like a weapon, its expression pure, if silly, rage. "I want to thank everyone who retrieved pieces of me, everyone who retrieved pieces of my X-wing, and especially those who sorted them out correctly."
The Wraiths greet Piggy coming out of a bacta tank with talk about bacta-flavored cheese, bacta-flavored ale, and a manual entitled "How to Dodge".
Murder by Cremation: In Solo Command, the Wraiths are nearly killed this way by Dr. Gast. A room in the complex the were infiltrating was given a giant Trap Door for a floor and filled with fake furnishings, and when they entered it they were all dropped into the giant incinerator below, which then activated. Fortunately, they were able to trick the stormtrooper sent to relieve them of their explosives, so they were able to blast their way out in time to survive.
Naked People Are Funny: Twice in the Wraith Squadron books—once, the epic revenge Wedge gets on Janson for the escalating prank war ("Nice ass, Lieutenant."); and the other when Phanan, Kell, and Face get payback on Grinder for his series of pranks—looking for the Storini Crystal Deceiver, he looks out the door of his room naked to Phanan's disgust. (The next time he goes to look he "remembers to grab a towel first".)
Never Heard That One Before: Falynn Sandskimmer in Wraith Squadron is fed up of people mentioning Luke Skywalker when they find out she's from Tatooine. Unfortunately, her hot temper means her responses come across as insulting to Luke, which results in her being blacklisted in the New Republic military (the higher ranks being filled with people who for obvious reasons think very highly of Luke) before being rescued by Wedge's Wraith Squadron project. While Wedge is a friend and former squadmate of Luke (and as such, also thinks very highly of him), he's also more forgiving of Falynn's attitude in this regard.
Once for Yes, Twice for No: During Wraith Squadron, Piggy's translator breaks, and his grunts aren't understandable, so when asking if he's okay, his squadronmates resort to this.
In Wraith Squadron Wedge asserts his authority over Falynn by challenging her to a race in creaky old ore haulers. The other pilots watch via a screen and, after a while, start taking bets on the outcome.
When Zsinj launches into a long rant where he swears in 60 languages, Han records it so that he can watch it again later.
Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Wraith Squadron is originally composed of pilots on their Last-Second Chance who'd screwed up with one thing or another, like cowardice under fire, fighting with superior officers, or being the victims of corrupt training master schemes. It's deconstructed at times when it's shown exactly what kind of people you get with this kind of recruiting policy. Props go to the pilot accused of stealing, who is sure things will turn out okay. As the guy leaves, Wedge notices the family portrait he keeps on his desk is missing...
And while the pilots brought in to make up the numbers don't seem to have issues, it is quickly found that all of them are just as screwed up. Also, the actual real life implications of having such a team are discussed by Wedge and Wes in a pretty serious moment.
Wedge: I'm leading children Wes, and I'm getting them killed. Wes: That's true. Wedge: What did you say? Wes: It's true. Wedge, you asked for misfits. You had to know that even with the ones who made the grade, they were going to takes losses that were heavier than in a normal unit.
Despite both serving on the Mon Remonda, Corran Horn and Han Solo are never seen at the same place at the same time (including one moment when Han leaves the pilots' lounge, and Corran enters moments later—then wonders why everyone's laughing), which naturally leads the rest of the pilots to conclude that, despite a significant difference in age and appearance, they must be the same person. (This particular joke goes metastatic in I, Jedi—in which Corran and Han actually do meet, multiple times. One of those times, Han jokes that he once had a Horn, Corran's father Hal, chasing him. Later, Corran goes undercover with the false name of a man Hal had once pursued, who hadn't been seen anywhere for more than a decade, and not even Corran's Knowledge Broker grandfather knew where he'd gone: JenosIdanian. This also doubles as a Call Back to the Han Solo Trilogy.)
Screaming Warrior: Runt was like this when he first joined the squad due to his warrior personality taking over. He finally stops when his wingman, Kell Tainer, gets his attention by locking a torpedo on his ass.
Sdrawkcab Alias: When he's quickly required to appear on screen when the Wraiths are impersonating an Imperial crew, Face Loran improvises a disguise and calls himself "Lieutenant Narol".
Said disguise is a CMOF...he sticks a tube in his ear, and his nose, and puts on goggles, spray-painting them opaque. Said spraypaint, which got on his face, only comes off with a special solvent. That was used fixing the goggles.
Sherlock Scan: Garik "Face" Loran was an actor and spent some years on his parents' homeworld Lorrd, whose hat is body language and the reading of such. As a result, he's enough of an expert that he can identify your planet of origin (unless you've managed to train it out through, say, military service. And then he can tell you which planet you trained on) and the condition of your legs by seeing you walk a few paces. Not 100% reliable, no, but he's very good. This skill is a Chekhov's Gun from time to time - it saves the Wraiths from an ambush and leads to Lara's identity being outed.
Shoot Your Mate: The Wraiths are subjected to this in Iron Fist. A similar situation happens in the next book with two major scientists at Binring Biomedical.
Space Pirates: The majority of Iron Fist involves the Wraiths setting themselves up as space pirates to capture Zsinj's attention. Some of them enjoy it a little too much for Wedge's comfort.
Split Personality: "Runt" Ekwesh of the Wraiths is a Thakwaash, a species whose Hat (apart from looking like a Wookiee (except taller) with a horse's head) is that they naturally form multiple specialised personalities and flip between them as the situation demands. While his primary 'social' personality is erudite and quiet, his 'pilot' mode is practically Ax-Crazy, resulting in him washing into the Wraith hiring process.
Interestingly, when members of his race don't have multiple personalities, this is correspondingly considered a mental disorder. When Donos has his Heroic BSOD, Runt treats it as an example of this and tries to help him 'switch to a less damaged mind'. This is something that most Thakwaash, even mentally ill ones, can do easily, as it's rare for the mental illness to affect all of their minds.
Steel Ear Drums: Averted in one case where Kell uses an explosive on a probe droid. He and Wedge are too close to the blast, and for a while their hearing is messed up. It slowly returns as the mission continues, and presumably they get proper treatment for it back at the Night Caller afterward.
Stepford Smiler: Underneath Ton Phanan's snarky, carefree and humorous exterior is a suicidally depressed loner who despises his cyborg appearance.
Kell: I don't have to blow up everything I see. I just like to.
This one actually becomes Wraith Squadron's motto:
Myn Donos: Pretty. What do we blow up first?
Suicide by Cop: In Solo Command, a brainwashed Tal'dira intentionally lowers his shields just before being able to complete his mission of killing Wedge Antilles. This enables Corran Horn (who used to be a cop) to place a killing blow, thus saving Wedge. Upon being told that he'd tried to shoot Wedge in the back, his honor and his brainwashing conflicted and basically put him into a mental lockdown where the only option was death.
Tactful Translation: A translator droid that Wedge uses to communicate with Chewbacca removes Chewie's... colorful language. Chewie (who can understand but not speak Basic due to physiology) is not pleased with this.
Tactical Reminiscence: Face does it at the start of Iron Fist when he figures out that their 'rescuers' are impostors, saying one of them is Corellian just like their reception committee at a planet in the last book, when that reception committee was a pirate ambush.
Turned Against Their Masters: Gara/Lara's astromech droid manages to hack the Iron Fist's army of toaster-sized maintenance and utility droids and use them to sabotage the ship's systems. The result is a hilarious version of a Robot War where the crew is running around smashing any rogue droid they see. Mostly by stomping and kicking them to pieces with their boots.
We Can Rebuild Him: Ton Phanan is "allergic to bacta" and has to get cybernetic replacements for any and all damaged parts. He has a lot of damaged parts. A huge plot point for him, since he deeply resents this side of himself, leading to much very uncomedic angst.
We Have Reserves: Admiral Trigit. Revulsion over this is what drives Gara Petothel's defection to the Republic in Wraith Squadron, after Trigit decides to sacrifice the tens of thousands of crew members to keep his Star Destroyer out of Republic hands. Trigit's boss Zsinj, though, is a little more canny — in Iron Fist he decides to hire a fleet full of mercenaries and pirates to get shot at in lieu of his troops during a major attack.
Worthy Opponent: Imperial Admiral Teren Rogriss, although most of the time we see him he's actually cooperating with the Rebels against their mutual enemy Zsinj. Despite the fact that if he didn't keep it secret, this could get him executed as a "Rebel collaborator."
You Don't Want to Catch This: The Wraiths, undercover posing as the crew of one of Zsinj's ships, have to figure out how to swap cargo with genuine Zsinj counterparts without the latter noticing anything is amiss. Someone suggests using this trope so they'd all be in containment suits, but it's pointed out that Zsinj is suspicious and would investigate something like that. So instead they concoct a Zany Scheme to infect the other ship with a disease, inverting the trope.
Face: Zsinj can investigate all he wants… because he won't be investigating us.
You Killed My Father: Wes Janson was forced to shoot Kell's father during a mission. This makes things very awkward when they're on the same squadron.
Your Money Is No Good Here: Edda Gast learned this the hard way. When (grudgingly) offered her reward money in Republic credits, she instead insisted on being paid in Imperial credits. Hilariously, she was then arrested on the first planet she set foot on, as carrying such a large amount of Imperial credits was not just considered smuggling, but smuggling for purposes of sedition, which carried a life sentence. She was not amused. The fans were.
And I Must Scream: Implied in the very end of Isard's Revenge that they may have rescued the dying Isard, who had just realized that death was preferable to realizing she'd failed the Emperor, only to stick her in the ultra-secure quarantine cell mentioned to have been built in the Lusankya that was served only by droids, and vented to space if security was breached. To be kept alive in what had been her own prison until she died of old age.
Anti-Air: Corran's X-Wing is badly damaged by a stormtrooper wielding a shoulder-fired missile, forcing him to make an emergency landing.
Cloning Blues: There turns out to be a clone of Ysanne Isard who believes she is the original. When confronted with evidence that this is not the case via comm, the clone lets out a scream suggesting a major Villainous Breakdown.
Golden Mean Fallacy: Referenced by Tycho in Isard's Revenge. Specifically called the "Gray Fallacy" — one person says white, one says black, everyone assumes gray. He brings this up in response to the New Republic claiming Prince-Admiral Krennel is building a mini Death Star with little solid evidence, and Krennel responds that the NR's attempt to vilify him is Imperial in nature.
Go Karting with Bowser: In Isard's Revenge, after the Rogues are saved at Distna, they find themselves working for the real Isard, which leads to an interesting conversation between Corran and Isard as the two work out in a gym together. Let's not forget that only a few years ago, Corran was Isard's prisoner on the Lusankya, where she tortured and attempted to brainwash him.
The New Republic picking a fight with the neutral (if admittedly pro-Imperial) Ciutric Hegemony in Isard's Revenge. Prince-Admiral Krennel is obviously not a nice man, but the best pretext the New Republic can come up with for starting the war is Krennel's execution of a defecting Imperial several years previously, during the comics, before Krennel himself left the Empire, a cynical justification which even the Rogues admit is "pretty thin". Even the generally saintly Admiral Ackbar more or less confesses that going after Krennel is as much about New Republic sabre-rattling to frighten bigger warlords like Teradoc as it about "liberating" the people under his rule.
And that's before considering the fact that Sate Pestage, the Imperial in question, was a total scumbag (basically a less cool, non-Sith version of Emperor Palpatine), and only defected to save his own hide. While Krennel's murder of Pestage's family was definitely horrible and unwarranted, his murder of Pestage is, at the very worst, Kick the Son of a Bitch. Wedge notes that he was sorely tempted to kill Pestage himself, even though he was an unarmed prisoner at the time, because the man was so repulsive.
Another character adds to the dissonance by mentioning her homeworld of Toprawa, which had been subjugated back to the Stone Age by the Empire for their support of the Rebellion, but which the New Republic hasn't even considered liberating because they want Krennel so badly.
Starfighters of Adumar
Actually Four Mooks: In Starfighters of Adumar the antiquated "light-bounce" system used as sensors on Adumari aircraft reads objects in tight formation as single objects until they get get closer. This is inverted by the heroes later: they reprogram the IFF transponders on some of their heavy aircraft, including bombers and gunships, to read as fighters. The Glory Hound Cartannese pilots come in thinking they're up against other Blades only to be faced with a single Giant Mook.
All Nations Are Superpowers: Averted. The top power on Adumar is Cartann, which controls over half the planet. It's mentioned, however, that Cartann's power is partly because it controls several other smaller countries as puppet states. The opposition consists of a coalition of smaller states, led by the Yedagon Confederacy and Halbegardia — and it's mentioned that the coalition's military power is still dwarfed by Cartann.
Wedge I still have to figure out what sort of reason to give them for simulated duels. Something they'll accept within the parameters of their honor code. Hobbie: Oh, that's simple. Do to them what you do to us at times like that. Wedge:[frowns] What do you mean? Hobbie: Tell them what you're doing but not why. Then let them speculate. Listen to them as they speculate. When they come up with an idea you really, really like, tell them 'You finally guessed right. That was my reasoning all along.' Wedge: I don't do that. Much. Hobbie: All the time, boss.
Ass in Ambassador: When Wedge is sent to try and convince the Adumari to join the New Republic, he doesn't follow the Adumari's strongest traditions. In fact, he barely makes secret his revulsion towards them. Of course, this is because these traditions are all about killing opponents for honor, and Wedge does not kill for honor. The diplomatic liaison in the same book is worse, as when Wedge finally says that he refuses to work to bring the planet into the Republic any longer, the guy tries to have them killed by saying that Wedge and the other Rogues want to die. Thankfully he's found out and arrested, and the court defense that he's undoubtedly plotting oh-so-carefully is already shot full of holes by an audio/holo recording that Iella had gotten hold of.
Comically Missing the Point: Hallis Saper mentions that the reason she uses a modified protocol droid head mounted on her shoulder to record footage instead of an actual camera is because she read a study that people generally found protocol droids to be nonthreatening. Wedge is tempted to point out the potential of a two headed woman walking around. One who also wears opaque black goggles (which are connected to the droid head camera and make it look where she looks).note It's eventually revealed that the real reason for that rather ridiculous setup is that everyone looks at and remembers the droid, not her face.
Janson: I am so glad the people on this world like to wave and shake hands. Wedge: Why? Janson: Well, what if their usual greeting for visiting dignitaries was to throw paint?
In the same book, Wedge hopes a handshake is an appropriate response to an outstretched hand and they don't expect him to "kneel on the floor and put the hand on his head" or something.
Death Seeker: Cheriss becomes this after Wedge and Iella had gotten together. Wedge convinces her to stop, but not early enough before her earlier mindset puts her in mortal peril and Wes has to save her.
Honor Before Reason: The Adumari have this practically as their hat, due to them actually telling someone that they want to kill them and then following the most prestigious pilot and ignoring everyone else. Wedge points this out to them, and is disgusted by the way that the Adumari take no consideration into the fact that the Imperial delegation that's on the same planet is killing dozens of people and no one is sickened by it. Before the big battle at the end of the book it leads to a Beware the Nice Ones moment for Hobbie (who asks to fly in an ambushing flightknife because he's tired of the whole "honor" thing) and for Wedge (as he threatens to shoot down anyone that flies for glory instead of to accomplish their objective).
Also serves as a no holds barred Deconstruction of the Proud Warrior Race trope, by showing in detail just what a horrific military force an army with those values would be. The endless dueling leads to a high attrition rate among Adumari pilots, which means few of them live long enough to become proficient. Etiquette prevents the Adumaris from being as effective as people who fight without rules. Shunning teamwork in favor of personal glory makes them undisciplined and uncoordinated, and ignoring battle objectives in favor of personal glory makes them inefficient as a military force, both of which leave them vulnerable to more professional armies like the Rebels and the Imperials. Earlier X-wing books had already touched on this: cocky aces Corran Horn and Kell Tainer were both introduced to Wedge's unit with grueling and deeply unfair training sessions, designed to hammer home the notion that it's not their personal achievements, but the squadron's (or army's) as a whole that matters in this job.
Hurricane of Puns: Talking to a documentarian with a camera in the shape made out of a droid's head:
Janson grinned at her. "Some days make you just want to beat your heads against a wall, don't they?" Hobbie said, "Maybe not. The young lady might not have her heads on straight, after all." Tycho said, "Still, I think she ought to get her heads examined." Wedge looked at them, appalled.
You know something's too good to resist when Tycho Celchu gets in on that action.
Idiot Ball: Why, Wedge, did you tell Tomer Darpenexactly how much you had already guessed about his plans and motivations when he was still in a position to do something about it? Did your so-called "ego problem" actually come into play for once?
Janson: So it's like a blaster you have to hit someone with. I have to have one.
Tycho: Don't give him a new kind of weapon. It would be like giving a lightsaber to a two-year-old.
One World Order: The source of the conflict in Starfighters of Adumar is whether the eponymous planet can form one of these (and whom they'll then support, the New Republic or the Empire).
Paparazzi: Starfighters of Adumar features Hallis Saper, now a documentarian and intelligence agent but who used to work in "sludgenews", the Star Wars term for shallow celebrity gossip news.
Planetary Nation: Subverted with Adumar, which contains several competing alliances of nation-states.
Stop Copying Me: The malfunction of Whitecap during Starfighters of Adumar.
Blood Brothers: In Mercy Kill, Voort speaks of the late Runt as this, despite the fact that they barely interacted with each other in the first three books. This possibly stemmed from the two of them and Face being the last of the original Wraiths (as all the others eventually all died or left to pursue other interests).
Book Ends: Mercy Kill begins and ends with a Gamorrean strip show.
Fan Disservice: Half-naked dancing Gammorreans. Though Piggy, at least, was good at it.
It's Been Done: The second generation Wraiths think they are the first to come up with certain tactics. Piggy delights in telling them that some of the tricks are older than the new Wraiths are.
Mercy Kill: Piggy gives one to Runt after being bitten by an amphistaff.
No Coruscant Holocaust: The scenes of Mercy Kill set on Coruscant make no mention of the utter devastation brought upon the planet by Abeloth (earthquakes, volcanoes and toxic gases that killed billions) no more than a few months earlier. (On the other hand, as noted in one of the New Jedi Order novels, if you assume a hundred billion people were killed when the Vong took Coruscant, there were still nine hundred billion alive. Billions dead is no small number, but as far as total populace concerned, it's a drop in the bucket.)
Passing the Torch: Only two of the original Wraiths play a major role in Mercy Kill outside of flashback scenes. The rest of the cast is a second generation of Wraiths - literally. Two of the new Wraiths are children of former Wraiths, and a third is the nephew of a former Wraith. Kirney makes it quite clear to her former teammates that she does not want them recruiting any of her kids for their latest operation.
Potty Emergency: In Mercy Kill, Jesmin Tainer needs to access the auxiliary bridge of a small imperial warship. She does so by using the Force to give the whole crew an urgent need to pee.
Prove I Am Not Bluffing: General Thaal does this to a Duros forger in Mercy Kill by killing his former mistress in front of him. Thaal's mistress, not the Duros'.
Putting the Band Back Together: The metaplot of Mercy Kill is assembling the new Wraith Squadron. Face even uses the phrase "getting the band back together."
Badass Princess: Plourr Illo, a fictionalprincess who embodies the textbook pop culture image...of a spacemarine.note which she is close to literally being, given that Starfighter Command is a branch of the New Republic Navy that uses army-style ranks and the Rogues do an unusual amount of special operations-type work for fighter pilots...
Belligerent Sexual Tension: Noted by the squadmates of Ibtisam and Nrin as the two argue on their introduction; they'll either get married or kill each other. As they warm to each other they have a conversation where each wants to make a different point clear, but they don't want to argue.
Fanservice: Two kinds in this◊ from the comics: half-naked attractive pilots, and referencing a large usenet group's "Vote Wedge/Tycho For President" meme. Otherwise, the comics tended to avert the large breasts and the skintight clothing and ridiculous poses which generally come with it.
Self-Made Orphan: Loka Hask, the Imperial Psycho for Hire who murdered Wedge's parents, comments that Wedge should thank him for it. He then remarks that he wishes someone had done the same for him when he was that age, but no, he had to do it himself.
The Squadette: Brash, tomboyish Plourr is the only woman in the squadron that's first introduced. Five others follow, and they're all quite distinct and non-stereotyped, but are outnumbered nearly two to one by men on the squadron.