The novel follows the continuing adventures of the New Republic's Alphabet Squadron, as they continue their hunt for Shadow Wing, a group of imperial remnants who are now under the leadership of Major Soran Keize, Yrica Quell's one-time mentor.
Alphabet Squadron has set up on the planet Troithe in the Cerberon system, which is a ecumenopolis that once rivaled Coruscant. The system is considered pacified and they believe it is the perfect place to set a trap for Shadow Wing. Soran Keize, though, believes that destroying the Lodestar and killing General Syndulla will rally the morale of his troops. Thus, what is meant to be an ambush by both parties turns into a knock down, drag out war that throws the system into chaos.
The novel is was released on June 23, 2020. The novel is succeeded by Star Wars: Victory's Price.
Sample excerpts: Excerpt 1
This work provides examples of:
- All for Nothing: The liberation of Troithe by Shadow Wing is a pointless gesture as Shadow Wing has neither the resources or desire to stay more than a few days. Soran Keize also knows that the war is lost.
- Artifact of Doom: Yrica finds one of the Emperor's Observatories, like the one on Jakku.
- Big Damn Heroes: The planet Troithe's Imperials assume Shadow Squadron has shown up to "liberate" them from the New Republic. In fact, they're just here to try to kill General Hera Syndulla.
- Black-and-Gray Morality: The Imperials and New Republic pilots are treated as almost identical with the biggest difference being the former are fighting a pointless war. Indeed, one of the biggest scenes is Shadow Squadron being treated as liberators of the Cerberon system.
- Blackmail Backfire: Adal had insurance if he was ever severely injured or killed. This results in Yrica's war crimes being made known to the rest of the squadron before he's dead but after he's severely injured. They immediately turn on her and he ends up with her as his only protection. It also removes any incentive for Yrica to continue fighting for the New Republic. Oops.
- Character Death: Caern Adan and IT-0 are both killed in this story.
- Cult: Chass Na Chadic grew up in one of these and has a hatred of religion in general. She gets really annoyed when she ends up rescued by the Children of the Empty Sun. She keeps looking for a scam and is increasingly irritated that they seem to genuinely just be nice people.
- Downer Ending: Shadow Wing escapes once more after destroying the Lodestar along with most of its crew and inflicting heavy casualties on Twilight Company, while Adan and Ito are dead, most of Wyl's remaining idealism has been crushed, and Chass' experiences among the Children of the Empty Sun have clearly left their mark. And to top it all off, Yrica's crimes were exposed to the squadron and she came to see herself as irredeemable and with no hope for any future in the New Republic, defecting back to Shadow Wing with a highly advanced ship she found in one of the Emperor's secret vaults.
- Dreaming of Things to Come: Chass has a vision of herself, unemployed, after the victory over the Empire. The realization she's going to have to live her life after the war bothers her a great deal as she's a Death Seeker.
- Cargo Cult: Major Keize mentions primitive cultures who worship pieces of galactic technology they don't understand... even as he sees an imperial pilot praying to one of Emperor Palpatine's Messenger Droids in what has become an shrine to the Emperor aboard the ship in all but name.
- Continuity Nod: At one point, in a mission briefing, Hera quips that the mission will be difficult to pull off... "not unless someone's got a Jedi hidden away". Cue awkward silence and Hera making herself sad."I can dream," Syndulla said, and her smile was sadder than Quell would've expected.
- Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: Major Keize reflects on the fact that with the fall of the Empire, the pilots of Shadow Wing need a purpose or they will fall into total despair. He settles on revenge against Hera Syndulla and her battle group for the defeat Shadow Wing suffered at Pandem Nai and the losses the wing incurred there.
- A Father to His Men: Deconstructed with Soran Keize who cares deeply about every one of the Imperials under his command is doing his best to get them to carry on fighting a pointless war that is getting thousands of innocent people killed daily.
- Freudian Excuse: We discover part of Chass' problems derive from being raised in a cult.
- HeelFace Revolving Door: Yrica seemingly defects back to Shadow Squadron.
- Human Sacrifice: Downplayed Trope. A Shadow Wing pilot makes an offering of his own blood to one of Emperor Palpatine's Messenger Droids while praying to it.
- Mind Rape: Yrica experiences something akin to this in the Emperor's Observatory.
- Moral Myopia:
- Soran sees himself as a Father to His Men and that he is giving them purpose as well as protecting them. However, he's leading them in a war that he knows is pointless as well as ignoring they're killing countless people for no reason.
- The former Governor of Troithe is willing to sacrifice everything so Shadow Wing can carry on the fight for the Empire, unaware that Soran doesn't care about that in the slightest and the Empire is months away from surrender.
- Not Quite the Right Thing: Soran argues against joining one of the major warlord factions because he believes it will get them killed and just make them mercenaries for one. He ends up joining Grand Admiral Sloane's faction at the end because they took a massive beating due to the fact that they didn't have any reserve forces.
- Pyrrhic Victory: Shadow Wing successfully destroys the Lodestar but General Syndulla isn't onboard and they lose a Star Destroyer in the process. They are also chased out of the system by Alphabet Squadron.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: A fairly well-intentioned one is given to Grand Admiral Sloane to Major Keize where she points out that his refusal to join any other faction left him without support or resources needed to wage a successful war.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: Wyl thinks he and Blink have this. He's clearly fooling himself.
- Ungrateful Bastard: Another example of Chass being this is her beating the head of the Church of the Empty Sun with her pistol despite his rescuing her.
- Wham Line: "Lieutenant Yrica Quell, reporting for duty." Said to Shadow Wing.