Pre Disney-era Star Wars, this is the kind of book that only the most ardent Lucas hounds would have taken any notice of: a videogame adaptation that on the surface looks like it would have little to add to Star Wars mythos.
However, now, in a time when every new piece of Star Wars fiction is officially canon, every new release is an event, and Star Wars Battlefront: Twilight Company, written by Alexander Freed to coincide with the release of the upcoming videogame, has been treated as such.
Taking place before, during and after the events of The Empire Strikes Back, the book sees the eponymous Twilight Company, the elite foot-soldiers of the Rebellion, mopping up world after world as they journey across the war-ravaged galaxy – a journey that is becoming even more fraught after the Empire’s post-Death Star destruction crackdown.
But after encountering a defecting Imperial officer who claims she has vital intel, the tide of the war looks like it could be changing. Can she be trusted though?
As it turns out, the answer is a lot less straightforward than you’d expect, much like the rest of the book. The main characters aren’t just nameless grunts; they’re characters with names at the very minimum, and at times very elaborate back stories. You’re made to care when they snuff it, even though ultimately they’re just cogs in the war machine.
Author Freed has a background in Star Wars and videogame adaptations, and it’s well served here, embellishing the thin source material into a cohesive hole. He can’t have had a whole lot to work with, but he does well here.
For fans of the wider universe, there are also delightful little nods to the bigger picture, with key scenes taking place during the Battle of Hoth, and on the volcanic planet of Sullust (briefly name-checked in Return Of The Jedi).
Moreover, it sheds light on the galaxy during this time: figures like Darth Vader are viewed as semi-mythical, Keyser Soze-esque figures, as are – to an extent – Leia and Luke, and even events like the destruction of Alderaan aren’t universally accepted as fact.
It’s essentially one long battle with the occasional interlude, meaning that there isn’t any real sense of climax, but ultimately this somehow doesn’t matter. It’s a real throwback to the 20,000 AD books of old, and seeing this style transplanted into the Star Wars universe is a real treat.
In short, Twilight Company is far better than what is essentially a piece of videogame tie-in merchandise has any right to be.