Alphabet Squadron: Victory’s Price
by Alexander Freed
Review by Matthew Boccia
Alexander Freed’s Alphabet Squadron trilogy concludes with Victory’s Price, the latest addition to the line of Star Wars novels filling in the gaps between the events of the films. The series has been a fantastic look at the complexities of fighting during the tail-end of a war, with characters from each side questioning their past and present decisions.
Freed doesn’t hold back from focusing on the fact that fighting from spaceships just complicates things even more- creating a disconnectedness that causes a conflict of emotions in each character. Fighting on the ground makes war intensely personal. So what about an ongoing war fought in space where you may never even see the face of your enemy? Yrica Quell is one of the best examples of this struggle because of her history with the Empire.
Her involvement with Operation Cinder was both an active decision and an emotional break with her status quo afterward. It’s a defining moment that resulted in her helping the New Republic. This makes the idea of her going back to the Empire so believable to those still a part of the remnants. The beauty of Yrica’s story arc, of course, is that she has grown as a character. She is using her past and how people view her (even in negative ways) to help the New Republic at the detriment to her own life and standing with her now ex-squadron.
Just like the two previous novels, each character has a chance to shine and display their emotional journeys throughout the story. Hera Syndulla still has a large role in this novel as a mentor and guiding force, which makes it fantastic to see her role expanded in the Star Wars lore. All of the squadron members- Chass, Kairos, Wyl and Nath-are trying to balance their job while also making sense of what they believe is a betrayal by Yrica. Having the plot unfold with the heroes not knowing the full truth is both tragic and tense, making one want to jump into the pages of the book and tell them everything so they can work as a team again. For that alone, Freed excels in creating a compelling plot.
While the first two novels dealt more with forming the squadron and then facing an opposing team, the final chapter highlights each character defining themselves. Though each of the heroes may have been defined by their trauma and pain at the start, it’s satisfying to see them break past that into a new phase of who they are. In a larger story about New Republic pilots forming a crack team to take down the remnants of the Empire, Victory’s Price is the Avengers: Endgame of the trilogy. Shadow Wing is a menacing threat that is willing to destroy and kill just for the sake of it. They encompass everything evil about the Empire, and the Alphabet Squadron is the quintessential team to embody the spirit of rebellion. Freed hits a home run with this final installment and keeps the question asked- what is the price of victory?