ello there, and welcome to Getting Started, a Youtini series that provides the best jumping-on points for readers making their way through the vast galaxy of Star Wars content. In these guides, we point you to the best books that require little Star Wars knowledge outside the mainline films. If you’re completely new to Star Wars literature and want a taste of everything the medium has to offer, we recommend checking out Youtini’s Five Foundational Books first. If, however, you’re ready for the next step or simply want to start with another accessible book, then let’s get started with Alphabet Squadron.
Alexander Freed’s Alphabet Squadron series is a great point of entry into the ever-growing lineup of Star Wars Canon books. Not only does our staff love this trilogy for its focus on complex characters and superb space combat, but we also love its accessibility for new or returning Star Wars readers.
What is Alphabet Squadron?
Alphabet Squadron is a Canon trilogy by Alexander Freed, consisting of the books Alphabet Squadron, Shadowfall, and Victory’s Price. Taking place shortly after Return of the Jedi, the series follows five pilots recruited by the New Republic to form a ragtag Intelligence unit.
The squadron is tasked with tracking down the formidable 204th Imperial Fighter Wing, a lethal TIE force known as Shadow Wing. When the pilots take command of an X-, Y-, A-, B-, and U-Wing, the aptly-named Alphabet Squadron is born.
Alphabet’s members include Yrica Quell, an Imperial defector; Nath Tensent, a former pirate; Wyl Lark, a noble New Republic pilot; Chass na Chadic, a hotshot with a quick temper; and Kairos, a mysterious being who fights the Empire for her own reasons.
The first book, Alphabet Squadron, was published in 2019 with its sequel Shadow Fall debuting a year later in 2020. Victory’s Price capped off the trilogy in 2021.
Why You Should Read Alexander Freed’s Alphabet Squadron Series
Diving into the Alphabet Squadron series requires no knowledge outside the Original Trilogy, which makes it an excellent jumping-on point for interested readers.
While proving highly accessible, the books also serve as fantastic introductions to characters and events from other works. For instance, an event called Operation Cinder, first depicted in the comic Shattered Empire and explored at large in Star Wars Battlefront II, plays a large role in the story, but requires no prerequisites on the reader’s part to be fully understood. In fact, Freed does such a good job of catching readers up on relevant lore that you’ll walk away with a working knowledge of things like Operation Cinder, General Hera Syndulla, and the fracturing remains of the Empire.
Alphabet Squadron also focuses on the type of space combat Star Wars is famous for. Freed is no stranger to writing action scenes, having authored Battlefront: Twilight Company and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. His ability to drop you into the worn seat of an X-Wing cockpit and engage all five of your senses while the ship spirals through a dogfight gives his novels a competitive advantage to the films.
Freed’s vivid imagery and sensation nails the excitement and aesthetic of Star Wars’ most exciting battles. Plus, if you’re into audiobooks, the series’ audio versions boast high production values that heighten the experience even further.
Alphabet Squadron’s Tie-ins to Other Star Wars Books and Comics
While no prior knowledge is needed to fully enjoy the series, Alphabet Squadron opens hyperlanes to other works that readers might want to check out after finishing the books. As mentioned, Operation Cinder comprises an important part of the series and was first noted in the Shattered Empire comic. The video game Star Wars: Battlefront II explores the event in detail as does the tie-in novel Battlefront II: Inferno Squad.
Alphabet Squadron also shares a character with Jody Houser’s TIE Fighter comic series. Freed says including Commander Nuress was a carefully crafted collaboration to allow both works to stand alone while at the same time providing a broader narrative view when taken together.
Any of these stories are well worth your time and act as great launching points to or from Alphabet Squadron.
What You Should Know Before Reading Alphabet Squadron
Due to its original story, setting, and characters, you can begin reading the series without needing much previous knowledge; however, having a cursory introduction to the characters can be helpful, as the number of original characters can be overwhelming early on.
Yrica Quell, Human Female: A former Imperial Tie pilot, now flying an X-Wing. Quell is haunted by a mysterious past that she must wrestle with as she leads Alphabet Squadron.
Nath Tensent, Human Male: A grizzled, veteran Y-Wing pilot recruited to assist in hunting down Shadow Wing. Tensent has an ulterior motive for joining the squadron.
Chass na Chadi, Theelin Female: An outspoken B-Wing pilot. Chass is a fierce fighter with a personal score to settle with Shadow Wing.
Wyl Lark, Human Male: An optimistic A-Wing pilot who fought in the Battle of Endor. Lark is the moral compass of the squadron and is eagerly awaiting the end of the war so he can return to his home planet.
Kairos, Female Humanoid: A mysterious U-Wing pilot. Kairos rarely speaks and has a deep bond with Caern Adan.
Caern Adan, Balosar Male: Adan is a New Republic Intelligence Agent who oversees Alphabet Squadron as they work to find and destroy the Imperial Shadow Wing.
Get Started with Alphabet Squadron
We highly recommend Alexander Freed’s Alphabet Squadron trilogy both for its excellent prose and the type of exciting space combat that made so many fall in love with Star Wars in the first place. Even better, the series requires no knowledge of Star Wars Canon outside the Original Trilogy and serves as a fantastic launching point to other works.
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