REVIEW: ‘Star Wars: Victory’s Price’ is a Beautiful Dirge and Exultation

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Victory's Price - But Why Tho?

Victory’s Price is the grand conclusion to Star Wars’ Alphabet Squadron trilogy by Alexander Freed with cover art by Jeff Langevin and published by Del Rey. The audiobook edition is narrated by January LaVoy and published by Random House Audio.

In the dying days of the Galactic Civil war, sometime after Endor but before the military conclusion at Jakku, the Imperial Remnant is gasping its last breaths. But before the Empire’s final defeat, Colonel Soren Keize and his 204th Imperial Fighter Wing must fulfill the late Emperor Palpatine’s last will and testament: a second Operation Cinder. With Lieutenant Yrica Quell having turned coat again back to the Empire, the remaining Alphabet Squadron members, led by General Hera Syndula, must stop the 204th, Shadow Wing, at all costs.

Alexander Freed is perhaps the most affecting and devastating Star Wars writer right now. The Alphabet Squadron series is just one beautiful, tragic page after the next, and the trilogy’s conclusion takes everything from a 10 to a 12. Each member of Alphabet Squadron goes through more growth and emotional turmoil over the course of this novel than perhaps any Star Wars characters have ever had the opportunity to before. Not a single one of them ends the book the way they began the story or the series, and their conclusions will shock you no matter how much you think you know what’s coming.

In one of my favorite parts of the book, it’s not just Alphabet that gets wonderfully characterized. Joining each of its five members as point of view narrators is Hera herself. Her role in Victory’s Price is greater and deeper than her role in either of the two previous books, and it makes for an excellent juxtaposition to the final point of view character, Keize. Her role is as ever among her friends and comrades—as a loving and motherly figure. Not in any stereotypical way, just in that it’s the role she feels most comfortable in and is truly one of the wisest, greatest listeners and supporters in all of Star Wars.

This is as opposed to Keize, whom the book spends a lot of time reminding and showing the reader that he may be a murderous monster who is willing to destroy entire planets on a whim, but that he is doing it not out of an obligation to the Emire, but his people. He cares more about his people than anything else and will do anything, no matter how heinous, to ensure their safety. It’s an obviously flawed philosophy, but as Yrica wrestles between these two mentors throughout Victory’s Price, it’s an incredibly fascinating and beautifully told juxtaposition.

Whereas the previous Alphabet Squadron book, Shadow Fall, took place nearly entirely in one planetary system, Victory’s Price takes the reader across the galaxy as their fight against Shadow Wing carries on. It ties together neatly with several other Star Wars stories, especially the Aftermath series, and helps make the galaxy feel like a cohesive place as it does so.

Above all, Victory’s Price is simultaneously a dirge and exultation. Some of the most deeply affecting writing by Freed comes from his repetition of death themes—honoring the fallen on both sides of the war, craving the death of enemies, lamenting the need to kill, and staring into the maw of one’s own mortality. As the opposing forces begin to crack under both the pressure of a senseless continuation of the war and its murderous path and the careful intentions of Wyl Lark, the book feels like one long, drawn-out funeral march.

Yet, the book is filled with so much joy hidden in small moments and buried beneath the many tragedies of war. Where these joys reside, they rarely have the opportunity to be nursed and cherished. Still, when they do arrive, they break up the otherwise constantly somber tone in a way that mirrors the characters’ own emotional journeys perfectly.

Victory’s Price also addresses what no piece of Star Wars I’ve ever consumed has been so bold as to address: what should the New Republic do with ex-Imperials when the war is won, and what are the lines between treachery, forgiveness, and redemption? It’s not just a throwaway line or a quick one-time action somebody does. It’s much of the book, and frankly, the series as a whole’s plot. While the answer the book gives may or may not be satisfying depending on your beliefs about redemption and reconciliation, the fact that it grapples so hard with the topic at all was great to see in Star Wars, and it was grappled very, very well.

The audiobook production is as excellent as ever, with perfectly incorporated sound effects and musical underscores as well as top-notch recitation by LaVoy. Langevin’s cover is also stunning and fits perfectly with the previous two entries in the series.

Victory’s Price is a beyond-worthy conclusion to the Alphabet Squadron trilogy, giving closure to all of its main characters, doing great justice to its secondary cast, and providing a beautifully-written exploration of war, victory, and its price. It is tragedy, it is beauty, and it is must-read fiction.

Star Wars: Victory’s Price is available now wherever books are sold.


Victory's Price
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TL;DR

Victory’s Price is a beyond-worthy conclusion to the Alphabet Squadron trilogy, giving closure to all of its main characters, doing great justice to its secondary cast, and providing a beautifully-written exploration of war, victory, and its price. It is tragedy, it is beauty, and it is must-read fiction.