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The New Canon's Most Interesting Series (so far)

4 out of 5 stars
3 out of 5 stars
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2020-06-29

Alexander Freed returns to the characters and story of Alphabet Squadron in a devastating second entry full of promise and consequence. I greatly look forward to seeing how this narrative plays out in the third and final entry.

I think I, and many readers, began Alphabet Squadron with an expectation that it would try to recapture the sense of high-flying adventure that the X-Wing novel series did, and were surprised to find a more grounded (pun intended) and certainly darker story dealing with the consequences of the kind of mass murder Star Wars stories have been tossing in for added impact since forever and the emotional toll that puts on the victims and the perpetrators. For what it's worth, I don't think anybody is going to go into Shadow Fall expecting X-Wing, but if they go in looking for more Alphabet Squadron, with it's troubled characters, precise planning, and the distinct way Freed writes combat where everything is a mix of gone horribly right and horribly wrong, Shadow Fall delivers.

From a technical standpoint, this recording is made to the same standards as Alphabet Squadron: a healthy combination of voice modulators, sound effects and music (including some original pieces and those sourced from existing Star Wars works) elevates the listening experience and gives the whole work an authentic 'Star Wars' feel without overpowering them with blaster bolts and explosions.

Carol Monda, the new narrator, does a perfectly fine job, and unfortunately only draws complaints now because of the fantastic job by Saskia Maarleveld on the previous book. That's not to say it's a bad performance, it isn't, it's actually quite good compared to some other offerings I've had on Audible; but it is noticeably different, and in the eyes of the internet that's a worse crime than actually being 'bad'. As it stands, the only real problem I have with it compared to the Alphabet Squadron narrator is that both affect distinct voices for each character and some of them sound exactly alike (Wyl Lark, I'm talking about you!) which highlights the differences in every other voice.

All in all, a solid performance with great production value applied to a story that, for all its grimness, proves that you don't need to be afraid to examine Star Wars to 'be' a great Star Wars story.