Star Wars X-Wing #9: Starfighters of Adumar - Aaron Allston “If we act like the Empire, we become the Empire”
Wedge, Tycho, Hobbie, and Wes have been sent to the world of Adumar, to see if they will join the New Republic. The Adumari, isolated people who have recently been found, adore pilots and welcome the four with open arms. But the negotiations quickly get tricky: the Empire is also there, the planet isn’t united under one government, the natives adore deathly challenges, and Wedge’s long lost love, Iella, is there under cover.
NOTE: I listened to the audiobook.

I Liked:
This novel is different than any of the other X-Wing novels, either Allston or Stackpole’s. Firstly, it deals primarily with Wedge and, to a lesser extent, only four other of the pilots: Tycho, Hobbie, and Wes. Secondly, the tone is completely different. There still is plenty of starfighters and dogfights, but the story is firmly placed on diplomacy and the strange culture of Adumar.
I personally enjoyed a story almost 100% about Wedge. The guy is pretty interesting, and I liked learning more about him. Also, kudos to Allston for cleaning up the romantic subplots! I positively adored how Allston wrote Wedge and Iella, the conflicts surrounding Wedge being with Qui, and the eventual pairing (even a *gasp* hint of sex in a Star Wars book!).
The humor, as always, is superb. Wes Janson pretty much rules the roost in this regard, though the others get a fair portion (though I do have a complaint about how the audiobook handles this, see below).
The story is interesting. I liked the change in pace and scenery, how Allston doesn’t try to create another superweapon or overlord for the Rogues/Wraiths to fight. Instead, he takes the New Republic to the next level: diplomacy, politics, hobnobbing with the big wigs. And he proves that it can be interesting!
Allston also doesn’t resort to making all the Imperials baddies. Sure, Wedge’s Imperial opposites are opponents, but Teren Rogriss is a complete subversion of that. Rogriss is strictly Imperial, but he has honor and doesn’t look forward to the betrayal he knows the Empire wants to perform. Not to fond of what happens to him, but at least he isn’t your bang, bang shoot ‘em up Imperial officer.

I Didn’t Like:
The audiobook totally ruined one of the big jokes of this book. Allston is a master of humor, which makes him stand out from many other authors (who are rather muted). One of the jokes was where Wedge talks about getting women’s clothing to escape undetected. One of his compatriots refuses to comply. After the chapter break, we return to see all of them in women’s dresses, the guys complaining (a classic Gilligan’s Cut). This joke is totally obliterated from the novel. No wonder I didn’t find the earlier audiobooks funny or clear—they probably took out key plot points and the humor!
People who liked the X-Wing series may not be as fond of this book. There is dogfighting, but the whole atmosphere and emphasis has changed (I liked it).
As I touched on above, I wasn’t fond of Rogriss’ ending. I won’t go into it, but I find it stereotypical (I’m sure you can guess).
There were enough new names, characters, and places that I tended to get a bit lost. I couldn’t remember the name of Wedge’s diplomat advisor, who Charisse (sp?) was, who were the Imperial pilots (hence why I didn’t refer to them by name), and who were the Adumari.

Dialogue/Sexual Situations/Violence:
Invented Star Wars vernacular.
Pretty heavily implied that Wedge and Iella get it on.
Adumari consider challenges to the death an honor. Lots of challenges, dogfights, and the like.

Overall:
I think this book was a great way to close up the X-Wing series, this era in the Star Wars Expanded Universe and the Bantam license of Star Wars (this was the final book published under Bantam). It moves from pilots in continuous “modern warfare” with the Empire to a more diplomatic/political arena, ties up the romantic loose end (Wedge and Iella are one of the better couples out there imo), and generally has a fun time without being too serious. As long as you don’t mind the slight departure from the formula and seeing only from Wedge’s point of view, this book is for you. Just do me a favor. Stay away from the audiobook version. Anthony Heald is amazing, but the abridged format isn’t.