“Surprise beats a plan any day.”
In Chass na Chadic, Alexander Freed presents a character that may be tough to love but is impossible to forget.
She’s aggressive, quick to anger, and slow to trust. Yet, her intriguing background and unique outlook make her undeniably fascinating. There’s no one quite like her in the universe of Star Wars characters.
In Alphabet Squadron, we meet Chass as a pilot in Hound Squadron, flying B-Wings in the weeks after the Battle of Endor—a ship Freed chose for her to match her audacious personality. We come to learn that, as a Theelin growing up in an unabashedly xenophobic Empire, she long struggled to forge an authentic identity. We find out about her chance encounter with Jyn Erso and her previous service with the Cavern Angels, a squadron of X-Wings and U-Wings on Jedha.
If flying against the Empire gave her a home, and a cause, Jyn Erso and other Rebel Alliance martyrs gave her heroes and idols. Perhaps for the first time in her life, she had direction, purpose, and a goal—even if that goal was to similarly sacrifice herself for a noble cause.
As one of only two survivors of the squadrons embarked aboard the Hellion’s Dare in the opening act of Alphabet Squadron, Chass seethes at missing out on the warrior’s end she felt had been her destiny. She resents fellow survivor Wyl Lark for denying her this sacrifice. This, plus her troubled upbringing and the fresh loss of so many squadron mates, made it difficult for her to fit into her new unit, a specialized outfit established to hunt down and destroy the infamous 204th Imperial Fighter Wing—Shadow WIng—once and for all.
She loathes Lark. She’s unwilling to trust Imperial defector (and newly appointed commanding officer) Yrica Quell. She’s suspicious of former pirate (and before that ex-Imperial) Nath Tensent. She doesn’t know what to make of the impenetrable mystery that is Kairos (although, in fairness, neither does anyone else).
Through the Alphabet Squadron trilogy, we follow Chass through her slow and, at times, reluctant integration with her new teammates. While still somewhat ambivalent to her continuing existence, she becomes an integral part of the team. She comes to admire Kairos’s ferocity and mystery, and she endures, albeit at times begrudgingly, Tensent’s humor. She warms to Quell, and she even makes peace—more or less—will Wyl Lark.
Her arc eventually sees her finding her place in the unit, and then it takes her on a surprising detour. Meanwhile, shocking revelations shake the squadron’s very foundations, forcing Chas to reconsider all the connections she had just made while questioning, yet again, her place in the universe and her ultimate destiny.
By the time we reach the final act of Alphabet Squadron: Shadow Fall and the beginning of Alphabet Squadron: Victory’s Price, we’ve come to know enough about Chass to completely understand her strong reaction to betrayal. As she once again has to make sense of her altered surroundings, we wonder what her fate will be if she doesn’t follow Jyn Erso and the rest of Hound Squadron into martyrdom. Some of her squadronmates seem to share our uncertainty. Chass herself doesn’t seem to know, either.
One of the things that so many of us love about novels is how much more depth of character we often get than in a two- to three-hour cinematic release. A talented author can weave a much more intricate tapestry of background experiences, beliefs, motivations, hopes, dreams, and fears.
Even—especially—when those beliefs, motivations, hopes, dreams, and fears continually evolve.
Alexander Freed has proven himself to be an exceptionally talented author. He has made the most of the space available to him in the three novels of the Alphabet Squadron trilogy to paint fascinating portraits of all of his original characters, including the mercurial Theelin B-Wing pilot.
If Chass na Chaddic were in a movie, she’d likely come off as nothing more than a curmudgeon (albeit one with a talent for flying and an eclectic taste in music). But in the pages Freed writes, she’s a complex individual who continuously wrestles with her past, present, and future. Her combination of traits and attributes might not make her a leading candidate for anyone’s “best friend,” but there aren’t many better choices to have with you in a cantina brawl or dogfight.
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Books in this Collection
The Emperor is dead. But the Empire is still clinging to what remains of its resources to survive. It’s up to a mismatched team of pilots to finish chipping away at what remains of one of the worst threats the recent galaxy has ever known.
If you’re a fan of the X-Wing books on the legends timeline, you will love the debut novel in this trilogy set just after the events of Return of the Jedi. With so little known about the events leading up to The Force Awakens, this is the perfect book to introduce you to the Galactic Empire’s final end.