Wing Commander – End Run

Another Christmas gone and it’s back to work today. I took the next Wing Commander book with me over the break and managed to read through it over the last couple of days when I could get a little peace.

The next in the series is End Run. This was published in 1994 which puts it nearer the release of WC3 than WC2. This has a new pair of authors and branches away from the games, being based on events that occur after the end of Wing Commander 2. It’s split into two sections. The first of these is called Milk Run and is written by Stasheff. This has quite a different writing style to the second half and is a short story that tells of a mission to photograph activity on a Kilrathi occupied planet, ending with the heroic sacrifice of the woman sent to take the pictures. The mission is supposedly an easy one but the crew eventually find out they are the third ship sent to attempt it and a lot of the story concentrates on disputes between the ships captain and the mission’s leader/photographer. It’s not a bad short story in it’s own right, and possibly the better of the two. It’s less about the action and more character driven. It depends what you are looking for though and I expect others may find it slightly dull.

The second and much larger part of the book is written by Forstchen. This takes up the story of Jason “Bear” Bonderevsky, whom you may remember from one of the Wing Commander 2 expansions. In this his ship had rebelled against orders and you had to help bring them back to the confederation. At the start of the book, Bear has been promoted to Wing Commander, and assigned to a new type of carrier. These carriers are converted transports, that have basically been designed to be expendable. He isn’t initially too happy with the assignment and has doubts about the ships captain who has never done anything except command transport ships in the past. He does manage to knock the ships rookie pilots into ship, with the help of Doomsday. With the aid of the marines, they then take out an ancient palace discovered by the mission in the first part of the book.

We then discover that this is all a ploy to rile the Kilrathi. The palace was the ancestral home of the Emperors mother and they will now be honour bound to respond in force. Confed has been losing the war and even knowing this response is coming, they won’t be able to win the battle without reducing the opposing forces first. This is where Bear and his ship come in as they are sent on a suicidal mission to attack Kilrah itself and draw off some of the fleet. Bear ends up commanding the ship after the death of the Captain and is of course victorious managing to destroy ship manufacturing facilities on one of Kilrah’s moons and escape again although there are huge losses, including his girlfriend who is one of the assaulting marines.

All in all, this is an improvement over the first book. The original storyline helped a lot here, as I was never certain where it was going but there was also enough of a link to WC2 to spark my interest in the first place. The characters had a little more depth and the book had the feeling of an old fashioned epic war movie. It certainly rattles along at a good pace, taking maybe 4 hours to read the whole thing. It didn’t have the element of nostalgia that went with the first novel, with only a few peripheral characters carried over from WC2. Tolwyn’s character in this was interesting though, given what I know is to come. He is very much portrayed as a hero who goes in against orders to pull Bear and his ship out of trouble at the end of the book.

The whole thing is a mass of cliche’s but there is enough originality to stop it from ever becoming dull and it’s a good way to while away a few hours. These two books have been far better than I expected. I have a feeling that the standards will drop when I get to the books based around the movie but I’ve got another 3 novels to go before then. I’m back in work for a couple of days, then away again over new year so there probably won’t be any posts for a while. I’ll take a few books with me though, and expect I’ll get to read at least one of them before I’m back.