Starting with issue 149 of Star Wars Insider magazine, all fiction published within its pages is part of the new Star Wars canon. What this means is that the two-part short story Blade Squadron is the first story written in prose to enter the canon since Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm in 2012.
Set around the Battle of Endor, Blade Squadron tells the tale of a group of B-wing fighters as they take on Darth Vader’s former flagship, the Devastator. Part one sets up the conflict; part two goes into the details of the engagement.
There are a few aspects to this story which are particularly nice. Firstly, it’s inspired by a famous piece of concept art by Ralph McQuarrie depicting B-wings taking on a Star Destroyer. The B-wing fighters were intended to be featured much more prominently in Return of the Jedi than what made it to the screen, in part because of the limitations of special effects at the time, so it’s great to have a story that gives importance back to the fighters, even if the events happen off-screen.
Secondly, the story really does feel concurrent with the movie—you can see the TIE interceptors racing from the aft of the Devastator towards the beleaguered Blade Squadron, the Rebel pilots struggling to comprehend the new situation. Writers David J. Williams and Mark S. Williams are able to paint some pretty vivid pictures in just a few words, and artist Chris Trevas’ illustrations supplement the story nicely.
Finally, Blade Squadron reinstates the canonical status of at least part of the Devastator‘s history: the same Star Destroyer that captured the Tantive IV over Tatooine at the start of Star Wars: A New Hope participated in the Battle of Hoth following Vader’s departure to the Executor and again made an appearance at the Battle of Endor, seeing attack from B-wings and A-wings. One would have to assume that Lucasfilm’s Story Group approved the story, even if it was written prior to the new canon guidelines, suggesting further that the “legends” of the expanded universe may again see life in this new era of Star Wars, just as they did in The Clone Wars.
As far as short fiction goes, Blade Squadron is a quick but effective read and a welcome addition to the Star Wars canon.