The good: The characters were interesting and decently written. The overall plot was pretty well designed. The magic system wasn't explored in great deptThe good: The characters were interesting and decently written. The overall plot was pretty well designed. The magic system wasn't explored in great depth, but it felt like there was depth under what we saw. There are several different forms of magic that relate to those seen in other fantasy settings, and I think they are fairly well handled.
The bad: The writing itself is rather poor and there are even some grammatical errors in a few places.
Overall: An enjoyable read with a compelling female protagonist that is a bit better than just a guilty pleasure. Recommended for generally light reading with some bits of darkness and emotional turmoil revolving primarily around an inner battle against a slavery mentality....more
Zahn is always a great writer, but some of his characters and plots don't always live up to expectations. I have never found that to be the case whenZahn is always a great writer, but some of his characters and plots don't always live up to expectations. I have never found that to be the case when he is writing in the Star Wars universe. He takes characters old and new and breathes life into them. Here he focuses more on Mara Jade than in past stories, but nonetheless gives us the perspective of a number of characters including Luke and several members of the new imperial 501st (Empire of the Hand). The mystery and suspense is wonderful, even more so given the backdrop of Outbound Flight. If you've read Outbound Flight, you know what happened, but you still don't know what to expect. The connections between that story and this one are numerous, but they never feel forced. For instance, Luke and Mara never actually find out what exactly happened on outbound flight, nor why a Skysprite (which delivered Obi-wan and Anakin to the ship) was on board. So some beats are sort of left hanging for you to consider for yourself. The action is also quite enjoyable, with quick thinking and tactics from multiple perspectives and with various skills, from Jedi to Storm Troopers to Chiss soldiers, and on. I only hope that Zahn will continue returning to Star Wars, as he always seems to have something to add to its universe, characters, and to perspectives on the force and Jedi ways....more
Wicked had some interesting ideas in terms of themes, characters, and plot, but ultimately they never came together. The most interesting part of theWicked had some interesting ideas in terms of themes, characters, and plot, but ultimately they never came together. The most interesting part of the book is the second act when Elphaba (the "witch") is studying in Shiz. The first act focusing on Elphaba's parents and then her toddler-hood seems interesting but is only ever loosely connected to the rest of the book, and the events following Elphaba's time in Shiz only partially (and certainly not in any way satisfyingly) connect. While there appeared to be so much ingenuity in creating the world and mythos early on in the book, by the end all of the things that did tie back into the earlier parts, along with all of the components connecting Wicked to The Wizard of Oz, feel forced and contrived. I wasn't really convinced that Elphaba would act the way she did in the end given her earlier character construction. Maybe had we actually been let in on the secret of what actually happened to her we might understand, but so many parts of the story are just left unwritten. While I could conceivably be convinced that Elphaba might ultimately act the way she does act by the end of the story, it is the author's job to make me feel convinced, not to just offer half-baked explanations. I was left feeling like I was looking at an abstract painting with some pseudo-intellectual explanation for why it is art, or clever, or anything of the sort, and just not being convinced. It's too bad too, because I enjoyed reading about young Elphaba....more