If you are a fan of Star Wars, especially the animated The Clone Wars TV series, then Star Wars: Ahsoka is certainly not to be missed. While that show may have ended a couple years ago, many were surprised when Anakin Skywalker’s young Padawan Ahsoka Tano, who left the Jedi Order near the end of the Clone Wars, suddenly resurfaced again in the current run of Star Wars: Rebels. This Ahsoka is older, wiser, and carries a lot more scars. What exactly happened to her during those mysterious intervening years? How did she survive the Jedi slaughter following the execution of Order 66? What led her to join the Rebel Alliance’s fight against the Empire? I was excited to read this book in the hopes that it provide some insights into these questions, and I was not disappointed.
I was also fortunate enough to receive the audio edition of Star Wars: Ahsoka for review. With their high production values, sound effects, and music, Star Wars audiobooks are always a treat, but I have to say the very best part of this one is the narrator, Ashley Eckstein, who was also the voice actress for the Ahsoka on The Clone Wars and Rebels. If you’re on the fence about giving the audiobook version a try, this might end up being the deciding factor. Personally speaking, I thought that listening to Ms. Eckstein read the book gave my experience that extra little “coolness” boost, almost like I was listening to Ahsoka tell her own tale.
The story begins on Empire Day a few years after the end of Revenge of the Sith, where we find Ahsoka hiding out on the planet Thabeska under her new assumed name, “Ashla”. When circumstances force her to go on the run again, she decides to head for the remote moon of Raada, home to a rustic farming community. Here, Ahsoka hopes to continue eking out a quiet and simple life for herself, working as a mechanic. However, that peace is about to be shattered. Thanks to its rich soils and resources, Raada has suddenly come to the attention of the Empire, and the Imperial Navy has moved in to take over the agricultural industry. Needless to say, the locals aren’t too happy with this. The Empire is only interested in quantity over quality, and their crops are destroying the moon and the future of its citizens.
Against her original plans, Ahsoka finds herself unexpectedly pulled into Raada’s rebellion. The new friends she has made are humble farmers, full of anger towards the Empire but inexperienced when it comes to fighting. To prevent any more people from being hurt or killed, Ahsoka decides to help them put together a more organized resistance.
Star Wars: Ahsoka can be enjoyed by anyone, even if you only have a slight familiarity with anything to do with Star Wars, but obviously readers who already have a good knowledge of the character and her roles in the two shows will find it a lot more interesting and emotionally impactful. E.K. Johnston made her story accessible to new readers, but there are also a lot of references and flashbacks to past events—many of which were from The Clone Wars—which will no doubt appeal to fans of Ahsoka.
I imagine writing a Star Wars novel is no small task, especially when you’re tackling such an important and popular character like Ahsoka, but I thought Johnston did a fantastic job. Her writing and storytelling remained true to the Star Wars universe and the protagonist’s personality, detailing the thoughts and actions of the young Togruta. The former student of Anakin Skywalker has come into her own, and even though the Clone Wars has hardened and matured her, she still retains all of her courage and hopeful optimism.
With regards to the story, I felt there were some mild pacing issues, namely at the beginning and at the end of the book. The energy in the first few chapters was definitely a bit on the sluggish side, owing to the fact that the main conflict took too long to be introduced. This is understandable in some ways, since the setting as well as characters have to be established, and Ahsoka herself was trying to keep a low profile. After the first quarter of the book though, the plot’s pacing noticeably picks up. The reader’s patience pays off as the action and excitement gradually builds to an amazing climax. After this point, I actually wished there had been more to the finale! I won’t deny that the ending felt rushed and that the book could have been longer, but those complaints aside, I had an amazingly good time with this novel.
But of course, the biggest reason why you should read this book is all the wonderful and significant moments we get to see involving Ahsoka. We learn how she reestablishes contact with Bail Organa and joins the resistance, earning the codename Fulcrum. We also find out how she obtains her new set of white lightsabers, not to mention the fascinating new lore surrounding Force-attuned crystals.
All that being said, if you are relatively new to the wider world of the Star Wars universe, you can certainly still enjoy this novel for what it is—but I probably wouldn’t recommend starting here. This book feels first and foremost like it was written for an audience already familiar with Ahsoka. Johnston clearly knows and loves the character, and delights in sharing that love with her readers by giving plenty of nods to events that happened in episodes of The Clone Wars. Even if you haven’t seen the TV series you will have a great time, but for fans of the show, it’s the little moments like that which will give you an extra thrill. Needless to say, if you love The Clone Wars and Rebels, this is an absolute must-read, and you will get a well-written and entertaining story as well.
Additional Audiobook Comments: Other than stating how awesome it is that Ashley Eckstein is the narrator for this? She’s also amazing with voices and the fact that she voiced Ahsoka in the shows gave this audiobook an additional layer of immersion. She’s no stranger to voice acting, and her talent shines through in this performance....more
3-3.5 of 5 stars. Star Wars: The Perfect Weapon is a tale about Bazine Netal, a character who made an appearance in a quick scene in Maz's Castle from3-3.5 of 5 stars. Star Wars: The Perfect Weapon is a tale about Bazine Netal, a character who made an appearance in a quick scene in Maz's Castle from The Force Awakens. She was the creepy black-lipsticked female informant who we first saw sharing a couch with that huge Dowutin alien. This short story provides a bit of background for her, with a focus around one of her past missions. On the whole a fun and fast read, but in the end, probably one that you can take or leave. It's not vital to the overall scheme of things in any way, and if you replace the names and places it could probably even work just fine as a non-Star Wars-y story. Unless you like to speculate...in which case you can have a bit of fun with the last few lines of the book. ...more
To kick off this review, I just want to say that I actually didn’t think the first Aftermath was all that bad. As you’d recall all the hubbub, the criticism over that book was harsh, perhaps more so than I thought was warranted. That said, for a Star Wars novel I also thought this book’s predecessor was mediocre to okay at best—especially when compared to such gems in the new canon like Lost Stars by Claudia Gray or Dark Disciple by Christie Golden. While flavorful and entertaining, the story of Aftermath and its characters were completely forgettable. This was evidenced by my chagrin when, as I started reading the first few pages of Life Debt, I realized I could barely recall anything that happened in the first book, or remember any of the main characters’ names.
The good news though, is that Life Debt is a much better book. In my opinion, this sequel improves upon many of the problems that plagued the first novel, giving me a lot more reasons to care about the story and what happens to these characters.
Taking place in the “aftermath” of Aftermath, Life Debt follows the adventures of Norra Wexley and her band of mercenaries across the galaxy, as they continue to doggedly hunt down the remnants of Imperial leadership. The main prize is Grand Admiral Rae Sloane, with whom the team has had run-ins with before. Sloane, however, is trying to hatch up a plan of her own, keeping a low profile as she tries to rally the remaining Imperial forces who regard her as the new de facto leader of the Empire. But behind the scenes, there is another shadowy operator pulling the strings, manipulating both the Imperials and the fledgling New Republic, and his agenda is a lot less clear. Meanwhile, Princess Leia receives a disturbing message from Han Solo before the transmission was cut off, making her fear the worst for her husband. She beseeches Norra and her crew to track him down, which leads them to a prison complex on Kashyyyk where the Wookiees are currently locked in conflict with the Empire over their home world.
I’ve long been a fan of Chuck Wendig’s urban fantasy, a genre which perfectly suits his raw, gritty writing style. But when it came to Star Wars, the fit did not seem quite right. This was made obvious in Aftermath with his use of short, bursty sentences and tendency to include many modern colloquialisms and awkward terms that jolted me right out of the immersion. Thankfully, he’s a lot more sparing with these in Life Debt, which was only the first of many other steps in the right direction. When Wendig isn’t trying so hard to force Star Wars to match his style, instead making it the other way around so that he adapts his writing to the Star Wars universe, the results are actually much, much better.
Another issue I had with the first book was how far removed it felt from the events of Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, especially when the publisher was pushing it as the “bridge novel” between the two movies. To be fair, I don’t really fault the book for the hype created by marketing, but I was a little disappointed by the bare-bones structure of Aftermath, with its fluffy story and what felt like throwaway characters that had no impact on the universe whatsoever. Going into Life Debt, I didn’t have that many expectations, and I ended up being pleasantly surprised. We no longer have to sit through any more origin stories for the characters, so we’re diving straight into the action and getting more opportunities to learn about their personalities and relationships.
The inclusion of original trilogy characters, both major and minor, also helped. For example, Leia and Han were only bit players in this book, but their presence created a palpable connection between Norra Wexley, Temmin Wexley, Jas Emari, Sinjir Rath Velus, Jom Barell, and Mr. Bones with the rest of the Star Wars universe. Watching Wedge Antilles try to romance Norra was also hilarious. The point is, the Aftermath team has finally made their mark on the New Republic through their actions, and it’ll be harder to forget them now. The story on the Empire side was also a lot more interesting this time around, with Admiral Rae Sloane fighting her own secret war within the Imperial ranks. She is the sole beacon of competence amidst the remains of a weakened and crumbling Empire, but she probably has less authority than anyone, including herself, realizes. Her character has come a long way for me since she was first introduced in A New Dawn, and now she’s one of my favorites.
There were some lingering issues, of course. These pesky interludes continue to vex me, packing on a lot more bulk than was necessary without really adding much substance. Clearly, they’re meant to be a defining feature of this trilogy though, so I had suspected that they weren’t going to go away. Certain characters are also very derivative of other Star Wars personalities we’ve seen before. The villain revealed here feels like a new Thrawn, for instance, and reading parts of this book gave me flashbacks to certain episodes of Star Wars Rebels, with their team dynamics being somewhat similar, right down to the mother figure, bounty hunter, a boy and his crazy droid, etc. Not all of these parallels were necessarily bad though, especially when they actually helped me get into the story.
All told, I’m glad I gave this trilogy another chance, though in truth, I probably would have read it anyway, considering my ongoing quest to read and review all the adult novels in the new Star Wars canon. No surprise then that I would recommend this to other Star Wars completionists. But now, I would say even if you don’t consider yourself a hardcore Star Wars fan, but maybe you’re still interested in checking out some the tie-in fiction, then you might wish to take a look at this series. I don’t think I would have said the same after reading just Aftermath, but Life Debt has shown me there is going to be more to this trilogy, and I find myself looking forward to see how everything will play out in book three, Empire’s End....more
I know this is quite a departure from my usual reads, but for this book I clearly had to make an exception. Even though I hardly get the chance to read nonfiction anymore these days, when it comes to anything even remotely Star Wars related, I can’t help it, I just have to check it out.
Interestingly, and perhaps appropriate to my situation, Star Wars Psychology: Dark Side of the Mind seeks to examine the phenomenon that is Star Wars and explore what it is about this beloved franchise that appeals to millions of rabidly obsessed fans everywhere—by looking at it from a psychological perspective. We’ve all heard how George Lucas was influenced heavily by Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces and his concept of the monomyth, or “The Hero’s Journey”, which shaped early drafts of the first Star Wars movie. Using frequent references to classical motifs and archetypes drawn from Jungian analytical psychology, this collection of essays offers insights into why and how the Star Wars saga has managed to touch us all on a deeper level.
Written by a team of doctors, experts, and mega fans, Star Wars Psychology dissects the themes and topics of the movies while relating them back to scientific and social concepts. Many of the articles also use Star Wars to illustrate examples of psychological and sociological theory. This book is sure to appeal to people who love Star Wars and/or psychology buffs. While some of the theses proposed by some of these essays are those I’ve heard before or are obvious, others might make you see Star Wars in a whole new light.
From the dichotomy of good versus evil (the light side/Jedi Code versus the dark side/Sith Code) to discussions on what makes good people do bad things (Lando Calrissian and his fateful decision to betray Han Solo and the gang), Star Wars Psychology explores how elements in Star Wars relate to mental health, as well as how human beings think and feel. There is even an enthralling piece on the phenomenon of phantom limbs and speculation what multiple amputations at the end of Episode III would have done to Darth Vader’s brain.
Personally though, I was most fascinated by the chapters dealing with the “social side” of Star Wars, such as gender psychology or exploring the characters as role models. And even though this is nonfiction, some of the essay topics also relate back to speculative fiction, acknowledging that we create and enjoy fantasy worlds and stories as a way to ask probing questions about our own existence. Take the matter of droids, for example. Do C-3PO and R2-D2 have feelings? If so, to what extent? The matter is complicated by the fact we still don’t know enough about cognitive processes and human emotions to answer these questions once and for all. Think of all the sci-fi books you’ve read dealing with AIs and personhood, and how much psychology ends up being discussed in those stories.
I’m also impressed that we don’t look at just the movies. Many of the contributors reach into other media to make their points, citing Star Wars games, TV shows, books of the old Expanded Universe, and even in one case the soundtrack score featuring the inspiring music of John Williams. There are lots of other informational tidbits shown in textboxes, embedded in the chapters all throughout this book; here you might find little known details (my favorite was the little factoid about the Mark of Altruism from the now defunct Star Wars Galaxies MMO – how I miss that game) or more specific explanations into the theories and concepts within the field of Psychology.
Most would probably look at this book and categorize it as “pop psych”, a well-researched and professionally written book of essays intended to be devoured by the legions of Star Wars geeks everywhere, especially as the world prepares for the arrival of Star Wars: The Force Awakens this December. Nonetheless, it is an absorbing read, examining the ideas and core values of why we love Star Wars, encouraging us think about the movies and characters in new and unpredictable ways. There’s something for everyone in this fun and fascinating volume, a good addition to any Star Wars fan’s bookshelf....more
I fell in love with Claudia Gray’s Star Wars: Lost Stars last year, and so you can imagine my excitement when I learned that she would be penning a second book in the new canon, this time an adult novel about Princess Leia herself. And Gray certainly does not disappoint. With Star Wars: Bloodline, she has established herself as a new powerhouse author in the world of Star Wars fiction and become one of my favorite tie-in writers.
Taking place approximately five to six years before The Force Awakens, Bloodline is a novel of watershed moments, featuring our protagonist at a somewhat confusing time in her life. After decades of dealing with politics, the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed princess is all but gone, replaced with a more mature and world-weary Leia. The New Republic Senate has proven itself ineffectual in the wake of Mon Mothma’s departure; without the charismatic former chancellor to guide them, endless bickering and rigid faction lines have led to paralyzing gridlock within the government. But while all that is enough to turn even the staunchest senator into a jaded cynic, it should come as no surprise that where matters of peace are concerned, Leia remains wholeheartedly committed to her cause.
New concerns arise when a burgeoning criminal organization comes to the Senate’s attention. A mysterious underworld kingpin has emerged to fill the power vacuum left by the Hutts, and apparently he has friends in high places. Struck by a sudden rush of inspiration, Leia volunteers for a mission to investigate the corruption and ends up being partnered up with another senator from the Centrist faction, rival to her own Populist party. Despite getting off to a rough start, the two eventually learn to work with one another, even earning each other’s friendship and respect, but sadly the same cannot be said for their own political factions. As the relationship between the Populists and Centrists continue to deteriorate, those who want change are calling for the election of a First Senator, a position that would grant one person a great deal of influence and power. Considering her own personal history, that idea does not sit right with Leia at all, even as her own party is pushing her to run for the job.
I like reading tie-ins because of the opportunities they offer, a chance to explore the wider spheres of a universe or meet new characters. Still, it’s also tremendously satisfying now and again to return to the central figures and read about events that are directly related to the Star Wars movies. The Force Awakens was a rollicking adventure and action-driven—but it was also utterly devoid of much political or historical context. Good news, though; if you were one of the many fan who left the theater with questions, then Bloodline just might be the book you’re looking for. This novel manages to fill in quite a few blanks, giving us a glimpse into the political atmosphere in the time between the end of Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. See how the first seeds of dissent were sown, which later gave rise to the First Order. Learn all about the dramatic events which ultimately led to the formation of the Resistance, Leia Organa’s answer to tyranny.
However, that’s just the dressings. There’s no doubt that the relationship dynamics between Leia and her fellow senator from across the aisle, Ransolm Casterfo, is what constitutes the real meat of the story here. In her previous Star Wars novel Lost Stars, Claudia Gray gave readers an epic love story between an Imperial officer and a Rebel pilot, two kindred spirits who had to deal with being on opposites sides during the war. In Bloodline, she pulls off something very similar, though this time we’re talking political ideology instead of romance, a Populist versus a Centrist rather than the Empire versus the Rebel Alliance. And yet, the parallels are there. Gray has an incredible talent for giving a balanced portrayal of each side of a conflict, with her Star Wars characters showing that nothing is ever black and white, that friendships can indeed bloom across faction lines, and just because someone is your “enemy” doesn’t mean that you both can’t fight for a common goal. In Bloodline, Leia and Casterfo share one of the deepest, most complex relationships I’ve ever read about in any Star Wars novel.
I also want to take a moment to just geek out over the cover. Stylistically, it’s beautiful and I’ve loved it from the moment I saw it, but after reading this novel, I have to say my appreciation for it has only grown. Without delving too far into spoiler territory, the figure of Leia standing in the “shadow” of her father is one of the most powerful and significant pieces of imagery I’ve ever seen, and it’s simply perfect for this particular story. Leia’s not-so-secret origins have been known to readers for years, belying her deep struggle to come to terms with where she came from, her bloodline. What happens in this books will have far-reaching repercussions for the galaxy and for her family.
What more can I say, other than brava, Claudia Gray! Between her and Christie Golden though, the two of them may have just ruined me forever with Star Wars novels, because I doubt I’ll ever be able to read one again without measuring it up against Lost Stars, Bloodline or Dark Disciple. This was another brilliant book in the new canon, and the last line gave me so many feels. Recommended for all Star Wars fans....more
And to think, I almost gave this one a pass when I was compiling a list of books I wanted to read from the new Star Wars canon. What a mistake that would have been. Yes, this is categorized as Young Adult, but to be sure, this is not the kind of Star Wars YA from the old EU when the stories tended to lean more towards middle-grade audiences and few children’s series stood out strongly enough to make an impression. Lost Stars, in a word, was awesome. I have been reading Star Was novels for years and have read many of them during that time, but this has got to be one of the best I’ve ever read.
The book tells the tale of two childhood friends who became lovers before ending up on opposite sides of the galactic war. Ciena and Thane grew up on the same planet just after annexation by the Imperials, but one was born in the more rural valley while the other came from an affluent second-waver family. However, the two met and bonded over a shared love for piloting and a dream to one day fly for the Empire. They entered the Imperial academy together, excited to be with each other as they made that dream come true. But as the war waged on, their fates diverged as one grew disillusioned with the Empire and joined the Rebel Alliance, while the other remained in Imperial service and rose through its ranks to become a high-ranking officer.
The beauty of this book is in its simplicity. At the heart of it is a love story, so you might not enjoy it as much if YA Romance isn’t your cup of tea. At the same time though, it is surprisingly free of the tropes that usually clog up this genre, and I didn’t feel as if the plot was made more complicated by any needless drama. Instead, all the good stuff comes through, themes like: honor versus duty, love and grief, opportunities lost and things left unsaid. Ciena and Thane are the loves of each other’s lives, but they were raised in very different homes, with very different values. Because of that, there will always be a part in each of them that can and never will be reconciled.
And you know what else is great? How deeply and intimately Lost Stars is tied to the original trilogy. You get to relive the major events of each movie from a whole different perspective. No doubt about it, while reading this book I felt like I was 100% in the Star Wars universe. And yet, the story also retains its own uniqueness. You ever think to yourself, surely, the Empire can’t be one homogenous body working in unison towards the same goal? Of course there had to be different factions, as well as good people in the Imperial forces who couldn’t stand by and do nothing while their side committed all sorts of atrocities. This book does a really good job showing this, and in a way it humanizes the Empire by portraying the protagonists as average everyday people.
Like anyone, both Ciena and Thane have close family and friends. They each have their own personal hopes and dreams. They experience desire and longing. My heart ached for the two of them and I wanted so badly for things to work out for them in the end. Move over Anakin and Padme and Episode II, because this is romance done right. Heck, this is “Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens” done right.
“Look through my eyes…look through my eyes.” *Happy sigh*...more
From Star Wars: X-Wing to Star Wars: The Old Republic, high-profile Star Wars video games have been inspiring their own novel tie-ins for many years. In the spring of 2015, gamers and readers everywhere were delighted to learn that the highly anticipated Star Wars Battlefront will be getting the same treatment.
This book, titled Battlefront: Twilight Company, tells the story of the eponymous Rebel Alliance army unit also known as the Sixty-First Mobile Infantry. Recruited from all over the galaxy, the men and women of this ragtag outfit have very little in common, save for one thing – a fervent desire to fight the Empire. In the wake of the Alliance’s first major victory at the Battle of Yavin, the rebels are pressing their advantage, making the push into Imperial territory. However, the enemy has increased its presence on the Mid Rim worlds, ready to stamp out even the tiniest spark of resistance before it can spread, and Twilight Company has little choice but to fall back.
The central character of this novel is Sergeant Hazram Namir. While other units have perished, Twilight Company has always survived by rallying around their charismatic commander Captain Micha “Howl” Evon, whom Namir dislikes but grudgingly respects. However, after the capture of Imperial governor Everi Chalis, Namir seriously begins to doubt Howl’s decision to offer the prisoner protection in return for what she knows about the Empire’s tactics. Namir does not trust the former governor, and worse yet, her capture seems to have drawn some unwanted attention from some of the Emperor’s closest agents, including quite possibly Darth Vader himself.
In many ways, Battlefront: Twilight Company is in keeping with the tone and style of several other recent book releases in the new Star Wars canon. We’re moving away from the big players and main events of the universe to delve deeper into both sides of the Galactic Civil War. This book can be considered a “boots on the ground” look at life as a soldier in the Rebel Alliance, with Twilight Company illustrating the examples of the types of men and women who join the rebellion. It also shows the Alliance in stark contrast to the rigidly hierarchical and highly ordered Empire. Still, there is a method to the madness; many scenes show how the rebel army solves its problems in irregular albeit very effective ways.
In Sergeant Namir, we have the familiar stereotype of the jaded, hardened soldier. Unlike a lot of stories featuring this kind of character though, Namir never really changes his views or experiences any big epiphany, not even by the end of the book. But even if he fails to endear himself to the reader, it’s still a refreshing change to see a rebel fighter in a Star Wars novel who isn’t a hundred percent dedicated to the cause. For Namir, every war is the same. All he wants to do is survive and protect Twilight Company, which is why unlike a lot of his comrades, Namir does not blindly accept orders from Howl or his other superior officers if he feels they are threat to his people. There’s something to admire about that.
That said, there are other aspects of the book which I felt were weaker. Many of the battle scenes felt overly drawn out or contrived, probably a hat tip to the Star Wars Battlefront game more than anything. On the one hand, exceptionally detailed descriptions of the fighting gave a very good sense of what was going on. But often, these action scenes also lacked a certain spirit or cogency. As a result, I constantly found myself thinking, “This is something I’d much rather be playing than reading.”
Then, there’s the structure of the narrative. We jump around in time quite a bit, with frequent flashbacks to Namir’s earlier life. There are also the handful of chapters scattered throughout the book following the perspectives of characters other than Namir or the soldiers of Twilight Company. These characters, including the story’s main villain, don’t really get the chance to become fully developed. I hate to say it, but in many respects, they feel very much like video game characters, NPCs who are conveniently slotted in for a cutscene or two.
Issues aside, however, this was still a pretty solid debut for first-time novelist but longtime comics, games, and short stories writer Alexander Freed. I’ve read dozens of Star Wars titles including all the adult novels in the new canon so far, and Battlefront: Twilight Company is well above average. It’s not for everyone, but I would definitely recommend it for diehard fans of Star Wars and Star Wars Battlefront enthusiasts. If nothing else, reading this book has gotten me even more excited for the release of the game, so that’s one major goal achieved!...more
Probably the best Star Wars novel I’ve read in a while, and certainly one of the better Star Wars novels I’ve ever read, Lords of the Sith is a story centered on Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader. Defiant against the Imperial forces’ attempts to control their home planet of Ryloth, a group of Twi’leks led by Cham Syndulla the idealistic freedom fighter (and the father of Hera, of Star Wars Rebel fame) plot to bring the Empire to its knees by assassinating the two Sith Lords. What amazes me is that even though we all know the rebels’ efforts are doomed to fail, Paul S. Kemp valiantly manages to keep the suspense up throughout the entire story.
I’m also impressed at the moments we get inside Darth Vader’s head. If you’re a fan of the character, picking this novel up is a no-brainer. The story examines the Sith mentor and apprentice relationship, and does it very well. Vader, portrayed as utterly loyal to Palpatine, is nonetheless not immune to his momentary lapses and brief, emotional flashbacks to the past. Yes, he’s evil. Yes, he’s badass. And unfortunately, that’s the side of him the majority of Star Wars stories like to focus on. But everyone knows Vader is also a lot more complex than most writers give him credit for, and I feel like this might be the first Star Wars book I’ve read that actually does his character justice. Kemp strikes a fine balance, giving us plenty of full-on-Dark-Side force-choking Vader, but those glimpses we get of what little humanity he has left also made me sympathize with his inner conflict.
And finally, if you’ve ever listened to a Star Wars audiobook, you’d probably know that they are in another league all together, complete with sound effects and music (though it might take some getting used to if you’re easily distracted by that stuff). If you’re thinking of checking this book out, I highly recommend the audio format. I’ve heard narrator Jonathan Davis’ work on other audiobooks before, but I never knew he could do such an incredible Darth Vader voice. Short of actually getting James Earl Jones to narrate, I don’t think you can find anyone better than Davis. 5 stars to his performance....more
This was it, the long-awaited novel in the new Star Wars canon that was marketed as the “bridge” between Return of the Jedi and the new upcoming movie. In retrospect, the publisher might have oversold that just a tad. Well, okay, maybe a lot more than just a tad. Call me cynical though, but I never really expected to see this book provide much detail. In truth, I was more excited to see one of my favorite authors tackle one of my favorite franchises.
I did have my misgivings though. Chuck Wendig’s Blackbirds in my eyes is one of the best books ever. But it is also as far away from a general-audience thing like Star Wars as you can get. I love Wendig’s style for its gritty dark edginess and his brand of dry, sarcastic wit, and I worried that writing for a media tie-in would come with a lot of restrictions, leading him to dial it way back. In the end, I think something like this must have happened, because while I typically adore Wendig’s writing, I somehow found myself struggling with it in Aftermath. Something vital felt missing, which made his normally punchy and enjoyable style feel awkward, choppy, and grating here instead. I even had to switch to the audiobook version midway, which fortunately made getting through the book easier. Wendig is a fantastic writer, but I feel his style is more suited to urban fantasy, and feels a little out of place in the Star Wars universe, especially given his tendency to use many modern colloquialisms in his prose that jolted me out of the story.
And speaking of story, it was decent but not great. The problem was the lack of any compelling characters. Being a fan of expanded universes and tie-ins of all media, not just Star Wars, I have no problems with making the acquaintances of new faces, but in Aftermath there were JUST. SO. MANY. It was impossible to form an attachment to any one character, not even the familiar ones like good old Wedge Antilles or Rae Sloane the Imperial Admiral who was first introduced in A New Dawn. And so like many of the middling Star Wars novels I have read, I had a good enough time enjoying this ride, but never truly felt invested in the fate of the characters or the plot direction.
Furthermore, as I’d alluded to before, this isn’t exactly the “aftermath” I was expecting. It barely has anything to do with the destruction of the Death Star at end of ROTJ, nor does it give us many clues for The Force Awakens. It reads like any other new adventure with new characters; the story doesn’t feel whole, it feels a lot more like an introduction. It’s fun, but it’s fluffy. It lacks weight.
Aside from feeling sad about the loss of a couple great stories, for the most part I’m actually quite happy about the new canon. There was so much bloat in the old EU and I cringe whenever I think about how many years of my life I wasted torturing myself trying to finish series that aren’t even all that great (*cough* New Jedi Order *cough*). Good riddance, I say. I’m actually really optimistic about the wonderful possibilities going forward. So far, the majority of the new books have impressed me. Aftermath was actually a pretty decent read too, and my 3-star rating reflects that. Still, for a book I anticipated so much, it’s hard not to see that as a disappointment. For the first post-ROTJ novel, I admit I’d hoped for something more....more
Based off of an unproduced script for Star Wars: The Clone Wars, this epic tale of action-adventure and romance got its second chance in Star Wars: Dark Disciple, penned by one of my favorite media tie-in novelists Christie Golden. Hands down, this is the best book I’ve read written by her, and certainly this has also become one of my favorite Star Wars books ever. In fact, I can’t even express all that much regret over those episodes that were never made, because then we wouldn’t have gotten this awesome novel. I honestly don’t think the show could have conveyed the same sense of wonder or a similar level of emotional depth.
On the surface, Dark Disciple might sound like just another one of the dozens of Star Wars books that have come before it, with a central theme of Light versus Dark, or more specifically, a story about a Jedi flirting with the Dark Side. But dig a bit deeper, and it’s clear it’s so much more than that. What made this book so great for me were the two main characters, beautifully and deftly written. I first got to know Quinlan Vos and Asajj Ventress from the Star Wars: Republic comics and the The Clone Wars animated series, respectively. I have to say, although both became fast favorites of mine, never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined them starring in a story together, let alone have so much chemistry between them. And yet, perhaps it is not so surprising, because the more you read, the more you begin to realize they are two sides of the same coin.
But let’s back up a little, because the story itself—the setting and its circumstances—also serves as powerful driving force behind the characters’ relationship. The book begins in the middle of a dark time for the Jedi. Despite all their efforts to curb the cruel and merciless Sith Lord Count Dooku, the Republic still finds itself losing ground to his vicious tactics. Perhaps this is what ultimately drives the Jedi Council to ponder striking back with vicious tactics of their own, even if it means going against everything their Order stands for. It is decided that for the good of the galaxy, Count Dooku must be eliminated once and for all, and thus in a secret conclave, an assassination plot is born.
However, the heavy responsibility of killing Count Dooku cannot be left to just anyone, or even to just one person. After much deliberation, the Council approaches Quinlan Vos, an experienced fighter who is also a bit of maverick and no stranger to the clandestine dealings of the Jedi. He is subsequently tasked to track down Asajj Ventress, the one-time apprentice of Dooku, with the reasoning that no one else in the galaxy knows the Sith Lord as well than his former pupil (and for a certainty, no one hates him as much as she does either). Cocksure and confident, Vos devises a plan to meet up with Ventress, posing as a bounty hunter so he can gain her trust and eventually co-opt her into his plan for taking down Dooku. But in a twist of fate, it is Ventress who actually manages to capture Vos under her spell, and both Jedi Master and former Sith acolyte end up finding something neither of them expected—love.
In retrospect, I shouldn’t have been surprised at my strong reaction to Dark Disciple. A glimpse at the highest rated books on my Star Wars shelf shows a clear pattern: most of them involve an element of romance. On the whole, I’ve always found Star Wars novels to be exposition-heavy, which frequently throws up a barrier between the reader and the characters. On the other hand, a love story immediately changes those dynamics, because if you want to create an effective and believable romance between two characters, being able to get into their heads and hearts is the only way to do it.
Here’s where the author’s talent shines. Taking full advantage of the novel format, Christie Golden takes what already we know of Vos and Ventress and fleshes them out so that they become very real, very engaging characters. Various depictions of Vos have always cultivated in him the image of the Jedi “bad boy”, a wise-cracking and risk-taking nonconformist to the Order’s ways, but in Dark Disciple we get to see a softer and more passionate side of him. And for The Clone Wars fans drawn to this novel because of Asajj Ventress, rest assured because Golden also does her character justice, ensuring that the Dathomirian’s tenacity and ass-kicking spirit is preserved while adding many layers to her personality underneath that tough exterior.
The two characters themselves are a good match for each other. Vos and Ventress both have interesting pasts, and even though you don’t have to be familiar with either of their histories to enjoy this novel, knowing some background will make the reading experience all the more satisfying. I initially expressed surprise at a story arc featuring the two of them working together, but now that I’ve seen them in action, I can’t imagine a more perfect pairing. I mentioned chemistry, but really, that is an understatement, considering the way these two interact. This story sees the two of them awakening something in each other that neither knew existed before. That spark is more like a blazing bonfire, so sultry and intense, helped by the fact that we’re dealing with a couple of Star Wars characters with somewhat sexually charged personalities. Interestingly, until now that behavior in both of them has always been portrayed as rather cheeky and flippant, but here we see their true capacity for intimacy and powerful attachment, and I for one came out of this still amazed at Ventress’ talent for putting so much affection and sensuality into the word “idiot”.
Very few Star Wars novels have captivated me like this, with a plot that kept me guessing at every turn. At the risk of spoiling the story, I’ll simply say Dark Disciple kicked my feelings in the butt real hard and I had to spend a good while recovering from that ordeal. This is a must-read for fans of The Clone Wars, but even if you only dabble in the expanded universe, you should really give this book a try. It is up there among what I feel are the most worthwhile novels in the new canon, and certainly one of the best in terms of character development and giving the reader an impactful emotional experience.
One final thought: if you can get your hands on an audio copy, do it. Publishers always go full out on the Star Wars audiobooks, with sound effects and voices. With narrator Marc Thompson at the helm, you really can’t go wrong. Plus, there’s the music. I’m not too fond of the prequel movies, but as always John Williams does an incredible job on the soundtracks. They use the love theme from Attack of the Clones to great effect in Dark Disciple, and by that I mean it practically turned me into a puddle of feelings on the floor. Loved it....more
Like many Star Wars fans, I was initially disappointed by the news earlier this year that Lucasfilm has pretty much nuked most of the franchise’s Expanded Universe, declaring all of it as no longer official canon. But after some thinking, I’ve come to terms with it and now actually believe that it was a wise decision. Having ballooned into this humongous bloated entity after all these years, if anything needed a hard reset it was the Star Wars EU. And having been a long time reader of Marvel and DC comics, I’ve grown more accustomed to stuff like retcons and massive wipes by now.
Besides, I can finally give up the New Jedi Order for good without feeling guilty about stalling halfway through the series since like forever. Move over, old school stuff, it’s time for new stories. Time for the very aptly named A New Dawn.
As the first Star Wars novel integrating input from the Lucasfilm Story Group, A New Dawn is set in the time between the movies Episode III and IV, not long after the fall of the Republic and the legendary Jedi.
It probably also behooves me to mention that I’m currently following the new animated series Star Wars Rebels, which had a role in motivating me to pick up this book. I’m enjoying what I’ve seen so far, so it was only natural that I was interested in reading this. It serves as a prequel to the show, taking place roughly six years before the events in the first episode, and two of the lead characters are featured as protagonist in the book as well. Essentially, it tells the story of how the former Jedi Kanan Jarrus and the Twi’lek rebel Hera Syndulla first met.
That said, you don’t need to know anything about the show to read the book. In fact, I find that the two are completely different in tone and vibe. The show feels geared more towards a younger audience; being on the Disney X-D channel and all, that’s perhaps not too surprising. The book, on the other hand, is more mature, and I’m guessing most people who read it will agree that John Jackson Miller did not dial anything down.
Still, I can’t describe A New Dawn as anything other than standard Star Wars fare, in terms of the quality of writing and story. This was a slight downer, given the publication significance of this book and the fact it marks a new beginning, I had hoped for something a little more…well, just MORE. But on the bright side, it should make readers of Star Wars fiction feel right at home. You have the very recognizable character types, such as the Jedi-in-exile and hotshot starship pilot. You have a ruthless villain and Imperial tyranny. You have sweeping battles in space and the spark of rebellion. So on second thought, being the same-old-same-old might not be such a bad thing.
I also loved the characters. They’re the best aspect of this book, and not just because I really like Kanan and Hera from the animated series (though that helped). John Jackson Miller goes into the background of both characters, giving us great insight into their personalities and motivations. On the show, they’re not only the leaders of their crew but almost like the father and mother figures, and I can appreciate the nature of their partnership so much more after reading this. Other supporting characters that I’ve only met for the first time in the novel were well-written as well, most notably the former Clone Wars veteran and conspiracy theorist Skelly, whose persona is as volatile as the incendiary devices he loves so much.
All told, this wasn’t a bad book, but it’s also unlikely that it’s going to end up on my shelf of favorite Star Wars novels. Still, I enjoyed it well enough. While A New Dawn had a decent story that was entertaining but not all that memorable, the strength really goes to the characters rather than plot, and that’s a huge redeeming factor. It would also make a great jumping on point for new fans, which is why I think all the more a shame that it wasn’t more special, but I think the majority of readers will like it just fine and won’t be too disappointed, which is where I’m standing....more
I’ve been a great admirer of James Luceno’s Star Wars work in the past, especially his book Darth Plagueis about the eponymous Sith Lord who was the master of Darth Sidious. Having experienced Luceno’s approach to writing Star Wars villains and the credit he does them, I didn’t hesitate to add Tarkin to my reading list with high hopes for the author’s insight into the formidable Grand Moff.
Even if you’re only passing familiar with the films, you’ve probably heard of the name Tarkin. Introduced as the primary antagonist in the first original Star Wars movie, you may recall he’s the evil bastard who threatens Princess Leia with the destruction of her home planet Alderaan if she doesn’t give up the location of the rebel base, and then turns around and blows it up anyway when she gives him a name. But he’s also a soldier and a politician. A scion of a great house. A former Republic proponent and friend of the Jedi. This novel explores all this and more as we delve deeper into this notorious character’s background and history.
In the wake of Palpatine’s rise to power, rebels and freedom fighters continue to be a bane to the empire. As a trusted advisor to his emperor, Tarkin is tasked along with the fearsome and mysterious Darth Vader to squirrel out pockets of the insurgency and extinguish the spark of rebellion before it has a chance to catch.
As expected, Luceno’s work here is solid. If I have any criticisms at all with this novel – and I do have a few – it would have absolutely nothing to do with his writing or storytelling. Quite simply, the author does a thoroughly impressive job pulling together the past and present in order to paint a comprehensive picture of Wilhuff Tarkin. The story is deftly told using a combination of flashbacks and memories woven into the narrative that tells us what’s currently happening. Considering the way we go back and forth throughout the course of the story, I’m somewhat surprised that the pacing did not suffer.
Instead, most of my problems with this book lies with the character. Let’s face it, despite being one of the most ruthless and cold-blooded villains in Star Wars history who even holds “Darth Vader’s leash”, you’re just not as sexy or high on the popularity food chain if you aren’t swinging a lightsaber or wielding the force. Luceno had his work cut out for him making Tarkin a more interesting and appealing character, and I don’t know if he quite manages. We all know Tarkin’s an evil bastard. And after this book, he’s still an evil bastard. Sure, there are some great insights into his past here, such as how his experience playing “Survivor” in the Carrion honed his future skills as a cunning soldier and military strategist. But what does that tell me about the man inside? Everything we learn about him merely scratches the surface while the core of his personality remains aloof. There’s scant little dynamic in his character and I felt like an observer kept at arm’s length.
However, we do gain more understanding into Tarkin’s relationship with both the Emperor and Darth Vader. These were the three who controlled the galaxy by sowing fear after the Clone Wars, and long has it been speculated that Palpatine partnered up the other two on purpose so that they could benefit from each other’s skills. The story in this book showed how that plan ultimately created one of the most fearsome teams that ever existed. In a way, the plot here played out almost like a twisted buddy movie, with the added irony that Tarkin and the Jedi Anakin Skywalker used to be friendly and worked quite closely together. It’s the little moments, like when Tarkin regards Darth Vader and starts surmising his true identity that are probably more rewarding than anything else.
This book was actually quite enjoyable, even if it probably won’t rank up there with my favorite Star Wars novels. It doesn’t stand out, though not for want of trying. Luceno did a great job on the writing front, and was probably only held back by the limitations that are inherent in Tarkin’s character himself....more
I've been a reader for as long as I remember, but science fiction is still a relatively new genre for me. In fact, I don't think I started until I well into my high school years, and back then, I remember cutting my teeth on novelizations of the Star Wars prequel movies. There you go, my not-so-secret confession!
Obviously, I've branched out a lot more since those days, but I still retained my love for Star Wars books. To date, I've read a bunch by many different authors, and some of them have been better than others. Media tie-in novels have always been my guilty pleasure, especially when it comes to my beloved Star Wars, but admittedly the bar has never really been set that high. That's why whenever I do come across one that I genuinely like, I can't help but do a little happy dance.
And I'm definitely dancing now. Actually, I'd been excited about Honor Among Thieves for a long time, ever since I first learned that Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck will be working on a new stand alone Star Wars book under their nom de plume of James S.A. Corey. I adore their work on the Expanse series, and to hear that they would be writing a story about my favorite scoundrel was like a dream come true. Come on, James S.A. Corey and Han Solo? You just can't go wrong with a winning combination like that.
So you can see why I am so thrilled to say this book lived up to all my expectations. You can tell right away that the authors are fans of Star Wars and the characters themselves, because the first thing I noticed was how "right" Han sounded and felt in his dialogue and actions. He even felt true to the character in his internal narrative, all the way down to his growing affection for his new friends in the Rebel Alliance. This book takes place after the destruction of the Death Star but before the events of The Empire Strikes Back, so we get a real good look at how those experiences have affected and changed him.
The best part is, this is a Han Solo book through and through, and no doubt about it. Expect lots of his signature seat-of-the-pants approach to solving problems, the usual daring flyboy maneuvers, and of course a healthy dose of roguish humor. The plot is relatively simple, beginning when Han and Chewy are tasked on an assignment to extract a high-level rebel spy deep in Empire territory. Meet Agent Scarlet Hark, whose moxie might just give Han a run for his money. But as it turns out, Scarlet has uncovered delicate information about a new technology, one that can turn the tide of the war if only the rebels can secure it before the Empire gets their dirty hands on it.
I would say it's fairly predictable how things turn out, but then I think that is to be expected. We all know the war goes on in The Empire Strikes Back, et cetera, et cetera, so to an extent you can guess how everything in the story ends. Still, none of that manages to take away from the fun. Another thing I liked about this book is how deftly the plot involved all the main characters. One of my biggest problems with a lot of Star Wars books is how desperately some authors try to squeeze in all the prominent players, sometimes resorting to giving them obligatory sub plots that feel shoehorned in. Not an issue with this one, I can happily say. Despite Han Solo taking the center stage in this, Luke and Leia both also have their parts to play, and they actually are integral to the story.
Sure I may have my biases, being a big fan of James S.A. Corey and having a massive soft spot for Han Solo, but this is probably now favorite Star Wars novel, beating out Darth Plagueis, which is the former holder of that distinction and also another really great story. Star Wars books have certainly come a long way, and I look forward to seeing this trend continue....more
I can't really think of much to say about this one. It's a Star Wars book, certainly not the best I've ever read but nor is it anywhere near the worstI can't really think of much to say about this one. It's a Star Wars book, certainly not the best I've ever read but nor is it anywhere near the worst. I didn't love it, I didn't hate it, it was just so very conventional and uninspired. Mediocre.
I think one of the problems with this series is that while I'm sure there's an elaborate overarching plot line all planned out, the need to drag it out over a certain number of books ends up wreaking havoc with the characters and the pacing of these novels.
What's worse, when you have big Star Wars names and heavy hitters like Han, Leia, Luke, Ben, Jaina, etc. all doing their own thing in different parts of the galaxy, you need to find something -- anything! -- interesting for them to do while the plot moves forward elsewhere. This leads to much retreading of old ground, such as the return to familiar planets or tired and done-to-death SW plot elements involving a mysterious Sith or conspiring politicians.
You also get ridiculous things happening, like Han and Leia suddenly having a brain fart and leaving an 8-year-old unsupervised by herself on the Millennium Falcon on a dangerous planet. Hmm, WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?! The whole situation was set up for Allana's own little adventure in this book, but geez, do you have to make it so obvious?
I also liked it better when Luke and Ben were still focused on uncovering the secrets of Jacen Solo's fall to the Dark Side. The Lost Tribe and Vestara side plot could lead to interesting things, but right now it just feels like a cheap distraction.
Looking forward to the next book to see if things will pick up once more, and I'm excited to read something by Christie Golden again. ...more
3.5 stars. Pretty much three separate stories going here: 1) Han, Leia, Jaina and the other Jedi back on Coruscant trying to figure out why some of th3.5 stars. Pretty much three separate stories going here: 1) Han, Leia, Jaina and the other Jedi back on Coruscant trying to figure out why some of their young knights seem to be going crazy, 2) Luke and Ben Skywalker in the Maw trying to uncover the mystery of how/why Jacen Solo fell to the dark side, and 3) the Lost Tribe of the Sith trying to fulfill their prophecy of becoming the masters of the galaxy again.
If only that third story line was as interesting as the first two, I would have given this book a higher rating. But as it is, and I can only be honest here, I could care less about Vestara and her connection with Ship, and the rampant infighting amongst her people. All her sections were boring, annoying, and didn't become significant until the last few chapters of the book.
Still, I remain optimistic about the rest of this series. After all, I had felt much the same way about Han and Leia's roles in the first book in which they were "parked" and were given absolutely nothing of import to do but waste time with a dumb side story just to keep their presence strong in the series. And yet, they have become purposeful characters now, and perhaps the later books will do the same thing for the Tribe's storyline. Here's to hoping it can only get more interesting and exciting.
On the other hand, following Luke and Ben's exile has been a surprisingly intense experience. Each book seems to have them uncovering more information about Jacen's transformation into Darth Caedus, and is probably the biggest reason why I'm still so invested and interested in continuing this series....more
Probably one of the better Star Wars books I've ever read, and no surprise, it's written by Christie Golden. Even though I find her writing can be a bProbably one of the better Star Wars books I've ever read, and no surprise, it's written by Christie Golden. Even though I find her writing can be a bit hokey sometimes, I'm generally a fan of hers.
And since this is a Star Wars novel, so I'm not going to come down hard. I have to say this was a good book for what it is, and for the most part I really enjoyed it. We're finally picking up some steam in this series, whereas the first book felt more like an intro.
I'm not going to lie; there were parts in this book where the writing was so bad it made me want to hurl my Kindle across the room, but there were also some great combat scenes and witty dialogue that made up for it. I love how Christie Golden writes the relationship between Luke and Ben, how she conveys their whole father-son dynamic.
The Skywalkers' exile is the part of the story I'm most interested in too, so I'm glad that plot line is moving forward. Unfortunately on the Han and Leia front, things still feel like filler, and I'm really hoping the Solos will get more interesting later....more
This is probably one of the better Star Wars books by Drew Karpyshyn, which is quite a relief after the train wreck that I thought was Revan. It's amaThis is probably one of the better Star Wars books by Drew Karpyshyn, which is quite a relief after the train wreck that I thought was Revan. It's amazing what a good writer he can be when he's not being rushed. Now that he has left BioWare, I'm glad he left us with this before moving on to his future endeavors.
For a while we've known that Satele Shan, the Grand Master of the Jedi Order during this time in the Old Republic, has a "secret son." Theron Shan first appeared in The Lost Suns comic and now he stars in his own novel, which aside from featuring his undercover agent/operative awesomeness also reveals a lot about his parents' history and his own mysterious past.
I could tell Drew K had a lot of fun writing Theron's story. From experience, I find that characters in books based on movies/TV shows/video games, etc. very often read like caricatures and hardly ever feel like real people. However, I thought Theron had a clear personality right away, and even smiled to myself a few times at his wit. I also enjoyed the supporting characters, Teff'ith the Twi'lek whose weak grasp of Galactic Basic was a nice touch, as well as Master Gnost-Dural who fans of the Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO will recognize as the keeper of the Jedi archives.
The story is pretty much your run-of-the-mill fare, but very entertaining nonetheless. There were the usual space combat and lightsaber battle scenes, but I was surprised at how well done they were. Drew Karpyshyn is very good at writing action, but I was even more surprised to see how well he tackled some of the emotional issues in this book. Like I said, he can be very good when given enough time to develop his characters.
One last thing I should note: I listened to the audiobook of this. Though I'm confident to claim Annihilation as a solid entry to the world of Star Wars novels, I have to mention the possibility that the quality of the audio version may have influenced my opinion. For one thing, it was my first experience with a Star Wars audiobook, so I've only just discovered the talent of Marc Thompson, who is probably one of the best narrators I've ever come across. His voices are simply phenomenal, and together with the sound effects and music I was just blown away....more
I had given up on the New Jedi Order books for now; it was getting too tedious and I felt like I needed another series when it comes to getting my StaI had given up on the New Jedi Order books for now; it was getting too tedious and I felt like I needed another series when it comes to getting my Star Wars fix.
So I skipped ahead and picked up the first book of Fate of the Jedi, not without a bit of optimism, since I had heard good things. And I figured it's as good a time as any to start, now that the last book has come out, completing the series.
Anyway, Outcast wasn't bad. I've certainly read better SW novels (recently, like Darth Plagueis) but at the same time I've also read worse.
I have a feeling that this book sets up the direction of the overarching story for the rest of FotJ, so as an introduction-type book I can't really complain (thought it was quite obvious that the Kessell side story was thrown in just so Han and Leia have something to do in this book). I'm interested in seeing where the series goes. ...more
Apparently this Star Wars novel had been highly anticipated since its announcement years ago, and I had no idea until after I finished it and decidedApparently this Star Wars novel had been highly anticipated since its announcement years ago, and I had no idea until after I finished it and decided to look it up. Now that I've read it, I guess I can see why. Darth Plagueis is probably worth reading simply if for no other reason other than how "canon" it is, if you're a big Star Wars fan. I heard that the author worked really closely with LucasFilms to get it just right. And yes, I did find that it explained a lot about the events of the prequel movies, and I now have a better understanding of the backstory behind them.
But I don't want to make it sound like that's the only reason to pick up this book, because there's a lot more that makes it a worthwhile read. For one thing, I was surprised at the quality of the writing, especially for a Star Wars novel. I've read some of Luceno's other Star Wars titles in the past, and as you can see from those reviews in my book list, I wasn't very impressed. But I was quite happy with his efforts with Darth Plagueis, to the point I couldn't believe it was the same author. It's obvious he put his full heart and soul into writing this.
Darth Plaguis is also quite different from many of the Star Wars book I've read in the past. It's less action oriented, and instead focuses more on political intrigue. There are some fight sequences and light saber action of course, but the bulk of the story is about the Sith lords acting and pulling strings behind the scenes. ...more
I wanted to like this book, I really did. A month ago when I was so eagerly anticipating the release of Star Wars: The Old Republic: Revan, I didn’t eI wanted to like this book, I really did. A month ago when I was so eagerly anticipating the release of Star Wars: The Old Republic: Revan, I didn’t expect I would be starting a review for it this way, and I really don’t like having to be negative, but what can you do.
Granted, it is possible that my high expectations may have clouded my judgment. For one thing, I’m a big fan of Drew Karpyshyn — he wrote the Star Wars Darth Bane trilogy and also the Mass Effect novels that I found I really enjoyed. But more importantly, I’m also a big fan of the character Revan, having been obsessed with and emotionally invested in his story from the Knights of the Old Republic games. Still, I have a feeling that even the most casual of readers picking this up will find many problems with the writing and execution of this novel.
To be fair, I’ve been following Drew K’s blog for a while now, and on it he occasionally talks about the pressures of looming deadlines and the challenges of meeting them. His writing in Revan appears to be the latest victim of this restrictive time crunch, as it’s definitely not his best work. This is a shame for two reasons: 1) He’s usually capable of much better writing, and 2) I would have pegged him as the perfect author to tell Revan’s story, as he was intimately involved with the development and writing of the first KOTOR game.
Another reason why I think the book was a rush job is how well it started out in the first handful of chapters, versus how everything started unraveling and falling apart in the second half. I’d glimpsed some of the not-so-positive starred reviews prior to finishing the novel, and thought to myself, “Nah, this isn’t that bad.” But then I hit part II. And I began to understand.
First of all, in retrospect so much of the book felt like filler, lengthy exposition sequences and drawn-out descriptions. While I understand the need to bring readers up to speed with the events of KOTOR (for those who have never played the RPG or need a refresher — it’s been about 8 years since the game’s release, after all) I lamented the fact it came at the expense of scenes that actually required details and a more in-depth look. Instead, important action sequences and scenes that actually drove the plot forward or called for more emotion were completely glossed over.
Second, the book was so short. It’s not like there wasn’t enough to write about. Like I said, so much of the novel could have been fleshed out and made better. It just felt like the author needed it to be over and done with, fast.
Third, there was a very noticeable shift in focus by the end of the book. I thought I began by reading about Revan, but little by little, he started taking more of a background role, and by the final chapters it was clear the emphasis was more on the Sith character of the novel, Lord Scourge. I just found this odd, and I still don’t really understand the purpose.
Nonetheless, there is still plenty of Revan, which is one of the reasons why I couldn’t just toss this book aside. There will be answers to some big questions left behind by the ending of KOTOR and KOTOR II, and for this reason I don’t regret reading it at all. The Jedi Exile also plays a huge role, and it is in this book that she is finally identified and given a name — Meetra Surik.
However, speaking of characters, don’t expect many of the companions from the games to make an appearance. The three that get the honor are Canderous Ordo, T3-M4 and Bastila Shan. The rest like Mission Vao, Zaalbar or HK-47 are only mentioned in passing, or given some weak excuses why they couldn’t show up. Carth Onasi doesn’t even get a mention, and while admittedly he was one of my more whiny and annoying BioWare boyfriends, I couldn’t help but notice the snub. Ouch.
I don’t want to make it sound like Revan was all bad. I personally liked a lot of the dialogue, though I think I’m probably in the minority with regards to this. I definitely think dialogue-writing is Drew Karpyshyn’s forte, but while some lines might work well in a video game, I admit they don’t always translate well onto a page in a novel. Some plot points were predictable, but in general I enjoyed the story. And finally, like I said before, the book does manage to bring some form of closure. Sort of.
This does beg the question: Is closure — that is, a truly satisfying conclusion that emotionally invested KOTOR fans have been waiting almost a decade for — even possible for an epic story like Revan’s? Honestly, I believed the answer is yes. And I still do. Which is why I had such high hopes for Revan. Despite my biases, I still think it could have been the book to bring ultimate closure to the KOTOR series. If only Drew K had been given enough time.
So, to wrap this review up, you may find Revan interesting if you’re into Star Wars novels or game tie-ins in general. I say read this book if you’re fan of the character and the KOTOR games. You might end up disappointed, but you’ve come this far, so might as well finish up. Also read this book if you’re really into the upcoming Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO. There will be quite a few mentions of Revan and his adventures in the game, so knowing the character’s background might enhance the story behind those quests for you, but it’s definitely not required knowledge.
But if you don’t know much about the lore behind SWTOR and the Old Republic era and are thinking of reading this to get pumped for it, I would rethink that decision. For that, you’d be better off playing KOTOR....more
In my opinion the best-written NJO book in the series so far, and also longer and more in depth. Star by Star is an important installment in that it iIn my opinion the best-written NJO book in the series so far, and also longer and more in depth. Star by Star is an important installment in that it is a turning point of the series.
This book focuses on the tale of the Myrkr strike team, the group of young Jedi led by Apprentice Anakin Solo, who infiltrated the Yuuzhan Vong in order to destroy the voxyn queen. While scores of Jedi and New Republic characters have already died over the course of the Yuuzhan Vong war, there's something a lot darker about Star by Star than any of the other books. Perhaps it is because of the detailed deaths of so many Jedi -- young Jedi -- including that of Anakin Solo. ...more
3.5 stars. Probably the best book in the New Jedi Order series for me so far. I was surprised I enjoyed it so much, given how I was so disappointed wi3.5 stars. Probably the best book in the New Jedi Order series for me so far. I was surprised I enjoyed it so much, given how I was so disappointed with the one that came before, which was the first half of the Edge of Victory story line.
"Rebirth" goes back to focusing more on both the Solo and Skywalker families. That was basically what I wanted, and what I was missing from the "Conquest", which was Anakin Solo-centric. In this book, I found there was a lot more going on in the story that I was interested in....more