There's a lot to love in this retelling. Often I'm disappointed by licensed books for their mediocre quality, and I'm always up in arms about how theThere's a lot to love in this retelling. Often I'm disappointed by licensed books for their mediocre quality, and I'm always up in arms about how the authors don't get the emotional reality in the characters they are so lucky to be using. But this book is different. We get a real emotional reaction from Leia seeing her home world blown to bits. We hear her passion and frustration to be the game-changing female leader we all know her to be. We get an internal exploration of Han's life and loneliness and growing protectiveness of that kid Luke Skywalker. We get Luke's fear and thrill at being in a new life. Sure it's not 100% ideal in everything (mostly due to its middle-grade focus, but I can hardly blame it for that) but it's refreshing to have so much of my favorite Star Wars characters written in respected characterization, with enough internal monologue to balance out the action. Alex is a true fan (especially of Leia *wink wink*) and it lovingly shows....more
Too charming and hilarious. I had too much fun with the killer chemistry between Yoda and Luke. I appreciate the great drawings that capture the charaToo charming and hilarious. I had too much fun with the killer chemistry between Yoda and Luke. I appreciate the great drawings that capture the character's likenesses really well too. A great read. Gotta love Yoda. *snickers*...more
I don't even know where to start with my outright love for this book and Zahn's writing. So many licensed books (and sequels) get things wrong. They'r
I don't even know where to start with my outright love for this book and Zahn's writing. So many licensed books (and sequels) get things wrong. They're out-of-character, uninventive, and a disrespect to the original story that inspired them. But this book gets it right. It develops familiar characters with dignity and gravity, and invents new, three-dimensional characters that carry a vast presence on the page.
We see Luke Skywalker with the same quiet, serious conviction that defined his arc in Return of the Jedi, but facing new fears as he questions his ability to be the Jedi his masters were, with no one to teach him but his own instincts and grounded morality. We see Han Solo, still as wry and witty as ever, but with the added sense of responsibility for not only his new wife but his unborn children. Leia holds her own, under attack by mysterious assassins, while learning the ways of the Force and her new lightsaber (oh how I wish she would have still become a Jedi in the Disney canon...). Characters are not taken for granted and are written with introspective awareness of their own journeys and their own beliefs. This is everything a Star Wars book needs to be to do justice to the incredible characters that gave life to the original. I am in love.
Zahn's brilliant grasp on understanding a character's core spills over into his new creations, Mara Jade, Talon Karrde, Grand Admiral Thrawn, and the dark Jedi Joruus C'baoth. Foundational characters in the (now uncrowned) Star Wars Expanded Universe. And no wonder. None of them act out of simple hatred or rage, despite playing the "bad guys" of the story. He writes them with a surety of beliefs and conviction, clear and purposed goals, and complex motivations. They are people, with the nuances that come with that distinction.
Zahn is effortless with the concepts that make this story as a whole so vastly well-rounded. He's got military strategy down like an expert -- Thrawn is a real commander, the kind that could lead a successful army in real life... the guy's a genius tactician, psychologist, and a great leader. The dogfights and battles spark of tangible reality and down-to-earth strategics, with physics a very real presence in so many tactics employed by Luke and others. Zahn's got economy, he's got politics, he's got a stunning imagination for fantastic, but scientifically-grounded world-building (such as Lando's walking city).
The details here aren't arbitrary and we don't get any lame references to nerf nuggets, hit singles, and throw-in-a-holo-prefix to create a world (sorry Heir to the Jedi is still my standard for a bad Star Wars novel). Instead, there's logistics to Zahn's worlds, unassuming uniqueness in his invention of terms and customs.
And then there's the plot and humor. Zahn's sense of comedy is so low-key and situational. Somehow he makes grand tense scenes like the ones between Thrawn and C'baoth both full of bone fide suspense and dignity, and equal parts squabbling crack. It's utterly brilliant. The plot doesn't try to reach beyond itself or be too mind-blowing, but is based on a sense of logistics with the new Republic and the scraps of the old Empire. Han is out trying to recruit smugglers to aid the Republic shipping and economics. Thrawn is recruiting the dark Jedi C'baoth to mentally unify the fleet into efficiency (while planning for his big attack). Elements fall together with insane (and sometimes humorous) genius, and build up with suspense and mystery. It's small scale enough to feel like the little people that populate Star Wars, epic enough to feel like the largest ILM battle sequences.
The old Expanded Universe might have been scrapped, but to me this stuff is canon. It captures more of the heart and soul of the characters and the story of Star Wars than so many other books, and I only hope they use the template of deft characterization here to define what's coming in the EU.
I'll be short and sweet. This book captures so much of the moral complexity of the landscape in Star Wars -- from thoughtful, realistic musings on howI'll be short and sweet. This book captures so much of the moral complexity of the landscape in Star Wars -- from thoughtful, realistic musings on how the rebels are in fact terrorists, to potential moral justifications of the attack on Alderaan (with the added weight of having one of the major Imperial characters having come from that planet).
Ciena is fiercely loyal -- to whatever cause she puts her oath to, willing to do her job but still keep her heart without denying her duty and her identity. Thane is cynical, not buying any of the idealistic hype put out by the alliance he decided to side with, but still willing to stop the Empire even if that may mean fighting against the one constant in his life, Ciena. There is no black and white with these people... but experiences, seen through the lens of heritage, beliefs, and love.
The book is worth reading for the moral landscape alone. But it's a great, new way to relive the major battles of the Original Trilogy and the Battle of Jakku, from the perspective of the small guys, the X-Wing and TIE pilots. You also get a great balanced glimpse into the training of Imperial officers, the rigor and discipline involved....more
A charming little book with a viable adventure, but nothing too spectacular since it does cover the same ground as Heir to the Jedi (which I was alsoA charming little book with a viable adventure, but nothing too spectacular since it does cover the same ground as Heir to the Jedi (which I was also currently reading). All about how Luke is trying to teach himself the Force post-Kenobi's death, which is always fun ground. It's always nice to see the Force described in tangible, spiritual detail. The climax enveloped me, especially with the added audio effects in the Audible version. A cozy read and Luke-focused so I'm happy....more
I'm sorry Kevin Hearne, I'm not usually one for scathing criticism. But this book had absolutely no substance. I was so excited forOkay but really...
I'm sorry Kevin Hearne, I'm not usually one for scathing criticism. But this book had absolutely no substance. I was so excited for it (bless that stunning cover art). But the only truly good section was the opening paragraphs and maybe the closing ones when Luke describes the Force filling him and then reflecting on the loss of his aunt and uncle, Ben, and Biggs. Other than that, it was pointless plot-driven action and extremely lame world-building. Caf for caffeine? R2-D2's photoreceptors turn into a "cam eye" because Hearne's world-building consists entirely of abbreviating words. (Or using superhero costume references that don't exist in a galaxy far, far away.) Let's not even talk about his "math culture" for Drusil and the cringe-worthy love story with Nakari.
I am MOST UPSET though, with Hearne's characterization of Luke Skywalker, my Jedi hero, my fresh-faced idealist, my upstart kid looking for a mission and a meaning in his world. No, this Luke is CALLOUS to war. "Nakari would place bullet holes on their temples like periods at the end of a sentence." Just kill me now. Where is his moral center? Luke just stepped off from Tatooine, had ONE major battle in an X-Wing and ZERO experience in hand-to-hand killing and we see him not even blink at eye at a guy whose brains are shot not three feet in front of him??? (This actually happens in the book.) PLEASE KEVIN HEARNE.
At best, it's forgettable. At worst, painfully awkward and decidedly unlike Star Wars....more
What I value a lot about this book is the scientific-bent to the world-building it adds to the Star Wars universe, and the additional characterizationWhat I value a lot about this book is the scientific-bent to the world-building it adds to the Star Wars universe, and the additional characterization moments we get from Luke on his uncle, Biggs, and Obi-Wan. We find a slightly edgier Luke and realize his dissatisfaction with life at home stems not only from his impatience but his uncle's lack of appreciation of him.
I appreciate the moments of poetry too, since I realize so many licensed books seem to slack on inventive writing. But Foster does well here and I appreciate his descriptions, readability, and insight. The climactic battle won me over in its detail and how it gave Luke the moment of grief for Biggs that his old friend from Tatooine deserved....more
Read this in one sitting via the incredible Audible adaptation by B.J. Harrison. He really brings this narrative to life, and the variety and strengthRead this in one sitting via the incredible Audible adaptation by B.J. Harrison. He really brings this narrative to life, and the variety and strength of his voices are just mind-blowing incredible. But back to Lewis Carroll. It was great to know the original story, apart from the film adaptations and certainly apart from the new live-action renditions. The story in its purity is seemingly quite simple, but there's so many layers of hidden depth just waiting to be discovered and one can feel Alice's maturity arc so deftly but so surely growing towards the end and the beautiful monologue about growing up that concludes this tale. It's sharp, witty, and so much more than just a kid's story. Amazing....more
Gotta admit, I've gotten pretty captivated by Michael J. Fox lately. Read his Lucky Man via audiobook just the other day and now this, again in his voGotta admit, I've gotten pretty captivated by Michael J. Fox lately. Read his Lucky Man via audiobook just the other day and now this, again in his voice. Much of it covers thoughts and events he recounted in his other memoirs, but the point of this little book was to address graduates and provide tidbits of inspiration and motivation for life ahead. In that I think he succeeded well. For me, it's just a pleasure in and of itself to hear and read his gently charming self-depreciating humor and wisdom. He's got a lot to give and does it with such sincerity....more
I picked up this audiobook on a whim and I'm glad I did. This is a very moving, inspiring book, even just hearing the real sincerity in Fox's gentle vI picked up this audiobook on a whim and I'm glad I did. This is a very moving, inspiring book, even just hearing the real sincerity in Fox's gentle voice, reading the words he's written about his own life and the wisdom and perspective he's gained from "the gift that keeps taking". He's an admirable man, and his rise to stardom came with the pitfalls of immaturity he's not afraid to own up to. The story between him and his wife comforts me knowing that he has found a true, lasting love. His hiding from Parkinson’s, first from himself and then from everyone around him in his business, was a struggle I really felt for him, so when I read about the reaction to his coming out with the disease... I could sense the paradigm-shift that happened in his heart, and how he realized he didn't just have to deal with everyone knowing, he could fully embrace it as a great opportunity to do good and inspire others. I am happy for him, and I truly admire him. Several portions brought mist to my eyes, including this from the intro, that essentially captures the sense of love I have for people like him who have found wisdom and want to share that joy to the world:
Coping with the relentless assault and the accumulating damage is not easy. Nobody would ever choose to have this visited upon them. Still, this unexpected crisis forced a fundamental life decision: adopt a siege mentality -- or embark upon a journey. Whatever it was - courage? acceptance? wisdom? -- that finally allowed me to go down the second road (after spending a few disastrous years on the first) was unquestionably a gift - and absent this neurophysiological catastrophe, I would never have opened it, or been so profoundly enriched. That's why I consider myself a lucky man.
It's rare to find people this mature and humble, especially among people who are thrust with not only the insanity of fame but the stab of debilitating illness. He's a role model and his book enables one not only to know his story, but become intimately involved in his life and the lessons to be gained from his experience and personal philosophy....more
The driving force in this series isn't the action or the coolness of killing zombies... but the search for humanity in the midst of horror. How peopleThe driving force in this series isn't the action or the coolness of killing zombies... but the search for humanity in the midst of horror. How people crack, how people deal, how people find the simple things that make us human when the world goes to shit. I love how slow it moves, actually, and how we're reading just to see how these people react to the next step in their adventure and how this world is changing them –– for better or worse....more
This book was 70% amazing and 30% frustration. Amazing because the prose sparked of life and genuine dignity, detail, and unashamed description. ThisThis book was 70% amazing and 30% frustration. Amazing because the prose sparked of life and genuine dignity, detail, and unashamed description. This book brought Sarek to life for me, with his inherent dignity and his gentle, wise but still so human (sorry Sarek) personality. I got to experience a Vulcan bonding, dwell in Sarek's low-key but powerful love for Amanda, have my heart ripped out by Amanda's search for him (view spoiler)[as she was dying. (hide spoiler)] I die for all-consuming descriptions of someone's state of mind, and Crispin had me at the melds. Such beauty. The emotional climax of the book was definitely around halfway, (view spoiler)[when Amanda died, and the search for him through her mind, with Spock's desperate attempts to reach Sarek for her. (hide spoiler)]
I loved the quite-detailed and thought-out action plot and world-building this book had, especially how it connected quite integrally to The Undiscovered Country. The new characters like Valdyr were very well-drawn, and it was exciting to see Peter Kirk in action. However, three-quarters the way in I felt Crispin forgot the heart of her story as she geared over completely to the action plot and then crossed the Marty Stu line with Peter Kirk in a few scenes towards the end. I was quite miffed, to be honest.
But there's still so much to love about this book. The world, Amanda's journals, the Vulcan way of thinking, of feeling... and of course, Sarek and Amanda. Go listen to Tracy Chapman's "The Promise" and that's the quiet depth I felt out of their relationship. Four stars for that....more
I read this because I'm a huge McCoy fan and I was dying to see him with a really fleshed-out story that hits his heart and soul. This didn't quite cuI read this because I'm a huge McCoy fan and I was dying to see him with a really fleshed-out story that hits his heart and soul. This didn't quite cut it, as the characters and the conflict felt more like it was going through the motions of a predictable plot than anything truly enlightening or deep about anyone's character (Kirk, McCoy, Jocelyn, or her new husband). The Ssani culture was, however, interesting, and I loved the philosophical discussions we saw between young McCoy and one of their assassins. But otherwise, the description and development seemed too easy and predictable, like the rest of the novel. Sad McCoy fan over here. *sniff* Maybe I'll take up pen and write my own character piece that does this man justice. (Thank goodness for fanfiction!)...more