A LONG TIME AGO IN A GALAXY FAR FAR AWAY... Bestselling Star Wars veteran James Luceno gives Grand Moff Tarkin the Star Wars: Darth Plagueis treatment, bringing a legendary character from A New Hope to full, fascinating life.
He’s the scion of an honourable and revered family. A dedicated soldier and distinguished legislator. Loyal proponent of the Republic and trusted ally of the Jedi Order. Groomed by the ruthless politician and Sith Lord who would be Emperor, Governor Wilhuff Tarkin rises through the Imperial ranks, enforcing his authority ever more mercilessly . . . and zealously pursuing his destiny as the architect of absolute dominion.
Rule through the fear of force rather than force itself, he advises his Emperor. Under Tarkin’s guidance, an ultimate weapon of unparalleled destruction moves ever closer to becoming a terrifying reality. When the so-called Death Star is completed, Tarkin is confident that the galaxy’s lingering pockets of Separatist rebellion will be brought to heel—by intimidation . . . or annihilation.
Until then, however, insurgency remains a genuine threat. Escalating guerrilla attacks by resistance forces and newfound evidence of a growing Separatist conspiracy are an immediate danger the Empire must meet with swift and brutal action. And to bring down a band of elusive freedom fighters, the Emperor turns to his most formidable agents: Darth Vader, the fearsome new Sith enforcer as remorseless as he is mysterious; and Tarkin—whose tactical cunning and cold-blooded efficiency will pave the way for the Empire’s supremacy . . . and its enemies’ extinction.
It’s a new era for Star Wars. You may have seen the Force Awakens teaser trailer released a few days ago to much fanfare, but before that, Disney’s new Expanded Universe started with several writers getting their first taste of exploring the new Star Wars world. Readers also got their first taste of what to expect, and although I’ve only had the chance to read Tarkin so far from this new batch of releases, the new Star Wars universe looks to be in very good hands indeed.
James Luceno is one of my favourite Star Wars authors and I’ve loved his work in the past so it was a no brainer really as to whether or not I’d pick up Tarkin. Like with Darth Plagueis, James Luceno fleshes out a character who isn’t especially developed, and giving him some depth (although not without its problems, which I’ll touch on later) and intrigue of his own in a novel set before the events of A New Hope. It is very much a prequel novel that really works, telling the rise of Wilhuff Tarkin that’s executed in a strong way indeed. If you want to get a sample of what life was like for the Imperials before the completion of the Death Star then Tarkin is something that you’ll want to read, with plenty of interesting scenes that keep the novel feeling mostly fresh and exciting.
Luceno splits the narrative between flashbacks and the present day pretty well. The flashbacks are deployed to great effect and they are used to explore the different timelines strongly and they don’t really feel disjointed when it comes to pacing, and as a result you won’t find one section to be incredibly fast whilst the other is much slower.
The book itself blends the detective style approach with the look at the Empire’s problems after the Clone Wars. There are still Separatists to be dealt with and everything isn’t quite as clean as Tarkin would have liked it to be. Especially as the Death Star itself isn’t quite complete just yet, and it’s interesting to see how the Empire dealt with things before they had their super weapon.
There are a few problems however. As expected in a novel focused on the villains, and therefore you shouldn’t expect to find any sympathetic characters here. Luceno doesn’t make Tarkin someone you want to get behind and there isn’t anyone that developed to get on their side either, but if you can put that aside, then Tarkin is for the most part, very fun. It’s great for those of you who preferred Darth Vader over Luke Skywalker and as a general rule, fans of darker characters will probably get the most out of this book.
The novel is a good, solid read that explores Tarkin and the Empire pretty well. It gives plenty of page time to Darth Vader, and allows a good cop, bad cop kind of approach with both characters making the narrative very interesting indeed. The pace itself is handled very well and there aren’t really any dull moments, and despite the fact that Tarkin himself may or may not be interesting depending on your point of view, the book itself is still very much entertaining.
In short, you could do far worse than Tarkin. It might not be a perfect read but from James Luceno, it’s a damn good one, that aside from one or two problems, doesn’t disappoint.
"James SA Corey produces an excellent Star Wars book that is one of the best that the franchise has ever given us. As well as being a treat for fans of both Corey and Star Wars, it's also something that readers who are only familiar with the films can jump on board as well with little difficulty. Highly Recommended." ~Bane of Kings, The Founding Fields
A LONG TIME AGO IN A GALAXY FAR, FAR AWAY...
When the Empire threatens the galaxy’s new hope, will Han, Luke, and Leia become its last chance?
When the mission is to extract a high-level rebel spy from the very heart of the Empire, Leia Organa knows the best man for the job is Han Solo—something the princess and the smuggler can finally agree on. After all, for a guy who broke into an Imperial cell block and helped destroy the Death Star, the assignment sounds simple enough.
But when Han locates the brash rebel agent, Scarlet Hark, she’s determined to stay behind enemy lines. A pirate plans to sell a cache of stolen secrets that the Empire would destroy entire worlds to protect—including the planet where Leia is currently meeting with rebel sympathizers. Scarlet wants to track down the thief and steal the bounty herself, and Han has no choice but to go along if he’s to keep everyone involved from getting themselves killed. From teeming city streets to a lethal jungle to a trap-filled alien temple, Han, Chewbacca, Leia, and their daring new comrade confront one ambush, double cross, and firestorm after another as they try to keep crucial intel out of Imperial hands.
But even with the crack support of Luke Skywalker’s x-wing squadron, the Alliance heroes may be hopelessly outgunned in their final battle for the highest of stakes: the power to liberate the galaxy from tyranny or ensure the Empire’s reign of darkness forever.
I'm a massive fan of Daniel Abraham's work, whether he's working on his own, as MLN Hanover or with Ty Frank as James SA Corey. His The Expanse series has been one of my favourites of recent years and there was no way I was going to miss out on this book - especially as it was a Star Wars title, which is one of my favourite fictional universes. And what's more is that this series has already given us some high quality authors in the form of Martha Wells with her Razor's Edge title, which was focused mainly around Princess Leia. However, this time with Corey at the helm, the attention shifts to the smuggling duo of Han Solo and the Wookie Chewbacca, and whilst Leia and Luke get plenty to do, the main bulk of the narrative is focused on these two characters.
James SA Corey is an incredibly gifted writer (or pair of writers), and Honor Among Thieves is another stellar hit. Set after the destruction of the Death Star in A New Hope, Honor Among Thieves tasks Han and Chewie with an order to extract a high-level Rebel prisoner from the very heart of the Empire. It should be a refreshingly simple task, from someone who has broken into the Death Star in the past. However, there's a catch. The rebel Scarlet Hark doesn't want to leave, for she's dealing with an important mission of her own - the prevention of a pirate from selling a cache of stolen secrets that the Empire would do anything to try and get back. So naturally, it's clear that it would benefit the Rebellion, and Han finds himself with no choice but to stick with Scarlet and help her complete the mission.
Honor Among Thieves is quite possibly one of the best Star Wars novels that I've read. It's no surprise given the creative team behind it but the combined action plus good characteristics allow for one hell of a read, making this title an unputdownable novel that ranks among my favourites. What's best about this book is that unlike later Star Wars novels it doesn't rely on years of continuity that fans have to be familiar with before jumping on, all you have to do is be familiar with at least A New Hope and then you're all set. But most likely, you'll have seen the original trilogy - so that shouldn't matter. Aside from Scarlet Hark and a few other original characters created by Corey, Honor Among Thieves casts the principal heroes in the spotlight and drafts a compelling, enthralling and addictive read that hopefully will not be the last novel in this universe by the writing team.
Han and Chewbacca, as one would hope, are pretty much nailed spot on in terms of character. Corey captures the voice of both, crafting an incredible narrative that illustrates just how much Han in particular changed as a character during the course of A New Hope, and there isn't a better way to do that then have him reconnect with one of his old smuggling buddies, Bassen Ray. However, both newcomers, Ray and Hark, don't really stand out in terms of characters at this point - mainly because they're competing against figures a heck of a lot more developed and recognizable than them and it shows, with both characters come across as feeling weaker versions of Han and Leia respectively. But that's really the only problem that I had with Honor Among Thieves - the rest of the book is Star Wars fiction at its best.
Corey writes some incredible action scenes and there are a lot of fun moments to be had. It's not just the combat scenes that are excellent, but there's a great layer of fun that comes thrown in there as well. Star Wars novels that are dull and boring aren't really Star Wars books - because in order for these books to be good, they have to be enjoyable - and Honor Among Thieves certainly succeeds in that department, even if there's no tension because we know that these respective characters are too big to make it out alive.
Whilst certain biases may be there, with the Star Wars characters being among my favourite in the Science Fiction genre ever, and James SA Corey being among my Top 5 favourite writers in that genre as well, I inevitably knew that before I even started reading I was going to enjoy this book. However, I can safely say that it was not a disappointment, and can certainly come highly recommended, whether you're a hardcore Star Wars fan or someone who has only seen the original trilogy and is looking to try out the tie-in universe for the first time. This is the place to start.
SEE MY BOOK REVIEWS PAGE ON THE FOUNDING FIELDS FOR DETAILS BEHIND THE NEW GRADING SYSTEM.
PREVIOUS STAR WARS NOVEL: Choices of One by Timothy Zahn | NEXT STAR WARS NOVEL: Razor's Edge by Martha Wells
Note: Despite being released after the first novel in the series, Razor's Edge, the Star Wars Wiki lists Honor Among Thieves as taking place before the events in that novel, so if you are reading the Star Wars novels in chronological order rather than series order, you would read Honor Among Thieves first. But as they are both focused on different events, you can read one novel without knowledge of the other.
“A flawed but fun Star Wars novel, Joe Schreiber proves that he isn’t a one-trick pony and doesn’t have to rely on Zombie Stomtroopers to make Lockdown an entertaining read – but just don’t go in expecting a perfect one as the end result is quickly forgettable and not as excellent as it could have been.” ~Bane of Kings, The Founding Fields
A LONG TIME AGO, IN A GALAXY FAR FAR AWAY…
"It’s kill or be killed in the space penitentiary that houses the galaxy’s worst criminals, where convicts face off in gladiatorial combat while an underworld gambling empire reaps the profits of the illicit blood sport. But the newest contender in this savage arena, as demonic to behold as he is deadly to challenge, is fighting for more than just survival. His do-or-die mission, for the dark masters he serves, is to capture the ultimate weapon: an object that will enable the Sith to conquer the galaxy.
Sith lords Darth Plagueis and Darth Sidious are determined to possess the prize. And one of the power-hungry duo has his own treacherous plans for it. But first, their fearsome apprentice must take on a bloodthirsty prison warden, a cannibal gang, cutthroat crime lord Jabba the Hutt, and an unspeakable alien horror. No one else could brave such a gauntlet of death and live. But no one else is the dreaded dark-side disciple known as Darth Maul."
Darth Maul was easily the best thing about The Phantom Menace movie and given the fan reception to the character it’s easy to see why he has not only appeared several times since then in various different mediums, including the animated TV series The Clone Wars, but it’s always good to see a fully fledged novel devoted to a particularly awesome character with the only real worry being what happens if everything goes wrong. Joe Schreiber also seemed like a strong choice for writing duties as well – he has written both Sith, Han Solo and zombies before in his two previous Star Wars novels (Death Troopers & Red Harvest) both of which have been highly enjoyable – so the book seemed like a great chance to impress as the first book release in the franchise in 2014.
However, the book isn’t quite as good as it looks on paper. That’s not to say it’s all bad though – there have been far worse Star Wars novels out there after all – it’s just that with the strength of other recent books set in the franchise, including John Jackson Miller’s Kenobi, Martha Wells’ Razor’s Edge, and the recent Timothy Zahn novel Honor Among Thieves, you’d expect Maul: Lockdown to reach the hieghts set by these two novels, especially given Schreiber’s reputation with his two previous very strong Star Wars books. However, Lockdown suffers as a result of this, with the end result being whilst still enjoyable, underwhelming and ultimately forgettable from a character who deserved much more. For starters, this could have easily been an original character in place of Maul and with a few changes you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. There’s nothing distinctive that makes Maul really standout, which is a shame. If he were a newcomer and this were his first book he would not be more memorable than the supporting cast, with the only reason his name being a standout is his reputation.
The book itself also suffers due to its decision to use Maul in a setting where he’s forced to keep his abilities hidden. Whilst it was interesting to explore how he handles things without the use of the Force, this came at a cost – if you’re not going to use what makes the character so memorable (his double-edged lighstabers) then why use that character at all? This is perhaps the biggest problem that is present in Maul: Lockdown, but if you put that aside the book itself turns out to be a very enjoyable read, and Schreiber manages to make use of his excellent pacing skills to create a book that you will not be able to put down. It’s fast paced, brutal and action packed.
Speaking of action, Schreiber manages to pull it off well. As the book is mainly full of fight scenes, this is a crucial element and whilst there is not much use of Lightsabers to be found here the book is still very much entertaining – it will have you captivated from the beginning and all the way through, even though the characters may not be that great. If you’re a fan of action then you should enjoy this – it’s quick and easy to read as well, like what most recent Star Wars books have become – so if you want something to read in order to break up two massive epic fantasy novels that’s fun and quick, then Maul: Lockdown will be right up your street.
As expected from a quick read, the plot is fairly basic. Sidious has tasked Maul to track down a weapons dealer, allegedly hiding on a prison in a space station, named Cog Hive Seven. In order to find the Dealer, Maul has to enter the prison – with the idea actually working quite well, and it’s interesting to see how the character reacts when in an environment where nobody can be trusted and everybody is out for themselves. It certainly will be a nice break for those who are sick of the endless Jedi vs. Sith novels that the Star Wars franchise has spawned, with the line between good and evil being more morally grey than it has been in the past in this book.
However, the characters are not the only problem found in Maul: Lockdown. Despite it being enjoyable for the most part, The novel suffers from an ending that’s too underwhelming with all plot threads being connected in an ending that doesn’t really make it worth it. The book will also confuse readers who haven’t read James Luceno’s Darth Plagueis, as this book serves as a sort-of sequel as you’ll want to read that book in order to see why the mission was so important in the first place. If you read this book without knowledge of what goes down in Darth Plagueis then it’ll cause only confusion, and this isn’t blatantly clear at first especially as both books are written by two different writers so you should take this into consideration. Darth Plagueis also comes recommended if you haven’t got around to reading that novel yet – it is far better than Maul: Lockdown.
The novel itself has an interesting premise but is sadly underwhelming and ultimately forgettable. However, it serves as a nice quick read and a very entertaining one – even if it could have easily been somebody else other than Darth Maul in the lead role. The book also loses itself in the final act, but for the most part – the novel remains enjoyable and you won’t be able to put it down – so if you can get past these problems then you should end up enjoying it despite this.
PREVIOUS STAR WARS BOOK: Cloak of Deception by James Luceno | NEXT STAR WARS BOOK: Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter by Michael Reaves ...more
“An excellent read. Martha Wells gets the Star Wars franchise back on track – a lot of fun is to be had here with a great focus on Princess Leia, making Razor’s Edge a book that fans will love.” ~Bane of Kings, The Founding Fields
ALONG TIME AGO, IN A GALAXY FAR, FAR AWAY....
"Times are desperate for the Rebel Alliance. Harassment by the Empire and a shortage of vital supplies are hindering completion of a new secret base on the ice planet Hoth. So when Mid Rim merchants offer much-needed materials for sale, Princess Leia Organa and Han Solo lead an Alliance delegation to negotiate a deal.
But when treachery forces the rebel ship to flee into territory controlled by pirates, Leia makes a shocking discovery: the fierce marauders come from Leia’s homeworld of Alderaan, recently destroyed by the Death Star. These refugees have turned to pillaging and plundering to survive—and they are in debt to a pirate armada, which will gladly ransom the princess to the vengeful Empire . . . if they find out her true identity.
Struggling with intense feelings of guilt, loyalty, and betrayal, Leia is determined to help her wayward kinspeople, even as Imperial forces are closing in on her own crippled ship. Trapped between lethal cutthroats and brutal oppressors, Leia and Han, along with Luke, Chewbacca, and a battle-ready crew, must defy death—or embrace it—to keep the rebellion alive."
I went into Razor’s Edge with a lot of high hopes. Whilst I haven’t read any of Martha Wells’ non-Star Wars fiction, I understand she’s a highly praised author whose work I’ve been meaning to check out for a while now. Thus a Star Wars novel from her, and not just any Star Wars novel, but a book set inbetween the events of Episodes IV and V, my favourite two movies of the saga to date, focusing on my favourite characters of the franchise, Han and Leia, who are also among my favourite all-time favourite characters. Whilst Luke does play a role, it isn’t really as big as I had expected, and was actually quite surprised. However, his impact in the book is certainly felt, just as much as Han’s. However, both aren’t nearly given as much attention as Leia, who dominates the main point of view and is portrayed like the other two perfectly well, never once floating out of character, and Wells gets the characters just as well as the likes of John Jackson Miller and James Luceno or any other A-List Star Wars author, with her first novel for the franchise. (I’d throw Timothy Zahn in there as well, but I haven’t actually read any of his work yet). An amusing moment in the book came from the banter between Han and Leia, when they aren’t ready to admit that they’re attracted to another just yet, proving that the book doesn’t fall into the trap of being too grimdark, with some nice elements of humour splattered across the pages.
Razor's EdgeThe plot itself is pretty action packed and as unpredictable as a novel featuring characters from the films set in a period between the actual films can be – no matter what danger the three lead characters (and the rest of the characters such as Chewbacca and C3PO) find themselves in, we know they’ll make it out alive. However, the same cannot be said for any other character though – Wells does her best to make the book as unpredictable as ever, and even the outcome of the plot can be unpredictable in places. Action is used well, but don’t mistake this for a book filled with nothing but the shooting of blasters and the swinging of Luke’s lightsaber – and to Wells’ credit as an experienced author, she never manages to make the book feel like it’s moving slower during the non-action sequences, with the pacing nailed pretty much spot on.
If you think female characters are unappreciated in the Star Wars Universe, then you should look no further than Razor’s Edge. Wells not only offers a strong portrayal of Princess Leia, but deals with several other interesting female characters to boot that make the book much more engaging. As well as exploring the state of the Rebellion following the events of Episode IV (hint: It’s not a good one, despite their victory over the Empire in the Battle of Yavin), touching upon just how vital pretty much every mission has become for them. Other factions are explored too, but for a book in a series entitled Empire and Rebellion, it is almost surprising as to a relatively minor role that the Empire play in this book. But their presence certainly is felt, and whilst characters from that faction may not get as much page-time or focus as our main protagonists do, and they play a much bigger role in the book later on. Another element that Wells chooses to explore as well is what happened to the survivors of Alderaan, because even though the planet got wiped out, there was no possible way that Leia could have been the only person who wasn’t actually on the planet at the time. This nice touch allows for a few interesting aspects to come into play – particularly when you consider that her fellow people are now working as pirates in order to survive.
I think it’s safe to say that Razor’s Edge therefore, is a success. Martha Wells succeeds in sticking to canon, getting everybody in character throughout the book and bringing a great, well-paced read that sees the Empire and Rebellion series get off to a very strong start. Rest assured, if you’re a fan of the franchise – Martha Wells’ first outing is one that you won’t want to miss out on, and I eagerly await the next instalment in the Empire and Rebellion series, written by James S.A. Corey.
PREVIOUS STAR WARS BOOK: Splinter of the Mind’s Eye by Alan Dean Foster | NEXT STAR WARS BOOK: Empire and Rebellion #2: Honour Among Thieves by James S.A. Corey (2014) ...more
“A wonderful read – one of the best Star Wars novels in a while. Highly Recommended.” ~The Founding Fields
I’ve had the chance to read a lot of the more recently published Star Wars novels – but for the past few books that I’ve shared my thoughts on have felt, well – somewhat average. They’ve never really stood out from the pack, despite being entertaining books – they’ve often felt like your average blockbuster film. You’ll enjoy it – but there will be some inevitable problems that you can’t ignore. However, whilst I did have one problem with Kenobi, that one problem was all that I had – the rest of the book was really enjoyable and I’m pleased to say that it’s one of the best Star Wars novels that I’ve read in a while.
"Tatooine—a harsh desert world where farmers toil in the heat of two suns while trying to protect themselves and their loved ones from the marauding Tusken Raiders. A backwater planet on the edge of civilized space. And an unlikely place to find a Jedi Master in hiding, or an orphaned infant boy on whose tiny shoulders rests the future of a galaxy.
Known to locals only as “Ben,” the bearded and robed offworlder is an enigmatic stranger who keeps to himself, shares nothing of his past, and goes to great pains to remain an outsider. But as tensions escalate between the farmers and a tribe of Sand People led by a ruthless war chief, Ben finds himself drawn into the fight, endangering the very mission that brought him to Tatooine.
Ben—Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, hero of the Clone Wars, traitor to the Empire, and protector of the galaxy’s last hope—can no more turn his back on evil than he can reject his Jedi training. And when blood is unjustly spilled, innocent lives threatened, and a ruthless opponent unmasked, Ben has no choice but to call on the wisdom of the Jedi—and the formidable power of the Force—in his never-ending fight for justice."
The book itself feels like a western novel as opposed to a Star Wars one. Maybe because, despite its setting in a futuristic universe, the book itself takes place entirely on a desert planet. If you were looking for cameos of Darth Vadar and others that you’re familiar with from the original Star Wars trilogy, then you’re also going to be disappointed – as the attention is focused mainly on Obi-Wan and several other characters. The book itself delivers an excellent look into Obi-Wan, exploring his character and provides some great depth for him. There’s still some way to go for this Obi-Wan before he becomes the one that Luke meets in A New Hope. He’s still dealing with the consequences of Order 66 and his actions against Anakin on Mustafar, and I’ll be pleased to say that Miller handles this very well indeed. This book started life as a graphic novel, and like Darth Plageuis, another one of the best Star Wars novels recently, they’ve both undergone long periods of development to get to where they are today. Darth Plagueis was cancelled after it was announced, and then brought back again – and along with Kenobi, show that time and effort pays off a lot more than writing a book on a whim.
KenobiHowever, Kenobi is a very different book to Darth Plagueis. Exploring the middle period between Episodes III and IV, Kenobi not only gives a great insight into Obi-Wan as a character, but also the various culture of Tatooine. We see a greater exploration of what it’s like to live on a desert planet, and its setting allows for an interesting take on a Western Star Wars novel, with the overall premise being familiar to fans of the genre. Alongside Obi-Wan himself we get viewpoints from other major characters, who play a pretty big role in Kenobi’s life during this period as they’re shaped by his arrival. POV characters range from a shopkeeper to a Tusken Raider Warlord, and they’re all pretty much entertaining characters to read about – and you get the added unpredictability that comes from the fact that they’re new characters, even if you know that Obi-Wan will make it out in one piece, every other character is fair game.
The book itself however does suffer from one problem, and that it didn’t grip me in right at the start. Sure, once I was immersed in Kenobi I couldn’t put it down, but the book lacks the pull at the opening for me, as it’s a bit slow off the ground. However, I advise not putting it aside because of that – because once Kenobi kicks off, it really soars. The action, the characters – the setting and the tone are all engaging and I thoroughly enjoyed this standalone tale. This is the first John Jackson Miller novel that I’ve read, and if Kenobi is anything to go by, then you can count me in for Knight Errant and any other titles that Miller has written for certain.
This is one book you won’t want to miss out on if you’re a fan of Star Wars, and a welcoming return to form for the franchise when it comes to tie-in novels, especially when you consider the upcoming Razor’s Edge novel by Martha Wells, which I’ve also read (review coming later) through NetGalley like this title, is enjoyable as well. Count me in for any more books by John Jackson Miller in the future, and I hope he returns to the Star Wars setting soon.
PREVIOUS STAR WARS NOVEL: Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader by James Luceno | NEXT STAR WARS NOVEL: Jedi Twilight by Michael Reaves (Coruscant Nights #1) ...more
“If you’re a younger reader, this is certainly worth checking out. Fun and entertaining.” ~The Founding Fields
Writer: Justin Aclin | Artist: Eduardo Ferrera
"When he encounters a criminal from his past, Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi strikes out, determined to fulfill a promise he made to himself as a young Jedi: to bring in this fugitive on his own! While on the trail, Obi-Wan earns a favor from a local smuggler, but her devotion to working for her own benefit may be more trouble for Obi-Wan than her help is actually worth!"
I’ll admit, I’ve never seen The Clone Wars. Usually, animated TV isn’t my sort of thing, although saying that – I did pick up the film when it was released on DVD, and although it was a little cheesy in places, wasn’t downright awful. However, The Smuggler’s Code allows me to explore more of that universe thanks to a NetGalley copy, and as it turns out, I wasn’t missing anything breathtakingly fantastic. However, The Smuggler’s Code is a nice way to pass time if you’re a Star Wars fan, fun – quick and an entertaining read.
The book itself takes Obi-Wan, Anakin and Ahsoka, a character who I’m not all that familiar with – the young newcomer who we first were introduced to in the film, to the planet of Wielu – to relax, something which we never saw Jedi doing in the films. As it so happens, Wielu is basically a sandy, beach type planet that doubles up as a resort. Of course, this being entitled The Smuggler’s Code, you can expect some action to happen, and action certainly does happen, when Obi-Wan meets a criminal from his past, and the story decides to take an Obi-Wan centric approach from here on out, pushing Anakin and Ahsoka to the sidelines, which is good – because Obi-Wan is awesome.
The Smuggler’s Code is clearly aimed at a younger audience, the colours and tones are bright and you won’t find anything dark or gritty here. If you’re more of a fan of the expanded Universe novels such as Death Troopers by John Jackson Miller, then chances are, it’ll be different to what you’re expecting, but if you’re a younger fan of Star Wars then The Smuggler’s Code might just be the perfect graphic novel for you. The artwork here is very similiar to what I gathered from The Clone Wars movie and what few clips I’ve seen from the TV show, and fans of that will probably find something they’ll enjoy here – as I understand the series has been cancelled, so this is a great way for fans of that series to find enjoy here.
If you’re a parent looking to buy this graphic novel for a youngster, then you’ll be pleased to know that it comes with a message, being dishonest will get you nowhere. Friendship and honesty are delved into here, in a way that isn’t blatantly obvious, and as mentioned earlier, there’s plenty of action to satisfy a Star Wars fan – younger readers will get the most out of this title, but old hands might find something they’ll get out of this.
“A fun, fast paced take on some of Star Wars’ most iconic characters.” ~The Founding Fields
Despite all the Star Wars novels I’ve read, I still consider myself fairly new to the Expanded Universe. I’ve never read The Thrawn Trilogy by Timothy Zahn, and I’ve only read a couple of novels set post Return of the Jedi. That means missing out on The New Jedi Order series, and more, and I was a bit unsure about how much Cruicible would expand on past continuity on those novels. Would it be another Star Wars book that I didn’t understand due to the fact I haven’t read a lot in the genre? (See The Lost Tribe of the Sith – Spiral), or would be a standalone book with a few characters in the expanded universe, such as the descendants of Luke and the gang, thrown in. As it turns out, whilst the book’s main focus lies on Han, Lando, Luke and Leia, we still get appearances from characters like Ben Skywalker and Jania Solo, despite the fact that the main focus is on the original three protagonists.
"Han Solo, Leia Organa Solo, and Luke Skywalker return in an all-new Star Wars adventure, which will challenge them in ways they never expected—and forever alter their understanding of life and the Force.
When Han and Leia Solo arrive at Lando Calrissian’s Outer Rim mining operation to help him thwart a hostile takeover, their aim is just to even up the odds and lay down the law. Then monstrous aliens arrive with a message, and mere threats escalate into violent sabotage with mass fatalities. When the dust settles, what began as corporate warfare becomes a battle with much higher stakes—and far deadlier consequences.
Now Han, Leia, and Luke team up once again in a quest to defeat a dangerous adversary bent on galaxy-wide domination. Only this time, the Empire is not the enemy. It is a pair of ruthless geniuses with a lethal ally and a lifelong vendetta against Han Solo. They will stop at nothing to control the lucrative Outer Rim mining trade—and ultimately the entire galactic economy. And when the murderous duo gets the drop on Han, he finds himself outgunned in the fight of his life. To save him, and the galaxy, Luke and Leia must brave a gauntlet of treachery, terrorism, and the untold power of an enigmatic artifact capable of bending space, time, and even the Force itself into an apocalyptic nightmare."
The action in Crucible is pretty entertaining. It’s a lot of fun to read, which is what I think a Star Wars novel should be. I know major Star Wars characters have been killed off in the past, case in point, Chewbacca, whose death I believe came in Vector Prime, a novel that I still haven’t read, but there was never any point during this novel where I felt that the characters that we’d grown to know and love would actually die, despite the constant level of threat applied to them.
The book, according to the Goodreads reviews, takes place after Fate of the Jedi and sets up presumably the next arc in the Star Wars series, if indeed, there will be one given the Disney takeover. The cast is quite small and focused, allowing for a smaller scale conflict and a tightly-packed read. Denning certainly delivers when he’s writing action, and the fast, page-turning writing really make Crucible entertaining. However, the book isn’t without its flaws though, and there are several things that you need to watch out for,
Firstly, the plot has lots of holes in it, one of the issues presented here is that the genius bad guy doesn’t end up being as intelligent as the character is presented as, completely robbing them of any credibility. They pretty much were beaten constantly right the way through the novel by our heroes, despite the fact that Han gets into some sticky situations.
Whilst I understood who the main characters were and had a larger sense of what was happening than with Spiral, I still couldn’t shake the feeling that perhaps I jumped into the deep end here and should be better off going back and reading through as much as the Expanded Universe novels as I can before delving into any books that are released that have been set following this. Some parts were confusing and others were left wanting me to work out how the characters had got to where they are now. I know the rough idea of what happens in the Star Wars Universe, but I would love to read what things they undertake in order to get to that point. There are also a lot of movie references in Crucible, right from the beginning where we find ourselves in a bar that reminds the characters involved of Mos Eisley. It’s a nod to the continuity, but do we really need to have that reference there? I could have certainly lived without it.
The best bit about this novel is probably seeing Luke, Han, Leia and Lando back in action as a team, and the action that they find themselves in throughout the book. Don’t expect anything too groundbreaking, for this novel is not a must read and it certainly isn’t the best jumping on point for a Star Wars book. But it’s fun, pacey and entertaining, basically filling the SW-tie in version of a Summer Movie Blockbuster.
PREVIOUS STAR WARS NOVEL: X-Wing: Mercy Kill by Aaron Allston
“An entertaining Star Wars tale that unfortunately is probably not the best jumping on point to newcomers to this era.” ~The Founding Fields
Writer: John Jackson Miller | Penciller: Andrea Mutti | Inker: Pierluigi Baldassini | Cover Art: Paul Renaud | Publisher: Dark Horse Comics | Collects: Star Wars: The Lost Tribe of the Sith – Spiral #1-5
An ambitious Sith rebel, Spinner, is about to upset the balance of a lost tribe of Sith. When he is arrested for treason and sent away on a prisoner vessel, thoughts of overcoming his station, destroying the Tribe, and even finding a way to escape into the galaxy lead Spinner to a powerful, long-forgotten weapon. A rival stowaway Sith on that same vessel has her own ideas about the future of the Tribe. They don’t need eradication; they need a new leader—her! Collects Star Wars: Lost Tribe of the Sith #1–#5.
I’m a fan of Star Wars. I’ve seen all six films, and read more than ten novels. However, The Lost Tribe of the Sith: Spiral is my first graphic novel that I’ve read set in the Star Wars Universe, unless you’re counting the first two issues of Brian Wood’s current Star Wars series for Dark Horse, and if I’m honest, it probably wasn’t the best jumping on point for somebody who hasn’t read anything from the Lost Tribe of the Sith era beforehand, as I didn’t really have that much of an idea as to what was going on.
It turns out that the Sith featured here are not Sith that newcomers like myself know from the films – there’s more of them for one, and they don’t stick to the whole One Master and Apprentice act that actually, wasn’t really introduced until Darth Bane’s arrival on the scene, many years after the end of this graphic novel in particular. But hey, it’s always nice to read about the Sith, right? I mean, whilst I’ll take the Jedi over their evil counterparts any day, the Sith are always entertaining to read and or watch from. This graphic novel itself set up the chance for a unique take on the Sith, but instead – we get Darth Spinner, called that way for reasons not quite clear to us, who is along the same vein as characters like Darth Maul. Darth Spinner’s character however was never one I sympathized with, or indeed, wanted to root for, and he didn’t stick out as being very memorable either. And he’s not the only character who didn’t make a lasting impression on me, for I fail to remember the names of every other character in this graphic novel that we saw, which is a shame. Then again, Miller is only given five issues to work with the characters in this trade paperback collection, which I think is far too small amount of issues to be included in a collection – the standard for me is probably 7, any less than that, unless of course the price is low as well, doesn’t really make me want to check out the trade itself.
I wanted to like this graphic novel, I really did – but it didn’t just work for me, which is unfortunate as I love a good Star Wars tale. It’s unfortunate that I happen to be a newcomer to this corner of the Star Wars timeline, but I’m sure that if you’re a fan of either Miller or are more knowledgeable about The Lost Tribe of the Sith then maybe you’ll get more enjoyment out of the graphic novel than I did.
However, I still think the book has some strong points. It’s nice to see a Star Wars tale filled with lightsabers, Sith battling it out in a comic format and whilst the artwork isn’t too memorable there are some pretty awesome scenes contained within. Miller’s Spiral is also a fun read as well, with some well crafted action sequences and a fairly interesting story that as mentioned above, I’m sure I would have enjoyed more if I was more familiar with the setting.
A/N: This was initially intended to be part of a dual review with fellow reviewer Shadowhawk, which explains the slightly different (no introduction between the quote and the blurb) format.
“Another strong collaboration between Bonhoff and Reaves, but ultimately, The Last Jedi doesn’t quite get everything right.“ ~Bane of Kings, The Founding Fields
"The Emperor’s ruthless Order 66 has all but exterminated the Jedi. The few remaining who still wield the Force for good have been driven into exile or hiding. But not Jax Pavan, who’s been steadily striking blows against the Empire—as a lone guerrilla fighter and a valued partner of Whiplash, a secret Coruscant-based resistance group. Now he’s taking on his most critical mission: transporting a valued Whiplash leader, targeted for assassination, from Coruscant to safety on a distant world. It’s a risky move under any circumstances, but Jax and his trusted crew aboard the Far Ranger, including the irrepressible droid I-Five, are prepared to pit their combat skills and their vessel’s firepower against all Imperial threats—except the one Jax fears most. Reports have raced across the galaxy that the dark lord of the Sith has fallen in a duel to the death with a Rebel freedom fighter. But Jax discovers the chilling truth when he reaches out with the Force . . . only to touch the dark, unmistakable, and malignantly alive presence that is Darth Vader. And Jax knows that Vader will stop at nothing until the last Jedi has fallen."
I don’t normally talk about cover arts when writing a review, but holy crap - The Last Jedi has a great one. It’s got an awesome cover of the main protagonist, Jax – standing in front of a menacing Darth Vader, who is one of my favourite villains ever. The moment that I saw that cover, I knew I had to request this book from NetGalley and my choice of requesting was further reinforced by my enjoyment of the other collaboration by Michael Reaves and Maya Kaathryn Bonhoff - Shadow Games. As the last Star Wars book that I read was Darth Plageuis, I wanted to read something from the Jedi’s perspective and Reaves and Bonhoff did not disappoint, creating an enthralling tale set in the aftermath of Order 66, the betrayal of the Clones and the revelation of Palpatine as Darth Sidious in a move that changed the very foundations of the Republic to its core.
Apparently, The Last Jedi is the fourth book in the Coruscant Nights series, all written by Michael Reaves – but I had no problem reading this book as a standalone which is what it is billed as – for on the cover and blurb there is no references to the fact that this book is a tie in to that particular series. So if you’re looking for another Star Wars tale which puts the underdogs against an Evil Empire then look no further than The Last Jedi. Bonhoff and Reaves have experience of writing in the Universe and it’s a real joy to read their writing – whilst this is no Shakespeare, it doesn’t pretend to be. And neither does it need to be. If you want a fun, fast-paced, high-stakes read then look no further - The Last Jedi is your book. But it does suffer from a few key problems.
First of all, as is the case with Star Wars books featuring main characters such as Darth Vader, you know the character is not going to be killed off and therefore the book is rendered predictable. But what will happen to Jax? How close will he get? It’s almost like watching Valkyrie, the Tom Cruise film featuring an attempt on the life of Hitler by renegade German Army Officials, because you know they’re not going to succeed Whilst the threat to the good guys is there and the villain doesn’t have to be established, this is a flaw in the book and I really wish Reaves and Bonhoff had played with a different concept instead and created a more unpredictable outcome. But The Last Jedi, whilst its title may be misleading (we know that Obi-Wan is lurking in Tatooine around the time of this book), should not be dismissed because of its predictability.
Another thing that I didn’t really enjoy that much in The Last Jedi was the fact that Jax seemed a bit too similar to a Mary-Sue for my liking, although I would probably think less of this if I had read Coruscant Nights. Because he seems to make the connection between Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader a little too easily for my liking, even with the backstory that he was friends with Anakin at one point in their career as a Jedi. You’d thought that this would have been mentioned in the films if Jax was an important character in Anakin’s life like The Last Jedi makes him out to be, but Reaves and Bonhoff have created an addition to character’s story in an attempt to make the betrayal seem even more personal. It just didn’t work for me, but apart from that I found Jax’s character bearable as a whole even if he isn’t the most memorable one in the Star Wars Universe. The rest of the characters are even less memorable than Jax, I-Five being the only other that I can remember – as I feel that the book spends too much time taking the reader on a tour of different planets in a book that is clearly plot driven, to explore the characters more.
But this review is probably making me sound like I disliked the book. In fact, I actually enjoyed it – it was a Star Wars novel and I’ve never read a bad one yet (although my read count is few), and whenever I read a book set in this Universe I always feel like I’m having fun. The Last Jedi has some great action scenes, an awesome cover art and some very nice lightsaber battles indeed, and I believe that Reaves and Bonhoff have produced a strong, but flawed book here – hence why I am going to give it a balanced verdict of three stars.
Action packed, well written, fun and page-turning, The Last Jedi is let down by its plot-driven storyline and a Mary-Sue lead character. The Last Jedi also boasts an awesome cover. ...more
“A fun look into a Star Wars before such a time as even the Old Republic. Action packed and page-turning.” ~The Founding Fields
I’ve been reading a lot of new Star Wars releases recently and there seems to be a trend of one thing happening - they’re fun, action packed and page-turning, but they’re rarely anything more. Crucible and The Last Jedi both prove my point, but nonetheless, it’s Star Wars, even if Tim Lebbon has picked an era of history that I know nothing about (aside from the confusing Spiral), in order to tell his tale in.
"On the planet Tython, the ancient Je’daii order was founded. And at the feet of its wise Masters, Lanoree Brock learned the mysteries and methods of the Force—and found her calling as one of its most powerful disciples. But as strongly as the Force flowed within Lanoree and her parents, it remained absent in her brother, who grew to despise and shun the Je’daii, and whose training in its ancient ways ended in tragedy.
Now, from her solitary life as a Ranger keeping order across the galaxy, Lanoree has been summoned by the Je’daii Council on a matter of utmost urgency. The leader of a fanatical cult, obsessed with traveling beyond the reaches of known space, is bent on opening a cosmic gateway using dreaded dark matter as the key—risking a cataclysmic reaction that will consume the entire star system. But more shocking to Lanoree than even the prospect of total galactic annihilation, is the decision of her Je’daii Masters to task her with the mission of preventing it. Until a staggering revelation makes clear why she was chosen: The brilliant, dangerous madman she must track down and stop at any cost is the brother whose death she has long grieved—and whose life she must now fear."
This novel explores the early days of the Jedi, back when they were known as the Je’daii. You can see certain similarities, and for the first time, the novel itself feels like it wouldn’t work if it was set in the same time period as the main films – which was the problem that dogged the Old Republic novels. I picked up the #0 issue of Dark Horse’s Dawn of the Jedi saga a few weeks ago in the bargain box at my local comic store in order to see if it could clarify anything, and it certainly helped me to understand to a certain extent the background that this novel was set in,
The book itself is set 25,000 years before the A New Hope, and deals with a very different time. Intergalactic travel is merely an idea, planets boasted different names and technology is far from what we’re used to. The early days. There aren’t that many alien species yet, nothing like the vast sea of them that you see in the Mois Eisley Cantina. There’s humans, Twi’lek, Wookiees – and even the Sith, presenting a threat of course to the Je’daii, who aren’t as powerful with the force as say, Yoda is in the prequels.
The main character here is Lanoree, and it is through her eyes (first person present tense) the story is told. She’s an interesting character, and it’s nice to read a novel with a female lead in the Star Wars Universe for a change, but Lebbon hasn’t managed to make her have a lasting impact on me as a character, although she does undergo some development throughout the book. The story has some great promise and some great ideas, but ultimately it isn’t more than your average book from this Universe. The setting is the only thing that makes this book stand out, because otherwise Lanoree could be replaced with pretty much any minor EU Jedi character and we wouldn’t notice the difference.
The flashbacks are a somewhat weak element of the book as well, and the ending itself doesn’t really deliver as it feels sudden, as if it was forced and abrupt. However, I still enjoyed the book itself despite all the negative things I’ve said about it, but only to a certain extent. The action, the twists and the world is fun to read in and I hope that Into the Void isn’t the last book that I see in this Universe. And I’ll also be reading something else if it’s written by Lebbon as well, because I’m fully aware that he’s already an established writer - Echo City is high on my to-read list and has been for a long time, so I may have to check that out and see how well he fairs outside the Star Wars Universe.
So this is another NetGalley title, and I’m really starting to get used to this now. As long as I don’t resist the urge to request loads of titles, ISo this is another NetGalley title, and I’m really starting to get used to this now. As long as I don’t resist the urge to request loads of titles, I think I’ll be okay. Anyway, NetGalley statement over, let’s cut to the chase. Drew Karpyshyn’s debut to the Old Republic Universe is not just the best novel that I’ve read in that setting, but one of the best Star Wars novels that I’ve read, anywhere.
Okay, maybe I haven’t read anything by Timothy Zahn yet, but my point still stands. Annihilation is epic, and would be great to watch on the big screen as it I felt that the novel was very cinematic. Although we’re unlikely to see a Star Wars film based on a tie-in novel, I think that Annihilation should be the one to look out for. It’s superb.
"The Sith Empire is in flux. The Emperor is missing, presumed dead, and an ambitious Sith lord’s attempt to seize the throne has ended fatally. Still, Darth Karrid, commander of the fearsome Imperial battle cruiser Ascendant Spear, continues her relentless efforts to achieve total Sith domination of the galaxy.
But Karrid’s ruthless determination is more than matched in the steely resolve of Theron Shan, whose unfinished business with the Empire could change the course of the war for good. Though the son of a Jedi master, Theron does not wield the Force—but like his renowned mother, the spirit of rebellion is in his blood. As a top covert agent for the Republic, he struck a crucial blow against the Empire by exposing and destroying a Sith superweapon arsenal—which makes him the ideal operative for a daring and dangerous mission to end Ascendant Spear’s reign of terror."
Joined by hot-headed smuggler Teff’ith, with whom he has an inexplicable bond, and wise Jedi warrior Gnost-Dural, Darth Karrid’s former master, Theron must match wits and weapons with a battle-tested crew of the most cold-blooded dark side disciples. But time is brutally short. And if they don’t seize their one chance to succeed, they will surely have countless opportunities to die.
It’s always great to be reading a Star Wars title again. The last title set in this universe that I read was written by the same author, and was Path of Destruction. Whilst it was enjoyable, it sadly wasn’t a perfect read. Neither is Annihilation a perfect read either, but I still loved every second of it. The characters are well-thought out, the action scenes are epic, and we get a real sense that this is Star Wars, and not just any old sci-fi novel.
The characters are well visualized and even though the story may be too short to expand on them, Karpyshyn gives it his best shot at creating a relatively small dramatis personae with varying strengths and weaknesses. As this is a tie in to The Old Republic, Annihilation makes use of several characters from various factions. We get a Han Solo like character in Theron Shan, the alien smuggler Teff’ith, the Jedi warrior Gnost-Dural. Each provides their own element to the story and not once did I feel that any of the characters were there simply for humour or as a plot device. Maybe given a few longer pages, Annihilation could have developed the characters more, but I felt that that would probably disrupt the breakneck pace of the story.