So far the new expanded universe has been a very promising one with several stellar novels from awesome writers. Not a single novel that I’ve read has been a disappointment, with titles like Dark Disciple, Lost Stars and Lords of the Sith being very exciting indeed. But few books so far from the expanded universe have been able to explore the period between that of The Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, or at least in any great detail, so that is where Bloodline comes in, and it’s a thrilling political novel that holds nothing back as Claudia Gray once again reminds us of why she’s one of this new Star Wars Universe’s best writers.
Politics was unfortunately one of the weakest parts of Lucas’ prequel trilogy as they never really worked and were often boring. Put aside any worries of that being repeated here though as Gray manages to make it interesting, dispensing of the usual Jedi vs. Sith battles that most Star Wars writers go for in favour of a more behind the scenes look into how things are run in the Star Wars Universe. The book explores what spurred Leia to create another Rebellion, or in this case, the Resistance, and with help from Episode XVIII director Rian Johnson, sheds some light on the events that led us to The Force Awakens, putting Leia in the spotlight.
Seeing Leia take centre stage is great because she’s one of my favourite Star Wars characters and Gray writes her very well indeed. Her experience as a hero of the Rebellion really shows, taking threats seriously whereas other politicians don’t for example. She’s tasked with dangers on all sides, including from her past due to her parentage as Vader’s daughter.
The book is set a few years before the events of The Force Awakens but don’t expect to see questions like the identities of Rey’s parents asked here, and indeed, there’s not a lot of focus on any of the other trio of Luke and Han, although we do get to see how well Han is coping with a ship that isn’t the Falcon. It’s Leia’s book, and it really shows, playing to her strengths as a character very well.
Political intrigue hasn't always been Star Wars’ strongest element but Gray has managed to pull it off well, bringing some great development to the table in terms the characters featured here. Bloodline also manages to move along at a great pace as well, handling its complex plot strongly. Once again Gray has continued to establish herself as one of the most promising Star Wars writers in the new expanded universe and I really can’t wait to see what she comes up with next. A must read for fans of the film series. ...more
Warning: Minor Spoilers for The Force Awakens but no major plot points revealed. Proceed at your own risk.
The Force Awakens was one of my favourite movies of last year, coming in only behind The Hateful Eight and Mad Max: Fury Road, joining Steve Jobs and The Martian in the top five. It was a nostalgic trip through the greatness that captured the awe-inspiring feel of the original trilogy, reuniting us with fan favourite characters and introducing us to some great new ones in the process, arguably establishing itself as the third or even second best film out of the entire series. So when the novelization was released I knew I was going to read it sooner or later and it didn’t disappoint, offering the same thrills as well as some brief new content that fleshes out on the more problematic parts of the film that were left unexplained.
Alan Dean Foster is a veteran to movie tie-ins and has written for a whole host of films in the past so it was easy to see why he was chosen to helm this novelization. The story feels smoothly paced and really captures the same feel of the film, with the moments when Han and Chewie arrive on the Falcon for example are just as good as the scenes later on in the film, when the action reaches its peak. Foster manages to answer some plot holes that would have been cut from the film presumably due to pacing issues, such as Poe’s fate after he and Finn crashland the TIE-Fighter and how he manages to make it back to the Resistance. It’s a brief scene that really works, and allows us to spend more time with Poe who didn’t have as much screentime as Rey and Finn in the film.
There’s so much stuff that goes on here it provides a great excuse for revisiting the film so soon after its release in cinema. I’ve seen it twice on the big screen and each time the experience was just incredible so it’s great to see the experience recaptured here in novelization format. It also makes me wonder how much of an impact the Star Wars films would have had had they debuted as novels. Whilst The Force Awakens novelization may miss the epic soundtrack that the film has to offer, you can easily remedy that by listening to John Williams’ score as you flick through the pages, making the novel a very quick read, which is also probably due to its relatively short size as one of the thinnest Star Wars novels so far in the new canon.
Don’t expect any great mysteries such as the identities of Rey’s parents to be answered however, as you’ll have to wait until Episode 8 or maybe even 9 to learn the truth, if they’re addressed at all. There’s still several elements of the unknown left unrevealed, whilst some minor problems are cleared up at the same time. If you’re looking for a stop-gap to read until the release of Rogue One that fits in with the feel of the original trilogy and have already read the awesome Aftermath, then The Force Awakens novelization should be right up your street. Recommended.
I’ve been looking to find this book for ages and was finally able to get ahold of a copy whilst I was in the Forbidden Planet Store in London, I knew It would take me long to start reading and I quickly devoured through its pages on the journey home, and was really blown away by what may be the best Star Wars novel from the new Expanded Universe so far.
The book itself adopts a very Romeo and Juliet feel to Star Wars as it Forrest Gumps its way through the events of the Original Trilogy, featuring several cameos from various major players in both the Empire and the Rebel Alliance. Whilst Luke, Han and Leia are referenced in name only, characters like Grand Moff Tarkin, Darth Vader, Wedge Antilles In the hands of another writer it might be seen as though they are trying to cram in so many big names just for the sake of it but no, every appearance works and everybody is portrayed in character.
Claudia Grey’s newcomers are both perfect additions to the Star Wars Universe as well, as we start on the planet of Jelucan, on the Outer Rim, where the Empire has just reached the planet. It’s interesting that at the start when the characters are both young and idealistic how the Empire is presented in an entirely different light from the films, viewed through two children’s eyes. These two children are the aristocrat Thane Kyrell and the rural villager Ciena Ree, who share nothing in common at first aside from their love of flying, and quickly become fast friends as they move up the Imperial Academy. However, once the events of A New Hope happen, with the Death Star destroying Alderaan, the characters, particularly Thane, starts to have doubts about the Empire, and eventually quits, leaving Ciena behind.
It was very interesting reading about the Point of View from the Imperial side of things which is a rarity in Star Wars fiction, especially in the new canon. Usually the rule of thumb means that the Imperials are presented as the bad guys, but peel back behind the curtain and the shades of grey become clearer. Ciena, whilst remaining with the Empire from her arrival on Jelucan to its downfall and then even at the Battle of Jakku, which is featured as a backdrop to the events in The Force Awakens – Rey’s home planet – is not necessarily a villain herself. Unlike Thane she’s more in the background and isn’t at the forefront of the many Imperial atrocities, preferring to believe in a galaxy where at least the Empire brings Order rather than Chaos. These two characters are extremely well defined personality wise and leave a lasting impression on the audience, and I strongly hope that this is not the last we see of these two characters in the Star Wars Universe.
The action takes us to pretty much every location that was visited in the Original Trilogy for brief periods of time and shows us what was happening just to the left of say, the Imperials who were responsible for letting R2D2 and C3P0 getting away from Tantvine IV at the beginning of A New Hope, and also takes us into the action on the Battle of Hoth, as well as Endor. The action is well written and the romance is handled strongly, not overwhelming the plot. It avoids the normal tropes and offers compelling reasons why characters might join both the Empire or the Rebellion, keeping a diverse list of characters that develop well overtime.
In conclusion then, Lost Stars is a very solid book that’s definitely worth a read. It’s great to see that Claudia Grey will be writing more novels in the new Star Wars Universe going forward and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next – Goodreads has it labelled as Bloodline: New Republic, which should be a very interesting read indeed. I’m also inclined to check out her non-Star Wars novels as well, A Thousand Pieces of You looks pretty interesting and has an amazing cover on top of that. Certainly something to keep an eye on.
A LONG TIME AGO, IN A GALAXY FAR, FAR AWAY.... "The second Death Star is destroyed. The Emperor and his powerful enforcer, Darth Vader, are rumored to be dead. The Galactic Empire is in chaos.
Across the galaxy, some systems celebrate, while in others Imperial factions tighten their grip. Optimism and fear reign side by side.
And while the Rebel Alliance engages the fractured forces of the Empire, a lone Rebel scout uncovers a secret Imperial meeting. . . ."
The new Expanded Universe has so far been a positive experience for me despite my love for the previous one. Tarkin, Lords of the Sith and Dark Disciple were all very strong reads, and I’m yet to read Heir to the Jedi or A New Dawn but both look like very appealing titles at the same time. And then there’s Marvel’s Comics, which are very strong indeed, with the main Star Wars title, Darth Vader and the rotating mini-series all being super impressive. With Force Friday behind us and The Force Awakens ahead, It’s a good time to be a Star Wars fan, and whilst Aftermath, the latest novel from one of my go-to authors, Chuck Wendig, (responsible for the awesome Miriam Black novels) may have been met with fairly divisive reviews, it remains another good offering that provides a welcome look into life post Return of the Jedi, because as should be clear by now, the war against The Empire is not over yet. They may have been dealt a severe blow, but there’s still enough threat there to return and strike again, with a new leadership against the newly formed New Republic.
Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath literally deals with the Aftermath of the events that readers will have seen in the films. The Empire has collapsed without a clear leader and there are plenty of power struggles and whilst the Rebel Alliance have formed the New Republic, they’re struggling to find out to maintain the peace in the fallout as the Empire try to start anew through Admiral Rae Sloane on Akiva, in order to bring it back to its former glory. Sloane is one of the many varied characters that we meet in this book, and there’s plenty of them there, as Wendig makes use of both recurring characters and new creations very well indeed. We spend more time with the likes of fan favourite pilot Wedge Antilles, and on top of that, there’s also a fair amount to do for Admiral Ackbar, which came as an unexpected but welcome surprise for the man commonly known for the “It’s a Trap!” line in Return of the Jedi. The new cast also have Norra Wexley to offer them, a Rebel Pilot who wants nothing more than to go home to her son after years of fighting for the Rebellion, but it isn’t going to be as a warm homecoming as she would have hoped for. It’s a diverse bunch, offering some excellent variety to the Star Wars books that may have given us one too many cheap Han Solo knock-off characters in the past.
The decision to focus on unknown characters rather than the more established stars may frustrate some who want to know immediately what their favourites are up to, but fleshing out the new cast always helps. Yes, Han and Chewie may feature, but only in brief cameos, which makes the book a bit more unpredictable than it otherwise would have as we don’t necessarily know that these new characters will make it through to the end. They don’t have that star power that keeps them safe, and with so many books out there that put the main cast in the spotlight, it’s refreshing to see a book that avoids doing so.
The writing style that Wendig uses, third person present tense, will be familiar to fans of his Miriam Black books, but for the readers who haven’t checked them out before his prose will come as a surprise, a break from what the normal Star Wars books have given us in the past. This is refreshing and offers a different look into a familiar universe, and Wendig’s narrative weaves a compelling structure that really feels at home and is something that I'd like to see explored further. Don’t go in expecting too much hints towards what’s going to happen in The Force Awakens – this book doesn’t significantly move forward the events in the Expanded Universe and if you go in with that in mind then you shouldn't be too disappointed. Instead, Aftermath uses an opportunity to tell us how the common people are reacting to the fall of the Empire. Different people with different views and backgrounds all across the galaxy are presented throughout the book and it makes for a far less black and white situation than we’ve had presented to us before, told to us primarily through various interludes in which explore characters who might not necessarily be part of the main struggle.
The story really picks off when Wedge Antilles is captured by Sloane and it never really slows down after that, eventually turning into a fast paced action novel that has a variety of fight sequences that are strongly entertaining, with battles taking place both on land and in space. The atmosphere perfectly hits home with the tone, look and feel of the original trilogy, and whilst the novel may have its doubters, Aftermath is something that I really enjoyed and I hope that we get to see more of Wendig's novels in this Universe in the future. There's loads of potential for some great new stories to be told.
A LONG TIME AGO, IN A GALAXY FAR, FAR AWAY... "Anakin Skywalker, Jedi Knight, is just a memory. Darth Vader, newly anointed Sith Lord, is ascendant. The Emperor’s chosen apprentice has swiftly proven his loyalty to the dark side. Still, the history of the Sith Order is one of duplicity, betrayal, and acolytes violently usurping their Masters―and the truest measure of Vader’s allegiance has yet to be taken. Until now.
On Ryloth, a planet crucial to the growing Empire as a source of slave labor and the narcotic known as “spice,” an aggressive resistance movement has arisen, led by Cham Syndulla, an idealistic freedom fighter, and Isval, a vengeful former slave. But Emperor Palpatine means to control the embattled world and its precious resources―by political power or firepower―and he will be neither intimidated nor denied. Accompanied by his merciless disciple, Darth Vader, he sets out on a rare personal mission to ensure his will is done.
For Syndulla and Isval, it’s the opportunity to strike at the very heart of the ruthless dictatorship sweeping the galaxy. And for the Emperor and Darth Vader, Ryloth becomes more than just a matter of putting down an insurrection: When an ambush sends them crashing to the planet’s surface, where inhospitable terrain and an army of resistance fighters await them, they will find their relationship tested as never before. With only their lightsabers, the dark side of the Force, and each other to depend on, the two Sith must decide if the brutal bond they share will make them victorious allies or lethal adversaries."
Lords of the Sith has been one of my most anticipated novels in the Star Wars expanded universe so when I got the chance to read it whilst I was in France I leapt at the opportunity and quickly devoured it. The focus on the Empire, Darth Vader and the Emperor in particular, made it incredibly fascinating to read, and particularly with that awesome cover – the Emperor crackling with the force lightning and Vader clearing a path through the middle of a warzone with two Star Destroyers on either side, makes for a striking background for what turns out to be a very fun novel, written by one of my go-to authors for good entertainment, Paul S. Kemp. If you ever wondered what a buddy cop story set in the Star Wars universe might look like with Vader and the Emperor as the bad cop and the even badder cop, then Lords of the Sith might be your best bet. The book details an attempted coup of the Imperial regime, and whilst we ultimately know that the coup didn’t work, Kemp manages to create just the right amount of tension to keep the book interesting, exploring both sides of the conflict very well. I couldn’t help but want the Empire to emerge victorious even though they’re the villains of the Star Wars Universe, and that was because Kemp handled the book very well. Each line of dialogue I was reading in the voice of the actors from the movies, and it felt very much a part of the Star Wars Universe.
The action sequences are absolutely stunning and one of the strongest that I’ve ever seen in any Star Wars novel, not just the Expanded Universe ones. Witnessing Vader at full strength is a sight that almost makes you feel sympathetic towards the people trying to bring him down, you know they’re never going to stand a chance no matter what they do. Making use of a variety of action sequences, Kemp writes equally well the battles on land and space, weaving them together well for a masterstroke of action. With the book set on the planet Ryloth, fans of The Clone Wars will be pleased to hear that the series, which is also part of the Expanded Universe canon, does not go ignored, and there are some throwbacks that readers will appreciate as the book explores the relationship between Vader and the Emperor, and how it’s affecting the man once known as Anakin Skywalker. This allows a complex approach to the character when it would have been easy just to approach him as a one-dimensional killing machine, and serves as a good way to mark Anakin’s transition from The Clone Wars to the one that we see as Vader in Star Wars Rebels in A New Hope.
We also see the Emperor in action here and it’s great to witness. At this point in the story the Emperor is keeping hidden the fact that he’s a force user, and will kill anyone who witnesses the truth apart from his Royal Guard and of course Vader. There are some chilling moments that allow Darth Sidious to have as much impact as Vader, perhaps even more so, as when these moments are used, they’re used sparingly, so we’re left with a great impact on the reader.
The book itself splits around 50% of its narrative to focus Vader/The Emperor and the other half on lesser known figures. We see two Twi’lek rebels plotting to kill both of them, realising that’s the only way they can make a statement to show that not everyone is happy with the Emperor. It’s an ambitious plan, and one of the Ryloth rebels, Cham, does have some doubts about the task at hand, it’s too good an opportunity to strike a crippling blow to the Empire’s heart.
Whilst some may be disappointed at the fact that the entirety of the novel wasn’t devoted to Vader and the Emperor, this doesn’t really matter as when they’re in the spotlight they have more of an impact than they would were the whole novel devoted to their adventures. Plus, it’s great to witness the pre-Rebel Alliance tactics that dissenters, members of the Free Ryloth movement, would use to bring down key Imperial figures, and the dilemmas that they have to overcome. Kemp creates such a strong and powerful read that you won’t care whether you know the ending or not, as you’ll be swept up for a powerful ride that should keep those who are willing to give the novel a shot hooked from the word go.
A LONG TIME AGO, IN A GALAXY FAR, FAR AWAY.... "Based on unproduced scripts from the blockbuster TV show Star Wars: The Clone Wars!
The only way to bring down the dark side's most dangerous warrior may be for Jedi and Sith to join forces.
In the war for control of the galaxy between the armies of the dark side and the Republic, former Jedi Master turned ruthless Sith Lord Count Dooku has grown ever more brutal in his tactics. Despite the powers of the Jedi and the military prowess of their clone army, the sheer number of fatalities is taking a terrible toll. And when Dooku orders the massacre of a flotilla of helpless refugees, the Jedi Council feels it has no choice but to take drastic action: targeting the man responsible for so many war atrocities, Count Dooku himself.
But the ever-elusive Dooku is dangerous prey for even the most skilled hunter. So the Council makes the bold decision to bring both sides of the Force's power to bear—pairing brash Jedi Knight Quinlan Vos with infamous one-time Sith acolyte Asajj Ventress. Though Jedi distrust for the cunning killer who once served at Dooku's side still runs deep, Ventress's hatred for her former master runs deeper. She's more than willing to lend her copious talents as a bounty hunter—and assassin—to Vos's quest.
Together, Ventress and Vos are the best hope for eliminating Dooku—as long as the emerging feelings between them don't compromise their mission. But Ventress is determined to have her retribution and at last let go of her dark Sith past. Balancing the complicated emotions she feels for Vos with the fury of her warrior's spirit, she resolves to claim victory on all fronts—a vow that will be mercilessly tested by her deadly enemy . . . and her own doubt."
The Clone Wars series is something that I’ve got a mixed experience with, and am actually, incredibly behind, having only got the chance to see the first nineteen episodes of season one. I’ve heard it gets a lot better and there have been a few promising signs of great things, but so far there has been plenty of issues. Two characters that are part of the series – one that I encountered in the animated movie, Asaji Ventress, one-time Sith acolyte, and one that I haven’t yet seen as far as I can remember, Jedi Knight Quinlan Vos are featured here, and I was half wondering whether, especially as this was based on unproduced episodes of the show no doubt further down the line from where I am at the moment, I would struggle to understand what was going on or not. Thankfully that was not the case here, with Dark Disciple being very easy to understand and serves up nicely as a standalone fare, and a really welcome surprise for Star Wars fans as it’s among one of the best novels in the franchise that I’ve had the pleasure of reading in a while.
Fans of The Clone Wars will be right at home in Dark Disciple. Following the aftermath of an assault by Count Dooku on a flotilla of helpless refugees, the Jedi Council decide that they have to target him for assassination, a direct approach frowned upon in the Order. The only way to stop the veteran Sith Lord is to pair both Jedi and (former) Sith together on a rogue mission, the Han Solo-esque Quinlan Vos and Dooku’s ex apprentice, the sinister Asajj Ventress. Both make interesting choices for the novel (I don’t know how much screentime, if any, they shared in The Clone Wars) and they play off each other well with some great character exchanges as the Jedi’s best hope for eliminating Dooku. All the characters involved that I am familiar with on The Clone Wars (Anakin, Obi-Wan etc) are portrayed well and this feels like it could be right at home as an episode of the TV series, and it works really well, combining an expertly paced plot with some great action sequences.
The book itself handles the differences in character between Vos and Ventress very well indeed, mixing their development and handling their interactions strongly. If you’re looking for some more awesome female characters in the Star Wars ‘verse than it’s clear that Ventress is most certainly one, and this book has got me really interested to see what she can do in The Clone Wars, along with Vos, so I’m probably going to get caught up on that series when I can. I’m in the middle of The Walking Dead and Scandal at the moment though.
Something that’s also worth noting and that I only found out after researching Vos’ character a bit more, is that the book separates from the original story for the character so if there are any fans of Vos then you may be disappointed, as this serves as a different take on his time during The Clone Wars. It makes things interesting, however, the character is handled well here so that fans of Vos’ original story shouldn’t be put off. Vos and Ventress also form an unlikely relationship that’s handled better than expected, as the book itself explores things in a lot more depth in general than most other Star Wars books, yet at the same time, remaining a page-turning read that will render readers unable to put this novel down.
Despite the depth that’s mentioned above, the issues that the book brings to the table aren’t tackled with a lot of subtlety leading the book to feel a tad rushed in places, but that’s pretty much one of the few minor problems that I had with an otherwise really fun experience. Dark Disciple does an excellent job at giving more depth to the main characters and making the book a captivating light read, and it’s safe to say that you could find far worse Star Wars books for your money than this one.
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.
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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