Archive for expanded universe

Review: Deceived

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , on 28 July 2017 by Megan

by Paul S. Kemp

I could title this review “how to slash a rating in half in the last 20 pages and make a reader go from ‘I see why people like Kemp’ to profanity-laced ‘Kemp is garbage and I will never read this again or anything else he ever wrote.'” Because up until page 239, this was solidly at 4 stars, better than Revan, and certainly delivering on everything anyone could want from a TOR novel.

I remember in Jude Watson’s Defenders of the Dead how I threw the book across the room when a main character did something totally out of character in the last ten pages. I wasn’t angry when I read this one, though. Just deflated.

Let’s start with the plot description and the other decent stuff first, though.

Deceived is based on a video game, even more directly on a trailer for the videogame, so it was really exciting to get some depth behind the trailer, to put names with the faces and know who those characters were, what was going on, how it relates to the game I play.

It was also amusing to pick out the obvious archetypes from the game imported into the book: Malgus the Warrior with his Vette-companion Eleena, the Knight Aryn with companion T7, the Smuggler Zeeveld — even more fun to have the book identify Aryn and Z as former troopers, as my knight Vish’wecor’annik is a former trooper herself and it confirms my lore. The Agent (Sniper) Vrath was easily my favorite character, but I’ll return to that.

The book has some standard flaws. I found the character development limited, though nowhere near as shallow as in Revan; psychology and memory were provided for the characters, but everything in the book was shown and not told, making for a rather flat experience. There were too many paragraph breaks to ever really settle into a single string of action. It’s interesting, I notice people complaining all the time about how many cuts are made in action movies, and how praiseworthy single-shot scenes are, but nobody ever takes me seriously when I observe that paragraph breaks in novels shatter the flow of action. But it’s a great way to pad pages when you have no idea what to do.

Still, as I said, up until page 239, I was willing to round up my 3.5 rating to 4 stars for Goodreads. I wished there was more depth of character and less telling me how characters feel rather than showing me — but that tell-don’t-show goes back to Lucas himself and therefore is a core thing in Star Wars. The action centers on Malgus, betrayed in his attempt to flatten the Republic, and TOR players will see the seeds of his rebellion and New Empire planted here. Aryn is a Jedi Knight who breaks through the Imperial blockade on Coruscant to hunt Malgus and avenge her master’s death. She uses her old comrade-in-arms Z-man to do so, as he’s been hired by the Exchange to get a load of spice through that blockade.

Star Wars’ classic philosophical themes try to grow here as the marine-turned-smuggler wrestles with his conscience and the Jedi Knight comes to terms with her passion and anger. For whatever reason, though, Kemp can’t follow through with them and the book feels like a cup of tea that smells amazing but wasn’t allowed to steep and therefore tastes like nothing more than hot water. As always, books that disappoint me earn my sharpest criticism, because I was expecting something more and the end left me deflated and angry that I’d been drawn in.

The following paragraph contains explicit spoilers, as I intend to outburst fully on what infuriated me about this book, which requires a pretty detailed summary of those last 20 pages. If you don’t want to know, then consider this the end of the review: a decent book that started well-told but fizzled out like a wet sparkler.

It’s one of my beliefs that death in a book has to be meaningful. Unfortunately, I never wrote the post I meant to about “beautiful book-death,” what it takes for death in a novel to be acceptable, even praiseworthy, cathartic, reassuring even in pain. I can tell you, though, that this book failed, and that the alternative to “beautiful book-death” is “obscene, offensive book-killing,” and that in under 20 pages, Kemp went from 4-stars to “I wish you hadn’t done that” to “massive overkill and eff you too, author guy who apparently hates readers.”

First, as I said earlier, the sniper Vrath was easily my favorite character. I like snipers. I play snipers. I’m sure that has more than a little to do with how relatable I found him. I was also amused that his surname was Xizor, an obvious nod. I understood he was Z’s foil as Malgus was Aryn’s, and admired the clever way he went about doing his job to keep the Exchange’s spice from getting to Coruscant. Two former soldiers from opposite sides, working toward opposite goals, with more than they suspect in common — Vrath was demonstrably honorable, probably wrestling with the same things Z was. I was excited and curious when Vrath ended up Z’s prisoner — but with all the buildup, Z just throws him out an airlock. This was followed two pages later by Malgus stabbing his lover Eleena through the heart because his love for her is a liability.

One blindside could have been acceptable, but two deaths with no buildup, no potential for catharsis, and no emotional payoff was too much. I find it disgusting when death is used for a cheap thrill, so my final word on this book is disgust.

Review: The New Rebellion

Posted in Reviews with tags , , on 29 June 2017 by Megan

by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Seventeen years ago, I had a crush on a boy in youth group whose Star Wars Nickname was Luke Skywalker, either because he was blond or because he was sort of the teen in charge. At least he was the one giving everyone Star Wars nicknames, and the one he gave me was Mara Jade, because my name starts with M and also “you kinda remind me of how she acts.”

Obviously, we were all intensely into Star Wars; though he hadn’t read enough of the books to know why I was secretly thrilled and all warm and fuzzy at being made the Mara Jade to his Luke Skywalker, he had read The New Rebellion, which is why I’m even recounting this memory lane business. That and apparently 2017 is the Year of RebeLibrarian’s Nostalgia That Just Won’t Quit.

The way he summed up Hugo-winner Rusch’s contribution to Star Wars was, “It was okay, I don’t know. She just wanted everything to be the worst ever.”

And that assessment has always stuck with me every time I’ve re-read it. Because, indeed, The New Rebellion is a decent book — well-written, with good pacing and decent characterization, even some imaginative contributions to the universe — but something about it just keeps it from earning more than mediocre status.

That something is the author’s desperate need for everything to be THE WORST THREAT EVER. (So desperately that characters will repeatedly say “I think this is the worst we’ve ever faced,” or variants thereof.)

It’s thirteen years since the Emperor was defeated at Endor. The New Republic is an established government; Luke Skywalker’s Jedi Academy and the Solo family are also equally established. Our heroes have faced down warlords and masterminds, their own shortcomings and weaknesses, and emerged victorious. The danger of complacency is real.

A new villain with great potential has cropped up on the edges of the galaxy: he rightly sees the New Republic’s inefficiencies and weaknesses, but decides in order to resolve that, he must become the new Palpatine. Capturing Luke Skywalker for his Darth Vader is an attractive bonus. A villain’s megalomania can be forgiven, but the author shouldn’t share his egotistical belief that the galaxy has never faced a worse crisis than his appearance.

The New Rebellion has a complex plot that plays well together and even follows Lucas’ established pattern very well. While the EU routinely shuffles the children off as inconvenient baggage, Rusch at least incorporates parental behavior from Han and Leia, with Han even asking Leia if she’ll be all right weathering a crisis without her husband and children for support — because families, even the incorrigible toddlers, are a source of strength for one another. Leia suffers when she comes home to an empty apartment after being buffeted by hostile political colleagues.

Also praiseworthy is how Rusch makes Lando and Chewbacca more than catchphrase-spouting placeholders. The real friendship between Lando and Han is clear. Rusch has a very Lucas-like ability to juxtapose horror and humor. She also underscores Han’s reputation as a moral man even during his days as a smuggler. Threepio and Artoo have more than titular roles, and the character of Cole Fardreamer is an interesting and compelling one. Far better than yet another sequence of Luke and Artoo aimlessly wandering off alone in search of a planet or person that may or may not exist.

Luke squaring off against a flock of Mr. Bubbles is one of the low points of the Star Wars history, and the action in some places is belabored. The mystery, however, completely holds up, and however many times I’ve read this book in the last two decades, I never can remember how the villain was able to bomb the Senate hall so effectively. And I know I wasn’t the only Star Warrior who sat watching the TV on 9/11, gnawing my lip and remembering the descriptions of The New Rebellion as I watched survivors staggering through debris.

Maybe I’ve been too hard on this book. It’s certainly got a lot going for it, far more than it has going against it. I guess really the only thing it’s got going against it is there’s a lot of “tell, don’t show,” and Rusch is infatuated with very short, brittle sentences. But there’s excellent balance between all the players, particularly in elevating others to stand equal with the Big Three, so let’s give her the full three stars, yeah?

How Star Wars Impacted My Life Journey

Posted in Opinion, Spotlight with tags , , , , on 18 May 2017 by Megan

by guest blogger Fibro Jedi
https://fibrojedi.me.uk/

Hi there! My name’s Martin, better known as Fibro Jedi. Some of you may be following some of my characters’ fan fiction journeys, but I wanted to give you an idea of how long…and how deeply George Lucas’ Star Wars creation has impacted my own journey in life. Despite it being fiction, Star Wars has enabled me to be creative, meet new people and even affected some of my own life approaches. Please join me on this journey!

Star Wars Episode 1

Don’t hate on me but my Star Wars journey began with The Phantom Menace. The family I grew up in weren’t into anything that could be classed as geeky. My Mum read fiction, and both my parents watched the occasional period drama. So I had to find my own path. With the release of Star Wars Episode 1, I suddenly became intrigued in the SW Universe. At the same time a friend introduced me to an online chat site based on Star Wars ideas. As part of that, they had forums for written role-playing – in the old-style turn-taking model. It was in that community that I began writing within the SW universe – and it was there that Cor-Jhan Arcturus first appeared.

Cor-Jhan Arcturus was first created nearly half my lifetime ago!

Despite Star Wars being based on the traditional Good vs Evil mechanic, it was more complicated than that. Good people could become evil, or commit atrocities, and evil people could be redeemed. Subsequently watching the other movies started to get me thinking more about the detail of the universe, how nothing is certain – but above all, there is always hope.

Jedi Knight II and Jedi Academy

I just want to make a passing comment about these two games. Jedi Knight II (Jedi Outcast) was my first introduction to playing with others online. I was part of a clan, you could rise in the ranks by learning from, and fighting against more experienced players. I ended up in contact with a couple outside the game – and one of them came to my wedding – all the way from the States!

SWTOR

I had a long gap (many years) of not pursuing my interest in the Star Wars Universe – getting a job, changing jobs, getting married – and other life things got in the way. But when a friend introduced me to Star Wars: The Old Republic, my interest was rekindled. More than that, creating characters, seeing how they reacted in different situations, and ‘getting to know them’ actually sparked my desire to write again. Although I recreated Cor-Jhan Arcturus, it was the former slave Talitha’koum that I really enjoyed writing about.

Talitha’koum rediscovering her identity during the events of Knights of the Fallen Empire

When you write within a framework, you have to understand the rules of that framework. So I learned more about Star Wars technology, lore and even about different species in the galaxy. There’s still so much I don’t know!

That’s when you realise that when George Lucas created the Star Wars movies, they were really only scratching the surface of how the galaxy operated. It gave birth to different cultures, planets with different eco-systems and characters that traversed different walks of life. The movies were great, but they are a small percentage of what you can discover. SWTOR gave me insights into those, but I’ve still learned more on my own initiative.

Friends and a Blog

Even from the early days of my role-playing forum and Jedi Outcast, the fact that Star Wars exists has meant I have had contact with new people, some of whom have become real friends. Friendships have really blossomed in those I know through SWTOR. You don’t just know the characters, you can get to know the people behind them. And it’s those friendships and connections that keep me playing the games I do. Features of a game change over time, but when you make friends, that transcends what’s happening to the game. Had Star Wars not been created I wouldn’t have had those friendships and I wouldn’t have had the blog that I do today!

Finding Balance

The more I’ve looked into the Force, the more I have seen some of the good in the Empire and some of the bad in the Republic. No governmental system is perfect, and extremes of behaviour can be found in both the ‘good’ and the ‘evil’ people. Although originally aligning myself with the Jedi, now I find myself pitched between the two sides of the Force – within the shades of gray. Although I am a Christian and therefore I don’t let things like fiction affect my actual faith, I do try to strike a balance now: between ‘work’ and ‘play’, listening to both sides of an argument and not dismissing either side, avoiding extremes etc. Balance in the Force wasn’t achieved by wiping out all the Sith. The real world is made up of people from various cultures, religions (or none), languages and worldviews. We need all those held in balance to get along with other people – to not just tolerate them, but to show all humans have intrinsic value regardless of how they think. If we could all be accepting, the world would be a better place. The Force needs both sides represented to be in balance – the same should apply to what goes on here on Earth.

Chronic Illness and Gaming

The last awesome thing I’ll say is that running @FibroJedi has enabled me to connect with people who have Chronic Illnesses. But it has also helped me find (or be found by) people who are in a similar situation to myself – they have a chronic illness, but use gaming as a coping mechanism. This has been made possible because Star Wars exists. I would have picked up gaming (I used to play The Sims way back when, and Sim City) as a coping mechanism, but without online games, or communities, I wouldn’t have been able to connect person-to-person with people who share my life experiences. And that’s something that works in both directions.

TL;DR Star Wars and My Life

I’m in my 30s now as I write this. That means Star Wars and its various off-shoots, have been a major part of my life for more than half of it. From helping me pick up fan fiction writing, to coping with my pain, to making real friendships – Star Wars has been integral throughout that time. Criticise the movies all you want, none of the lasting value I have in my life comes from there. None of George Lucas’ legacy to me and my family derives from how well SW game developers do their jobs.

The greatest value is in the people and the communities that Lucas unknowingly sparked. Without him I wouldn’t feel an emotional link to the characters I write about. And without Star Wars, my Fibromyalgia would have been even more isolating than it is now. So to that end, I will be eternally grateful to what George Lucas started.

May the Force Be With You – May It Make You Strong.

An Essential Universe

Posted in Fun, Opinion with tags , , , , on 17 March 2017 by Megan

or, 17 trEU books to read in 2017

Some reports say that a majority of people won’t read one book through this year. I’m not here to guilt you, even though I feel guilty enough if I don’t read at least 52 books a year — I just want to inspire you. I really enjoyed the list I put together last year, so I was inspired to do it again!  I’ve carefully selected these 17 realcanon reads to resonate especially with this year! Enjoy.

17. Allegiance by Timothy Zahn (10 years old!)

If your heart, like mine, is an Imperial-occupied zone, what better place to start than by picking up a novel that gives depth and faces to the men behind the white armor? It also introduces a young Mara Jade just starting off her career as the Emperor’s Hand.

16. Specter of the Past by Timothy Zahn

Jump straight to the end of the RebeLibrarian timeline, find out why I love Pellaeon with a passion, and watch both Luke and Mara succumb to human feeling and realize they’re falling in love. Read it with Vision of the Future it’s essentially a novel-length prologue. Bantam specifically commissioned this “Hand of Thrawn duology” to capstone the timeline, and, if you like, it makes a perfect and 100% satisfying ending to the Skywalker saga.

15. Union by Michael A. Stackpole

I’m not a fan of comics and I end the timeline at Vision of the Future, so you just know Union must be something special for me to grant it status! It’s a charming epilogue, a lighthearted story about how even Luke Skywalker’s wedding can’t be free of Imperial plots and drama.

14. The Bacta War by Michael A. Stackpole (20 years old!)

Stackpole’s X-Wing series is a crown jewel of the realcanon, and the development of Corran Horn along with Wedge Antilles’ team of crack pilots is not to be missed if you value your Star Wars soul. These books make me laugh and cry unapologetically no matter how many times I read them.

13. Tales from the Empire (20 years old!)

These anthologies are close to the beating heart of the EU, true expansions of characters and situations we see only vaguely or mentioned briefly on-screen. This brilliant collection includes a novella by Stackpole. Read it now!

Fifteen years ago, we got the second installment in the Star Wars prequel trilogy. Honor that anniversary!

12. The Approaching Storm by Alan Dean Foster

Returning to the Star Wars universe for the first time since 1978, and with his third and final offering to the universe, Alan Dean Foster explores the relationship between a maturing Obi-Wan and Anakin as they work with another master and Padawan. Remember Mace Windu saying that the two of them are recently returned from a border dispute on Anision? This is that dispute!

11. Attack of the Clones by R.A. Salvatore

Although I never liked Salvatore and am never going to forgive him for his bizarre colorblind bungling in this novelization (with a redheaded Obi-Wan and red-eyed Jawas, it’s like he dropped acid before writing this thing…), the book is nevertheless a very important installment into the universe!

Now, forgive me if I mention Disney a few more times before I’m done here. I’ve saved the nine most significant books for last, and while four of them are celebrating 20 years, I admit that Disney doings are the primary reason I include them with such prominence.

10. Death Star by Michael Reaves and Steve Perry

If you want to know the trEUth about the Death Star’s construction and get a glimpse into what was happening on the other side during the events of A New Hope, trust Perry and Reaves to get you there! With bonus appearances by some of Reaves’ Pavan Cycle characters, Death Star delivers realcanon you won’t regret.

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7. Soldier for the Empire (20 years)
8.  Rebel Agent (20 years)
9. Jedi Knight by William C. Dietz

Kyle Katarn has a complex and compelling backstory, and this trilogy delves deep into his introduction to the rebellion, his first important mission for the same (aka stealing the Death Star plans), and his confrontation with the Inquisitor Jerec, the first Miralukan in realcanon. With breathtaking artwork and an awesome story, it’s an installment that deserves its stellar reputation.

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Han Solo is about to get a bad rap. A seriously bad rap. First 2015 had people saying he was dead. Next, rumor is they’re going say Disney came up with his origins all by themselves. Read on and be enlightened!

4. Han Solo at Stars End
5. Han Solo’s Revenge
6. Han Solo and the Lost legacy by Brian Daley

The very first tales of Han Solo appeared in 1979, penned by the same great mind that gave us the incredible radio adaptations of the Original Trilogy.

These books have undeniable historical significance and are a great deal of fun. Eighteen years before the controversy, Han brags about shooting first, and almost a quarter century before Crystal Skull, Han has an eerily similar adventure that even trashes a campus during a speeder chase! Read for the classics they are, the Daley trilogy won’t disappoint.

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And now! The number one books you should read this year — the three books you should read if you only read three books in 2017! —

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1. The Paradise Snare  (20 years)
2. The Hutt Gambit (20 years)
3. Rebel Dawn by A.C. Crispin

Read them before you can be brainwashed into thinking A.C. Crispen didn’t write the definitive edition of young Han Solo’s life! These books are three of the greatest in the entire EU. Who doesn’t love a good origin story? And the origins of how Han knows Wookiee; how he became a great pilot; how he met Chewbacca, Jabba, Lando, and Boba Fett; got the Corellian bloodstripe; and made the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs is a nonstop thrill that will never disappoint. Ann Crispin, who died in 2013 less than six months before EU favorite Aaron Allston also passed, is by far the greatest female contributor to the EU. Applause!

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Top 10 EU Moments in Film

Posted in Spotlight with tags , , , , , on 9 March 2017 by Megan

The Star Wars Special Editions turn 20 years old this year, and thinking about these much-maligned, much-misunderstood installments to the Star Wars saga got me thinking about how they demonstrate a very important point.

Something you’ve heard me assert over and over is that to George Lucas, the EU was just as canon as his films. Now, people get off on tangents of “he didn’t think the EU was canon because he didn’t follow it,” but that’s absurd. He was the creator. Why should he follow someone else’s ideas? But that doesn’t mean he didn’t consider the ideas he authorized to be just as “true” as the films he made.

Lucas asserted this himself over and over. But actions speak louder than words. Here’s ten times George Lucas went out of his way to reference the EU in his films, demonstrating his belief that it was canon and “counted.”

Honorable mention: Prince Xizor

Did you know that the Prequel Trilogy used more models and miniatures than the Original Trilogy? Despite criticisms that they’re “all CGI” and “CGI heavy,” the PT actually won awards for its miniatures. In one such model, the Phantom Menace crew inserted a Xizor action figure among the filler for the crowd attending the Boonta Eve Podrace. This pretty obviously isn’t intended to be a canonical reference, but it’s fun and so I point it out.

10. Twi’leks and Rodians

Although both species were obviously Lucas’ creation — Rodians appearing first in 1977 (Greedo) and Twi’leks in 1983 (Oola) — they weren’t named until later in the EU. West End Games published The Star Wars Sourcebook in 1987, coining the word “Twi’lek,” and their 1989 Galaxy Guide 1 gave us “Rodian.” published by West End Games. Although neither word is ever spoken in any of the films, George Lucas used the names freely and they appear in production notes and interviews throughout production of the prequels.

(Bonus points: Rystáll Sant, pictured with the Twi’leks and Rodian dancer above, is part Theelin, a species that first appeared in Dark Empire.)

9. Bogden, Muun, Rishi, Tund

part of the galaxy

These planets all appeared first in the EU in various places — Tund is oldest, from 1983’s Lando Calrissian and the Starcave of ThonBoka — and were used by George Lucas to seed the dialogue with the rich geography we could expect from a galaxy far, far away.

8. Force speed and Force grip

Force-users have special powers in video games, and some of those powers made it onto the silver screen. Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon use Force speed to escape droidekas in The Phantom Menace, and Dooku uses Force grip against Obi-Wan in Revenge of the Sith.

7. Aurebesh

“Alien gobbledygook characters” appear in the films, but it was Stephen Crane who designed a legitimate, sensible alphabet with the characters for West End Games in 1994. The DVD editions of the film edit Aurebesh translations into places where English was originally seen, and the PT uses Aurebesh meaningfully as well.

6. Quinlan Vos

In an interview in 1999, George Lucas stated that he wanted the EU to pick up background characters and give them stories. He used Aurra Sing as a specific example — but Aurra Sing had an identity supplied by the film. Jan Duursema asked for permission, picked a random person out of the background, and created Quinlan Vos from him. He got two comic series and some other appearances in the EU before George Lucas picked him up for Revenge of the Sith. Although his scene never made it to filming, Obi-Wan Kenobi still mentions “Master Vos” in a briefing to Anakin.

5. The Outrider

It’s fitting that Shadows of the Empire should have so many references in the special edition: Steve Perry’s work was used to test whether the public was receptive to such a major project as a restored re-release and new trilogy. A New Hope SE is full of swoop bikes, labor droids, and other minor ephemera from Shadows and WEG sourcebooks, but the most notable of all is Dash Rendar’s Outrider, seen flying over Mos Eisley.

4. Double-bladed lightsaber

The first double-bladed lightsaber in Star Wars belonged to Exar Kun. It appeared in 1995, in Tom Veitch’s Tales of the Jedi: The Sith War 3, The Trial of Ulic Qel-Droma. The same weapon then arrived in the hands of Darth Maul four years later in The Phantom Menace.

3. Lightsaber deflecting lightning

Timothy Zahn first considered that a lightsaber could deflect Force lightning and asked Lucas if he could include it in his Thrawn Trilogy. The Maker approved, and the combat move first appeared in The Last Command in 1993. Apparently the Maker approved so much that he had Obi-Wan Kenobi do the same thing in Attack of the Clones in 2002.

2. Aayla Secura

Speaking of Quinlan Vos — Padawans get all the luck, don’t they? Jan Duursema and John Ostrander came up with Aayla for Quinlan’s apprentice and she appeared in Star Wars 19: Twilight 1 in 2000. George Lucas was so taken by the artwork created for her that he created scenes for her in both Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.

1. Coruscant

The biggest of all the big tamales: Coruscant. George Lucas had created the galactic capital city-planet for A New Hope, but he called it Alderaan and budget prevented him from ever realizing it on screen. The WEG sourcebooks Zahn was asked to use for canon material simply called the capital “Imperial Planet,” so he chose a word to capture the image of a city planet glittering in the cosmos: Coruscant. The planet first appeared — nameless but known — in Return of the Jedi in 1997, but Lucas vindicated the entire EU as co-canon with his films when he designated the galactic capital Coruscant in 1999. And there was not a Star Wars heart in the place that didn’t burst with pride when we first heard Qui-Gon Jinn say, “I’m taking these people to Coruscant” and we all knew.

Review: Choices of One

Posted in Reviews with tags , , on 1 September 2016 by Megan

choicesofoneby Timothy Zahn.

It’s sad it took until the last years of the EU for them to do what I’d been telling them to do for a decade: populate the pre-ABY19 era with new stories!! Forming a loose duology with Allegiance, Choices of One takes place before The Empire Strikes Back and has the rebellion, Mara Jade and the Hand of Judgment, and Thrawn and Pellaeon all skirting around each other and a prospective traitor regional governor and a pirate warlord.

Let me get this bit out of the way immediately: I am not a fan of Zahn’s “Aha, gotcha!” twists. He did the same thing to me in Icarus Hunt and I’ve never forgiven him for it. It took this book from 4 to 3 stars for me. That being said: apart from the distracting and irritating climax, this is an excellent book. And if you like stupid “gotcha” twists, and if you liked Icarus Hunt, you will probably love this book and not be frustrated on any level the way I was.

Han Solo keeps hanging around with the rebels and doesn’t quite know why; it’s fun to see the flickers of friendship developing between him and Luke, so you can really understand how he went from “watch your mouth, kid, or you’ll find yourself floating home” to “The temperature’s dropping too rapidly and my friend’s out in it.”

As is typical, though, the rebellion treats its private contractors and new applicants like garbage and Han is routinely pushed around, pushed down, and left out. He flies taxi service for a snooty Alderaanian to a prospective rebel base being offered by a sector governor turned traitor to the empire. Or has he? Mara Jade is there, too, having recruited LaRone and his four mates to take care of this treasonous governor — but all is not as it seems.

Warming and delighting my heart, Gilad Pellaeon and the Chimaera make their first appearances as well, this time with Pellaeon serving as commander under a less-than-able captain as they follow the oblique orders of one mysterious Lord Odo. Pellaeon is the man, the only man, the greatest, and his presence alone will cause me to forgive Zahn for the stupid climax I’m not getting over any time soon.

A solid adventure, with Zahn’s usual precision characterization of these people we know and love so well. Definitely read it paired up with Allegiance; you can revisit my review of that here.

Review: Revan

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , on 30 June 2016 by Megan

revan_coverby Drew Karpyshyn.

Ah, Revan. How does one embark on a book about the most popular character ever spawned by a Star Wars computer game? Well, although I’d had this book for a few months, I actually only picked it up to read it because I saw on Twitter that it’s mostly about Lord Scourge. Lord Scourge is the coolest! So I picked it up.

It’s a few years after the events of Knights of the Old Republic II (which I haven’t played; nor have I finished KOTOR 1, but that didn’t make a difference as far as the plot was concerned). Revan, an inconvenient hero kicked to the curb by the Jedi, is having nightmares about a storm-covered planet and some darkness he is sure he and Malak discovered on the Outer Rim. He simply can’t remember what.

Meanwhile, trouble is brewing in the Sith Empire that remains hidden from the Jedi. The Dark Council are plotting against the Immortal Emperor, and a young Sith lord named Scourge is stumbling across the first threads of this plot.

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Scourge is my homeboy!

Anyway, my overall impression of this book is that it feels incomplete, which is probably inevitable with a book based on a video game and written by a guy who writes video games. The player supplies massive amounts of context to the game, but that style can’t be translated into a novel. It just made it feel like whole chunks were missing; there was no real inner monologue for anyone, and the descriptions were heavy handed. Unlike Joe Schrieber, who invoked the feeling of TOR in me even though I don’t even know if he’s ever played the game, Karpyshyn seemed to be working hard to make sure I never forgot for a minute I was reading a video game.

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Yes, stylistically, I found the book wanting — however, since the reason I picked it up was Scourge, I was not disappointed in that department! Much of the action centers around him, so if you’ve played the Jedi Knight class in TOR and went through his entire conversation arc, you’ll get a lot of blanks filled in. The book also strongly compliments the Revan flashpoints in TOR (Maelstrom Prison and The Foundry), and so in that respect it’s worth every minute to read it.

Canderous Ordo makes an appearance, though sadly nothing to indicate why you can find his skull in TOR (hahaha). HK gets a mention, though not an appearance, and a pregnant Bastila Shan shows up along with T7’s adorable predecessor. It’s definitely an information and companion story goldmine that’s worth reading if you enjoy these games.

It’s also a good background on Revan and what the big deal is with him if you aren’t particularly interested in the games. However, I assume due to being the main character in a first-person RPG, there’s very little development of him as a person or character, and my main impression at the end of the book is that he is by far the most depressing person in the entire Star Wars canon. His existence makes me uncomfortable and I dislike him for those reasons.

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In conclusion: Scourge. All Scourge, all the time, because he is cool. He’s also the most developed and most interesting person in this book, and I would again reiterate that if you read it for him, you will not be disappointed! It’s a fun little video game novel, so really I have no complaints about it.