Archive for Steve Perry

Review: Shadows of the Empire

Posted in Reviews, Spotlight with tags , , , on 2 April 2016 by Megan

It is a dark time in Star Wars. A time of silence, uncertain hope. A beloved friend is frozen, return certain and yet so far away.

And then . . .

shadowsyby

Yes, I’m talking about the state of Star Wars in 1996: Timothy Zahn’s trilogy had revitalized the fanbase and sparked a flood of novels and comics. But what had teased fans for over a decade was still uncertain — where were the first three episodes?

George Lucas said a lot of things over the years. That Star Wars was going to be a 12-episode film saga — that it was going to be nine episodes — that he’d only ever always planned six episodes. But only three existed in the mid-90s. He’d seen Jurassic Park. He felt the technology was ready to put the Clone Wars on film. Zahn had proved people wanted more stories. But the budget of three special effects blockbusters was dazzling, and the question of the hour was, were people interested in supporting a multimedia franchise again?

shadows

Enter Steve Perry’s Shadows of the Empire, not a novel but a multimedia event across the face of 1996. A New York Times bestseller, but also a computer game, a roleplaying game, a series of actions figures, comics, even its own soundtrack and junior novelization. George Lucas asked and the public answered YES — we are ready to give you so much more money for new films!

Set between Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, Perry’s novel turns to a mysterious blank spot — one of the shortest blanks on the timeline — that had tormented fans since 1980. What happened in those months Han was in carbonite? Why did it take months to rescue him? How could Luke’s Jedi training be complete?

While Luke pores over Jedi relics in Obi-Wan’s abandoned home, building a new lightsaber and studying that which Yoda didn’t have time to teach him, a galactic conspiracy is going on. The Falleen Prince Xizor is more than just an imperial courtier; he is the head of the Black Sun, a galaxy-spanning criminal organization, an underground empire nearly able to go toe-to-toe with Palpatine’s own. Nearly able — and so Xizor must play the game with Palpatine, which sets him into a rivalry with Darth Vader.

This rivalry incites him to attempt to kill that which Vader would most have brought in alive — Luke Skywalker. Realizing far more than anyone else, the century-old Falleen prince knows Luke and Anakin both and sees his opportunity to seize total control if he plays right. And Leia, never the damsel in distress, is nevertheless trapped in a very uncomfortable web as Xizor attempts to make her one of his conquests. The Falleen prince is definitely one of the creepier and more memorable villains of the franchise — and unlike Thrawn, who is only a villain because he happens to be opposed to the Republic, Xizor is a creature of evil.

This book gave us more insight into the lost Bothans and cemented Lando Calrissian as a major character. It also gave us Guri, the female assassin bot, and Dash Rendar, a Corellian smuggler who shows us how Han is definitely not the norm. Oh, yeah, and my vote for the incorrigible Dash:

Fun fact, Dash Rendar made such an impression on George Lucas that he made sure to edit Rendar’s ship Outlander into the Mos Eisley scene of A New Hope in the 1997 edition of Star Wars (aka the definitive edition) — just a wink and a nod there to show that Mr. Lucas has always considered the EU to be just as canon as his own films!

In every possible way, Steve Perry’s first foray into the EU stands on its own feet and as one of the most important foundational books in realcanon.

Review: Medstar II

Posted in Reviews, Spotlight with tags , , , , , on 13 November 2011 by Megan

Book 2

by Michael Reaves and Steve Perry.

This is a sequel in line with a bunch of other sequels. So make sure you’ve read Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter and Medstar I.

Medstar II: Jedi Healer is not anywhere near as good a book as the first one.

Once again: the Republic medical unit on Drongar may be a dismal post, but it’s one vital to the war effort. Bota, a miracle plant that grows nowhere else in the galaxy, is desperately sought by both the Republic and Separatist factions of the war.

Barriss Offee has been stationed there and has a growing friendship with the troops and medical officers also “stuck” on Drongar. Disillusioned Den Duhr, a Sullustian journalist, continues on in the company of amnesiac I-FIVE.

While I devoured the first book and loved it, I was deeply disappointed with this one. It was no more than a shallow imitation, absolute filler.

Another thing I took serious issue with — I didn’t much like how they portrayed Corellian culture as some kind of peculiar Amish knock off (Jos is forced to choose between his family’s values, the “in” life of Corellia, or his love, who is an “outsider” — nothing before has ever suggested Corellians feel this way).

A new surgeon kind of comes in abruptly, he’s from Tatooine and is called “Uli,” and there is no real reason for the characters from the first to be hanging around (I’m looking at you, Den Duhr and I-FIVE). The plot kind of drags, but contains some important information for later, and therefore its gets buoyed along by other books. I wish I could say this is the only time this happens in this miniseries.

Recommended for reading only insofar as you’ll want it before you move on to the next part of the Reeves’ miniseries. Check it out on Amazon.com here!

Review: Medstar I

Posted in Reviews, Spotlight with tags , , , , , on 6 November 2011 by Megan

by Michael Reaves and Steve Perry.

People all the time be asking me, “Star Wars Librarian, why are you so down on the Star Wars books?” I would have to answer your question with another one–“Why do people keep writing such bad Star Wars books?” And I would add, “When someone writes one worth praising, I will praise it!” I’m not harsh because I enjoy being harsh; I’m harsh because I don’t believe in giving things marks they haven’t earned. Still, I understand that some people might be turned off by the constant stream of 1- and 2-star reviews and pleas of “never read this book” from this site–I can’t imagine who, though–so I do kind of apologize. I just haven’t read and good SW books for a long time; if it’s any consolation, I don’t like reading them any more than you like reading poor reviews. Unless you do like reading poor reviews, in which case, this paragraph isn’t for you.

I would like to redress this though because I do have a lot of SW books that are good, and my plan is to go along systematically reviewing them for your pleasure, and I promise now that I’m out of that sheaf of bad books I read this spring, the reviews will be more varied in scale and scope. I only have three books left from my spring reading, and I’ve been saving them because I really enjoyed them. Or at least part of them. See, I was waiting to review them as a unit, so I had to finish them all. I’m talking about a couple little series that Michael Reeves put out–the Med Star books and the Coruscant Nights trilogy.

Before starting on on the Med Star books, make sure that you have Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter under your belt. If you don’t, you may want to go read it now and skip the rest of this review. Just trust me that these are good books and come back once you’ve got Shadow Hunter down.

Book 1

Star Wars: Clone Wars: Medstar I: Battle Surgeons, by Michael Reaves and Steve Perry, follows and introduces some familiar characters. A Republic medical unit on the world Drongar have a dismal post that is also extremely important to the war effort. A miracle plant, bota, which grows on this planet and no other, is desperately sought by both the Republic and Separatist factions of the war, but it creates a challenge for the medical staff because mass bombing would destroy the precious plant. Hand-to-hand and close quarters combat leave Republic troops in desperate condition.  The planet is inhospitable, uncomfortable, and unpleasant, but the cause is a good one.

Enter Jedi Padawan Barris Offee, who has been sent as back up to this post. Den Duhr, a Sullustian journalist, has also filtered down Drongar way and with him the modified droid I-FIVE who first showed up in Shadow Hunter. He’s lost his memories, though, and doesn’t remember what important mission he is supposed to be on, just that it’s something he needs to remember. Other characters are the doctors Jos (a war-worn Corellian) and Zan (a gentle, music-loving Zabrak).

I was thoroughly charmed by this book and enjoyed this glimpse into the “normal” side of life in the Star Wars universe. These people are purely EU characters (except Barris, who can be seen in E2), just everyday people. If you like medical dramas, you’ll certainly love this book, as it closely follows the pattern long-established by shows like Diagnosis Murder and ER. There is also a surprising amount of character evolution for a book like this. There’s a beautifully tragic surprise ending, too.

Absolutely read this book. Check it out on Amazon.com here.

Review: Death Star

Posted in Reviews, Spotlight with tags , , , , , on 31 July 2011 by Megan
Death Star Cover

inb4 That’s No Moon!

by Michael Reaves and Steve Perry.

I was actually pretty disappointed by this book. Steve Perry has been in my good graces for a long time–he’s produced some really good Star Wars stuff in the past (Shadows of the Empire, anyone?), and Michael Reaves has been steadily winning me over with his Lorn Pavan stories. So when I got through this book and all it was was a dull walkthrough of the Death Star’s construction manual.

Some bits that I did like were scenes from the film done from the opposite point of view, but still, even these were just cop-outs that emphasized how unenthusiastic the writers were about the project. Catchphrases, clichés, and generalizations made up the majority of this book, coupled with excessive technological description that most Star Wars fans read SW books to avoid. When it descended into going over ANH for me, I wrote it off in sheer boredom–how many novelizations does the first movie need? Regular people should have been cool to read about. And yet.

Anyway, it’s a harmless canonical book; just don’t be surprised when it turns into explication of what you already know, and don’t expect really fun or exciting, fresh characters like in Perry and Reaves’ other works. Check it out on Amazon.com.