I disappeared for five months. Still reading like a sonuvabitch, but haven’t had the time to post my thoughts. This betrays my goals when I started reviewing books here. It’s important that they remain fresh when I reflect on them. But I’ll give it a shot. Five months may not seem like a long time, but when you’ve read two dozen books since then, the storylines risk being mixed up.
Han Solo at Stars’ End / Han Solo’s Revenge / Han Solo and the Lost Legacy
Three books written in 1979/1980 that take place just before Han and Chewie meet Luke and Ben. These books illustrated a bit of background in Solo’s being a “scoundrel” and a smuggler, painting a picture of his impressive and improving skills with a blaster, as well as his innovative ways of getting out of jams. He was also tied to a pair of droids “Bollux” (BLX-5) and Blue Max (who was a smaller robot that made its home inside Bollux). Certainly not a necessity in terms of the overall Star Wars universe, but if you like the added character build-up then it’s readable. These three books are quick reads, but I would probably pass if I had to do it again.
Han Solo Trilogy 3 – Rebel Dawn
Now back to the 1998 trilogy of “adult” books, as opposed to the younger stuff above. These books are obviously far better. Not just because they are written for a more mature audience, but also they were written in the late 90s when more of the Star Wars universe was developed. The third part of this trilogy tied up a lot of loose ends, both from the first two parts, but also from the movies. What happened to Solo’s first love, Bria Tharen? Why was Lando Calrissian so pissed off at him? What happened to him that led him to the cantina in Mos Eisley? And other non-Solo related questions were answered as well, such as how the rebels got the plans to the Death Star (after they were sent off the Death Star, as told in the book “Death Star”).
Loved it. The sentimentalist in me loved how the book flowed seamlessly into A New Hope and told so much of the back story leading into the movie. This is a must-read for anyone looking for more background on the Star Wars universe.
The Force Unleashed II
This one was a bit of a surprise, since Starkiller died in the first book. But I guess as a clone he can just be re-made. And that seems to be what happened here (the story is told in such a way that this could go either way – either Darth Vader saved him in time or he re-created him). Starkiller escapes from Vader, steals his ship (as in the video game) and goes looking for Juno. The story gives some further background on what happened to Kamino and the cloning program, as well as guest appearances from Yoda and Wedge Antilles. Another well-written book with plenty of great action. Doesn’t tie in seamlessly with the Star Wars canon, so you can take this one or leave it.
Dark Forces: Soldier for the Empire
The story of a Force-sensitive named Kyle Katarn, who just graduated from the Imperial Military Academy. He received news that the Rebels had killed his father, when it was in fact the Empire that did that – under the guise of the Rebels. Thanks to chance meetings with a Rebel leader, as well as his father’s own protocol droid (who had his father’s death recorded so the truth could be revealed), Katarn fled the Empire in favor of the Rebels. He was later given a mission to get a hold of the Empire’s plans for a massive weapon (obviously the Death Star). This flies a little against prior writing that indicated that Han Solo’s ex Bria Tharen led a group to secure these plans, but I suppose one could be tied to the other if you extend a little leeway here when it comes to your imagination. As always, I enjoyed the guest appearances and this case it was Lando Calrissian and our buddy Thrawn. This was the first appearance of Thrawn since the Outbound Flight book, and I wasn’t sure it was ‘that’ Thrawn until I looked it up. But yes, Thrawn had joined the Empire after impressing Palpatine and had risen through the ranks quickly (was a captain here). It’s unfortunate that the new Star Wars powers that be had moved the Thrawn stories to “legend” instead of “canon”. But I suspect that much of it will be moved back.
On a side note, there was a character in this book named Dobbs.
Another book you can ignore. Nothing against the author Joe Schreiber, who did a fine job. But these horror/zombie stories have no place in the Star Wars universe and I’m glad this one is now “legend” instead of canon. I don’t recommend this book at all. It does have Han and Chewie in it playing a big role in the second half of the book (and their appearance was such a surprise that it made this book readable). But again – the story is hokey. If we want to read about zombies, we’ll go get zombie books.
This is the story about a famous singer (and fame in the SW universe means fame across the entire galaxy and not just a country or planet) who requires protection. She recruits Han Solo’s ‘sometime’ friend Dash Rendar, who makes for an interesting enough character to carry this book. But bringing Solo into the story at the midpoint certainly helps, too. But while this one was interesting – and features some more Black Sun background and Prince Xizor storyline – it is also a book you can do without and still follow the SW storyline. This book has been moved from canon to “legend”.
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
So with 110-odd books as the lead-in to the first ever Star Wars movie, I was looking forward to reading this book. It was an easy read and despite being just 220 pages it added some storyline. Such as Luke’s friendship with Biggs, and an extended attack-on-the-Death-Star storyline. I don’t need to tell you that if you’ve gone this far in reading through all the Star Wars books (or even all the important books), then of course you read the on that started it all.
At this point, we’re reaching novels that I read two months ago. A little fresher on my mind and thus I can be more fair with my evaluation.