Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina
This is funny. Literally every character seen in the movie and/or mentioned in the book has a back story immediately leading to the events of A New Hope. And while familiarizing myself with the various alien races was helpful, I just didn’t see the point of this book. I guess each story, for the most part, in itself was interesting. But intertwining them all together? Well, what you see are two-thirds of the characters somehow involved in an important plot against the Empire. I guess it’s a small universe, eh? For example, the warrior women managed to steal a key component to the Death Star’s mighty planet-destroying weapon. Wow, imagine that – Tatooine being the focal point of yet another key part of the Death Star’s history. And the other one-third – well, they have something against Jabba the Hutt. Not a single person in the cantina is just there for a drink after a long day at work. They’re all thieves or spies or fighters of some kind. Pass.
Scoundrels was a fun book back when it was called Oceans 11. Because that’s what we’re dealing with. And although Han Solo and Chewbacca, as well as Lando Calrissian, make great leaders in this gang of thieves, the plot points are the same. They assemble a cool team of interesting personalities, each with an important skill. And they need to steal something valuable from an impossibly secure vault. And again, this has nothing to do with the quality of the book – the book was a good read. I just don’t like it when stories veer too far from the Star Wars universe. And I also don’t like how the Lando/Han relationship was already wrapped up in Han’s trilogy (Rebel Dawn) – and now they had to meet again just two or three years before Empire Strikes Back and work together on a big score? It just ruined the timeline for me a little.
Rebel Force 1-5 (Target, Hostage, Renegade, Firefight, Trapped)
This is an enjoyable series featuring Luke, Han, Chewie, Leia and the Droids. Luke is being hunted by the Empire out of revenge for destroying the Death Star (but first they have to find out who the pilot was). One of the Imperial leaders sends an assassin (X-7) to first dig up the identity of the pilot, and then to kill him. X-7 is a highly trained, emotionless assassin. This was a good read even before the re-introduction of Ferus. But when Ferus Olin joins the team (now 23 years older, so late 40s), I’m ecstatic.
When last we saw Ferus, he was sent to Alderaan to watch over Leia. It turned out that he was forced to join the council and grow fat while fitting in as a greedy politician and adviser. She grew up not respecting him and never did find out his true identity.
It took several books for X-7’s true identity and evil intentions to be revealed, and he escapes without completing his mission (he escaped both the Rebels and his Imperial master). He hired a group of mercenaries to take Luke down, but the best mercenary is a Force-sensitive in his early 30s named Div. It turns out that Div is Lune Divinian – the Force-sensitive child who was shot off the asteroid before it was destroyed (along with several Jedi) 20 years earlier.
Just a great set of books and a must-read for anyone following key plotpoints of the SW series. It’s also an easy read – each book is less than 200 pages.
Timothy Zahn is one of the best authors in the Star Wars universe and he brings it here again. This story kicks off a new saga with some great new characters – five Storm Troopers who desert from the army yet continue to fight justice in the name of the empire; Mara Jade, “the Emperor’s Hand”, who is a young Dark Jedi Master – and then brings in some of the well-known greats like Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie, Vader and a Zahn-favorite (in the sequel, not this one): Thrawn. This novel is a must-read – it’s just unfortunate that (for now) it’s considered part of the “Legends” section of the SW universe.
Rebel Force 6: Uprising
The conclusion of the six-part series, this novella also marks the conclusion of the maybe 20-part Ferus Olin saga that spanned the days of Anakin Skywalker as a Padawan, through his rebirth as Darth Vader, through the early training of Luke Skywalker. He got to face Vader again in what was an exciting finish. This also left us with the impression that Lune Divinian was killed – but since no body was found, you can never be sure. I have a feeling that we’ll run into him again (and I look forward to it).
Galaxy of Fear 1-3 (Eaten Alive, City of the Dead, Planet Plague)
Ugh. I know this was made for kids. I also know that if the SW property is going to grown, it needs to refresh the group of fans to include the young generation. But this is not the way. Just a bunch of useless “scary” stories about a planet that eats people, the dead rising, a virus that turns people into “blobs”. Even though they were quick reads, I couldn’t bring myself to read all 12 of these books. And here is where my mission fails – I thought I’d read every book I could get my hands on until I read them all, in order. But I can’t keep going here. Like a couple of teenaged kids keep foiling the Emperor and his chosen. Must be a small galaxy.
On a side note – Dr. Evazon, the guy with the messed up face who threatened Luke in the Cantina (“You’ll be dead!” and “I’m wanted in 12 Star Systems”), is a key part of Book 2. The guy’s known as “Dr. Death” and really is wanted in 12 Star Systems. This was also touched upon in the Mos Eisley Tales book. Anyway, seriously pass on this. Don’t even let your kids read it because it has nothing to do with Star Wars other than the name on the cover and cameos by all the Star Wars main characters (again – what a small galaxy).
Choices of One
Loved it. Timothy Zahn’s sequel to ‘Allegiance’, he picks up where he left off. Jade recruits the Hand of Justice (the five Storm Troopers who deserted) and heads to a planet to find proof that a governor committed treason and dispense justice accordingly. Meanwhile, Han, Luke and Leia are there on Rebel business with said governor. It turns out that the governor committed treason, but under duress. A warlord from the Unknown Region (an area far outside the Empire’s galaxy) was stirring up trouble, hoping to incite the Rebels and the Empire into killing each other so he can swoop in and take over that planet. Thrawn, meanwhile, was hunting said warlord. How this all came together, and how it ended, I’ll leave it with you to discover. Just know that it’s another excellent book with great characters and interesting plot points.
I think, several months ago, I stumbled on a reference that Mara Jade marries Luke? I’m not sure about that one, and I won’t research it because I’d rather be surprised via the plot. But the possibility had me paying close attention to any interaction between the two. They never met, nor did they speak. But they did see each other fight from a distance, each surprising the other with their skill. Luke wasn’t as incompetent as Jade thought, and he had a lightsaber. Jade was absolutely outstanding with the lightsaber.