Star Wars Novels – Part 18

Posted: June 25, 2015 in Book Reviews

Well, it’s finally caught up to me. I’m trying to document the books that I read, but between the business (my websites), the family (my two girls) and how quickly I read…is making this task difficult. So now I have to decide – do I take a stab at summarizing my thoughts on the books I read? Or do I pick and choose? I’ll take a stab, but thoughts and impressions may be brief – particularly if the book was unremarkable (neither really good nor really bad).

Honor Among Thieves

This one was all about Han Solo, who stuck around after the Death Star victory perhaps a little longer than he should have and he agreed to extract a rebel spy from behind enemy lines. Scarlet Hark, the spy, sucked him into helping her with one more task before she would agree to go with him. He runs into an old smuggler colleague of his (Bassen) who both double-crosses and, reluctantly, befriends and helps him. It was an average book, even for a fan of Han Solo (as I am). It’s not central to the SWU but it does help to build Han’s personality and legend, as well as Chewie’s (of course). Scarlet was a decent enough character, but this is the only novel she appears in, which is unfortunate. I’d rate this story a take it or leave it.

Galaxies: Ruins of Dantooine

I’m not going to go too far into this one. All I remember is that it wasn’t integral to the general timeline and plot of the SW EU and that the plot in this one was preposterous. An imperial biologist is recruited by a rebel spy to aid in his ‘cover’ for his traveling to a planet. The two get the blessing of rebel leadership (Leia, Luke, etc.) to search for and acquire a holocron in the ruins of an old rebel base. And by ‘old’ we’re talking a few years. And it was just abandoned and fell to ruin. Anyway, the clever plot twists (i.e. betrayal) weren’t so clever, and as with most SW fans I’m not overly fond of new one-shot characters. They don’t have to be all about Luke and Han, but they need to appear in several books (such as Ferus or Jax Paven).

Splinter of the Mind’s Eye

This story was actually the first novel written and published about the expanded universe and was actually written as a fallback option for Empire Strikes Back. The story itself wasn’t horrible, I just don’t like reading stories in which Luke fights Darth Vader. I like to think that he fought him twice – in Empire and in Jedi. That’s it. But in this book he fought him and was very proficient. But as far as entertainment value, Splinter of the Mind’s Eye is probably worth the read. It was written before all other EU books so backstories and future stories were not yet known, so it has to be taken with a grain of salt. I found this quote interesting, in the Wookiepedia page:

Splinter of the Mind’s Eye was the first ever Expanded Universe novel to be written and published. Its author, Alan Dean Foster, had ghostwritten Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker, the novelization of Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope, and this early involvement in the Star Wars universe gave Foster the opportunity to write Splinter.

According to an interview with Foster in Empire magazine, the novel had been written to be filmed as a low-budget sequel as a fallback plan in case Star Wars hadn’t been a huge success. This accounts for the book taking place almost entirely on a fog-shrouded planet. Additionally, Harrison Ford was not signed for the sequel as of the writing of the book, which is why Han Solo does not appear in it. Though Foster was granted a great amount of leniency in developing the story, one requirement was that a lot of props from Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope could be reused when filming the new story. According to Foster, Lucas’ only request upon inspecting the manuscript was the removal of a dogfight in space undertaken by Luke and Leia before they crash-land on Mimban. Presumably, this sequence would have cost too much money to film.

Empire and Rebellion: The Razor’s Edge

While I was interested (happily so) to read a book featuring Princess Leia Organa – because there has never been one – I got the clear sense that author Martha Wells was trying too hard to feminize the franchise. Leia took on a huge leadership role, as she should, and this novel was great in painting her as a natural leader, providing building blocks for the movies. And the leader of the Alderaanian pirate ship was female, which is fine too. And the leader of the massive pirate conglomerate was female. And there were others in position of authority, sometimes spoken of in passing, who were female. To be clear – I don’t mind these. But the author’s effort was too obvious and it was distracting. There was one point when a general was mentioned and even before the name or the sex was revealed, I knew she would be female. Then again, maybe females would find this refreshing, likely tiring of the male-dominated storylines and characters in Star Wars up until now. The book itself was good though, once you can ignore the minor distraction, and the action was entertaining. I’d recommend this one for sure.

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

This is just like the movie in most aspects, with a few small differences, the biggest one being Yoda as a blue-skinned alien. Everything was subtle and insignificant. I read this novel and then watched the movie (for the 100th time? 120th?) almost immediately after, with my young daughters.

Tales of the Bounty Hunters

After reading the first couple of tales, one thing became very clear to me. I don’t like the Tales. I wasn’t overly fond of the Tales of Mos Eisley and felt the same way about Tales of the Bounty Hunters. The tales describe backstories for the five bounty hunters on the Executor tasked by Vader to find the Millenium Falcon (in Empire Strikes Back). Of the “Tales” books, this one was the best. Or rather, it was the one I disliked the least. Because I like Boba Fett (who doesn’t?), and it turns out that I like the assassin droid IG-88, and I don’t mind Dengar. Though Zuckuss and 4-LOM were useless. I enjoyed the assassin droid’s backstory and Dengar’s wasn’t that bad either. And in this book I discovered that Boba Fett didn’t die in the Sarlacc pit – it didn’t tell the story of his escape, but merely hinted that the story was written elsewhere (as I would find out). All in all, I’d rate this a skip, unless you want to quickly read the IG-88 backstory as it’s the only worthwhile one.

Shadows of the Empire

An enjoyable book with all the big characters other than Han in it from the main trilogy, plus some of the regulars from the expanded universe (Dash Rendar, Wedge, Prince Xizor). The demise of Xizor is apparently settled in this one (and I say “apparently” because you just never know if you don’t see a body), which closes (?) the book on a pretty good villain, the leader of the Black Sun. Han Solo is still frozen in carbonite and hanging on Jabba’s wall, but the other characters (including Lando) provide more than enough entertainment and adventure to make this one of the better novels of this particular part of the Star Wars timeline.

Tales from the Empire

Another ‘Tales’ book, but at this point I had resolved to start skimming them. After reading the first two tales, I pretty much skimmed through the rest. The two stories weren’t terrible, they just weren’t good enough to draw me in. I’m just not a short story guy, I guess.

Tales from Jabba’s Palace

By now I knew what to expect. But unlike with ‘Empire’, I knew that Jabba’s Palace would be about characters I knew. Every character you could point out in Return of the Jedi would have a back story. So I gave it chance. But the Rancor keeper’s story was boring. Jabba’s chef (?!?!?) was so boring I couldn’t get to page four – and skimming through the rest of it had me very happy with my decision to skip it. Other stories – the band, Ephant Mon, the Gammorean Guard (?), Bib Fortuna, etc, etc. Boring. One thing that piqued my interest was Mara Jade. Star Wars decided that the Emporer’s hand was somehow in the Palace on that fateful day (hey – we can’t prove she wasn’t!). But her story didn’t grab a hold of me either. Nor did the story of Boba Fett, though I did read that one and found a few more details of his escape from Sarlacc.

Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

As with the other movies, this novel is virtually the same other than a handful of minor discrepancies. A couple of interesting additions to the movie include the gang walking through a sandstorm to get back to their ships shortly after destroying Jabba. And later when Luke and the Emperor were talking, Palpatine questioned him on his training, getting out of him that it was Yoda who took over after Obi-Wan.

Well look at that, I managed to touch upon all of them

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