My goal was to get through the Thrawn Trilogy before The Force Awakens came out. I failed in that goal. I did watch TFA and it was fantastic. Thoroughly satisfied with that movie, in case you wanted the opinion of someone who is laboriously trying to plow through the entire written works of the Star Wars Universe (Legends and Canon both).
But I’m reading the Thrawn Trilogy right now. Halfway through it. So far, so amazing. Living up to the hype. But that’s for a later post. Here are the books I’ve read over the past couple of months…
X-Wing: Rogue Squadron / Wedge’s Gamble / The Krytos Trap / The Bacta War / Wraith Squadron / Iron Fist / Solo Command
Yes, seven of the eight books. I’m pretty strict about the timeline I read these.
These books were pretty good in terms of entertainment. By no means required reading, but I did enjoy the background and personalities in these novels. Each book could have shaved 30-50 pages off, as Michael Stackpole tended to provide a few too many unnecessary details. Not to the extent of say Robert Jordan, but Stackpole had his moments.
The series provides personality buildup and adventures revolving around lesser SWU characters such as Wedge Antilles, Corran Horn, Admiral Ackbar and others. But it sprinkles in the main characters like Han Solo, Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker at times. We’re introduced to a a couple of dozen interesting new characters too.
It starts off with some of the missions that Rogue Squadron is assigned. Rogue Squadron is the group of pilots who fly X-Wing Fighters in the movies, primarily responsible for blowing up the second Death Star. Wedge is the leader, Corran is a Force-sensitive. The storyline is really solid and provides an excellent backdrop to the movies. Frankly I don’t see why these books can’t be moved over to Canon and hopefully they eventually will.
When the Rebels destroyed the second Death Star and killed the Emperor (and Vader), that wasn’t the end of the Empire. Not in a vast galaxy, with an Empire that spans thousands of planets and billions of people. Nope, not that simple. The other warlords and admirals in the Empire scramble to seize control of what’s left of the Empire. The Rebels try to stop them. and one of the first tasks is to take control of Coruscant. Rogue Squadron is a key part of that.
Midway through the eight-part set (of which I read seven so far), Wedge puts together a group of misfits designed to be Commandos first, but at the same time are very talented pilots. They’re called Wraith Squadron. And by the seventh book, the Rogues and Wraiths band together to take down Warlord Zsinj. The novels are very well detailed, intricately planned out to keep the plot flowing in each book yet at the same time interconnected with each other. There were a couple of those ‘kill Person A off that has Personality Z, then bring in a new recruit Person B who has Personality Z’ tricks that allow an author to kill a character but in essence bring him back to life but just call him a ‘new’ character. But I don’t mind those.
In all, I would only recommend these to the most hardcore.
The Courtship of Princess Leia
Han and Leia get married, but it’s not as easy as one would think. And frankly, the path to the altar is absurd. A prince from a wealthy planet named Isolder declares his intention to wed Leia. And Leia understands that such a marriage would solve all the financial problems of the New Republic and likely end the war with the remnants of the Empire. She takes her time with the decision, but then Han forcibly removes her from the palace and kidnaps her to his ship and they hit hyperspace. Yeah. Seriously. You know, just like all men want to win over their women.
They end up going to Dathomir, a planet that Han Solo won at a card game (!). You may recall that it’s also the planet of the witches. The one where Asajj Ventress is from. And Darth Maul. But this particular story paints a different Dathomir. The witches use the Force, yes. But they don’t have access to space ships or any form of space travel. Which is again absurd because Ventress, Anakin, Obi-Wan, et al landed on that planet dozens of times. So that part of the story required the reader’s faith. The SWU try to explain this away, via other source materials, by explaining that the planet was quarantined. Okay. Another leap of faith. I understand it’s hard to expand the universe when the initial stories weren’t written with an expanded universe in mind.
Anyway, Luke Skywalker along with Isolder go to Dathomir and the adventure continues. And of course Isolder fell in love with one of the witches, thus solving that little ‘Leia could marry someone else’ problem.
Bottom line: I’d skip this one.
This Troy Denning novel was better than I expected it to be. That’s not to say it was great, but it provided some great background into how Anakin’s mother was feeling (through her journal) after her son left to become a Jedi. How she followed his career. How she fell in love. How she tricked Watto into selling her to her beau. And of course the buildup of how the Tuskans were getting closer and closer to attacking. We discover all this thanks to Leia finding this journal and watching it bit by bit throughout the story. Her anger against Vader softens as she grows to understand what he went through.
Key characters in this one – Han, Leia, Chewie, C-3PO and – Grand Admiral Thrawn (though just his voice and his influence on his men). We also catch up with a couple of Anakin’s childhood friends. I always find it fascinating when some of these lesser characters pop back up decades later and fill in some more backstory.
Not a terrible book, by any stretch. But I’d still probably pass unless I was the most hardcore of readers.