Star Wars Novels – Part 21

Posted: April 22, 2016 in Book Reviews

I’m now on Goodreads. FYI

Heir to the Empire

I waited a long time for this book/trilogy. A good year of working my way through the chronology to get too it, with my anticipation for it beginning once I read Outbound Flight.

Grand Admiral Thrawn is the best Star Wars character not yet in a movie. Better than runners up Mara Jade and Asaj Ventress. I hope Disney finds a way to get him into some storylines.

Lots of great characters introduced in this one. There is a race of aliens who are adept at hunting, assassination and staying the shadows – the Noghri. There is a crazy Jedi clone named Joruus C’Boath. There is a smuggling kingpin named Talon Karrde, whom we’ve met before but only briefly. And of course the full SW gang is here, including Lando and Rogue Squadron. And Mara Jade is back, psychologically damaged and weaker in the Force since the death of Palpatine.

A nice tale is weaved, with both the micro (Mara’s murderous anger towards Luke; Leia’s pregnant with twins) and the macro (Thrawn dealing blow after blow to the New Republic). Thrawn requires the help of the crazy and dark Jedi C’Boath, but in return he has to deliver to C’Boath both Luke and Leia for training. To do this, Thrawn sends the elite hunters known as the Noghri to get the job done. But he didn’t count on the fact that the Noghri were loyal to Darth Vader – and not so much the Empire. And of course who are Vader’s children?

This is a tale worthy of a movie.

 

Dark Force Rising

In Book 2 of the Thrawn trilogy, Luke does indeed meet with the crazy cloned Jedi Master C’Boath. And at the same time, the smuggler Talon Karrde is captured by Thrawn. Meanwhile, Leia is in hiding with Chewbacca on Kashyyyk when the Noghri arrive. While Leia tries to convince the Noghri to join her cause, Mara Jade searches for Luke in order to solicit his help in rescuing Karrde. This is against Jade’s instincts – she truly hates Luke but needs him.

As the story unfolds, culminating in a massive battle in space between Thrawn and a coalition of the New Republic and Karrde’s smugglers, I do get a little tiresome of Thrawn’s cleverness. Yes, he’s a genius. But he jumps to every correct logical conclusion rather quickly, guessing the enemy’s next moves. When the fact is, the logic trail he was following could easily have led him in another direction. It just gets explained away too easily at times.

As noted in my review of Heir to the Empire, this is worthy of a movie. But better still – this trilogy could easily be broken up into 20 animated episodes (once Star Wars: Rebels runs its course).

 

The Last Command

The climax of the trilogy has C’baoth one of Thrawn’s ships running the battles with the help of the Force. Thrawn has acquired dozens of massive starships and the New Republic didn’t expect him to have them manned so quickly. It turns out that he was using clones. Clones that could be created, grown and trained in two years.

Meanwhile a strike team infiltrates the Imperial Palace in an effort to kidnap Han and Leia’s newborn twins – Jacen and Jaina. Mara Jade, who was under a form of house arrest until the New Republic can trust her (they had just discovered her past as the Emperor’s Hand), managers to get free and enlist the help of Lando to rescue Leia and her children.

The story builds to a pair of key scenes. One where Thrawn is coordinating a surprise attack on shipyards, of which the New Republic kind of caught on (but kind of not). And while Rogue Squadron, Admiral Akbar, etc. handled that, there was another battle between Luke and C’baoth. Mara arrives to help, and Mara and Luke form a friendship of sorts.

The Thrawn trilogy is a must-read. And I’ll reiterate my suggestion that it should be made into an animated TV series.

 

X-Wing: Isard’s Revenge

With Thrawn now out of the picture (The Last Command), the focus now for the New Republic is to eliminate the remaining Imperial warlords who are scattered throughout the galaxy.

Rogue squadron is ambushed by the Imperials who were under the guidance of – Isard “Iceheart”, who was thought to be dead. So while Corran Horn, Wedge Antilles and the gang are whisked away to a secret base, Corran’s wife Mirax Terrik and his friend (and Wedge’s future love) Iella Wesseri are doing their own investigating.

In this story, two minor – but regular – characters are killed off. An I applauded Michael Stackpole for it. You can’t fear for a character’s situation if you know that the character is guaranteed to live. So I thought it was great. It made the entire X-Wing series that much better. That is…until we discover that neither character actually died. It bothered me. And that one of them wanted to pretend to remain dead so that it’s easier for that character’s love interest to let them go. The whole situation wasn’t needed, and only served to shift my focus away from what was a decent storyline.

 

Jedi Search

The first book of the Jedi Academy trilogy, Luke Skywalker begins his search for Force-sensitive beings in the galaxy so that he can re-launch a Jedi training school. He and Leia select Yavin 4 as the base (where the Rebels were based in A New Hope). While Luke travels in search of future Jedi, Han Solo and Chewbacca are captured on Kessel and put to work in the spice mines. While Han and Chewie of course escape, along with Kyp Durron (a Force-sensitive human who was in the mines), they are forced to enter the “Maw”. This is some kind of maze of black holes and almost impossible to navigate, but inside the Maw is an old Imperial installation complete with an admiral (Daala), an army, some secret weapons and other  Imperial vessels.

I found this an entertaining book, with new characters that are both interesting and easy to like. I didn’t like the idea of all these secret weapons. I just read through thousands of years of Jedi and Sith history. And 10,000 years ago they had star ships and blasters and lightsabers. Nothing had improved on those things until about 20 years ago? And then you can build lasers that will destroy a planet, or a “sun crusher” that can make a star go supernova and is impervious to attacks? I think with a few tweaks this story could have worked better. I also found the story to be lengthier than was necessary.

 

Dark Apprentice

The old base on Yavin 4 is the home of the spirit of a dark Jedi named Exar Kun. The temple is where Kun is most powerful (the Dark Side) and he takes control of the more powerful Jedi apprentices who are training there.

The story heads in two directions. In one direction, Kyp Durron is under the control of Kun, but is actually used to further the cause of the New Republic – just not in a way that the New Republic would approve. In the other direction, Admiral Daala starts attacking key New Republic bases and allies.

It’s a worthwhile read if you’re looking to capture most of the key elements of the Legends storyline. But on it’s own, I could take this one or leave it. I found it to be about 100 pages too long, getting into explanations and side stories that weren’t necessary.

 

Champions of the Force

Three plotlines in this, the final book of the Jedi Academy trilogy. In the first, the possessed (by Exar Kun) Jedi apprentice Kyp Durron is flying around the galaxy in the indestructible Sun Crusher weapon/ship and wiping out major Imperial targets. Even if innocent lives are lost. In another plotline, Luke Skywalker is in a coma at the temple on Yavin 4 and the spirt of Exar Kun plots for a way to kill him. In the third storyline, Wedge and Chewie go back into the Maw to free some wookiee slaves.

This wrapped up the set nicely, even if I still couldn’t get my head around the overly-powerful weapons that the Empire could have built within 10 years yet the Republic can’t do it if you give them 10,000.

 

I, Jedi

I both loved and hated this book. I loved the characters and everything about this story, but I absolutely despised the motive. This book features Corran Horn of Rogue Squadron and the early part of the book really ties in with the Jedi Academy trilogy. I had no idea that in that trilogy the apprentice Keiran Halcyon was actually Horn undercover. I probably loved that idea too much! It made for a very entertaining read.

What I didn’t like about the book was that a) Corran’s wife was kidnapped and put in stasis for months and months until a rescue was attempted. Just a dumb idea – if nobody is getting her within a couple of weeks then kill her, or put her up for ransom! And b) Corran’s wife is in trouble! Oh no! Hey – you should quickly train as a Jedi and then after a few weeks you can slowly infiltrate some pirates until you can mount a rescue! Come on, really? First of all, this whole notion of being trained as an adequate Jedi in three weeks is absurd. Especially after working my way through the Star Wars history and seeing the early apprentices training from the age of two until they are 13, and then they are Padawan’s for another eight or 10 years. But no, three weeks is fine. Anyway, when I could ignore that part, I found it to be an excellent novel.

 

Children of the Jedi

I don’t know what to make of this one. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it either. And of course there were more things to find silly. Luke and some friends are captured by a fully automated ship that manages to brainwash who it captures into believing that they are stormtroopers serving the empire. Great so far, what a unique idea. But the ship also has other aliens captured – Gammoreans, Jawas, Sand People among them. And the Gammoreans have the ability to speak basic apparently, which is something that the entire X-Wing series made clear couldn’t be done without the help of a robot-type device. Anyway – it’s a big galaxy. Invent some new aliens!

Meanwhile, Leia, Han and Chewie are on another planet investigating the possibility of children of the purged Jedi who are in hiding there. And of course they run into their own problems therein, meeting a jaded mother and her spoiled Force-sensitive son who may or may not be the son of Palpatine. Some elements of the story were quite entertaining, but overall it wasn’t pulled together well enough. Maybe best for young adults or pre-teens.

 

Darksaber

Oh boy. Another Death Star-type weapon. And now apparently it can be built in a week or two. Alrighty then, understood. Those aliens who have a hive mind and work quickly in packs can focus on putting together just the Death Star weapon, along with the basics for travelling through space and housing a small crew. And they can do this in a week or two. Boy, Emperor Palpatine must have been an idiot. Why didn’t he think of that? Instead, he used Wookiee slaves and built an entire space station in 20 years.

There were some enjoyable elements to this book and it was well written, as far as flow and character build. And Admiral Daala teaming up with Pellaeon (who was Thrawn’s capable assistant) was a great idea. But even if I get past the whole ‘superweapon’ thing, the galaxy is just too small. Luke fights the wampa whose arm he chopped off in Empire Strikes Back? Yikes.

 

X-Wing: Starfighters of Adumar

This story doesn’t involve the entire squadron (neither Rogue nor Wraith). It’s Wedge, Wes Janson, Tycho Celchu and Hobbie. They go to Adumar on a diplomatic mission and they’re chosen because the natives worship or revere starfighter pilots. They also run into a Republic spy there in Iella Wessiri, which allows the Wedge – Iella love interest idea to gain some ground.

I don’t have anything bad to say about the book. It was interesting. And definitely funny, given Aaron Allston’s humor and his use of funnyman Wes Janson. But other than the Wedge-Iella overall plotline, there really wasn’t anything added to the Star Wars Legends storyline. So if that was your goal, you can safely give this one a pass.

 

 

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