Planet of Twilight
I found the first quarter of this novel to be a confusing mess. The story takes place mainly on a planet with natives, old-timers and new-timers. And Therans? Which is which? Who controls who? It was a mess that I eventually just ignored and instead just focused on the main characters Luke, Leia, Han and the droids – each of whom were divided into their own little quests (or problems) separate from each other.
It was a unique plot in the SWU, featuring tiny bugs called ‘drochs’ that absorbed harmlessly into the skin – but it turns out they were sucking life force from the host and feeding the lead droch, who could pass for a human. The leader of Nam Chorios is Seti Ashgad, and working with the droch leader (Dzym) he had taken Leia prisoner. Also in the mix was a former Jedi Knight who was a Hutt. Between the difficulty of following the first portion of the book, and the disappointing news that a Hutt could be a Jedi (had struck me as impossible, before this), I struggled to focus on just enjoying the story. The fight scenes weren’t great because Luke couldn’t use the Force because on that planet doing so would have repercussions that would cause harm to the natives there.
It’s at this point in the series where I’ve come to the realization that the Star Wars Legends universe should have slowed down on the book releases. It’s okay to say ‘no’ to ideas sometimes.
The Crystal Star
Ho hum. Leia’s and Han’s kids are kidnapped. Again. Reading the novels in chronological order, it’s hard to separate the “when” of a book being written. So yes, this book was written before the other kidnap-attempt books but still…how often are they going to go to that well?
There wasn’t much I liked about the story, but there were some things. Such as Chewbacca’s heartfelt love for the children. Jana’s and Jacen’s cleverness. That’s…probably about it. I didn’t like the powerful alien Waru who could heal (or kill/absorb) and is from another dimension. My idea of Star Wars is that it’s based on a galaxy where the rules of science apply, other than the Force. Whenever they deviate from that idea, I find myself getting bothered about it.
I didn’t mind the SWEU books from before the fall of the Old Republic. And I thought the Clone Wars books (in that era) were mostly great. But I have strong concerns about how the post-Return of the Jedi books are going. Do they get better? I’m almost reluctant to find out. This is my 178th Star Wars novel/novella. Must…keep…going…
The Black Fleet Crisis: Before the Storm
I had low expectations for this novel based on the recent Star Wars novels I’ve read that have taken place at around the same timeline. I had also read a review of the book indicating that it would be heavy in military jargon and that it deviates from the usual SW style. So my hope was that it would be similar to the Republic Commando series. That one, while not my cup of tea and not central to the running SWU plotline, was at least very well written and fairly interesting.
But this turned out to not be the case at all. At least for the first book. I found it to be more political than military. The story takes place on three fronts. First of all, Luke Skywalker is approached by a woman claiming to be from the same race and planet as his mother. This one was confusing, because we all know who his mother is – and where she is from. Not only is it strange that he doesn’t know about her (you’d think that Bail Organa would have told Leia, who could then tell Luke), but the story told in this book seems to indicate that his mother had powers different from the Force. This part of the storyline I didn’t enjoy. I didn’t like how Luke is stronger than I’ve ever seen Anakin (flying a ship just with the Force? Building a structure out of rock with the Force?). I didn’t like how impatient and impetuous he was with this strange woman – is he a trained Jedi Master or not? And will this “mother” prove to be a fairy tale so things can make sense?
Second, Lando Calrissian, with the help of Lobot (his assistant in Empire Strikes Back with the metal band around his head that lights up), R2D2 and C3P0 goes with a Republic fleet to investigate a strange ship that isn’t flown by anyone…but has defense mechanisms that can’t be cracked. I found this storyline interesting and unique. It has me curious.
And finally, the main one is on Coruscant with Leia. She spends weeks negotiating with a new race on the outskirts of the Republic. A race that seems to control a sizable area of the galaxy. This race actually thinks all other races are beneath them and their leader, Nil Spaar, does a great job of getting the reader’s blood boiling. The story had a strong finish and made me excited to pick up the next book immediately.
The Black Fleet Crisis: Shield of Lies
While the book is well written and mostly entertaining, I still got the feeling that it was being stretched out to complete a novel. One hundred pages to start, focusing on the Lando situation – a situation that could have easily been summed up in 30 pages. Then one hundred pages dedicated to the Luke Skywalker plotline and again 30 pages would have sufficed. And then we had about 120 pages on the Leia and Han Solo story. And that was one that could have used another 10 or 20. In-depth descriptions on how Luke killed time (taking a shower, organizing/repairing the ship) that stretched on for a few pages…but the ambush and subsequent capture of Han Solo was summed up in two sentences. It’s as though the novel was started with the idea that much would need to be stretched out in order to justify a trilogy…but then at around page 300 the author realized that he was running out of space and had to cram a lot into a dozen pages. Still enjoyable and worth the read, but structured wrong. It would have been so easy to make this trilogy a five-star by turning it into two 400-page novels.
The Black Fleet Crisis: Tyrant’s Test
Closing off the trilogy, the third book was as riveting as the others. That is to say – for the Han and Leia parts I was riveted, but the other parts not so much. The Luke area never really got going for me, not only because Akanah Pell (his lady friend) is annoying, but their search for her people (and his mother) was a pretty boring one. I’ve also made no effort to hide the fact that the only magic I enjoy in this series is the Force. Akanah uses the ‘Current’ and they apparently have the ability to hide items as large as spaceships and create illusions that are just as big. One good thing to come out of it though is that now Luke has that added ability (invisibility) which he was taught. This storyline did eventually tie into the Han and Leia tangent. So it had a point. That’s something that can’t be said about the Lando plotline.
Pointless. The story got worse as it went on. And in the end it had nothing at all to do with the other story threads.
Besides the interesting Han and Leia story, I also enjoyed the Chewbacca tangent. He caught wind of Han being captured by the enemy and he immediately dropped everything to go rescue him. It was good enough to salvage a novel that Lando’s ‘adventures’ almost ruined.
The New Rebellion
The Star Wars books had been waning of late (reading them chronologically), but they got a ‘little’ better with this one. A former Jedi-in-training (looks like they don’t use the term ‘Padawan’ in the new, rebuilt Jedi Order) has turned to the dark side and tries to destroy both Luke and Leia. He also manages to cobble together a pretty big army and, with his followers under the guise of the Empire, infiltrates the New Republic. The plotlines involve Luke going after his former student, Han trying to investigate who is behind some bombings by going to his old smuggler colleagues, Lando going after Han to warn him, the droids stumbling on a larger plot and trying to get someone’s (anyone’s) attention, and Leia trying to hold the Senate together. The Senate is in trouble as some former Imperials have managed to worm their way in and presumably try to take down the New Republic via legal channels.
The story moved along without any serious lagging, the plot was decent if you overlook how such a young villain managed to get such assets together in such a small window, or how this giant pussycat creature could communicate via telepathy and Luke discovered this but his nemesis – who imprisoned him with said creature – did not. Worthy of a recommendation, but perhaps that’s only because the last few SW books have been disappointing.