Ambush at Corellia
An enjoyable storyline with yet another silly subplot that had no business being there. As for the main plot, it does require a lot of mind-stretching and overlooking some serious holes. But only the usual ones that crop up in the SW world from time to time, such as “how did they come up with this technology during this era, when for 10,000 years technology hadn’t budged by much?” and “Trillions of people in the galaxy and they run into Han Solo’s cousin as their nemesis?”
But overall, the Han/Leia/Chewie/Solo children slant of the story was an enjoyable read without many lulls. And then they get into the Luke/Lando plotline and I just wanted to shoot the powers that be. I don’t blame the author Roger MacBride Allen, as I’m sure the “powers that be” at the time needed the the story to be a trilogy and needed each book to approach 400 pages. The lame excuse that was used to encourage Luke Skywalker, who was somehow “bored” and with nothing to do as the galaxy’s only Jedi Master, to ride along with Lando was beyond ludicrous. Help Lando find a rich woman to marry?
As I get into the second book of this trilogy, it’s becoming clear that Lando and Luke need to be brought into the story and that they provide information and tools that are needed. But I would have brought them in under more mundane circumstances and just cut the novel to a trim 300 pages. Don’t fluff for the sake of fluffing, come on.
Assault at Selonia
In Book 2 of the Corellian Trilogy (that should have been a Duology), the Lando/Luke storyline improved and actually turned into something that drove the plotline. So now in hindsight I can say that the ‘Lando finding a rich wife’ angle from the first novel was absolutely unneeded. He could have just been dating Tendra Risant. And he could have just been giving Luke a ride to the Correllian System. Find a more worthwhile reason! Meanwhile, the other plotline started to fall apart. Leia not trusting Mara Jade, but having to work with her (can’t bring myself to buy that one – they got along just fine in prior novels), Han crawling through a tunnel (talk about dry reading), the kids discovering the giant hidden underground planet repulsors, the idea of giant hidden underground planet repulsors…the whole thing was losing me. The writing itself was good enough to maintain interest and keep the pages turning (other than Han crawling through the damn tunnels), but there are some key plot points that I think had they been done a little differently I would have enjoyed the book a lot more. Unless Book 3 turns out to be amazing, I would at this point recommend passing on the entire trilogy.
Showdown at Centerpoint
Naw, the trilogy didn’t get any better. I may be a little unfair because I can’t wrap my head around a weapon or device that’s more powerful than the Death Star. And I may be a little unfair because of the way the first book had Luke and Lando traveling together (a Jedi helping a swindler pick up women? Couldn’t be more absurd). I did like the two alien races introduced (Selonian and Drallan), as I found them unique in both appearance and culture. That was well described. And the Solo kids taking a bigger role, even though it was a huge role, it was believable and fairly exciting. But these New Republic books are nowhere near as good as the Clone War books. Thank goodness next up in the timeline are a pair of Thrawn novels.
Specter of the Past
So Thrawn is back, but not really. But thankfully the SWEU didn’t dip into the ‘clone’ well again. That trick was growing tiresome. No, this novel was wonderfully written – riveting at times, with each branch of the storyline as interesting at the others. It had all the great characters from Luke, Han, Leia and Lando (Chewie was absent, but you likely wouldn’t notice), as well as the classics who were introduced in the expanded universe such as Mara Jade, Talon Karrde, Admiral Pellaeon and even Corran Horn.
Pellaeon has convinced the Moffs to agree to peace with the New Republic. But while he tries to make contact, an old disciple of Palpatines (a member of his Royal Guard) named Major Tearce has teamed up with Moff Disra to trot out a new Thrawn – a con man who they had dye his skin blue and change his hair and eye color. While they tried to cause disruption throughout the Republic with staged violent demonstrations, Thrawn made appearances at key times and places which drummed up support for the Empire.
Meanwhile, Leia was trying to hold the New Republic together. And that was difficult because information was discovered that fingered a handful of Bothans as responsible for turning over information to the Empire years earlier that had led to the wiping out of a planet and most of a race. This is the only area where things were really absurd – we, the reader, had to be convinced that there were hundreds of planets/races out there who demanded retribution on the entire race of Bothans. All of them had to pay for the acts of 10 or 20. All 500 million, or whatever their numbers are, they all had to pay for the acts of about 15. Or else there would be war and millions would die.
Anyway, as long as you didn’t focus too much on such a stupid plot point – and it was a key plot point because everything revolved around stopping that war – then you’ll enjoy the story.
Vision of the Future
This is one time where I actually wished the series was stretched out by a book instead of shrunk down by a book or two. This is a duology and it could have been a trilogy. Leia is still fighting to keep the New Republic together, the Empire under Thrawn are still causing havoc and Pellaeon is finally starting to hear rumors about Thrawn being alive – and it’s thwarting his plans for peace. Meanwhile, Han and Lando are off to the heart of the Empire to find the list of names of the Bothans responsible for the betrayal (with the theory being that those names would then stop all the vengeful planets/races from wanting to destroy or cripple the entire race of Bothans – still a dumb premise, but we have to go with it to enjoy an otherwise solid novel). Meanwhile, Mara Jade had disappeared and Luke Skywalker and R2 went off to find her. I was pleasantly surprised about how those two made my day near the end. Tim Zahn is the best SW writer hands down.