Star Wars: Expanded Universe Read-Through “Rebel Dawn” by A.C. Crispin

rebel-dawnI have embarked on a quest to read through the Star Wars Expanded Universe once more. Be sure to check the linked text there to see other posts in this series. Here, we go back to the future past to see the origins of Han Solo with book three of the Han Solo Trilogy, Rebel Dawn by A.C. Crispin. There will be SPOILERS in what follows.

Rebel Dawn picks up with Han Solo on his quest to acquire a ship. Of course, he gains said ship through gambling… against Lando Calrissian. Millennium Falcon, acquired. The rest of the plot follows interactions between Han and Bria, his old lost love from the first book in the trilogy, along with Chewbacca and Lando. The growing tensions leading towards a Rebel Alliance are laid out alongside conflict between the Hutts.

Crispin once again does a fantastic job writing the characters in believable ways with realistic motivations, demeanor, and dialogue. Each character feels unique with his or her own motivations and subtle actions to distinguish them from each other. This is particularly interesting when it comes to the Hutts. Crispin makes each Hutt unique in both personality and motivations. She did a fantastic job simply making the Hutts seem like a complete people group, as opposed to just inventing some characters and putting Hutt skins on them, Crispin’s writing presupposes and provides a whole background world from which the Hutts spring, thus giving them much more depth than if she’d simply done it the other way around.

Another interesting part of the novel is that it gives insight into how the Rebellion began. Imperial atrocities are hinted at alongside the activities of characters like Bria who are working to undermine the Empire in whatever way they can. Thus, the stage is set in these novels for the Original Trilogy.

There are two primary downsides to Rebel Dawn. The first is that, like the previous two books, while Crispin is extraordinary in her capacity to portray characters, she does very little to describe the locales in which the characters operate. There are a few exceptions, of course, like Cloud City, but overall the locations are just the blank canvas on which the characters operate. The other problem is that the book seems pretty rushed towards the end as a lot of loose threads have to be wrapped up while also having to skip ahead to the “present” time of the Original Trilogy. It just doesn’t wrap up as nicely as the other two books in the series.

Rebel Dawn is an excellent read that fills in a lot of backstory for Han Solo and Chewbacca, as well as for Lando and even in a very small way for Leia. Not only that, but it gives a lot of interesting detail about the lives and practices of the Hutts as well as giving background for how the Rebellion got started to begin with. I recommend it highly to those who love Star Wars.

The Good

+Great character development
+Ties back into the Original Trilogy
+Plenty of intrigue
+The Hutts are extremely interesting

The Bad

-Minimal description of locales
-Seems rushed at points

Best Droid Moment

Droids were too rarely mentioned to have one 😦

Grade: A- “Another solid entry in the Star Wars universe from Crispin.”

Links

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason– Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

Reading through Star Wars: Expanded Universe– Here you can read other posts in this series (reviews of other EU books) and make suggestions about what I should include in my reviews.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

There are other posts on science fiction books to be found! Read them here.

SDG.

 

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Review

sw-faAs a huge Star Wars fan, who’s read 100+ Star Wars books and loved the movies since I first saw them, I have to say I loved The Force Awakens. I also know I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. Hence, consider yourself SPOILER WARNED. Yes, I consider just about any new information about a film a spoiler, and I don’t want to be the one to spoil it for you. So you have been warned, there are SPOILERS in this review.

Review

I, like just about everyone else I know, have been waiting breathlessly for the new Star Wars movie. Would it be good? Would Disney ruin it? Actually, I never had the thought of “Will Disney ruin it” because I figured the prequel trilogy was already not so great, so it didn’t matter much if Disney did ruin it. I could just pretend they were apocryphal imitations of the Star Wars I knew and loved.

Let’s just get it out of the way: I do not think this movie was ruined. I absolutely loved it. Is some of that the nostalgia they played upon? Absolutely. But does the film have genuine Star Wars feel? Totally.

The Force Awakens is filled with nods to the original trilogy in particular. Some might not like this, but for me it was needed and welcomed. It is like Disney was giving us one big Wookie hug, reassuring viewers that yes, this is Star Wars, and it is back. Along with these nods came some meta-jokes and references to both the Expanded Universe and concepts that were never included or changed in the original movies. I appreciated this kind of fan service, but what I appreciated more was that they never took over the film.

There was a stunning sense of newness intermingled with the sense of nostalgia here. Rey and Finn were fascinating characters (particularly Rey, who is totally awesome) with enough details of their backstories teased to get me quite interested in them in upcoming films. Other characters were tantalizing (like the First Order informant’s at Mox’s place, and Mox herself of course) enough to make me want to come back again and see some books based on them. Could we have a new Expanded Universe, please?

The use of models and real sets (and real-looking ones) made this feel much more like the original trilogy than the prequels. The whole film was clearly Star Wars.

The plot was also quite enjoyable, with the mystery surrounding Luke and Kylo Ren driving the plot. Kylo Ren was not nearly as scary/powerful as he could have been. To be fair, part of this might be because they are clearly building him up. One scene featured him looking at the helmet of Vader and apologizing for feeling like he was tempted by the Light. His choice to kill his father was not unexpected in the flow of the movie, and could lead to him gaining more of a Vader-like persona in the rest of the trilogy. I loved the ending with Rey approaching Luke. Luke Skywalker has pretty much always been my favorite Star Wars character. My son’s name is Luke (in part because it is also my favorite Gospel).

The music was good, though at times I barely noticed it. I think part of this was because unlike watching and re-watching the previous films, I had to pay attention to the plot the whole time. Every time I noticed the music, I enjoyed it immensely.

I loved The Force Awakens and cannot wait to see where the series goes next. Sign me up for the rest of the movies immediately.

The Good

+Star Wars feel through and through
+Great action
+Good use of characters old and new
+Solid music
+Star Wars is back

The Bad

-Kylo Ren not as intimidating as he should be

The Verdict

Grade: 

Links

Star Wars: The Force Awakens- A Christian perspective– I offer a worldview-level analysis of the film from a Christian perspective.

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason– Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

 

 

SDG.

Star Wars: Expanded Universe Read-Through- “The Hutt Gambit” by A.C. Crispin

thg-crispin

Hutts and Boba Fett? Now we’re in trouble.

I have embarked on a quest to read through the Star Wars Expanded Universe once more. Be sure to check the linked text there to see other posts in this series. Here, we go back to the future past to see the origins of Han Solo with book two of the Han Solo Trilogy, The Hutt Gambit by A.C. Crispin. There will be SPOILERS in what follows.

The Hutt Gambit

The Hutt Gambit features an older Han than we saw in The Paradise Snare (see my review). Here, Han has been kicked out of the Imperial Navy because he saved Chewbacca from slavery. Thus, he’s “stuck” with Chewbacca, who has sworn him a life debt. They go off to work as smugglers, trying to save enough money to buy their own ship by working for the Hutts.

The plot is extremely character driven, but unlike the previous book, the side characters get serious development. The Hutts in particular get fully realized stories, with motivations to drive them and even a developed view of the world. Although there is little description of the planets themselves (more on that below), the Hutts that are met in the book are enough to make a great setting and a genuine feel of uniqueness–something that doesn’t always happen with all the aliens in Star Wars. The dialogue is fantastic. It reads as though it is actually people talking with different motivations and thoughts happening behind the words, which makes it feel real.

Reading The Hutt Gambit made me desperate to tread more by Crispin. I think I’ll go check out her other fiction at some point, because the way she writes characters is just phenomenal.

That said, there are some downsides to this book. There is very little development of the various places that are visited. We learn that the Hutt world, Nal Hutta, is swampy, but there aren’t really any descriptions of places or flora or fauna. It’s unfortunate because in many of the Star Wars novels, the planets themselves act as secondary characters in their own right, whether it is through physical hazards or unique locations or other features. Crispin is skimpy on these details and seems to leave locations largely to the readers’ imagination. This lack of description bleeds over into pretty much any scene of the book, as action largely takes place against a blank, imagined canvas. Again, this is a pretty major strike because Star Wars does seem to rely so heavily–and excel so much–in creating unique locations and settings throughout.

The Hutt Gambit is a thoroughly enjoyable read. It surpasses The Paradise Snare in many ways, and is a solid entry in the Star Wars Expanded Universe.

The Good

+Totally character driven
+Excellent plot
+Great action scenes
+Creates fully-realized background for Hutts

The Bad

-Not much description of planets or set scenes

Best Droid Moment

Hardly any droids means this category is sad

Grade: A “Thoroughly character-driven with plenty of action, intrigue, and ‘Star Wars’ feel, this is a great Star Wars book.”

Links

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason– Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

Reading through Star Wars: Expanded Universe– Here you can read other posts in this series (reviews of other EU books) and make suggestions about what I should include in my reviews.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

There are other posts on science fiction books to be found! Read them here.

SDG.

Star Wars: Expanded Universe Read-through- “The Paradise Snare” by A.C. Crispin

Who's 'scruffy looking'?

Who’s ‘scruffy looking’?

I have embarked on a quest to read through the Star Wars Expanded Universe once more. Be sure to check the linked text there to see other posts in this series. Here, we go back to the future to see the origins of Han Solo with book one of the Han Solo Trilogy, The Paradise Snare by A.C. Crispin.

The Paradise Snare

Who doesn’t love to get some background into their favorite characters? (Put your hand down, you!) Seriously, it’s always exciting to learn more about beloved characters’ pasts, though it is sometimes with some trepidation that we explore, hoping our image of them will not be shattered. A.C. Crispin’s “Han Solo Trilogy” is an origin story for everyone’s favorite scoundrel, Han Solo.

One of the most problematic plot devices, in my opinion, is what I have dubbed the “kill a ‘protagonist’ handle.” Okay, I just made that up. But what I mean by it is a reference to when authors start off a book by introducing a character who is clearly a “good guy” and then killing them fairly briefly. Why is this such a problem? The reason is because we haven’t been given any reason to care about the character before they die, so it is not as impactful as the death of a character should be. This happens in The Paradise Snare with Dewlanna, the Wookie who took care of a young Han Solo. I’m glad Crispin developed Dewlanna’s backstory more through Han’s reflections, as this softened the contrived feeling a bit.

The Paradise Snare is a pretty sweet concept too. As I said, origin stories are usually pretty thrilling, and ever since I first saw the movies I felt there was more to the story of Han Solo than met the eye. It’s good to get this development into the past to ground some of the aspects of his personality. Moreover, Crispin did an excellent job capturing the “feel” of Star Wars and Solo in particular. The dialogue is very well written throughout, something that is not always the case in the Star Wars universe *cough* prequel trilogy *cough*.

Solo seems like a very real character, with differing motivations, reactions, and actions that all seem to fit with what we already know as Star Wars fans. Moreover, he can act in unexpected ways that nevertheless seem to fit his character. Bria, another Corellian, is also fairly well-developed, though we don’t get to spend as much time with her as we do with Han (for obvious reasons). Most other characters feel very tertiary and have little motivating them. I think this is more a product of the purpose of the book and its focus on Han than anything else, however. Crispin captured the feeling of Solo very well.

One thing that was a downside throughout was that none of the locations seemed particularly developed. There were some descriptions, yes, but overall the different planets almost all felt like mere wallpaper for the story to occur in front of. One of the great things about Star Wars is all the diversity of planets, and although Crispin did capture this at moments, it most often seemed like there wasn’t much to hold on to so far as the settings were concerned.

It’s always tough to grade a childhood favorite, and I loved the Han Solo trilogy. There are a few problems in the book, sure, but the question is what is it that readers are looking for in such a trilogy. The answer is some good action, development of the character we’ve grown to love, and a solid story. The Paradise Snare checks out on each front. A strong start to the series.

The Good

+Strong development of Solo
+Great dialogue

The Bad

-Not enough development of the various locales
-Secondary characters feel like window dressing

Best Droid Moment

I was a fan of the R2 unit on the ship Solo stowed away on threatening to have him arrested on arrival.

Grade: B+ “A strong lead book that gives plenty of reasons to read on.”

Conclusion

The Paradise Snare is a solid beginning of the origins of Han Solo.

Links

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason– Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

Reading through Star Wars: Expanded Universe– Here you can read other posts in this series (reviews of other EU books) and make suggestions about what I should include in my reviews.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

There are other posts on science fiction books to be found! Read them here.

SDG.

Star Wars: EU Read-Through “Dark Force Rising” by Timothy Zahn

dfr-zahnI have embarked on a quest to read through the Star Wars Expanded Universe once more. Be sure to check the linked text there to see other posts in this series. Here, I look at Dark Force Rising by Timothy Zahn.

Dark Force Rising

Here we are at the midway point of the famed “Thrawn Trilogy.” Does it continue to hold up as well as the first, Heir to the Empire?

In the book, the primary thrust is Thrawn’s–and the Empire’s–search for new ships, which comes to be focused on the “Dark Force”–a mysterious, missing fleet of Dreadnoughts. As the race is on to find where these ships are, Princess Leia travels to the Noghri homeworld and discovers the great injustices that have been dealt to this alien people.

What Zahn perhaps does best of all is the introduction and fleshing out of numerous secondary characters like the Noghri, Senator Bel Iblis, Mara Jade, Talon Karrde, and more. These characters each have intriguing backgrounds and are genuinely deeply important to the story. This is something I recall not happening in all the Star Wars books as secondary characters are often little more than window dressing for the main characters’ struggles. Here, however, readers are freely introduced to a wonderful cast of characters who have motivations, insights, and their own struggles to go along with those of the main characters like Luke, Han, and Leia.

The Noghri and their planet,  Honoghr, are the other central part of the plot, and Leia’s interactions there are both interesting and true to her character. Zahn did an excellent job setting up this world and its inhabitants as a stage for current and future conflict. Like Kashyyk in Heir to the Empire, Honoghr seems like a fleshed out world rather than a mere stage for events.

Thrawn in this book continues to be an interesting character, but his tactical genius seems to be slipping. The assumptions he made related to the Noghri ended up being mistaken, which is surprising given how much Zahn had previously emphasized his cultural intuition by means of studying the artworks of various peoples. However, this may not be a bad thing as it is clear Thrawn needs to have some weakness, and the most believable one is almost certainly that he would out-think himself.

The biggest problem in the book is, like the first, the rather large number of awfully “convenient” circumstances. Here, however, it is the existence of the “Dark Force”which suddenly everyone knows about and is interested in. Lando, Karrde, Thrawn, and others all have some knowledge about this fleet. Now this isn’t absolutely extraordinary, but what is extraordinary is that after all this time, more than one person just happens to show up who knows where the fleet is, just when the Empire is looking for new ships. It’s just a little too much.

The Good

+Good development of worlds
+Intriguing character development
+The Noghri are a complex, interesting species with great background
+Continued emphasis on secondary characters gives depth to the universe

The Bad

-A bit too convenient that everyone suddenly has inside information
-Thrawn doesn’t seem quite so much a genius as he did before (perhaps this will end up being a good thing)

Best Droid Moment

It’s kind of hard to think of one because there weren’t too many, but I did enjoy R2-D2’s attempt to fight alongside Luke.

Grade: A- “Another great installment by Zahn.”

Conclusion

Dark Force Rising isn’t as flawless as Heir to the Empire, but continued focus on secondary characters, great world-building, and fast-paced action still make it among the cream of the crop for Star Wars books.

Links

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason– Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

Reading through Star Wars: Expanded Universe– Here you can read other posts in this series (reviews of other EU books) and make suggestions about what I should include in my reviews.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

There are other posts on science fiction books to be found! Read them here.

SDG.

Star Wars: EU Read-Through- “Heir to the Empire” by Timothy Zahn

The main guy on the cover (with lightning fingers) occupies about 10 pages of the book. Weird.

The main guy on the cover (with lightning fingers) occupies about 10 pages of the book. Weird.

I have embarked on a quest to read through the Star Wars Expanded Universe once more. Be sure to check the linked text there to see other posts in this series. Here, I look at Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn.

Heir to the Empire

Well, here it is folks, the beloved Thrawn trilogy. I remember vividly checking this book out of the library some 17 years ago or so and then absolutely devouring it. But that was a long time ago. Does it hold up now?

Short answer: yes.

Timothy Zahn has gone down as possibly the best Star Wars writer for a reason. His understanding and portrayal of the characters is so true-to-form, and the characters he introduces are impactful rather than being window dressing as they seem in some other books in the EU.

The plot is interesting as well. We’re a few years out from the destruction of the second Death Star and the Empire is largely on the ropes. But a Grand Admiral who had been out in the boonies has gotten control now and his tactical insight is turning the war around, at least on the outside. Meanwhile, political intrigue among the leadership of the Rebellion (now the “New Republic”) threatens to spill over. All of this is not to mention some interesting stories regarding a woman–Mara Jade–with an intense hatred for Luke Skywalker and dealings with smugglers.

Zahn does a fantastic job balancing the new characters with those we know from the movies, and his writing style constantly keeps the action and plot moving. There’s just enough balance between action and backstory to keep it moving.

At some points, the plot points are a bit too convenient. For example, it seems altogether astounding that Thrawn, Han and Lando, and Luke would all happen to get thrown together before Talon Karrde at his “secret” base. Granted, Zahn introduces reasons for them all to be there, but it seems just a trifle contrived.

Overall though, this book has its status as hallowed Star Wars lore for a reason. It’s just fantastic. It’s a thrillride that doesn’t disappoint, and I’m happy to re-read it. On with the rest of the trilogy!

The Good

+Excellent cast of characters both already known and new
+Interesting tactical insights in the battles that happen
+Strong sense of continuity with Star Wars universe
+Awesome cover…

The Bad

-…which strangely features a (for now) minor character most prominently
-Some of the situations are a little too coincidental

Best Droid Moment

C-3PO impersonating Princess Leia. What more needs to be said?

Grade: A+ “There really is a reason the Thrawn Trilogy is known as the best of the best of Star Wars.”

Conclusion

Heir to the Empire is just fantastic. It holds up well after all this time. The balance of characters old and new is perfect, and Zahn’s writing is well-suited to the Star Wars universe. A truly superb book.

Links

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason– Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

Reading through Star Wars: Expanded Universe– Here you can read other posts in this series (reviews of other EU books) and make suggestions about what I should include in my reviews.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

There are other posts on science fiction books to be found! Read them here.

SDG.

Star Wars: Expanded Universe Read-Through- “The Courtship of Princess Leia” by Dave Wolverton

courtship-leia-wolvertonI have embarked on a quest to read through the Star Wars Expanded Universe once more. After reading Darth Plagueis (click title for link to review), I decided to take it back to the beginning–that is, where began reading Star Wars books. That means I will now review The Courtship of Princess Leia, the book that got me started in the Star Wars Expanded Universe and a quest that has continued for 20 years (and continuing).

The Courtship of Princess Leia centers around, surprisingly enough, Princess Leia and a Hapan Prince, Isolder and the marriage proposal between them. Han Solo is less than impressed by Isolder and decides to have his own go at convincing Leia to marry him. I’ll not summarize the whole plot, as you can instead find a summary here.

The book has a number of awesome things in it, like reading about Han Solo talking to C-3PO about how to win women and watching his pursuit of Leia. Leia also shines as she continues to overthrow any notion that women have to be submissive and quiet. The introduction of  the Hapans was intriguing and leads me to want to read more about them. Having the side plot of Luke Skywalker trying to restart the Jedi Academy was also great.

There are also some flaws. First, the Force seems way more like magic than like the Force does in either the movies or later books (from my memory). In one scene, Luke goes into a Force trance instantly, falls out of his X-Wing, and then uses the Force to basically fly as he slows his fall to the ground and lands. I don’t remember the Force granting some of these abilities later. He also uses the Force to seamlessly translate what anyone is saying. I don’t know, maybe I’m forgetting something but it seems like they nerfed the Force later.

Second, the droids in the book seem to be fully realized persons rather than acting like droids! C-3PO in particular is given a whole mental life, something that I recall being largely absent later. It feels a bit forced in many places, to be honest.

The whole plot with the Witches of Dathomir has its ups and downs, but Wolverton did a great job introducing a fully realized world and society for exploration, something that is not an easy task. The book just has a great Star Wars feel despite the negatives I mentioned above.

The Courtship of Princess Leia is by no means perfect, but it remains a great entry point for those looking to read through the Expanded Universe and it remains on my list of favorites. Is some of that nostalgia talking? Of course. But isn’t nostalgia part of the reason we all love Star Wars anyway?

The Good

-Han Solo kidnapping Princess Leia to convince her she should marry him is a perfect scenario
-Han Solo’s gambling and smuggling ways
-Did I mention Han Solo?
-Dathomir a fully-developed world with a great feel of exploration
-Introduces the Hapans, who rock

The Bad

-The Force is apparently a set of superpowers (a concept nerfed later in the EU, thankfully)
-C-3PO and R2-D2 are given far more capacity for personality and thought than seems likely for droids even elsewhere in the Star Wars universe
-Chewie growling “in terror” a lot seems quite out of character

Best Droid Moment

C-3PO composing a song dedicated to how awesome Han Solo is. I can’t believe I didn’t remember that epic scene.

Grade: A- “Solid characterization with the kind of adventure we expect from Star Wars.”

Conclusion

The Courtship of Princess Leia is a solid entry and a good starting point for Star Wars fans interested in reading the EU. I would highly recommend a read-through for Star Wars fans. Please let me know if you have any ideas for categories I should include in these reviews going forward.

Links

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason– Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

There are other posts on science fiction books to be found! Read them here.

SDG.

Star Wars: Expanded Universe Read-Through- Darth Plagueis by James Luceno

darth-plagueis-luceno

Did I mention the cover is also really cool looking?

I have embarked on a quest to read through the Star Wars Expanded Universe once more, and here I begin my quest with Darth Plagueis by James Luceno. There will be SPOILERS in this review.

Darth Plagueis is ostensibly the story of Emperor Palpatine’s Sith Master, but it is much more than that. It also provides extensive background into the person of Palpatine/Darth Sidious and his own rise to power. Moreover, there is much background provided herein to show the development of plot details behind the Prequel Movie trilogy.

The book begins by tracing Plagueis’ own overthrow of his master and his eliminating all Sith opposition in order to cover his tracks. He encounters Palpatine on Naboo and ultimately convinces him to join the path of the Sith. Plagueis wishes to overthrow Darth Bane’s “Rule of Two” which teaches, among other things, that apprentices should always be looking for a way to kill their Sith Masters in order to perpetuate strength in the order. He also seeks to destroy the Jedi and forge the Republic into a creation of the Sith.

As Plagueis and his apprentice, Sidious (Palpatine) work towards these ends, Luceno also traces developments in the wider galaxy, particularly in the growing conflict between the Trade Federation and Naboo. The details of this development actually serve to make more sense of various things found in the Prequel Trilogy such as why the Trade Federation would work with Sidious, how Amidala rose to the throne, and more.

One downside is Plagueis’ focus on “midi-chlorians,” a concept I’ve been trying to forget since Lucas brought it into Episode I. Another issue is that, past the first half of the book, it becomes almost entirely about Palpatine rather than Plagueis. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it maintains a coherent story throughout, but I thought it worth mentioning.

The book therefore provides a decades-long development of the work of the Sith alongside the broader developments in the galaxy. This could be a recipe for disaster, but Luceno pulls it off remarkably well. He also interweaves questions of morality, political control, and other philosophical issues into the plot. The book is fantastic.

The Good

-Manages to fill in gaps in the story for the Prequel Trilogy in such a way as to make them only lesser atrocities
-Provides great background into Palpatine’s life
-Brings up a host of philosophical questions while maintaining its dark plot
-Gungans are mentioned but never get to speak

The Bad

-“Midi-Chlorians” featured prominently at some points in the plot, and this concept should never ever be acknowledged to exist in the EU
-The ending felt a little rushed
-Ultimately more about Palpatine than Plagueis

Best Droid Moment

114D immediately calling Sidious master after Sidious had killed Plagueis. Droid don’t care.

Grade: A+ “I wish I’d read it sooner.”

Conclusion

Darth Plagueis is a really awesome entry into the Star Wars universe; it is one which actually succeeds in deadening some of the awfulness of the Prequel Trilogy while also standing on its own two feet. It’s not a perfect book, which suggests an “A+” is too high, but any book that manages to accomplish the Prequel redemption and avoid the serious possible pitfalls gets mad bonus points. I’m excited that so many recommended it to me and that I finally got around to reading it. I would highly recommend a read-through for Star Wars fans. Please let me know if you have any ideas for categories I should include in these reviews going forward.

Links

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason– Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

There are other posts on science fiction books to be found! Read them here.

SDG.

Star Wars Books Hub

courtship-leia-wolvertonI have read almost every book in the Star Wars Expanded Universe that takes place post-movies. With the sun setting on the EU and rising on a new series of “canon” novels, I’ve had a hankering to go back to the beginning (Princess Bride reference, anyone?) and re-read a number of the books in the series. So I’m going to. I think I’ll actually start with Darth Pelagius because it’s been recommended by a large number of people, and then dive in at the place I started so long ago: The Courtship of Princess Leia. Yes, I will be writing reviews of each book along the way, so if you want to follow/read along, you’ll be able to. These posts won’t be going up at any specific or regular times so just be aware of that. I may or may not skip the X-Wing series because I don’t own them all. Let me know what you think of this as a possibility and if there are any specific things you’d like to have me mention in a review. I want these to be fun and not just reviews, so categories like ‘Best Droid Moment’ might become a reality. I’ve also recently edited this post to include official canon novels from the Disney launch of their own fictional Star Wars universe. Expanded Universe Book Reviews Standalone Books Darth Plagueis by James Luceno– Recommended by numerous friends, I finally got around to reading this book on Palpatine’s past. Is it worth recommending? The Courtship of Princess Leia by Dave Wolverton– The first Star Wars book I ever read. Does it hold up, or was nostalgia the only reason I enjoyed it? Tales of the Bounty Hunters edited by Kevin J. Anderson– A collection of short stories about those bounty hunters encountered in The Empire Strikes Back. Star Wars: Labyrinth of Evil by James Luceno– A prequel book to Episode III purports to fill in some blanks in how Anakin became Vader. Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith by Matthew Stover– the novelization of the film does some work in making the movie seem not so disappointing. The Thrawn Trilogy Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn– The Thrawn Trilogy gets underway. Is it deserving of its fame? Dark Force Rising by Timothy Zahn– Book 2 of the Thrawn Trilogy. Does it continue to succeed? The Last Command by Timothy Zahn– The conclusion of the Thrawn Trilogy. Will my fond childhood memories be shattered, or will the book hold up after 20 years? The Han Solo Trilogy The Paradise Snare by A.C. Crispin– The Han Solo Trilogy starts off with The Paradise Snare. Is it worth finding out Han Solo’s origins? The Hutt Gambit by A.C. Crispin– The second book of the Han Solo Trilogy. How does the famous scoundrel hold up in this prequel book? Rebel Dawn by A.C. Crispin– The Han Solo Trilogy concludes with a book that brings Han and Chewbacca all the way up to the events of “A New Hope.” Can it stand up to the rest of the trilogy? The Darth Bane Trilogy Darth Bane: Path of Destruction by Drew Karpyshyn- The Darth Bane trilogy came to me highly recommended. It deserves accolades. Darth Bane: Rule of Two by Drew Karpyshyn– More exploration of the background of the Sith long before the Star Wars movies, and it’s well worth your time. Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil by Drew Karpyshyn– The conclusion of the fantastic Darth Bane trilogy proves the whole series can stand on its own. The Jedi Academy Trilogy Jedi Search by Kevin J. Anderson– The first book in the Jedi Academy series seeks to establish some new enemies and main characters. Dark Apprentice by Kevin J. Anderson– The second book in the Jedi Academy series–does it manage to cash in on the previous book’s promise? Champions of the Force by Kevin J. Anderson– The conclusion of the Jedi Academy Trilogy seeks to wrap up a number of loose ends, but can it deliver a compelling finale? The Bounty Hunter Wars Trilogy The Mandalorian Armor by K.W. Jeter- A great first entry in a trilogy about one of the most enigmatic  and interesting side characters from the films. Slave Ship by K.W. Jeter- Does middle book syndrome strike again? (It does.) Hard Merchandise by K.W. Jeter- What will Fett do next? Can the strong start of the series be reflected in the concluding work? Canon Book Reviews Star Wars: A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller- this book kicks off the canon novels with a bang, introducing some fascinating characters and great plot to start the TV series. Other Links Sci-Fi Hub– Check out this page for links to all my science fiction related posts, along with hubs for other things like Star Trek and Warhammer. SDG.