When JJ Abrams got the directing gig for Star Wars VII, did anyone think “he’ll surely have time to work on Star Trek as well?” We officially got our answer today when it was reported that the lord of the lens-flare will not return to follow up this year’s Into Darkness. Abrams gave an interview to IGN where he dropped the news;
It definitely feels like the right time to let someone come in and do their own thing. I certainly don’t want someone to come in and try to do what I would have done. We want to hire someone who’s gonna come in and bring their own sensibility. I’m very excited to see what comes next, despite feeling jealous of whoever that person is.
I’m pulling for Brad Bird to step in an do for Trek what he did for Mission : Impossible following Abrams departure from that particular franchise. The connection is already there, people. Just roll with it.
“Did you ever hear the Tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise? It’s a Sith legend. Darth Plagueis was a Dark Lord of the Sith, so powerful and so wise that he could use the Force to influence the midi-chlorians to create life. He had such a knowledge of the dark side that he could even keep the ones he cared about from dying.” —Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith
That line didn’t really mean much when I saw Revenge of the Sith back when it was released in theaters. I always took it for a throwaway line meant to illustrate Palpatine’s ability to manipulate Anakin Skywalker by probing what he most wanted to hear. I didn’t really expect it to ever be explored in depth. I guess I should have known otherwise as every other aspect of the Star Wars timeline has been mined by the expanded universe over the years. What is particularly intriguing about this particular novel is how widely it deviates from what I expected in my mind. The above quote that inspired the novel seems to imply that Plagueis was an ancient figure, a “legend” as Palpatine says. However, we will come to find out over the course of the book that Plagueis was the sith lord who annointed Palpatine as Sideous and the events of his lifetime intersect with Anakin Skywalker’s youth. I don’t know about you, but the term “legend” doesn’t seem to apply much to guys whose major exploits only happened ten years ago. But I suppose I’m just projecting my own feelings on how they chose to retcon Plagueis into the events leading up to and during The Phantom Menace.
Viewed for what it is, the book is one of the better expanded universe entries I’ve read in a while. The timeline seems carefully constructed so that all the pieces fit together without conflicting all too terribly and the parts that get explained, such as Palpatine’s introduction to the world of the sith as well as the details of the rise of the Trade Federation all make for a better understanding of the Star Wars universe during the prequel era. I think that I would have enjoyed the book far more if they would have given it a different title. Plagueis at times feels like an afterthought to the story. This book is really about Palpatine, and because he is such an interesting character that can’t be viewed as a bad thing. The only negative is that while you get so invested in his narrative it is easy to be disappointed when the story breaks in other directions and seems to lose focus. But make no mistake, fans of the Star Wars universe will be able to overlook the small flaws and find an enjoyable read.
It takes a while to find its footing and every once in a while it will lose narrative focus, but overall it is something worth looking into. I will say that author James Lucerno does have a tendency to utilize some groan inducing references but his writing style is suited to the voices of these characters and this universe, so those minor grievances can also be overlooked.
Thank the little baby Jesus! I was afraid that my ability to enjoy a Star Wars novel was completely dashed upon the rocks when I read Children of the Jedi. I’m not going to lie. I had to read two random books just to get the damned taste out of my mouth. Luckily Darksaber is in another league altogether. I think Kevin Anderson just grasps the sort of narrative flow of the expanded universe better than Barbara Hambly. The characters and the flow seem to mesh better than in Children of the Jedi, despite the fact that he’s working with mostly the same characters. Callista is still a black hole for me, but that’s mostly personal preference. I feel like Anderson just wanted to write her off entirely but seeing how she pops up again in Planet of Twilight, again written by Hambly. I’ll assume that Hambly liked Callista more than I do.
Darksaber at first seemed poised to turn me off once again, as the “build another Death Star” plot point was not at all enticing. But the side-plots involving the return of Admiral Daala and her attempts to unify the Imperial fleet, which seemed like the logical course of action following the events of the last few books, was quite well written and probably the most engaging element of the book. I really didn’t care one lick about Callista and only truly warmed to the Durga the Hutt/Darksaber plotline about midway through the course of the novel.
I am going to state here and now that I have no intention of reading Planet of Twilight, as I don’t care about Callista and barely made it through Children of the Jedi so I’m going to call that one a bye-week and move on to the final installment of the X-Wing series instead. It’s my blog. I can do what I want dammit.
The Great Comics Con Queso Star Wars Expanded Universe Reading Experiment – Entry # 25 : Children of the Jedi
There are very few novels I actively hate. There have been more than a few that I didn’t care for but only a few that I’ve actively hated. I had to read the Twilight novels for a modern fiction study and the only thing I got out of that experience was a disbelief at what sort of book can get best-seller status. Still, I’ll say the unpopular thing here and say that I hated Dan Brown’s The Davinci Code more than I hated Twilight. I know it sounds insane, but it’s true. I didn’t like reading Twilight and I still think it’s a piss poor excuse for a novel, but it didn’t really raise any sort of resonant response with me, and that’s more why I dismiss it as a work of literature.
I had a sort of mixed reaction in reading Children of the Jedi, because it didn’t work for me on a literary level and it frustrated me just due to the contradictory nature of most of its entirety. The timeline is crazy wrong, which normally can be forgiven because it predates the prequel trilogy, but at the same time the author can’t manage to get the continuity from the previous Jedi Academy series which precede the events of this book. She somehow manages to switch up who destroyed the Sun Crusher, and makes some pretty glaring errors with the physiology of Gamorreans. All of this sounds like crazy fanboy ranting but considering the majority of the people who read these books are hardcore fans, I can’t imagine it would do anything for them either.
This review is going to be short because I don’t want to devote anymore time to it than I have because I felt like the whole book was a big black hole. Boring, dull, not very well written, and other negative adjectives.
Wow, that one took forever to get through. Not because it was a bad book but because it was so freaking dense. I think the first-person narrative had a lot to do with it, and to date it’s the only novel in the expanded universe to utilize the format. I suppose it took a while to get into because it effectively retells major parts of the last three books that I just read over the course of the first half and while the different perspective is enough to keep it fresh, there’s just not enough new information to make it a real page turner until our protagonist leaves the Jedi Academy and strikes out on his own.
The book is effectively an unofficial X-Wing novel, centering around Corran Horn and his quest to rescue his kidnapped wife. Over the course of nearly 600 pages he joins Skywalker’s Jedi Academy, leaves for Corellia and learns of his family’s history, joins up with a gang of pirates and works his way up the chain of command ultimately landing him a potential position as the female Admiral’s sexual consort, launches a terrorist campaign as a “ghost” jedi, and stages a daring rescue attempt in the denoument. There is a LOT going on in this novel and it takes a while to cover it. The French version of the book splits it in to two separate novels which I think may have been a wise choice for the American version as you begin to wonder if they couldn’t have edited this thing down a little bit around page 300.
The last half of the book is thoroughly enjoyable and reads a lot better than the Jedi Academy stuff does, mainly because the Jedi Academy stuff didn’t work too terribly well for me the first time around. The last half of the book does feel a little bit like familiar territory if you’ve read the X-Wing novels but then again when it’s the same author and you’re utilizing the same character it’s hard to avoid such problems. But considering that I liked those books and I like this character it seems unfair to use the term “problem” anyway.
Honestly I’m just glad I was able to finish the thing because the first few hundred pages felt like a real slog. Hopefully the next entry will be a little bit more breezy.
The Great Comics Con Queso Star Wars Expanded Universe Reading Experiment – Entry # 23 : Champions of the Force
The Jedi Academy trilogy comes to a close with the most satisfying entry in the series by a long shot. Admittedly it’s still a fairly average book but it is a few steps above the previous two just in the manner which the action is handled. We jump right into the story with Kyp Durron flying the sun crusher to Carida in the hopes of finding out what happened to his brother. By now his RAAAMPAAAAGE!!![/archer] is in full swing having blown Admiral Daala’s fleet to tiny little pieces. What follows is a great back and forth between Furgan and Durron about his brother that ultimately leads to bad things happening on both sides.
Back on Yavin IV Luke Skywalker is still in a jedi coma after Kyp went all grimdark on him in the previous book, a moment that I still contend came out of left field and didn’t feel organic at all but the final book makes some strides towards correcting this by making excused through the strength of sith lord Exar Kun which ring a little hollow but also work within the context of the story. Durron flip flops so much that it’s not hard to realize that all of this was probably well thought out but not all that brilliantly executed.
The best parts of the book were the comedic moments that revolved around the crew manning the prototype of the third death star. (I know, a third one, real original) Their constant bickering and focus on procedure, being a bunch of laboratory science types, are a nice contrast to the machinations of people like Thrawn or Daala and make for some fun reading.
The final book wraps most of the plot threads up well enough although as with every installment there’s always the cliffhanger of where certain people will end up in the immediate future. In this case it’s where the final Star Destroyer left in Daala’s fleet will end up and what effect it will have on the core worlds. Everything else tidies up nicely and helps to relieve some of the bitter aftertaste left from the previous two installments.
The Great Comics Con Queso Star Wars Expanded Universe Reading Experiment – Entry # 22 : Dark Apprentice
This book leaves me conflicted. That’ll be the crux of this review, really. In most ways it is a definite step up from Jedi Search, just in terms of pacing and narrative engagment, but at the same time much of what happens doesn’t seem to mesh well with what we’ve been told in the previous book. I think that Kevin J. Anderson wrote it this way to surprise us but it really doesn’t work that way.
I’m speaking of course about the titular dark apprentice who turns to the dark side almost inexplicably over the course of maybe five pages. The abrupt turnaround in the character’s nature seems implausible knowing what we do about jedi who wind up going down the dark path. It took years of manipulation by Palpatine to turn innocent Anakin Skywalker into Darth Vader. Luke’s brief brush with the dark side came after long bouts with self doubt. Here, a formerly eager protagonist who echoed Luke’s innocent demeanor gets angry and then all of a sudden he’s a sith. It does not sit right.
It feels like Anderson was building one character to turn to the dark side and the buildup was organic and natural. You could understand why he might be tempted. It made sense. Then that character is tossed aside for the one who just doesn’t mesh and that part of the story seems like a bust. Everything that comes after leaves you shaking your head wondering what the purpose of the sudden shift in direction serves.
Other elements of the book are quite intriguing. Admiral Daala’s military assaults and Admiral Ackbar’s tribulations make for some of the more interesting parts of the novel. But considering that this is the Jedi Academy trilogy, the fact that the a-plot falls apart drops the overal score down a few notches.