Star Wars

Star Wars
Property of George Lucas, LucasFilms Ltd.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor

I think it's safe to say that neither Rose nor I have read this one before, so that's a thrilling follow-up to The Truce at Bakura. I also think I'm safe in saying that neither of us has read a Star Wars novel by Matthew Stover, which will also be interesting since I think he wrote several of the more recent EU novels.

I have to admit that, love Star Wars though I do with all my heart and soul, when I read flap copy that tells me there's a "newly risen warlord named Shadowspawn," it's all I can do not to giggle myself silly. Still, brand new novel and author and no idea at all what to expect ... that's pretty exciting, right?

Rose here... Seriously, that's our villian? Shadowspawn? Oh dear, the writing had best be good then. Ba-dum-CHING. Anyway, I'm with Esme, I have no expectations (well, maybe a few, now that I know the villian is named Shadowspawn... moving on...) so I'm going into this one with very few hopes and dreams. I'm just looking for a good adventure and more of the characters whom I truly love with all my heart.


1) Wedge Antillies will turn out to be my favorite character in this novel because he's badass and a little goofy at the same time. (Rose agrees and confesses her secret crush on Wedge for all the interwebs to hear. Or read. Or whathaveyou.)
2) Shadowspawn will turn out to be one of those warlords who makes grandiose gestures and uses very dramatic language and Luke will inevitably kill him to put me out of my misery. (Double that. "You almost had me monologuing!" -The Incredibles)
3) Leia and Han will banter a lot - possibly there will be more sexy business and Chewie will try to create a romantic interlude, as seen in Truce. (Yes and yes. More floor pillows Chewie!!)
4) I will not be able to guess the plot twists until they actually happen (this is a cheaterpants prediction - I almost never guess the plot twists in anything) (Rose probably will, but she's savvy that way from watching waaay too many crime dramas...)
5) This time, Rose will finish reading first because I'll be too busy laughing my head off at Shadowspawn (Possibly Rose will be right there with you, tears and giggles blurring the pages...)

We'll see what happens ....

No happy endings, just regular ones

I just now have set down my copy of Truce at Bakura, happy and ready for more Star Wars goodness. Next up is Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor (to be started as soon as I finish this here post...)

I had no expectations, good or bad, for Truce. I was simply looking forward to getting this project started, and I have to say I was pleasantly rewarded. In agreement with what Es already wrote, I also loved how Tyers picks up the day after the battle at Endor finishes. Word hasn't even gotten around that the Emporer and Vader are dead. In fact, when Leia tries to tell the Imperials this later in the book, they scoff. "Of course he's not dead you simpering idiot... He's all powerful..." (This quote does not actually exist in the book... It's more my rough estimation of what they said.) Tyers kicks right into high gear, not even letting Han, Leia, and Luke rest (or in Leia and Han's case, not rest resting... *winkwink*) She ships them off, bruises and all to Bakura where they have to outwit unknown aliens hellbent on taking over the known universe. Of course our plucky crew dispatches them effectively by the end of the book, acquiring more bruises along the way, creating quite an enjoyable read.

One aspect I really liked is that Tyers picks up right away. Happy endings don't really exist, life continues on, and it continues on in this book for our wonderful Star Wars characters. No more dancing around the bonfire, posing with ghostly images, and smiling like the very traumatic space battle/lightsaber battle/ground battle never happened. Tyers makes Luke, Leia, and Han's aches and pains very real. She doesn't start Truce a week later, when everyone's all healed and feeling ansty for the next adventure. Luke is dog tired. He can barely move. Leia is emotionally scarred from finding out about Vader. And Han just wants to get some action, dangit! No, he's really not that shallow... I greatly appreciated that Tyers didn't let anyone rest. It was off to the next space battle, the next Imperial intrigue right away. That's exactly how life is for us here in the real world. You're not ready to deal with this next issue? Too bad, it's happening and you are just going to have to deal with it.

What I didn't expect, and definitely noticed, was the foreshadowing Tyers builds into her novel of scifi intrigue. Especially regarding children of Jedi. Luke and Gaeriel have quite an intense conversation about the Jedi and Jedi children at on spot, and some of the comments and thoughts presented really got me thinking. Not all of these Jedie kids are going to stay on the Light Side of the Force. How d'ya think the Sith evolved? Because to be human is to have some of the dark in you too. And Tyers does an excellent job of illustrating this in one short paragraph that has me wondering if she was somehow able to foresee that the Solo and Skywalker children could, and some do, turn to the Dark Side in books written far after this one. Or perhaps those authors just read this book, picked up the idea, and ran with it. Either way, I was struck by my still very innocent shock at the idea that any child of a good and loving Jedi mother or father could drift toward the Dark Side. But of course, it would be silly to assume that it doesn't happen. Of course it happens! This is real (Star Wars-esc) life, and I love that Tyers doesn't shy away from the harsh reality that some Jedi will choose the Dark Side. If I'm not mistaken, Luke himself goes to the Dark Side in one of our future books.

I also did pick up on what Es has already discussed, Luke and Leia's relationship shifting from crush interests to brother and sister. Tyers does this without a hitch, and I really enjoyed how she turns it more toward Leia struggling to accept Anakin as her father, than Luke as her brother. It's easy to switch them into the brother and sister roles when Han and Gaeriel are hanging around just waiting (in Han's case) to offer themselves as a distraction and future love interest.

All in all, a fantastic read. I'm already cracking the spine on Shadows of Mindor...

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Mos Eisley Band tunes up it's instruments

This blog post is going to be updated regularly as Es and I find the perfect songs to accompany our Star Wars reading list.

I would like to start said song list with these gems:

Swimming by Florence & the Machine. Because the part of the book I'm in, Gaerial Captison is fighting and sinking in her attraction to Luke Skywalker.

Doomsday Clock by Smashing Pumpkins. I always envisioned Wedge as a bit of a metal head. So of course, he would be cranking this through his X-Wing while battling alien invaders.

Wild Child by Enya. Leia seems pretty conflicted and distracted, so some soothing music (that still reminds her that she's a Princess and badass) is always a good thing.

Back in Black by ACDC. Because Chewie needs a theme song. And I always thought of this song in conjunction with him. Even though he's brown...

Es's Additions

I'm adding a few things here because if I just add to the comments, I can't add a link to the songs ...

Megalomaniac by Incubus. Because the Emperor, and his politicians like Governor Nereus, need their own theme song

I Wanna Dance With Somebody by Whitney Houston. Partly because I couldn't resist - kind of a perfect song for Luke, right? Party, too, though, because about the same time I first discovered Heir to the Empire at my bus driver's garage sale and fell madly in love, I also discovered an old cassette tape of Whitney Houston's music, which I also fell in love with. Star Wars and Whitney kinda went hand-in-hand ....

I Must Be Dreaming by Frou Frou. Because Luke needs another theme song for his several love affairs throughout the series ^_^

Bein' Green by Ray Charles. Because a) Ray Charles and b) the whole EU stems from Yoda's legacy, which Luke thinks a lot about, particularly in the early post-ROTJ novels.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

"Like all life. Nothing really, in the sweep of time. But everything, in the Force."

Well, that took a lot less time than I thought it would! One down, forty or fifty to go ^_^

As I closed The Truce at Bakura on that final line, the first thing I thought was, "Wow! What a great beginning to our monumental reading list!" Fresh from the Battle of Endor, not even a day after the defeat of the Empire and destruction of the second Death Star, the gang are off to save the galaxy again. The intense exhaustion Luke fights throughout the novel, in addition to his total inability to take care of himself, made me smile and think, "And that's what I've been feeling these last two years of grad school!"

Perhaps more interesting to me is the exploration of the relationships between the three main characters - specifically, Luke and Leia. I appreciate that Tyers doesn't take it for granted that Luke went from being desperately in love with Leia to discovering they're twins in a very short period of time. I found myself uncomfortable with the sort of borderline incest that Luke skates throughout the book but also pleased that the subject was addressed. Luke is very young and, unlike Leia, doesn't have a romantic interest at all during the movies on whom to settle his affections. It stands to reason that he would struggle a little bit at first to readjust his boundaries. The scene that really drove this home for me was his long conversation with Leia, which is supposedly about Han, when he says, "So this is what I missed. Growing up without siblings, I mean" (194). And it's interesting, too, that his changing feelings for Leia are blending into his thoughts about becoming a Jedi, spending his life alone, and his desire for family. When Leia speculates that Luke is detaching himself from life, he says, thinking of his powerful reaction to Gaerial, "Sometimes the Force obviously controls me, rather than the other way around. It favors life" (194). Though it's clear he's forming an attraction to someone else, the chat with Leia ends with Luke thinking, "He'd loved her, long ago it seemed, before they learned what she refused to acknowledge [namely, that Darth Vader is their father]" (195). While Leia is hung up who her father is, Luke is still obviously a little hung up on his sister.
Gaerial "Gaeri" Captison

It also isn't lost on me that Tyers gives Luke a love interest, in the form of Gaerial Captison, who is very like Leia herself - a senator, from a powerful family, disillusioned with Imperial rule but also reluctant at first to oppose it (anyone who's listened to the old radio dramas of A New Hope can appreciate Leia's pre-Rebellion struggle). While the romance doesn't last (although I seem to remember Gaerial reappearing in Roger MacBride Allen's Corellian Trilogy), it does serve the purpose of really detaching Luke from Leia. Or, rather, helping him make that transition from love interest to sister, a role he's obviously very comfortable with by Zahn's Thrawn Trilogy.

I do not remember liking this book as much when I was a kid. I'm really glad to have reread it and to have a new appreciation for the post-Return of the Jedi books and where, chronologically, the epic expanded universe begins.


Monday, August 20, 2012

Wookies and romance *wink wink nudge nudge*

I'm now about 80 pages into "The Truce at Bakura" and enjoying the heck out of it! It's immediately exciting, drawing Luke, Han, Leia, and the gang away from Endor just as the battle there is ending. A threat in the form of an unknown alien attack fleet presents itself, and they can't refuse the request for help. What do the aliens want? We'll find out as the book unfolds, but that's not the point of this post. This post is to talk about the romantic part of Star Wars.

 As viewers may recall from "Return of the Jedi" Leia and Han get close and comfy after the battle of Endor. Kathy Tyers takes this and runs with it. Forget that a strange, freaky alien race is threatening a distant Imperial planet. Han and Leia are going to get some private time! At least, in between space battles, diplomatic missions, dodging Force-wielding aliens, and quips from Threepio.Even better, Tyers takes their relationship to whole new levels when she has Chewbacca set up Han's love nest so he can have a little snuggle with the princess.

Wookies, of course, have a completely different idea of what constitutes love nests. He literally makes a nest out of pillows. Han, ever grouchy, gets all grumpy about it, but Leia isn't going to let a thing like pillows on the floor get in her way, royalty or not. And Chewie has no doubt that he's done well, as Leia is a "genteel woman" (direct quote from the book) and will appreciate the set up. Too bad the lovebirds are interrupted by a sudden bout of alien attack droids.

This whole scene had me laughing until I couldn't breath. Han having Chewie put together a romantic encounter! It just doesn't get any better than that. Perhaps Tyers has more hilarious romantic interludes waiting for me later in the book. One can only hope. In the meantime, this was a nice aside from the space romping and X-Wing battles. I'm so ready to read more!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Truce at Bakura

The Truce at Bakura by Kathy Tyers
Star Wars: The Truce at Bakura

Esme's Pre-reading Thoughts
As I look down at my battered library copy of Kathy Tyer's novel, which starts minutes after the end of Return of the Jedi, the first thing I notice are the faces on the cover. I love Han Solo, I do, but I remember checking this book out for the first time, taking one look at Luke Skywalker's boyish face, and thinking, "Wow ... " 
I was twelve, but some things never change.

I have a hard time remembering what this one is about - the cover claims that the "new saga" begins with this novel, but I always think of my own beginnings in expanded universe, which began with Zahn's Thrawn Trilogy. I sort of remember Gaeriel Captison but only because she reappears in Roger MacBride Allen's Corellian Trilogy. Apart from a love of all things Zahn, there's a theme to my favorite Star Wars novels - the ones I remember and have actually reread before. $10 to anyone, apart from Rose, who figures out what that theme is.

Also, I need a Star Wars reading playlist!

In two cities, not so very long ago....

Several weeks ago, I received a letter from a very dear friend of mine. This friend's name is Esme, and she included a proposal in her letter. See, many, many moons ago (perhaps not entirely on Earth, but in our imaginations and far, far off galaxies) we bonded over Star Wars and everything to do with it. We even created our own RPG, complete with Endor-esque woodland adventures and places for ourselves as characters in the Star Wars universe. Now, so many years later, Es proposed that we reread all of the books we loved into tatters back in the day, and maybe give some of the new, expanded universe books a try. I, Rose, am all for it! And we decided to chronicle our journey on this blog. The books are listed at to the side of the main blog, so you can follow along with us. The current (could possibly change in the near future) plan is to read one book a month and to blog before, during, and after.

I, Ro, am personally so, so excited to be rereading some of my favorite books from childhood. I always have vowed to myself that I would read them all again, but just never seem to have the time to do it. I work at an indy bookstore near Seattle, and other books always seemed to jump into my hands before I could make it to my Star Wars shelves. But now, NOW I have the perfect excuse to set down the other books clambering for my attention and focus it on my favorite universe of all time! Star Wars is not only a childhood love, it's helped me get through many challenging health issues. As a girl who was born with a rare spinal birth defect, and later a young woman who went through cancer (and beat it!), I have always found strength in the idea that there is a binding Force in our universe. Maybe it operated differently here than in the Star Wars galaxies, but that didn't matter to me. The Force was always there when I needed it, in the form of my family and friends. Mara and Leia taught me what it meant to be a strong woman. Han, Luke, and Chewie taught me the meaning of integrity and honor. Threepio and Artoo made me laugh. And Master Yoda taught me how to clear my mind and breath deeply when I was scared or angry, and how to let the emotions go. Yes, I think rereading these books now will be a very positive thing in my life. I can't wait to get started on our first book: The Truce at Bakura! This is one of the classic books that I didn't read as a child, so I'm starting off with an unknown bang, and I can't wait to get started! I expect it will be chaotic, since the Empire was just blown to smithereens (in Return of the Jedi). Chaos always makes for a good backdrop in books.

I really couldn't have put any of that better than Rose just did, so I will only add that my own love of Star Wars began when my father insisted on renting "A New Hope" instead of one of the Star Trek movies (I will just add that this decision saved me from ever having to see "The Wrath of Khan"). One look at Darth Vader as he strode onto the deck of the Tantive IV and I was gone, hiding fearfully with my sister behind the couch. Like Luke Skywalker himself, I overcame my fear of the asthmatic Sith Lord and learned to love Star Wars more than I'd ever loved a movie before. When, a few weeks after I'd watched "Return of the Jedi," I found Timothy Zahn's immortal "Heir to the Empire" for 50 cents at the garage sale of my school bus driver ... let's just say it was fate.

The expanded universe created by Zahn, Stackpole, Anderson, MacBride Allen, and many others, taught me about writing - that to be a good storyteller is to involve the reader so deeply that she forgets she's reading until she closes the book. That same universe also taught me about everything from love (oh, how I ship!) to astronomy to complex governmental conspiracies ... anyway, what George Lucas started back in '77, these authors have built upon and developed into the greatest space opera the world has ever seen.

So thanks, Ro-ro, for joining me on this journey. I can't wait to get started!