Star Wars

Star Wars
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Monday, September 24, 2012

Ysanne Isard, queen of the fabulous hair

As I'm slogging my way through X-Wing Rogue Squadron, there is one shining light for me. One, giant, amazing, fantastic bad guy. Or in this case, lady. I am talking, of course, about Ysanne Isard. The badass woman that got close enough to the Emperor to take over once he died. Or at least, that's how Michael Stackpole wrote it. For about two pages (I exaggerate, it's really more like 10). And I'm finding that she is the most interesting part of the book so far. The other characters are samesame, and the plot starts and stops like rush hour traffic.

But Ysanne, as Stackpole has created her, grabbed my attention right away. She's a woman who's reached power (yes, bad power, but power nonetheless), and commands legions of storm troopers and Imperial agents (through fear, sure, but still). Maybe I'm grasping because I don't want to read two horrid books in a row, and we all know my feelings on the previous EU book. Stackpole has created a character who is engaging and fascinating to me. He wrote that she might have been the Emperor's lover. All I can picture is the shriveled, lizard-esc Palpatine, and envisioning him having relations with a lady-friend just grosses me out. However, Stackpole's descriptions and explanations of Ysanne and Palpatine's relationships and interactions leave a lot to the imagination. Something I wish he hadn't done. Granted, I'm only about halfway through the book, but I'm starting to feel like I want a lot more of Ysanne than Stackpole is going to give me in this one book.

For instance, he describes her as growing up on Courscant, her father was the head of Imperial Intelligence. When he died, she took over. Very basic background, just like all of his other, colorless, bland characters. But she sparkles, in an evil way, and I really just want the rest of the book to be about her. She outshines all of the other characters, and I feel like a novel about growing up and getting involved with Palpatine would be much more interesting. I could read another 200 pages of that.


  1. I think one of the most fascinating things about characters like Isard (as well as others like Mara Jade and Mirax Terrik) is that they're so heavily in the minority in Star Wars. Star Wars, for all I love it, is a man's galaxy far far away. A lot of the women are window dressing, however strong-willed they might be. It's exciting when authors like Stackpole and Zahn (as well as MacBride Allen) write women who aren't just there to scaffold the men but are actually legitimately pivotal in the plots of the stories they inhabit. Mirax becomes pivotal in "X-wing: Rogue Squadron." Mara becomes pivotal in "The Last Command."

    I think what strikes me about Isard is that she's even more in the minority by being evil. Mara and Mirax are bad-ass, but they're also good guys. Isard clearly isn't, nor will ever be. What's more, she's only likely to get worse, as in more evil, which is very exciting!

    While I hope your opinion of this particular book gets better as you get farther into it, Ro (I think it has, based on text messages, but we'll see!), I'm glad you got a fix of AWESOME CHARACTER in Isard. I'm with you - she's epic!

  2. My interest is, yet again, starting to wane. After the first few glimpses of Isard, she has disappeared in the nether regions, and I sulk in the fact that Stackpole doesn't have her more prominently in the book. I'm reading the rest of it just to see if she gets any more shout outs.

    This, perhaps, is one of the reasons I'm so excited for The Courtship of Princess Leia! In a galaxy full of menfolk, here, in the middle of everything, is Dathomir. Full of women. And badass warrior women! I won't go on, I'll save it for my first blog about the book. But I'm excited for it!

  3. I'm with you there! I get so irritated with Han's behavior and Luke as a know-it-all, pompous twit (what Mara Jade refers to frequently as the "omniscient Jedi" version of Luke) that I forget how bad-ass the women are.

    And as you'll see from my response to your post, I'm basically with you on "Rogue Squadron." Boo.