Star Wars

Star Wars
Property of George Lucas, LucasFilms Ltd.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Jedi Academy Trilogy: Do I still love KJA??

In Japanese! Admiral Daala is a cheerleader?
I belonged to the Kevin J. Anderson fan club when I was a kid. No, I mean literally. There was a fan club. I got special postcards sent to "Tessa Elizabeth Williams" (these were the days before I loved my first name as-is and had no proper middle name so I made up my own).

To be honest, I was a fan because of the Young Jedi Knights. Having reread them as an adult, I can say with certainty that they feel very, very different. On the one hand, I'm like, "Yikes!" On the other, I gave them to a very challenging student of mine last year who gobbled them up (up to the point where there was romance - then he got upset and demanded to know why I would give him a kissing book).

From "Darth Vader and Son" - everyone should own this book!

My hope is that I won't have the same adult reaction the the Jedi Academy Trilogy that I did last year to Young Jedi Knights. I hope that Luke doesn't seem like a moralizing and pedantic moron (my favorite Luke is the Farmboy, not the Jedi Master). I hope that I love Kyp Durron as much as I did then (mmm, there's trouble!). I hope that Mara's spontaneous arrivals and departures are as exciting to me now as they were when I was younger ("Look, look, it's Mara! Look, there she is!").

Fingers crossed! Let's get this party started, Yavin IV!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Tatooine's Ghost: or What Episode 1 Should Have Been

Who doesn't want a bantha plushie?!
 Having finished "Tatooine's Ghost" about two weeks ago, I've had time to process it. I have to say, I really enjoyed it. It was fun, fast paced, quirky, and romantic, all the things that make up a good Star Wars novel for me. But the part I loved most was that we see more of Anakin Skywalker's mother, Shmi. Through an audio diary, we hear her story after Anakin leaves, that of a mother torn between relief that her son is no longer a slave and worry that he's all right in the big, wide universe. I LOVE details like this! I wanted these journal entries to be Episode 1, instead of the horrific disaster that Lucas put forth. These parts of the story were my favorite, and I drank them up as slowly as I could to savor them.

Shmi Skywalker, definitely a devoted mother.
I also loved how Troy Denning helps Leia come to terms, at least a little, with the fact that Darth Vader, or actually Anakin Skywalker, was her father. And was once an innocent child who loved his mother, his friends, and working with machines. Not to mention the fastest human podracer ever! (I love Han's reaction to this information - total disbelief. Clearly keeping with Han's if-I-didn't-see-it-it-must-not-have-existed/happened personality.) It's hard to think of evil people as innocent children once. To learn that they had parents who loved them and cared for them (not always, sometimes it's the lack of parents that leads the child down the path to evil...). But in this case I really enjoyed reading about Leia's confused feelings as she discovers more about her grandmother and her father. Who wouldn't be confused, trying to tally Darth Vader with the beloved Anakin Skywalker? More than anything, this is what I wanted out of Episode 1. Which of course we fans didn't get. But Denning does an incredible job of writing his own version.

Kitster - so cute! He figures prominantly in "Tatooine's Ghost."
Es's Two-Cents
This novel didn't really get a fair read from me, I'll be honest and fair to it. About halfway through reading it, I had some serious stuff happen and it completely put me off reading of any sort for several weeks. By the time I got back to the book, I'd forgotten parts of it so I'm sure I don't have as clear an idea as I should about what happened (for example, did Leia and Han discover Leia was pregnant during the novels? The twins' conception during the Tatooine trip is implied - and hey, Han almost died, no judgment!- but I missed it completely if there was a big discover buried in there). Ro here: there was no implication. But lots of romance... Ooooo lala!

Having said that, I did enjoy it and look forward to more of Denning's good writing in the future. I liked that he put a bit of an adult spin on the characters that Zahn sometimes shies from (yes, Han and Leia are married, sexy business is happening) but I like how he doesn't turn their relationship into a soap opera-esque dramas-ville scenario either. It's incidental and helps the plot progress so it works.

I agree with you, Ro, the plot was quirky, fun, and fast-paced. My only real complaint was that this novel also didn't get as fair a reading from me because, having just finished "Scoundrels," which really is a heist novel, I couldn't help but compare the two.

Still, the mystery was well-derived and I liked that added weight that Shadowcast's network of spies added to the importance of the painting. In that vein, Denning also did a masterful job of implying the existence of Grand Admiral Thrawn without ever saying his name or, I believe, his rank. That was really clever.

Overall, good job, Mr. Denning!