Star Wars

Star Wars
Property of George Lucas, LucasFilms Ltd.

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!


  1. Your comments about how THIS was what we should have gotten out of Episode I are spot-on, Ro (and also strengthen my belief that George Lucas retiring from Star Wars is the best thing that could happen to it, closely followed by J.J. Abrams signing onto it).

    The best villains are the ones with histories, whose stories begin like almost anyone's: loved and misdirected. I like, too, that Leia fights so hard against the image of her father as a good man. He was, essentially, the worst of abusive fathers to her. Why should he get a chance to be forgiven? He might have been coerced and deceived by the Emperor but he also made his own choices - Anakin Skywalker created Darth Vader. No one forced him to turn to the Dark Side - he chose it. Leia has every right to blame him for the darkness he brough on her, her family, and her galaxy.

    At the same time, I thought Denning did an awesome job of bringing Leia around. It wasn't just about her father - it was about her grandmother. And I agree, Shmi is totally awesome!

  2. I actually wanted to know even more about Shmi. The journals were like a tease. What was her wedding like? How did she like being free? What was it like for her to live with a man and his son when before it was only her and her son? The tidbits dropped in this novel weren't enough for me, I wanted so much more!

    I especially love how Leia comes around and you get the hint at the end that Leia is more open to having a child. And then, of course, we see that some of her fears are not so unfounded. We all want to think that any children of Han and Leia, Luke and Mara would be perfect, pure, innocent, and on the lightside forever. Unfortunately, the Star Wars universe is more realistic than that.

  3. It's interesting you mention that because TZahn said in an interview that the later books get too dark, even for him. I'm with him there - I like how he toes a line between the world being dark and there still being good in it. At the same time, the Star Wars universe keeps itself kinetic and interesting by pushing boundaries. What happens to characters like Jacen, Jaina, and Anakin Solo later in the series is pretty hard to read but it's also the legacy of their galaxy, which keeps ripping itself apart and piecing itself back together.

    And on that note, how do we feel about the Jedi Academy trilogy (gulp)....

  4. I'm stupendously excited to start it! It's one of the trilogies I remember loving quite a bit as a kid... Let's hop to! If only I could find my copy... I just had it... *riffles through the bedside cabinet*

  5. It'll turn up! I have faith. In the meantime, I'm going to write a VERY FAST post about Jedi Academy right now! Yay for getting things done now instead of procrastinating ....

  6. Found it... I hid it from myself in my bedside drawer. Good going Ro... Sheesh.