Book Review: Thrawn

He’s back! A favorite character of the old Star Wars Expanded Universe, now Legends, has been recreated in this new novel by the one and only Timothy Zahn.  I believe Thrawn was one of the greatest disappointments to numerous fans when Disney announced that the EU was no longer going to be canon.  Thrawn is amazing.  Seriously.  His tactical genius made him a beloved character, up there with Mara Jade.  Even fans who were not into the novels, had a general idea of who Thrawn was.

I can speak for a lot of fans that when Thrawn was announced as a new character in Star Wars Rebels, fans were delighted. Then they announced a new book with him as well written by Zahn and the fans went nuts.

This new novel is an origin story of Thrawn. It shows how he came to work with the Empire and evolve into one of the greatest strategist’s and commanders (or Grand Admiral) of the Empire’s fleet, overcoming obstacles along the way.  His chief obstacle was that he is an alien and as the Empire is, you know, kind of prejudiced against aliens, it’s quite a feat that he makes it as far as he does.

 

***spoilers ahead***

 

The novel starts with Thrawn being rescued by the Empire from being exiled by his native Chiss species. I use the word “rescued” loosely because Thrawn purposefully drew them to him to board their ships and let himself be seen and caught by them and we find out later, in typical Thrawn style, that it was never a rescue at all – he had planned everything. On the ship, he encounters a young man Eli Vanto, who is on the road to becoming a supply chain officer. Vanto helps translate for Thrawn at times since his Basic is rusty and also because Vanto was also brought up in the Outer Rim (therefore also slightly disliked by others because he is “backwater”). Thrawn immediately gets taken to Emperor Palpatine who puts him into the Imperial Academy on a fast track with Vanto.

Throughout the novel, Vanto remains at Thrawn’s side through the academy, to commanding posts, and missions. Thrawn sees potential in Eli though it takes a long time for Eli to also see it. Half of the novel follows Eli regretting that he ever met Thrawn as he only wants a quiet life in the supply department.

As a side story, we are introduced to Arihnda Pryce, whom we have also seen from Star Wars Rebels. Her path intersects with Thrawn’s later down the line but we get a fleshed out backstory for her (the later governor of Lothal).  She begins her story working at her parent’s mine – Pryce Mining – which gets ripped from her by the Empire. She resolves to get it back. How does she get it back? Through political scheming and working with the Empire. If you can’t fight them, join them. Her journey to that point is up and down along with lots of petty backstabbing.

As Pryce moves up the ranks in the Empire politically, Thrawn also rises as a commander. Pryce does not have too much involvement with Thrawn, but when she does she helps him and Vanto through favors with connections (the great Tarkin, who was written superbly) and Thrawn also helps her with his tactical, objective way of looking at things.

The end of the novel sees a culmination of a battle (where we know Thrawn will obviously come out ahead) where those who doubted Thrawn are now convinced of his genius, along with understanding the real reasons for…well…everything in the novel that Thrawn has done. The side twist belongs with Arihnda Pryce and how far she has gone down the path of corruption. Thrawn’s beautiful plan gets screwed up by her with unnecessary deaths, but she never admits to it and covers her tracks beautifully, though he knows but can’t prove it. Thrawn still comes out ahead, but it’s interesting to see that this is the beginning of Pryce and Thrawn’s working relationship that we see in Rebels.

 

Pros:

  • It’s Thrawn. Enough said.
  • But seriously, there is not too much changed from the character older Star Wars fans loved reading about. He is still a genius and still a masterful tactician…rivaling Palpatine in some respects.
  • How did Thrawn get in Palpatine’s good books so well that Palpatine fast tracked him through the Academy and military career? Anakin Skywalker. Yes – interesting twist. Thrawn says he heard of Palpatine through his “servant, Anakin Skywalker”. This implies a lot. It implies that 1) Thrawn met Anakin when he was a Jedi and 2) he could have caught on to Palpatine’s game of chess that he was already working on bringing Anakin to his side prior to the Empire existing. It’s not a stretch to believe that as Thrawn is able to deduce everything. The question remains though – does Thrawn know Vader is Anakin? My guess is yes though nothing is confirmed.
  • Each chapter begins with an excerpt of Thrawn’s diary which made for a fascinating read. Chapters are also interspersed with Thrawn reading people’s body language and giving insight on how he picks up on their next moves.
  • There’s a lot on Thrawn in here, obviously. But crazily, I still feel like he’s a bit of a mystery. Well done Zahn!
  • You can read this novel even if you are a Disney-hater; if you love the EU and refuse to acknowledge anything Disney related. It actually fits into both Legends and the current canon, which I admire, especially since it’s a backstory. And, amazingly, this canon backstory actually fits in perfectly with Thrawn’s original backstory in Legends.
  • This novel ties into Rebels nicely as well as the other new canon books, though it’s not hitting you over the head with it.
  • Most of the characters from the movies are spot-on with the writing. Grand Moff Tarkin was eerily written, to the point that I had no problems believing his character (which is unlike how I felt with the writing of Han in Bloodline). Palpatine was done pretty well too, not 100%, but well enough for the time he was in the novel.
  • The new characters are also well written, for the most part. Pryce ended up being one of my favorites after reading, though during the novel I kept wanting to go back to Thrawn and see what he was up to. But once I closed the book and mulled over it for a bit, she ended up being one of the most multi-faceted interesting characters to come out of it. The last scene/battle of the novel when she goes down a point of no return, and sees the look on her parents faces, you have to wonder…is it worth it? She did everything for them and their mine, but you can tell they’d rather she hadn’t if they had to sacrifice who Arihnda had become.
  • There are hints of the Rebellion littered throughout the novel, but for the most part, it’s extremely Empire-driven, which I very much appreciated. It’s hard to write about the Empire in a way that seems positive, or at least neutral, when you’re writing in the Star Wars universe. This novel did it brilliantly…and I feel a little disloyal to the Rebellion for liking it so much!
  • My favorite observation of this entire novel was that I didn’t actually feel like I was reading a Star Wars novel. I felt like I was reading a good sci-fi book. Again, a little hard to do with Star Wars, especially with characters we love in the book. But because there was no mention of the Force (I think; I don’t remember it) or mysticism, Jedi, etc., it felt like a great sci-fi, outer space novel.

Cons:

  • For me, I felt like it took a while for Thrawn to feel like Thrawn. There was a learning curve for him in the beginning of the novel as he learned the Empire, and nuances of politics. In a way, I thought he seemed very much like Spock in the beginning of this novel. It eventually leveled out and got to a point where he felt like the Thrawn I loved and remembered, so I’m not sure if that was a deliberate move on Zahn’s part or if it was him being a little rusty.
  • Some of the book was littered with little side plots that I thought could have been kept out entirely. It’s tough because some of the side plots do end up coming together at the end of the novel, but some had me thinking…oh that’s it? When they were resolved.
  • Not enough time with Thrawn and art. One of the most loved parts about Thrawn (for me) was how much information he gained from observing society’s artwork. Through their art, he was often able to bring them down. It was a final piece of the puzzle that other tactician’s didn’t have time with or feel was necessary. Unfortunately, there was only one scene in this book where art played into the success of Thrawn. It always lingered in the background and was mentioned often, but we didn’t get to see it enough in action. We get in Rebels, thankfully, but I was sad about there was not as much in Thrawn.
  • I didn’t love Eli Vanto. He was a main character but the ending of his story was a little unbelievable to me. I won’t say much, but I don’t think he has the chops for what the end of his character arc bestowed upon him. I believe he was created as a bit of a Watson foil to Thrawn’s Sherlock but I often wanted him cut from the story entirely. I think I may be in the minority here but he was blah.
  • I’m not sure I want to put this as a con but it’s a little interesting. Was there a plot? I’m not sure. It seemed more like a detailed timeline of events. There wasn’t a real antagonist, more of a mystery Thrawn wanted to solve but it didn’t seem too pressing. So if you need a plot and an arc and all that good stuff, maybe you won’t really get into this as much as you’d want to.

I’m giving Thrawn 4/5 stars. It’s hard for me to rate any book 5/5 stars, and Star Wars books usually don’t make that cut. BUT this is still the best book I’ve read from the new canon.  Read it if you have EU nostalgia, love Thrawn, or want a good Empire-driven Star Wars novel.

Idolizing the Original Trilogy

I’m getting a little nervous.  It seems like as we move closer and closer to December 18th and this new world of Star Wars (aka post-Disney takeover), the more I realize how much of an emphasis we are placing on the Original Trilogy.

Of course I’m a fan of the OT, but it seems like ever since Disney took over the franchise, they want to bury the Prequel Trilogy six feet underground.

star wars canon timelineIt started with Star Wars Rebels that takes place 5 years before the Original Trilogy.  This is leading us up to The Force Awakens, set around 30 years after the Original Trilogy.

We then have news of the first in the Anthology series, Rogue One, which will take place before A New Hope (no one seems to be quite certain on how soon before) and it involves stealing the Death Star Plans…which is basically what all of ANH revolves around.

Most Star Wars comics and books that are part of the new unified canon since Disney has come onboard take place after ROTS.  The only novel prior to ROTS is Dark Disciple, released next month that follows the unfinished story of Asajj Ventress.

I understand where Disney is coming from.  They want to play it safe and they want to start with a bang.  George Lucas, unfortunately, ruined the beloved Star Wars universe for many die hard fans when he brought the Prequel Trilogy into the world.  It was so different from the OT that it was almost a whole new breed of sci-fi movies, almost unrelated to the Star Wars universe they knew and loved.

But what Disney is currently staying away from, and what I hope they realize eventually, is that the PT also brought Star Wars to a whole new generation of fans, myself included.  I had seen the OT before, but I didn’t fall in love with Star Wars until I saw The Phantom Menace – many fans least favorite film of the Saga.

Let me phrase it this way:

The Original Trilogy is a universe I could see myself living in.  The Prequel Trilogy is a universe that I hope to someday live in.

The PT was clean, had interesting costumes, the ships were sleek, shiny, and new, and we got to see a government that star wars nubian prequel shiphad functioned for thousands of years crumble to the ground.  It was a universe of the future, even if it was the past in the complete Star Wars saga.

My main concern is that I don’t want Disney to forget that the Prequels are part of Star Wars too.  I know I’ve said this multiple times, but when you love something, you love the whole thing – good and bad.  I admit the Prequels are definitely not as strong as the Originals, nor are they as good as a whole.  That doesn’t mean that I think we should lock them in a broom cupboard and hope no one knows they exist à la Harry Potter style.  If anything, we should embrace those movies and if Disney really wanted to, perhaps they could work on repairing some of the damage that was done to the reputation of the PT and make it almost as beloved as the OT through Anthology movies and Expanded Universe releases.

I believe strongly that the PT universe has a lot of potential to breed very, very interesting stories, while still appealing to the Prequel haters.  The Jedi could produce an interesting action movie; we saw examples in The Clone Wars.  Any bounty hunter during this time would be interesting to watch from AOTC all the way to the fall of the Republic.  I’m guessing bounty hunters probably flourished more when the Republic was dismantled so seeing that transition could be fascinating.  There’s a lot you could do with that time period and I hope that Disney realizes this and explores the Prequel era with Anthology movies.

If there’s one thing I know, if you stretch an elastic too tight, eventually it will snap back.  The extreme focus on the OT time period will hopefully ultimately lead to an extreme snap back and willingness to re-open the Prequels.

An Open Letter to Entertainment Companies

Dear Journalists and Companies That Crave Clicks,

I know you have a job to do.  I know and I understand.  You want people to see your headline, be intrigued, and read the article further.  Especially if you write for the World Wide Web and you can now (gasp!) track how many people click on your headline.

It’s addicting.  I get it.  When you get more clicks, you get more prestige, more attention, and who knows?  Maybe you’ll even be responsible for a viral post.  And a viral post is like winning the Superbowl of the internet…for about a week until something else takes it’s place.

But can’t you write a headline that gets attention without spoilers?

See – this is my problem: I recently read a headline about Episode VII where you gave away a major plot twist of the movie.  Your headline actually read: “EPISODE VII– Han, Luke, and Leia… – SPOILER”.

Imogen_i_hate_spoilers

 

I am really, REALLY trying to stay spoiler-free for Episode VII.  It’s become near impossible given the way that we live in a social online world where news is shared faster than ever.  In order to keep myself spoiler-free, I:

  1. Have unsubscribed from any sci-fi, entertainment, or Star Wars blogs that might possibly give me information on Episode VII.
  2. Rarely check my personal twitter account. It’s sad because I love twitter and I love interacting with other Star Wars fans on the platform.  But I had unwittingly read spoilers and rumors before I even knew what they were.
  3. Have unsubscribed from my daily “Star Wars News” alert email from Google. (This killed me.  There are always cool tidbits in there like heartwarming stories regarding make-a-wish, children getting their own stormtrooper armor due to being bullied, kooky robberies involving a Darth Maul mask, and much more.  But lately, these stories are becoming fewer and instead I’m bombarded with Episode VII news that 6/10 times includes a spoiler.)

I can’t leave the internet; that is impossible.  But why should I be subjected to spoilers on a daily browse of entertainment sites?  Or geek sites?  I’m not specifically looking for Episode VII news.  It’s like running and high-fiving your whole team and then running into someone’s closed fist on your face.  You didn’t mean to run into the punch; I guess you could say you had time to stop, but you were enjoying the moment and high-fiving so many people that you couldn’t stop yourself in time to avoid it.

nerd rage 30 rock

I thought we lived in a country that values choice and free will.

By putting a spoiler in your headlines, I am no longer free to choose if I want to know what is going to happen or if I want to go into the theaters with a blank slate.  I am forced to know what happens just because you want people to click and read your article.

Episode VII has created a lot of excitement in my life.  And now the excitement is dwindling away to create resentment, over-cautiousness, and fear of logging in to the internet and reading something I don’t want to know.

You have taken away my freedom of choice and I’m asking that you correct this.  It isn’t hard.  Let me give you examples of some headlines you could utilize:

  • Episode VII character spoiler! John Boyega’s character revealed!
  • Episode VII spoiler: Find out which planet the characters visit!
  • EPISODE VII SPOILER ALERT: Major plot point leaked!

See?  Not that hard.  You can still get people to click on it by saying “Episode VII” and “Spoiler” somewhere in the headline.  Then you add a small second half about what it involves and people will be clicking away like mad.

And the best part?  Those of us who do not want to know said spoiler are none the wiser.

Let ME decide if I want to know what happens in Episode VII and let others decide if they want to be spoiled.  That way you can still do your job and I can still be happy.    So please, I’m begging you, give me back my freedom of choice.

spoiler alert

Come back to the light side of the Force,

Your next door Star Wars geek

Scene it on Friday – ROTJ Scene #25

second death star hologram

There’s so much to go into with this scene, I love it!

My main thoughts:

  1. The first time we see a woman leader within the rebellion other than Leia.
  2. Han and Lando have really progressed in their character arc.
  3. Leia is sensing Luke more and more, tuning into the Force.
  4. This is a turning point for the Rebellion.

1)  I never cared about Mon Mothma when I was younger.   I hated the way she said, “Many Bothans died to bring us this information”.  I found that line halting and weird…so it made sense not to like her character in my young mind.

Now that I’m older, I wonder why it took so long for us to see another female leader within the Rebellion.  Think about it, at this point weMon mothma speaking to rebellion are almost done with the entire OT.  In fact, according to the webpage I use, there are a total of 235 scenes between ANH, ESB, and ROTJ, and this is the 198th scene.  We are 84.25% of the way through the entire trilogy and have only seen Leia as a leading female.  Okay yes, I remember she was talking to some nameless woman who had no lines in ESB, but I’m not counting that.

I’m not completely knocking Lucas.  The fact that he had Leia standing equal to Luke and Han in a science fiction trilogy is, in and of itself, a great feat and I applaud him for that.  But with my 21st century eyes, this trilogy is very skewed in favor of the male.  Especially when we argue the case that ANH had quite a few Rebellion scenes where we could have seen some good examples of female leadership.  ESB is more understandable due to the fact that it focused on the adventures our heroes went on rather than what happened with the Rebellion.

2)  Han and Lando are now Generals.  Think about it.  That’s a huge step from where they were when we first met them.  Han was a smuggler with no interest in any cause, just interested in the side that paid him the most.  Lando was a pirate turned business man that stabbed our heroes in the back when he gave them over to the Empire.  And now both are going into this battle with the most dangerous missions for the Rebellion, knowing they might not come out alive.

It’s good to see this character development and show how when something is worth fighting for, you are willing to risk your life for it.  It’s easy to say Han was doing it all for Leia, which could be somewhat true, but what does Lando have?  Regret for a stupid action he took against his friend because the Empire gave him a lot of money.  He learned his lesson and knows the greater good outweighs the selfish motivation.

3)  We first see Leia sensing Luke through the Force in ESB, when she turns the Falcon around to go rescue him.  I wasn’t alive when the OT was released in theaters, but I wonder what fan speculation was about that?  Did fans suspect her to have Force sensitivities?  Did they think she was his twin?

Well, now we know by this scene that they are brother and sister, but her uncanny sensing that something deeper is going on with Luke has to be attributed to the Force.  I loved reading about Leia continuing/starting her training with the Force in the EU.  I remember how it had never occurred to me that Leia would train to be a Jedi…but why not??  She has some of the Force too, though she seems to lean more closely to her mother with her love for politics.

4)  Not much to say on the fourth point, since it’s the most obvious, but notice how “a volley of spirited chatter erupts from the crowd” when Mothma points out that the Emperor is onboard the second Death Star.  I guess this is why I call it a “turning point” for the Rebellion, and probably their greatest in the Saga.  They are always fighting, but until they kill the Emperor, they are just fighting the Lernaean Hydra.  So now they know if they blow up the Death Star, they kill the Empire’s leader…maybe both leaders since everyone is probably hoping Vader is on the battle station as well.  Stuff just got serious.

Great scene, glad I had one that I could go into with depth.  With that, I wish you all a great weekend.

general madine and mon mothma

EXTERIOR: SPACE – REBEL FLEET

The vast Rebel Fleet stretches as far as the eye can see.  Overhead a dozen small Corellian battleships fly in formation.  Fighters and battlecruisers surround the largest of the Rebel Star Cruisers, the HEADQUARTERS FRIGATE.

INTERIOR: HEADQUARTERS FRIGATE – MAIN BRIEFING ROOM

Hundreds of Rebel commanders of all races and forms are assembled in the WAR ROOM. WEDGE is among them. In the center of the room is a holographic model depicting the half-completed Imperial Death Star, the nearby Moon of Endor, and the protecting deflector shield.

MON MOTHMA, the leader of the Alliance, enters the room. She is a stern but beautiful woman in her fifties. Conferring with her are several military leaders, including GENERAL MADINE and ADMIRAL ACKBAR (a salmon-colored Mon Calamari). Lando moves through the crowd until he finds Han and Chewie, standing next to Leia and the two droids.

Han peers at Lando’s new insignia on his chest, and is amused.

HAN: Well, look at you, a general, huh?

LANDO: Oh, well, someone must have told them about my little maneuver at the battle of Taanab.

HAN: (sarcastic) Well, don’t look at me, pal. I just said you were a fair pilot. I didn’t know they were lookin’ for somebody to lead this crazy attack.

LANDO: (smiling) I’m surprised they didn’t ask you  to do it.

HAN: Well, who says they didn’t.  But I ain’t crazy. You’re the respectable one, remember?

Mon Mothma signals for attention, and the room falls silent.

MON MOTHMA: The Emperor has made a critical error and the time for our attack has come.

This causes a stir. Mon Mothma turns to a holographic model of the Death Star, the Endor moon and the protecting deflector shield in the center of the room.

MON MOTHMA: The data brought to us by the Bothan spies pinpoints the exact location of the Emperor’s new  battle station. We also know that the weapon systems of this Death Star are not yet operational. With the Imperial Fleet spread throughout the galaxy in a vain effort to engage us, it is relatively unprotected. But most important of all, we’ve learned that the Emperor himself is personally overseeing the final stages of the construction of this Death Star.

A volley of spirited chatter erupts from the crowd. Han turns to Leia as Chewie barks his amazement.

MON MOTHMA: (cont) Many Bothans died to bring us this information. Admiral Ackbar, please.

Admiral Ackbar steps forward and points to the Death Star’s force field and the Moon of Endor.

ACKBAR: You can see here the Death Star orbiting the forest Moon of Endor. Although the weapon systems on  this Death Star are not yet operational, the Death Star does have a strong defense mechanism. It is protected by an energy shield, which is generated from the nearby forest Moon of Endor. The shield must be deactivated if any attack is to be attempted. Once the shield is down, our cruisers will create a perimeter, while the fighters fly into the superstructure and attempt to knock out the main reactor.

There’s a concerned murmur.

ACKBAR: (cont) General Calrissian has volunteered to lead the fighter attack.

Han turns to Lando with a look of respect.

HAN: Good luck.

Lando nods his thanks.

HAN: You’re gonna need it.

ACKBAR: General Madine.

Madine moves center stage.

GENERAL MADINE: We have stolen a small Imperial shuttle. Disguised as a cargo ship, and using a secret Imperial code, a strike team will land on the moon and deactivate the shield generator.

The assembly begins to mumble among themselves.

THREEPIO: Sounds dangerous.

LEIA: (to Han) I wonder who they found to pull that off?

GENERAL MADINE: General Solo, is your strike team assembled?

Leia, startled, looks up at Han, surprise changing to admiration.

HAN: Uh, my team’s ready. I don’t have a command crew for the shuttle.

Chewbacca raises his hairy paw and volunteers.  Han looks up at him.

HAN: Well, it’s gonna be rough, pal. I didn’t want to speak for you.

Chewie waves that off with a huge GROWL.

HAN: (smiles) That’s one.

LEIA: Uh, General… count me in.

VOICE: (OS) I’m with you, too!

They turn in that direction and peer into the crowd as there are more cheers. The commanders part, and there at the back stands Luke. Han and Leia are surprised and delighted.

Leia moves to Luke and embraces him warmly. She senses a change in him and looks into his eyes questioningly.

LEIA: What is it?

LUKE: (hesitant) Ask me again sometime.

Han, Chewie, and Lando crowd around Luke as the assembly breaks up.

HAN: Luke.

LUKE: Hi, Han… Chewie.

Artoo beeps a singsong observation to a worried Threepio. 

THREEPIO: “Exciting” is hardly the word I would use. 

Book Review: Dawn of the Jedi

It’s highly entertaining to me that while I was reading the first EU book in over 10 years, LFL announces that all of the EU is now referred to as “Legends” and no longer canon.  It kind of seems like a waste of my time to try to fulfill my resolution of reading one EU book per year.  Should I forget about the previous books and move forward as LFL moves forward with novels?  Or should I continue to read the books of the past?

Aw, shucks that’s a hard decision!

I’m kidding.  Of course I’ll read EU books before they were “Legends”.  As long as they’re good.

But, you know, I don’t read EU books.  I’ve discussed it many times on my blog, but this past experience was a heavy reminder of why I don’t read them.

Because this one sucked.  Okay, maybe that’s a little harsh.  I hate to say any author’s hard work “sucked” because they put a lot of time and effort into it…but LFL: Please don’t let Tim Lebbon write anymore Star Wars novels!

I chose Dawn of the Jedi: Into the Void because they had a sample of the first chapter in a Star Wars Insider last year.  I really, really liked the chapter and figured the rest of the book would be the same.  Plus, it’s about Jedi, my favorite!  Originally it was a comic book that was adapted to a novel, so I’m hoping that explains away the reasons I didn’t like it, but I don’t believe that’s the case.

*Spoilers below*

dawn of the jediIn a nutshell: This is not exactly an “origin” story of the Jedi, per se, like I was hoping for.  Instead, it was more of a sampling of the history of the Jedi, more than 25,000 BBY.  They live on a planet called Tython where there are nine temples.  In order to become a Je’daii, you need to travel between each of the temples to gain a well-rounded skill set to become a Master.  I had to look some of that up on Wookiepedia because all I remember was that there was a lot of traveling and temples.

The story focuses on a young Je’daii Ranger named Lanoree Brock, who is tasked with the mission to stop her brother, Dalien Brock (who was thought to be dead), from activating a hypergate.

The story goes between flashbacks of growing up with Dalien and trying to force him into being a Je’daii like herself and the real time of her mission to find him.  While on her mission, she meets up with a Twi’lek named Tre Sana who helps her.

Yup.  That’s the gist of it. Lots of plot. 😉

Pros:

  • Lanoree actually kills her brother at the end of the novel.  I know, strange that this is a pro.  But the whole novel is leading up to this climatic confrontation and you think she is going to “save” him from himself.  Possibly see him regret his actions and become a better person.  But nope, he remains foolhardy (I say foolhardy because he wasn’t necessarily “evil”) until the end of the novel where she has to kill him.
  • We get to see the Jedi as an organization years and years before the Prequels. Before they had lightsabers, they had swords.  They did everything lightsabers do, but were swords instead.  Not much detail on how they made the swords to have the exact same properties as lightsabers, though.
  • The novel was centered around a female protagonist.  Lanoree is practically a robot and it’s hard to feel supportive for her, but at least the main character is a female.  She is a Je’daii who can kick some serious butt and leads the story.  I always like to see books that are written entirely from a female perspective.
  • I learned that Sith were a species before they were the antithesis of the Jedi.  It was really confusing at first to be reading about Lanoree walking by Sith and not freaking out.

Cons:

  • My main problem with this novel was that I never felt attachment to any of the characters.  Lanoree is not a very likeable character lanoree brockand her brother is just annoying, not really evil.  The closest I felt for any character was Tre Sana, but even he was kind of wooden and non-likeable.  I like feeling for characters, rooting for them, and when I put the book down, I want to feel like they were my friends and I have invested my emotions into them.  I want to feel sad when someone dies (or almost dies? It wasn’t entirely clear) as was the case with Tre Sana.  Instead, I felt nothing when he died and thought the way it was written was very strange.
  • The juxtaposition between flashbacks and real time also created a very jarring novel.  I’ve read that style before, and I know it can be done well, but in this case, it made it a lot harder to read.  Lebbon seemed to want to write a fantasy novel during the flashbacks and a science fiction novel in real time.  It seemed like he was trying to mix two genres together and I wasn’t having it.   They never really matched up.  Tython and the Je’daii were the fantasy realm, whereas Lanoree’s mission with Tre Sana was sci-fi.  When Lanoree and Dalien were traveling to the different temples together (flashback) they encountered fantastical beasts, complete with beasts that could withstand the Force.  That’s fine if beasts can withstand the Force, I remember reading of such in Heir to the Empire, but by the time we got to them, it felt like the author was running out of ideas for suspense.
  • I never understood the connection Lanoree felt for her brother.  There were never any flashbacks that gave us the siblings being in tune with each other and completely loving each other.  Each flashback had a sullen, hateful Dalien, and a Lanoree who tried to push her ideals and training of the Force down his throat.  So where was this supposed connection and love coming from?  Was it just the whole “blood is thicker than water” thing?
  • The writing was horrible and there was very little actual plot.  I felt like I was reading an airport novel.  It consistently left chapters on bad cliffhangers that didn’t make me want to turn the page.  The dialogue was bland, and though there was a lot of action packed into the pages…it felt like nothing really happened.

Okay, there was more than just these points, but I feel like I would end up complaining way too much.  I think I had high hopes for this book since I liked the excerpt from Insider so much.  It’s never good when you have high hopes, because then you are bound to be disappointed.

I gave this book 2/5 stars on Goodreads because it wasn’t HORRIBLE.  But it was forgettable and it sums up why I stopped reading EU books in the first place.  When you get a bad Star Wars EU book, it’s pretty bad.

However, I’ve had some suggestions from Mei-Mei recommending Choices of One and Null recommended Darth Plagueis, and I’ve heard good things about both.  Maybe I should just start at the beginning and read the Thrawn Trilogy again…I think it’s been enough time to revisit them.

Anyone have any other suggestions?