Making Our Own Audiobook: Our Empire’s End Reading Adventure

When you and your husband receive one copy of a book you’ve both been dying to read, and you’re both super wary about spoilers, there’s only one logical solution: read the book aloud to each other!

We received our review copy of Empire’s End on a Friday evening, when we got home from work. I immediately proposed the idea that we spend the weekend (thankfully with no pre-existing plans!) reading to each other. Brian agreed. All in all, it took about sixteen hours to get through the entire book: two hours Friday night, eight hours Saturday afternoon and evening, and six hours Sunday morning and afternoon. We took turns reading so we could eat and rest our voices. It was a great time, and we’d like to share it with you.

Minor spoilers after the cut.

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Rebels Review: Legacy of Mandalore

Listen. I know that I have a Mandalorian bias and an even stronger Sabine Wren bias but “Legacy of Mandalore’” is an incredibly solid follow up to “Trials of the Darksaber” and it’s a damn shame they were split up by the break. It’s also a damn shame that we won’t be seeing much of Sabine for the foreseeable future while she tries to help clean up Mandalore and help free her people from the Empire’s choke hold.

It’s not a very happy homecoming for Sabine as her clan initially starts shooting at her when the Phantom appears in Clan Wren space. The episode goes pretty much how you’d expect from there including an awesome duel between Sabine and Gar Saxon. It doesn’t matter if the plot is predictable though because this is a continuation of Sabine’s story as she confronts both her past and her family and finds a new way forward. Continue reading

Review: Aftermath: Empire’s End

It’s been one hell of a ride since we first got the first Aftermath book almost a year and a half ago and wow does Chuck Wendig bring us to an explosive yet satisfying finale with Aftermath: Empire’s End.

Warning: This book will almost definitely take you on a face journey so beware reading in public. Learn from my experiences. But on to the book!

The Battle of Jakku. That’s it. That’s the entire book. (Okay not really but mostly.)

Empire’s End emphasizes that it’s not the overarching end result that matters most but rather how the individual characters get there. While readers already know that Jakku is the Empire’s last stand, they only know part of the battle and they certainly don’t know the fates of the characters they’ve grown to know so well over the last year and a half. Good news: it’s one hell of a ride. All of the hallmarks of the trilogy remain present: Mister Bones is hilarious and homicidal, Norra Wexley is one of the most focused and driven individuals in the galaxy, the interludes take us to surprising places, and Gallius Rax and Brendol Hux are the worst while Rae Sloane is the best. (Okay maybe that last one’s just reviewer bias slipping in…) All of that to say: if you’ve enjoyed the roller coaster thus far, you’re going to get a huge kick out this last fast drop and loop-de-loop. Continue reading

Go/No-Go: Aftermath: Empire’s End

nasa-mission-control-3Welcome back to Go/No-Go, Tosche Station’s regular feature where we offer our spoiler-free opinion as to whether or not you should spend your hard-earned money on a book, film, or other entertainment. Today on the launch pad: Star Wars: Aftermath: Empire’s End.  The finale in our first post-Return of the Jedi trilogy, it’s a book that will definitely have people talking for a while.  We here at Tosche Station kind of lost our minds over Life Debt but are we just as happy with Empire’s End?  To mission control for the verdict!

Bria: AHHHHHHHH *takes a deep breath* AHHHHHHHHHH. Okay, now that that’s out of my system, I guess I have to use actual words to discuss Empire’s End. The final book in any sort of series is always tricky because expectations are riding high. Yes an author can tell you a great story but can they wrap it up in a way that won’t leave people going “Wait what?” or “That’s it?” Good news: Chuck Wendig does exactly that with Empire’s End. Unlike Angelica Schuyler, I am completely satisfied with how the stories of Norra Wexley’s team, Rae Sloane, and the Empire come to their end during the Battle of Jakku. Honestly, I don’t know the last time a series left me feeling so satisfied at the end. A great deal of that has to do with how well-handled the story lines for Sinjir and Sloane were. They are what really make the book. It’s also worth noting that Wendig’s prose has become better and better with each book to the point where I almost shed a tear twice. Just go read this book already. Seriously. Mister Bones commands it. Empire’s End gets an emphatic GO from me.

Nanci: I will admit, I felt the first two Parts of Empire’s End were very slow, and I kept drumming my fingers waiting for THE BIG ACTION(TM) to start. However, once the characters and plotlines begin merging together around a third of the way through the book, I found myself just as enthralled with the story as I did with Life Debt.  I love the post-Return of the Jedi world that Wendig has created, I love the way he writes character arcs, and I love the way he bucks expectations about the way certain plotlines will play out. I will agree with Bria about Sinjir and Sloane’s character arcs carrying the most weight. Sinjir, for me, has been a standout of this series and I am super satisfied with how his arc as played out. (And I really can’t wait to talk about spoilers!) Even the minor characters, like Mon Mothma and Mas Amedda, receive a lot more depth throughout the series. Empire’s End is, without a doubt, a satisfying end to the Aftermath series. If you’ve been a fan, you will definitely enjoy Wendig’s conclusion. A definite GO from me.

Brian: I finished Empire’s End almost a week ago as I’m writing this and I cannot stop thinking about it. Concluding a trilogy is always a tricky proposition, because there’s so much to touch on and tie up, but you also can’t tie everything up neatly. Answer questions, but leave some room for the reader to wonder. But more than anything else, the final book has to be satisfying. And oh boy, Empire’s End meets that criteria and then some. From the conclusion of the arcs for the characters we’ve grown to love (and despise), to the big set piece action, to the seeds planted in the first book that suddenly make sense and matter so much, Empire’s End ratchets the Satisfying Score(TM) to 11. In particular, Sinjir’s arc in this book and series stood out to me. It’s an important one for so many reasons, both textually and outside of narrative. The care in which it was handled deserves praise. The only other thing I’ll say is there’s a spot near the end where, as I was reading it aloud, I cried. That’s how attached I had become to these characters. And that’s a testament to the quality of this book, and the series as a whole. Empire’s End is Star Wars as it should be. Full of action, full of intrigue, full of drama, full of adventure, full of emotion. Is Empire’s End a Go? Absolutely. It’s a wholehearted GO.

Amanda: I finished this book approximately a hot minute ago. And I’m about to read it again. The book did everything I wanted it to do. I laughed, I got misty-eyed, I laughed some more. The politics of the New Republic come to the forefront for a time in this book, so while others might have spent that period waiting for PEW-PEW, I spent those pages riveted by intrigue and cleverness. The characters we have come to know from the OT and those who have only joined the Star Wars family via the Aftermath trilogy all meet with fitting (although not exclusively happy) ever-afters.  The story has been carefully and deliberately crafted over the course of these three books in a way that gives us a payoff that’s well worth the time and energy to read them. It just keeps getting better and better. With excellent cameos from OT familiars and Legendary favorites, as well as moments that made me excited for the future of Star Wars, for me Empire’s End is an unmitigated GO.

Flight Director’s Ruling: Empire’s End is a GO for launch!

Stay tuned for further (spoiler-filled) discussions about Empire’s End here on the blog and the Tosche Station podcast network over the coming weeks!

Note: An early review copy of this novel was provided by Del Rey 

ThrawnCast 3.2: They’re Plants

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This week on the ThrawnCast, we kick off reading The Last Command with chapters 5-8.

The ThrawnCast is a part of the Tosche Station Radio network. Be sure to subscribe to the ThrawnCast on iTunes or Google Play. You can also subscribe to the Tosche Station Radio Mega Feed in iTunes or  Google Play for more great shows from our podcast network. 

This podcast was brought to you by Her Universe and your support on Patreon.

Knights of the Old Replay: Taris

When I started this project, I had magical dreams about being able to use Twitch to livestream my game play and/or maybe recording videos of my playing and editing them into highlights. Unfortunately, then I remembered that I don’t actually have the technological abilities to make those things happen so uhhhh… gold star I tried?

On the other hand, it’s actually a good thing that you didn’t get to watch me play the game with the exception of those of you who tuned in for a little bit during my very early game play via Instagram. I die a lot. Now before you pull out your pitchforks, let me explain. For some reason, I like playing the game on the hardest setting which is still not terribly hard. Where I throw in the real challenge though is by leveling up my character as little as possible on Taris. What does that mean? It means that my Level 3 Kassia Ettyk dies a lot and poor Carth Onasi has to compensate by frantically shooting people and also dying a lot. (Seriously though: she’s supposed to be like a Level 7 or so by now.) Why do I do this? So I can get more Jedi powers once I go to Dantooine.

The initial levels of a game are often painfully slow no matter what but after almost a year of playing Mass Effect religiously, KOTOR’s older mechanics really suffered in comparison. (It also didn’t help that I’m switching from a PS3 to my laptop.) You’re setting up your actions about 4 moves in advance and you can also switch to actually fight as one of your crewmembers. (That last part is actually pretty nice… it helps me die a lot less.) The downside is that it feels a lot slower and less exciting. Getting off the Republic ship just made me want to take a nap until it was over. (Literally no one cares about you, Trask.)

Thankfully, things get a lot more interesting once you crash on the planet because now you and Carth Onasi (my boyfriend!) have to figure a way off Taris and then past the Sith blockade. This involves a lot of running around the Upper and Lower City levels, breaking into apartments, and either helping people or being a massive jerk to them depending on whether you’re being a light sider or dark sider. There’s approximately zero nuance involved with the light/dark choices. I think that’s why I never had a problem playing as dark side because you’re evil to such a comical extent that I never felt like a total jerk. Also the powers were cool.

Because I just wanted this planet to end, I skipped doing all the death ring battle matches this time around and I definitely didn’t play Pazaak with anyone. Instead, I just killed a Sith soldier, stole his armor, went down into the really Lower City, tried to avoid getting infected by these creepy Rakghouls, and then dived right into the sewers. Along the way, I picked up/rescued Mission Vao and Zaalbar to help me break into one gang’s base so I could steal back a prototype engine and give it back to another gang who let me ride the swoop bike so I could win a race and rescue Jedi Knight Bastila Shan. And all of that sounds way more convoluted when I actually write it out. Wow.

But wait there’s more! I also teamed up with Canderous Ordo to acquire an astromech droid (T3-M4) so I could break into the Sith base and steal codes and then we stole a ship from some crime lord and blasted our way off the planet while Darth Malak tried to bomb it into oblivion. (Nice try, buddy. Come back when you’ve got a Death Star.) Thankfully, I’m finally off Taris and have made my way to Dantooine.

One of my favorite things about this game is getting to know your crewmates and that kicks off almost from minute one. Carth has more trust issues than any one man really should but he also flirts with my player character and calls her beautiful so it all evens out really. I also love his interactions with Mission and Bastila that are randomly triggered as we run around the city. Mission and Carth clash because she’s a teenager pushing back against authority and Carth and Bastila clash because… she lost her lightsaber? Actually that last one’s just funny. If I didn’t play favorites, I’m sure that I would have encountered more of these conversations already but… well… Listen: I just know which crewmembers I really like, okay? Curse you Bioware for only letting me take two with me at a time!

Taris may have been a bit of a drag but I’m hoping that things will pick up now that I’ve made it to Dantooine and can get cool Jedi powers! I’m readjusting to the older game mechanics and the story’s more fun now. And hey! Maybe I’ll even remember to take screenshots while I’m actually playing this time…

Holonet Blast #2

Lots of news this week! New books! New The Last Jedi details! New hair! Let’s dive right in, shall we?

ARTOO-DETOO RECAST

Though rumored as early as December 2015, it’s now official; following the death of original Star Wars actor Kenny Baker, going forward (beginning with this December’s The Last Jedi) the adorable astromech will be portrayed by Doctor Who veteran Jimmy Vee. I guess this makes him R2-D2-2. (source)

via OhSoSmall.com

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Tosche Station Radio #161: A*F*T*E*R*M*A*T*H

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This week on Tosche Station Radio, we catch up on the news and prepare for Star Wars Aftermath: Empire’s End by taking a look back at the first two books in the trilogy.

Tosche Station Radio is the official podcast of Tosche-Station.net. If you like what you hear, please leave a review on the iTunes Music Store and Google Play. We can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Nanci and Brian are the co-founders and writers of Tosche-Station.net. You can find Nanci on Twitter with the handle @Nancipants and you can find Brian with @LaneWinree.

This podcast has been brought to you in part by Her Universe and your support on Patreon!

Of Dice and Droids Episode X: With or Without You

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THE END OF ALL THINGS

EPISODE X: With or Without You

The Cast:

  • Tom the GM
  • Jin played by Saf
  • Percival played by Jay
  • Shoto played by Sho

This podcast has been brought to you in part by Her Universe and your support on Patreon. Be sure to subscribe on iTunes/Google Play to hear all of the adventures! You can also subscribe to the Tosche Station Radio master podcast feed  (iTunes/Google Play) for even more great Star Wars  and geek culture content. 

Western Reaches #23

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This episode we talk about China Miéville, science fiction books, co-operative games and violence in games, with our main topic focusing on Giant Squid’s first game, Abzû
 
Games: 
  • Neighbor (Triennale Game Collection)
  • Zero Time Dilemma
  • Banner Saga 2
  • We Were Here
  • Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes
  • Abzû
Books: 
  • Looking for Jake – China Miéville
  • Kaddish – Leon Wieseltier
  • Universal Harvester – John Darnielle
  • Ninefox Gambit – Yoon Ha Lee
  • Altered Carbon – Richard K. Morgan
You can find Megan on Twitter with the handle @blogfullofwords and you can find Saf with @Wanderlustin. Be sure to subscribe to Western Reaches on iTunes/Google Play and subscribe to the Tosche Station Radio Mega Feed for more great shows, discussion, and commentary. This podcast has been brought to you in part by Her Universe and your support on Patreon!