Remember everything I said about dropping Shadow Games from the list? Yeah, scratch that. It arrived the day after New Year’s so I felt obliged to read it anyways. Sorry, New Rebellion. This retrospective is like fashion: one day you’re in and the next day you’re out. But it’s okay because I’ve had A Very Zahn New Year which is making this go much faster. Except for the part where I drank my way through a certain book. That’s right, folks, you get another spam of my face via reaction pictures.
When I first picked up this book, I was relieved to find out that it wasn’t about Jax. No offense, buddy, but I just didn’t want to read about you again this soon. Unfortunately, I don’t think I really care about Dash Rendar either. Seriously though: it’s been awhile since I’ve read the books in this era. Am I supposed to care about him beyond this rivalry with Han Solo? I’m sure I’m forgetting something about him besides a tragic history.
Allow me to sum up the plot of this book for you: Lies, lies, lies, “I ain’t in this for your revolution, sister”, “I expect to be well paid”, and “Well, you’re pretty.” Okay, it’s not a bad book and once I finally got myself to sit down and read it, it was fairly entertaining. Unfortunately, it felt a little too much like I was reading an AU version of Han and Leia. (Seriously though: I bet there’s a fanfic out there where Leia’s a popstar and Han is her bodyguard.) Dash is going to be so offended when I call him a poor man’s Han Solo but oh well. Like I said, the story was interesting enough but wow did all the levels of “Okay, so what I told you before was a lie” get to be a bit much at times. Javul’s lucky she managed to stay alive with basically the entire galaxy after her.
I did like the droid though. He was snarky and entertaining. Leebo, you and your pet Mouse Droid can stay.
(In all fairness, my general exasperation with the book and with how much I’m looking forward to taking a break could be unfairly coloring my opinion here so take it with a grain of salt.)
First things first. Apparently I had completely managed to miss a piece of information the prior two times I read this book which is that Mara Jade is two years younger than Luke Skywalker. Mind. Blown. I’d always assumed that she was older than him. If it was anyone else but Zahn writing this book, I’d question it but since it is Zahn, I’ll have to stick with my surprise face.
I think that this might be one of my favorite of Zahn’s books and it grows on me more and more every time I read it. He does great work in the Original Trilogy era and I love his grasp on the characters in their early years. Naïve Luke who doesn’t know when not to share information is adorable as is eye-rolling Han who just wants him to hush already. I especially love getting to read about a young Mara during her time as Emperor’s Hand. Every conversation she has with Vader thrills me for some reason.
I also got rather attached to the Hand of Judgement partially because they were an interesting mix and partially because I’m a sucker for getting to know the actual people behind the helmets in the Empire. It’s interesting to see how Alderaan was spun to the rank and file and how it and other military actions planted doubts in some of their minds. Macross is probably my favorite because he seems to have the most level head and also because his back-story is just one of those I tend to be a sucker for.
In addition to the characters, I enjoyed the plot as a whole. It’s actually rather fun to try and keep track of each team’s plotline and then see how they all tie together for one nice big explosive finish. Honestly, there’s almost nothing about this book that I don’t love. It’s just that fun and fabulous.
Oh. And Zahn wrote in Pink Five/Stacy into canon. If that’s not an amusing little blast from Star Wars fandom past then I don’t know what is. (If any of our younger readers out there don’t know who Pink Five is… please don’t tell me.)
Choices of One
This is certainly an enjoyable book. I liked reading it a lot and I have yet to read a Zahn novel that I haven’t enjoyed. HOWEVER. This stretched my suspension of disbelief just a little bit too far. In the previous book, I could brush aside the close encounter that Mara and Luke almost had. In this one? Yeah. Much harder. The whole fight with the catwalk and caverns just pushed it too far. You can only say “Well, that was a close miss” so many times before it feels way too convenient.
Aside from that, I mostly really enjoyed the book. Like I said before, I really like reading about the Hand of Judgement and they work well with Mara. I’m also a huge Pellaeon fan so any time we get to see him, I’m a happy reader. Plus, there was a Wedge Antilles cameo and that always makes me happy.
I should also apparently not read this book when I’m tired because Zahn successfully bamboozled me both times I read it with the whole Thrawn/Odo/Nuso thing. I’m okay with admitting that I finally gave up on page 356 and had Nanci explain it to me with small words because even after the reveal, my brain refused to believe what the words were telling me.
Confusion from my own dogged refusal to believe what the words were telling me aside, I did really like reading this book. The plot is fun especially with all the different players involved. It’s a great Zahn books that really helps tie together elements from books of his across the board.
Splinter of the Mind’s Eye
The very last reaction picture I took for Revenge of the Sith was me shutting the book and drinking some calming tea to try and get through all the emotions. I had to pour a large glass of wine before I could even start this one.
In all fairness, a lot of what makes this book so painful is a lack of available information. It was published in 1978 which means all Foster had to go off of was A New Hope. Unfortunately, it doesn’t make Luke’s continuous incestuous longings any more bearable to read. Honestly, it’s just painful. By page 38, I was already making faces as Luke debates whether or not to kiss the sleeping Leia.
And while we’re at it, this is really not a well-written Leia either. I think that her fear of being interrogated by the Imperials again is certainly reasonable but a lot of everything else she did in this book just felt wrong. Leia’s really not a prim and proper princess and never has been and it felt like Foster was trying too hard to emphasize her royal heritage.
Also, Halla is stupid and smells of elderberries. Make her leave already. And the Kaliburr crystal is stupid. The Star Wars universe just needs to steer away from any crystals but those used to make lightsabers.
Nope, that’s it. I can’t take it anymore.
Where’s Bria in this picture, you might ask? Oh, just look down. She’s hiding underneath the table to get away from the second hand embarrassment from Luke continuously hitting on and lusting after his sister.
Oh. And I refuse to believe it was Vader in the latter half of the book. He’s not a mustachio twirling villain and that’s what he sounded like here. Come on, Foster. He doesn’t even have any hair left to twirl. Also, there is no way in hell that Luke could put up a decent defense in a lightsaber battle against Vader right after Yavin. We’re lucky he can turn the thing on without stabbing himself much less have Vader call him a challenge.
If you’ve thus far avoided reading this book then please, for the love of the sweet baby Yoda, save yourself and don’t read it. And if I never have to read another stupidly hyphenated title like ‘Senator-Princess’, I’ll be happy.
The Empire Strikes Back
The very first line of this book is Luke saying “Now this is what I call cold!” LUKE, ARE YOU AUDITIONING TO BE THE SPOKESMAN FOR THE NOW CDS?
Snark aside, I really don’t have much to say about this book. Like I said last time, just watch the films instead. Movie novelizations is the one area where the Prequel Trilogy clearly beats the Original Trilogy by miles and miles. I liked this better than the A New Hope one but then again, I started reading this a mere twenty minutes after finishing Splinter of the Mind’s Eye.
In a shocking turn of events, that’s really all I have to say about this book. I know. Brevity. It’s so surprising from me. I made up for it with pictures of my face for the previous book.
And that’s this set of books. AMNESTY WEEK. YOU ARE SO CLOSE. If anyone decided to take bets on when this project is going to drive me crazy, we’re rapidly approaching that point as I’ll be wrapping up the Original Trilogy era books within the next few days. As always, if you’d like to follow my descent into madness in real time, you can follow me on Twitter @chaosbria or the hashtag #WaruExpress.