State of the Book Club

Confession: I’ve been slacking on the Book Club. I can blame a lot of things for this. The Thrawncast readings have taken up more time than I expected. I’m also trying to keep up with Tor.com’s Vorkosigan saga read-through as well as the Wraith Squadron arc for Rogue Podron. Then there was Rogue One (I still haven’t read the novelization yet), family in town for Christmas, and — oh yeah — my own writing to focus on.

Needless to say, we skipped December’s pick, Radiance. But it’s a new year and I want to make a new effort with the Book Club. No more excuses! I’m cheating for the first three months and picking books I’ve already read — the Mageworlds trilogy by Debra Doyle and James Macdonald. I love them (the lead is basically Jaina Solo), and I hope you will, too. (For those of you looking forward to reading Radiance, don’t worry, we haven’t skipped it for good!)

Here’s a revised Book Club schedule for 2017. As always, it’s subject to change, and as always, if you have any suggestions, be sure to let me know!

  • January: The Price of the Stars by Debra Doyle and James Macdonald
  • February: Starpilot’s Grave by Debra Doyle and James Macdonald
  • March: By Honor Betray’d by Debra Doyle and James Macdonald
  • April: Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor
  • May: Radiance by Catherynne Valente
  • June: The Stars are Legion by Kameron Hurley
  • July: Archivist Wasp by Nicole Kornher-Stace 
  • August: Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen
  • September: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
  • October: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
  • November: Ash by Malinda Lo
  • December: Barbary Station by R.E. Stearns (releases December 5)

If you haven’t joined the Book Club yet, be sure to do so on Goodreads! You’ll have to request membership before it’s approved.

Rebels Review: Ghosts of Geonosis Parts 1 and 2

Rebels returned from its mid-season hiatus this week and didn’t waste any time in making connections to Rogue One. Even before seeing the film, we all wondered what (if any) references to Rebels would be in Rogue One, or if any Rogue One characters would make an appearance on the show. After Rogue One’s release, many fans wondered if Rebels would feature the formation of the Rebel Alliance proper or Saw Gerrera’s break with the Alliance leadership.

The answer to both those questions, as evidenced by the mid-season trailer and this week’s episode, the two part Ghosts of Geonosis, is yes. While I didn’t love these episodes, I really appreciate the way Rebels and Rogue One seem to be trying in together to create a unified storyline leading up to the events of A New Hope that we all know by heart.

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Rebels Review: Iron Squadron

Last time I reviewed Rebels, it was for a Maul episode. This time it’s an episode with a group of ragtag kids out to fight the Empire. Even with the inclusion of Thrawn in this episode, I feel it’s again way out of my wheelhouse. Despite the fact this episode left me saying “meh” when it was over, there were a lot of cool bits of backstory and plot elements I hope return in later episodes.

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Review: Ahsoka by E.K. Johnston

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Bria: Ever since Ahsoka Tano showed up as Fulcrum on Star Wars Rebels, fans have wanted to know what she’s been up to since she left the Jedi Order.  Thanks to a brand new young adult novel by E.K. Johnston, we finally get our answer.  Well, some of it.  Ahsoka picks up a year after Order 66 with the former Jedi in hiding on a backwater planet but always on alert for the Empire.  

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Rebels Review: Holocrons of Fate

rebels logoLast week Rebels came back with a vengeance, aka the canon reintroduction of Grand Admiral Thrawn. This week the threat took on a decidedly more dark side tone in the form of Maul. Last time we saw him, he was escaping Malachor. Now he’s back and on the hunt for Kanan and Ezra, but mostly the Sith holocron. He takes the Ghost crew captive in order to persuade Kanan and Ezra to give him not just the Sith holocron, but Kanan’s Jedi holocron as well. Apparently, combining the two will provide seeeekrits. After a “fun” quest in which Kanan and Ezra have to learn to work together again in order to reclaim the Sith holocron from Bendu, they rendezvous with Maul, combine the holocrons, and all hell breaks loose.

Let’s talk about those secrets, shall we? This episode gives us Bendu’s awesome line from the Season 3 trailer: “Once a secret is known, it cannot be unknown.” In this case, both Maul and Ezra want the Sith holocron because they want to learn the key to destroying the Sith, but for very different reasons. Maul wants revenge. Ezra wants to protect his found family. (He seems to be making a turn away from the dark side already, which I’m kind of disappointed about. I hope we see more of him using the holocron.) They both see different things: Ezra sees planets, and then exclaims “twin suns”; Maul escapes the base muttering over and over, “he lives!”

I didn’t think I’d have many feelings about this episode. I wasn’t a big fan of the way The Clone Wars treated Force mysticism, although I’m glad to say I like Rebels’ take a lot more. The character of Bendu, delightfully voiced by Tom Baker, made what could have been an eye-rolling episode a lot more palatable. I like when the Force is a mystery, a riddle, a puzzle, and it definitely is that way with Bendu around. I also liked that this episode continued to explore the repercussions of what happened on Malachor, both with simple things like Ezra explaining to Kanan what he’s seeing and more complicated matters like the two of them learning to work together again. Not only that, but Maul is free and continuing his mission to wreak havoc in the galaxy.

But the real meat of the episode comes at the end, in which a shrug-worthy story (for me) becomes Super Important. Ezra sees twin suns, but doesn’t understand what it means. We all know, of course: the key to destroying the Sith is safely hidden on Tatooine in the form of Luke Skywalker. It seems like Maul’s vision was a lot more specific, because his exclamation of “he lives” can really only refer to one person: his old nemesis, Obi-Wan Kenobi.

I admit, I’m excited for the implications. While I never read “Old Wounds,” I love the idea of that story. And if they had to bring back Maul (grumble mutter forever about how I like his story arc in TCW and Rebels, I just wish Lucas hadn’t CUT HIM IN HALF specifically so he couldn’t come back in the future, but then he changed his mind and we still don’t know how Maul survived a bisection, but I digress), the least they could do is give us one final Obi-Wan and Maul showdown on Tatooine.

Of course, there is one other option. Maul wants to destroy the Sith. The holocron showed him Obi-Wan, who has defeated a Sith in combat. Instead of wanting revenge on Obi-Wan, what if Maul goes to him with a proposal: help me destroy Vader and the Emperor, and I won’t kill you.

Obi-Wan, of course, is not stupid. Unlike Ezra, he wouldn’t take Maul’s word at face value. He knows Maul cannot be trusted. Once Obi-Wan refuses Maul’s offer, knowing he has to stay on Tatooine to protect Luke, then Maul’s vengeance would take over and we might see a that final showdown.

Or I could be wrong about all this and Rebels takes the straightforward revenge route from the beginning. Or perhaps we won’t see this story in Rebels at all because this show is about the Ghost crew.  Could we get a Maul/Obi-Wan rematch in a book? Or, dare we hope…a standalone movie? When it comes down to it, the only way I’ll forgive Robo-Maul is if that arcs ends with a rematch.

Whatever happens, Rebels continues to deliver solid storytelling. I just hope this particular ball isn’t dropped.

GIVEAWAY! The Thrawn Trilogy Paperbacks

Are you a Legends fan? Are you hoping to see more characters than Thrawn brought into the new canon? Want to win a copy of the new Thrawn Trilogy paperback release?

You’re in luck! We have two copies of the Thrawn Trilogy to give away to listeners. We’d like one copy to go to a longtime Legends fan, and one to go to a fan who’s new to the books.

For the first: Comment on this blog post with a Zahn character you’d love to see brought into canon. It can be in a new book, comic, on Rebels, a movie–whatever works best. Then, tell us how you’d incorporate that character and what storyline they’d be a part of. If you feel so inclined to write us fanfiction, we will not object!

For the second: Comment on this blog post and tell us why you’re interested in reading the Thrawn Trilogy. What intrigues you most about Legends? Is there a character you’ve been wanting to learn more about? Are you just now starting to read Star Wars books, period? Inquiring minds want to know!

Good luck! This contest will be open through Monday, September 26. Winners will be announced on our next episode.

US residents only, please. Thank you to Del Rey for providing us with copies of the books!

To defeat an enemy, you must know them: Enter the ThrawnCast

A few months ago, I had an idea for a new podcast in which I (and a few of my friends) would read through the Thrawn Trilogy by Timothy Zahn. I was inspired by Rogue Podron, the show on the Far Far Away Radio network that’s reading through all the X-wing novels. (Check them out if you haven’t; it’s a great show.) It’s no secret I love the Thrawn Trilogy. They’re some of my favorite books of all time. I wanted to read them again, and I wanted to share them with my fellow Star Wars fans.

Then Celebration London happened, and as previously rumored, the Rebels Season 3 trailer introduced Grand Admiral Thrawn as the show’s new villain. Not only that, but it was announced that TImothy Zahn was already working on a new book, Thrawn, to be released in April. The stars were aligning, the signs were clear: it was time to start this podcast.

Thus the ThrawnCast was born.

Over the next several months, we’ll be reading through the Thrawn Trilogy – Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising, and The Last Command – and ending just in time for Thrawn‘s release. Along the way we’ll compare and contrast Legends and the new canon, discuss the history of the Legends timeline, and the legacy of Grand Admiral Thrawn as a character. And of course we’ll discuss his appearances on Rebels.

I’ll be joined by four hosts on this journey: Brian, Matthew, Amanda, and Tyler. Some of us have revisited this trilogy recently, some haven’t read it in years, and one of us is a complete newbie! It’s going to be a great ride, and I hope you’ll join us. We’ll be recording our introductory episode on August 29, and regular episodes will begin the week of September 12.

thrawncast schedule to post

Catch the Tosche Station crew at Dragon Con!

As per usual, Brian, Nanci, and Bria will be attending Dragon Con next week in Atlanta. You’ll be able to catch them moderating and participating in several panels.

Brian: 

  • Post Force Awakens Scandals and Cliffhangers, Friday @ 11:30 am, Marriott A706
  • Star Wars’ Force Awakening & New Canon, Saturday @ 2:30 pm, Marriott A706
  • Star Wars in Gaming, Saturday @ 4 pm, Westin Augusta 1-2
  • Representation Matters (Minorities in Star Wars), Saturday @ 5:30 pm, Marriott A706
  • Anything You Can Do: Genderswap and Inclusion in Military Sci Fi, Sunday @ 1 pm, Mart2 204B
  • The Music of Star Wars, Monday at 1 pm, Marriott A706

Nanci: 

  • Post Force Awakens Scandals and Cliffhangers, Friday @ 11:30 am, Marriott A706
  • Star Wars Rogue One and Episode VIII Speculation, Friday @ 2:30 pm, Hilton Crystal Ballroom
  • Star Wars Rebels, Friday @ 5:30 pm, Marriott A706
  • Star Wars’ Force Awakening & New Canon, Saturday @ 2:30 pm, Marriott A706

Bria: 

  • Star Wars Costuming, Friday @ 4 pm, Marriott A706
  • Star Wars Rebels, Friday @ 5:30 pm, Marriott A706
  • New Star Wars Characters We Already Love, Sunday @ 10 am, Marriott A706

We’ll be recording most of these panels, so check the Tosche Station feed over the weekend! And as always, if you’re at Dragon Con be sure to say hi if you see us! We love chatting with fellow Star Wars fans!

Why Thrawn Needs to be in Rebels

thrawnIf you ask people who the most well-known Legends character is, you’ll probably get one of a few common answers: Mara Jade, Revan, Starkiller, Jacen or Jaina Solo. Probably the most well-known antagonist (if not the best antagonist) from the Legends universe is Grand Admiral Thrawn, aka Mitth’raw’nuruodo, created by Timothy Zahn for the first post-Return of the Jedi novel Heir to the Empire. Thrawn did not survive his eponymous trilogy, but his legacy lived on in other novels and games. Perhaps it’s because he was one of the first breakout Legends characters, perhaps it’s because he wasn’t a Force user, perhaps it’s because of his similarities to Sherlock Holmes — whatever the reason, Thrawn struck a chord with many readers. Even though he’s now a “Legend,” the Thrawn trilogy is still considered some of the best in the Expanded Universe. And many people have asked to see him make the jump to the new canon.

Spoilers for Aftermath: Life Debt under the cut.

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