What are the ethics involved in humanizing the Empire? Does Star Wars need to be a more nuanced universe, or are the black-and-white morals of the original and prequel trilogies preferable? And is now the right moment for that nuance? These were the questions that plagued me as I listened to the latest Star Wars novel: Christie Golden’s Battlefront II tie-in, Inferno Squad.
Season 4 of the ThrawnCast continues! This week Amanda, Matthew, and Sho continue their discussion of Kathy Tyers’s The Truce at Bakura. Why is Leia so out-of-character in these chapters? Who has a bigger Force Crush, Luke or Dev? And when, oh when, will authors stop comparing people’s features to food? We’re covering chapters 5-8 this episode, so strap in and hit play!
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Forget hope. Forget the dream. Forget the Rebellion. Sign me up for the Empire because Inferno Squad has made a true believer out of me. (Okay so maybe I’m still really hurt by everything that happened to Alderaan BUT BESIDES THAT. THE EMPIRE.)
Listen. I understand that I’m coming into this as a biased reviewer. As many people know, I was 100% on board with this book as soon as I saw the cover at Celebration and I could not be more excited for Battlefront II. To top it off, I just spent six weeks working like crazy to build the first Iden Versio costume. So yes, I really wanted to love this book based just on the concept and my appreciation for a character we knew very little about. After reading Inferno Squad by Christie Golden, I can now assuredly say that I would follow Iden Versio into the fires of hell and back. No exaggeration. Continue reading →
Welcome 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: Battlefront II: Inferno Squad. It’s the prequel for the highly anticipated Battlefront II game and follows the members of Inferno Squad as their team is formed and through their first missions. But how do we feel about the book? To mission control for the verdict! Continue reading →
Beth Revis had a tough job in writing Rebel Rising, the YA novel chronicling the life of Jyn Erso prior to the main narrative of Rogue One. She not only needed to craft an engaging and exciting story, one that fit into the ever-widening new canon of the Star Wars universe, but she also needed to create a character arc for Jyn herself which both ended with Jyn being an angry, sullen, bitter person who wanted nothing to do with the Rebel Alliance (or, really, anyone or anything), but which at the same time was narratively satisfying. How do you craft a character arc that ends with the Jyn Erso we meet at the beginning of Rogue One and not have the entire thing feel like a let-down and a bummer, or like anything more than an extended prologue to the film? Can you even do such a thing?
If you’ve listened to the Thrawncast, you know that I’m a big fan both of the character Thrawn and of Timothy Zahn’s writing in general. It was like Christmas when it was announced that not only would Thrawn be coming to Rebels, but that Timothy Zahn would be returning to the world of Star Wars literature to write a new novel featuring everyone’s favorite Chiss.
It’s a year later now, and, here at Tosche Station, at least, we’ve all been pretty happy with Thrawn’s portrayal on-screen in Rebels. How, then, does Timothy Zahn’s new novel Thrawn hold up? Is the magic still there? Is Zahn’s re-introduction of Thrawn to the Star Wars canon awkward, or hindered by trying to fit him into existing continuity? And how does the audiobook — narrated by Mark Thompson, the same performer who recorded the first unabridged audiobooks of the original Thrawn trilogy — represent Zahn’s characters and story?Continue reading →
Greg Rucka has certainly been making his mark on the Star Wars canon. First was Smuggler’s Run, the Han Solo middle grade novel, then there was Shattered Empire, the first post Return of the Jedi comic, then Before the Awakening, which told background stories about The Force Awakens protagonists Rey, Finn, and Poe. Now comes another middle grade novel about Baze and Chirrut, my two favorite characters from Rogue One. I’ve enjoyed all of Rucka’s Star Wars stories, so I was super excited to see what he did with Guardians of the Whills. Did he live up to expectations?
A common criticism from those who don’t actually read young adult fiction is that the stories are too juvenile and won’t connect with an adult audience. Star Wars is currently hellbent on proving them wrong. In the latest young adult novel in a galaxy far, far away, Rebel Rising, readers learn more about Jyn Erso’s less than ideal life from when Saw retrieves her to when we meet her again in the prison on Wobani. Beth Revis does not mess around as she takes Jyn (and readers!) through the years on an often rough yet fulfilling journey.
One of the most important things to know about this book is that it can be fairly unrelenting when it comes showing what Jyn’s life was as a child and a teenager. In a way, that’s to be expected. Rogue One tells us that she was on her own since the age of fifteen after she saw her mother murdered by Krennic and was subsequently raised by a militant rebel. In other words, we knew that Jyn didn’t have an easy life but knowing something and really seeing something are two completely different creatures. Jyn certainly has moments of happiness throughout her life but doesn’t really have a happy life. It will be impossible to watch Rogue One and ever think of Jyn Erso the same way after reading Rebel Rising and that’s definitely a good thing as Star Wars literature continues to expand upon and truly elevate what we see on screen.
Where Revis soars is with her portrayal of Saw Gerrera. Admittedly, I was biased against him because of The Clone Wars and Rogue One didn’t do enough with him to sway my opinion. The author makes him a fully realized character that feels like the logical transition between when we last saw him on Onderon and when we later see him on Geonosis. Perhaps Revis is just hitting me in my very specific emotional weak spot of found/adopted family and gruff adopted fathers who really don’t know what they’re doing but are trying their best but she actually made me genuinely care about Saw. It wasn’t an easy task. He genuinely feels like a real human being now and clearly carries the weight of what happened to Steela with him every day even while continuing his unrelenting guerilla campaign against the Empire. We stay with Jyn’s point of view the entire book but Revis makes you want to occasionally detour with Saw and see more his fight against the Empire and his clashes with other rebels groups. It’s incredibly well done.
Revis also does a good job with her supporting cast, following up on some name drops from Alexander Freed’s Rogue One novelization. With a few exceptions, none of them quite live up to how fully realized both Jyn and Saw are but it’s a solid supporting cast nonetheless. If nothing else, it’s nice to see the supporting cast have noticeably more women present than in stories of old. Also worth noting is how seamlessly Revis handles the passage of time. Her Jyn immediately after Lah’mu feels noticeably younger than her Jyn who is now on her own but they still feel like the same character. All of this contributes to a very believable story.
Rebel Rising is another strong entry into the Star Wars canon and does a more than admirable job helping readers get to know both Jyn and Saw better. It is absolutely something that Star Wars fans should delve into when they have the chance.
Thank you to Disney/Lucasfilm Press for providing an advanced copy of the book for review purposes.
Welcome 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: Guardians of the Whills. Greg Rucka’s been consistently rocking it with his Star Wars contributions which means we had high hopes for this middle grade novel focused on Chirrut and Baze. Were those hopes met? To mission control for the verdict! Continue reading →
It’s likely that no book in the new canon thus far has been as highly anticipated as Thrawn. The announcement at Celebration London last year rocked both the ExCel Center and the Star Wars fandom watching around the world. Not only was Grand Admiral Thrawn making his return to canon but he’d also be starring in a book written by his creator, Timothy Zahn. In short… a beloved character written once more by a beloved author. What could go wrong? Continue reading →