Go/No-Go: Guardians of the Whills

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: 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

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 

Go/No-Go: Ahsoka

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: Ahsoka.  Lucasfilm Press has been killing it with their middle grade/Young Adult novels and there’s definitely a lot of anticipation for this particular book.  How does E.K. Johnston handle the crazy task of filling in the blanks about such a beloved character?  To mission control for the verdict!

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Go/No-Go: Life Debt

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: Life Debt.  The second in our first post-Return of the Jedi trilogy, it’s a book that’s certain to get a lot of chatter over the next few months.  We here at Tosche Station all rather enjoyed Chuck Wendig’s first Aftermath book but how do we feel about the second?  To mission control for the verdict!

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Go/No-Go: Bloodline

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: Bloodline by Claudia Gray. It’s not only our first look at the years before The Force Awakens but also the political Leia book we’ve been clamoring for for years. But how did it go over with us? To mission control for the verdict!

Bria: Bloodline is the book that I’ve wanted desperately for years. As the resident political nerd and lover of all things Alderaan/Organa/Leia, this book sounded like it was going to be right in my wheel house. Spoiler Alert: It was. This is a book that literally begins with the New Republic having a dedication ceremony for a statue of Bail Organa and it only keeps getting better. Bloodline is the emotional love child of Razor’s Edge, The Force Awakens, and Kenobi and if you don’t think that’s a good thing, I don’t know what to tell you. Claudia Gray writes a pitch perfect Leia who feels like the logical progression of a character we last “saw” 20+ years ago. This Leia has decades of politics and rebelling under her belt but neither is she quite yet the Resistance General Organa that we saw in Episode VII. Everything is just perfect. Gray does an incredible job with fleshing out the galaxy in the years before The Force Awakens and answers some of our questions without making it feel like a checklist. The supporting cast is also fantastically written and I promise that you’ll never look at Korr Sella in those few moments on Hosnian Prime the same way again. However, the two standouts are most definitely Greer Sonnel and Ransolm Casterfo. Greer’s a former racing pilot turned Leia’s Chief of Staff and Ransolm is a Senator from the opposite party who also likes to collect Imperial artifacts. Both could have easily been archetypes but Gray does oh so much more with them that I can’t really go into without spoilers. And then there’s the Organa stuff. THE ORGANA STUFF. Bloodline gets one of the strongest GO recommendations from me in a very long time and I will definitely #VoteLeia for First Senator.

Nanci: Two days after finishing this book and I can’t stop thinking about it, which you know is the mark of a good book. There’s a few things I disliked — mainly the glossing over of certain scenes I really wanted to read — but mostly Bloodline left me wanting more in a really good way. For those of you worried that a political book would be boring, you have nothing to fear. Yes, it’s political, but it’s also fast-paced, easy to understand, and does a great job setting the stage for The Force Awakens. And then there’s the characters. Oh, the characters. There’s been so much good Leia stuff lately (Moving Target, Princess Leia), and Bloodline is definitely the pinnacle of that. Leia is the star of this book and unlike a lot of Legends content we’re not focusing on her marriage or her family. We’re focusing on her job as senator and how her family history plays into that. However, the character who surprised me the most in this book is without a doubt Ransolm Casterfo. I was shocked at how much I liked him. At times, his story moved me to tears. In general, this novel both had me turning pages but also dreading what would happen next. While I loved Aftermath (Sinjir is still my favorite character of the new canon), Bloodline gets the crown of best novel in the new canon so far. Definitely GO buy it.

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

Go/No-Go: Battlefront: Twilight Company

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: Battlefront: Twilight Company by Alexander Freed. Not only is it a tie-in to the game that can stand on its own but it’s the new canon’s first real foray into serious military science fiction. But how did it go over with us? To mission control for the verdict!

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Go/No-Go – Star Wars Rebels: Servants of the Empire book series

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: the Star Wars Rebels: Servants of the Empire book series by Jason C. Fry. This four-book tie-in to Star Wars Rebels is made up of Edge of the Galaxy, Rebel in the Ranks, Imperial Justice, and The Secret Academy, each of which Nanci has discussed individually. But now that the last book is out, how do we feel about the series as a whole? To mission control for the verdict! Continue reading

Go/No-Go: Rise of the Empire

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: Rise of the Empire.  It’s a unique book we’re looking at today as its a compilation of A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller, Tarkin by James Luceno, and three brand new short stories by Miller, Melissa Scott, and Jason Fry to link them all together.  We’ve reviewed both books in the past but is this compilation worth your money? To mission control for the verdict!

Bria: First things first, this book is huge.  It’s about the size of Game of Thrones for reference but it’s absolutely worth every page.  One of the complaints I’ve seen about the new canon is that nothing really links together.  The three short stories in this book should remove that complaint as one could easily sit down and read Lords of the Sith, the entirety of Rise of the Empire, and then Aftermath and it would flow awesomely.  Can we discuss how rad it is that Rae Sloane has become the cohesive glue that ties together to many of these stories in addition to being a kickass character?  Reading about her at the Battle of Endor was just spectacular.  Melissa Scott does a great job of writing a younger Hera who’s not quite the confident rebel we know from A New Dawn and Rebels but definitely shows her leadership potential and doesn’t forget about her amazing pilot skills.  I even found John Jackson Miller’s story about Tarkin and Vidian to be delightful in its own way.  It’s like watching a chess match between two very confident chess masters from different schools of strategy.  The book is absolutely a must buy if you haven’t picked up one of the two novels yet but is it worth it if you already have? I say yes. Not only its it a nicely put together compilation but the three short stories are just so fun. It’s a strong GO from me.

Nanci: Disclaimer: I have not read Tarkin, nor do I have any plans of doing so soon. (There are way too many other books I haven’t read yet before I play catch up.) A New Dawn is excellent, though, enough to warrant picking up this bind-up if you don’t already have a copy. The short stories, though, are what make this book worth the price of admission. “Mercy Mission” by Melissa Scott ties more into Lords of the Sith (another book I haven’t read, oops), than either of the novels in this bind-up, but it features a young Hera learning the importance of working for the good of the galaxy. You can definitely see how she becomes the young revolutionary we see in A New Dawn and the awesome pilot we see in Rebels. “Bottleneck,” by John Jackson Miller, features characters from both novels forced to work together against their will. Miller does a great job with both Tarkin and Vidian; I found I liked the latter character a lot more in this story than I did in A New Dawn. (Also, the cameo from another A New Dawn character made me very happy.) Last but not least, “The Levers of Power” by Jason Fry makes this book an insta-buy. Rae Sloane at the Battle of Endor is everything you ever expected: bad-ass, in charge, and taking no shit from anybody. Definitely GO and get it, now.

Brian: Right from the start, let me say that if you don’t have either A New Dawn or Tarkin in your library, you should pick up this compilation. That said, I imagine most folks who are reading this review are far more interested in the all-new short stories that are appearing in the book. Mercy Mission is a solid look into a much younger Hera. While there were points where it felt like an incomplete short story that was taken from a larger work, it was still an engaging read. Bottleneck, however, was classic John Jackson Miller. It’s really the Tarkin and Vidian buddy cop story you never knew you needed in your life. The real winner though, and the reason this book is worth every penny, is Levers of Power. I’ve made no secret that I think that Jason Fry is one of the best talents creating Star Wars literature these days. Now, combine that with one of the greatest characters to appear in the new literature canon in Rae Sloane. This is an incredible short story, and it’s one you’re definitely going to want to read. The book would get a go from me just for that, but when everything else is factored in it’s a huge GO.

Flight Director’s Verdict: Rise of the Empire is GO for launch!

Go/No-Go: Aftermath

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.  It’s our first book set after Episode VI in the new canon and is the tentpole of the Journey to the Force Awakens. No, it’s not Heir to the Empire, but the start of something entirely new. Is it worth your time? Does it live up to the hype? Should we stick to Legends instead? To mission control for the verdict!

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Go/No-Go: Under the Empyrean Sky

nasa-mission-control-3I was super excited earlier this month to learn Chuck Wendig would be writing the entire Aftermath trilogy, and I hadn’t even read any of this books yet. Chuck is a delight on Twitter, and his blog is super informative for writers and always full of interesting stories and commentary on current events. I grew even more excited after reading the Aftermath excerpt. His prose seemed tight and catchy, and the present tense singled it out from all the other Expanded Universe books.

I wanted to check out some of Chuck’s fiction, to get a better sense of what he’d be bringing to the Star Wars Universe. The first two books of his young adult series were recently on sale, in anticipation of the release of Book Three. And since Chuck himself has suggested that series for people wanting to see how he’d handle Star Wars, that series became the logical choice.

Brian and I both finished the first book and are onto the second. What did we think? Our opinions after the break!

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