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: 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
I don’t want it to end.
That’s the thought that kept running through my mind while finishing the last few chapters of The Secret Academy, Jason Fry’s awesome conclusion to the Servants of the Empire series. I’ve talked enough about how great the series is, and how Fry is absolutely incredible at portraying serious concepts like rebellion and totalitarianism for young readers without dumbing them down. After his stellar entries to the Journey to the Force Awakens line, I knew Fry wouldn’t disappoint with the finale to the series. But I still wasn’t happy to see Zare and Merei go.
Once upon a time, there was a girl named Nanci.
When Nanci was 11 years old, she saw Star Wars for the first time. And promptly fell in love with Luke Skywalker. She loved everything about him: his farm boy earnestness, his hot-shot piloting, his skills with a lightsaber. She loved that he was brash and courageous and kind and loyal and optimistic even in the face of certain death. She loved everything about him — yes, even the “Tosche Station” line.
(Yes, she did choose the name for this podcast and blog.)
People told her that one day, she’d grow up and stop loving Luke so much. That Luke was a character for kids to look up to, while Han is the character adults loved.
That never happened. Nanci stayed firmly on “Team Luke” despite all arguments to the contrary. (His relationship with Mara Jade helped solidify her lifelong devotion.)
But even so, things started going sour.
The Expanded Universe lost its luster. Luke stopped being the character Nanci believed him to be. Even amazing one-offs, like Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor, weren’t enough to make Nanci happy.
She still loved Luke, even if he’d lost his way in the Expanded Universe.
Then the reboot happened.
(Spoilers for the book and some rumors about TFA under the cut.)
First, blurbs for the three new short stories in the Rise of the Empire novel bundle have been released.
MERCY MISSION by Melissa Scott
Years before she led the crew of the Ghost, Hera Syndulla was a young pilot looking to make a difference in the galaxy. Hera sets out with Goll — a close ally of her father, Cham Syndulla — on a dangerous mission to help the citizens of her homeworld, Ryloth, now languishing under the might of the Empire.
BOTTLENECK by John Jackson Miller
When Grand Moff Tarkin is tasked by Emperor Palpatine to investigate a dispute slowing Imperial production on a backwater planet, he expects an easy mission. Instead, Tarkin must forge a tense alliance with Count Vidian, the Empire’s newest rising star and a most capable rival. Matching wits and risking betrayal at every turn, the two powerful Imperials duel to gain the upper hand…and elude, at all costs, the price of failure.
THE LEVERS OF POWER by Jason Fry
As Imperial and Rebel forces clash on and above the Forest Moon of Endor, Admiral Rae Sloane commands from the bridge of the Star Destroyer Vigilance. At a time where the stakes could not be higher, Sloane works to protect the Death Star and ensure Imperial victory, all too aware of the uncertain future for the Empire that may lie in the aftermath of the battle.
Young Hera? When Tarkin Met Vidian? ADMIRAL RAE SLOANE AT THE BATTLE OF ENDOR? Sign me up!
Second, Random House released a blurb for Battlefront: Twilight Company, the upcoming video game tie-in from Alexander Freed.
Among the stars and across the vast expanses of space, the Galactic Civil War rages. On the battlefields of multiple worlds in the Mid Rim, legions of ruthless stormtroopers—bent on crushing resistance to the Empire wherever it arises—are waging close and brutal combat against an armada of freedom fighters. In the streets and alleys of ravaged cities, the front-line forces of the Rebel Alliance are taking the fight to the enemy, pushing deeper into Imperial territory and grappling with the savage flesh-and-blood realities of war on the ground.
Leading the charge are the soldiers—men and women, human and nonhuman—of the sixty-first mobile infantry, better known as Twilight Company. Hard-bitten, war-weary, and ferociously loyal to one another, the members of this renegade outfit doggedly survive where others perish, and defiance is their most powerful weapon against the deadliest odds. When orders come down for the Rebels to fall back in the face of superior opposition numbers and firepower, Twilight reluctantly complies. Then an unlikely ally radically changes the strategic equation—and gives the Alliance’s hardest-fighting warriors a crucial chance to turn retreat into resurgence.
Orders or not, alone and outgunned but unbowed, Twilight Company locks, loads, and prepares to make its boldest maneuver—trading down-and-dirty battle in the trenches for a game-changing strike at the ultimate target: the very heart of the Empire’s military machine.
Servants of the Empire: Imperial Justice, out July 7, is the third installment in the young reader tie-in series to Star Wars Rebels. The first book, Edge the Galaxy, introduced us to Zare Leonis, his sister Dhara, and soon-to-be girlfriend Merei Spanjak in the year before Zare entered the Imperial Academy on Lothal. Rebel in the Ranks picked up the story with Zare as a new Imperial cadet and followed him as he tried to learn the truth about what happened to his sister. In Imperial Justice, Zare has to contend with antagonistic fellow cadet and superior officer Roddance, who want to prove he’s a traitor. Meanwhile, Merei is in trouble of her own, working for a criminal boss on Lothal as payment for him helping her snoop into the Imperial network in Rebel in the Ranks. Not to mention, her security genius mother is the one assigned to investigate the breach.
During the first day of Celebration Anaheim, Brian and I were fortunate enough to run into author Jason Fry and he graciously allowed us to shove a microphone in his face. Unfortunately the recording quality was too poor to upload as its own podcast, but you can read a transcription of the interview under the cut. We chatted about Servants of the Empire and writing in the Star Wars universe, his original Jupiter Pirates series, and, of course, the new The Force Awakens teaser.
Note: This interview contains spoilers for the Servants of the Empire series.
Servants of the Empire: Rebel in the Ranks is the second installment in the young reader tie-in series to Star Wars Rebels. The first book, Edge of the Galaxy, introduced us to Zare Leonis, his sister Dhara, and soon-to-be girlfriend Merei Spanjak in the year before Zare entered the Imperial Academy on Lothal. Rebel in the Ranks picks up the story with Zare as a new Imperial cadet and follows him as he tries to learn the truth about what happened to his sister. Along the way he meets another cadet who has no love for the Empire.
There are many things to love about Jason Fry’s middle grade science fiction series, The Jupiter Pirates. The story is fast-paced, it takes place in an intriguing world, and it features space pirates! What’s not to love? If I have one complaint, it’s that I have to wait a year between books. *stomps foot angrily*
The first novel in the series, Hunt for the Hydra, came out last December and I took to the characters right away. The second installment, The Curse of the Iris, catches up with the Hashoone family two years later as they search for the long-last cache of a pirate spaceship called Iris.
Did I like the second book as much as the first? Read on to find out! (Spoilers: I totally did.)
Servants of the Empire: Edge of the Galaxy is the first installment in a new young reader tie-in series to Star Wars Rebels. Told from the perspective of a teenage boy named Zare Leonis, it chronicles his final year in AppSci school before following his sister Dhara to the Imperial Academy on Lothal.
Jason Fry is no stranger to writing Star Wars, and he does a great job with Zare’s character arc. Zare starts out the story a teenage boy whose only concerns are succeeding in grav-ball and proving himself to be just as good as his sister, but due to the year’s events he starts to question the Empire he’d basically been born to serve. It gives a good insight into what causes some people to want to rebel against the Empire, and why others would be more resistant to speaking out. Despite it being set in a different universe, it’s a very relatable issue. Do you do what you feel is right and in the process risk your life and the lives of your loved ones, or do you keep quiet about wrongdoings and not cause any trouble? It’s easy to say what you’d do in that situation until you’re actually in it. And Zare’s problems start small, from issues with a school administrator, but eventually become much larger than he could ever imagine.
One thing I found interesting is that the Imperial Academy was actually located on Lothal, and not on a more populated world. I always had the impression from A New Hope that there was just one Academy, but upon reflection I realize that would be unrealistic in a universe as big as Star Wars. It makes me wonder which Academy Biggs attended, and which one Luke would have gone to.
Edge of the Empire has great little nods to the Legends EU, including mentions of caf, hot chocolate, and use of the swear words stang and kriffing. I was also glad that Dhara mentioned women going through stormtrooper training at the Academy. Fry also invents a new sport called grav-ball, which is a combination of soccer, football, basketball, and Quidditch (the sport in Harry Potter, for all you Muggles out there). I’m not a huge sports fan, but those scenes were well-written and tied into the plot and Zare’s character arc very well.
If you’re a fan of Rebels, definitely pick this up. Don’t be put off that its meant for younger audiences. It’s a fun, fast read and does a great job at depicting everyday life in the Galaxy Far, Far Away. And, as I’m sure was the intention, I’m now really looking forward the Academy episodes of Rebels–not to mention the future installments in the Servants of the Empire series. This book gets a GO from me.
It’s hard to write a review of Jason C. Fry’s The Jupiter Pirates that isn’t just me saying “It’s really fun! Go read it!” But that’s the truth. It’s really fun. You should go read it.
In case you’re not willing to blindly follow my recommendations (and why not?), allow me to describe the book a bit more.