ThrawnCast 4.1: The Next Day …

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We’re back! Amanda, Matthew, and Sho have returned with your favorite Expanded Universe book club! This week we’re looking at the first four chapters of Kathy Tyers’ The Truce at Bakura, the first Star Wars novel published following Timothy Zahn’s The Last Command and billed as taking place literally the day after Return of the Jedi.

Music by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Song: “Rynos Theme”
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

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The Thrawn Trilogy Retrospective: Introduction

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Timothy Zahn and I at Hollywood Studios, during his Heir to the Empire: 20th Anniversary Edition tour.

I first saw Star Wars in the summer of 1992, when I was 11. (You do the math.) My dad discovered that I hadn’t seen any of the movies and decided to rectify that tragedy. We rented Star Wars (which I later learned was called Episode IV: A New Hope) and the tape broke in the middle of the trash compactor scene. That was an even bigger tragedy than having never seen the Original Trilogy. Thankfully my dad assured me that everything turned out okay, and I saw the rest of the trilogy as soon as possible.

But that’s not when I became a true Star Wars fan. I became a fan when I discovered Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn.

For people around my age, it’s not an uncommon story. We became fans at just the right time, when the Expanded Universe was started in earnest; or we were fans from an early age and the EU revitalized our interest. I often say that I became a fan because of Luke Skywalker and stayed for Mara Jade, and it’s not an overstatement. If there weren’t Expanded Universe books for me to dive into, I doubt I’d be the fan I am today. It’s even doubtful that Star Wars itself would be what it is today.

And now Heir to the Empire, and all the books that followed, have been deemed Legends. I’m okay with this for the most part, but sometimes I get sad. Sad because I’m not sure if I’ll ever read about characters I’ve become so attached to again, sad because I’ll never know the end to certain stories, sad because a huge part of what made me a fan has come to a close.

What’s the best way to stave off melancholy and indulge in nostalgia for summer days reading your dad’s copy of Heir to the Empire and falling in love with a saga all over again? Why a Thrawn Trilogy retrospective, of course!

And here we begin. I’ll be reading the entire series–Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising,  and The Last Command–and recapping it for your enjoyment. I’ll be discussing the characters, plot, setting, and the impact on the Star Wars saga as a whole. And in a way I’ll be saying farewell — but not good-bye — because the books will always hold a special place in my heart.

I hope you enjoy the retrospective just as much as I do.

New Clone Wars Story Reels Online Now!

tcw_s5logo_smHere’s your Clone Wars news, folks. The official site has posted a video for The Clone Wars Legacy, discussing continuing the story of the series through Marvel comics, Del Rey novels, and story reels on the Official Site. Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir is discussed, along with Dark Disciple, the new novel featuring Asajj Ventress and Quinlan Vos and written by Christie Golden.

And while it’s not new episodes per se, story reels for the Crystal Crisis on Utapau arc, featuring Matt Lanter and James Arnold Taylor and discussing Ahsoka’s departure from the Jedi Order (and a KYBER CRYSTAL), are now available! Dark Disciple will be available Summer 2015. And from what the video says, it seems like more stories are to come.

John Jackson Miller wins Scribe Award for Kenobi

KenobiCoverStar Wars Books announced on their Facebook page today that John Jackson Miller won a Scribe Award this weekend for Kenobi.  The Scribe Awards are hosted by the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers.  Novels for franchises like Star Wars often are often no longer considered serious contenders for Hugo or Nebula awards, no matter how excellent they may be.

Tosche Station has plenty of coverage of Kenobi, including a podcast with John Jackson Miller as our special guest, so be sure to check out all of our posts with the Kenobi tag.

We’ll Always Have Coruscant

It happened. The news broke today that the existing Expanded Universe would be shifted into a ‘Legends’ label and all books from here on out would be a part of the new overarching cohesive canon.  I think it’s fair to say that we all know the fandom went a little crazy from the news even though, to be honest, it wasn’t entirely unexpected.

Let’s get a few things out of the way first. One, no one should take this as an opportunity to gloat. That’s tacky and tasteless and if you do so, you are a disservice to the fandom. Two, no one will ever be able to take these books from you nor the chance for you to introduce people to your favorites. Del Rey will continue to publish them under this new Legends banner. Three, suggesting that those involved in the decision hate the Expanded Universe is just false and I invite you to watch the video they put together if you think they do.

This moment was coming, folks. We’ve all been talking about the probability of it for almost as long as we’ve known about the Sequel Trilogy. And to be honest, I think that those of us who have been quietly mentally preparing for it are handling the news a little better than those who didn’t.  I’d also like to take the time to note there that I am not immune to the completely losing my mind just a little and spinning around as a whirlwind of questions about just what all of this means in the long run go through my mind.  So apologies if anything in this piece seems rambling or a bit poorly phrased at times.

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Review: Honor Among Thieves (Spoiler Free)

honor-among-theves-500x760Grab your hat and hold on to your swears because Star Wars: Empire and Rebellion: Honor Among Thieves is out today!  Written by the author duo James S. A. Corey, Honor Among Thieves turns the spotlight on Han Solo and Chewbacca as Princess Leia sends them on mission only a pair of scoundrels like them can successfully pull off.

Set before the previous Empire and Rebellion novel, Honor Among Thieves opens with Leia asking Han to go into the middle of Imperial space and retrieve one of their field agents.  Scarlet Hark is a professional though so this should be a relatively simple mission.  Too bad the bounty on Han’s head is about to catch up with him, adding in a slight complication.  Oh.  And not to mention that Scarlet doesn’t actually want to be retrieved quite yet.  An Imperial astrocartographer is rumored to have made a discovery that could put him towards the top of the Emperor’s list of favorites and Scarlet wants to get her hands on it first with Han’s help.  Nothing ever seems to stay simple for long when it comes to missions for the Republic.

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Review: Maul: Lockdown

MaulLockdownCoverIt’s a dark side sort of day with the first Expanded Universe book release of 2014.  Out today is Maul: Lockdown by Joe Schreiber. What happens when you send one of the most dangerous beings in galaxy on a do-or-die mission?  A heck of a lot of carnage for starters.

Cog Hive Seven has a new inmate: Darth Maul.  Sent by his Master Darth Sidious to infiltrate the prison and find the elusive Iram Radique, a legendary arms dealer.  What might seem like a simple task is layered in complications.  No one’s actually seen Radique and lived to tell the tale.  Some think he’s just an urban legend.  On top of his mission, Maul must survive the nightly fights to the death organized by the warden and the gamblers across the galaxy want to see their newest champion fight.

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One Woman’s Expanded Universe Wish List for 2014

All I want for Christmas is… more Star Wars book announcements!  Now before you say anything, I know.  I know and I understand why they haven’t been able to give us any news about future books in the Expanded Universe.  It is not Del Rey’s fault that they cannot tell us more.  Several projects like the Paul Kemp duology and the Sword of the Jedi trilogy seem to be in book limbo so while we miiiiiiight see those in 2014, I’m not going to hold my breath for them even though I’d love to see them finally be published.  Instead, I’ll use that breath to give you my thoughts on eight different books that I’d like to see Del Rey possibly announce as new projects.  Yes, some of these are definitely pipe dreams.  But hey!  It’s always fun to speculate wildly and close your eyes and wish really hard.

So without further ado and in no particular order, eight ideas that could take place in the already established timeline:

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2013 in the Star Wars Expanded Universe

It’s the vogue thing to do right now so I couldn’t help but sit down and take a retrospective look at this year’s Expanded Universe books and then rank them in my order of preference. (Because hey!  All the cool kids are doing it!)

Overall, 2013 was a solidly enjoyable year for Expanded Universe releases.  After all, what else could it be when we literally started 2013 with Scoundrels?  I can promise you that I paid no attention to the ball dropping in Time’s Square and was instead impatiently waiting for Scoundrels to finish downloading to my Nook instead.  As those who followed the Waru Express are probably well aware, I’ve had my fair share of problems with a number of the Expanded Universe releases in the past five years or so.  2013 has, for the most part, been a giant breath of fresh air.

We’ll start with my basic rankings and then I’ll go a bit more into detail because this list is going to look deceptive.  My reviews for each of these books are linked.

  1. Kenobi
  2. Razor’s Edge
  3. Scoundrels
  4. Into the Void
  5. The Last Jedi
  6. Crucible

That’s the simplified version of the rankings.  If you really want a better sense of how I felt about these books, it’ll look something more like this.

  1. Kenobi
  2. Razor’s Edge OR Scoundrels
  3. Into the Void.

9. The Last Jedi

87. Crucible

Let’s start with the good. (And a few spoilers that will be said in passing.)

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A Unapologetic Love Letter To The Young Jedi Knights Books

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Sometimes, there are books that you classify as a guilty pleasure and sometimes there are books that you find yourself apologizing for every time you say that you enjoy them.  In the past, the Star Wars: Young Jedi Knights books have fallen into this category for me.  For those unaware: it’s a series of 14 young adult books by Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta that focus on the Solo twins and their friends Tenel Ka and Lowbacca during their first few years at the Jedi Academy on Yavin 4.

From here on out, there won’t be any more apologies for liking these books.  Despite clearly being written for the younger crowd, they are entertaining reads with fun plot lines and great characters.  Most importantly though, they are some of the best gateways for younger fans to ease into the Expanded Universe and discover a whole new galaxy.  And years later? they still have plenty of fans who look back fondly at the books.  Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why they’re still some of the well-creased and beloved novels on some people’s shelves.

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