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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-08-27 04:23
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
The Last Jedi (Star Wars) - Jason Fry

Movie/book spoilers abound. I’m kind of just disgorging rambling thoughts and impressions here.

 

On my scale of Star Wars New Canon Writers, Jason Fry rates a “Pretty Good” (it’s a very scientific scale – sorry for dazzling you with technical terms), and I think he did a pretty good job with this movie novelization. I enjoyed (most of) the movie even though I thought the pacing was kind of a mess and wished they could’ve found a better alternative to the whole Canto Bight sequence. The book unsurprisingly has the same problems, but nobody can blame Fry for that.

 

The timeline feels a bit shaky. Rey spends days on Ahch-To trying to get through to Luke. The space chase can’t have lasted much more than 12 hours from start to finish (the book states the Resistance Fleet will run out of fuel after 12-ish hours of flight time), but interspersing the space chase scenes with Ahch-To scenes makes the chase feel so much longer, even before the Canto Bight scenes are thrown in. It really screws with the sense of urgency and kills the tension extra dead in spots.

 

If you thought Poe was punchable in the movie, the book may have you howling for his blood. Seeing his thought process as he chooses to disobey direct orders, ignore chain of command, and incite a mutiny is a little on the excruciating side. A whole lot of people die unnecessarily in service to Poe’s character arc. Blargh.

 

Rose is still a damn delight, and Finn is a more interesting character when seen through her eyes, though I’m still not sure I buy her falling in love with him over the span of half a day.

 

I’m also still not sure if I buy Finn as the new Han Solo (and by that I mean his character arc is similar to Han’s, going from “this cause is stupid, all y’all gonna die” to “this cause is actually worth dying for, I’m all in” only in a fraction of the time). It . . . kind of works? I guess? He’s still figuring out who he is after a lifetime of First Order brainwashing, so I suppose I’ll forgive him a few super-abrupt swings in ideology.

 

All of the Rey and Kylo stuff was pretty good. The book offers a slightly deeper insight into each character, which helps explain motivations and reactions a bit better. Same with Luke. I loved these three in the movie, and I loved them in the book. (Well, I didn’t love love Kylo, but you know. I enjoyed his further descent into a whiny, entitled, evil man-baby with incredible Force powers.)

 

And lastly, in Pedantic Nitpicky Corner, I’m going to take a moment to complain about POV skews in third person close narratives. That first space battle above D’Qar is rife with POV skews, and I get wanting to show the chaos of battle and all that, but when you’re bouncing from character to character every paragraph or two with no sections breaks, at what point do you cross the line between daring but effective literary device and confusing, crappy writing?

 

I think I’m done rambling for now. If anyone needs me, I’ll be over here hoping against hope that Phasma isn’t dead and actually gets to DO something in Episode IX. I know, I know. *sigh*

 

Edit: I lied! One more thing! Luke's stupid alternate timeline dream in the prologue was a great way to set completely the wrong tone, so thanks to whoever thought that up. Thanks a lot.

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review 2018-08-17 16:19
Exploring the Star Wars Expanded Universe

 

 

Sequart is proud to announce the publication of A More Civilized Age: Exploring the Star Wars Expanded Universe, edited by Rich Handley and Joeseph F. Berenato.

 

Almost as soon as there were Star Wars films, there were Star Wars novels. Alan Dean Foster got the ball rolling, ghost-writing the first film’s adaptation for George Lucas, as well as penning a sequel, Splinter of the Mind’s Eye. Novels covering the exploits of Han Solo and Lando Calrissian soon followed, ushering in what would come to be called the Star WarsExpanded Universe. The EU, like the Force itself, has helped to bind the galaxy together.

More than 250 Star Wars novels have been published by Del Rey, Bantam Books, Ballantine Books, and other companies, aimed at both young and adult readers. Spanning the decades before, during, and after the films’ events, the books have spawned new galactic governments, explored the nature of the Jedi and the Sith, and developed the Star Warsmythos well beyond merely a series of films and television shows. The Expanded Universe — recently re-branded as “Legends” following Disney’s acquisition of the franchise — has grown exponentially, comprising not only the books but also comics, video games, radio shows, role-playing games, and more.

 

With A More Civilized Age: Exploring the Star Wars Expanded Universe, editors Rich Handley and Joseph F. Berenato continue their look back at the franchise’s highs and lows, which began with A Long Time Ago: Exploring the Star Wars Cinematic Universe and A Galaxy Far, Far Away: Exploring Star Wars Comics. This third volume offers insightful, analytical essays examining the Star Wars EU, contributed by popular film historians, novelists, bloggers, and subject-matter experts — including fan-favorite Star Wars novelists Timothy Zahn and Ryder Windham. The films were just the beginning. Find out how the universe expanded.

The book runs a massive 348 pages.

A More Civilized Age: Exploring the Star Wars Expanded Universe is available in print and on Kindle. (Just a reminder: you don’t need a Kindle device to read Kindle-formatted books; you can download a free Kindle reader for most computers, phones, and tablets.)

 

Find out more on the book’s official page or its Facebook page.

Reviewers may request a PDF of the book for review, and the book's editors are available for interviews. If interested, please send inquiries to sequart.mike@gmail.com

 

 

Amazon link:

 

https://www.amazon.com/More-Civilized-Age-Exploring-Expanded/dp/1940589177

 

 

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review 2018-08-16 09:01
Strategy Strikes Back
Strategy Strikes Back: How Star Wars Explains Modern Military Conflict - Max Brooks

[I received a copy of this book through Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.]

A collection of essays relating real-world strategies to examples from the ‘Star Wars’ franchise. As usual with this kind of book, some were good, and some not so good, and there were a few that didn’t do much for me, and/or seemed to repeat themselves (as well as be repeats of others). Still, I found it interesting, and a good starting point for more reading, since many of the essays don’t only rely on Star Wars, but also on actual strategy theories (Clausewitz, modern strategy-related articles, and so on).

Having only watched the movies, and not the animated Clone Wars series (and not having laid my hands on more than a couple of books from the former SW extended universe), I can’t speak for the accuracy (or not) of the essays discussing, well, other aspects of SW. From what I know, though, these essays are fairly accurate in their interpretation and depiction of the chosen excerpts from the movies.

Rating: 3.5 stars. Apart from the couple of points I made above (mostly the redundancy), I think it’s more interesting in terms of Star Wars than in-depth military strategy, and I’d have appreciated seeing more examples of real-world situations contrasted with the SW ones.

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review 2018-08-13 10:41
Star Wars: Ahsoka
Star Wars Ahsoka - E.K. Johnston

It was probably a coincidence, but at the same time, Ahsoka had been around long enough to know that coincidence and the Force rarely went together. There was always some sort of link.

 

When Lucas created the Force, did he know he’d be forcing countless future authors into lazy (if entertaining) writing? Force Ex Machina: the easiest way to get your characters from point A to point B. For example:

 

Ahsoka – “I’m going to hide on this tiny Outer Rim agricultural moon that couldn’t possibly be of immediate interest to the Empire.”

 

Empire – “We are immediately interested in this tiny Outer Rim agricultural moon because reasons.”

 

OMG, WHAT ARE THE ODDS?! (Never tell me the odds!) The Force is to Star Wars books what London fog is to cozy mysteries, and the number of Force non-coincidences in this book is high.

 

Blatant for(c)eshadowing aside, I was hoping for an entertaining account of what Ahsoka got up to between her last appearance in The Clone Wars (which I absolutely recommend watching before reading this novel) and her first appearance in Rebels, and this delivers. Mostly. The climactic confrontation was a bit meh. Based on this book, I’d say writing action isn't E.K. Johnston’s strong suit. Her characterization is pretty good, though, so I’m looking forward to her upcoming Padmé novel.

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review 2018-08-07 08:59
Phasma
Phasma (Star Wars): Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi - Delilah S. Dawson

Star Wars Episodes VII and VIII’s most underutilized badass in chrome gets her own novel . . . in which she continues to be underutilized as her story is told by someone who heard it from someone else who was “there.”

 

This is only the second work by Dawson that I’ve read, the first being The Perfect Weapon (Star Wars short story), and I have to say I liked TPW much better. And it’s not that Phasma isn’t good. It’s got plenty of action and adventure and aliens and the requisite super-harsh Star Wars desert environment. I didn’t care for the third person present tense shifting to past tense, but that was a minor issue. The framing of the story just didn’t work for me.

 

Resistance spy Vi Moradi is caught by the First Order on her way back from a fact-finding mission. What was she digging into? Phasma’s past. What does her captor just happen to be interested in? Phasma’s past. WHAT ARE THE ODDS?! (Never tell me the odds!) So the majority of the book is Vi reciting—in the prosiest of non-conversational basic—the story of how Phasma met Brendol Hux and came to join the First Order. Her interrogator just lets her indulge in prolixity for twelve hours or so, and Dawson has to go to the trouble of establishing his inexperience in interrogation to explain his remarkable forbearance. Alas, I never really bought into it.

 

What really got my goat was that such a huge deal was made of Phasma’s survive-at-all-costs personal code, including a strong implication that if the First Order’s best interests ever conflicted with hers she’d burn the whole thing down, and that could have led to a payoff in the films so much bigger than what we got. In the end, this just felt like a weak 378-page justification for Phasma lowering the shields on Starkiller Base when she had a blaster to her head. *cue Sad Trombone soundbite*

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