REVIEW: Young Jedi Knights 1: Heirs of the Force

One of my favourite characters when it comes to the old Star Wars canon was always Jacen Solo, so what I’ve been doing is slowly collecting the now out-of-print Young Jedi Knights series that was published for the middle grade/young adult market to get more of Jacen and Jaina while also learning a little bit more about Luke’s Jedi Academy on Yavin 4.

Heirs of the Force, the first book in the Young Jedi Knights series, follows Jacen and Jaina Solo as they train at Luke’s Jedi Academy. Right away we get to know that the twins are incredibly close and that Jacen has a knack for animals while Jaina takes after her father (and grandfather, Anakin, in my opinion) with her talent for mechanics and technology. We also get to meet their friend, Tenel Ka, who is a total badass from Dathomir. The trio quickly becomes firm friends with Chewie’s nephew, Lowbacca, who has been gifted an old speeder to put together. With the help of his new friends, Lowie completes the speeder and goes off on something of an adventure…where he finds the remains of a TIE Fighter from the first Battle of the Death Star. When their curiosity winds them up in under fire from the long-abandoned pilot, things take a nasty turn.

This book was a quick read but was honestly so much fun. It requires very little knowledge of the original extended universe of Star Wars (which I know can be an intimidating run of content) and makes sure to fill in a lot of gaps newer or less-intense fans to Legends might have in their knowledge. Jacen and Jaina are so lovely and wonderful, with the original hopeful and kind quality that made Luke such a sweetheart in the original films. I loved getting to know the newer characters as well like Tenel Ka – who is so cool I wish I had read these when I was younger – and Lowie – who is basically an awkward version of his uncle.

The tension and the pacing of the story is so well done, it reaffirms that Kevin J. Anderson is incredible and has definitely put Rebecca Moesta on my radar. And seriously, what’s not to love about a rogue TIE pilot stranded for years trying to single-handedly overthrow a school full of Jedi?

Heirs of the Force is clearly meant for a younger audience but that doesn’t take away from the writing at all. If anything it makes it an even better jumping in point because it’s not as technical as Star Wars books can be. Since the series – to my knowledge – has never been re-released as formal Legends titles, they’re difficult to get ahold of these days, but if you’re willing to search I’d definitely say this first book is worth it.

REVIEW: X-Wing 1: Rogue Squadron

Coming at you a bit late due to the business of my May the 4th day, I present my review for the first book in the X-Wing Series by Michael A. Stackpole and Aaron Allston!

Book one, Rogue Squadron, is by Michael A. Stackpole and is a wild ride akin to a two-part pilot arc such as what we got from a show like Firefly or even Stargate. I really enjoyed that vibe of things, especially since it reminded me that the cast still needs to mesh. Sure, Corran and the others have been flying and training for awhile prior to the story but they aren’t a team yet. By the end of the book, they made some progress, but the growth of the squadron is something I really look forward to seeing. Given that their first mission is to learn to work together while liberating an Imperial moon in order to get a grasp on a Coruscant retake, the young pilots must adapt quickly or die like their predecessors.

In terms of the story itself, it moved quickly and introduced the major Imperial baddies. I don’t know about anyone else, but one thing I’ve always loved about Star Wars books are the female villains in the Imperial forces. This is the first book I’ve read – EU or otherwise – that has actually addressed Emperor Palpatine’s hatred of aliens and women and yet we still have characters in the Empire who have fought tooth and nail against that hatred and made it into positions of power no matter what. I know they’re the bad guys and the Emperor still sucks, but there’s something admirable about that quality. Ysanne Isard is no exception and I want to see so much more of her being cutthroat.

To turn back to the Rogues, Wedge is so incredibly written and while PTSD isn’t mentioned, the suffering he still goes through over losing his friends during the Death Star runs hits so hard. He’s a war vet who refuses to move on because that means letting the dead go. It means letting his friends go and he wont do that. I think that’s why he refuses to be promoted above commander too. But this suffering comes out a lot in his command style as he won’t joke around with or even become friends with his new squadron because that means more friends to mourn should they die. It gave me a lot more respect for Wedge to get to know him this way and I love him so much more now,

I liked the squad. Corran and Gavin almost seem to be competing for who can be the next Luke Skywalker. The four female pilots should have gotten more page time but I can let that go for now. But I do think that Ooryl was probably the biggest sweetheart in the group and I hope we still get to see him in book two. It’s hard to have many comments about the squad as there are a lot of them and with the circumstances of the book (without spoiling too much), it’s hard to tell who will be flying in the next mission when the Coruscant take-over mission takes a fuller shape, but I’m exciting to cheer on the squad.

In the end I give book one a three out of five. It would have been higher, but like I said earlier, I wanted more out of the female characters as they left me thinking of them in more one-dimensional terms, which I’m not a fan of.

An X-Wing Series Binge Read

MAY THE FORCE BE WITH US THIS GLORIOUS MAY!

I love the month of May. It’s my mum’s birthday (which we always have fun on – this year, we’re going to see Michelle Obama!), Star Wars Day, as well as just a general sci-fi themed time in my household because of my great love for Star Wars.

So for this May, I wanted to do something really fun.

I mentioned yesterday that I’m taking a break from the Throne of Glass read-a-long to do a huge binge read of the 10-book X-Wing Series by Michael A. Stackpole and Aaron Allston over the course of the month. I’ve been itching to get to this series since I found the first eight books in one of my favourite used bookstores and then my amazing friend, Reggie, found the ninth book for me in the classic mass-market edition! I debated on picking up the final book due to mixed reviews I saw, but then figured, what the hell, let’s do all ten books to keep it rounded out and picked up the Legends reprint edition.

While this is not a read-a-long, I figured – for the sake of other Star Wars fans – I’d still post my reading schedule if anyone wants to binge read with me.

The Book Order

  • Rogue Squadron – Michael A. Stackpole
  • Wedge’s Gamble – Michael A. Stackpole
  • The Kryptos Trap – Michael A. Stackpole
  • The Bacta War – Michael A. Stackpole
  • Wraith Squadron – Aaron Allston
  • Iron Fist – Aaron Allston
  • Solo Command – Aaron Allston
  • Isard’s Revenge – Michael A. Stackpole
  • Starfighters of Adumar – Aaron Allston
  • Mercy Kill – Aaron Allston

The Calendar

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Be sure to let me know what you think of the series if you read along and/or if you’ve already read it! I can’t wait to dive in and get behind Wedge Antilles himself!

REVIEW: Most Wanted (A Solo Story)

It’s not secret that I hated the latest addition to the Star Wars films. I found SOLO to be shallow and boring and – as a long time fan of all things Star Wars – inaccurate to the time line.

But this isn’t a review about that film. This is about Rae Carson’s prequel book, Most Wanted.

I bought the book before seeing the movie and honestly regretted it after seeing the movie, however I wanted a fast read and figured I’d give it a shot before taking it to the used bookstore. And, bless the stars, I am so happy I gave it a chance.

Where I had so many problems with SOLO, Carson’s writing made up for all of it. Han felt so real to me and she even managed to give Qi’ra a real personality which I very quickly grew to adore. Even the side characters had so much life put into them, there wasn’t a single moment I didn’t enjoy.

It was a heist gone bad that could lead to a real future. It was a naturally formed friendship between people who otherwise wouldn’t get along. But most of all, romance was nowhere to be seen. The number one thing I have learned through this book, is that my favourite thing with Star Wars is no one deals in “love at first sight”. The natural chemistry that formed between Han and Qi’ra was so wonderful and real.

Carson did such an amazing job with that and I only wish that the film had been half as good as her book was. Five out of five stars.


Star Wars 'Solo' Comic Books CR: Disney

Author: Rae Carson
Published: May 25th, 2018
Pages: 348
Publisher: Disney LucasFilm Press
ISBN: 9781368016308

Synopsis: Set before the events of Solo: A Star Wars Story! Han and Qi’ra don’t have a lot in common other than not having a lot. They’re street kids on the industrial planet Corellia, doing whatever it takes to get by, dreaming of something more. They each jump at a chance to prove themselves in the perilous world of Corellia’s criminal underbelly, only to discover they are on the same mission for the same unscrupulous boss. When the job goes disastrously wrong, Han and Qi’ra are on the run–from pirates, a droid crime syndicate, the Empire, and their boss–and will have to learn to trust each other if they are going to survive.

Fun with Ahsoka Tano

Yesterday was a wonderful day here in Toronto. The weather was cool, I spent the day with my best friend, and – better yet – I got to meet one of my favourite Star Wars characters, Ahsoka Tano!!

her-universe-lego-dress.jpgI have adored the Her Universe clothes line from the moment I first heard of it, and during a fashion show livestream I watched from SDCC, I died when I learned that the one making all the sure cool Ahsoka clothing was Ahsoka herself!! Ashley Eckstein is such a bundle of joy and nerdiness I’ve wanted her to come to Toronto for ages now. Any Clones Wars or even Rebels fans know how important Ahsoka is and how strong she is as a character. Her development through five seasons of one show and then her several appearances in the other mean the world to me. So when Ashley posted on Instagram she was coming to the Eaton Centre, I couldn’t say no.

The reason she was coming was to promote her new book, It’s Your Universe: You Have The Power To Make It Happen. Flipping through it in line, the book is part autobiography and part inspirational guide to making your dreams come true. It’s about showing how someone who has been told nothing but “No” or “You can’t do that” can still be a success and achieve dreams others felt impossible. It can be for children or for adults because at the end of the day, we could all use being told to never give up no matter how impossible our dreams my seem.

The signing itself was held in the Eaton Centre’s Hot Topic (a dark place I haven’t set foot in in ages) and felt to take forever, but for once I didn’t mind waiting in line in a store that was a thousand degrees. No, I’m serious. Ashley – and surprise guest E.K. Johnston – were taking their time and talking to every single fan that was there. She was asking people who their favourite character was, why they came to see her, if they liked Rebels or Clone Wars better, and then thanking every single fan for taking time out of their day to come down. Not only that, but E.K. and Ashley were also taking pictures with everyone.

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It was probably one of the best book signing experiences of my life and I am still so happy I got to meet Ashley Eckstein while decked out in Star Wars everything. (She even complimented my Mud Trooper hat from the Smuggler’s Bounty Solo box)

PS. – I had already had the honour of meeting E.K. Johnston when I was at March Toronto Comic Con, but it was so nice to see her again. She’s a lovely person and I always love hearing authors and celebrities geek the hell out over things. I love her.

REVIEW: Last Shot

Star Wars 'Solo' Comic Books CR: DisneyLast Shot by Daniel José Older is one of the first Star Wars books of the year that I’ve been truly dying for. A pre-trilogy set story based around Han and Lando? Yes please!

Older’s novel jumps back and forth through time, covering not only a new heist than Han and Lando are on, but jumped back far enough to set up how this is still relevant to their separate pasts. Along with canon non-binary character – Taka the pilot, an Ewok named Peekpa with incredible hacking skills, and Lando’s badass, sharpshooting love-interest, Kaasha Bateen , I really loved the new characters and felt that they all contributed to the story in very significant ways rather than just filling space like a lot of characters in the Star Wars universe exist to do.

We get to see a softer side of Han, the side that doubts his worth in not only Leia’s eyes, but also in the eyes of his two-year-old son (yes, little Ben Solo pops up). Meanwhile, even Lando is struggling to deal with feelings as he debates what Kaasha is to him. Is she a fling? Or something more?

Of course, what I liked most about this story is the vibe it gave off. The killer droid reprogramming plot gave me flashbacks to the EU novel Children of the Jedi by Barbara Hambly. It was creepy as hell but Older brought a unique level of gross which made it even more run to read (while also making my skin crawl). I also weirdly enjoyed the lack of Jedi stuff and seriously had fun learning about Gor’s descent into his madness. Even the droids and their insistence on having rights of their own felt like something fresh and I was super happy.

I only had minor issues with this book and that was mostly some loose ends that I felt went unanswered in the “Past” story lines and some pacing issues around the mid-way point where the plot slows down, but I still give this book a 4.75 out of 5 stars. Excellent novel all the way around and I really hope that we get more Star Wars stories from Daniel José Older.

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The first thing I did when I bought this book was swap the cover to the Lando version.

Find more photos like this on my Instagram — @lucieninthestars


Star Wars 'Solo' Comic Books CR: DisneyAuthor: Daniel José Older
Published:  April 17th 2017
Pages: 356
Publisher: Del Rey
ISBN: 9780525622130

Synopsis: The author of Half-Resurrection Blues and Shadowshaper has penned this novel that connects three eras in the lives of Han Solo and Lando Calrissian. Part of it takes place before the events of Solo and focuses on Lando and L3-37, Lando’s droid sidekick. Part of it takes place between Solo and A New Hope, and that focuses on Han and Chewie, where we meet Sana Starros for the first time. Part of it takes place post-Return of the Jedi, and that’s where we see Han, Leia, a very young Ben Solo, and Lando come into the story.

 

REVIEW: Star Wars: The Perfect Weapon

The Perfect Weapon is a short story set before Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens by Delilah S. Dawson regarding a mysterious mission given to the mercenary, Bazine Netal.

It’s a quick read at only 60 pages long, but is more or less enjoyable. There isn’t much to say about this one to be quite honest. The Perfect Weapon is a nice bit of fun in the Star Wars universe, although I can’t quite place how it ties into Ep. VII other than Bazine’s appearance as a First Order spy in the film. It also ends in a fairly open manner that makes me want to re-watch The Force Awakens to see if I’m forgetting a detail.

Bazine_reporting

All in all, this story gets ★★★ from me. It felt like an episode of Clone Wars or something and that’s not at all a bad thing in my mind.


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Author: Delilah S. Dawson
Published:  November 24, 2015
Pages: 60
Publisher: Del Rey
ASIN: B016GRO8R6

Synopsis: An anonymous client has hired Bazine to track down an ex-stormtrooper and recover the mysterious package he’s safeguarding. Payment for the mission promises to be astronomical, but the obstacles facing Bazine will prove to be formidable. And though her eager new sidekick has cyber skills crucial to the mission, only Bazine’s razor-sharp talents will mean the difference between success or failure—and life or death.

REVIEW: Leia, Princess of Alderaan

Princess Leia Organa has been a long time hero of mine. I have always adored her tenacity, her courage, her intelligence, and her flaming temper that always results in getting shit done.

It is perhaps because of my intense love of Star Wars that I didn’t particularly enjoy this book, and I want to put a spoiler warning right here at the start. This review will also contain minor spoilers for The Last Jedi.

This is your last chance.

So to start of with the book itself, my first issue arose with the dialogue. I have loved Claudia Gray’s books in the past, but this was my first time reading one of her Star Wars books. The franchise is known for it’s awkward and clunky dialogue riddled with formalities and fictional political or mechanical terminology and Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan should be privy to such silly formalities and procedures. However, she talks like a regular teenage girl would in any other YA novel and she refers to her parents as “Mom” and “Dad/Daddy”. Say what you will, but Leia would never call her parents as such. It would be mother and father. End of discussion.

I understand that the language of Star Wars is not always the most accessible and simplifying it makes sense, but changing the way a character talks all together defeats the purpose of it being Star Wars.

Despite the dialogue, I didn’t mind Gray’s portrayal of Leia. At least not much. It was work for me to constantly remind myself that the Leia I’m used to – from the original novels, movies, and Extended Universe – the Leia that didn’t know she was adopted, but that’s my responsibility, not the author’s. Her friends were entertaining, her love interest not entirely bland, but there were some characters that I cannot forgive.

For those reading, who may not know, Captain Quarsh Panaka – Moff Panaka in this book – was a royal guard of Naboo who guarded generations of Queens that included Queen Padmé Amidala. He cared for that girl even when she wasn’t a senator and risked his life to protect the Republic and defend the views of people like Padmé even once she was no longer a monarch. In this novel, he is an Imperial Moff who’s loyalties lie with Palpatine.

No.

Just no.

Panaka lies with people like Padmé. And people like Padmé lie with people like Bail and Breha Organa. There is not a chance in the entire galaxy that Panaka would work in such a position without being an agent against the Empire planted by those who believe in a better way of life. I refuse to believe someone like him would have given up everything he used to fight for in order to have a position of power on Naboo that resulted in taking away the power of the monarchy.

What I did like in this novel was Amlyin Holdo. I was really glad that I read this before seeing the film and – after months of avoiding everything I could about Episode VIII – meeting Holdo again as an adult was great. She was this lanky, weird girl always looking to be different and to stand out, but that’s what made her a solid character. Leia helping her to realize that her aggressive motions to oppose every tradition of her home world helped shape Amlyin into the person I saw as a Vice Admiral. Two strong women not listening to hot headed men and going through with their plans, put together from moments in their youth, it was phenomenal. It was a really excellent way to tie this novel into The Last Jedi.

By the end of the book, I was only emotional about it because I finished on the anniversary that Carrie Fisher died. I miss my Princess so much and I was happy to have more of Leia’s story told – even if it wasn’t my favourite. To be entirely honest, the only part I was truly excited over was the random, subtle cameo appearance from Director Orson Krennic. If you know anything about me, it’s that I adore Orson Krennic.

Would I recommend this book? Not if you’re a Star Wars fan. However, if you’re new to the series it might be worth a shot. It wasn’t a terrible story so I won’t warn people against it, but as someone who has very literally grown up surrounded by classic Star Wars, it wasn’t my favourite.

Final Rating: ★★½


34860402

Published: September 1, 2017
Pages:
 409
Publisher:
Disney Lucasfilm Press
ISBN:
9781484780787

Summary: The story of how young Leia Organa comes to join the rebellion against the evil Empire, from New York Times best-selling author Claudia Gray.

REVIEW: Star Wars: Children of the Jedi

I love Star Wars. It is a series that has been with me for most of my life and the entirety of the universe just makes me happy. Not to mention, that I am from a time where the original Extended Universe (often referred to as the Star Wars EU) was alive and thriving.

I am aware that the long history of Star Wars novels can be confusing for fans, especially ones that were brought into the series through the newer films and the Clone Wars tv series. Because of this, I am going to try my best to keep this review worded in a way that will help give those fans an idea of where this story would sit in the canon, but I also recommend that those unfamiliar with the EU do a little bit of research into it before picking up this book.

The Story

Children of the Jedi tells two stories of discovery based around the the last battle of the Clone Wars that resulted in the genocide of the Jedi knights and their padawans.

One of the story lines is the adventure Leia and Han Solo go on after an old smuggling buddy of Hans’ crashes a diplomatic event, screaming nonsense and death threats. The other is Luke and his students, trapped on a death trap of an automated ship with a bunch of other life forms that do not belong in Stormtrooper indoctrination centres.

Leia and Hans’ mission focuses primarily on what happened to the Jedi before they were put through a mass genocide – note that this book was written well before the prequels existed – and the slow investigation into a conspiracy against the New Republic that involves a mystery around the now-dead Emperor.

Meanwhile, Luke, Nichos, and Cray have been taken aboard a deactivated Imperial destroyer that has been restarted for the first time in thirty years. Their mission not only involves finding out what in the stars the ship is but also fighting against the inoculation they have undergone to convince them and the other captives of the ship that they are all stormtroopers on a mission decades out of date.

The Characters [spoilers]

I love the EU, but there is so much I don’t know about the whole world that existed before the prequels even came out. The new characters in this novel were Cray, Nichos, and Callista, and I enjoyed knowing them.

Cray exists in stories prior to this novel, as she is a brilliant engineer who is sensitive to the force and sought out Luke to train her in the ways of the Jedi along with her friend-turned-lover, Nichos. As brilliant as Cray is, she is also a perfectionist and an overachiever in the sense that if something is out of her grasp, she will put her own health at risk to find the answers she needs to continue. Before this instalment in the universe, Nichos fell pray to a ALS-like disease that was going to bring him to a quick death. However, Cray spent 99% of her time studying and constructing robotics so she could transfer his consciousness into another form and continue their lives together.

Cray’s realization of her “selfishness” in wanting to keep her lover around is a huge moment in her character and even Nichos coming to a deeper sense of how he isn’t a “real person” was one of the most heartbreaking moments in the novel and made me love them both even if I am not entirely familiar with who they are before this story.

Then there is Callista. Callista is a lost Jedi who speaks to Luke through the systems that run the Eye of Palpatine. She is another tragic case that befell so many Jedi in the times of the Clone Wars and even though her conversations with Luke were non-verbal or through the computer screens, she has so much depth that it makes me love her a lot. The only thing I found weird about her was that I’ve become to accustomed to Luke being married to Mara Jade, it was strange to see him awkwardly flirting with this woman through the Force.

Finally we also have our villains: the Emperor’s concubine, Roganda Ismaren, and her son Irek. Both are horrifying, Force-sensitive monsters of people, hell bent on the destruction of innocent people in order to restore the Empire while being the new overlords. Leia being somewhat familiar with Roganda was an interesting insight to Leia’s days in the Senate as well as provided more information about Leia prior to the strong days of the Rebellion.

The Issues [spoilers]

I found this book moved rather slowly. It started out strong and exciting but as the story changed back and forth between Luke’s mission and Leia’s, the pacing also changed back and forth rather rapidly. It was jarring at times and with so many species and character names to remember, it got a little confusing (especially when not all of these species have appeared in the films or tv series).

Conclusion: ★★★★☆

At the end of the day, this book helped me realize just how much I miss the original extended universe. Leia and Han’s marriage is so sweet to see and Luke in the early days of being a teacher is also such a great thing when the films never really got the chance to show that (I have not yet seen The Last Jedi so I don’t know anything about Luke being a mentor in that). Sure the story got a little complicated with all the different characters and species, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy this story. When I finished reading it, I was incredibly pleased to hear that it’s part of a trilogy and I am very excited to get my hands on the next instalments of this story.


555313Published: May 1995
Pages:
 432
Publisher:
Bantam Spectra
ISBN: 
9780553089301

Summary: Princess Leia, Han Solo, and Chewbacca set out on a mission vital to the survival of the fragile New Republic. They are searching for the long-lost children of the Jedi, a quest that takes them to the once vibrant stronghold of Belsavis—a nearly forgotten frozen world. Leia has heard tales of a Jedi exodus from the dark crypts below the planet’s surface. She has also heard that since the time of the exodus no one entering the crypts has returned alive.

Halfway across the galaxy, Luke Skywalker has undertaken an equally dangerous expedition that, if it fails, could have fatal consequences for Leia, Han, and Chewbacca. Haunted by ominous dreams and guided by a force he cannot identify, Luke journeys to a remote asteroid field over the planet Pzob. There he discovers the automated Dreadnaught, the Eye of Palpatine, from the days of all-out war.