Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath is the first canon Star Wars novel to take place after Return of the Jedi since the old EU was declared Legends more than a year ago. I’ve only formally reviewed the lackluster Heir to the Jedi since then, but it’s no secret that the canon novels so far haven’t been to my tastes. My focus has never really been on books set during the film eras, and before Aftermath all the offerings were just that.
But I am pleased (and, yes, a little surprised) to report that I found Aftermath to be rather good. You’ll hear a lot about Wendig’s unusual style of prose – and I had some hesitation there as well – but I found that once I got into the rhythm of the book it was no trouble at all. In fact, this is the first canon novel I didn’t have to force myself through at all – it read speedily and offers a satisfying story with interesting characters.
But they are, for the most part, new characters. Wedge Antilles plays an important part, but you can’t call him a lead by any means. Rebel pilot Norra Wexley, her son Temmin, former Imperial loyalty officer Sinjir Rath Velus, bounty hunter Jax Emari and Imperial Admiral Rae Sloane (who originated in A New Dawn) carry most of the plot’s weight.
Baby Jawa, Yowie and Jawajames complete their series of countdown to Force Friday videos with this entry for Force Thursday. They get into some Star Wars Mac n Cheese, check out Jeffrey Brown’s Darth Vader and Friends, and preview Tom Angleberger’s retelling of Return of the Jedi: Beware the Power of the Dark Side.
Jawajames, Yowie the Skunk and Baby Jawa are back at it again! They take unboxing Star Wars stuff very seriously in today’s video for Force Friday Countdown: Wednesday. This time, they review Star Wars fruit snacks; DK’s Ultimate Star Wars by Tricia Barr, Adam Bray, Dan Wallace, and Ryder Windham; and Adam Gidwitz’ retelling of The Empire Strikes Back: So You Want to be a Jedi?. Need more info on Ultimate Star Wars? James has a Q&A with Tricia and Adam and a follow-up interview with Adam from this past May.
Jawajames is back with a new Star Wars unboxing video. Undeterred that he wasn’t selected to be one of the official unboxing hosts for Force Friday, he’s rounded up some recent and upcoming Star Wars products to review with his co-hosts, Yowie the Skunk and Baby Jawa. Reviews include Star Wars cereal, Dark Disciple by Christie Golden, and the upcoming retelling of A New Hope: The Princess, The Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy by Alexandra Bracken.
Kevin Hearne’s Heir to the Jedi brings a lot of firsts, as far as Star Wars novels go. It’s the first of the new canon novels to feature one of the big three characters; the first Star Wars first-person novel* to feature an actual movie character, and the first canon novel to be set after A New Hope. It’s also the first of the new novels I actually had any interest in reading.
Now, I don’t expect a Star Wars novel to rock the very galaxy, particularly when set in a movie-limited era like this one is. I wasn’t expecting a game-changing book by any means. And generally, I don’t mind a quieter story, as long as it’s an engaging one that keeps me wanting to read.
Unfortunately, Heir to the Jedi delivers an unremarkable tale that fails to make much of an impression. From the first-person conceit to the title that seems deliberately reminiscent of Heir to the Empire, it seemed to me like the book was writing several checks that it completely failed to cash.
There is a major spoiler under the cut, but it’s black-barred so you can avoid it.Continue reading →
Yowie and I got our hands on a copy of Imperial Handbook: A Commander’s Guide and we share the awesomeness of opening up the deluxe version, with its electronic protective case and accessories. The look and feel of this book is top-notch, with annotations by the various Rebels written in the margins, and some luxurious artwork. The Imperial Handbook, like its predecessors, The Jedi Path, Book of Sith, and The Bounty Hunter Code, is full of great detail on the organization of the Empire’s military. With sections about the army, navy, and stormtrooper corps as well as chapters on Imperial doctrine, there’s plenty of stuff for a fan of the Empire to learn, and some good comments from various Rebels about the Empire (including some snark from Han Solo). Fans of the Empire should enjoy this one, even if it is considered Legends.
Imperial Handbook is written with great detail and some awesome illustrations and schematics. There’s some propaganda style artwork as well as detailed drawings of Imperial war machines. If you’ve ever wondered what the rank badges are in the Imperial Navy, about the different training academies for stormtroopers, what General Madine recalled from his days as an Imperial, or how the Emperor inspired his command staff, this book is for you!
An advance copy of this book was provided by Becker & Mayer! for review.
Chris Taylor’s How Star Wars Conquered the Universe, out today, is one of those rare nonfiction books not fully authorized by Lucasfilm. An independent biography of the franchise, it covers from George Lucas’ own upbringing and influences to just post-Disney. Curious? Read the first chapter at Mashable (as well as one on the 501st) right now.
It’s also a pretty great read. I got my copy Saturday, finished it yesterday afternoon, and it flew. Taylor talks to fans and pros alike, highlighting both sides of the (increasingly more narrow) divide. Most of the attention thus far is on the moviemaking portion, where the book’s biggest sound bites come from.
Full disclosure: I was interviewed for and appear in the book, and received a review copy from Basic Books.
On sale today, A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller is the first novel that is part of the Lucasfilm Story Group approved timeline. Set in the dark times between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, and several years before the upcoming Rebels cartoon, it’s a tale of how two of the show’s main characters, Hera and Kanan, first encounter each other and eventually decide to team up. As someone excited by Rebels, I enjoyed the novel and found it interesting to see the characters before they united for a common cause.
Miller brings his skills in combining likable characters with clashing viewpoints, in a story setting that he has mastered before in Kenobi and Knight Errant: a Jedi alone in hostile territory. Only this time, the Jedi’s not interested in being a Jedi, or even be on the hero’s path at all – while someone else is sorting out what type of people are and aren’t needed for a rebellion to the Empire’s rule. And as with Knight Errant and Lost Tribe of the Sith series, where various Sith philosophies were being forged and tested against each other, the villain, Count Vidian, has his own philosophy being pushed to the extreme, and we witness it in practice.
Like Razor’s Edge, the previous book in the Empire and Rebellion series, James S. A. Corey’s Honor Among Thieves harkens back to a simpler time in the Expanded Universe.
Like it says on the tin, the book is Han-centric, and keeps a fairly close character focus – It serves the story, and this one feels even more back-to-basics than Razor’s Edge. Yes, it’s short, but
this isn’t a story that requires a tome – though Corey is more than capable of such, if you’re familiar with their Expanse books. It’s a quick, fun read, and despite a bit of potential galaxy-shaping consequences, there is not a lick of the Force.
Maul: Lockdown by Joe Schreiber is out today, and fans of the Dark Side should rejoice. Lockdown delivers a can’t-put-this-down tale of scum and villainy.
Set before The Phantom Menace, Lockdown has Darth Maul sent undercover to infiltrate a space station prison to find an elusive arms dealer operating out of inescapable penitentiary. Maul quickly becomes a contender in the warden’s profitable prison fight circuit, but there’s more to finding someone who doesn’t want to be found in a prison than just cracking heads all the way to the top. Plus, more than just prisoners and guards lurk in the dark confines of this station. And throw in Jabba the Hutt, dangerous cultists, and Darth Sidious scheming under his own master’s nose.
Darth Maul has gone through a renaissance in the past few years – he has gone from being the weapon of rage back in 1999 in The Phantom Menace and the related EU (Michael Reaves’ Shadow Hunter & Ron Marz’ comic), to his resurrection on The Clone Wars (along with Tom Taylor’s Darth Maul: Death Sentence and James Luceno’s Darth Plagueis) as some one able to scheme his way into power as he seeks vengeance on both Obi-wan Kenobi and his old master, while taking on his brother Savage as his own apprentice. And now this year, we get more of Darth Maul, with Lockdown and the upcoming Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir comic. Maul: Lockdown adds to this modern character and builds some of Maul’s roots as a plotter as this mission tests his abilities to not only survive but achieve his objective before time runs out.