Category Archives: books and comics

Review: Claudia Gray’s Bloodline is required reading for Star Wars fans, but you won’t mind

BloodlineIt’s rather refreshing to finally be getting some of the gaps filled in.

Claudia Gray’s Star Wars: Bloodline, out today, isn’t the first to give us a look at the galaxy beyond Return of the Jedi in the new canon. (It isn’t even Gray’s first, technically.) But it the closest to The Force Awakens so far, set less than a decade before the film. It’s also the first to feature a major character in anything beyond a glorified cameo. This is, by far, the canon novel with the most mass appeal to Expanded Universe fans new and old.

And yes, it’s good. I admit, I am worried that those of us who got and talked (vaguely) about the book early may be overselling the novel. After all, that’s what happened to me with Gray’s previous Star Wars book, Lost Stars. There was no early copy for me there, and it was the last of the Journey to The Force Awakens books I read. And it was fine! But I suspect the unrelenting hype damaged it a bit for me. (I may also be extremely a tiny bit burnt out on YA-style romance.)

Bloodline, on the other hand, was a blistering fast read for me. The minute I got it, I couldn’t put it down. As anyone who was following me on Twitter may have noticed, I read it in three hours. I honestly can’t recall the last time I read a Star Wars novel at that speed. It might have been back in the ’90s?

Some minor spoilers beyond the cut.

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25 years of Heir to the Empire

HeirEmpire_HCThe first Star Wars novel to be set after Return of the Jedi, Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire was released in hardcover on May 1, 1991. It was the first major step out of what’s now called ‘the Dark Times,’ when Star Wars was (mostly) a dormant franchise. The book was immensely successful and helped prove there was still an audience for Star Wars

Although now classified as non-canon ‘Legends’, along with the rest of the pre-2014 Expanded Universe, Heir remains an important part of franchise and fandom history. Hell, we wouldn’t exist without it.

Also it’s a damn good story and you should read it (along with ’92’s Dark Force Rising and ’93’s The Last Command) if you haven’t already. Though note I am totally biased.

Episode VIII director Rian Johnson had input on Bloodline (and other teases for Claudia Gray’s novel)

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Lucasfilm senior editor Jennifer Heddle writes about Claudia Gray’s Bloodline on StarWars.com, teasing eight reasons why fans will want to read it. Among them: “Some of the story ideas and elements in this novel came straight from Rian Johnson, director of the forthcoming Episode VIII.”

Bloodline is out in hardcover and eBook on May 3.

Today in The Force Awakens: Making of book canceled?

tfa-bts-ridley-jjAlthough it was never officially announced, it appears that The Making of Star Wars: The Force Awakens book from Mark Cotta Vaz and J.W. Rinzler has been canceled. A listing for the book appeared before the movie – usually a reliable indicator – and it was pushed back to October before the film’s release. However, it now it no longer appears on the publisher’s site, and Florian at Jedi Bibliothek found a listing on BookManager that says it’s been canceled..

All-out cancellations are rare, but I don’t expect we’ll get any word on the reasoning anytime soon. (Again, it was never actually announced.) My only guess is that it may have something to do with the lawsuit over Harrison Ford’s on-set injury. Note the incident isn’t mentioned in the official behind-the-scenes documentary on The Force Awakens Blu-ray – and may be off-limits until the legal issues have been worked out. Everyone loves the original trilogy Making of books, but here’s hoping we won’t have to wait 30 years for this one.

→ Speaking of the accident… Something we overlooked during the big Rey parentage debacle was J.J. Abrams revealing exactly how Ford’s injury actually helped the film.

→ A great new behind the scenes video from Discover Ireland.

→ Casting director Nina Gold talks about finding Daisy Ridley and John Boyega (plus some Game of Thrones folks) in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

→ Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and actor Oscar Isaac are among of Time’s 100 most influential people.

Custom BB-8s created by Star Wars stars and luminaries, being auctioned for charity.

Out this week: Star Wars #18

Star Wars #18This Wednesday will bring Star Wars #18 to the comic shops.

Looking at what’s already on the shelves, our own James interviewed author Pablo Hidalgo about the updated Star Wars Character Encyclopedia on StarWars.com.

Next week’s big release is Claudia Gray’s Bloodline, a Leia-centric novel that answers a question or two raised by The Force Awakens. (You can get a look at the first three chapters by subscribing to a newsletter from Playcrafting.) Look for my review on the release date, May 3.

Bloodline may be locked, but there have been minor shifts in the release dates of our next significant ROTJ-TFA bridge novels. Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath: Life Debt moves up a week to July 12, while the third book in the trilogy, Empire’s End, goes back a week to January 24. Our release schedule has been updated.

Video: Unboxing Star Wars: Rebels finale ‘Twilight of the Apprentice’, Character Encyclopedia

Unboxing Star Wars 4-15-16 title card

We’ve got a new episode of Unboxing Star Wars! Yowie and I hit the road for the Star Wars Rebels finale screening at Walt Disney Studios and we review ‘Twilight of the Apprentice’. I also check out Star Wars Character Encyclopedia Updated and Expanded by Pablo Hidalgo and Simon Beecroft, from DK. Plus I give a quick review of the first issue of the Poe Dameron comic, while Baby Jawa plays with a new R2-D2 toy and we check out some of the new Star Wars stuff we’ve picked up. And at the end, some Baby Jawa fun time!


Quick reviews
Star Wars Character Encyclopedia Updated and Expanded – Great for everone! Have fun learning tidbits about more than 200 characters and creatures from all the Star Wars films! (and watch for my interview with author Pablo Hidalgo on starwars.com early next week)
‘Twilight of the Apprentice’ – Big thumbs up! When Rebels has a season finale, they pull out all the stops and unload a whole boatload of awesome. (Also, if you haven’t seen it already, I have the entire Q&A from the screening available to watch.)
Poe Dameron #1 – A promising start! I think I’m more interested in who Lor San Tekka is than about Poe on his tail but we’ll see where it goes. Plus BB-8!

Get more info on Wear Star Wars Every Day or make a donation at GoFundMe or sign up to make a per-day pledge.

Note: DK provided a copy of Star Wars Character Encyclopedia Updated and Expanded for review.

First excerpt from Aftermath: Life Debt

han-solo-rotjEntertainment Weekly has our first look at an excerpt from Chuck Wendig’s upcoming Aftermath: Life Debt. The book, first of two sequels to last year’s Aftermath, adds Han Solo, Chewbacca and Kashyyyk to the mix.

Aftermath introduced a number of brand-new characters, including Temmin Wexley, who as an adult appears in The Force Awakens played by Greg Grunberg.

Aftermath: Life Debt will be out in hardcover and eBook on July 19. The third book in the trilogy, Empire’s End, is due in January 2017.