Tag Archives: Star Wars

Book Review: Star Wars: Jedi Search by Kevin J. Anderson

TheForce.Net - Books - Reviews | Jedi Search

And here we have another promise kept, readers! Today I will be reviewing Kevin J. Anderson’s Jedi Search. The first in a trilogy focusing on the founding of Luke Skywalker’s Jedi Academy on Yavin IV, there will be some Warnings for Younger Readers below. I don’t think they are particularly big red flags myself now, but I remember being very sensitive about the content of the books I read as a 10-15 year old. Because of that, I might not have read this novel when I was that age.

This leads me to note that, while Jedi Search might be the type of book a child in this age range would decide to avoid reading at the moment, they might want to keep it in mind for a future date. Speaking from experience, this writer knows that after a while young readers build up defense mechanisms which allow them to enjoy stories that contain mild to middling unpleasant content. What would have scandalized my fourteen year old mind doesn’t elicit a blink from me now. This will likely be the case for most other young readers at some point; as we learn more about the light and shadow battling for dominance in the real world, the unpleasantness we find in fictional fare becomes less shocking for us.

With this caveat stated, let’s turn to Jedi Search itself. The story starts out with Han Solo and Chewbacca heading to Kessel on a diplomatic mission. In order to keep the valuable spice produced on the planetoid from being sold to all and sundry (plus the Empire), the government wants to bring Kessel into the New Republic. And because Han used to smuggle spice between Kessel and Nar Shaddaa, it makes perfect sense to appoint him the official envoy to whatever hegemony has set up shop on Kessel since the war finally ended.

Han’s not exactly thrilled to be going back to Kessel. Last time he was there, he picked up a spice shipment for Jabba the Hutt, then had to dump it when he couldn’t escape an Imperial patrol. The alien who ran Kessel at the time, a Rybet named Moruth Doole, was the one who handed the spice over to Han. Privately, Solo suspects the alien double-crossed him and Jabba by calling the Imperials. It was rumored that Doole curried favor with both the Empire and the crime lords in this way; he provided both the smugglers and the Imperials with the valuable spice, sometimes by betraying the smugglers to the Imps. This way he earned money on the spice and the smugglers, since the Empire would pay him for handing over wanted criminals.

No one ever proved this, however. It’s all just speculation. And Han figures enough time has passed that Doole – if he’s still in charge of the mines – will be happy to talk about setting up a similar sort of arrangement with the New Republic. The guy’s a business man, after all; the only thing he cares about is lining his pockets. Why should he care who is paying him?

It’s a reasonable assumption. But Doole isn’t a particularly reasonable alien. No sooner does Solo hail Kessel with his diplomatic message than fighters are scrambled to attack the Millennium Falcon. Han and Chewie do their best to escape, but it’s no good. They are brought down and captured by Moruth Doole’s pirate forces, which he established after the fall of the Empire to help him keep control of Kessel once he and the nastier prisoners took over the mines.

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And he is really mad at Han.

See, it turns out that when Han dumped that load of spice, he wasn’t the only one the Hutt put a price on. Doole got one, too. Except that in his case, Jabba didn’t put a bounty on him; he set a death mark on the Rybet. As a result Doole had to dodge several murder attempts, one of which left him nearly blind. Determined to have his revenge and frightened by Solo’s thoughtless threats of official reprisal from the New Republic if he and Chewie aren’t released immediately, Doole decides to imprison the two in the spice mines.

Back on Coruscant, Leia and Mon Mothma are busy trying to get the planet Carida to join the New Republic. Their efforts are hampered by the Caridans themselves, who are still pro-Imperial. Carida used to be the home of the Imperial Naval Academy, and there’s a determined Imperial power structure still in place there. This means that the Caridan ambassador can throw tantrums and force concessions on the Republic government without fearing reprisal from his own administration. Eventually, though, he runs out of excuses to cause delays and has to agree to visit the New Republic – where he actually manages to become an even bigger pain in the neck.

On top of this, Jaina and Jacen – who are now two years old – are due to re-join their parents in a few days/weeks (I can’t remember which now). Having spent the first two years of their life in a protected location under Winter’s care, the twins were hidden in order to protect them from the Dark Side and the Empire. But their time of hiding is finally at an end, so Leia’s preparing to welcome them home at the same time she’s dealing with politics and missing Han.

Meanwhile, Luke makes a speech to the New Republic Senate asking for permission to officially restart the Jedi Order. After the assembly gives him their full-throated approval, he sets off to track down a few thin leads he has on some possible Force-sensitives. The first of these Force-sensitives – Gantoris – is the leader of some survivors from a crash on the dying world of Eol Sha. It takes quite a bit of work to recruit Gantoris because he is proud, independent, and he claims to have seen “a dark man” in his dreams who leads him to his own destruction. Gantoris thinks Luke is that man, and so he has the Jedi work to prove that his intentions aren’t evil.

La Búsqueda del Jedi | Star Wars Wiki | Fandom powered by ...

Luke eventually does gain his trust. Unfortunately, he does so with some very flashy displays of his Force powers. Promising to send a ship to take the few remaining colonists from the dying world, Luke sets off to find his second potential student.

This time the possible Jedi he’s looking for is an older man named Streen, who lives in Bespin’s Cloud City. Streen’s aware he’s got a special ability, but he doesn’t know how to control it. This means he senses people all the time, so for years he has lived in seclusion high above the City. Here he avoids the pain and embarrassment sensing others’ emotions causes him and them. Luke promises to help him “stop sensing people all the time” but finds that, since neither of his prospective students is happy in a crowd, he needs to set up shop in a place that’s unpopulated. So he heads back to Corsucant to ask for Leia’s help locating a world where he can train new Jedi in peace.

Meanwhile, Han and Chewie are trying to figure out a way to survive the mines and to escape them. In the process, they make friends with a kid named Kyp Durron. The son of political dissidents the Empire imprisoned, Kyp and his parents were sent to Kessel when he was eight years old. His fourteen year old brother, Zeth, was forcibly conscripted into the Imperial Navy and sent to Carida.

New Jedi Order – Mr. Rhapsodist

Kyp Durron

You would think that this would be as bad as it got for Kyp, but it actually gets worse. His parents were killed by smugglers in the mines before his eyes, leaving him utterly alone in the dark, surrounded by very unfriendly people. When Doole re-took control of the planetoid from the Empire and set out to become the sole proprietor of Kessel, he “forgot” to free Kyp (and probably several others). They have been used as slaves in the mines ever since.

With Kyp’s help, Han and Chewie finally manage to escape Kessel. In the process they learn that the boy is Force-sensitive and received some rudimentary training in the ways of the Force from the Jedi crone Vima-Da-Boda. Chased toward the Maw, a cluster of black holes between Nar Shaddaa and Kessel, the three have to dive straight into the gravitational maelstrom to escape Doole’s forces, relying on Kyp’s Force-sensitivity to safely pilot their pilfered ship. The harebrained scheme works…

…But it also lands them smack dab in the middle of a secret Imperial installation run by Admiral Daala.

And that’s all the plot spoilers you are getting, readers! Personally, I find Kevin J. Anderson’s style annoying, although he is not so bad when he’s writing the Young Jedi Knights series. But when he’s writing for Han, Leia, and Luke, I want to reach through the book and shake him.

Part of the reason his depiction of Luke annoys me is due to the fact that Jedi Search takes place after the Emperor Reborn story arc. In the old EU Palpatine discovered how to avoid becoming one with the Dark Side of the Force immediately after death. Maintaining a toe-hold in the physical realm, he eventually put his spirit into a clone body and tried to rebuild the Empire. When the Emperor “returned” and began wrecking the fragile New Republic, Luke stupidly decided that the best way to stop him was to pretend to join the Dark Side.

The result is obvious in Search. Luke pulls in his Jedi hopefuls by speaking of teaching them about power and by showing off his own abilities in the Force. His wanton use of power is terrifying; the Force is a Jedi’s ally, not his/her servant. Luke’s dabbling in the Dark Side, however well-intentioned, taints a lot of his actions going forward here and in other books. This led to some very big, very bad consequences for the new Jedi, the Republic, and Luke in particular during the old EU. Reading this book, I can see why Zahn took every opportunity in Specter of the Past and Vision of the Future to verbally slap Luke upside the head for his poor choices (and possibly Anderson and other EU authors as well).

La Quête des Jedi • Littérature • Star Wars Universe

In regards to Leia and Han, in my opinion Anderson doesn’t let Leia seriously worry about her husband for at least half the book. Instead, he leaves her convinced that Han is using his assignment to visit Kessel as a chance to goof off, completely forgetting that their twins will be coming home soon. Anderson lets this attitude of hers persist for far too long, in my opinion; the fact that Han was overdue to report back to Coruscant at least via holocomm should have told Leia that something was wrong within a few days. Instead, it takes getting hung up on by Doole, plus a couple of more days/weeks (I’m not sure which it is now) of communications’ silence for her to realize that Han’s in trouble.

On the bright side, Han came through this story pretty well. Since he’s stuck on Kessel the day that Jaina and Jacen arrive on Coruscant to stay, his frustration and anger at missing their return makes him attack the guards. His action is not that of a man frantic to escape an unjust situation but of a desperate father who wants to go home to see and hold his children. It’s a very touching, realistic moment, and it’s one of my favorite scenes in the book.

Despite Anderson’s limitations as an author, he does tell a good story. He also ably presents us with the newest Imperial antagonist, Admiral Natasi Daala. Hidden by Grand Moff Tarkin in the Maw for eleven years to protect the installation where the Death Star and other super weapons were designed, she’s a hard, nasty woman. She was probably like this in her early life, but her years of training at the Caridan Academy only made matters worse. In the old EU the Imperial military was virulently anti-alien; it was only a little less anti-woman. Daala is the only known female admiral in the Imperial fleet in the old EU – and her appointment was a secret one.

Natasi Daala | Wookieepedia | FANDOM powered by Wikia

Admiral Daala

As a result of this policy, Daala was mocked by the male students at the Academy and looked down upon by her male instructors. Out of pure frustration, she created an “online” persona at the Academy after graduation where she could get noticed and put her tactical skill to use. Intrigued by her suggestions and tactical prowess, Tarkin investigated. He discovered Daala’s real identity and took her under his wing – and, despite being a married man, he also took her as his lover. Locked in the Maw for eleven years since he left to command the Death Star, Daala has let her red hair grow well past regulation length, but that’s the most feminine thing about her.

This woman is nasty, readers. She strikes me as someone who has burned every emotion but fury out of her mind and body. To be frank, I think she’s nearly insane. Though tactically capable, Daala’s attacks tend to lack finesse. She charges out of the Maw like a raging tigress screaming for blood, making Governor Ahrinda Pryce look like a push over and Ysanne “Iceheart” Isard appear completely serene by comparison. This is one villainess I would not want to meet in a dark alley at night, readers. She is unpredictable, vicious, and ruthless.

Now for those Warnings for Younger Readers which were mentioned above. To be perfectly honest, I think that Jedi Search rates less than a one on the scale of objectionable content. That, however, is my voice of (relative) experience talking; young readers should judge for themselves if they are ready to read this book now or not.

With that in mind, the first thing I want to cover is the sex references in the story. There’s a point in Search where Moruth Doole goes to a private prison room in the upper levels of Kessel where he keeps a large number of female Rybet slaves. Although he regularly abuses these alien women, we don’t see him force himself on any of them, or get many details about what that would entail. He just goes in to pick one out of the group for an afternoon of “fun,” and the rest is left up to the reader’s imagination – if they let it go in that direction. I don’t, and so the scene has no bad implications for me.

Then there are Daala’s reminiscences about her relationship with Tarkin. These aren’t detailed; Anderson leaves the reader to fill in the gaps with his or her imagination, using a few words to paint a very general picture. The closest we might come to an explicit reference is a brief mention by Daala that she chose “well built and attractive” men from her Star Destroyer crews to be her bodyguards because they allow her to have sexual fantasies. This mention is one sentence in length and her bodyguards are never seen or described again, making it a bare blip on my sensitivity radar these days.

Jedi Academy

Also, Lando appears in this novel and ends up tracking down a gambler whom Luke suspects is Force-sensitive. The man isn’t Force-sensitive, however; he is a con artist who got in deeper than he bargained on going. When a rich duchess advertised for a husband this gambler – Tymmo – rigged the lottery she was using to choose a suitor so that he could win the competition in order to marry her and retire. What he didn’t anticipate was the fact that, since her people mate for life, she’s a bit…enthusiastic in her daily gestures of affection. Tymmo eventually found he couldn’t stand her attentions, so he ran away. He mentions the duchess’ gestures of affection only in passing after Lando catches him, making them really easy to skim over.

On the gore front, this book probably rates a three for one scene. This moment comes when Moruth Doole remembers how he captured the Imperial commander of Kessel and worked him to the bone in the mines. Once the man’s spirit was broken, Doole fed the Imperial several spice worms, froze him in carbonite, and hung him on the rear wall of his office to die. It’s a pretty brief scene, but it packs an emotional punch and makes a reader dislike Moruth more than they already do.

The next most disgusting moment comes when Doole, who uses his larval offspring to process the glitterstim spice, decides to kill one of them because it’s starting to show some spirit. He can’t have a spirited young Rybet trying to oust him from power, and so he regularly murders the larvae when they begin to outgrow their usefulness. There’s also a heat absorbing monster in the book which Han, Kyp, and Chewie escape from while fleeing Kessel through the mines. It doesn’t actually chew on its prey – just spears them and drains the heat/life energy from them. So although this creature is scary, it doesn’t actually kill in a graphic manner. Rereading the book again for this review, I have to say that I actually find the concept behind the monster kind of interesting.

If I had read Jedi Search as a 10-15 year old, I’m not sure that I would have said then that these items were small potatoes in the objectionable content department. Having encountered far more precise depictions of death, dismemberment, and sex in various other works though, the brief scenes in this book no longer bother me. So if any young readers in this age group checking out this post feel that Jedi Search isn’t good for them right now, I understand completely. All I’m doing is sharing my opinion of it and suggesting that they come back to the book whenever – or if ever – they feel they can handle it.

Jedi Search isn’t this writer’s favorite original Expanded Universe novel, true. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth reading every now and again. If you decide to check the book out sometime, then I can tell you that it’s not bad. It’s not great, but it’s not bad.

May the Force be with you, readers!

1994 Bantam Books STAR WARS JEDI SEARCH Paperback by Kevin ...

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More Star Wars Trivia from the Original Expanded Universe!

Hello, Readers! As you know, my conversations with the girls at The Elven Padawan led me to check youtube to see if there were any videos about Star Wars‘ original timeline. Having found several valuable videos there, I thought I would to post them here at Thoughts, along with links to information about the original Star Wars Expanded Universe.

This should fill in the gaps in my own knowledge of this field, since I know a fair bit about the original Expanded Universe, but not as much as I’d like. Below you will find a number of links to Wookieepedia articles on the Jedi, smugglers, and bounty hunters mentioned in these videos. Anything not covered in the videos should be in the articles.

Enjoy discovering more about the original Star Wars universe, readers! Remember –

“The Force will be with you, always.”

 

(Sorry for the language at the start of this video!)

Revan Part 1 (Legends) – Star Wars Explained

 

Darth Revan: Part 2 (Legends) – Star Wars Minute

 

The Legend of Bastila Shan – Star Wars Minute

 

Exar Kun (Legends) – Star Wars Minute

 

Dash Rendar (Legends) – Star Wars Minute

 

The Legend of Rahm Kota – Star Wars Minute

The Legend Boba Fett – Star Wars Explained

 

The Legends Story of Dengar – Star Wars Explained

 

Rukh and the Noghri in Star Wars Rebels – Canon vs Legends

 

Every Grand Master of the Jedi Order (This Video mentions Nomi Sunrider)

 

Star Wars All Lightsaber Colors And Meanings

 

10 Jedi Who Were The Only Ones Of Their Species – Star Wars Explained

 

7 Jedi That Survived Order 66 and How They Did It

 

All Jedi That Survived The Great Jedi Purge

 

The Jedi who Defied Death – How They Survived Order 66 (Dass Jennir)

Book Review: The Gate of the Cat by Andre Norton

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Once again we enter Andre Norton’s Witch World series, readers! Now, I know some of you are impatiently waiting for reviews of a Dean Koontz and a couple of Star Wars books to appear here. Fear not, please, they will be forthcoming! However, The Gate of the Cat and a couple of other novels have been patiently awaiting my attention, to the point that they are now becoming annoyed with me. As soon as they’re taken care of there will be analyses for Star Wars and Dean Koontz.

Until then, we must turn to today’s subject: The Gate of the Cat. The book starts out with young Kelsie McBlair heading out during the night to try and find an injured wild cat on her land. An American with Scottish heritage, Kelsie came to Scotland following a distant relative’s death in order to see if she would fit in at the ancient family estate and the town around it. But her real desire is to be a veterinarian – something that makes it hard for her to accept the hunting practices of the Highlanders. They like their deer hunts and consider wild cats to be vermin, attitudes which infuriate our heroine.

So when she’s tracking down an injured wild cat on her property, it doesn’t take her long to recognize the man prowling that she spots preparing to shoot same animal. Furious that Neil McAdams would pursue the wounded creature – and on her land, no less – Kelsie knocks his aim off, spoiling his first shot. When he tries to fire again, she makes another attempt to stop him. In the ensuing struggle, the cat escapes through a stone arch moments before the man hits Kelsie and sends her tumbling through the same portal.

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As you may have guessed, this is no ordinary stone arch. Nor is it your run-of-the-mill ancient Druid site. No, the three stones which make up this archway are a gate to another world; in this case, the Witch World. They specifically lead to Escore, the country to the east of Estcarp. A land of old balances that have been upset, Escore is was in the midst of a “cold war” before the arrival of the three Tregarth heirs. Now that “cold war” has become very hot, so that Escore is once again torn by conflicts between the Dark and the Light.

Kelsie literally tumbles into the midst of the hostilities after falling through the gate. Awakening sometime after her fight with McAdams, she gets to tend to the wild cat as she wished. But she also finds she is in a “dream” or nightmare world – one she can’t seem to wake up from. After attending to the cat, Kelsie has to do battle with creatures of the Dark, including a Sarn Rider and his pet hound. Confused and frightened, Kelsie winces when a strange call echoes in her mind. A yowl from the cat, which takes off toward the “sound,” convinces her that she wasn’t the only one to hear it.

Following the animal due to the pull of that strange mental summons, Kelsie comes across the remains of a war party. The lone woman in the party, though she is dying, is holding off yet another hound with a sparkling jewel in her weak hand. Kelsie manages to drive the hound off and keep it at a distance, then turns to try and help the dying woman. But there’s no help for Roylane, as the Witch identifies herself; there is only the “last gate” – death.

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Still, the dying Witch from Estcarp manages to give her jewel to both the cat and Kelsie, who eventually return the stone arch and the rocks that join it to form a rough circle. More trouble arrives as the hound follows them, attempting to gain entry to the circle by forcing one of Roylane’s dying companions through the archway. Only the timely arrival of Dahaun and a man from the Valley of Green Silences saves the two from the canine’s evil intentions.

On discovering that Kelsie is not of the Dark, Dahaun and her companion take the girl and the cat back to the Valley. There they help her clean up, start teaching her their language, and feed her. But when Simon Tregarth arrives and addresses her in English, Kelsie is thrilled to meet someone whom she can talk to plainly. She immediately asks how she can get back home and Simon has to tell her – repeatedly – that as far as anyone knows, there isn’t any way to get back to Earth.

This is where I leave you, readers. The Gate of the Cat is a good story, though recently this blogger seems to have lost some of her old interest in it. I don’t know why that is – it’s an enjoyable tale, with lots of adventure and many strong points. Perhaps the finale is too open-ended for my taste; Andre Norton didn’t always put her heroes and heroines together, but when she did she made it plain that they were in love.

In this novel, that wasn’t the case, which kind of annoyed me. I wanted a definite yes or no on the potential romance in this tale. But all I received was, “Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t; why don’t you decide?” Sometimes, if the writer leaves enough clues, this type of ending is not an unpleasant one for me. But if there’s a dearth of evidence, I tend to hate such finales; I’m not sure the Andre Norton left enough breadcrumbs to confirm the hero and heroine’s mutual attraction, let alone their eventual happily ever after.

Of course, it’s entirely possible that she did do this, and I’m just being stubborn. Either way, The Gate of the Cat IS a good, worthy read. It just doesn’t seem to appeal to me as much as other Norton books do.

Hopefully, though, this won’t be a problem for any of you, readers. Pick up and read The Gate of the Cat at your earliest convenience. 😉 ‘Til next time!

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Legends’ Trivia – A Few Videos About The Original Star Wars Expanded Universe

Hello, Readers! Given some recent conversations with the girls over at The Elven Padawan, this blogger realized that it might be helpful to post videos and links to information about the original Star Wars Expanded Universe. My own knowledge of that timeline is limited; I know a fair bit about it, but mostly through reading my New Essential Guide to Characters and, subsequently, some Wookieepedia articles. Since I generally don’t pay attention to anything written from the Yuuzhan Vong War forward, that also limits my knowledge.

Besides the videos appearing below, links to Wookieepedia articles about some of the characters will be embedded in the titles for these videos. If the videos whet your appetite for more original Star Wars fare, then these links should fill in any blanks the videos didn’t capture. And since this article was so much fun, I think I might do another one in the future!

Though I will be reviewing some more Star Wars material next month, I thought it might be helpful to post these videos about characters from the original SW Expanded Universe. This would give readers here a chance to brush up on the first timeline for stories written to flesh out Lucas’ magnum opus, while giving me time to write about the books I wish to review. 😉

Have fun learning about the original Star Wars universe, readers – and remember:

“The Force will be with you, always.”

The Mithril Guardian

Mara Jade Skywalker

 

Kyle Katarn

Jan Ors

 

Corran Horn

 

Starkiller: Galen Marek (Legends) – Star Wars Explained

 

Baron Soontir Fel

What Happened to Obi Wan’s Lightsaber after his Death?

 

How the Death Star Plans were Stolen in Star Wars Legends

 

How Leia Reacted to Meeting Anakin as a Force Ghost [Legends] – Star Wars Explained

 

5 Jedi That Joined The Galactic Empire

 

5 Largest Criminal Organizations in Star Wars Legends | Star Wars Top 5

Videos of Kyle Katarn

Hey, Readers! After several discussions with the girls over at The Elven Padawan, I was inspired to look up a number of videos about the original Star Wars Expanded Universe. Most of those videos will appear in later posts, but I thought these deserved to be shown first.

These videos are all “live-action cut scenes” from the video game Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II. They’re not entirely up to modern standards, I suppose, but they are nonetheless fascinating viewing. Someone on youtube collected them and put them together as a film, but I thought it would be easier on everyone to post the three different videos filled with cut scenes here today. That way you can stop and come back whenever you want to, readers. 😉

Based on these videos alone, I can see why Dark Forces II was such a big hit. Who wouldn’t want to play a game AND watch a film at the same time? It’s one of the reasons why I enjoyed playing Knights of the Old Republic so much – and that game was entirely CGI! It’s too bad Disney or some other company hasn’t refurbished or reshot Dark Forces. This game was a real gem.

But enough talk – you came here to see Kyle Katarn and Jan Ors face down the High Inquisitor Jerec over the power of the Valley of the Jedi. Have fun watching these videos, readers!

May the Force be with you!

The Mithril Guardian

Star Wars – Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II Live Action Cutscenes Part 1

 

Star Wars – Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II Live Action Cutscenes Part 2

 

Star Wars – Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II Live Action Cutscenes Part 3

Book Reviews: Star Wars Rebels – Ezra’s Gamble and The Rebellion Begins

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“Thanks for doing the heavy lifting!”

As you know, readers, Star Wars Rebels was a dark horse for this blogger. I figured I would watch the first episodes and be so disgusted, upset, or unimpressed with it that that would be the end for me. Watching it wouldn’t bother me any faster than ignoring it would.

However, my early assessment of the show could not have been more wrong. I quickly fell in love with this series, primarily because of the two Jedi who formed the core of the story. Han Solo is great, Mandalorians are cool, and Wookiees are wonderful, but the Jedi are the pièce de résistance of the Star Wars universe for me. I cannot say why the Jedi are my favorite part of this mythos. All this blogger can say for sure is that she loves ‘em. So the fact that we were getting two new ones in my favorite era of Star Wars – that period around the time of A New Hope – was the hook which pulled me into the series.

Since the show has concluded, I thought it best to review these two short children’s novels which tie into the series. If you are not a die-hard Star Wars fan bent on satiating a hunger for new fare, you probably will not be too interested in them. I like the series enough that it does not matter to me if the books related to it are churned out for children. Yes, they have their limitations; but they are also well written and they satisfy my desire for decent stories starring Jedi. I will take what I can get, especially since this new timeline offers us precious little in the way of enjoyable stories – particularly about the space knights I love so much.

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The first novel is Ezra’s Gamble, by Ryder Windam. This author is a “hired gun,” if you will. He has written several different novels in franchise universes for kids. The ones I remember off the top of my head were related to the Transformers films. Those were not books I would describe as great, but that may have been due to intereference from the people running the franchise rather than poor writing on the author’s part.

Ezra’s Gamble is much better than his Transformers books, which felt more stilted than the first three movies in the franchise. I would guess Mr. Windham is a Star Wars fan and possibly an afficianado, since he writes in a style similar to Timothy Zahn’s. I did not sense our time and place intruding on his story at any point in the narrative, either, which made the book far more enjoyable than Star Wars: The Lost Stars. (There will be more on that travesty of a novel below.)

A prequel to Star Wars Rebels, Gamble begins with Ezra selling tickets to an illegal gladiator fight on Lothal. He manages to fleece his customers of the valuables on their persons while he does this. But said items – and the cash he receives for the tickets – are lifted from him by his mentor and the man who got him involved in selling the vouchers. This would a Xexto by the name of Ferpil Wallaway.

Meanwhile – and you bounty hunter fans will love this – Bossk is approaching Lothal in the Hound’s Tooth to collect a reward for a gambler named Shifty. Turns out that Shifty jumped bail on another planet and fled here for some reason. The Imperial on duty at the spaceport, who calls himself Lieutenant Herdringer, gets Bossk an unwanted escort to the surface. Before terminating their conversation, Herdringer adds that he does not want any shooting when the hunter goes after Shifty.

Well, the Hound’s Tooth lands, and Ezra takes a peek at the ship. This gets Bossk’s attention, leading to a conversation between them. Smelling a chance to make some extra money, Bridger offers to be the bounty hunter’s local guide, since Shifty is supposed to be at a place called Ake’s Tavern and the Trandoshan has no idea where that establishment is. Bossk hires him after some haggling and fussing, then acts like he forgot Shifty’s name in order to make Ezra enter the building ahead of him.

Bossk does this to distract the assassins hired to protect Shifty. Apparently, someone has a lot to lose if the gambler is caught and taken back to face the music. In the ensuing chaos, Shifty is killed. After this, Ezra and Bossk are forced by circumstance – and the future apprentice’s good heart – to work together to find out who set the bounty hunter up.

This is a good book, one that speed readers, afficianados, and most people who love reading can race through in a day. The fact that it is written for children really does not diminish the quality of the story. Mr. Windham studied up on his setting very well, melding the Bounty Hunter part of the old Star Wars EU seamlessly with Rebels. He also tosses out words from the old EU like “ferrocrete,” which made reading the novel a lot more fun.

Best of all was Windham’s handling of Bossk. I have never “met” this bounty hunter in the original EU novels, but I have read about him in my New Essential Guide to Characters. From what I can tell, fans of this Trandoshan will not find fault with his depiction in Ezra’s Gamble. He seems almost unchanged from his previous deportment here.

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Next we have the novelization for Star Wars Rebels’ introductory film/episodes: The Rebellion Begins, written by Michael Kogge. This book is not quite as good as Ezra’s Gamble, but it is not bad because of that. It starts out in a different place than the show does; there is a build-up to the opening scenes viewers of the show saw when Spark of Rebellion first aired, adding context to the story and characters.

Since I do not want to spoil the beginning, all I will say is that you have to go through a prologue and two chapters before reaching the point where Spark of Rebellion officially begins onscreen. Ghosts are a motif throughout the book, and Agent Alexsandr Kallus gets some interesting moments here as well. By far, I like this novel most for how it deals with Kanan, showing his reticence and giving us a good idea of why he is so afraid to use the Force.

Hera comes through this novel well, as does Ezra. Zeb is presented in a good light, along with Sabine, though there is not as much depth for her as I would like. This is probably due to the fact that the book was written before her history was revealed, which means that Mr. Kogge did not have enough info on her to give us hints about her past. So while the story is quite satisfactory for someone just coming in to the series, it is rather annoying for a reader who has watched the show from the beginning to roughly half of its final season.

I wish they had more books like Ezra’s Gamble and The Rebellion Begins out on shelves. Mr. Kogge and Mr. Windham proved here that they can write good Star Wars fiction. I think that, if they were turned loose on this era of the mythos, they would do the prior EU writers proud – more so than the authors of The Lost Stars and the new novelization of A New Hope have. These writers did little for the franchise except to wrap current political arguments in Star Wars dressing, which is NOT what authors are supposed to do.

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An author’s job is to entertain his or her audience by telling great stories about good beating evil, not stories where a Rebel and an Imperial can fall in love and yet remain divided by one’s firm adherence to her oath to the Empire. Even Rebels’ writers had Kallus change sides when he learned the truth about the Empire, for Pete’s sake! Stories like The Lost Stars are supposed to end with the guy getting the girl, but this is not what happened in that “novel.”

(Warning for Younger Readers: The Lost Stars includes three completely unnecessary sex scenes. One of these practically qualifies as a rape, in my opinion, despite the fact that the woman involved told the man, “Don’t you dare stop.” I have never heard of a pre-Disney Star Wars story which approved of such behavior, as The Lost Stars seemed to do. Such books may have been written in the old EU, which means that I missed them. However, my impression from studying up on and personally reading older Star Wars fare was that even in a galaxy far, far away rape was rape, period, and that it was not to be accepted or approved of. EVER.)

Also, in my opinion, the latest junior novelization of A New Hope all but ruined Princess Leia for the next generation of readers. For some reason, the author of that book spent paragraph upon paragraph having Leia whine about how everyone expected her to be a demure little princess who could not take care of herself. Pardon me, readers, but that is pure Bantha fodder. Yes, Leia surprised everyone when she snatched the blaster rifle from Luke to shoot at the Stormtroopers in A New Hope. There is, however, a perfectly logical reason for that which has NOTHING to do with Luke, Han, or any other man believing she could not take care of herself because she was a woman.

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Remember that Luke lived a sheltered life on Tatooine. He had no more idea that princesses were trained to fight than Han had any idea of how to run a moisture farm. As it is, Han had been around the block many times, so he knew women who could and would fight. He just did not stop to think that anyone would take the time or have the inclination to teach a princess to fight, anymore than most of us automatically expect rich or important people in today’s world to pay for their children to be trained to defend themselves.

We do not expect this because most of these people do not insist their children learn self-defense. It is not because we think their children – both sons and daughters – could not be taught to fight. It is because so very few of them are taught the art of combat that we therefore expect so little of them. The same applies in this case to Han and Luke. The precedent for rulers of any kind teaching their children – whether they are princes, princesses, lordlings, etc. – to fight is so low that even in a galaxy far, far away, a farmboy and a smuggler can be taken by surprise when a noblewomen picks up a blaster and starts shooting with the skill of long practice.

Luke and Han’s surprise does not make them misogynists. It shows Luke’s naïveté and Han’s lack of refinement. Neither of these things makes them evil members of the patriarchy bent on keeping women down. It shows them being human, being men – something which is particularly interesting in regards to the scruffy scoundrel most people would automatically write off as a bad guy.

But now, in the New Order of the Cosmos, we cannot have men being gallant to women for the sake of their womanhood or even for the sake of the men’s own sacred honor. Nooo, we have to have female characters fuming about being “patronized” and “dominated by the patriarchy” before “overcoming it and proving” that they are just as good as men. That is all Leia does in the latest junior novelization of A New Hope – and it is absolutely infuriating.

Ezra’s Gamble and The Rebellion Begins do not have such stupidity in their narratives, which is another reason why I enjoy reading them. These books tip their helmets to the EU writers who kept Star Wars alive after Return of the Jedi left theaters, and they do the new characters in Rebels immense credit. Despite their limitations, I find these short novels worthy reading when I need good entertainment and a Star Wars fix.

If you do not like them, or they are not to your taste, I am sorry to hear that –although I accept the fact that they will not appeal to everyone. I thought it worth mentioning them, however, since they pay tribute to Star Wars instead of dishonor. Too much of the new material does the latter these days, which is why it is good to spotlight the better media produced for fans. Despite the ending for the final season, I think Rebels – and these two books preceding the series’ start – fall into that category.

Until next time, readers, may the Force be with you.

Spotlight: Star Wars’ Forgotten Heroines, Part 2

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Welcome back, readers! Once more we fly into the breach to learn about Star Wars’ forgotten heroines!

I know I am repeating myself here, but the fact that Disney ditched these women still astounds me. After forty years of build-up, the new owners for this beloved franchise cast aside characters they could have used in new stories. Even if they declared everything after Vision of the Future non-canon, there would have been enough leftover material to spawn new books, several dozen movies, and more than enough subject matter for TV shows like Rebels.

Every time I sit down and really think about it, I look sideways at Disney and say, “Why? Why waste all of that good material? You had a gold mine here, and you shut it down because….well, why did you shut it down?”

Several people have theories about why Disney dropped the old EU, but I won’t bore you with a recital, since these posts are supposed to be relatively cheerful. I already alluded to my own opinion in the post about the final season for Star Wars Rebels, which has not changed. I doubt it ever will, sadly. But the fact is that what’s done is done, and there is no point trying to alter it.

Yes, I know there are people petitioning for Disney to redo Episode VIII. While I sympathize with them, since Carrie Fisher is (hopefully) residing in a galaxy far, far away now, there is no method by which that film can be redone while including her. Disney has already signed an agreement stating they will not use CGI to bring Leia back into the franchise, and even if a cast and crew could be found to remake the rest of the movie, working in Fisher’s existing scenes to a new movie would take a lot of work. It might not result in a good film, either.

More to the point, there’s no way in Mustafar that the kingmakers in Hollywood would let a remade Episode VIII into theaters. Most of the “important people” in Tinseltown have hated Star Wars and the majority of its fans since the first film came out, and many will go on hating it and us ‘til the day they die. I’m sorry, but there’s just no way around that or The Last Jedi. The only things which those of us who dislike the new films have got are the original movies, the original EU, and stories by some bright creators who want to do homage to the original movies.

With that in mind, let’s go back to the listing I started yesterday. One of the best ways to keep the original Star Wars alive is for its fans to show the old EU to new readers and prospective fans, which is why I wrote these two posts. So, without further ado, let’s look at some more of the leading ladies from the original SW timeline:

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Jan Ors: Jan Ors was a Rebellion operative/spy who reported directly to Mon Mothma. While in a Rebel asteroid base, she was one of several Rebels captured – but not executed – by Imperial Stormtrooper and future Jedi knight Kyle Katarn. Although on opposite sides in the war, Kyle immediately felt a connection with Jan, as she did with him. This led him to spare her life and the lives of most of her compatriots. It was after this act of mercy that Kyle learned his father, Morgan, had been killed in a “Rebel” strike on their homeworld of Sulon.

At first, this made Kyle extremely hateful toward the Rebellion, including Jan and her friends, whom he met again before he was to enter Imperial service fully. It was during a brief fight with Ors’ companions that Kyle was to have his eyes opened to the truth; during the conflict, Jan name dropped Sulon, catching Kyle’s attention. She was able to prove to him that his father – who was a Rebel sympathizer and supporter – had been killed by the Empire, not the Rebellion.

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Jan Ors and Kyle Katarn

Kyle immediately defected after this, helping Jan and her fellows escape back to the Rebellion. There he became an agent who specifically answered to Mon Mothma, running missions she would trust to no one else. Kyle soon proved to be a one-man wrecking crew, carting up to six or more heavy weapons during his missions. Jan accompanied him on some of his assignments, one of the most famous being his operation to stop the Empire’s Dark Trooper program. In that event, she was his “mission officer.” This basically meant that she sat in front of enemy lines and, after giving Kyle needed info, watched with a bag of popcorn while he cut a swath of carnage through enemy ranks.

From what I have read, we never got to see Jan run her own missions very often. Usually, when she appeared, it was because she was being rescued by Kyle. This wasn’t because she was an incompetent agent and couldn’t handle her own; the reason she needed rescuing so often was because everyone who wanted Kyle Katarn knew the best way to get him angry was to threaten or “kill” Ors. During her own missions, it seems, Jan didn’t have near as much to worry about. She was a good shot and a capable fighter – at least where the average Imperials were concerned.

Throw in Dark Jedi, though, and she was out of her depth. On those occasions she very wisely did the sensible thing, which was to sit down, shut up, and pray Kyle would find her before the bad guys decided she was more trouble than she was worth. Because he was Force-sensitive, Kyle always managed to find her, despite the fact that her friendship with him was what usually got her into these messes.

None of this is what led Jan to turn down Kyle’s repeated offers of marriage, though. No, she turned him down because they were both fighters involved in the myriad wars which afflicted the Star Wars galaxy following Return of the Jedi. Any day could be their last, and Jan didn’t want to have Kyle for a brief space of time only to lose him a day, a week, or an hour later. It is also probable that she knew that, whenever she was captured or appeared to “die,” Kyle skirted dangerously close to the Dark Side in order to rescue/avenge her. If she actually died in combat with an enemy, the last thing Jan wanted was for her death to make him into one of the monsters they fought so hard against. Better they stayed friends; that way, whatever happened wouldn’t hurt as much as if they were man and wife.

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Since Kyle was originally one of the agents who stole pieces of the plans for the first Death Star, there is no compelling reason explaining why he and Jan were not included in the film Rogue One. The writers could have written the story so that Galen Erso was Galen Ors, making Jyn the twin or older/younger sister of Jan Ors. If they had gone that route, the story would have been twice as interesting and complex as it was; remember, in the original EU, Jan worked directly for Mon Mothma. The film writers could have maintained this for the movie; in order to protect Jan from general interest, Mon Mothma could keep the younger woman as her private agent.

It would have added extra tension for Jyn’s story, too. Say the sisters were both “dumped” by Saw Gerrera, but one returned to the Rebellion (Jan) while the other rebelled in her own way (Jyn). Throw Kyle into the mix to play off of the wayward Cassian Andor and Jan, and the writers have got a boiling kettle of emotions to play with. Then, at the end, Jan and Kyle are the only members of the Rogue One team to survive the mission, emailing the plans to Leia moments before hightailing it back to Yavin for their next assignment. Boom, you have material for more fill-in movies starring Jan and Kyle as they deal with the aftermath of the Rogue One mission and Kyle’s Jedi adventures. It’s a win-win all the way around.

But the new guys didn’t do that. Bummer.

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Mallatobuck: Mallatobuck is here because I do not know if she survived the switch to the new timeline. In the original EU, Chewbacca married Mallatobuck several years before A New Hope. Together they had one son, Lumpawarrump (yes, that is really his name, and yes, Lowbacca was a better choice). I do not know too much more about her, having not encountered her anywhere outside my New Essential Guide to Characters. I understand she was in the less-than-appealing Star Wars Christmas Special, but really, that show was not her fault. If, as I suspect, Mallatobuck did not make the new timeline’s cut, we are down yet another interesting character.

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Vima-Da-Boda: Descended from the famous ancient Jedi Nomi Sunrider and her daughter, Vima Sunrider, we first hear about Vima-Da-Boda in Kevin J. Anderson’s Jedi Search. A Jedi from the pre-Clone Wars Order, Vima went mad after her own daughter fell to the Dark Side. She ended up in the spice mines of Kessel, where she met and gave rudimentary training to the future maverick Jedi Knight Kyp Durron. It was apparently enough for the kid to pull off mind tricks on the people running the mines.

Somehow, Luke or one of our other heroes found Vima in time to solicit her help fighting the reborn Emperor Palpatine (that part is complicated). Later on she became an instructor at Luke’s new Jedi Academy, seemingly recovered from the despair-induced madness she suffered when she lost her daughter.

The old EU was initially more flexible about Jedi breaking the ban on marriage before the Purge than the new one is. Corran Horn, as we saw yesterday, was descended from a long line of upstart Corellian Jedi. New Jedi Knight Kam Solusar’s father, Jedi Master Ranik Solusar, caused a real upset in the old Jedi Council when he married and fathered Kam, who was old enough to run off into Wild Space rather than die in the Purge or become a Dark Side follower of Palpatine.

And during the years between the Jedi Purge and the Rebellion, there were surviving Jedi like Kanan Jarrus who just plain ignored the ban because it did not matter any more. All of this makes Vima’s descent from a long line of Jedi women rather unsurprising. It was actually one of the things I really liked about the old EU; by the time of the Purge, Jedi were practically banned from marriage. But when Luke’s new Order came on the scene, they could break with that ban because, like the original Jedi Knights millenia ago, they were starting almost from scratch.

I would have been REALLY happy if the writers had kept this aspect of the original EU for the sequel films. It is still mind-boggling to me that they wiped out Luke’s new Jedi Order prior to TFA. What would be wrong with having new Jedi from the books Force-jumping out of drop ships into the melee on Takodana? The writers could have gotten Kyle Katarn, Corran Horn, Kam Solusar, and lots of other cameos into that film and Episode VIII easily in that manner.

But they didn’t do it. *Sigh.*

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The Dark Woman: This Jedi, who wielded a purple lightsaber like Mace Windu and Jaina Solo, was so devoted to the Force that she renounced her very name in its service. A Jedi Master, the Dark Woman trained Ki-Adi-Mundi to Knighthood but failed to take care of future bounty hunter Aurra Sing. Her inability to train Aurra, while not entirely her fault, made her unpopular with the Jedi Council.

Nevertheless, two years after the Battle of Naboo, the Dark Woman took over the training of A’Sharad Hett, the son of the great Jedi Knight Sharad Hett. A’Sharad had been raised among the Tusken Raiders of Tatooine and was Ki-Adi-Mundi’s apprentice until he accidentally brushed the Dark Side. At that point, the Dark Woman stepped in and took over his training.

I do not know how things ended for A’Sharad – I hope he lived to meet Luke at some point in the old EU – but I know that the Dark Woman died on an Outer Rim world shortly before the Battle of Yavin. Rumor has it Mara Jade was the one who located her, but it was unquestionably Darth Vader who killed her. Aurra Sing must have been disappointed, since she had already accepted a contract on the Jedi Master’s life just before Vader found the Dark Woman. Sing joked she would have killed her former master for free, since she was still smoldering over the woman’s perceived abandonment of her years earlier.

The Dark Woman is here primarily because I do not know if she made it into the new timeline. Apart from the fact that she is interesting on her own, I would really like to know if her last apprentice survived the Purge by going back to live with the Tusken Raiders. There would have been a very interesting story there if he had – not to mention another new candidate for Luke’s Academy.

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Tahiri Veila: Like A’Sharad Hett, Tahiri Veila was raised by Tatooine’s Tusken Raiders. They killed her parents on their homestead but, for some reason, the Sand People decided Tahiri was worth keeping around. Luke eventually discovered her and brought her to Yavin IV, where she and Anakin Solo quickly began a Romance Reel. Captured and brutally abused/brainwashed by the Yuuzhan Vong, Tahiri was eventually rescued by Anakin. The two never got past their first kiss; Anakin died a little later in order to destroy creatures the Yuuzhan Vong had designed specifically to hunt Jedi.

This must have really upset Tahiri, since Jacen was later able to take her as his Dark Side apprentice. Even after being redeemed from the Dark Side, Tahiri never went on to become a full Jedi Knight. Instead she became a bounty hunter, which I think was a total waste of her potential by the writers for those stories. Seriously, why didn’t the writers for the new timeline have Tahiri and Anakin married by The Force Awakens? It would have been nice if they had had a child or several children, too.

I have always thought it was highly unfair that the old EU writers never let Leia and Han have more than one grandchild to carry on the Solo name after losing both their boys. It is one of (several) things I had half-hoped the new timeline would correct. Giving Anakin and Tahiri a child would also have prevented her from falling off of the Light Side bandwagon, something else which has always upset me. Truly, readers, I think the destruction of Star Wars began toward the end of the old EU, as will be demonstrated when we look at the next heroine on our list….

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Tionne Solusar: The near-human wife of Jedi Knight Kam Solusar, Tionne could use her voice and music to amplify her Force powers. In the Young Jedi Knights series, Luke liked to cede the floor to her so she could teach his students Jedi history by singing it. According to the books, her voice was spell-binding; listeners did not quite see visions of the past when she played and sang, but neither could they find the heart to interrupt her or take their minds off of whatever lesson she was teaching.

I do not know much about Tionne. She was an under-used heroine in Star Wars long before the new timeline. Recently, I learned that during Jacen Solo’s Dark Side reign, Tionne was killed and mutilated by his forces. Her husband, Kam, was in the same battle. Though he was left for dead, he didn’t die, but I sure don’t envy those who had to tell him about Tionne. And if he saw what was done to her – blogger winces – Good Lord, that was even worse for the two of them.

If this brutal end for Tionne Solusar does not prove that the Star Wars haters had already gotten their talons into the franchise before Disney bought it, I don’t know what does. There was no reason for the authors to murder Tionne like this – none. It was done out of pure spite to the franchise and its fans. That was my big problem with Star Wars from the Yuuzhan Vong War onward; characters were killed off either for shock “value,” to add “gravitas” to the universe (how can you get more grim than “planet destroying, man-made moon”?), or as a way to demoralize and dishearten new readers and old fans.

Everything people are complaining about in the new film trilogy started with the old EU’s Yuuzhan Vong War. This is why I find the new films even more disappointing than most others do; Disney had a chance to clean up the mess the novel writers were making with the new trilogy. But instead of seizing this opportunity with both hands, they let it pass.

There is no excuse for that, readers. None whatsoever.

Moranda Savich: Moranda Savich is the last heroine on this list that I will discuss in detail. A pickpocket and information courier for Talon Karrde’s organization, Moranda played a big role in Vision of the Future, trying to help Wedge Antilles and Corran Horn find out who wanted to sabotage the Bothawui planetary shield generators.

Spunky and sharp, with a whiplash wit and keen mind, I am pretty sure Moranda bit the dust before the book ended. She was a lot of fun, and I was sad to lose her. So having a young Moranda Savich chasing around the galaxy in Rebels at some point would have been great for me. I get the feeling there were a lot of stories behind the old, grandmotherly woman we meet first in Specter of the Past.

Oh, well, what’s done is done, and there is no undoing it now. *Sigh.*

Well, readers, that was a long post, wasn’t it? I am going to finish this article with a list of heroines I do not know enough about just yet. Others I know a little something of, but because they are in a video game (KOTOR), I will let those who are interested pick the program up and play it to encounter them personally.

Right now, I am off to plan my next torture routine – ah, I mean, post. So here are the Honorable Mentions from Star Wars’ very, very lengthy list of heroines. You can look them up at your leisure, or wait for me to get around to writing about them in the future. That will probably be a long wait, though, so you may want to check ‘em out yourselves:

Gaeriel Captison Thanas, Callista, Siri Tachi, Xaverri, Lorana Jinzler, Teneniel Djo, Anja Gallandro, Releqy A’kla, Tash Arranda, Aril Nunb, Lieda Mothma, Sera Faleur Darklighter, Mirith Sinn, Dr. Qwi Xux, Mission Vao, Nomi Sunrider, Vima Sunrider, Jori Daragon, Bastila Shan, Tendra Risant Calrissian, Jysella Horn, Rianna Saren – and many, many more I cannot yet name, but which I hope to know in the future.

May the Force be with you, readers