Tag Archives: Legacy of the Force


51l3ROGsfaLI am now officially caught up with all thing Star Wars. By which I mean not the comic books, not most of the prequel era or Sith era novels, not the young adult section books, and not the video games. But at least all of the future of the galaxy stuff, right? Well, probably all of that, anyway. Definitely all of the current big time Legacy of the Force series. So fancy! Nothing new until late February, which is probably more time away than I’ve spent reading the first seven books in the series, so that’s probably going to be a relief for some people, I bet.

Fury chronicles another chapter in the descent of Darth Caedus from grey-shaded humanity toward Sithy goodness evilness, in the galactic civil war at large, and in perennial heroic families Skywalker and Solo’s attempts to work against those forces and try to bring about something good from it all, the kind of galaxy where people can solve things diplomatically instead of by starting wars, building or utilizing planet-destroying megaweapons, or disassembling other people via the aggressive use of lightsabers. There is some dramatic irony in the fact that Caedus’ only moments of humanity these days revolve around his interactions with and thoughts about his daughter, despite that without his monofocus on her well-being at the expense of the other sons and daughters out there in the galaxy, he wouldn’t have fallen to the Dark Side in the first place. But if you leave that out of consideration, there’s nothing particularly special about this book to distinguish it from any other good Star Wars story. The ground is well-trodden by now, is what I’m saying, and as the series ramps up towards its finale, there’s not really any room for the unexpected twists and thematic explorations that marked the early volumes.

I do have an active complaint, which is about the series as a whole rather than this particular book; but now is as good a time as any. Even though the series has been tightly plotted, the breaks between books are far too jarring. One author (this one) is invested in the space battles, and another feels the stirrings of the Force on a regular basis if you know what I mean, and the third has an enormous hard-on for Boba Fett. And there’s nothing particularly wrong with any of these things, except that the books are written alternatingly by each author, with only enough attention paid to the other authors’ foci to maintain that it’s a single series and probably these earlier references will come back before everything is over. I’m fine with Fett still being alive and in the series, but if he pops up tangentially to the story, disappears for two books other than a few throwaway lines, pops back up on an even greater tangent to the story and then disappears for two more books minus a few more throwaway lines, then by the time he pops up for the third time, I’m going to feel a little jerked around by the pacing, even if he’s suddenly integral. And of course that’s only the one author; the other two are doing the same thing but with the characters they’re in love with instead. So, that’s the fly in an otherwise extremely entertaining serial ointment.


519vbU0Qg1LThe upshot of all these Star Wars books lately is that after the next one, I’ll be caught up to the release schedule. Also, there are only two more after that one, so however you look at it, it ends soon by volume if not by calendar date. On to the 6th book, Inferno, where I am continuing to be amused by the Amazon reviews of the series. For five books, people have been complaining that the plot is moving along too slowly, and nothing is happening, and it’s lame. Now that we’ve come to the first book past the crisis point of the series, where events are spiraling rapidly out of anyone’s control, people are complaining that the writing used to be intelligent and character-driven and possibly philosophical, whereas now it’s flat and derivative. Luckily, I occupy a middle ground devoid of shrillness.

The truth is, the first few books were chock full of philosophy and character development, none of it outstanding in the literary sense but most of it quite good, and well above previous Star Wars fare. And those elements were important to providing a convincing fall from Jedi to Sith as well as to providing a plausible excuse for family and friends not to have acted sooner. Each incremental change wasn’t so bad, and it even seemed that an act as despicable as trying to destroy one’s parents’ ship could be forgivable in context, although obviously a sign of a mind darkened by circumstance. Now that Darth Caedus[1] has moved on to such actions as setting the Wookiee homeworld[2] to burn, well, you might say that’s a cartoonishly evil decision. But for my part, it doesn’t seem all that far out of line from the last such decision he made, and there has to be a point at which you take an action that is tactically as well as strategically sound but which people use as the catalyst to finally re-qualify you in their minds as the bad guy, no matter what they wish were the case. If you never do anything like that and are eventually able to bring peace and order to the galaxy regardless, then, well, probably nobody would oppose the Sith in the first place, right? The obvious parallel is to the destruction of Alderaan, and I’ll argue for hours that this was nowhere near as capricious and cartoonish as that.

Anyway, that’s what the book is mostly about. Now that Caedus has reached his turning point in the prior book, the remaining characters get the chance to catch up to the way the galaxy is these days and start closing ranks and drawing battle lines. Which means more space battles, more lightsaber duels, more pitched fights with blasters against menacingly-uniformed troopers, all the excitement that those early book reviewers were asking for. Both aspects have worked throughout the series, for me, but I’m not going to complain that the scales are tipping toward the exciting end of things. I do wish that one of the three authors of the series had a little bit more investment in R2-D2, but as complaints go, that’s pretty minor.

[1] Yes, he’s a full blown Sith Lord now. And yes, I’m finally able to allude directly to who I mean with still no fear of spoilers, just as though the original name would be one that more than a fraction of my readers had ever heard before.
[2] As Star Trek fans would call it. Kashyyyk for the sake of accuracy[3], but again, what fraction of my readers has heard that name? I feel confident that many of them have heard of Wookiees, at least.
[3] Did I know this prior to reading the book, down to the correct spelling? I did.[4]
[4] Still, ladies, I have a lot of good qualities!


51AwFtja8bLIn a fit of irony, the middle book of the current Star Wars series has had the most to offer the fans I was complaining about last time, while simultaneously being the least tightly constructed of the books so far. On the one hand, wow with the events. Sacrifice contains, among other things, the pivotal moment foretold since the first book of the series in which the Sith apprentice comes into his full power as well as two more things I have typed and later deleted because they would be major spoilers. Well, one would be; the other would be if you knew it in advance, because there’s all kinds of obvious foreshadowing for it, if you know that something is coming. I know, because I knew in advance and the foreshadowing was kind of clubbing me about the head and neck. But that’s not too bad of a thing, really; I just wish I hadn’t known.

So, I’m all approval about the ongoing Skywalker-Solo family story and the ways it ties into the current galactic-scale storyline. The thing is, though, it also contains a completely separate story about Boba Fett’s efforts to rebuild the Mandalorian people into a stable civilization as well as his efforts to rebuild his life and his family ties. Which are well-written and interesting, but at no point do they really intersect with the ongoing storyline, like they did when he was last present in the second book. And if there was a theme to tie everything together where the events failed to, well, I missed it this time. To recap, there’s a lot of good storytelling, but it’s not very deep and consists of two unrelated stories. So, y’know, fun to read, but I can’t exactly call it good writing. Naturally, therefore, all of the Amazon reviews seem to be full of praise.

I can’t decide if I’m more sad for me, being attached to a fandom that doesn’t really appreciate technical skill in prose, or if I’m more sad for the authors who have to this point been putting together a solid piece of fiction (genre or otherwise), both per book and overall, but who have been derided by their nominal fans all along despite this accomplishment of something I haven’t ever seen in trademark fiction. (Well, or whatever you call it when there’s a property that’s being farmed out to multiple authors after success outside the written word.)


51cG8I-R2WLSo, yeah, Star Wars books. Whenever I go to Amazon to dig up my book link, I inevitably see a few reviews that other people have written on whatever the particular book is. And as far as Exile and the previous books in the Legacy of the Force go, the reviews seem one and all to lament that there’s not enough action in the series. And from a certain perspective that’s true. Lightsabers have been wielded aplenty, but the space battles have been rare at best, and if one is reading for the looming civil war between Corellia and her allies against the Galactic Alliance, I can see where that would be disappointing. Although you’d think that the fact that the stalemate has broken and the escalations have begun would be enough to satisfy people.

Anyhow, that’s not important. What is important is that I’m pretty sure these people have pretty solidly missed what the series is actually about, and this civil war isn’t it. What it is is a full-on Greek tragedy, pitting parents against children, brothers against sisters, and so on. It’s a very deliberate tale because you have to set up every aspect of the tragedy just so. The civil war? That’s just a pretext-slash-backdrop for the important events. Of course, now that I’ve defended the series for a paragraph or two, I have to admit that the plot dragged a fair bit more than in previous books. That is, big events occurred in the story; the civil war has reached its decision point past which peace is no longer an option, and the two principle characters have passed their own critical decision points as well. But the small events were a lot less epic-feeling than they have been in the previous books, and it’s hard not to be disappointed by that, no matter how pleased I am with the overall story progress.


imgresI just finished the third Legacy of the Force book. (Yes, already. No, the next one won’t be Star Wars. Honest. Probably the one after that, though.)

Anyway, though, it was really good. The villain of the piece keeps getting darker, in interesting and often disturbing ways. He’s become very skilled at hiding his worst acts, which is nice. Because, a few times I’ve had trouble believing that all the people around him are able to let him proceed unchallenged, but everything he shows to the external world looks principled and only occasionally flawed, instead of the actively ruthless and all but evil decisions they truly are. So, one thing I’m enjoying about Tempest is that dance in which suspicions are raised and deflected, former friends are manipulated and attacked and then those actions are barely able to be justified. He doesn’t have much time left under cover, our aspiring Sith Lord, but I’m pleased by that too, because the thematically appropriate moment to turn the shadow play into an actual war is nearly upon us.

Even better than all that, though, the final third of the book played like the climax of a Star Wars movie. Daring escapes through deadly space battles, lightsaber duels that would easily transfer to the screen, and the John Williams themes thundering through my head on continuous loop. These things were missing from the previous novels, and as strongly characterized as they were, I knew I was hurting for something. I hope the step up can be maintained; if so, this is going to be better than the previous Yuuzhan Vong storyline, and with room to spare.

Spoiler character thoughts behind the cut.

Continue reading


51vYDOXEpILHave I been going crazy with the Star Wars books? Apparently! And I doubt I’m likely to slow down much anytime soon, despite an intention to space them out at least minimally. It helped for this one that I spent a solid day at the airport, of course. It would have been only a bit over half a day, except that I traded my seat on a plane for a free round trip voucher. That kind of behavior is, of course, completely awesome, because it means I get to fly somewhere else now, but for free. And since I seem to make quite a few of these trips, that is definitely a good thing.

Also a good thing, though, is having a Star Wars book to read while sitting around the airport. I mean, if it’s a good one. But it’s cool, because Bloodlines was. There was plenty and more involving the brink of civil war and the growing Sith menace I mentioned regarding the last book, about which more later; but the story the author really wanted to tell was a familial yarn about Boba Fett and his family. (Apparently, he had a family once aside from his father, which I was not previously aware of either, and yes, the extended universe authors brought him out of the Sarlacc alive years and years ago. (And if you don’t know what that means, then probably the book and the review alike are not for you. But it does have good themes, nevertheless, about which also more later.)) Said yarn is reasonably decent, but largely uncompelling outside the greater framework in which it was placed. Inside that framework, which has Fett’s family in microcosm, the galactic “family” in macrocosm, and the Solo-Skywalker family in, um, cosm all three parallely coming apart at the stress-ridden seams and for the same basic reasons, well, it’s damned compelling indeed. And just like in real life, for contradictory reasons at that. Putting on blinders to protect yourself from seeing who people really are, but also ascribing antagonistic motives to people too easily; taking the easiest path available without addressing the hard questions at the core of it all, but also being so paralyzed by trying to address hard questions that the easy solutions slip by; failing to account for the impact our past has on our future, but also focusing on the past too closely to keep track of the important things in the present. Which is all vague and high-handed frippery, really, but I like a book that makes me pause and think and also want to shake the characters to get them to see sense. And I especially like a book that lets me accept that sometimes sense isn’t there to be seen: that senselessness happens too, and all we can do is start getting ready to pick up the pieces after the storm has passed.

Yeah, and I didn’t really plan to write any of that. There was the “family in crisis” parallels, and after that I was done except for this one last thing. But apparently I liked the book better than I thought, if all that came spilling out. So that’s cool. But mostly, I wanted to talk about the Sith bit. As much as I liked the tragic fall of Anakin Skywalker, the one thing this series is excelling at is schooling George Lucas in what it means to write about Star Wars. Because these three authors (well, admittedly only two so far) are going above and beyond on providing a plausible Sith conversion. For Anakin, certainly the Jedi worked very hard at pushing him into the position he found himself, but without a huge gaping flaw in his character, the Sith Lord could never have won him over. But <spoiler averted>’s story is completely different from that. Every individual step taken has made sense rationally, and most of them are even steps I would have agreed with. There were a couple of obvious blind spots where selfishness trumped rationality, but even then, it only caused a bad but rational step, not a truly irrational one. Admittedly, I’ve been troubled by aspects of the character in question for about the previous ten books, but it’s really impressive to behold a basically likable character transform into a disturbing sociopath over the course of just two books, during which I agree with the majority of his individual actions. The upshot of all of which is, this is going to be a really ugly and disturbing story, before it’s all over. But also probably very good.


Betrayal(LOF)I guess I mentioned a new Star Wars series, right? I’ve read the first one, and even before I was pondering my review, I stumbled upon an enormous problem. See, between Return of the Jedi and this book, there are some 50 plus other novels, all directly contributing to the timeline in often meaningful ways. And the book assumes you know all of that stuff before you start reading it. (It assumed knowledge of events in the comic series from the 80s, for that matter.) Sure, I have a lot of this knowledge. But damn, it’s hard to write a useful review for people who probably don’t have it. Ultimately, I think, impossible. So expect the reviews of these books to be spoiler-cut early and often, even though my intention is to mostly only talk about spoilers for previous Extended Universe events.

As far as what I can talk about, wow, Betrayal is an intense book. After the resolution of the long war against the Empire and another war against an extra-galactic foe, stability should finally be the watchword. Instead, a civil war is looming as Corellia (famed for being the homeworld of Han Solo) and a coalition of other planets is agitating to not give up their personal defense fleets in favor of a unified army provided by the Galactic Alliance to which most inhabited worlds belong. And even as the schism threatens to tear families and friendships apart, one man is hearkening the overall situation as well as his personal one back to similar circumstances two generations previously, when Anakin Skywalker was balanced on the razor’s edge between the galaxy’s need for peace, order, and stability, and his own need to protect his loved ones. There’s a sense of ominous foreboding throughout the novel. History is doomed to repeat itself; the only unanswered question is, how bad can it get?

Upshot: I guess I could talk about it without more than vaguely referencing the events of the intervening 40 or so years. But expect future reviews in the series to have massive spoilers after all. Vagueness and handwavery can only carry me so far.