Darth Maul Shadowhunter Review & Continuity

Darth Maul-ShadowHunter

The first adult novel with a Darth Maul adventure.

If one has seen Star Wars: The Phantom Menace and realizes where this book lies in the timeline, one might assume one knows how it ends. If Darth Maul gets halved by Obi-Wan there, he clearly doesn’t die here. But sometimes the journey is more important than the destination. Sometimes, things don’t turn out as one would expect. Even the Sith are not infallible.

One of the Trade Federation neimodians has bolted, taking information that could reveal the Sith’s plans to have them blockade Naboo. Darth Maul is tasked with finding him and destroying all who have that information.

This story is shockingly good.The characters pull one into their lives and make them root for their victories. With a Darth Maul breathing down their necks, its hard to put down. I cringed every time one made a wrong choice, knowing it could be there last.

Darsha Assant is a a Jedi padawan facing what she thinks are the trials to grant her Knighthood. But the trials laid out by the Jedi Council are not the worst of the trial she faces. What she ends up with is a journey through the worst of Coruscant, with a corellian who bears a grudge against a Jedi, his droid partner, and a Sith on there trail.

Lorn Pavan, Corellian information broker, lives on the shady side of the street. But this is only because of a very personal falling out with the Jedi Order. But now he has to deal with one or die and that means he gets to know the person, not just the Order. Lorn’s fate will impact future stories. His reasons for disliking the Order are revealed slowly through the book. But now that Darth Maul is on his trail, he’ll take what help he can get.

I5YQ-closeup

I5YQ-from the New Essential Guide to Droids

IFive, independent partner and droid, proves to be very far removed in abilities and attitude from C3PO, though they both started life as protocol droids. IFive has had a rough existence, bringing up the question of just what is ‘life’ and what rights do droids have, or should they have. Loyal partner that he is, he thinks for himself. He too has an important future.

Darth Maul remembers some of his training under the Sith and is forced to use stealth and cunning to deal with many of his targets. Kill them however he likes, but he cannot reveal the existence of the Sith. There must be no witnesses.

The destination is less important than the journey in this book making this an amazing story of forgiveness, redemption and growth for the hero characters.

Affect on Continuity:

Introduced Characters:
  • IFive will go on to star in the Medstar Duology followed by the Coruscant Nights series.
  • Tuden Sal, Pavan’s shady contact, will also appear in Coruscant Nights.
  • Anoon Bondara, Darsha’s Jedi Master, is mentioned again in Cloak of Deception, set right before this in the timeline.

Notable Continuity Mentions:

Black Sun, introduced in Shadows of the Empire (which is set during the Empire) is thriving. Their circumstances tie into the Darth Maul comic book storyline set before this.

Cthons, the mutants of the underworld of Coruscant are first named here, after being indirectly mentioned in Jedi Search.

Darsha thinks of other Jedi Padawans, notably those from the Jedi Apprentice series by Jude Watson.

The Teräs Käsi fighting style used by Darth Maul and Anoon Bondara first appeared in the Shadows of the Empire novel.

Complications:

Darth Maul is mentioned as being the other half of the Sith, though Darth Plagueis was alive at this time. However, future stories suggest Maul did not know there were any others besides he and his Master.

Darth Maul is mentioned as Iridonian Zabrak. The Clone Wars stories later change his history to a Dathomiri Zabrak. There was no time for this to be explained in continuity due to the Disney buyout and cancellation of both The Clone Wars and the Expanded Universe immediately after.

This book was a New York Times Best Seller

Allegiance Review

Shannon McRandle as Mara Jade

Shannon McRandle as Mara Jade

Description:

Never before has the incendiary mix of action, politics, and intrigue that has become Timothy Zahn’s trademark, been more evident that in this new Star Wars epic. On the heels of the stunning events chronicled in Star Wars: A New Hope, the newly minted heroes of the Rebellion–fledgling Jedi Luke Skywalker, smuggler turned reluctant freedom-fighter Han Solo, and Princess Leia Organa, a bold leader with a world to avenge–must face the harsh realities of the cataclysmic conflict into which they have so bravely plunged. From this point forward, legends will grow, treachery will abound, and lives will be irrevocably altered, in the long, hard fight to counter the fist of tyranny and restore hope to a galaxy too long in darkness.

My View:

The story jumps between the main trilogy heroes, Luke, Leia and Han,  Mara Jade (AKA The Emperor’s Hand), and the Imperial Stormtrooper group who find themselves on the wrong end of the Imperial Security Bureau. Forced to go rogue, the Stormtroopers name themselves the Hand of Judgement and set out to right the wrongs of corruption.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about this is that its a story about trying to do the right thing for the little person, no matter how hard it is. In this respect, while Mara Jade and the rogue Stormtroopers all believe in the Empire and Emperor, they also recognize that are times corruption has set in. So in their own way, while still not turning into Rebels, they seek to help the little guy. This sets them on a collision course with each other as well as the Rebels. As it turns out…they all have the same enemy this time around.

I really enjoyed how Luke and Leia, both trying to keep a low profile, can’t resist someone in need and take action. It showed that on some level, they think alike. It’s very appropriate for twins. And how Leia is expected to keep a low profile shows a whole new side to her. Luke meanwhile has to deal with the spirit of Kenobi whispering in his ear and guiding him…which also doesn’t help with the low profile business. Their allegiance to doing the right thing by the little guy is the core of being a Jedi, whether they know it (and whether the Jedi always remembered it) or not. Han’s attitude was very much of a guy who doesn’t yet want to admit that he’s really in this, because he believes in it, as opposed to just out of friendship.

The stormtroopers were a nice change, giving face to the faceless and revealing how people honestly believed in the Empire and yet could still end up in trouble with them. And their determination to keep helping the innocent while wearing the armor is heroic. They know, eventually, what may happen when the ISB catches up. Yet they don’t blame the entire Empire for the ISB’s corruption.  They were individuals, definitely not clones, with their own preferences and quirks. Each one had to face the question of what to do when you are given orders you know are criminally wrong. Each one had to decide between loyalty to one friend who was in trouble (and in the right) and whether going along with him was worth their careers and lives. Truly, where does their Allegiance lie? With the government and citizens they are sworn to serve or with it’s corrupt leaders?

Mara Jade’s relationship with Vader gets introduced. They aren’t together much but for those who know how Palpatine groomed Anakin Skywalker, one can see how Vader might react to this girl being treated the way he once was. Of course, she doesn’t know that.  And its also clear when it comes to his passions (Luke), Vader is, to use 3PO’s term ‘not entirely stable’ emotionally. Anyone who gets in between Luke and his father, even the Emperor’s Hand, is in serious danger.

The ending was a nice twist. Just when you think you figure out the stormtroopers, one surprises you. There is also a nice tie in to The Empire Strikes Back, as we see how ‘Ozzel’ ends up under Vader and hints that he’d been given just enough noose to…well, choke himself.

Other Stories about these Characters and Places

This book ties into the sequel ‘Choices of One’.

Mara Jade was introduced in the post ROTJ book Heir to the Empire as the Emperor’s Hand. This story is set before that. She is young in this, no older than Luke, but better trained.

Other stories with Mara:

  • Choices of One
  • Sleight of Hand: The Tale of Mara Jade
  • By the Emperor’s Hand
  • First Contact (Adventure Journal/Anthology)
  • Jade Solitaire (Adventure Journal/Anthology)
  • Heir to the Empire
  • Dark Force Rising
  • The Last Command
  • Jedi Academy Trilogy
  • I, Jedi
  • Mysteries of the Sith (Video Game)
  • Ambush at Corellia
  • Assault on Selonia
  • Showdown at Centerpoint
  • Specter of the Past
  • Vision of the Future
  • Union (Dark Horse Comics)
  • Judge’s Call
  • Survivor’s Quest
  • New Jedi Order Series
  • Dark Nest Crisis Trilogy
  • Legacy of the Force Series

The character Disra, appears in:

  • Specter of the Past
  • Vision of the Future.

The way Mara is treated by the Emperor reminded me of how he treated Anakin Skywalker, in:

  • Jedi Quest, the False Peace
  • Labyrinth of Evil
  • Secrets of the Jedi
  • Attack of the Clones
  • Revenge of the Sith

In these, he acted the part of benevolent adviser to Anakin.

Luke, Leia and Han:

Dark Horse Comics

  • Empire Series
  • Rebellion Series
  • Shadows of the Empire (comic adaptation)
  • Evolution

Bantam

  • Shadows of the Empire

Del Rey

  • Han Solo Trilogy (Ann Crispin)
  • Han Solo Trilogy (Brian Daley)
  • Razor’s Edge (Leia)
  • Honor Among Thieves (Han)
  • Scoundrels (Han)
  • Rebel Forces (YA)

 

The appear in nearly anything post Return of the Jedi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kenobi Review

How does a Jedi Master, a servant of Justice disappear? Not easily, when the Force keeps putting him right in the middle of trouble.
Wanting nothing more than to blend in, Obi-Wan finds himself discovering (or rediscovering) that for some people, there is trouble and drama enough in their neighborhood and those struggles are enough without galaxy wide wars, Empires and Republics and Jedi and Sith.

This is truly a ‘western’ of the Star Wars galaxy, with the colonists a mishmash of species (though mostly human), Tusken Raiders replacing the Native American Indians, and the Hutt henchmen for the outlaws.

The story is told from Anileen’s point of view, except for Obi-Wan’s meditations. It would be nice to have more of him, but it does work. We get to see where ‘crazy wizard’ idea began.

Obi-Wan finds an unlikely new friend in Anileen, who needs him as much as he needs her. It’s not a romantic friendship. But it is awkward as he can’t afford to be noticed. And just as an additional jolt her nickname is Annie…reminding him of the ‘Ani’ that he lost. He is wrestling with his own guilt, regret and loss of family as well as how to disappear and still watch over the young Luke Skywalker. How can he still be Kenobi, the servant of light and justice, yet sit by while injustice is done before his very nose?

This book is a nice change of pace. Obi-Wan himself is struggling with that very ‘change of pace’ he is so unaccustomed too just as we might wonder if a book without the blasterfire of rebellion, the starship action and lightsabers is really interesting enough.. But being here gives him the opportunity to grow to understand Anakin Skywalker, belatedly, in a way he never did before.

In regards to continuity, it makes some nice compensations for the changes the prequels made.
For instance:
In the Illustrated Star Wars Galaxy and in Junior Jedi Knights it was established that tusken male and female were equal, both were warriors and they couldn’t always be told apart.
In Attack of the Clones, however, the distinctions were obvious: males were the warriors and wore different gear.
By making use of  the influence of Sharad Hett from the Dark Horse comics (Asharad has apparently not reappeared at this point) we see how a transition began. Anakin Skywalker’s reaction to his Mother’s death definitely clinched it. Taking what was a contradiction and using that very contradiction to explain why things changed.
It  also mentions that Qui-Gon told Obi-Wan stories of Jedi, separated from the Order, and how they lived: Kerra Holt (Knight Errant) and Zayne Carrik (KOTOR Comics). Siri (Jedi Apprentice) is mentioned as Obi-Wan’s first test on turning away from love for duty. Satine of The Clone Wars is mentioned, but no details given so if you aren’t into The Clone Wars its not really a problem.

Other Stories about these Characters and Places

Other stories that touch on Kenobi’s life on Tatooine:

  • The Last One Standing – Jude Watson, only available in the paperback combo version of Legacy of the Jedi & Secrets of the Jedi
  • The Last of the Jedi: Desperate Mission – Jude Watson, book 1
  • The Last of the Jedi: Reckoning – Jude Watson book 10 (one chapter)
  • The Life and Times of Obi-Wan Kenobi – Ryder Windham
  • Legacy: Claws of the Dragon 3, 4 : John Ostrander (Author) Jan Duursema  (Artist) Dark Horse Comics issue 16

Stories about Obi-Wan before Tatooine:

  • Jedi Apprentice – Jude Watson
  • Last Stand on Ord Mantell – Dark Horse Comics
  • The Aurorient Express – Dark Horse Comics
  • Jedi Council Acts of War -(Dark Horse Comics)
  • Stark Hyperspace War – (Dark Horse Comics)
  • Legacy of the Jedi – Jude Watson
  • Secrets of the Jedi – Jude Watson
  • Episode 1 : Obi-Wan Kenobi – (Dark Horse Comics)
  • Rogue Planet – Greg Bear
  • Jedi Quest – – Jude Watson
  • The Approaching Storm – Alan Dean Foster
  • Precipice (Hyperspace short)
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars video game
  • Star Wars: Republic 50: The Defense of Kamino (Dark Horse Comics)
  • Star Wars: Republic: The New Face of War (Dark Horse Comics)
  • Star Wars: Republic 53: Blast Radius (Dark Horse Comics)
  • Clone Wars Micro Series (TV/DVD)
  • Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures Volume 1 – “Blind Force” (Dark Horse Comics)
  • Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures Volume 8 – “One of a Kind” (Dark Horse Comics)
  • Storm Fleet Warnings
  • The Cestus Deception
  • The Hive (add on to paperback of The Cestus Deception)
  • Star Wars: Republic: The Battle of Jabiim (Dark Horse Comics)
  • Star Wars: Republic 59: Enemy Lines (Dark Horse Comics)
  • Star Wars: Republic 62: No Man’s Land (Dark Horse Comics)
  • Boba Fett – The Fight to Survive
  • Star Wars: Republic 67: Forever Young (Dark Horse Comics)
  • Changing Seasons – Timothy Zahn, Star Wars Insider
  • Star Wars: Republic: Dreadnaughts of Rendili (Dark Horse Comics)
  • Star Wars: Obsession (Dark Horse Comics)
  •  Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures Volume 4 – “The Brink” (Dark Horse Comics)
  • Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures Volume 9 – “Appetite for Adventure” (Dark Horse Comics)
  • Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures Volume 10 – “Thunder Road” (Dark Horse Comics)
  • Brothers in Arms  (Dark Horse Comics)
  • The Last of the Jedi: Dark Warning
  • Labyrinth of Evil – James Luceno

The Clone Wars TV series also has many episodes (some contradictory) involving Obi-Wan
Novels based on that include:

  • TCW Gambit: Stealth – Karen Miller
  • TCW Gambit: Seige – Karen Miller
  • TCW Wild Space – Karen Miller

Other Stories involving Tusken Raiders/Tatooine:

  • Star Wars Republic: Outlander (Dark Horse comics)
  • The Illustrated Star Wars Universe – Kevin J. Anderson, art by Ralph McQuarrie
  • The Life and Times of Luke Skywalker
  • Tales of the Mos Eisley Cantina (Anthology)
  • Tatooine Ghost, by Troy Denning
  • Junior Jedi Knights 3: Promises – Nancy Richardson Fischer

Millenium Falcon Book Review

Description:

Allana introduces new adventure into her grandparents’ lives when she discovers a strange device hidden aboard the Millennium Falcon–a discovery that sparks a fact-finding expedition to retrace the people, places, and events in the checkered history of the famous spaceship. But the Solos are not alone in their quest: Crime lords, galactic pirates, rogue politicians, and fortune hunters alike will race to a final standoff for a prize some will risk everything to find–and pay any cost to possess.

Details:

The Millenium Falcon is a treasure hunt. Frequent mentions are made of stories told elsewhere: how Han acquired her from Lando (Han Solo trilogy by A.C. Crispin) and how Lando acquired her (Lando Calrissian trilogy), as well as frequent mentions referring to the Brian Daley stories.

The story alternates between present day (for the Solo’s) when Allana, their granddaughter, finds a strange object on the Falcon that even Han knows nothing about. Backtracking the history of the ship is their role and they find themselves colliding with some strange people en route.

Meanwhile Jadak is tracking the Falcon’s history from the other end. Known to him as ‘Stellar Envoy’ he last saw the ship right after the Battle of Coruscant, during the Clone Wars. His last mission for the secret Republic Group was derailed, leading to a catastrophic collision and him in a coma for decades.

In this case, the journey is more important than the ending. I found the end rather disappointing. After much fighting which involves even young Allana, and hints to upcoming stories, one expects there to be something at the end. The short in between tales of finding former owners of the Millenium Falcon and how those owners acquired and lost the ship are good. The ships quirkiness shines through each one.  The realization that these foes are going to have to try and steal the Falcon is amusing (one can see how that will turn out) But one is suggested a treasure of some sort, a secret, at the end.

While any reader of the Han Solo and the Lost Treasure knows that a previous generations treasure may be today’s junk may see it coming, one does expect a twist right up until the book ends. It left me feeling wanting, as if there should have been more.

Who was the Republic Group really? What was the point of this mission? Was it really just this object that the Millenium Falcon was meant to find?

The book started well, and continued nicely. To me, though, something feels missing. It left me wanting more answers with no means to get them.

New Jedi Order Review

NJO Destinies Way

NJO Destinies Way

The New Jedi Order series drove some fans right out the door. But it had a reason. When you know beyond a doubt that your heroes always survive an win, the story doesn’t seem quite so cutting, you know that eventually you turn the page and find them escaping and defeating the foe. The New Jedi Order will make you feel because this time, they are not guaranteed victory.

The New Jedi Order series changed all that rather explosively with a tragedy so big that it hit the newspapers in our world. The death of a main character. A heroic, fitting death, but still, a hero falls. After the Rebellion and the many books dealing with battling the Imperial Remnant, this was a shock wave.

And if it affects us, it affects them. We find the other main characters still reacting to the shock of realizing their string of luck, or fate of the Force, no longer guaranteed their safety. And so grief drives one family apart for a time, young Jedi must become the new heroes of their age, in spite of, or because of their guilt and pain and loss. The Jedi must decide how they will respond when the Republic government continues to play politics at the expense of the people, and what actions should they take in this war.

Worlds and cultures are destroyed by an enemy invisible in the Force itself, so even that constant is being questioned.

Wedge-in NJO Rebel Dream

Wedge Antillies leads the defense-in NJO Rebel Dream by Aaron Allston

Every book begins with trepidation, which of our heroes is the focus? Will they even survive, and at what cost? Some books are more character driven, like Traitor and Dark Journey. Some are sheer heart stopping adventure like Star by Star. Others are tactical driven, the points of the war where the warriors are now in control and determined to defeat or at least hold off the brutal foe until the innocent have time to escape.

The New Jedi Order is both heartbreaking pain of losing characters we knew and loved on the movie screen and from books die. It is soaring courage of watching young Jedi like Jaina, Jacen and Anakin Solo face the temptations of the Dark Side, and find a cause that is their own, not a left over from their parents era.

By the end of the series, one has new heroes. One has wept for the pain of tragedy and horror, from the devastation of worlds, to grieved families and the loss of friends. One has cheered over the triumph of heroes smart enough and wise enough to win without genocide, against all odds.  And that is the essence, to me, of a great story: if its made me laugh, cry and everything in between, than its done something rare and hard to accomplish. And this series does just that.

Vector Prime Japanese

Vector Prime with Japanese Cover Art

 

View the Official Commercial for this Series by clicking the Cover:
New Jedi Order Review

Star Wars Heir to the Empire Review

First in a 3 book trilogy that fired up the Star Wars franchise novels.
This first book introduces thrilling new characters and challenges. The New Republic leadership is ripe with political backbiting. A new Imperial Warlord is uniting the remnants of the fleet and striking back successfully. And he has secrets of the Emperor and a dangerous new threat that could threaten Luke Skywalker, his friends and all they stand for.

The characters in these books are some of the most enduring of the Expanded Universe. It’s a can’t put down read that came out after a long hiatus and naturally it’s well loved. Mysterious species and unknown enemies this is a heart pounding adventure.

But the best thing is, that now if you get hooked you no longer need to wait a whole year until the next installment.

The Rest of the Trilogy:

Book 2: Dark Force Rising
Book 3: The Last Command

Characters Introduced:

  • Mara Jade,
  • Grand Admiral Thrawn,
  • Admiral Pellaon,
  • Talon Kardde,
  • Borsk Fey’lya

Other books / series / comics with these characters:

Books

  • I, Jedi
  • New Rebellion
  • The Corellian Trilogy
  • New Jedi Order
  • Legacy of the Force
Comics

  • Thrawn trilogy adaption
  • Mara Jade, by the Emperor’s Hand
  • Union

 

Other Star Wars Books by Zahn:

Outbound Flight (prequel era)

Scoundrels

Allegiance

Choices of One
Spectre of the Past

Vision of the Future

Survivor’s Quest

Other books / series with the characters created in these:

I, Jedi

New Rebellion

The Corellian Trilogy

New Jedi Order

Legacy of the Force

Comic / Graphic Novels with these Characters:

Thrawn trilogy adaption

Mara Jade, by the Emperor’s Hand

Union