Crucible Review & Continuity

Crucible Book Cover Crucible
Star Wars
Troy Denning
Sci Fi
Ballantine Del Rey
January 1, 2013
Hardcover & Paperback

Han Solo, Leia Organa Solo, and Luke Skywalker return in an all-new Star Wars adventure, which will challenge them in ways they never expected—and forever alter their understanding of life and the Force.

When Han and Leia Solo arrive at Lando Calrissian’s Outer Rim mining operation to help him thwart a hostile takeover, their aim is just to even up the odds and lay down the law. Then monstrous aliens arrive with a message, and mere threats escalate into violent sabotage with mass fatalities. When the dust settles, what began as corporate warfare becomes a battle with much higher stakes—and far deadlier consequences.

Now Han, Leia, and Luke team up once again in a quest to defeat a dangerous adversary bent on galaxy-wide domination. Only this time, the Empire is not the enemy. It is a pair of ruthless geniuses with a lethal ally and a lifelong vendetta against Han Solo. They will stop at nothing to control the lucrative Outer Rim mining trade—and ultimately the entire galactic economy. And when the murderous duo gets the drop on Han, he finds himself outgunned in the fight of his life. To save him, and the galaxy, Luke and Leia must brave a gauntlet of treachery, terrorism, and the untold power of an enigmatic artifact capable of bending space, time, and even the Force itself into an apocalyptic nightmare.

The Last Adventure Of Han, Luke, Leia and Lando – the Original Trilogy Heroes

This is the culmination of a lifetime of service that began with the Original Trilogy, as well as a chance to unexpectedly reflect on the past and decide on the future.  Youth has been replaced with age, but also with wisdom and confidence in each other.Han, Luke and Leia are off on a last adventure to help old friend Lando Calrissian.

Luke and Leia had devoted their lives to one thing, fighting the power of the dark side. It was that simple. Wherever the dark side rose, wherever the the Sith had dared show themselves – there Luke and Leia had rushed, never hesitating, never flinching. It had been their destiny to shepherd the galaxy into a new era of hope, and not once had they shrunk from that calling.
~Crucible, by Troy Denning.

From the release of the first Star Wars novelization of the original trilogy, to this, the last book published with Han, Luke, Leia and Lando Calrissian, this quote sums up these characters perfectly. And it’s a story..a story of shepherding in hope, that you can ONLY get in the true Expanded Universe. For there to be hope, their must be more victory than failure, more triumph than tragedy, and love and friendship that overcomes all failings.

The Story itself and what I thought of it:

Our original trilogy heroes have stayed true to themselves through long years in spite of the violent changes. And that means that even though the galaxy has problems, they never forget to make time for an old friend. While the path has been long and winding, while it took terms I didn’t expect (and would prefer not to have been done) this story restores something I’d missed. A sheer adventure, clearly meant to be a last hurrah for the original trilogy heroes, not due to failure of their mission to restore democracy and the Jedi,  but because they had succeeded and it was time to let a new generation lead.

“A Jedi can’t get so caught up in matters of galactic importance that it interferes with his concern for individual people.”  ~ Luke Skywalker, Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn.

Decades later, this is still true. Leia Organa Solo, fully a Jedi Knight is off with husband Han Solo to a meeting with old friend Lando Calrissian, who is having pirate troubles at one of his mining operations. To make matters worse, they may be involved with someone threading Lando’s family. As usual, this leads to some shocking discoveries, an old enemy who Han did not even realize he’d made, and some true villains who are plotting a galactic takeover. Their advantage: vast wealth, vaster intelligence, hired Mandaloreans, and an ally who is of the lost tribe of the Sith. Their weakness: a hatred of Han Solo for a crime he did not commit.

Han and Lando though have an advantage too: allies who are Jedi, including the Grand Master Luke Skywalker who is ready for a little time away from being the Grand Master. He’s also ready to check in with his son, Ben Skywalker and Tahiri Veila, who happen to be in the area investigating a Jedi who is missing. She was off searching for the mysterious Force rich and legendary ‘Mortis’.

There are some surprising new twists in the story, not least of which is the mystery of what the villainous Qrephs have found and are protecting. The battle to stop them from unleashing…something…is a view of not only the sheer toughness of Luke and Leia (no matter their age), but also how Han Solo has come to view them and what he has learned from them, life and the Force.

A little history for the story and it’s continuity:

This book stands alone, but it also ties into both The Clone Wars TV series Mortis story arc and Fate of the Jedi series. While The Clone Wars had continuity clashes that Fantasy Flight Games (RPG) retconned as ‘COMPNOR altering the records’ the Mortis arc stands pretty well on its own, with no specific reference to continuity to really alter.  It is a mysterious place where the Chosen One is challenged by beings known as the Ones who are ancient and those who for eternity have, until the clone wars era, kept the Force in balance.

According to Fate of the Jedi, Yoda did mention this odd adventure of Anakin and Obi-Wan’s to Luke. In Fate of the Jedi an entity known as ‘Abeloth’ who was associated with these ‘Ones’ caused chaos in the galaxy. Mortis seems like the kind of place the New Jedi Order might just be interested in finding. At the same time an ancient tribe of Sith, who had long ago been lost and marooned for generations on a forgotten world return to cause chaos.  Among them: a young Sith named Vestara Khai, whose deception caused deep pain for young Ben Skywalker.

Recent events of the battle with Abeloth, the Sith, the fall of one of their own to the Dark Side (Legacy of the Force), the wars with the Yuuzhan Vong (New Jedi Order series) are mentioned, highlights and tragedies of Luke, Han and Leia. Lando’s wife and son are also mentioned, his wife, Tendra, first appeared in the Corellian Trilogy by Roger Macbride Allen. Chance AKA Lando Jr.  first shows up in Fate of the Jedi series.

A little planned (and canceled) future for the story:

Crucible is the ending of an era, that of the original trilogy heroes taking lead, and the intended setup of another, one curtailed by the Disney purchase. This is where our heroes decide to step aside and retire and why they make that decision. The stories after were meant to be about the next generation, Jaina Solo, Jagged Fel, Ben Skywalker, Tahiri, Allana Solo and their friends. There was just enough mystery left at the end of this to lead to interesting stories for the future. One can but hope those now in charge of the franchise come to realize that these stories deserve to be told.

Crucible-HC - Troy Denning, with the original trilogy trio

There were 2 promotional covers and 3 actual of Han, Luke and Leia for the Crucible novel. The hardcover shows a grayer, older looking Han. The paperback (seen at top) shows a grayer but not quite as gray Han. The third one, the last release, features different art for all 3 characters. But the oddest choice is giving Luke a beard as in the ‘other’ galaxy. Luke in the expanded universe never wore a beard except when needing a disguise.

The Courtship Of Princess Leia: Witches and Hapans

The Courtship of Princess Leia is only one book, and a controversial one at that. Some loved it, others hated it. But it has to be given credit for two of the most popular cultures in the EU. It is set 4 years after the destruction of the 2nd Death Star.

It introduces the world of Dathomir, home of the witches of Dathomir. These Force Users are descended from a rogue Jedi.  Those among them who use the Force or magic for the Dark Side are called Nightsisters. There are also nightbrothers, mostly of zabrak descent. For the most part males of this world are considered inferior and slaves, as few can use the Force or the magic. The world is largely a primitive wilderness, and the witches often use rancors as transportation. In the time of the Empire, it was an interdicted planet.

It also introduces the Hapan Empire, another world ruled by woman. Unlike Dathomir, this is an entire group of planets. Led by a ruthless Queen mother, the people there are human and by most standards beautiful. They are descendents of pirates, the Lorell Raiders. The male pirates kidnapped beautiful woman and took them home. However eventually the pirates were destroyed by the Jedi and the woman and children were left to fend for themselves. They shunned the outside galaxy during both the Old Republic and the Empire.

Chief Characters:

Princess Leia Organa
Han Solo
Luke Skywalker
Chewbacca
R2-D2
C3PO

Augwynne Djo (Head of the Singing Mountain Clan)
Tenenial Djo (Member of the Singing Mountain Clan)
Ta’a Chume (Queen Mother of the Hapes Cluster)
Prince Isolder (Heir to the Hapes Cluster)
Gethzerion (Nightsister)
Warlord Zsinj (Imperial warlord)

Synopsis

Han Solo has been chasing Imperial warlord Zsinj for months. Now he’s finally coming home to his beloved Princess. But on arrival, he finds that Princess Leia’s mission to open diplomatic ties and borrow money from Hapes has had unexpected results. The Hapans have agreed…on the condition Leia marry Prince Isolder, heir to the throne.

To his horror, Leia, torn between how the Hapan worlds reminded her of Alderaan and her duty to the needs of the Republic, seems interested. When Leia refuses to give him equal time, he goes off and in desperation wins a serious sabaac game…the most serious in years. He wins the planet Dathomir.

But the planet is in the presumed dead warlord’s territory. Heartbroken and desperate, he kidnaps Leia and spirits her off to Dathomir. But Leia is furious at his apparent betrayal, Zsinj is not only not dead, but has a prison on the planet, and they get shot down, encountering both the suspicious Singing Mountain Clan (who still keep men as slaves) and the nightsisters who at all costs must not be allowed to leave the planet.

Luke Skywalker has been pursuing leads on long lost Jedi teachings. One leads him to a brief message involving Yoda, a ship called the Chu’unthor  and Dathomir. He abandons this pursuit on hearing of the crisis.

Luke and Prince Isolder team up and race against the Queen Mother, the Nightsisters, and Zsinj to find Han and Leia first.

The After Effects

SPOILER WARNING for the End of Courtship of Princess Leia.

Spoiler for Courtship of Princess Leia

Tenenial Djo marries Hapan Prince Isolder. She is the mother of Tenel Ka, who goes on to become a Jedi Knight.

Tenel Ka in Legacy of the Force, Tempest, by Troy Denning

Tenel Ka in Legacy of the Force, Tempest, by Troy Denning

Prince Isolder marries a woman of Dathomir, their daughter, Tenel Ka, joins the Jedi Academy and is a friend in many adventures with Jacen and Jaina Solo. In the future, these political ties prove to be a great help to the Jedi.

Star Wars Jedi Search (which was released the same year) introduces Kirana Ti, a witch of Dathomir who joins the Jedi Academy.

The nightsisters, decades later are recreated and join with forces with the Shadow Academy.

Allana, daughter of Tenel Ka, has an unknowing influence on the decisions of Jacen Solo in both the Swarm Wars and the Legacy of the Force series.

Spoiler for Swarm Wars and the series following it

Allana’s father is Jacen Solo

 

In Fate of the Jedi, it is revealed that a Jedi Enclave had been formed on Dathomir since the end of the Yuuzhan Vong War. A sith apprentice fleeing Luke and Ben Skywalker hides there amongst the witches, and they find themselves battling nightsisters to survive as well as help the clans.

Affects on the Past
Nightsister of Black Sun

Mighella, a Nightsister working for Black Sun Crime Syndicate

Darth Maul (Dark Horse) reveals a nightsister working with the Black Sun Crime Syndicate

Nightsister

Nightsisters, Star Wars Republic #23 Infinities End by Dark Horse Comics

Star Wars Republic, Infinities End (Dark Horse Comics) introduces the nightsisters attempt to reactivate the Infinity Gate, an ancient device that can destroy worlds (as a side effect!). The first face painted or tattooed versions of the witches appeared here.

The Chu’unthor is also mentioned.

In Darth Maul, Son of Dathomir by Dark Horse Comics, Darth Sidious clashes with the witches and has a one on one battle with the leader of the nightsisters.

In the novel The Last Jedi, Jax Pavan travels to Dathomir to enlist the witches aid and meets with the Singing Mountain Clan and a (younger) Augwynne Djo. This book actually is the first to add The Clone Wars TV interpretation of the Witches of Dathomir, the Infinity Gates story line and the Courtship version of the witches all in one sitting.

Affects on Non Print Media
witch of Endor

The Witch of Endor

The Witch of Endor from the movie Ewoks: The Battle for Endor, was retconned into being a nightsister.

Felucian Rancor and Rider,

Felucian Rancor and Rider, The Force Unleashed by Dark Horse Comics

The Force Unleashed Game used the idea of rancor riding that was for the Felucians. It originally came from the idea of the witches riding rancors.

Nightsister Witches in  The Clone Wars TV show

The Nightsisters appear in The Clone Wars TV show, working both for and against the Sith

During the Clone Wars, a group of nightsisters make deals with the Sith.

Ventress - nightsister, witch and sith candidate

Ventress, from Star Wars Republic 52: The Face of War by Dark Horse comics

She was originally written as a slave from Rattattak, who had been freed and trained by a Jedi who was slain. The Clone Wars TV series added a twist: that she was born on Dathomir.

Darth Maul and Savage Oppress, in The Clone Wars

Darth Maul and Savage Oppress, in The Clone Wars

Darth Maul was retconned from being an Iridonian Zabrak, to being a Zabrak from the nightbrother tribe on Dathomir, descendents of slaves.

 

 

During the Clone Wars, a group of nightsisters make deals with the Sith.