Waru Express: Scourge and Survivor’s Quest

The two books for today’s post probably could not have been more different if they’d tried.  On the one hand, we have the Luke/Mara go on an adventure in Chiss space book and on the other hand, we have a book about a Jedi trying to take down a Hutt spice ring.  The good news is that they were both fun reads.  The bad news is that I don’t get to be snarky in this post. Alas.

I must admit that I wasn’t expecting much from Scourge mostly because I hadn’t heard any buzz about it.  All I knew is that it involved Hutts.  I was, however, very pleasantly surprised and that is always a good thing.

Overall, Scourge was a solid book.  Personally, I always enjoy getting to see other aspects of the Star Wars universe besides the galaxy shaking problem of the week and the Solo/Skywalker clan regardless of how much I love them.  It’s nice to see a new member of Luke’s Jedi Order especially one who doesn’t fall into the stereotypical Jedi mold.  Mander Zuma is an archivist who is only a warrior when he absolutely has to be.  He can also be a very surprising person who doesn’t fit neatly into the a box.  Plus, he gets to go through a nice arc of character growth as the story progresses.  Reen Irana and Eddey Be’ray are the other two people helping investigate the death of Toro Irana, a Jedi Knight, and they both prove to be interesting characters in their own rights as is Angela Krin.  Heck, even the Hutts are all very distinctive characters who don’t all fall into the Jabba category.  In all honesty, I wouldn’t mind reading more about these characters.  I don’t love them yet but they are certainly intriguing. Continue reading

Waru Express: Hand of Thrawn

Thrawn Returns!  Except not really.  But Zahn is back and that is always a good thing.  Both the Bantam Era and the Empire are about to draw to a close so sit back and enjoy a lovely end to this chapter of the Star Wars story.

Specter of the Past
Zahn gets the team back together again.  Okay, maybe it takes until the end of the book for that to really happen but from the start, we get to see all of our (or at least my) old favorites.  Obviously, we get to see our heroes from the films but then Zahn gives us Karrde and Mara and Wedge and the Rogues!  It thrills me so much to see Tycho get some page time outside of the X-Wing books. (Editor’s Note: Tycho 4 President 2016)

On top of that, we really get to meet Shada D’ukal for the first time.  While this isn’t her first appearance in the books, it’s the first time we get a chance to get to know her and see her take the spotlight.  She is honestly one of my favorite minor characters and her decision to leave the Mistryl in this book is definitely a big part of that.  It’s a struggle between honesty and loyalty and those are always interesting to read. Continue reading

Waru Express: The Corellian Trilogy

If you were to ask me what I remembered about the Corellian Trilogy before I started this read through, I could’ve told you three things: Thracken Sal-Solo is a slimy git, Centerpoint Station is bad, and the Solo children should not try to build droids.  In other words, I went into these books with a relatively clean slate which was actually a rather nice change.  Even better?  It turns out that I do rather enjoy reading these books.  And also that I’d really like to steal Roger Macbride Allen’s career and be a Foreign Service Officer AND a Star Wars author.

Ambush at Corellia
If nothing else, you have to appreciate how self-aware and very Star Wars this book is in the very first chapter.  Han and Chewie are working on the Falcon and its plethora of mechanical issues and oh did anyone mention that the Solo children are a bunch of little troublemakers and have a reputation for it throughout the galaxy?

Also, because I am an Alderaan diehard, I will point out my objection to Leia saying that she was only the Organa’s foster daughter because I am 99% sure that she was adopted and raised completely as Bail and Breha’s own.  (Editor’s Note: 100000% sure.)  If anyone is going to be referred to as the Organa’s foster daughter, it’s probably Winter. Continue reading

Waru Express: The Best and The Worst

It was pure chance that put the best book in the Expanded Universe and the worst one next to each other in the Waru Express reading list.  It was also a blessing because after rereading The Crystal Star?  I don’t think I could’ve kept going on this project without Starfighters of Adumar being there to hug me and tell me that everything’s going to be okay.  So with no further ado, let’s talk about the Best and the Worst that the Expanded Universe has to offer.

The Crystal Star

This book has the distinction of being so awful that I had managed to block everything about it from my memory (except the existence of Waru) until the other night.  For those of you who joined me on my livestream, you got to witness my descent into madness.  I believe Brian noted that the Waru Express finally broke me around 9:16 EST.  There was drinking, there was cursing, there was defeated sobbing.  There was also the world’s worst Han Solo impression and some singing and some off-color jokes.  And then more cursing and more drinking and more pleas to be released from my agreement to read the book.  But most importantly, there was Waru.  He loves you.  (Editor’s Note: This was a terrible idea and I regret everything.  The hangover was terrible) Continue reading

Waru Express: Jedi Academy Trilogy

I’ll go ahead and fess up before we even start this.  I like these books.  Actually, I love these books.  In fact, these books have a very special place in my heart because they are the reason why I tumbled head first into the Expanded Universe.  Dark Apprentice is the first Star Wars book I stumbled upon after my grandmother bought me two random Young Jedi Knights books.  The YJK had already made me fall in love with the Solo twins, Tenel Ka, and Lowbacca and when nine-year-old Bria picked up Dark Apprentice for the first time, there was no turning back.  I do recognize that these books certainly have their faults but I could never hate them.  Instead, I am forever grateful to Kevin J. Anderson for writing books that were my gateway drug.  Therefore you have been warned of my nostalgia for this trilogy.  Onward!  (Editor’s Note: Sorry not sorry for liking these.)

Jedi Search
In retrospect, it’s possible that this trilogy is what started my “Han and Leia are the worst parents ever” way of thinking.  I do, however, make this comment with love for the Solo family to my friends.  But seriously: why would you ever let these two raise your daughter?  (I’m looking at you, Tenel Ka.)  Somewhere out there about ohhhh 30 years farther into the time line, Winter is shaking her head and saying “It’s not my fault” for what happened with the Solo children.

Okay, I shall stop ragging on the Solo’s questionable parenting skills.  For now. Continue reading

Waru Express: The Thrawn Trilogy

Ahhhh the Thrawn books.  Honestly, is there anything more classic than Zahn’s trilogy when it comes to the Expanded Universe?  If you’re here for the snark, you’ll have to wait a little bit longer because between these three books and another X-Wing novel?  I have nothing but praise this go-round.  (Shocking, I know.) (Editor’s Note: Can we all pause for a minute and appreciate that we’re getting Thrawn in Rebels in less than two weeks AND that we’re getting shiny new covers for this trilogy?  HOW COOL IS THAT?)

Heir to the Empire
One of the first things that occurred to me while I was reading this book is how much the Star Wars universe owes to Timothy Zahn.  There is so much about the universe that I just take for granted that I’m now realizing/remembering is all thanks to Zahn.  Coruscant?  Zahn.  Personalities for character who really only cameoed in the films but are integral parts of the EU?  Zahn.  Bringing Wedge Antilles to the forefront?  Zahn.  Introducing the best character ever, aka Winter?  Zahn.  I mean, I’m not saying that Zahn is god but the amount of canon he contributed is amazing.  (Editor’s Note: This is moderately entertaining to read now that I’ve met Tim multiple times over the past few years and have moderated panels with him etc.)

What I love about this book and the entire trilogy is that the story still clearly feels like Star Wars but still has its own tale to tell.  It’s not a rehashing of the Emperor or Vader because the villains have their own motivations and characterizations.  (I’ll save my ‘Why I love Pellaeon’ ramble for another post.)  Thrawn is most certainly his own character who takes a very different approach to winning the war than any other Imperial we’ve seen before.  It’s pretty cool that he can study art and figure out how someone will react.  And then you have C’boath who is just bonkers.  His original model wasn’t much of a charmer to begin with so this probably shouldn’t be surprising. Continue reading

Waru Express: The Han and Leia Love Boat

Welcome aboard the Han and Leia Solo looooooooove boat.   We provide music and history lessons at the low low cost of only two books.  And possibly your sanity unless you just roll with the ridiculousness.  Someone cue up the Bollywood soundtrack because here we go!

The Courtship of Princess Leia
Why yes.  This book is the Star Wars equivalent of a Bollywood musical.  You’ve probably heard us at Tosche Station repeat Dunc’s declaration a time or two.  Honestly though.  This book comes complete with a musical break where Threepio serenades the group with “Han Solo! What a man, Solo!” complete with orchestration and a tap dance routine.  You only think I’m making this up.  Of course, we can’t forget the opening number where the Hapans enter the grand audience chamber and make an elaborate presentation of gifts with women singing “Hapes Hapes Hapes” over and over again in the background.  If they were to film this, I would expect it to end much like Mirror, Mirror with a giant wedding Bollywood number.  Bonus points if they managed to get Sean Bean to play some role and just look miserable in the back ground.  But anyways.  Let’s be clear: this book is indeed ridiculous but it’s still entertaining and somewhat endearing in its own strange way. Continue reading

Waru Express: Wraith Squadron

Only books I adore get sticky-noted like this

I love Wraith Squadron.  There are not enough words in any of the languages I know to properly express how much I love the Wraiths and these three books.  Reading these has never been anything less than a joy and I have strong emotional attachments to these characters.  Heads up, there’s going to be a lot of gushing in this post.  There are also going to be a lot of rambling emotions in this post.  If you want proper reviews of the X-Wing books, go read the retrospectives the rest of the Tosche Station staff wrote last year.  Yes, there will be more flailing and emotions than in the Shatterpoint and Revenge of the Sith reviews.  Brace yourselves. Continue reading

Waru Express: Rogue Squadron

I’ve finally reached the first batch of X-Wing books and there was much rejoicing!  Obviously we here at Tosche Station are very pro-X-Wing books and I always enjoy getting to read them again.  So sit back and enjoy me gushing about the first four books focused on the flyboys and flygirls of Rogue Squadron as they do the impossible which is absolutely what they do best.

Rogue Squadron
I love these books.  I really do.  But WOW IS CORRAN HORN AN ARROGANT PAIN IN THE BUTT in this book.  I do like him as a character especially with some of the character development he’s gotten over the years but he is infuriating to read about in this book.  The arrogance and the monologuing do get a bit old after awhile.  At least I know he gets better.  Corran will always have some of that arrogance because that’s just who he is and I appreciate that but it’s at an all time high here.  (Editor’s Note: NO ONE CARES ABOUT YOUR DEAD DAD, CORRAN.)

I do enjoy reading this book though because it’s a solid read that offers both a good story and some great characters.  It simultaneously tells the story of the squadron’s reassembly and also sets up the overarching plot for the next three books.  (Editor’s Note: But it’s also the weakest of Stackpole’s initial Rogue run.)

With the exception of certain arrogant Corellian and a certain Bacta Queen-who-was-clearly-a-traitor-the-whole-time-in-retrospect, the characters are rather enjoyable!  (Okay, maybe I was a little harsh grouping Corran with Erisi there.  That was mean, I’m sorry, Corran.)  I always love getting a chance to look into Wedge Antilles’s head and Stackpole does such a good job of it.  I also enjoyed getting to meet such great characters like Tycho Celchu, Mirax Terrik, and Gavin Darklighter.  Poor Tycho though.  Like his backstory wasn’t already tragic enough without adding in the ‘he might be a traitor’ thing.  At least Mirax gets to balance it out by being sassy.  Continue reading

Waru Express: After Endor

The Waru Express is moving once more!  Did you miss my weekly descent into madness?  (Editor’s Note: Probably should’ve taken more than a week off but oh well.)  I return to my journey through the Star Wars universe with the two books that take place right after the Battle of Endor.  The Empire defeated just because the Death Star blew up again and some people tore down some statues?  Hardly!  (Editor’s Note: I’m amused that this has stayed true in the new canon.)

The Truce at Bakura
It may not make my Top Ten list but I definitely enjoy reading Truce at Bakura every time I pick it up.  It’s a fun read that could work quite well as a starting point for a new reader to the Expanded Universe.  Even though the Rebels and the Empire have a very tentative truce against a common enemy, it still has a very Star Wars feel to it.  It feels like the logical next part of our heroes’ adventures.  The more I think about it, the more I like that Kathy Tyers chose to write an immediate sequel but had them facing a different enemy while simultaneously having to keep an eye on the Empire.  Continue reading