Waru Express: New Jedi Order Part 3

The Yuuzhan Vong just keep on coming.  Really, they must have an endless supply or something.  The good news is that things are starting to get slightly better for the New Republic.  The really good news is that I got to read more Allston and Stover books!  (I have my priorities straight.  Honestly.)  The really really REALLY good news is that I have not only passed the halfway mark in the New Jedi Order but that I have now read more than 100 books on this crazy little venture of mine.  Huzzah!  With all of that said, onward!

Dark Journey
GET IN LOSER, WE’RE GOING BACK TO HAPES.

I really like this book. I honestly do and it’s not just because we get to go back to Hapes. For starters, this is clearly a Jaina Solo book and I love when we get to see her take a leading role.  Even though she goes to some less than ideal mental states in the book, she emerges much stronger.  The title gives away that Jaina has a brush with the dark side and I honestly don’t blame her.  She thinks that both of her brothers are dead and the war’s taken its most drastic downward turn yet. I’d be pretty ready to dabble in the dark side too at this point.  I like how Elaine Cunningham uses Kyp Durron in the book first as someone who’s willing to help her use whatever means necessary to strike back at the Vong and then as someone who helps pull her back from that edge. Continue reading

Waru Express: New Jedi Order Part 2

Things might be going really downhill for the galaxy but boy are they going uphill for me as a reader!  I actually find the middle chunk of New Jedi Order books to be incredibly solid reads and rather enjoy all of them despite the emotions they might provoke from me.

Balance Point:
It’s a marvel I stuck with the New Jedi Order because Balance Point is the third book in a row that just doesn’t impress me. It’s not that it’s necessarily bad, it’s just meh and I find it to be boring.

Again, the bits with Mara and Anakin working together are definitely a highlight. Actually, everything with Mara in this book is a high point. And that’s about it.

The entire point of the book seems to be an excuse for the Solo family to continue to have its issues and to resolve most of them by the end. The other point seems to be for Jacen Solo to continue to have his philosophical issues with using the Force and I still don’t buy any of that reasoning. By this point, the war’s been going on for a year and the Vong are clearly an issue. I don’t believe for a minute that Jacen Solo would sit back and not give his all to defend the galaxy. It just doesn’t fit with this character. With Tsavong Lah declaring that he wants all the Jedi dead and singling out Jacen, this feels like it was almost tacked on editorial meddling when they realized that he wouldn’t be the Solo kid dying.

I’m sure there are other people out there who liked this book but not I.  I’m going to stick with my resounding ‘meh’ for my review. Continue reading

Waru Express: New Jedi Order Part 1

Welcome back to the Waru Express, dear readers, after a bit of a break.  (Editor’s Note: I took a week or so off for my own sanity.)  We’re diving right into the New Jedi Order which requires an entire shelf all on its own.  19 books?  Let’s go!  Before we dive into the book reviews, I figured I’d let you all in on a secret: I don’t hate the NJO.  In fact, I like a fair bit of it.  There are certainly some books and occurrences that I strongly dislike and I think it could’ve been shorter but I enjoy the vast majority of it.  Spoiler Alert: I love the Stackpole, Allston, and Stover books but does that surprise any of you?  My point is that I’m not a hater when it comes to these books but neither do I blindly love them so while my thoughts are on these books are likely to be a fair bit more positive than most of the blogosphere, you’re still going to get a decent dose of snark.  Starting with this post. (Editor’s Note: This was back in the day when I was more apologetic for the unpopular opinions I had about books. I’ve cut that crap out since then.)

With that out of the way, let’s dive into the first lengthy review post as I discuss the books from Vector Prime to Jedi Eclipse.

Vector Prime
Ah yes.  The infamous “Chewbacca is Dead!” book.  I feel nothing but pity for R.A. Salvatore having to be the one to pull the trigger on this given how the fandom can be at times.  Let’s get the giant wookiee in the corner out of the way.  Yeah, Chewbacca dying sucks.  Reading through the book knowing what was coming made all the scenes with Chewie that much more painful.  He’s a big part of our group of heroes and it is sad that he dies.  HOWEVER.  His death certainly does signify to the readers that this oncoming threat isn’t going to be easily defeated and that no one will escape unscathed.  Also?  If you’re going to go out, this is certainly one of the more badass ways to do it.  Chewbacca rejects your notion of death by blaster fire and goes down shaking his fist at a freaking moon.  (Editor’s Note: CHEWIE LIVES!) Continue reading

Waru Express: Young Jedi Knights – Black Sun

The Young Jedi Knights books draw to a close with one final trilogy that takes Jaina, Jacen, Tenel Ka, Lowbacca, and Zekk on a whole new adventure which, as we all know, means trouble.

Return to Ord Mantell
I’d forgotten that I dislike Anja Gallandro.  It’s not that I hate her or have some vendetta against her.  I just don’t like her and I’m okay with her not having appeared in the Expanded Universe otherwise.  On the other hand, I suppose these books can serve as another chapter in the ‘Don’t do spice, kids,’ grand story.

It’s always fun getting to see the twins get some serious page time with Han.  This book gets double fun points before it’s diving into Han’s smuggler past.  Watching Jaina fly the Falcon with her father never fails to make me smile.

Zekk’s journey towards becoming a proper Jedi Knight gets its start here.  The more I think about it, the more I appreciate that this plotline wasn’t rushed.  I also appreciate that he decided to combine his piloting skills with his Force abilities to win the Derby.

Oh.  And we get cameos from Kyp Durron and Streen which is always lovely.  I can’t help how much I love that jerk of a Jedi.  (Kyp not Streen.) Continue reading

Waru Express: Young Jedi Knights – Diversity Alliance

The adventures of Jaina, Jacen, Tenel Ka, and Lowbacca continue!  And by adventures, I mean they get into a lot of trouble because that’s how things work for them.  This time, they’re going up against bounty hunters and the new Diversity Alliance.  On the bright side, no one loses any limbs or goes to the dark side this time.

Shards of Alderaan
Just like with the first arc, KJA and Rebecca Moesta take the first book to set the stage for the new story.  Raynar Thul, the annoying brat from the previous books, gets the chance to move towards the forefront.  Unfortunately, it’s because his father has disappeared and Boba Fett is hunting him but nothing’s perfect, right?

It always amuses me that it feels like everyone gets a spaceship in this book.  (Editor’s Note: And you get a spaceship and you get a spaceship and you get a spaceship!  And none for Jaina Solo.)  Granted, by everyone, I just mean Zekk and Tenel Ka but still.  Poor Jaina still doesn’t have her own ship but she gets to be the Rock Dragon’s pilot so I guess it evens out.  And then Zekk gets the Lightning Rod.  I actually think it’s pretty cool that Zekk decides to become a bounty hunter and doesn’t immediately try to become a Jedi.  The poor boy deserves some time to try and figure out who he is.

On top of that, it’s actually incredibly sweet that the twins decide to give their mother a piece of Alderaan for her birthday.  Obviously things inevitably go wrong but it really is a nice gesture.  Oh the Solo children.❤  (Editor’s Note: I can’t decide if it’s also a little morbid.) Continue reading

Waru Express: Young Jedi Knights: Second Imperium

Ohhhh the Young Jedi Knight series.  These were the first Star Wars books I ever read except for the Jedi Prince books and I still enjoy them over a decade later.  While they are clearly written for a younger audience and get cheesy sometimes, they’re still fun reads.  I try to thank Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta every time I see them at Dragon*Con for writing these books and these characters because I love them just that much.  I am also 100% okay with admitting that I wanted to be best friends with Jaina Solo and Tenel Ka as a kid and I still do.  You’ve been warned: these posts will be a fair bit gushing accompanied by some good natured teasing.

Heirs of the Force
First things first: Tenel Ka gets the best character entrance ever.  “Oh don’t mind me.  I’m just going to CLIMB UP THE BACK OF THIS TEMPLE AND POP INTO THE MORNING LESSON.  LIKE A BAMF.”  I love her so much.

Oh!  And I also love that the authors turn a trope on its head at the start of the book because Han brings flowers for Jacen (or rather his pet) and a hyperdrive for Jaina.  The Solos are going to be who they want to be.  Even if it does mean that Jacen has pet snakes. Continue reading

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.

Scourge
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