I’m not going to lie: I’ve been dreading reaching these books in my reread not because I dislike them as a whole but because of how controversial they are. Actually, I don’t hate everything about these books, just certain parts. In the mean time, observe as I use humor as a red cape to distract all of you from yelling at me for being wrong! Can you tell I’m nervous? I think I’m doing that thing where I write too much. Maybe we should just start with the actual post. (Editor’s Note: Real glad I’ve moved past the caring if other people like what I like stage of my fandom life.)
Kids, in the spring of 2006, I was ready to give up on the current timeline of Star Wars books. The Dark Nest trilogy had left me mentally scarred and the Prequel Trilogy books just seemed so much nicer and safer even though I knew everyone was going to die. And then Del Rey did something very smart: they Allston-ed me. What is ‘Allston-ed’, you ask?
Allston-ed (verb) 1 The act of bringing in Aaron Allston to write more books in the Star Wars Expanded Universe therefore enticing readers who might have otherwise quit to come back and continue reading.
2 Experiencing a heart-breaking character death that makes you want to sob uncontrollably and from which you shall never recover.
To top it off, we were told that the planet Adumar would be making an appearance and that Wedge would be in the book. You have no idea how disappointed I was that the Adumarians hadn’t put up a statue of Wedge somewhere and written a charming song called ‘Hero of Adumar’ to go with it. SO DISAPPOINTED. (Wedge! The Man They Call Wedge!) (Editor’s Note: Still disappointed tbh) Continue reading
Here we are. At last, we’ve arrived at the book I’ve been dreading because it is just that good. (Thanks for that, Matt Stover.) In 2005, Del Rey published the novelization of Revenge of the Sith and two novels that take place on either side of it, forming an unofficial trilogy. I’m also including another book in this post just because it needed a place to go. This is also the review where I finally did post some reaction pictures so I could properly express my anguish. (Enjoy the spam of my face.) However, if you’re going to take nothing else away from this and the past few posts, take away that I would positively love to see both Stover and Luceno write more books in this era. Please. (Editor’s Note: Del Rey sorta listened to me? A few years later, Luceno wrote Tarkin. Not that I actually think DR listens to me, haha.)
Labyrinth of Evil
This is by far the prequel lead-in book that has the most to do with its film. (So, in retrospect, my decision to go to the bookstore and read through this hardcover I couldn’t afford the day before the movie was released was a good one but then again 15 year old me probably should’ve had the good sense to get it from the library weeks before.) Because it goes directly into the film, it ends up being one of the most worthwhile of the lead-in books to read. Even though it’s a lead up, the book still has its own story to tell and that tale never really drags. Luceno’s action sequences are well done and he has an excellent grasp of all the characters.
Speaking of which, no one writes Palpatine like James Luceno and no one has the ability to make the Prequels make more sense like him either. He drops in some references (like the one to Plagueis that apparently went right over my head when I originally read that book) but had me nodding and going “ohhhhh” as I read it this time. He also references tons of things from the rest of the Prequel books without it being heavy handed. What’s even more impressive to me is that he manages to write the best Palpatine in a book that was still under the ‘LOLZ DON’T TELL ANYONE THAT SIDIOUS IS PALPS’ gag order. That writing accolade obviously extends to how he writes Sidious. Luceno keeps up the ruse for those who live under a rock and weren’t aware of Palpatine’s secret identity but he doesn’t sacrifice characterization to do so. Applause all around really. Continue reading
When I first started this reread, I couldn’t decide if I was looking forward to or dreading getting to the Republic Commando books. It wasn’t because they were controversial in some circles of the fandom but rather because I knew they were going to kick me in the gut with feelings. (Editor’s Note: They kick me in the gut with feels just thinking about them.) Omega Squad and Etain Tur-Mukan found their ways into my heart and never left. Needless to say, I was absolutely not looking forward to rereading Order 66 but more on that later. At the end of the day though, I think I’m rather glad that I took the time to reread these four books because gosh do I still love them even if they did make me have an emotional meltdown on Twitter. (Editor’s Note: It was dramatic. I tweeted selfies, threw the book down like ten times in a row, and cried a little.)
Overall, Hard Contact remains a solid action book. I think it could serve as a decent starting point for someone who’s really interested in the Clone Wars. There’s not much continuity that you need to know outside of the films especially it’s only peppered with the Mandalorian culture that fills the next three books. In short, it can stand alone and that’s a good thing in the epic Expanded Universe.
I still really like how Karen Traviss gives each of the clone commandos a distinct personality. It’s been a while but I think that this might’ve been one of the first Clone War era novels I read that really did that. At the same time, she doesn’t shy away from presenting the mentality the clones are raised with: they are soldiers who follow orders and they are expendable. Plus, these are the early days of the war and the Jedi and the clones are still trying to figure each other out. It’s some nice insight into that thought process.
I’ll also freely admit to loving Etain because I am a total sucker for the underdog. Heroes of the Jedi Order are great and everything but I like seeing the everyman too. (Sorry. I’ll stop giving Anakin a hard time for being the Chosen One some day. Maybe.) She’s a good kid who just wants to prove herself to the world and you have to respect that. (Editor’s Note: Etain baby. ETAIN YOU’RE SO CUTE AND ADORABLE.) Continue reading