What Iden Versio Means To Me

I’ve been thinking a lot over the past two months about how I could best describe what Iden Versio has meant to me since we first met her at Celebration Orlando back in April. For ages, I couldn’t seem to find the right words. Yes, I’ve talked about representation and how important that is to me and for the other Asian and mixed-Asian women out there. Yes, at this point just about everyone has seen the IGN video where I got to talk about my love for Iden and actually meet Janina Gavankar. And yet, I still didn’t quite find the right words even though my voice jumped an octave and I cried. (And then cried again two weeks later thanks to the DLC and The Last Jedi.)

I think I finally have.

For me, watching Iden Versio have her world view shattered and then find her new place in the galaxy is how I imagine it felt for some women to watch Wonder Woman storm across No Man’s Land, to watch the lightsaber fly past Kylo into Rey’s hand, to watch Peggy Carter tell everyone that she knew her value. Continue reading

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Review: The Legends of Luke Skywalker

Luke Skywalker… I thought he was a myth.

Probably every review you read of The Legends of Luke Skywalker by Ken Liu will incorporate this line from The Force Awakens but when it’s apt, it’s apt. Liu uses this line as a springboard to tell a delightful collection of tales about the fabled Jedi Knight that are true… from their points of view. It’s a book that’s going to give the “BUT IS IT CANON?” crowd heartburn but will likely delight the rest of us who are okay with sitting back and enjoying the ride.

There are six stories within the book, all told to a group of young deckhands on a cargo ship bound for Canto Bight. My favorite might be the one in which Luke isn’t actually a noble Jedi Knight but rather a very talented con artist along with Han, Chewie, and Obi-Wan. One must respect the con abilities of Luke Plodhopper. The cherry on top of the tale is that Luke is secretly present for the telling and just quietly encourages the storyteller and never contradicts the narrative. He doesn’t feel the need for the entire galaxy to believe that he’s a hero. Policing people’s thoughts were the act of the Empire and he didn’t fight a war to continue that.

For a book about Luke Skywalker that never once gives us his point of view, Ken Liu does an incredible job of really getting the character in a way that has felt rare. Honestly, we’re very lucky to get this book and his mission in Battlefront II within mere weeks of each other. They’re very different stories and mediums but both get why so many people have loved Luke for decades. Even through the eyes of others, Liu makes it clear that he understands what sort of person Luke is and his relationship with the Force.

Much like with From a Certain Point of View, there’s a story here for everyone even if all of the stories likely won’t click on the same levels. Liu makes it a point to vary the tone and voices of the stories which not only makes sense given that different people are telling them but also keeps it interesting. A droid shouldn’t sound the same as a bug sized alien who in turn shouldn’t sound the same as a young woman who spends her time flying and trusts in the Tide.

Most importantly though, The Legends of Luke Skywalker adds to the mythos of Luke within the galaxy far, far way. He’s a hero in both of our galaxies but he’s also transcended being viewed as a historical figure within a relatively short time frame. It’s no wonder the Jedi also faded so quickly into a forgotten, mythological status. While these might not be “canon,” reliable narrator stories, they do still help expand the galaxy and let us understand it a little better.

If you’re looking for something to read, The Legends of Luke Skywalker is an excellent choice both for you and for the younger readers in your life that I would absolutely recommend.

Thank you to Disney/Lucasfilm Press for providing a copy of the book for review purposes.

Waru Express: Fate of the Jedi Part 2 and Mercy Kill!

Well.  It’s done.  I’ve finished reading these books and I’m ridiculously relieved to be through with Fate of the Jedi.  To be completely honest, even though there are a lot of things in Legacy of the Force that upset me, I’d rather read a series like that than this one.  I hated the character derailment that some of them were subjected to but I prefer that series as a whole to reading about anything with Abeloth ever again.  No more tentacles please.  There were a lot more high points in that series than this one.  To top it off, I just never felt as invested in these books.  There was both too much and too little going on.  I know that sounds impossible but I don’t know how else to describe it.   Basically, the majority of the series made me do this:

At least there was Mercy Kill waiting for me at the end.  Observe my Wraith Squadron related tears of joy.

Warning: There are some NSFW words on some of these gifs

Vortex
My sentiment about having to read this book again can be summed up in one word: Ugh.  (Editor’s Note: I’m a completionist and I still can’t bring myself to buy this book.) Continue reading

Waru Express: Fate of the Jedi Part 1

Well.  Here we are.  Reading Fate of the Jedi again.  I had actually just gotten around to reading the series in its entirety the month before I started this project and I can’t really say that I was looking forward to reading it again so soon especially given how long I delayed reading it in the first place.  This series was first published in March 2009.  By then, I was a poor college student and the prospect of reading and buying series published entirely in hardcover was not very appealing to me especially after Invincible.  At some point, I picked up the first book because it was Allston, liked it well enough, but wasn’t overly inclined to run out and read all the others.  In the summer of 2011, I finally convinced myself to read the first four books… and then got side tracked by a New Jedi Order reread and didn’t return to them until fall 2012 right before I started this project.  Basically, this is a very long winded way for me to say that this series never really managed to grab my attention and draw me in like some of the others.  Unfortunately.

I blame Abeloth.

Outcast
Well, they Allston-ed me again.  It’s nice to see that the previous galactic war had consequences and that they are carrying over here.  However, I still cannot figure out why the heck anyone would put Daala in charge.  It makes zero sense to me.  (Editor’s Note: I STILL DON’T GET IT.)

The good news is that this book has a lot of my favorite Allston moves.  We get a pilot reunion over on Kessel and thankfully, Wedge seems to still be retired.  We also get the Darkmeld group which I positively LOVE and not just because Winter finally get to reappear. (Editor’s Note: Okay, Winter was a big part of the love.)  It’s a rather excellent mix of people.  I also loved that we get Jag referencing his relationship to Wedge because that’s brought into play far too infrequently.  The relationship between Jaina and Jag is also very well written and it’s nice to see them together and functional again.  Also, every time Jag corrects someone about it being the ‘Galactic Empire’ instead of ‘Imperial Remnant’, I crack up.  (Editor’s Note: Jag 4 Emperor.) Continue reading

Waru Express: The Calm Between The Sith Storms

This was a much nicer trio of books to read between long series than my previous “palette cleanser.”  SO MUCH NICER.  All three are actually books that I haven’t had the chance to read yet and neither had I heard much about them so this was one giant blank slate for me.  The verdict?  Well, you’ll just have to read the post for that!

Crosscurrent
I had no idea what to expect from this book and yet I’m fairly sure that this wasn’t it.  I’m not saying that in a bad way.  I’m just saying it in a way where I tilt my head to the side and go “huh”.

For the most part, it’s an enjoyable book.  It took me a good 100 pages or so to really get into it though.  The start felt a bit slow but also jumbled with the introduction of a lot of new characters.  It took me a little while to keep everyone straight.  I’m also not sure how I feel about the time travel.  I liked the character of Jaden Korr though as well as Marr and Khedryn.  On the other hand, I’m really not sure what an Anzat looks like exactly but I don’t think I want to because they sound weird and a bit disgusting. Continue reading

Waru Express: Legacy of the Force Part 2

We’re so close to the end of this project and also so close to me dying of high blood pressure.  I’ve said before that I didn’t hate this series completely the first time I read it and that still remains true now.  However, there is a definite turning point where my enjoyment of the books shoots waaaaay down and that turning point was the ending of Sacrifice.  I’m also realizing that reading all these books so close together isn’t doing me or the series any favors.  When there are months between publications dates or you’re just casually reading the books, you have time to cool down between each book.  When you’re reading them for a blog, you don’t get that breathing space so I apologize, I really do, for the fury displayed in this post.

Ironically enough, much of that fury isn’t directed at Fury.

Inferno
I’m trying really really really hard right now to take some deep breaths after finishing this book.  It’s possible that this book upsets me even more than Sacrifice did because I’m honestly scraping the bottom of the barrel here for any positives about this book.  I guess that I can’t really hate on the writing style?  It didn’t offend me or anything.  Oh!  I did like the brief scene with Han, Leia, and Tenel Ka towards the end.  It’s a nice moment and I love that the Solos see Tenel Ka like part of the family.

Yeah.  That’s all I’ve got. Continue reading

Waru Express: Legacy of the Force Part 1

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.)

Betrayal
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

Waru Express: Dark Nest Trilogy

I thought that the book I was dreading the most was The Crystal Star.  I was wrong.  It was actually the Dark Nest Trilogy.  At least Waru is so awful and ridiculous that you can laugh at it once you finish that one book and get over the trauma.  On the other hand, I had to deal with the Jedi Bug Sex for three books.  THREE.  I’d like to thank everyone who sympathized with my reading plight on Twitter.  These are some of the only Star Wars books that I haven’t read more than once.  I’m now recalling exactly why and exactly how bad they were that my 15-year-old self made that excellent call.  I’m also going to apologize right now for what will be by far the most negative post I will make for this project.  There was no livestream for these books (because I learned my lesson with Waru) but instead, you do get a lot of ridiculous facial expressions.  Enjoy? (Editor’s Note: I chose to rip the bandaid off and read those over a day and a half. It didn’t help.)

The Joiner King
“Bugs!” Han groaned and shook his head. “Why did it have to be bugs?”
That basically sums up my feelings about this entire trilogy.  I got all of 103 pages into the book and was already cringing and wanting to run away.
Continue reading

Waru Express: New Jedi Order Part 4

At long last, we’ve reached the end of our journey through the New Jedi Order and the Vong War.  I’ve been doing a lot of thinking as I reread these 19 books and at the end of the day, I really do enjoy this series.  Sure, it’s really long and sure, there are definitely some low points but there are also a lot of high points and overall?  I just really like the story that it tells.  A lot of people have used the Battlestar Galactica comparison in regards to this series and it’s often used in a negative way.  I agree with that comparison but for me, it’s a positive.  I like a story that’s willing to take characters to dark places and put them through hell.  I like getting to sit back and watch and see who emerges stronger than before and who never does.  I like a story that has lasting consequences for the universe but we’ll get to more of that later.  So while it has its flaws, I think the story works and I like the series a fair bit.

On a note not related to the New Jedi Order specifically, I just wanted to mention that despite all of my snark and bemoaning about my loss of sanity, I really do love the Expanded Universe.  Some bits of it might drive me up the wall or make me want to bash my head against a table but as a whole, I adore it.  There are probably only a handful of things about it that I truly dislike and I wouldn’t be working my way through this challenge if I didn’t love it.

With that lengthy introduction out of the way, let’s cover the last five books of the series! Continue reading

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