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 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 Empire Strikes Back

A Very Zahn New Year definitely helped make this project go much faster.  Except for the part where I drank my way through a certain book.  That’s right, folks, you get another spam of my face via reaction pictures.

Scoundrels

Please enjoy this picture of my Scoundrels cover Winter costume to make up for the lack of 2013 snark.
Please enjoy this picture of my Scoundrels cover Winter costume to make up for the lack of 2013 snark.

(Editor’s Note: Okay look.  I cheated when I did this the first time.  Or maybe I didn’t so much cheat as I didn’t reeeeally include Scoundrels in the Waru because I wrote a proper review for it.  Short version of the review is that I loved the hell out of Solo’s Eleven and not just because my girl Winter or because Kell Tainer was in it.  It kept me turning the page once I got it on my Nook at midnight until I was too tired to read anymore and I sat on the couch and did nothing but read until I finished the next morning.  If you’re wondering whether I think you should give this book a try, the answer is an emphatic yes.  Also stay spoiler free.  Trust me on this one.)

Allegiance
First things first.  Apparently I had completely managed to miss a piece of information the prior two times I read this book which is that Mara Jade is two years younger than Luke Skywalker.  Mind.  Blown.  I’d always assumed that she was older than him.  If it was anyone else but Zahn writing this book, I’d question it but since it is Zahn, I’ll have to stick with my surprise face. (Editor’s Note: Still don’t think it makes sense.)

I think that this might be one of my favorite Zahn books and it grows on me more and more every time I read it.  He does great work in the Original Trilogy era and I love his grasp on the characters in their early years.  Naïve Luke who doesn’t know when not to share information is adorable as is eye-rolling Han who just wants him to hush already.  (Editor’s Note: I think Fresh Off The Farmboy Luke is my favorite Luke.)  I especially love getting to read about a young Mara during her time as Emperor’s Hand.  Every conversation she has with Vader thrills me for some reason. Continue reading

Waru Express: Attack of the Clones

I took a few days off for Thanksgiving (and so I won’t completely kill Brian with my fast reading speed) (Editor’s Note: No seriously. I was concerning people.) but we’re back with more Prequel Era books!  This time, half of the books were obvious tie-ins to books from much further down the timeline and two of them were, well, Attack of the Clones based.  This one’s a bit more of a mixed bag than before.

Rogue Planet
Okay so you know how some people hate Boba Fett and get annoyed by how fans adore him and he gets all these appearances etc etc?  Yeah, that’s me except with Tarkin and the building of the Death Star.  Honestly, what is this obsession that EU authors have with him and the Death Star?  I mean, I know it was a cool looking space station that blew planets up but can we not credit everyone and their mother with its construction? (Editor’s Note: This is funny given how much I enjoyed reading James Luceno’s Tarkin. Not that it was my favorite but…)

Overall, the book’s okay but it’s so obviously there for the New Jedi Order that it feels far too much like an extended short story sometimes.  Character-wise, it’s good.  I actually really enjoyed getting some insight into the early years of Obi-Wan and Anakin’s Master/Padawan relationship.  (Editor’s Note: I think this could fit well with Charles Soule’s Obi-Wan and Anakin comic.)  I also rather enjoy Thracia Cho Leem because anyone who can out sass Mace Windu and still have his respect deserves your respect.  It’s too bad that she leaves the Jedi Order because wow is he going to need her in about a decade when Shatterpoint happens…  The only thing I’m really not fond of is getting beaten over the head with “Oooo Anakin’s going to fall to the Dark Side one day!”  I get what Greg Bear was doing but at times, it felt like a bit too much.  Also, I will be forever sad that Anakin didn’t get to keep his ship.  Poor baby. Continue reading