Monday, October 29, 2012

Extra! Extra! Star Wars (Novels Edition)

So, I haven't been stormed out just yet. It's getting there, but I'll at least get today's Extra! Extra! posted. The missing Friday post will be delayed for next Friday, and after that I'm going to switch it up (because Friday at the Movies isn't cutting it for me).

For now, though, here's a quick rundown on my top 5 Star Wars novels (remembering that I do my best to never re-post a given title!):

Heir to the Empire
This is an almost obligatory inclusion on every Star Wars Extended Universe (EU) list. It is the start of the beginning of The Thrawn Trilogy, one of/the best set of EU novels out there. This is not only because of the sweeping story that takes place after the films, but also because of the introduction/inclusion of so many fan favorite characters: Grand Admiral Thrawn, Mara Jade, and Talon Karrde.

I don't want to spoil the plot for any of these novels, because they really do deserve to be read and enjoyed, so I'll simply say this is a great place to start -- it takes place five years after Return of the Jedi, where the New Republic has to deal once more with the vestiges of the Empire. And in no way will Thrawn, one of the greatest/most brilliant antagonists of all time, make it easy on them.

The trilogy (and this novel) get a 9/10, missing the 10 simply because there are a couple of continuity errors they create or have been created since then.
I, Jedi
This novel is a bit different. It is written from Corran Horn's, a character introduced during the X-Wing novels, perspective. That's right: it's written in the first person.

Without going into too many details, it is an interesting story that occurs alongside some major events that occur after the films. Corran doesn't play the biggest part in all of them (as seen during the temporary revival of an ancient Sith Lord), but he is present and working towards his own goal, namely developing his Force powers and saving his wife, Mirax.

I can't say it's the best written novel I've ever read, but I really enjoyed a different perspective of the Star Wars universe and some of its key characters. Also, I enjoyed Corran in the X-Wing series.

I rate this an 8/10. Star Wars novels should probably remain in third person, but this was a good attempt.
Darth Bane: Path of Destruction
This book is the origin of Darth Bane, who I believe is introduced in the Jedi vs Sith comic series. I was unaware of Jedi vs Sith when I first read this, however, so this was my introduction Bane. Due to this book alone, Bane become one of my favorite characters in the EU (probably coming right behind Dash Rendar). His back story is engaging, his path to becoming a Sith is a touch convoluted, and it all comes with an air of escape.

The book takes you inside the character's head and you see his motivations and are able to understand them, something that isn't always easy with villains (especially the way Sith are generally written).

In case you didn't know, Bane is the Sith that created the Rule of Two Palpatine followed(ish) in the movies.

This is part of a trilogy, though you could honestly skip the sequels. They're not bad, but in no way do they compare to the first.

I know some people don't love this novel, but I absolutely adore it. A 9/10 for me.
Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter
Let me start this off by saying I really dislike Darth Maul. I dislike most things about Episode I, but Jar Jar and Darth Maul are characters I despise simply for who they are.

Now, when I say Shadow Hunter is one of the few EU novels I've re-read multiple times, I hope you can understand how bizarre that is.

The worst part is that I'm not sure why I enjoy this novel so much. The characters aren't particularly exciting, though I found the protagonists to at least be endearing, and it DOES feature Darth Maul, who I have already said I don't enjoy. I'll have to chalk it up to the quality of the writing, I guess.

The story is simple -- Darth Maul has to intercept and kill folks to keep information out of the Republic's hands. The information eventually makes its way to our protagonists, Con-Man Lorn Pavan and Jedi Padawan Darsha Assant. Intense, novel-length chase ensues. That might sounds boring, but the tension in the novel is applied early and artfully maintained throughout the story. When our heroes meet Darth Maul, you're terrified -- you know in your heart what must happen, but you really, really don't want it to.

And that's pretty damn rare for characters in the EU. I give this a 9/10.
The Paradise Snare
Ok, this is in the sacred number five slot because I'm a terrible, terrible fan boy. The Paradise Snare (which is the first novel in the Han Solo Trilogy) is the story of Han Solo's origin. As I love Han Solo, these stories are especially interesting.

We learn about Han's childhood as an orphan, some of his side jobs as a younger person, and then his eventual joining of the Imperial Academy as a young man. I can't speak to how well it's written, but the story is interesting for any Han Solo fan.

The highlights of the series would have to be learning why Han saves Chewy (and why Chewy owes a life-debt), how Han gets the Falcon, and an appearance by Boba Fett.

Because it's been so long since I've read the novel, I'm not comfortable giving it an individual rating. I do remember very much enjoying the trilogy as a whole (because I'm a huge Solo fan, of course), so it gets an 8/10 as a series.If you don't like Han... skip it. Seriously.

I have enjoyed other Star Wars novels, but I'd have to say these are some of my absolute favorites. I do want to give a shout out to the Young Adult series, Young Jedi Knights. I can't imagine their writing was all that great, but they did help get me into reading. I especially loved the Solo children, which is why recent novels have been a bit of a bummer for me.

Stay tuned for Wednesday's Hunting Game(s) post (considering I have power/survive Sandy), I've got two first impressions to write about! That's right, two for the price of one!

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