Thursday, July 16, 2015

David: Rancor Spotting #40

Dark Disciple by Christie Golden

Page 275 - Asajj Ventress is trying to pilot her ship Banshee into a dreadnought while under attack by Jedi.

"Frantically, Ventress tried to keep the Banshee heading toward the open hangar, but like a rancor set on charging, the ship would no longer obey her."

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

David's Review of Dark Disciple

4/5 Rancors - Reviewing Star Wars books is not as straightforward as it used to be. Since the sale to Disney, the Expanded Universe is now considered to consist of legends. For purposes of plot and character we need to follow the new books published by LucasBooks. There will be conflicts between the different sets of books. Now this is fine with me as long as the books are well-written and fun to read. However, it does mean that I will review Dark Disciple as a standalone book without worrying about where in fits in the universe of Star Wars books.

Dark Disciple by Christie Golden is basically a romance story tied in with efforts to stop Count Dooku at any cost. The book is based on unproduced episodes of the Clone Wars TV show, and it features Asajj Ventress, Jedi Quinlan Voss, and the aforementioned Count Dooku. Under Dooku’s merciless leadership the Separatist forces are accounting for a huge number of fatalities. The Jedi Council amazingly enough decides that the only solution is the assassination of Count Dooku. The job is assigned to Quinlan Voss, and he is instructed to attempt to procure the assistance of Asajj Ventress. Voss succeeds in getting her help and a romance develops. The search for Dooku commences. To say much else about the plot would introduce a number of spoilers.

I enjoyed reading the book. The action is good and the story moves right along for the most part. I will admit that I did find the romance to be a little difficult to accept. Also, I read the entire book thinking there was no way they could succeed in assassinating Count Dooku. I clearly remember seeing him executed by Anakin Skywalker at the urging of Emperor Palpatine. Oh well, the efforts of Voss and Ventress to deal with Dooku still made interesting reading.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

David's Review of Star Wars Omnibus - Tales of the Jedi, Volume 1

5/5 Rancors - The Dark Horse Omnibus books are graphic novels issued as very nice trade paperbacks. They look good, hold up very well, and are consistent in appearance from one book to the next. Each book gives the reader a collection of several stories, and the artwork is outstanding. The Star Wars series, consisting of approximately 34 books, is especially good.

Volume 1 of Tales of the Jedi is the first of the Star Wars books when taken in chronological order. The primary focus is on the very early Sith and some of the early Jedi. Here are the stories.

1.     The Golden Age of the Sith: Prologue - Approximately 5,000 years before the Battle of Yavin. We are introduced to several Sith Lords and get to see how they will stop at nothing to gain power. We also learn about Gav and Jori Daragon as well as various Jedi, both experienced and inexperienced.

2.     The Golden Age of the Sith - Approximately 5,000 years before the Battle of Yavin. A vicious  power struggle between two Sith Lords to see who will become the Dark Lord. An attack on Coruscant and the Republic by the Sith. The story gives us an excellent look at how the early Sith operated.

3.     The Fall of the Sith Empire - Approximately 4,990 years before the Battle of Yavin. The glory years of the Sith come to an end.

4.     Ulc Qel Droma and the Beast Wars of Onderon - Approximately 4,000 years before the Battle of Yavin. Three young Jedi face their first real test as Jedi Knights when they are sent to Onderon to resolve a dispute between warring factions.

5.     The Saga of Nomi Sunrider - Approximately 3,999 years before the Battle of Yavin. The beginning of Nomi Sunrider's rise to becoming a famous Jedi.

The Dark Horse Omnibus graphic novels are off to an excellent start with Tales of the Jedi. I look forward to reading the books that follow.

David: A Classic Star Wars Scene

The Unifying Force by James Luceno

A wonderful Star Wars moment starts around location 388 on my iPad. We get to enjoy reading about a board game between C-3PO and Han Solo that brings back memories of the classic Dejarik game between C-3PO and Chewie in A New Hope when the droid was advised to let the Wookie win. This section of The Unifying Force is a beautiful thing to read. Here are a few excerpts.

The Beginning
    "The game is effectively over," C-3PO told Han Solo. "I suggest that you surrender the rest of your players now, rather than risk further humiliation."
    "Surrender?" Han jerked his thumb at the golden protocol droid. "Who's he think he's talking to?"
    Leia Organa Solo raised her brown eyes from the game table to glance at her husband. "I have to admit, things do look pretty bad."
    C-3PO agreed. "I'm afraid you can't win, Captain Solo."
    Han scratched his head absently and continued to study the playing field. "That's not the first time someone's told me that."

Further Action Towards the End
    C-3PO stammered. "Bending the rules is one thing, but this...this is a flagrant violation not only of the rules, but also of proper game etiquette. At the very least, you have performed a suspect move and very likely a rogue one!"

I probably don't need to say who ended up winning the game. This is Star Wars at its best.

David: Rancor Spotting #39

The Unifying Force by James Luceno

Location 8254 on iPad - Luke Skywalker in the final battle is in a true struggle with the Yuuzhan Vong's Supreme Overlord Shimrra.

“When he came to an instant later, he saw that Luke had obviously intercepted Shimrra’s follow-up blow. But now, monstrous in aspect and power, Shimrra hovered over Luke like a rancor.”

Monday, July 6, 2015

David's Review of The Unifying Force

5/5 Rancors - At last I have finished the 19 books of the New Jedi Order. It ends big. James Luceno does his usual good job as he wraps things up in The Unifying Force. Mr. Luceno is one of the best, and I knew he wouldn't let us down. He ties things together and reaches a conclusion while at the same time reminding us of happenings from other books.

As expected, the war with the Yuuzhan Vong ends with a huge battle. The sentient planet of Zonama Sekot has a major role as do the Shamed Ones, the oppressed members of the Yuuzhan Vong society. The Jedi reach a clearer understanding of the Force with the help of Vergere and Zonama Sekot. Everybody seems to work together until things begin to make sense.

A key player in all of this is the Vong's Supreme Overlord Shimmra. He is somewhat of a mysterious leader through the series, and his fortunes take an unexpected direction during the twists and turns at the end of the book. Just remember that everything is not as it seems. Keep a close eye on Nom Anor. The final battle is huge and very satisfying. Jacen Solo is a key contributor here.

I admit to being somewhat relieved that my journey through the New Jedi Order has finally come to an end. I felt bogged down many times. However, the overall journey was worth it. The Yuuzhan Vong were fascinating, mysterious aliens. The ability of the Republic and the Jedi to deal with them was in doubt many times. For the most part the various authors in the series wrote well and kept us as readers on our toes. The New Jedi Order and The Unifying Force are worthwhile parts of the Star Wars saga. In particular, I look forward to reading more of Mr. Luceno's books.

David's Review of The Final Prophecy

4/5 Rancors - Well, at long last I am nearing the end of the New Jedi Order series of nineteen books, and I believe that the last two books will restore my enthusiasm. The Final Prophecy, the next-to-last book, is certainly a step in the right direction. Greg Keyes has done a good job. This book seems more focused on select Jedi and Yuuzhan Vong rather than trying to describe everybody's adventures while at the same time going into never-ending discussions of Jedi philosophy. The New Jedi Order really could have been reduced by about half.

The living planet Zonama Sekot is the crux of the book. I found a sentient planet to be an interesting concept. Corran Horn and Tahiri are sent on a mission to Zonama Sekot. As if that didn't cause enough problems, their companions on the mission are three Yuuzhan Vong - Harrar, an important priest; Nen Yim, a shaper; and Nom Anor in his Prophet disguise. All of this creates an extremely interesting mix of characters thrown together. Plus, Luke Skywalker and Jacen Solo are already on the planet with a team trying to understand Zonama Sekot's potential role in bringing about peace with the Yuuzhon Vong. An interesting plot.

As if this weren't enough, we also have Wedge Antilles leading a campaign to retake the Bilbringer system. Things do not go well and Wedge's forces find themselves stranded deep in Yuuzhan Vong space cut off from help. Trickery and outstanding tactics will be called for. Is Wedge up to the challenge?

The Final Prophecy is a must-read book, especially if you have gone this far in the New Jedi Order series. One more book to go. Hang in there.