Monday, February 8, 2016

David's Review of Bloodlines (Legends)

4/5 Rancors Bloodlines by Karen Traviss is the follow-up to Aaron Allston’s Betrayal, the book that began the nine-book series Legacy of the Force. Throughout this series, three authors will be taking turns writing the books. It should be interesting. Bloodlines was an entertaining read. It expanded on what we learned from Betrayal, and it introduced several new storylines.

The character who kind of came out of nowhere to play a major role in Bloodlines was our old friend Boba Fett, bounty hunter and Mandalorian. We learn more about Fett in this book than ever before. We learn he has serious health problems, and we now know more about his family than ever before. He also takes the unusual step for him of acquiring a sidekick, the bounty hunter Mirta Gev.

Then there is Jacen Solo. The Dark Side continues to beckon to him, and he is clearly headed in that direction. He is now in charge of a quasi-military organization on Coruscant that has official responsibility for stopping terrorism on the planet. His apprentice Ben Skywalker continues to work with him willingly. Jacen’s actions are completely over the top in several cases, and comparisons to his grandfather Darth Vader abound. That is not good. Jacen’s actions and the changes in him continue to be heavily influenced by Lumiya.

Karen Traviss is a good author, and Bloodlines is well worth reading.

Friday, February 5, 2016

David: Rancor Spottings 48-53 (Legends)

Betrayal by Aaron Allston
All page references are for iPad.

#48 - Page 57
Leia and Han discussing the possibility of war between the Galactic Alliance and Corellia:
    "Perhaps," she finally said, "the best thing to do would be to not interfere." The look she turned upon him suggested that she expected him to transform into a rancor and go on a rampage.

#49 - Page 87
Jacen Solo stowed away in a cargo container on a shuttle:
    The air wasn't cool enough.  The heavy enviro-suit he wore kept him too warm. He'd been sweating as he slept, and the crate smelled like a rancor nest.

#50 - Page 204
Wedge and Tycho discussing military plans and whether or not the room they're in is secure:
    Wedge nodded, unconcerned. "We can. This place has been screened so often and so well, by your side and my side, that I'd be more surprised to see a listening device than a rancor in a formal gown."

#51 & #52 - Page 264
Mara uses a Jedi heat-entrapment method so she won't be spotted by heat sensors as she sneaks over a wall and into a compound to meet fellow Jedi Tiu Zax:
    She released the heat entrapment and felt the built-up energy flow away from her. With her last bit of strength, she held her control over the surrounding air long enough to send much of that heat streaming out through the slit in the wall, even as the slit slid closed. And then she burst into a sweat, a sudden head-to-toe sheen that felt like heavy motor oil against her skin.
    In the darkness, a female voice said, "Goodness, You smell like a rancor after a footrace."
    Mara smiled weakly. "That's no way to greet a Master. And you've never smelled a rancor after a footrace."

#53 - Page 402
A concussion missile fired by Han Solo hits just below an Aleph and two bombers:
    The world exploded around her. The Aleph was kicked as if by a rancor the size of a skyscraper.

David's Review of Betrayal (Legends)

4/5 Rancors - I am so relieved to have finally finished the sluggish nineteen-book New Jedi Order and the creepy Dark Nest Trilogy that I have truly been looking forward to the Legacy of the Force series (nine books). The publisher has taken an interesting approach. The books have been divided among Aaron Allston, Karen Traviss, and Troy Denning, so we will have some different styles but probably with a fair amount of consistency.

The emphasis in Legacy of the Force will be Jedi vs Sith with the twist here being that Jacen Solo is rapidly heading to the Dark Side. This has been coming on for a while in previous books, and we have been able to follow Jacen’s path (kind of) as he changes his ways. This is not a move that most readers will welcome. Jacen sacrifices his family and most things that he has always held dear. We can only try to understand his thought process.

Betrayal focuses on a huge squabble heading towards war between the Galactic Alliance and Corellia, Han Solo’s home system. This portends all kinds of future problems as Han feels obligated to help Corellia if he can while Luke and most of the rest of our usual heroes are part of the Galactic Alliance.

Another interesting part of the book is the emergence of young Ben Skywalker, Luke and Mara’s teenage son. Ben becomes Jacen’s apprentice and begins to show signs of maturity. However, the Sith leanings of Jacen do not bode well for the future or for the comfort level in the Skywalker family. I suspect Ben will begin to come into his own but the path in front of him will almost certainly not sit well with his parents. It has to be tough growing up as Luke Skywalker’s kid.

Betrayal does a good job in kicking off the Legacy of the Force series. The story keeps your attention and moves along well. Plus, you can see lots of problems coming along. I look forward to the rest of this series.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

David: Rancor Spottings 46 & 47 (Legends)

Dark Nest III: The Swarm War by Troy Denning
All page references are for iPad.

#46 - Page 86
Mara talking to Luke and Jacen about Aryn Thul:
"That's one thing we don't have to worry about," Mara said. "Nobody is going to swindle Aryn Thul. That woman is a business rancor."

#47 - Page 242
Luke, in a desperate fight with Lomi Plo:
"Lomi Plo turned to meet him, and suddenly she seemed the size of a rancor, with bristling bug arms three meters long and reflexes so quick that her whirling lightsabers were nothing but a blur."

David's Review of Dark Nest III: The Swarm War (Legends)

2/5 Rancors - Troy Denning’s The Swarm War is the third book in the Dark Nest Trilogy, and I am glad it has come to an end. I am not a Dark Nest fan. I never liked the Killiks, did not find them to be interesting, and never understood why they were selected as the focus of a Star Wars trilogy. Troy Denning is certainly an acceptable author, but his choice of material this time was not good.

The Killiks, the Galactic Alliance, and the Chiss are all now close to being involved in open warfare. The disfigured Dark Jedi Lomi Plo is leading the Dark Nest. Luke Skywalker is trying to hold the Jedi together. The Chiss are at least interesting. Once again the Jedi seem to spend more time trying to figure out an acceptable course of action for Jedi rather than just joining the action and actually defeating some of the bad guys. This indecision was a common theme in the massive New Jedi Order series, and it continues here. It does not make for good reading.

Jaina Solo and her buddies are Killik Joiners, a state of affairs that is difficult to believe. In the meantime, Jacen Solo continues to make his own path. Leia, Jagged Fel, Raynar Thul, Alema Rar, and Saba Sebatyne also make significant contributions to the story.

I am ready to move on to the next book.

Monday, January 25, 2016

David's Review of Dark Nest II: The Unseen Queen (Legends)

2/5 Rancors - The Unseen Queen is the second book in Troy Denning's Dark Nest Trilogy and picks up the story about a year after the events of The Joiner King. The Killiks have been granted a planet on which to make a new home. However, they have not found peace in the process. Their new nests have been attacked by unknown enemies. And the Killiks decide to hold the Jedi responsible. This creates stress, and the Skywalkers and Solos head to the Unknown Regions in an effort to find out what is going on. The Dark Nest appears to have gone away. One of the problems is that the young Jedi, including Jaina Solo and her close companion Zekk, are full Joiners of the Killik nest and act in its interests. This was difficult for me to accept, but there it is.

We do get to meet some new characters in the book with Admiral Bwua'tu being the most interesting. He grows on you as the story goes along, and he turns out to be a capable military leader and strategist. We continue with the main characters from the previous book plus we once again meet the Squibs who had a fairly big role in an earlier book.

Luke, Mara, Han and Leia assume the responsibility for straightening everything out. Their efforts are interesting, but much of the book is not. Plus, I admit that I just do not like the Killiks. I don’t understand why the particular storyline was selected in the first place. Oh well. I will press on to the final book in the Dark Nest Trilogy.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

David: Rancor Spottings 42, 43, 44, & 45 (Legends)

Dark Nest I: The Joiner King by Troy Denning
All page references are for iPad.

#42 - Page 34
Han to Leia as they discuss a potential landing: 
"It looks about as safe as a rancor's throat down there."

#43 - Page 43
A classic reference for rancors. Mara and Luke as they explore a new planet:
    They came to a cockeyed intersection, and Luke stopped to listen to a strange pulsing sound that was rumbling out of a crooked side tunnel. It was muted, eerie, and rasping, but there was a definite melody and rhythm.
     "Music," he said.
     "If you're from Tatooine, maybe," Mara said. "The rest of us would call that a rancor belch."

#44 - Page 72
Luke and Han in the middle of negotiations with Juun and Tarfang:
    Tarfang lowered his furry brow and glared back for a moment, then finally said something that C-3PO translated as "Captain Juun will be taking a big risk. It'll cost you."
    "Fine," Luke said. He stepped close to Juun and Tarfang, and suddenly he seemed as large as a rancor. "But you know who we are. You understand what it will mean if you try to double-cross us?"
    Tarfang shrank back, but Juun seemed untroubled.
    "Double-cross Han Solo?" the Sullustan asked. "Who'd be crazy enough to do that?"

#45 - Page 372
The Millennium Falcon on the edge of a major battle:
    A single Chiss cruiser was sliding quietly around the moon's bulk, playing a game of moot-and-rancor with a pair of Hapan Novas.