Thursday, November 14, 2019

Reading (old) Star Wars - 2

In 2011 I was working on my 'classics' I guess... πŸ˜…

Let's see, Star Wars books... what did I think of them then? And now?


2011

... with the kids of an age where things like Star Wars are accessible and somewhat understandable, I decided to ‘splash out’ and buy a box containing all six DVD’s.

So, for the last few weeks, the kids have been watching all the movies... I The Phantom Menace, II Attack of the Clones, III Revenge of the Sith and IV A New Hope.

Obviously not all in one session πŸ˜€

And, they’re enjoying it, although now and again daddy has to explain things. (That was eight years ago, these days they have to explain things to daddy...)

They did not seem to mind too much the downfall of Anakin. Well, that perfectly matches my opinion of the character: an annoying brat that doesn’t even halfway deserve Veder’s shiny black armor.

That aside: what a trip down memory lane for me. First of all I never saw I, II and III before (the 'prequels'), perhaps parts of them, but never complete. Watching the movies also puts my own mortality in perspective. The original Star Wars Episode IV movie dates back to 1977, that’s 34 (!) years ago! I’m getting old...


(Either the image suffered an RGB BGR swap, or Luke was a Smurf... hmm...)

I never realized how many books have been written in the ‘extended Star Wars universe’. Though I have no plans to read them all (or listen to them all) I’m doing a courageous attempt to at least go through some of them. Which, I must say, is not always easy as the quality wildly varies.

My reports on the books may rather differ from your opinion. Don’t forget, I’m experiencing them as audio-books in short 30 minutes to one hour bursts in the car, to and from work. This definitely will bias my opinion as certain stories work better when told, instead of being subjected to the scrutiny of the reader with an eye for detail. Then again, a narrator can just as badly hurt a story, so... who can tell?


Previous batch

  • Tales of the Jedi by Tom Veitch (?).


This batch

  • Shadow Hunter - Michael Reaves
  • Cloak of Deception - James Luceno
  • The Phantom Menace - Terry Brooks
  • Jedi Quest
  • Rogue Planet - Greg Bear
  • Outbound Flight - Timothy Zahn
  • The Approaching Storm - Alan Dean Foster
  • Attack of the Clones - R.A. Salvatore
  • Shatterpoint - Matthew Stover
  • The Cestus Deception
  • Med Star 1 - Michael Reaves and Steve Perry
  • Med Star 2 - Michael Reaves and Steve Perry


Highlight(s)

In general most of the Star Wars books have been underwhelming. So to save you some time let's start by telling you the best book in this batch was...

  • Shatterpoint by Matthew Stover

I'm not going to mention the low-lights, as there were too many of them...

That being said, let's check out this batch.


Shadow Hunter

By Michael Reaves... Doesn’t do much for the Star Wars universe, it’s almost like watching a poor Star Trek episodic episode: nothing changes, at the end all is as it started, so it doesn’t matter what happens. Killing of the lead characters effectively makes it impossible to make something of the few interesting ideas.

I believe the author had plans for a romantic relation between female bounty hunter and the male lead, but his editor decided it was time to finish things up.

Pity. There could have been more to it.


Cloak of Deception

By James Luceno. Sort of a prequel to The Phantom Menace. It didn’t leave too much of an impression on me, as I cannot even recall what the story was about, just a few weeks after reading / listening to it... Oh wait, wasn't it about some kind of intergalactic Olympic games?

Who cares.


The Phantom Menace

By Terry Brooks.

Ah. Mister Brooks does something else than write about the seeker... It’s hard to tell how much input George Lucas had, but I assume he would have had some input.

I’ve actually read (half) the book as a real book, ages ago. Then I 'read' it as an audio book, and then I watched the movie together with my kids.

The verdict? As for the movie: the pod race scene is still great to test your surround system, and the sword fighting is good. In all other aspects it’s exactly as I remembered... Which, well, meh. And the same goes for the book: meh.


Jedi Quest

Granta Omega, new enemy. Awful books.


Rogue Planet

Greg Bear has Jedi knight Kenobi and padawan Skywalker do a road trip hunting down a living planet with living spaceships. And return home empty handed. Skip it.


Outbound Flight

Timothy Zahn, who delivered a master piece with the three novels that renewed interest in the Star Wars universe Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising and The Last Command goes back in time to visit admiral Thrawn's homeland.

However, this book is not in the same class. Readable, yes, but (as with many Star Wars novels) somewhat illogical.


The Approaching Storm

Prequel to Attack of the Clones. Too many plot holes and not enough interesting parts. Skip it. Alan Dean Foster can do better.


Attack of the Clones

... by R.A. Salvatore... Yet no dark elves or dragons or mumbling wizards? Hmmm.

Movie was... euh... essential. But not quintessential. In fact, to go from I to III there must be II. Think stiff dialogue, wooden acting, and you can see realization on Natalie Portman's face that she's in the wrong movie. Anakin is true to style (ie. horrible) and except for some battles there's pretty much the II that succeeds I and preceeds III. More meg. It's becoming a recurring theme.


Shatterpoint

Matthew Stover's novel is enjoyable, at least as audio book. There's a nice and dark tone, lots of bad things happening, and heroes are not all, not at all, 'good'.


I thought Mace Windu (?) in the movies to be a stiff, somewhat boring character, with perhaps a little too much spine (and 6 feet of wood shoved up his ***).

In this (audio) book he proves to be a prick indeed. Then again, it just seems to work.

I guess this is the first non-movie book pre-Heir to the Empire that I found quite readable and enjoyable.


The Cestus Deception

I literally fell asleep. (Good stuff I wasn't driving at the moment.)

Yes, it's that bad. Probably to convince me that I shouldn't keep my hopes too high after Shatterpoint. After the first few chapters I could no longer take it, and decided to skip it.

There's one good thing about this book: if the rest is of the same poor quality I'll be quickly done with all my Star Wars audio books...


Med Star 1 - Battle Surgeons / Med Star 2 - Jedi Healer

Michael Reaves and Steve Perry.

Okay. Take your average romantic doctor / nurse relation, sprinkle it with a little war on some backwater planet about some medicinal drug with near mythical properties, and voila. Another Star Wars episode.

Well, it’s perhaps not entirely like that, but it had me worried now and again, as the romantic angle was a little bit too much for my taste. On top of that, in book one I already knew who would be the master villain, and I never liked Barriss Offee much. Still, it isn’t all that bad, as we get I5 back, the modified droid from Shadow Hunter. There’s also a Dan... Dan... Dan ‘something’ who is clearly set up to become a reporter / private investigator with I5 as his partner.

But... I don't think he ever showed up again in some sequel...


Thus far...

The verdict thus far? Many books hold little to no interest to me. I sincerely do hope I'll run into some more good stuff, but, unfortunately, the majority has been 'meh'...

A feeling matching the foul taste which The Last Jedi left behind...

Feel free to add any suggestions to my Star Wars reading / listening list... Don't worry about disappointing me, my expectations are very low...


Dapper 117 / Telltales! 57

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