Thursday, August 18, 2016

Book Review: Star Wars: The Clone Wars- by Karen Traviss

Star Wars: The Clone WarsStar Wars: The Clone Wars by Karen Traviss
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'm still not sure what I think about this movie being made. It is the only Star Wars movie that I have not seen in the theater, in fact it kind up snuck up on me and it did so poorly in the theaters that it was done with its run before I got the chance to see it. I really don't like that Anakin (view spoiler) because it seemed to run against everything that had been written in Clone Wars novels, cartoons, comic books, video games, and the cannon prequel movies. It seemed to me awfully late in the game to be trying to change the storyline so drastically. Having said that the movies did not satisfy fans' desire to see the Clone Wars that were mentioned so fleetingly in passing in Episode IV and became so critical to the early Expanded Universe novels.

I mention all of this to set the scene and to explain that I don't count a bad script against the author. Having said that I also look for one to add to the other. If the book comes first then I expect the movie to add visuals, inflection, scene setting, or something else that is beyond what the original author was able to explain. On the other hand if the movie comes first [or in this case the movie script and idea came first because this is the adaptation of the film rather than a novel turned into a movie], I expect the novel to add some background or insight into characters' thoughts or some other details that add to the story. This novel is very true to the movie, even more so than the Episode I novel I praised previously, but doesn't add anything to the movie or the experience. I suppose if you are going to read instead of watch then the book is good enough, but otherwise I don't find it all that useful or much of an improvement. Not bad, just the same and therefore bland.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Book Review: Star Wars: Yoda- Dark Rendezvous- by Sean Stewart

Yoda - Dark RendezvousYoda - Dark Rendezvous by Sean Stewart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First, I'll say I don't know what to make of a book that I was certain I was reading for the first time, but continually throughout recalled details as they came up to the point where I was sure it was not simply similarities with another text or déjà vu, and yet I don't remember reading it the first time. I don't know what it means for a book to have made so little of an impression.
Despite that the book was very good. It breaks the mold of all of the other early Clone Wars Novels [those that came out before The Clone Wars movie]. All of those other earlier books focused on a main and minor Jedi as their two main characters, but this one stars Yoda and several minor Jedi. Yoda is well written here and has lots of humor and personality, all of which we saw grow in the prequel movies. As was revealed in Episode II: Attack of the Clones (view spoiler) and here in this book (view spoiler). The twists and turns and moral decisions give this book a great pace. Several young and other minor Jedi are introduced in the book and play key roles which help to add to the tension in the book. We also get to learn a lot more about Count Dooku's background and personality. Even though it didn't make a big impression with me the first time I listened to it, this time it stood out as one of the best Clone Wars novels and certainly the best of those that came before the cartoon movie and TV series.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Book Review: Star Wars: Jedi Trial- by David Sherman

Jedi Trial (Star Wars: Clone Wars)Jedi Trial by David Sherman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Again, like most of the Clone Wars novels this one focuses on a main character Jedi [Anakin Skywalker] and a minor Jedi [Nejaa Halcyon]. Also, the presence of Nejaa Halcyon allows for a LOT of retconning to be done. (view spoiler) This is one of the few books to feature Anakin that doesn't go full-out in trying to make him go Dark, but it does some. There is a side-plot in this novel that is kind of random and doesn't really contribute to the final story. After the introduction the book focuses mainly on one siege. The pace is good and the story is entertaining and believable and the tension was palpable. After several slow Clone Wars novels, this one delivers good entertainment.

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Monday, August 15, 2016

Book Review: Medstar Duology- by Michael Reaves and Steve Perry


First, I read the novels in the duology back-to-back in two days and the two are not very distinct for me, so it is possible there will be spoilers for both books. These books broke the standard Clone Wars novel format a little bit because they didn't really focus on a main and minor Jedi. You could make the argument that Luminara is a Master and was introduced back in Episode I and is therefore at least familiar, but she's never really been a main character (even the one book to feature her, both she and her apprentice were an aside to another pair of Jedi). This series also did a good job of integrating a few other Jedi into the story.
Overall the story line was good, but I expected the location and scene to change more than it did. They are supposed to be part of a mobile surgical unit [like M.A.S.H.], but because the location was under siege, for the most part the scene does not change much. It was awesome to see a familiar character from Michael Reaves's Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter, Lorn Pavan's I-5YQ (I-Five) show up and continue that story line. I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of medical detail given without being gruesome. It seems that many novelists have a few fields or specialties that they focus on and here it was very much the anatomical and medical side of things. These books were very hard for me to find on audio when they originally came out, so I was very glad to finally be able to enjoy them.

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Sunday, August 14, 2016

Book Review: Star Wars: The Cestus Deception- by Steven Barnes

Star Wars: the Cestus Deception: a Clone Wars NovelStar Wars: The Cestus Deception: a Clone Wars Novel by Steven Barnes
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Like most of the early Clone Wars novels this one follows the same format of starring a main character Jedi with a minor one [this time Obi-Wan Kenobi with Kit Fisto]. The book has a strong start and a strong finish, but the middle is lacking. Specifically, the deception in the title mostly refers to the Jedi using deception, and not being as morally upright as they normally are. There is also a side plot of a Clone trying to understand his existence and place in the galaxy. It was cool to see (view spoiler) appear in a novel. The one thing I didn't like about the ending was much like Shatterpoint it was a little dues ex machina.

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Book Review: Star Wars: Shatterpoint- by Matthew Woodring Stover

Shatterpoint (Star Wars: Clone Wars Novel)Shatterpoint by Matthew Woodring Stover
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Here we finally enter the Clone Wars properly and it has always been a great chagrin that it was mentioned originally in A New Hope, and teased so much in the first two movies of the prequel trilogy, but then fail to be covered by real movies. Instead the gaps have had to be filled in by all the other forms of media: TV cartoons, movie cartoon, comic books, graphic novels, video games, magazine short stories, and novels like this one.
Like most of the Clone Wars era novels this book focuses on one main Jedi [Mace Windu] and one minor/support Jedi [Depa Billaba]. Unlike many of the following novels, this one does not focus on Kenobi or Skywalker and that is a welcomed difference. Furthermore, we get a really close look at Mace and get to see his background developed.
I have listened to this novel several times [I think my most recent read my was my 3rd] and every time I have started the novel I have wondered why I didn't enjoy it in the past because it starts out so good. However, very quickly the novel turns too dark and and brooding. The main antagonist takes a long time to develop and is fairly one-dimensional, the other main antagonist are just nature hazards and are not all that engaging. Also, too many Star Wars novels told from this point of view of a Jedi end up focusing on the wrestling between the light and dark sides- this one is no different and ends up making Mace look kind of wishy-washy, instead of his normal bad-ass self.
As I mentioned earlier, I was kind of surprised that this book turned out as bad as it did because it has a pretty solid start. I also seemed to recall that Mace ended up speaking a lot more about his love of the Republic instead of dedication to the Jedi Order or to any individual leader, but it turns out that those memories came from Matthew Woodring Stover's next Star Wars novel, Revenge Of The Sith . Having said that this book is a pretty good preview of Stover's writing style and there is the possibility that the abridgement of the audiobook is what did damage to the story line, instead of it being the novel itself, because Stover's writing it nowhere nearly as detailed in this book as his movie novelization. This would not be the first time that a movie adaptation was the better book by an author over their own contribution to the Star Wars Expanded Universe.  The end however was abrupt and very <i>dues ex machina</i>.

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