Monday, September 5, 2016

Book Review: Star Wars: The Clone Wars Gambit: Seige- by Karen Miller

Stealth (Star Wars: Clone Wars Gambit, #1)Stealth by Karen Miller
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Normally when there are a small group of books in a series I review them together. However, I'm going to make an exception this time because these two books were so different. Because The Clone Wars novels covered so much real-world time there seems to be at least two distinct sets. The first are the novels that came out after the release of Episode II and this window continued until The Clone Wars animated movie came out. At this point there became a second set of novels and this one falls into this set. I might be reading too much into it, but it seems to me that there might also be a division within that second set. One is between the release of the cartoon movie and the second sub-set is after the release of the spin-off animated TV series. If this second sub-set does exist this novel falls nicely into it.
The Clone Wars novels seem to be a big mix of good or really bad. This novel is the first the I would call great. There is good action, high stakes, mystery, and intrigue. Furthermore, it focuses on Obi-Wan and Anakin, instead of a book being made to spotlight the Jedi-of-the-novel, that I have complained about in the earlier Clone Wars novels. And really, it is the first time we see the two of them together for any significant length of time in the Clone Wars novels.
The action of the novel focuses on infiltrating a Separatist controlled planet to disrupt the development of another biological weapon. In addition to having real, suspenseful action which is hard to do when you know the main characters are going to survive because sequels have already been made [Episode III], there is a descent amount of humor and a great cliffhanger at the end. If it wasn't for the book sequel being so bad this would probably be my favorite Clone Wars era novel, but the sequel kind of ruined the whole thing.

View all my reviews

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Book Review: Star Wars: Clone Wars Gambit: Stealth- by Karen Miller

Siege: Star Wars (Clone Wars Gambit)Siege: Star Wars by Karen Miller
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Normally when there are a small group of books in a series I review them together. However, I'm going to make an exception this time because these two books were so different. If you want to read my introduction to the series and review of the first book see here.
This book picks up immediately where the other one left off. After the pacing and suspense in the first book being so good, I possibly had expectations that were too high for this book. Either way, this book let me down. I have complained in several other places that every author seems to want to be the one showing Anakin turn evil. If that was my only criteria for judgement, then this book would be perfect because Anakin is almost angelic if not the self-sacrificing Christ-figure. However, the other main character, Obi-Wan, was written so poorly. To some extent, even if I dislike how Anakin has been written in other novels, there is still precedent for his character. Meanwhile, Obi-Wan, who is normally compassionate, is cold and heartless here. Yes, Obi-Wan doesn't like to bend, yet alone, break the rules, but there have been plenty of times we have seen him make exceptions, because he seems to always do the right and moral thing. Here he is such a stickler that he becomes dispassionate. Beyond that, because of the setting the resolution is inevitable and therefore felt very predictable. This was disheartening after having such good twists and suspense in the first book in the duology.

View all my reviews

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Book Review: Star Wars: The Clone Wars: No Prisoners- by Karen Traviss

Star Wars: The Clone Wars: No PrisonersStar Wars: The Clone Wars: No Prisoners by Karen Traviss
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After the prior book in "The Clone Wars" series was disappointing this one was such a delight. More than anything this is a book that seems to do retconning well. Before the prequel triolgy there were many Expanded Universe novels that referenced the past, and specifically the Clone Wars era. The prequel movies screwed up a lot of that and for a while it seemed like Lucas Books/Del Rey were just going to ignore it all and little attempt was made to retcon the Bantam books. Then post-Clone Wars movie more and more retconning began to take place. Some of it was good, but most of it was pretty sloppy- this book is a wonderful exception.
The book largely focuses on Ahsoka, whom I didn't really approve of joining the Universe, but since she is here this is not a bad take on her growth. Specifically, we get to see some of the tension between the Jedi and their discomfort with taking command when they are leading beings who have trained for this one purpose and often know better what to do. We are also shown a faction of the Jedi Order, much like religious denominations, and this explains the origin of some Jedi families that the prequel movies seemed to ban. In particular we get to see (view spoiler). Lastly, we get to see the fine line that Jedi, who are supposed to be keepers of the peace, but now are not only leading warriors, but also waging war themselves, have to walk. Different views on how to settle the conflict, with a dull ax or a fine scalpel, show the balance between war and peace, if not good and evil. And despite primarily focusing on one planet, the Universe and its' complexity spread by leaps and bounds.
This is hands down one of the best [top two, maybe number 1] Clone Wars novels on audio.

View all my reviews

Friday, September 2, 2016

Book Review: Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Wild Space- by Karen Miller

Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Wild SpaceStar Wars: The Clone Wars: Wild Space by Karen Miller
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If I never read or hear the phrase, "Die Jedi, die Jedi, die Jedi, die!" again it will be too soon.
This book frustrated me for numerous reasons and I'm pretty sure I can't talk about them without giving spoilers, so you've been warned.
First, although this is a Clone Wars novel, the majority of the book, or at least the last half, is focused on only two characters: Obi-Wan Kenobi and Bail Organa. I don't have a problem with this, in and of itself, but the cover shows a lot of clone troopers and we're really interested in this time period because of the Clone War itself. Instead, we get a slowly developing relation between Bail and Obi-Wan that at times seems to following the standard pattern for a romance story where adversaries eventually become lovers. First there is antagonism and a reluctance to work with each other, then there is grudging respect and slowly dawning understanding and seeing the others' perspective, and finally a deep friendship born through extreme adversity.
To make matters worse the extreme adversity comes from a Sith holocron, which somehow seems to have become a commonplace feature in the novels, despite prior novels establishing their rarity. Obi-Wan is physically attacked and mentally continues to hear the phrase, "Die Jedi, die Jedi, die Jedi, die!" which was repeated WAY too many times in the story. When he does finally find the artifact, as you know he must, his weakened state and inability to do much has become so great that it is surprising that he was able to complete the task. The agony of this build-up was almost as unbearable as Fordo and Sam's LONG and SLOW trek through Mordor itself.
Establishing Bail's intimate connection with the Jedi here is about the only good thing that came out of the book and his character was very enjoyable. I suppose I can say that other than Obi-Wan's fatigue all of the characters seemed true to themselves in the movies and other media- that is to say their portrayal seemed accurate. Furthermore, as the Clone Wars novels continue and conclude, this story was regularly references, especially in regards to Obi-Wan and Bail and this only helped to further explain and deepen their relationship.

View all my reviews