Reviews

Review of “Star Wars: Lost Stars,” a novel by Claudia Gray

Star Wars: Lost Stars by Claudia Gray

Publisher: LucasBooks
Genre: Science Fiction
Length: Novel (560 pages)
Rating: 5/5 stars

Image result for star wars the lost starsI’d heard so many good things about this book that I decided to give it a shot. I usually don’t like young adult so I wasn’t sure it was for me.

I’m so glad I took the chance. This was easily the best new canon Star Wars novel I’ve read so far by a long shot. In my opinion, never before has Star Wars gotten so personal. This story of the love and connection during war, between Thane and Ciena, was as captivating as any I’ve ever read. Sure there are some young adult elements like during their training and some love scenes that had me roll my eyes, but never enough to take me out of it.

The war between the rebels and the empire is a staple of Star Wars as everybody knows, but it never felt realistic to me until now. It was more an exaggerated dark vs light conflict. But seeing the war from both sides, from the perspectives of two normal officers who are drawn to opposite sides, really had me invested in the struggle. This book didn’t need the force or bounty hunters to hold my interest, and I think proved to me how ripe the Star Wars universe is for every type of story.

And the way Gray plays on the events of the original trilogy to bring Thane and Ciena at crucial times added so much to those movies for me. It made me care about the people on the Death Stars who died in ways the movies couldn’t. The horrors of war were plainly visible here, like a story of two people on opposite sides of our own civil war drawn to fight one another.

I highly recommend this book. Don’t be scared off by the young adult tag if that’s not your thing. This book is rife with realistic relationships and adult themes.

 

This book can be purchased for kindle here.

 

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Reviews

Review of “The Darth Bane Series,” by Drew Karpyshyn

Publisher: LucasBooks
Genre: Science Fiction
Length: Novel (Three Books. 1009 Pages overall)
Rating: 5/5 stars

KeepDarth Bane: Star Wars Legends 3-Book Bundle: Path of Destruction, Rule of Two, Dynasty of Evil (Star Wars: Darth Bane Trilogy - Legends) by [Karpyshyn, Drew]ing up with the current Star Wars craze, this is one of my favorite novels set in that universe. Though it may be a “Legends” story now, Darth Bane himself remains canon and hopefully one day this book will be too.

I LOVE stories that focus on the villains, and that’s what you get with this trilogy. Drew Karpyshyn takes the reader into mind of one of the most powerful Sith Lords there ever was -Darth Bane, the founder of the infamous ‘rule of two’ we hear references to in the movies. It’s such an interesting look into the Sith mindset that sometimes it made me question whether the jedi really are completely good. It’s a perspective I’ve always wanted to see more fleshed out in a Star Wars book.

This is a three book series so there is a lot to cover, but I’ll avoid any spoilers because it’s worth the trip. Darth Bane is a captivating character, all at once terrifying and charismatic. While I found the first book (which is solely about his rise to power in the sith order) to be the best by far, the others were still great as he takes on a female apprentice named Darth Zannah. The action is fast-paced and thrilling, and the slow parts are filled with intriguing descriptions of the philosophical ideals which breathe further life into the dark side of the force.

If you’re a Star Wars fan, I can’t see how you wouldn’t enjoy this. If you’re not, there’s still a lot to love. The trilogy is a wild ride, and Mr. Karpyshyn’s ability to seamlessly add additional characters throughout the sequels is masterful. This is especially true in the second book when there is a POV jedi character, Johun, and the reader gets to see the direct contrast (and similarities) between the two creeds. Star wars is often so black and white, so it was great to see some grayness here.
Overall, the ending of the third book was a little disappointing for me, but it isn’t enough to detract from the entire trilogy. It’s a wonderful story about the pursuit of true power. In my opinion, Bane stands alone as the most compelling villains that Star Wars universe has to offer.

The complete series can be purchased for kindle here.

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Reviews

Review of “Star Wars: Lords of the Sith,” a novel by Paul S. Kemp

Star Wars: Lords of the Sith by Paul S.Kemp

Publisher: LucasBooks
Genre: Science Fiction
Length: Novel (321 pages)Length:
Rating: 4/5 stars

This is the first Star Wars novel in the new canon that I’ve finished so far. There’s no question that this is a solid story, but don’t let the title trick you. This is being marketed as a tale of Vader and the Emperor, but they really come off as secondary characters. It’s really a handful of others who take center stage. I love the dynamic between Vader and the Emperor so I might not have picked this up had I realized that, but I’m glad I did. While it doesn’t live up to some of my Star Wars favorites (Bane Trilogy, Thrawn Trilogy I’m looking at you) Lords of the Sith kept me captivated from beginning to start.

The novel takes place only a few years after the events of Revenge of the Sith. The planet Ryloth is suffering under the heal of the new Empire and a Twi’lek named Cham Syndulla leads a resistance movement against them. After an encounter with Vader and witnessing his power, he decides to try and cut the head from the Empire by having both Vader and the Emperor killed. What follows is a deadly game of cat and mouse between this small group of rebels, imperial officers and the two most powerful people in the galaxy.

In my opinion Cham and his partner/romantic interest Isval are the stars of this book. They have a wonderful dynamic; he as the calm, collected but jaded rebel leader with the weight of the movement on his shoulders, and she as a former sex-slave at the hands of the Empire fueled entirely by rage. They couldn’t be more different, but Mr. Kemp did a great job of building their relationship over the course of the book. Isval especially stood out for me. Without spoiling anything, there’s a scene early on in the book showing what she does when she takes a break from freedom fighting that nearly brought a tear to my eyes.

On the other hand are Vader and the Emperor, and their struggle to survive the attempt on their lives. I wish they had more scenes together because every single one was brilliant. There’s a constant tension present between them. Vader respects his master’s power but it’s clear there are no feelings of true friendship. And he’s constantly being tested for weakness by the Emperor. Unfortunately, the extent of their role in Lord of the Sith’s story-line leaves them without any character arc whatsoever. It’s a real shame. They start the book with that dynamic, and when it ends nothing has changed at all.

I wasn’t as sold on the final two POV characters, Imperial Moff Mors and her overly ambitious second-in-command Belkor. They serve their purposes well as far as the storyline went, but I found myself less invested in the chapters focusing on them. I’d much rather have spent more time with the others. Even if the relationship between the Emperor and Vader wasn’t going to change dramatically, a few more conversations exploring it could’ve easily replaced the numerous pages filled with Belkor’s complaining.

All in all, I’d recommend this book to any Star Wars fan. The story is strong, the action thrilling and often brutal, and the ending came together flawlessly even while knowing certain characters obviously had to survive. There are also plenty of references sprinkled throughout that are sure to excite people who follow the universe closely (and especially who watch Star Wars Rebels). I just wish someone would change the title and the book description. This isn’t a story about Vader and the Emperor, it’s the story about two Twi’leks who dared to fight back against insurmountable odds.

This book can be purchased for kindle here.

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Reviews

Review of “A Girl Named Bright,” a short story by Veronica Viscardi

A Girl Named Bright by Veronica Viscardi

Publisher: Fantastic Stores of the Imagination
Genre: Science Fiction
Length: Short Story (3,000 words)
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

According to Fantastic Stories of the Imagination this is Ms. Viscardi’s first published story. That’s very impressive, because this was an exceptionally touching story. It’s basically a journal log by a young girl named Bree while she’s on a journey to a colony in another solar system.

I appreciate any story brave enough to base it’s entire premise around Time Dilation Theory. It’s such a fascinating concept, and one which most science fiction books can’t really delve into due to storytelling concerns. Here, thanks to relativity, a one year journey to Proxima Centauri equals one hundred years back on Earth. That means that while Bree is ten when she says goodbye to her best friend Adie, by the time she arrives Adie will be one hundred years older.

The journal entries mostly track Bree’s conversations with Adie as she goes through the ups and downs of living an entire life while Bree stays the same age. It’s heartbreaking in a sense, but also quite inspiring. As old as Adie gets, she never forgets about her best childhood friend. I think that’s something we can all relate to, and to play it out across light years makes this a wonderfully unique story.

This story is available for free in the 2015 Nov-Dec issue of Fantastic Stories of the Imagination.

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