Bad Batching Episode 8 – Reunion

The Life Debt Podcast returns for another week and another episode of ‘The Bad Batch’ with the latest episode ‘Reunion’.

So stick some Star Wars podcast in those ears as I talk about the latest episode all about our favourite defective clones, and it’s right HERE for your convenience.

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Doctor Aphra: War of the Bounty Hunters – Prelude Review

Aphra and Sana do what they can to thwart Vukorah’s hostage plot and fulfil their promise to Domina Tagge whilst Lucky and Ariole discover a plot against The Sixth Kin.

Doctor Aphra’s entry into the ‘War of the Bounty Hunters’ is more of a fizzle than a bang in, much like the Darth Vader: War of the Bounty Hunters – Prelude it is actually the end of the current storyline with a lead in to the next issue.

Aphra and Sana deliberate on what to do, with Aphra ready to escape but Starros convinces get to help. Aphra sends Sana to find a way out whilst she throws herself into the line of fire, convincing Vukorah that she is the only one who can safely disengage the Nihil Hyperdrive from the test ship.

Lucky and Ariole manage to defeat their attackers from last issue and discover that there is is plan to destroy the Sixth Kin and so they go back to Wen Delphis for answers.

Aphra, under an intense amount of pressure as Sana brings a squad of Stormtroopers in from outside after freeing some hostages , manages to take the Crystal Core out of the hyperdrive and gets away just in time before the ship blows up.

The two of them are chased by Vukorah whom Sana manages to shoot in the eye (and she somehow survived). They go back to Domina and Aphra hands over the Crystal Core. Tagge gives them their next assignment, to get on board a luxury cruise and find a cousin of Domina before he can buy into some unknown venture.

Meanwhile, Wen Delphis explains to Luck and Ariole that someone within The Sixth Kin is leaking information, and all sources lead to the very same luxury cruise Aphra and Sana are heading towards.

I hate to say it, but the ‘Doctor Aphra’ series is very quickly losing me. The last two issues have been very lacklustre and drawn out when instead we could have had a pretty solid single issue finale last month and a worthy entry into ‘War of the Bounty Hunters’ this month. Instead Alyssa Wong has overstretched one great story arc and rather than dive into a new one head first, dipped her toe into this massive crossover event., and it’s making me dubious for this series’ arc within the crossover.

I’m feeling very disappointed by this series, which had run on such a high note, for me the creative team was running on all cylinders but the last couple of issues have been so poor that the temptation to stop reading the series (I know that’ll put a dint in the content) but I can’t justify continuing to buy it it if I’m not enjoying what we’re getting. I’ll see how it fairs for the rest of the year, if maybe after ‘War of the Bounty Hunters’ gives the series a bit of a boost.

For a second month running, I’ve been pretty unimpressed by the artwork as well and struggled to find a single panel to add to the post that remotely blew me away, however I did find this one pretty cool. If only to showcase the Stormtroopers actually hitting targets for once.

A lacklustre start to this series contributions to the ‘War of the Bounty Hunters’ and another disappointing issue for this series. I am really hoping that the team can bring it back to its former glory during/after this crossover event, but only time will tell.

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Spectre of the Past by Timothy Zahn Audiobook Review

Note: This review of of the abridged version of the audiobook.

After disturbing information about a planets destruction comes to light the peace within the New Republic becomes frayed thanks to a plot from within the Imperial Remnant whilst the Imperial leaders debate a surrender to the New Republic in a bid to end the war once and for all.

Timothy Zahn returns with what feels like a direct sequel to his blockbuster hit trilogy featuring all the familiar names and places that he introduced in ‘The Empire Trilogy’.

Following a failed weapons test, Supreme Commander Gilda Pellaeon meets with the last leaders of the fledgling Imperial Remnant and announces his intention to formerly surrender to The New Republic. Whilst the Moff’s agree, behind the scenes, Moff Disra has put a plan into action, with the help of Grodin Tierce, a former Imperial Royal Guard to make the Galaxy believe that Grand Admiral Thrawn had survived his assassination attempt ten years before, using a Con Artist called Flim to portray the dead leader.

On Wayland, whilst on leave from the Galactic Senate, Leia mediates a meeting between a Deveronian and the local Noghri where Leia comes into possession of a collection of Data Cards, one of which details something called ‘The Hand of Thrawn’, another, which she deciphers with the help of Talon Karrde, they learn that ‘The Caamasi Incident’ which wiped out most of a planet and its population was committed by a group of Bothans.

Whilst on a diplomatic mission, Han, Luke and Chewie are drawn into a fight with pirates. Through the Force, Luke senses that the crews are made up of Clones. Han and Chewie go to meet Leia whilst Luke hunts down the pirates and locates their stronghold deep within an asteroid belt. After narrowly escaping capture by the gang, Mara arrives in time to save Luke before the base self-destructs.

Luke goes to a Medical Facility to heal wounds he got in the base and has a terrifying Force Vision that leads him to a meeting with Talon Karrde where he learns that Mara, after chasing down one of the last Pirate ships she has been captured.

With tensions getting worse in the Senate, Han and Leia travel to Bothawui to help the local government deal with growing unrest. During a protest, an assassin frames Han for the murder of the Bothan leader. Han is found innocent after a device is found that was part of the assassins plan. Later, they meet Lando, who along with a Senator were taken aboard a Star Destroyer where they met the returned Grand Admiral Thrawn.

After revealing the Grand Admiral’s return to the Senate, Lando, Han and Leia meet with Karrde who decides to join their efforts in bringing some stability to the Senate and finding the names of the Bothan’s involved with ‘The Caamasi Incident’. After some convincing, Karrde agrees to go and meet a contact who may have access to a copy of the document.

Meanwhile, Pellaeon’s plan to surrender has started to fall apart. Firstly, the messenger tasked with inviting Senator Garm Bel Iblis to meet to discuss terms was captured by a Star Destroyer. Secondly, at the proposed rendezvous, The Chimera was attacked by pirates, whose ships were disguised as Corellian attack ships, meant to be believed to be ships under Iblis’ command. Realising the ruse, Pellaeon decides to wait a bit longer.

Well, when I say this, I’m talking mainly about the abridgement of this book. It’s a mess. A complete and utter mess. Everything is all over the place. Characters are in one place one second and a minute later they’re somewhere completely different, and it’s as if the news they got a moment ago hasn’t even been delivered based on their temperament.

Whilst the bare bones of the story is good, and yes it’s a bit messy in places, but with what seem like great big chunks taken out to fit the book into three hours it’s not surprising.

My one big take away, that I stated previously, is that Zahn is writing a direct sequel to his ‘Empire Trilogy’. He’s kept parts of the established lore what had come in between his first and second forays into the Expanded Universe but he’s definitely keeping to his own sandbox in terms of characters, events and even locations (Leia just so happens to be on a relaxing holiday on Wayland of all places, but according to Han it’s changed in the ten years since Thrawn’s defeat).

Zahn has put into place some interesting ideas, the Caamasi Incident is a terrifying feat that the Empire perpetrated with the assistance of a group of Bothans, and now that this evidence is brought to light it’s caused a political firestorm that once again threatens to tear the New Republic apart. Though I’ll be honest, the ease of which anyone can throw the New Republic into so much turmoil really goes to show how fragile the concept of a Galactic Government really is.

It was nice to reconnect with some favourite characters, especially Gilad Pellaeon who hasn’t been featured (from what I can remember) since ‘The Last Command’ and seeing this once proud leader of the Empire finally admit defeat and plan to surrender is almost heart breaking, if, you know, he wasn’t a member of The Empire. Also the return of Talon Karrde, the smuggler/information broker/pirate, you name it he’s done it. I would include Mara Jade here but she seems to have turned up quite regularly, but it it nice to get to read (hear) her as part of a Timothy Zahn book.

Whilst enjoyable, I really feel the desire/need to either get the unabridged version or buy the book to get the full story. I really feel that, out of all of the abridged versions I have listened to, this one has suffered the most. Zahn’s books are always (as far as my experience) pretty dense and chock-full of detail which never really made it into this version of the story, which was a bit disappointing but it has whet my appetite for the full story.

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Darth Vader: War of the Bounty Hunters – Prelude

After learning of his Master’s plans on Exogol, Vader undergoes severe repairs and prepares to enter the War of the Bounty Hunters.

Returning to the medical centre where Vader was originally put into the suit, Palpatine orders the workers to repair the damaged Vader who chooses to undergo the procedure without pain relief, allowing him to use the pain to fuel his anger and tap deeper into the Dark Side.

Vader has visions and memories of Luke, starting to believe his son to be weak without his friends, Vader turns his attention to them, especially Han Solo whose involvement at The Battle of Yavin caused Vader to become distracted, allowing Luke to blow up the Death Star.

Meanwhile, Palpatine attempts to reassure Mas Amedda and Sly Moore that Vader won’t turn his ire on them and will instead find himself a new target to unleash his anger upon.

Once Vader is essentially healed (and in a newer, slightly shiny suit as opposed to before), Ochi has also undergone a procedure to heal his eyes (giving him the really creepy look we see in ‘The Rise of Skywalker’). Vader takes Ochi to work with him.

Later, Ochi appears before Bokku the Hutt, telling the gangster that Vader is searching for Solo. Bokku doesn’t believe the assassin until Vader himself arrives.

Honestly, I’m really disappointed with about half of this issue. The other half is superb.

The superb half is the sections set in ‘the present’. Vader being rebuilt is seriously intense, seeing the repair droids essentially pull him apart to rebuild his cybernetic limbs and the knowledge that he is fully conscious at the time is almost terrifying.

Palpatine fully understands what his apprentice is doing and thanks to his insight knows that Vader would no longer pose a threat to him after witnessing a tiny portion of the Emperor’s machinations on Exogol and even reassures his closest advisers that even they will be safe. That’s some power they hold if they are safe from Vader who has been seen laying waste to Rebels, Tuskens and Geonosians in the pages of his various comic runs.

Finally getting the Ochi of Bestoon that we’ve seen on screen feels like a long time coming, and I hope that now he’s partnered with Vader instead of hunting him, we will see his character develop more.

The half I was let down by was Greg Park’s over reliance on flashbacks to the films and previous comics. I know that they have been a staple in this and Charles Soule’s run on the title but seriously, I already own all of those and if I wanted to I’d have a catch-up session instead of getting whole clips in comic form. One or two panels here and there wouldn’t bother me but it feels like almost half the issue is old material.

That being said, the art is astounding, and rather than getting the scary uncanny valley style we had back in the early days of the first run.

I feel the issue could have been much better and even covered more ground with Vader and Ochi visiting Bokka had the flackbacks been trimmed. Whilst it sets Vader’s place in the crossover event by the end, this felt more like a tacked on ending to the Exogol plot from the last few issues, definitely not the best issue of this run and I hope that Vader’s involvement in ‘War of the Bounty Hunters’ doesn’t drag the series down.

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Bad Batching Episode 7: Battle Scars

The Life Debt Podcast returns for another week and another episode of ‘The Bad Batch’ with the latest episode ‘Battle Scars’.

So stick some Star Wars podcast in those ears as I talk about the latest episode all about our favourite defective clones, and it’s right HERE for your convenience.

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#CollectionCorner – Kanan Jarrus Black Series Figure Review

When I decided that ‘The Black Series’ figures were something I was going to get into, I spent some time figuring out where to start other than a Rey and Kylo from each of the Sequel Trilogy as well as a Han Solo from ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ and a the Jedi Master Luke Skywalker from ‘The Last Jedi’, both of which I found for a decent price.

And then Hasbro announced the new packaging and, for the first time, the whole of the Ghost Crew from ‘Star Wars: Rebels’ as well as Ahsoka. Well, as a huge ‘Rebels’ fan this felt like a no-brainer. And rather than pick them up one-by-one I was going to buy the whole wave in one go. I just had to discuss the price-tag with my wife. All it cost me, other than said price-tag it cost me a nice lunch out (at my place of work). At the table I ordered them and a week later they arrived and now, nine months later I’m finally writing about them, starting with everyone’s favourite cowboy Jedi, Spectre One himself, Kanan Jarrus.

Dressed in his Season One/Two gear, this animated character translates brilliantly into a live-action style. The detailing on the clothes mirrors the animated details but recreate them in a realistic style, the straps and buckles on his armour, as well as the armour itself looks brilliant and give the figure a battle ready look.

The lightsaber is perfectly detailed as well as his signature blaster which would fit into the holster if I ever opened the package.

The face sculpt looks great, again, they have managed to give this animated character a great realistic look, they could have gone down the route of sculpting him to look like Freddie Prinze Jr but have opted to give him an original look.

The box art perfectly represents the look of the figure and the character. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to translate a stylised cartoon character to real life and think the artist has done a phenomenal job. Again, they could have taken the easy route and just drawn Freddie Prinze Jr as the character but the more original look feels truer to the character to me.

It’s a great figure overall and a very welcome addition to the collection, and maybe in the future, perhaps we could get a Season Three/Four version with the mask and an interchangeable head to show him in his ‘Jedi Night’ appearance (short hair and no beard).

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My Top Star Wars Moments 12

After finding out how to locate Moff Gideon’s Light Cruiser thanks to Mayfeld, Mando sends a message to Gideon that is WORD FOR WORD what Gideon said to Mando, Cara an Greef when he was first introduced (and another of My Top Star Wars Moments).

As soon as the holo appears, we all knew that $#%^ was on! As Mando repeats the Moff’s words, it became increasingly obvious that Gideon is afraid of our hero. Whilst Gideon spoke matter-of-factly, making his demands clear, Mando is straight up threatening the Imperial leader.

We know how much Grogu means to Mando, Ahsoka tell him that Grogu sees him as his father and Mando’s affection for The Child has grown over the course of the series, and this moment really cements that those feelings to Gideon who affectively begins to plan his side of the coming battle.

Whilst threatening, it’s a very touching moment and one that came as a surprise to many. Brilliantly executed across the board by the cast, especially Giancarlo Esposito who doesn’t speak but reacts so perfectly.

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Star Wars Issue 13: War of the Bounty Hunters – Prelude Review

The ‘War of the Bounty Hunters’ arrives is the flagship title as Luke Skywalker, Chewbacca and the Droids travel to Nar Shaddaa and meet a familiar face whilst trying to locate Boba Fett and Han Solo.

With the ‘War of the Bounty Hunters’ crossover event ramping up, the ‘Prelude’ issues from the main titles are arriving to push us in the direction each of them will take for the next few months.

After Chewie receives a message from a contact on the Smugglers Moon of Nar Shaddaa, Luke, Chewie and the Droids meet with Sagwa, a Wookiee that Chewie helped free from slavery in ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ who has information on Boba Fett’s actions in the arena (see War of the Bounty Hunters: Alpha).

The group try to get information as find Fett but run afoul of The Hutts of Nar Kanji, the gang who’s best fighter was beaten by Fett.

The heroes end up in a showdown with the gang, but with Luke’s Force abilities they manage to escape with Sagwa.

Onboard the Falcon, R2-D2 reveals that he has a database of former Jedi Outposts which Luke may be able to visit and learn to improve his skills, but they are interrupted by Chewie who has received a message from Leia, from someone claiming to be in possession of Han Solo.

As Soule is writing this title as well as the main ‘War of the Bounty Hunters’ mini-series, this title is is the most privileged place to perfectly complement each other. Of course, this is the ‘Prelude’ issue and at the end ties into events from the first issue of the mini-series.

Luke’s return to Nar Shaddaa after his run in with Grakkus the Hutt in the first run of the main title does not go any better than the first time, but this time he knows what he is doing and his training pays off in droves. It just adds to the story of Luke doing training between ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ and ‘Return of the Jedi’ and the reveal at the end when Luke learns that Artoo has the list of Jedi Outposts gives us a hint at what we will get in the story after this crossover event concludes.

Having a team-up of Luke and Chewie feels fresh, it’s not a duo we have had before, and the necessity of having Threepio along to translate (and of course adding to the humour). The addition of another Wookiee, Sagwa gives the team the extra muscle they need and adds a really nice connection to ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’, especially with the connections to that film in the mini-series.

There is a part of me that’s a bit annoyed that the Shara Bey storyline has been put by the wayside in what could be an extended cliff hanger, seeing as that was the emotional core of the previous arc, of course a story about finding Han Solo will take precedence, and there needs to be some story threads to pick up after ‘War of the Bounty Hunters’, and maybe I just wanted to have that all packed up with a neat little bow because of my complaints about her fate already being well known thanks to previous books and comics. I’m probably being finicky here.

The art is wonderful and we get some really great and iconic images, including the one above which really shows Luke’s growing confidence also g with his companions. Even though Sagwa is in this scene as well, it’s nice to get a shot of the main heroes.

A great start to this titles part in this huge crossover event, I’m hoping Soule is able to keep the momentum going on both this and the main ‘War of the Bounty Hunters’ series because he is a busy man.

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Bad Batching Episode 6 – Decommissioned

The Life Debt Podcast returns for another week (just a day late) and another episode of ‘The Bad Batch’ with the latest episode ‘Decommissioned’.

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War of the Bounty Hunters Issue 1

What the #%$¥ just happened?

I got the first part of Charles Soule’s central story to the ‘War of the Bounty Hunters’ crossover event, expecting something pretty cool, enjoyable and action packed like the Prelude.

What I got was a complete and utter masterclass in Star Wars comics storytelling that will be hard to top for a long time.

As if losing Han Solo wasn’t enough, Fett finds out he has a bounty on him, out there by Jabba’s after the Crime Lord received an invitation from a mysterious woman claiming that the criminal organisation, ‘Crimson Dawn’ was back and that they had Solo in their possession.

After fighting off the Bounty Hunters 4-LOM and Zuckuss (and taking 4-LOM’s head to find some information) Fett arrives at Jabba’s Palace, only to be confronted by Bib Fortuna and all of the Bounty Hunters staying at the Palace. Once Fett talks the Hunters down, Fortuna explains the invitation to Boba who goes in search of Jabba and Crimson Dawn.

Meanwhile, the Hutt leaders meet to discuss the return of Crimson Dawn and the leader of the returning Crime Syndicate is revealed (to the readers) as Qi’Ra, Han’s former flame who is using Solo to try and unite the different factions with interests in this Smuggler/Rebel leader.

Charles Soule has basically given us the comics equivalent of a mic drop. From the opening where we are introduced to the character who is revealed to be Qi’Ra and Fett’s fight against the Bounty Hunters to the showdown at Jabba’s Palace, every moment just wows the readers.

Having Crimson Dawn make a return is something that fans have been after since the release of ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ after finding out that the organisation was headed by none other than Darth Maul and Qi’Ra was rising in the ranks after the death of Quinlan Vos, whatever happens next is a mystery (although I have some theories). I’m hoping that maybe we will get hints as to what happened between ‘Solo’ and the first time we see Maul after, in ‘Star Wars: Rebels’ when he was found on Malachor. What I really like was the fact that Soule and Ross didn’t hide the fact that Crimson Dawn was back with the character Margo Trina, who has a brief appearance in ‘Solo’ and appears here as the courier of Solo to The Vermillion. It’s enough of a deep cut reference that it could easily be missed.

It’s not just the return of Crimson Dawn that is intriguing, the return of Qi’Ra is sure to throw a spanner in the works. Seeing as she is Han’s first love interest, if there is a meeting between her and Leia and that fact is revealed, it could cause some fireworks, especially seeing the lengths that Leia has been willing to go through to save Han so far.

Soule and Ross give us a great connection to ‘The Clone Wars’ by giving us a look at The Hutt Council, which we had only seen before in a pair of episodes which focused on Ziro the Hutt after they were freed from prison by Cad Bane. As it was ‘Clone Wars’ they of course were very stylised to look like Gangster tropes but Ross does a great job of translating them to fit in more with what we’re accustomed to seeing in live action.

Luke Ross’s art is wonderful. Every panel is a mini-work of art, I struggled to decide which I wanted to showcase in this post, but this splash page showing all of he connected characters just tops all the rest. It connects all the stories in the event in one beautiful moment.

Starting at such a high, it’s a bit worrying that the rest of the story won’t live up to this issues excellence. It’s definitely one of my favourite all time issues since Marvel started releasing them back in 2015.

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My Top Star Wars Moments 11

For me, 2016 was the year of the bad-ass Vader.

He throws down against Ahsoka in ‘Twilight of the Apprentice’, the season finale of ‘Star Wars: Rebels’ Season 2, lost half his mask and walked away from the destruction of the Sith Temple on Malachor. Not to mention the amazing moment where we hear both Matt Lanter and James Earl Jones voicing the character simultaneously to create a creepy effect that sends chills down the spine.

Then of course there was the amazing hallway scene in ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’. Need I say more?

But before that, at the tail end of 2015, the first part of the first crossover event in the ‘Star Wars’ titles from Marvel Comics arrived, ‘Vader Down’ and halfway through the first part we go this moment that was the start of Vader’s status as bad-ass.

Surrounded by Rebel soldiers and quite probably feeling rather disoriented after crashing his TIE Fighter onto the planet after a collision with Luke’s X-Wing and Vader has nothing better to do than ignite his lightsaber and basically tell his would-be captors to “Get &@*%#$!” before laying waste to them in droves.

It’s moments like this that I had only imagined about before the Disney acquisition (I never got into the Empire/Rebellion era comics or books beforehand) so for me this is a new side of Vader and I’m loving it.

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Doctor Aphra: The Engine Job Part 4

After last issues ridiculous cliffhanger and a very misleading cover for this issue, this is probably my least favourite issue of this series.

After their obvious survival, Aphra and Sana return to the bar to find everyone dead. They decide that their best course of action is to go to Midarr and get the hyperdrive tech from Mr De’rruyet’s facility.

After sneaking in disguised as interns, they find the device which Aphra quickly proves to be a fake. They then confront De’rruyet in his office after he finds them raising his files but the conversation is cut short by an explosion. In the hanger with the device, the wall has been blown open by Vukurah and her crew, demanding the device or they will kill everyone.

I’m really not a fan of obvious cliffhangers, so the beginning of this issue was a tad redundant for me, and of course they were going to get out because thanks to the Solicitations that come out months in advance, we all know what’s coming.

Secondly, having Vukurah appear at the end for a second issue running, where it’s all dramatic and people could die, to me it’s sloppy, just a repeat of the last issue.

What I have enjoyed so far in this run is how fresh each issue has felt for me, but this one feels like a whole lot of retreading ground just to fill an issue count. The return to the bar to find everyone dead, which we were shown last issue, just seemed to fill a panel which didn’t further the story at all.

I get the feeling that with ‘The War of the Bounty Hunters’ crossover imminent, they needed a bit of padding to get the story where it needed to be before the ‘Prelude’ issues, and maybe it’s the filmmaker in me, but I have always worked on the thought that every pert of a story needs to move the story forward and for a bulk of this issue it didn’t feel that way, which was kind of disappointing as the series had been consistently brilliant.

On the plus side, we do get more time with the villain of this arc, Vukurah and even though we’ve seen her wipe out a bar full of innocents and leave Aphra and Sana to die, we actually get to see her ruthlessness when she guns down a hostage just to prove a point.

Hopefully the series will get back to its brilliant self with the next issue, one duff part isn’t enough to keep me from reading it (just look at my thoughts on the current ‘Darth Vader’ series), but also, maybe I should temper my expectations a little.

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Bad Batching Episode 5: Rampage

The Life Debt Podcast returns for another week (just a day late) and another episode of ‘The Bad Batch’ with the latest episode ‘Rampage’.

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#CollectionCorner Lando Calrissian ‘The Empire Strikes Back 40th Anniversary’ Black Series Review

“Hello, what have we here?”

When I dove into ‘The Black Series’ figures and started getting the 40th Anniversary series for ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ I debated buying the Lando figure.

Had to had not long released a Lando from ‘The Empire Strikes Back’, which looked pretty good in terms of the sculpt and the design, in the (then) regular black and red box, and the price was pretty good, but I could never pull the trigger because I didn’t think having an ‘Empire’ Lando in a regular box would be aesthetically pleasing on the wall. As it turned out, the 40th Anniversary version was just a repack of that figure (look at me doing research).

I finally pulled that trigger on Amazon Warehouse, knowing the packaging would be a bit dinged up in places and when it arrived it was slightly worse than I expected, with the blister pack loose, however a couple of strips of well placed sellotape have made the packaging look almost like new…

The sculpt looks great, the likeness to Billy Dee Williams is uncanny, seeing as the new cast are scanned so that the sculpts are spot-on, being able to do it for the cast in the older films is impressive and this is one of the best I have seen.

The outfit looks great and the detail on the cape gives Lando a regal look. I’m pleased that Hasbro went with a moulded cape over a soft goods one, I can’t imagine a fabric one would hold up as nicely with this figure. However, as an in-box displayer, I wish I could see more of the details on the figure that the cape hides (just no winning is there).

The accessories are spot on, Lando’s blaster is instantly recognisable from the films, however I don’t recall him ever using this model in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’, instead he used one of the E-11’s he and his security took from the Stormtroopers. The communicator/microphone however is straight from the film, which he uses to make the evacuation announcement to the citizens of Cloud City.

In terms of the packaging, I’m a huge fan of the 40th Anniversary throw-back to the old Kenner style card-backs. They look great and, through a stroke of genius, the fact this figures card is a bit battered feels like a genuine figure kept since its release.

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My Top Star Wars Moments 10

“You have something I want.” Moff Gideon, The Mandalorian: Chapter 7 – The Reckoning

As my introduction to Giancarlo Esposito as an actor, this moment was mind-blowing. Having not watched ‘Breaking Bad’, the show he was best known for at the time, I had no idea how amazing an actor he is. He’s so good in his brief scenes in Season 1 of ‘The Mandalorian’ that I started watching ‘Breaking Bad’. I still haven’t finished it but it’s good and I recommend it.

Aside from his brief appearance just before his troop unleashed hell on The Client and his lackeys, this was Moff Gideon moment to shine. And shine he does.

After landing his TIE Scout Fighter and approaching the wrecked bar, Gideon makes his appearance and sets the terms of engagement. “Give me what I want, and maybe, just maybe I won’t kill you now.” It also helps instantly establish his character, he’s a bad a$$ and means business.

Moff Gideon, for me at least, became an iconic villain the moment he gave this speech. Esposito’s performance raises the bar for everyone around him and between this and the speech he gives about the E-Web Blaster in ‘The Rescue’, he firmly establishes himself as an enemy to be reckoned with.

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The High Republic: There is No Fear Part 5 Review

Just when I didn’t think last month’s issue could be topped, Cavan Scott and his team absolutely smash it it with this issue.

With the Drengir attacking The Starlight Beacon and The Hutt Cartel attacking the Jedi on Sedri Minor, it all looks a bit hopeless for the Jedi. But when the Drengir attack the Hutts, a tedious alliance is formed but the Jedi and Hutt team-up still isn’t enough to fight back the deadly plants.

It’s a more personal battle going on between Sskeer and Keeve that, in true Star Wars fashion, is the true battle that everything hinges on. Keeve does her best to get through to her Master, she n a moment of clarity he confesses that his connection to the Force was diminished, leading to his problems through the past few issues. He hatches a plan, for Keeve to enter his mind, which is now connected to the Drengir, using the Force to convince the creatures to retreat.

Keeve does so, saving the Jedi and Hutts on Sedri Minor and those on The Starlight Beacon, including Imri, Vernestra Rwoh’s Padawan. However the attempt does come at a price, with Ssker dead in Keeve’s arms.

Just wow! That’s all I can really say.

Ever since Cavan Scott teased the death of a “beloved” character and then the solicitations for this month came out and we saw this cover I think we all knew what was going to happen, but I had no idea how phenomenal.

Seeing the end of Sskeer’s journey here, in the aftermath of The Great Disaster and the battle against The Nihil followed by his possession by The Drengir and his seeming descent to the Dark Side really gave him a great arc through all of ‘The High Republic’. He also gives us a look at something we have only seen once before, and recently in ‘Into the Dark’, which is a Jedi’s diminishing connection to the Force and part of me is wondering if it’s got anything to do with The Drengir.

Granted, Sskeer claims that his Force connection had been fading for a while but it seems very coincidental that both Sskeer and Dez Rydan who had been in contact with The Drengir who are strongly connected to the Dark Side and I hope that this is something that plays out throughout ‘The High Republic’.

Getting to see The Hutt Cartel in action for the first time, and in a time where they are essentially free to do what they wish without the confines of The Republic or The Empire, with Rancor Riders and lackeys of various species laying waste to anyone in their way and to top it off, the Jedi holding their own against an army of criminals. I never thought it was something I wanted to see but damn I loved it.

The highlight for me is the Sskeer/Keeve fight. It’s the kind of fight that that Star Wars does the best, the emotional battle, this one, for the soul of Sskeer as Keeve tries her best to get through to her former Master, to bring him back from the influence of The Drengir. As great as the new characters have been through ‘The High Republic’, Sskeer has been the one who, in my opinion, has had the best character arc throughout the initiative so far. However, this is mostly due to the fact that he’s had a considerable amount of coverage throughout, but it has been and incredibly interesting journey to go on, especially since he was one of the first Jedi we saw in the promotional art who fans gravitated towards for being a Trandoshan Jedi.

I am very interested is seeing what happens with Keeve going forward, I imagine she will be wracked with guilt after seemingly killing her Master to save people from The Drengir and that could be a hugely interesting story to follow moving forward.

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Bad Batching Episode 4: Cornered

The Life Debt Podcast returns for another week and another episode of ‘The Bad Batch’ with the latest episode ‘Cornered’.

So stick some Star Wars podcast in those ears as I talk about the latest episode all about our favourite defective clones, and it’s right HERE for your convenience.

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The High Republic: Into the Dark by Claudia Gray Book Review

After what felt like an eternity, I have finally finished Claudia Gray’s inaugural entry into ‘The High Republic’ series.

The first YA novel of the series ‘Into the Dark’ never feels like a YA novel, and only really falls into that genre because of the age of the main protagonists, Reath Silas and Affie Hollow, both in their late teens.

Happening during the timeline of The Great Disaster that has been the backdrop for the other two books in the first wave (Light of the Jedi and A Test of Courage), ‘Into the Dark’ follows the crew and passengers of the ship ‘The Vessel’, one of the ships from the Byrne Guild that operates on the frontier regions of the Galaxy, crewed by the Matthew McGonaughey of Star Wars, Leox Gyasi, the navigator Geode (a huge sentient rock) and Affie, who is learning the ropes of the Guild and will one day take over from her adoptive-mother, the owner, Scover Byne.

The Vessel has been hired to transport a group of Jedi, Padawan Reath Silas, Master Cohmac Vitus and Jedi Knights Orla Jareni and Dez Rydan to the Starlight Beacon in time for the dedication ceremony but The Great Disaster forces them out of Hyperspace early.

In what seems like the middle of nowhere, and stranded with an array of other ships, The Vessel locates a Space Station and shepherds the other ships to it in time to save them from a solar flare. Once inside, the crews of the stranded ships start mingling which leads to some chaos that the Jedi manage to settle, including a kidnapping of a young girl called Nan that Reath puts an end to, leading the two of them to become close.

Cohmac and Orla explore the central arboretum that makes up the bulk of the station, where a strong sense of the Dark Side is located. After experiencing visions they decide to remove a set of statues they believes have been imbued with the Dark Side. Meanwhile, whilst exploring the Station, Dez Ryden is killed when he enters a strange corridor and Affie finds proof that members of the Byne Guild have used the Station as a way point, despite its strange and seemingly dangerous nature.

Once the hyperspace lanes are reopened, The Vessel returns to Coruscant. Affie does more digging on the Station and it’s connections to the Guild, whilst Reath deals with the news of his Master, Jora Mali’s death during a battle with The Nihil and Cohmac and Orla take the statues to try and learn about their connection to the Dark Side.

Affie, Reath, Cohmac, Orla and the crew of The Vessel return to the Station, Reath to arrest Nan after he realises she and her guardian are members of The Nihil, Orla and Cohmac to return the statues when they realise that they were keeping the Dark Side forces in check and Affie to get proof that her adoptive mother was utilising illegal indentured servants as pilots for The Byne Guild in a bid to try and get her to change her practices.

On the station, they encounter The Drengir, plant based creatures, attached to the Dark Side and hungry for meat which the statues had been keeping in a state of stasis. Reath is transported to another planet where he finds a beaten and poisoned Dez who had been transported to the planet and now a prisoner of a group of Drengir. Reath manages to escape back to the Station with Dez but finds it in a state of utter carnage with The Nihil trying to take over. The Drengir, once again imprisoned are released again to act as a distraction for The Nihil but The Vessel becomes stuck and only a life threatening plan from Reath can stop the enemies fight and fire The Vessel.

With the Station now empty of hostiles, The Vessel returns to Coruscant, Reath asks Cohmac to be his new Master, Orla finally fulfils her goal to become a Wayfinder and Affie foils Scover’s plans for indentured pilots allowing Affie, Geode and Leox to make their own way in the Galaxy.

Despite taking me a long time to read (took a Star Wars break half way through and then struggled to find time to just sit and read) I really did enjoy this book. Structurally it felt very different to most Star Wars books, in the sense that the first half was a very slow burn, getting to know the characters and their situations before an explosive second half. It has a very ‘Alien’ vibe in how it plays out as well. Having already known that this was the introduction of The Drengir and that’s they were the main antagonists, I was fully expecting them to show up at any time, picking off the different crews onboard the station, but we only get the one real casualty in Dez.

The second half is an absolute whirlwind, the pace is doubled or even tripled and the long wait make that first appearance of The Drengir that much more scary when the surround Cohmac and Orla and even Reath when he finds Dez on the Drengir homeworld.

In terms of the structure, I feel like the middle where they return to Coruscant for the first time could have been altered, perhaps not going back to Coruscant, instead having the characters make their discoveries in transit and make an unscheduled return to the danger zone would have ramped up the tension for me and maybe cut out a part that had a bit of a lull for me.

My one critique aside, Claudia Gray has written an amazing entry to ‘The High Republic’ and given us some great characters, some of which are returning in some of the upcoming books and comics which I am looking forward to (I’m loving how connected ‘The High Republic’ is) and it gives us some new ideas on different aspects of The Jedi Order, that we never got to see in The Prequel Trilogy, such as Wayfinders, Jedi who essentially go off on a sort of gap year but still being active Jedi, unlike those who take the Barash Vow who essentially leave the Order without actually leaving it to meditate on the Force.

I’m really looking forward to seeing what else Gray is going to bring to ‘The High Republic’ in the future, with a very full second phase coming up, I wonder if Gray along with Charles Soule will be hitting the front lines for the third phase which I assume will be out towards the end of this year/beginning of next year.

In terms of the rest of Gray’s Star Wars library, ‘Into the Dark’ is her first chance to bring us something wholly new without characters or settings familiar to fans, this book allows Gray to give us a completely new ‘Star Wars’ book and she does it with style, and it managed to surpass my expectations brilliantly.

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My Top Star Wars Moments 9

“There are more of us Poe, there are more of us.” Lando Calrissian

Say what you will about ‘The Rise of Skywalker’, many already have and still do in the deep, dark realms of social media, but if even the most staunchest of haters doesn’t have even a tiny glimmer of emotion at the moment then I don’t know what to say.

The build-up to this moment is intense to say the least. After Poe watches his long time friend and wing mate, Snap Wexley get shot down by a Sith TIE Fighter, the battle starts to play on Dameron, as the sound design is filled with shouts, screams and questions for the General we see Poe at his most defeated, this is the most broken we ever see him, maybe that he has ever been (even more so than in the novel ‘Resistance Reborn’ where he is dealing with his actions at the beginning of ‘The Last Jedi’). His apology to The Resistance is a sign that he has resigned himself to defeat.

But when we get Lando’s voice, in the first of two great moments where Lando saves the day, we get not only the Millennium Falcon, The Ghost and the mish-mash of ships we got in the trailer, but a whole wide-shot of ships, led by Lando and Chewie.

The brilliance doesn’t rest at the feet of J.J. Abrams and Chris Terrio, sure they wrote a great moment (some would say lightning in a bottle for that team-up) or Oscar Isaac, even though his performance in the scene is fantastic. It’s the true master of Star Wars, the only other person next to George Lucas who has had a hand at crafting the Galaxy.

John Williams!

Like Lando, John Williams flies in and rather than giving us a new ‘Duel of the Fates’ or ‘Battle of the Heroes’, he simply and brilliantly gives us the Main Theme as the people of the Galaxy arrive and join the battle, becoming the overwhelming force of hope that will bring down the tyranny that has plagued the Galaxy.

The theme plays its way through the beginnings of this new battle, following the Millennium Falcon and the fighters on an attack, giving us that Wedge cameo that just added to the sequence, leading into the “Its not a Navy, it’s just people.” line that just sums up the whole moment beautifully.

Whilst the film isn’t the best of the Saga, it’s safe to say that it does have some fantastic moments and this, for me, is one of the best, if not of the whole Sequel Trilogy, hell, the whole of the Skywalker Saga.

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The High Republic Adventures Issue 3 Review

In a change of pace from the previous issues, Older gives us a look at the aftermath of the attack on Bralanak City as Zeen and Krix start on their new paths.

We learn that Zeen and Krix have been communicating with each other using the Com-Links that Yoda gave them in the previous issue.

Krix and Elder Tromak are taken by The Nihil to a fighting pit. Tromak must ride a beast called a Bogaranth whilst Krix leads it, the fight is called off by Marchion Ro who has found Krix’s communicator and it has a direct link to the Jedi.

Krix proclaims his innocence, saying that it belongs to Tromak who is sentenced to death, by becoming a snack for the Bogaranth and Krix is taken to Ro’s chambers.

Marchion knows that it was Krix’s and is impressed that the boy would so easily betray the man who was like a father to him to save his own neck. The problem is, however, that the Com-Link also contained a Transponder that could lead the Jedi straight to The Nihil. Ro tells Krix that this is a betrayal by his friend. The only way Krix can redeem himself is to allow the Jedi to come to them and wipe them out, with Krix’s help in luring them to their doom.

Meanwhile, on Starlight Beacon, Zeen’s experience is completely different. She is welcomed by the Jedi, especially Lula who has fast become her friend. The Masters all seem to have become quite taken with her, and even though she cannot join the Jedi Order because of her age, I get the feeling that, given her popularity with all of them, she will have a place on Starlight Beacon no matter what.

Whilst the Masters agree that, until her home has recovered from the attack by The Nihil, Zeen can stay aboard the Beacon, and her relationship with Krix and the now devoured Tromak could be useful. Something Yoda has already considered. Zeen is then asked to help the Jedi track down The Nihil using her communicator to keep in contact with Krix so the Jedi can help save the boy and stop The Nihil.

It’s no surprise that the two leads have very different experiences with the Jedi and The Nihil but Older uses them to show us life in each of the camps, which isn’t new for readers of ‘The High Republic’ series, but this is the first time we get to see inside a Nihil ship and it’s every bit as dark and dingy as I expected it to be.

We continue to see how vastly different the Jedi of ‘The High Republic’ are in comparison to those of the Prequels. We get Jedi Masters, Knights and Padawans all interacting in an incredibly light hearted social environment, Avar Kriss is having the time of her life listening to stories and good old Buckets of Blood just can’t stop eating. The most social interaction we saw the Prequel era Jedi have was in the lost Padawan arc of ‘The Clone Wars’ when the Padawans joined the travelling circus to save Ahsoka from Hondo. The more we see of these differences, the more I want to see how and why the Order changes and becomes what we have become so used to seeing on screen.

After a couple of fast paced issues, getting a bit of a breather to set up the next part of the story was much needed and the insight we get into both the Jedi and The Nihil really helps put into perspective how vastly different the two groups are, we’re not talking Force Users on two sides of the Force like we’ve had throughout the franchise, this continues to feel new and fresh and it’s just making me look forward to more content from ‘The High Republic’ even more.

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Bad Batching Episode 3: Replacements/Yub Nubbin: Cries of the Trees

Bad Batching returns after another amazing episode of ‘The Bad Batch’ called ‘Replacements’.

And as a bonus treat to tantalise your ear-buds, the first episode of ‘The Life Debt Podcast: Yub Nubbin’ is included to whet your appetite for the Early Access show on Patreon, starting in June. So if you like what you hear then please join the Patreon at any level to get access this new series as it won’t be released publicly until next year.

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Darth Vader: Into the Fire Part 6

After finally reaching Exogol, Palpatine tests Vader once again to determine whether he is still worthy of being a Sith Apprentice as Vader learns of his Master’s secret plans.

Questions get answered in this issue, we learn more about Palpatine’s master plan on Exogol than any of the material published around ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ concerning the Final Order. This wasn’t just something Palpatine had going on behind the scenes between the Original and Sequel Trilogies, this has been going on for a long, long time.

After Palpatine defeats the giant squid creature Vader brought to Exogol, the Sith Lord leads Vader through the ancient Sith Temple. We see the clone vats full of Snoke duplicates and even a container with Luke Skywalker’s severed hand.

Vader is forced to battle some Clone Warriors that he is seemingly overwhelmed by until he gains the upper hand, then a whole group of the Sith Acolytes surround him. He is tainted by Palpatine who says that any one of them could take Vader’s place. Vader kills them all.

Vader hears a crying sound throughout the Temple and as he makes his way through, along with Ochi, he finds the Star Destroyer fleet, and Ochi discovers the planet destroying weapons attached to them.

Vader finally finds the source of the crying, a giant Kyber Crystal that is being corrupted, like a Sith must do to make their lightsaber. Chunks of the Crystal are being removed for the Star Destroyer weapons. As a piece is removed, Ochi’s mask falls away and his eyes are burned by the blast.

Palpatine reiterates the way of the Sith to Vader and as Vader has a vision of him and Skywalker on Bespin when Vader tried to get Luke to join him, but this time with their roles reversed, Vader realises he is beaten and follows his Master with Sly Moore and Mas Amedda along with Ochi from the Temple.

It’s been a long time coming, but this issue has finally arrived (about two months after the last one) and we finally get a satisfying issue in this story-arc and unfortunately it’s the last part of the story as well.

Vader’s journey through The Exogol Temple answers more questions we had from ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ however, I’m sure this will be seen as a way for the Story Group to fix mistakes made by Abrams and Terrio, but for me this is just a way of expanding the lore.

Ochi’s character, whilst following Vader for most of the issue, comes across better now than in the past issues he’s been in and we finally get him unmasked, hopefully if the character stays in the series he’ll be more toned down and come across more like the sinister character we briefly glimpsed in ‘The Rise of Skywalker’.

The story, whilst really not wowing me over the last few issues really got to a great place with this one and I’m glad I stuck with the run. When I started seeing spoilers for this issue cropping up when it was released (I got it a day later) my intrigue was at a whole new level that it hadn’t been for this series. Park really brought the story to a great conclusion and Ienco’s art is fantastic.

Now Vader is back in Palpatine’s good books, I’m very interested to see what happens next for The Dark Lord of the Sith as ‘The War of the Bounty Hunters’ starts next month.

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Thrawn Ascendency: Greater Good Audiobook Review (SPOILER FREE)

Firstly, before I get started, I would like to thank Penguin Random House for sending a copy of this book for review.

Secondly I’d like to complain to Royal Mail for said book not arriving at all, which is why I got the Audiobook on Audible (thanks to having some spare credits). Anyway, time to talk Star Wars.

‘Thrawn Ascendency: Greater Good’ widens the scope of the first book in the trilogy, which spent a lot of time focusing on the Mitth family and gives us a wider view of the Ascendency as a whole, introducing new families and a brand new level of the Chris’s Family Hierarchy, branching away from the Nine Ruling Families and adding the Forty Great Houses, all of whom owe allegiance to one of the Nine Ruling Families.

Continuing on from where ‘Chaos Rising’ ended, the plots from within The Ascendency against Senior Captain Thrawn are mounting as the mysterious Jixtus begins putting his plans in motion to bring chaos to The Chiss.

‘Greater Good’ introduces us to new worlds within the Ascendency and new aliens from within The Chaos, one species, The Agbui, led by Haplif feature very prominently and bring a new perspective to the way the Chiss operate in day-to-day life.

Zahn takes the chess game that he usually plays when writing Thrawn and turns the 2D game board into a 3D board and really gets to play in the niche part of the Galaxy Far, Far Away that he created and sets us on a whirlwind story full of political intrigue and amazing space battles where every tiny detail feels like it has been plotted out before pen touched paper (or fingers touched keyboard).

As always, Zahn held my attention, but there were a few occasions where I wonder where the story was going in terms of the overall plot, there are events happening all over the Ascendency and Zahn juggles them well but some of the plot lines felt pretty slow at times. I’ll even admit that I did struggle slightly with the audiobook for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the new Chiss characters became very confusing, especially the numerous members of one specific Family, where almost all of the names sounded the same. It would become very confusing at times, especially when a number of them were in the same room. However, I’m sure that with a helpful reference, like a Dramatis Personae that is in the hard copy of the book, that confusion would easily have been avoided (thanks Royal Mail).

The second reason I struggled at times, and this feels like sacrilege to even say, but on a couple of occasions, Marc Thompson’s performance pulled me right out of the story when voicing a handful of characters in what feel like impersonations of Star Trek characters. I could easily point out Sulu, Chekhov and Worf voices for crew members of the Springhawk, and personally I didn’t get along with those choices.

Speaking of Marc Thompson, his performance overall was fantastic as always (despite my earlier complaint) and aside from Lars Mikkelsen, he is the only person I would ever want to portray Thrawn. The man deserves some kind of award.

On a whole, I wasn’t as enamoured with ‘Greater Good’ as I was with ‘Chaos Rising’, but what I did take away from this one was that rather than be the second act of a three act play, this one is being used as a vehicle to set up for the third book in the ‘Thrawn Ascendency’ trilogy, titled ‘Lesser Evil’ and out in November, which (I assume) will bridge the gap between ‘Greater Good’ and ‘Thrawn’, the first book of Zahn’s previous series which saw Thrawn rising through the Empire. However I still enjoyed the story, but I think I’d have enjoyed it more had I read it rather than just listened to the Audiobook.

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A Spot of Housekeeping

Hello there!

I’m just taking a moment to just keep everyone updated with some of the recent goings on in the world of ‘My Star Wars Life Debt’, especially with some new ways to support the Blog and Podcast.

Last week I bit the bullet and re-released the Life Debt Patreon last week with three brand new tiers and bonus content, including a brand new Podcast series (as of right now it’s unnamed) which will be similar to “Rebels Revisited’ and ‘Bad Batching’ where the focus will be (drumroll please) the 1985-6 Ewoks animated series. There are three tiers for folks to choose from, so head on over to https://www.patreon.com/mystarwarslifedebt and check it out.

I have also been working on bringing ‘The Life Debt Merch Cantina’ back, as such, I have added a brand new design to go with the original Andy Bailie artwork which is the brand new logo for ‘The Life Debt Podcast: Bad Batching’ which is now available on the store. Head on over to https://thelifedebtmerchcantina.creator-spring.com/ to see the products currently on offer.

All of these and the other ways to help support the Blog and Podcast are all on the Support Page. So if you would like to help keep the Blog and Podcast running as smoothly as a Hutt’s backside then please take a look.

Before I go, I just want to thank everyone who has taken the time to read the Blog and listen to the Podcast, every view and listen means a whole lot to me, so thank you again.

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War of the Bounty Hunters: Alpha

Marvel’s big Star Wars Crossover Event has arrived folks, and with a Charles Soule sized bang that means only one thing. It’s f@&#%*g amazing.

Boba Fett is bringing the Carbon-Frozen Han Solo to Jabba’s the Hutt but something is going wrong with the Crime Lords soon-to-be favourite decoration, leading Boba to Nar Shaddaa to visit an associate who calls himself a Doctor but he doesn’t have any of those Med-School certificates so I’m dubious of his moniker.

Needing to be paid up-front, Boba is enlisted to do a favour for Doc Ragon, Boba must enlist in the Fighting Pits and take out the Pit Warrior Wyrmin Lictor. Boba initially wants to walk away, but after the good Doctor manages to modify the look of Fett’s armour, the Bounty Hunter agrees to the terms.

Using the name Jango, Fett quickly makes a name for himself, killing all of his opponents until he faces off against Lictor in a spectacular fight which sees Boba injured before getting the upper hand.

Lictor’s benefactors approach Boba, demanding money or he does one more fight. Fett walks away ambit finds that Ragon has been killed and Solo has been taken, only to get a call from Bob Fortuna, saying that Jabba’s is getting impatient for the arrival of Fett’s prize.

Soule uses ‘Alpha’ to set the whole premise of ‘War of the Bounty Hunters’ up, and rather than just throwing a whole bunch of pieces into the story to set up each story thread over all of the connected comics in the Event, we just get one action-packed tale that leaves us with the mystery of who’s taken Solo and what is the biggest, baddest Bounty Hunter going to do about it.

Taking cues from 1996’s massive multimedia event ‘Shadows of the Empire’, telling the story of Boba Fett delivering Han to Jabba, it’s not going to be straightforward. And adding on the pressure of an impatient Hutt Crime Lord, Fett’s job has just gotten a lot harder.

With very little knowledge, other than the full list of issues that are part of the even being included at the end of the book as to who will be involved outside of the regular books we can look forward to seeing some of the classic Bounty Hunters appearing and I do wonder if we’ll get an appearance from Fennic Shand as a precursor to the eventual team-up between Fett and Shand in ‘The Mandalorian’.

With Soule at the helm, of course the story will be top-notch, but the art team of McNiven and Martin do a phenomenal job, especially with the black armour, keeping the iconic Boba Fett look but making it look completely different at the same time.

With 33 issues left of the Event, ‘Alpha’, is only the tip of the iceberg and I’m looking forward to where it takes everyone in all of the connected stories.

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Bad Batching 2: Cut and Run

The Life Debt Podcast series four has returned and this week we get a great fun episode that I loved talking about on the latest episode.

The second episode is out NOW, where I share my thoughts on the the latest episode of the series.

You can find the episode on most major Podcatchers, or find it over on Anchor.fm HERE.

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Doctor Aphra: The Engine Job Part 3

On their search for a Nihil Hyperdrive Engine, Aphra and Sana come across a whole bunch of old Nihil ships, and of course, trouble.

I’m not going to lie to you folks, but I’ve been really looking forward to this issue but had to wait to get it but was it worth the wait? Absolutely.

Aphra and Sana look for clues in a bar on the planet Dol’har Hyde, a place where the plant life seems to almost have a mind of its own and grows exceptionally fast. Close to the bar is a tree which has grown around/through a crashed Nihil ship.

Aphra and Sana make their way into the wreckage, with Aphra’s gear malfunctioning causing her to fall into a part of the ship, luckily her landing was cushioned by the tree.

Once inside the ship, they try to reactivate the systems, something Aphra manages to do and they locate the ships hyperdrive and deduce that the one they their competitors have could be a fake. As they are about to remove the hyperdrive they are attacked from above by General Vukorah of ‘The Unbroken Clan’.

Amidst the destruction, Aphra downloads the schematics for the Nihil hyperdrive before her and Sana take a chance and jump into the inside of the tree but their grappling hook launcher doesn’t catch onto anything causing them to fall. Vukorah tells her group to go to Midarr, where the bartender told them the hyperdrive was.

Meanwhile, Lucky finishes an assassination and on his way home he is met by Ariole Yu who takes him to his boss, Wen Delphis.

Like I said before, I’ve missed this series. It’s been the one series other than ‘The High Republic’ that I’ve enjoyed every issue of and this one is no exception, and not just because of its connection to ‘The High Republic’ in this run.

The continued interactions between Aphra and Sana are great, something I’m really invested in, especially after the ‘Doctor Aphra Audio Drama’ that really dived into their relationship before Aphra became the rogue archaeologist. We get some really nice hints at that in this issue which just helps tie all of these different mediums together.

We meet a new enemy for Aphra in General Vukorah. Other than working for a newly introduced crime organisation we know very little about her and I’m intrigued to find out more.

My only nitpick for the issue is the reliance of characters falling. I get that having Aphra’s gear failing is a plot device that plays out at the end, but it just felt a tad repetitive. However I’m sure that it will play out brilliantly next issue.

The design ofthe planet Dol’har Hyde is great, it looks like an out of control Felucia and the colour palette makes it look gorgeous. I’m intrigued by the name though, it reminds me of the character Francis Dolarhyde from ‘Red Dragon’, which makes me wonder if it’s a reference to the character from the book or film.

A well written and beautifully depicted issue, it’s keeping me interested which has been tough to do in a couple of the other series I’ve been reviewing recently, and Aphra continues to be my favourite of the original characters created since the old EU became Legends.

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Bad Batching: A Life Debt Podcast Episode 1 – Aftermath

The Life Debt Podcast has returned for a fourth series folks, and this one is all about the latest animated series, ‘The Bad Batch’

The first episode is out NOW, where I share my thoughts on the first episode of the series.

You can find the episode on most major Podcatchers, or find it over on Anchor.fm HERE.

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Showdown at Centrepoint by Roger McBride Allen Audiobook Review

With Centrepoint charging for another Supernova blast, the Solo/Skywalker family and friends are in a race against time to uncover the truths behind the events that n the Corellia Sector.

Roger McBride Allen really brings ‘The Corellian Trilogy’ to a stellar conclusion with ‘Showdown at Centrepoint’, with all of the leads reuniting to end the Corellian Conflict.

After splitting up on various missions, Han helps Dracmus pilot the homemade ship to Selonia followed by Leia and Mara. After coming under attack, the Selonian ship crash lands in friendly territory.

Luke and Lando, with Gaeriel and Kalenda go to Centrepoint Station where they meet the lone inhabitant of the massive station, Jenica Sonsen who takes them on a tour of the facility. They pass through the massive central core of the station and after learning about two previous flares and a third one starting to charge, Lando deduces that Centrepoint is what is the Novamaker that has been causing starts to explode.

On Drall Chewie, with Anakin, Jania, Jacen, Q-9, Ebrihim and Marcha keep a watch over the Planetary Repulsor. Through his tinkering, Anakin activates the station causing an underground lightning storm that damages the Falcon and Q-9. It also alerts ‘The Human League’ as to its whereabouts and an assault is launched, led by Thracken Sal-Solo. Chewie, the Children and the two Drall are captured but Q-9, who had been repaired had been hidden in one of the Falcon’s hidden compartments.

Sal-Solo records a message to Han and Leia, being held as hostages/prisoners by the Selonians, the spokeswoman for the Overden (the Selonian ruling council), Kleyvits, demands that Selonia should be freed from the New Republic and dates that the Solo’s and Mara Jade would be held until Leia agrees. The message shows Sal-Solo stood with Han and Leia’s children, wanting Leia to grant Corellia its demands of leaving the New Republic.

With the Interdiction Field down, a fleet of ships from Sacorria arrives. It starts to come clear that the whole plot involving the revolts in the different planets and the disdain between the three native species was generated by the Triad, the ruling power on the planet, made up by a Human, Drall and Selonian. Their intention was to make the Corellian Sector autonomous under their rule.

The Bakuran ship ‘The Intruder’ attacked ‘The Human League’ on Drall and freed ‘Sal-Solo’s prisoners, capturing Han’s cousin and taking control of the Repulsor.

On ‘The Intruder’, the Solo family is reunited as well as with Luke and Lando. Together, the Bakuran Admiral, Ossilege, Gaeriel and the rest form a plan to thwart the Triad. Luke and Lando stay with the fleet as fighters. During the space battle, Ossilege uses ‘The Intruder’ as a weapon against the Triad’s fleet, destroying the ship and killing himself and Gaeriel but winning the battle.

Han, Leia, Chewie and the rest of their motley crew return to Drall in time for Anakin to interact with the Drall Repulsor and used it to stop the third Supernova blast from Centrepoint Station.

After the conflict, after the previous Governor-General was killed in the conflict, Leia appoints Marcha as the new Governor-General of the Corellian Sector, with Ebrihim acting as her aide. Lando and Tendra reunite and their romance gets underway in earnest.

I have to say that ‘Showdown at Centrepoint’ was a thrilling and satisfying ending to ‘The Corellian Trilogy’, there’s suspense, drama, intrigue and romance and it’s all wrapped together in a fantastic package. The mystery around Centrepoint Station and those who are using it as a weapon is well played out, however, the reveal that The Triad is running the whole plot feels like it came out of nowhere, however, that could have been more down to the abridgement rather than the storytelling itself.

One thing that did bother me however, was the flirtatious interplay between Lando and Jenica. Lando has spent the past two-and-a-half (audio)books head over heels for Tendra, the key to spend a substantial amount of time flirting with another woman, only to tell her he’s in love with someone else. I get Lando is flirty, we all know that, but for some reason it just didn’t sit right with me. What could have been interesting would be if Jenica was flirting and Lando didn’t really notice, only for Luke to mention it at a later point. I think something along those lines would have sat with me better and would show some great character development. Sure, Lando shows growth here but not at the same level that could have been.

Allen does fall on a well used trip of the EU when Thracken manages to take the Solo kids hostage. We’ve seen them be kidnapped or almost get kidnapped before and it feels a bit played out, however it does allow us to get a great scene between Han and Thracken which is the juxtaposition of a scene they shared in ‘Assault at Selonia’, and we also get to see Anakin using his technical abilities to free himself and his siblings. His ability to understand technology and how things work has been a big focus in this trilogy and really comes to a head when he is able to use the Drall Repulsor, that has essentially linked itself to him, to stop the Triad from destroying the next Star on their hit-list.

I have to admit that ‘The Corellia Trilogy’ certainly reinvigorated my interest in the 90’s era EU (audio)books. Granted I’m not listening to them in release order, but rather chronological, but I was feeling very apathetic towards them after ‘The Callista Trilogy’ and ‘The Crystal Star’, none of which I enjoyed and found them to be tough to get through, even though they were only three hours each.

Allen certainly brings ‘The Corellia Trilogy’ to a satisfying conclusion that wraps up all the plot lines and mysteries that stem from it. This series is certainly not in the same league as Zahn’s ‘Empire Trilogy’ but Allen holds his own and delivers some great Star Wars stories with his contributions to the Galaxy.

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#CollectionCorner – The Armourer Black Series Review

This was a lucky purchase at the time, I found it in the aftermath of Christmas on Amazon and got lucky when I found it for a pretty good deal (just under £20 including postage). I had been eyeing her up for some time, especially after missing out on the Convention Exclusive version, which, when looking back, whilst having some lovely extra accessories, wouldn’t have looked great on the wall.

The sculpt is just beautiful and the level of detail on the figure is amazing. I absolutely love how this figure looks, with the leather-style look of her gauntlets and the layered design of the skirt (is it a skirt).

The helmet sculpt is so well made, the helmet on this figure reminds me heavily of the Spartan helmets seen in the film and graphic novel ‘300’, if you took away the visor and horns it would be almost a match. The horns are subtle, like in the series, and unlike those on the ‘Mandalorian Super Commando’ figure based on Maul’s Mandalorian followers from ‘The Clone Wars’ who have huge horns on their helmets.

The big difference between this and the Convention Exclusive is the cape, the exclusive has a fabric cape whereas the regular version has a plastic cape.

Her accessories are a set of tongs and a hammer which she uses to help forge armour. They are also the same items she uses against the Stormtroopers that invade the Covert in ‘Chapter 8: Redemption’.

The box art is beautiful. I love the orange hue that ‘The Mandalorian’ figures have. The pencil look is phenomenal and we get her in a very chilled pose with the hammer over her shoulder. It’s definitely the most relaxed we ever see the character.

This is one great figure and it fantastically represents the character and well worth adding to any collection.

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Why Does Bo Katan Want to Rule Mandalore?

I’ve been doing some contemplating on Bo Katan Kryze this week (I rewatched ‘The Rescue’) and I’ve been wondering quite a bit about her reasoning behind her, almost desperation to retake Mandalore.

In ‘The Rescue’, we learn a few things in regards to Mandalore, firstly, Boba Fett claims that “The Empire turned the planet to glass.”, so why the need to retake the planet if it’s so badly devastated?

We are also given a brief insight into the Darksaber, as a “symbol” of power, the power to unite the clans of Mandalore and rule as the Mand’alor. Bo Katan had this title once before when she was gifted the Darksaber by Sabine Wren and many of the Clans declared their alignment to Bo Katan against the Empire.

Since then, however, a lot has changed. The ‘Night of a Thousand Tears’ and ‘The Great Purge’ have been mentioned in the first season of ‘The Mandalorian’, both of which sound like massive events that are probably where the Empire reigned destruction on the planet after their rule was challenged by Kryze and her followers. The other thing that occurred, Bo Katan fought Moff Gideon. And lost. Knowing Gideon, he knew she wasn’t defeated and he probably didn’t kill her on purpose as he won the Darksaber in combat.

For me, when Kryze was given the lightsaber, that was her time to lead. The sister of Duchess Satine who stood against Death Watch and Maul. A true warrior who would lead from the front lines with the Darksaber held high. However, during ‘The Mandalorian’, the Galaxy is at peace. The Empire for the most part is gone, with warlords like Moff Gideon still around, and no matter what little they have in terms of resources, their numbers are dwindling. But Bo Katan’s hatred for Gideon is only outweighed by her desire for the Darksaber. In my opinion, Kryze isn’t the kind of leader that Mandalore needs right now. I’m reminded of a quote from ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, where James Gordon and his time as Commissioner is described as “A war hero, but this is peace time.”

Of course, we don’t know the state of Mandalore other than Boba Fett’s description. Is it still occupied until the Empire? I doubt it if the world has been so devastated as it’s described. Instead the Mandalorian people need someone to unite them. Would they be united by Bo Katan? Would some of them blame her for what happened to their homeworld? Do they see her defeat at the hands of Gideon to be part of the reason behind the destruction of their planet? Is that why she wants the Darksaber so badly, to right the wrongs of the past?

There’s another quote, this time from ‘Revenge of the Sith’ that comes to mind, “All who gain power are afraid to lose it.” Could Bo Katan be clamouring for the power she once held?

I do wonder if the third season of ‘The Mandalorian’ will give us a look at the reclamation of Mandalore and what Bo Katan’s role will be. There is a part of me that doesn’t think she will give up what she sees as her claim to the Throne so easily, but would she make a good ruler now? Would the people follow her? Only time, and hopefully a full season of episodes will tell.

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Assault at Selonia by Roger McBride Allen Audiobook Review

With Han Solo and Leia Organa prisoners of ‘The Human League’ and the New Republic Fleet unable to fight, Luke, Lando must find a fleet capable of breaking through the Interdiction Field. Meanwhile, Chewie and the Solo kids go with Ebrihim to his homeworld and discover the secret behind Corellia’s archaeological dig.

The second part of ‘The Corellia Trilogy’ is an action packed splendour that keeps the main heroes separated for the majority of the book. All three must rely heavily on unfamiliar allies to achieve their goals and reunite.

Han is captive of ‘The Human League’, led by his sadistic cousin, Thracken Sal-Solo, who’s aim is to reinstate an Imperial-type rule over Corellia. For entertainment, Thracken has Han fight a Selonian called Dracmus ago later becomes Han’s cell mate.

After a few days, they are rescued by Dracmus’ clan who have a series of underground tunnels. Suspicious but thankful for the help, Han is led into an Underground Complex where the Selonians have built their own space craft on which they attempt to escape to Selonia.

Leia is held hostage in the wreckage of the Government Building. A new cell mate is brought to her, Mara Jade. Despite a lack of trust between the two, they hatch a daring escape plan, making their way to Jade’s room she had been staying in prior to the attack and her incarceration.

First they retrieve Leia’s lightsaber and Han’s spare blaster and eventually make it to the room where they find the remote to bring the Jade’s Fire to them. After a brief skirmish, the ship arrives and they escape.

Chewie and the kids have arrived at Ebrihim’s homeworld, where they visit his Aunt Marcha. After he explains the events of Corellia, it turns out it’s happening on Drall also. The Solo children are encouraged to tell Marcha whet they found on Corellia and Marcha believes there is another on Drall. They find the location and enter the same style chamber and learn that it’s a repulsor, big enough to move a planet. They deduce that each of the planets in the Corellian System must have one.

Luke and Lando’s journey to Corellia is cut short by the Interdiction Field and the return to Coruscant and meet with the leaders of the New Republic. During a meeting with Admiral Ackbar, Mon Mothma and other leaders to discuss their options. Seeing as most of the fleet was under repair and the rest on other missions, Luke decides to visit Gaeriel Captison, an old flame from the novel ‘Truce at Bakura’.

After meeting with Luke, Gaeriel tells him that the Bakuran government has granted permission for the Bakuran Fleet to aid the New Republic on a mission to Corellia to vanquish ‘The Human League’ and their new Hyperspace technology would help them get through the Interdiction Field.

The Bakuran Fleet arrives in the system and pushes through the Field until one of the ships loses its systems. They learn they the Interdiction Field is being generated from Centrepoint Station. Lando and Luke fly with the fighter squadron, taking on Corellian fighters. The damages Bakuran ship is destroyed by another Planetary Repulsor, this one fired from Selonia. Dracmus reveals to Han that her group wanted to secede from the Corellian government and become part of the New Republic, and would have handed control of the Repulsor to them, however, it seems that their opposition had located it first.

Leia, in the Jade Fire, senses Luke and Han. The Bakuran fleet welcomes Leia, Mara, Han and the Selonian crew (whose ship became useless after Dracmus has the crew pull some daring manoeuvres. Lando also reunites with Tendra Risant who left her planet to search for him.

In another part of the Galaxy, Wedge is working tirelessly to evacuate people from the next system on Thracken’s list is stars that ‘The Human League’ will cause to go Supernova. Up until the last minute, Wedge believes that the threat was a hoax until the star starts acting strangely. Luckily Wedge and the New Republic ships were able to get to a safe distance, but many thousands of people died, and the next star on the list has a much higher population, many of whom would certainly die even if the New Republic was able to begin evacuations immediately.

As much as I enjoyed ‘Ambush at Corellia’, ‘Assault at Selonia’ really ramps it up and genuinely feels like ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ in terms of the structure with all the heroes on separate adventures that culminate with everyone together for the final part. Allen doesn’t hold back and puts each of them through some form of ordeal, Han’s imprisonment at the hands of his cousin doesn’t feel half as brutal as his incarceration in ‘The Black Fleet Crisis’, but adds something different where he has to trust Dracmus and her Selonian comrades, even though he has very little knowledge of their allegiance in the Corellian crisis, it’s not until they are stranded that Dracmus explains their position and for Han, trust isn’t easy.

The Leia/Mara dynamic is interesting, given that the two of them don’t really trust each other at this point in the timeline, but knowing that they become family later it’s great to see that relationship develop, we also get to see Han’s feelings of distrust towards Jade in a conversation with Dracmus, who also knows Mara, but as a legitimate trader who the Selonian trusts.

The continued pairing of Luke and Lando is still as enjoyable in this book and the two of them end up going on another mission of the heart, with Luke meeting his former love interest, Gaeriel. Having still not read/listened to ‘Truce at Bakuran’, I didn’t learn about this pairing until this (audio)book, and their initial awkward meeting before the New Republic meets with the Bakuran naval leaders managed to give some insight to their past relationship without a huge amount of exposition, and didn’t get in the way of the story.

Seeing Chewie with Jacen, Jaina and Anakin as they go to Drall, Ebrihim’s homeworld gave us a look at another different grouping. Usually Han and Chewie are the inseparable pair so this is another refreshing change that Allen has given us in this trilogy. The fact that the children are the ones who have the important information that leads their group and Aunt Marcha to finding out about the Planet Repulsor and the history of the Corellian Sector, being a solar system made by people gives some interesting history to the Galaxy.

This final part with Wedge really slams home the threat of the hidden ‘Star Burster’ weapon, and the fact that we get a well known and loved character like Wedge to be a witness really shows the high stakes of what the New Republic must deal with and is a great lead in to the next book.

The second part of any trilogy is just like the second act of any story, it’s where the characters go through the most, must deal with insurmountable odds and get them ready for the final part and ‘Assault at Selonia’ does just that in a really great way and is helping put ‘The Corellian Trilogy’ high on my favourites list for the Legends timeline.

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The High Republic: There is No Fear Part 4

Possessed by the Drengir, Sskeer has Avar, Ceret, Keeve and the boy called Bartol captured in the vines created by the plant-like creatures.

Remembering her time as a Padawan, Keeve reminisces about a lesson that Sskeer taught her, as she attempted to use the Force to aid her to reach the opposite side of a canyon. As she falls, he catches her and she tries again, taking on his lesson that “there are no shortcuts on Light’s path.”

Avar and Keeve try to reach Sskeer who’s mind is buried behind that of the Drengir possessing him.

He tells them the history of the Drengir, fuelled by the Dark Side they fought alongside the Sith for a time, possessing them as they saw fit, but the Sith fought back and imprisoned them.

Centuries later, the Great Progenitor was awoken by a group of Jedi who were waylaid on a space station (Into the Dark) the rest of the dormant Drengir awoke and began causing their special brand of destruction.

They finally manage to do so and the Jedi are released. Sskeer manages to fight the plant creatures possessing him and joins the Jedi in fighting the creatures. They kill the two Drengir and make their way to the surface where the village chief is beating one of the citizens for talking to the Jedi.

Avar arrives, accusing him of knowing about the Drengir and helping them by sacrificing villagers to them, but she realises that he knew nothing of the monsters, instead he was in league with someone else, and as a ship lands she learns that that someone is The Hutt Cartel.

Meanwhile, on Starlight Beacon, Maru’s autopsy on the murdered Hutt reveals the true cause of its death, a strange plant-like creature.

With Vernestra Rwoh and her Padawan Imri Cantaros assisting, they are soon under attack from the Drengir that has burst out of the Hutt’s corpse (an excellent Alien reference), the Jedi must hold their own and stop the creature from getting out of the quarantine zone and into the Starlight Beacon.

This series just continues to get better, with the horror vibes, the continuing downfall of Sskeer and an (my) extended introduction to the Drengir (I’m only 100 pages through ‘Into the Dark’). Learning their history here was great and I hope we get a more in depth look at them somewhere (probably ‘Into the Dark’). They are vastly different from The Nihil which gives us a decent range of villains and if The Hutt Cartel are joining the ranks of villains in ‘The High Republic’ and I’ve been intrigued by since their mention in ‘Light of the Jedi’.

As always, the art is beautiful, we get some stunning shots of the Jedi in this issue, the group shot of the four Jedi preparing to fight the Drengir is my favourite image from the issue, but Anindito spoils us on every page, another stand out image is Avar Kriss walking into the hut just before the Hutt Ship arrives, and the panel where the Drengir explodes from the Hutt corpse is phenomenal.

I’m continually being blown away by this series. I’ve loved each issue so far and it’s been a great backbone to ‘The High Republic’ initiative, keeping the story going between each round of books (I’d best finish ‘Into the Dark soon) and most of all, giving us a great look into the life of a Jedi at this time period of the Galaxy.

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Ambush at Corellia by Roger Macbride Allen Audiobook Review

The Solo family visit Han’s homework’s of Corellia for a Trade Summit as tensions rise amongst the people and a hostile group called ‘The Human League’ begins terrorising the planet. Meanwhile, Luke joins Lando on a strange journey to find Lando a wife.

As the first part of a trilogy, ‘Ambush at Corellia’ has got the hard job of being the scene setter, establishing the overall plot, introducing the key players and setting up for the second act.

Han, Leia, Chewie, Jacen, Jaina and Anakin visit Han’s homeworld of Corellia to golf to a Trade Summit. Before they set off, Han and Chewie are approached by Belindi Kalenda from the New Republic Intelligence, there is unrest on the planet and they need Han to act suspiciously to distract those working against the New Republic.

On Corellia, Han has a look around and crosses the path of a parade for a group calling themselves ‘The Human League’. Two members seem to recognise him and knock him out, he wakes up in a cell where another member of the League tells them he’s not who they think, and that he is in fact Han Solo. He’s knocked out again and returned to his family with a warning.

Leia hires a Drall (one of the three native species of the Corellia System) called Ebrihim, and his Droid, a modified R2 unit called Q9 to be the children’s tutor during their time on Corellia. The family go on various field trips, one of which is to the first archaeological dig on the planet where Han recognises the uniforms of those that ‘The Human League’ wear. As they go through the dig, Anakin is drawn to a part of the wall, the twins join him and they reveal a hidden panel. They press it and open a door to a chamber. They are joined by Q9 who, before leading the children back to the group, scans the area in case it’s needed later.

At the trade summit, Mara Jade arrives with a message for Leia that had been delivered to her. The message, originally intended to be delivered by Luke who has gone on a separate adventure with Lando. The message, from the head of ‘The Human League’ demands that the New Republic begins the process to allow Corellia to leave the Galactic Government as well as remove the Selonian and Drall inhabitants from the planet, or his group would trigger a series of stars to go supernova, the first of which has already happened.

Han finds Kalenda who has been keeping an eye on the Solo family. They devise a plan to get Kalenda off-planet with the message to show Mon Mothma and The Senate. When Han tells Leia the plan they share a brief moment, knowing that Han is going to end up captured. He then instructs Chewie that, if anything happens he is to get the kids to safety.

The building they are in is attacked, Chewie, the children, Ebrihim and Q9 to the Falcon and try to escape but are attacked, so Ebrihim directs Chewie to a safe haven they could use.

Han and Kalenda go through with their plan and Kalenda escapes but Han is captured. The following day, ‘The Human League’ sends a message, their hidden leader is revealed to be Thracken Sal-Solo, Han’s cousin who had believed to be dead.

Meanwhile, through all of this, Lando takes Luke across the Galaxy to find a wife, not for love but as more of a mutually agreed business transaction. Their first visit almost has Lando enter into a union with a Life Witch, where Lando would die at the end of their five year agreement, the second has recently gotten married but the third, Tendra Risant piques Lando’s interest in a more romantic venture but their meeting is cut short by the local government kicking non-citizens off planet due to the unrest in the Corellian Sector. As they head to Corellia to help Han and Leia they are pulled out of Hyperspace by an interdiction field, a measure ‘The Human League’ has put in place to counter any attacks against the planet.

As a set up to a trilogy, ‘Ambush at Corellia’ does a great job, and it gives us our first look at Corellia (in Legends, as far as I know). By the end, all of the characters are in place for their storylines in the next book and gives us a promise of some great action ahead.

I really enjoyed the Luke and Lando dynamic, it’s not one we usually get and whilst it’s a more subdued storyline than Han and Leia’s it is almost refreshing to see something different playing out in a Star Wars story.

Allen gives us a really nice look at family life for the Solo’s when not in the middle of some crazy adventure as they are travelling to Corellia when Han is telling his children about the Corellia System, of course it’s an expository scene and it gives us a swath of information we need about the different species, the planets of the Sector and the political situation that they are in before, during and after the Empire. It’s a lovely scene with the whole family, the children sat with their parents for something akin to story-time.

‘The Human League’ is a different kind of enemy, not a Sith or Dark Force user in sight, no Imperial Remnant leaders wanting to get their name out there or alien race hell bent on Galactic domination. And whilst the concept is new for Star Wars, it’s not me that we have seen a lot in the world recently and whilst I try not to compare Star Wars to the real world too often (not saying Star Wars isn’t political, I just like to keep the fantasy and reality separate), there is something awfully similar to the horrendous increase of racism over the last few years that comes to pass in this (audio)book.

A good and enjoyable book that promises great things from the rest of the series, I’m starting to look forward to these audiobooks again after the tough slog that ended with ‘The New Rebellion’.

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Doctor Aphra Audio Drama Review

Like ‘Dooku: Jedi Lost’, Del Rey have published the full Audio Drama script for the brilliant ‘Doctor Aphra’ Audio Drama in Hardback (6th April).

To celebrate the release, here is my original review for the Audio Drama.

When it was announced, I was so excited to be getting new ‘Doctor Aphra’ content. The previous audio drama, ‘Dooku: Jedi Lost’ was a great listen so I had the utmost faith that this would be just as good.

Even when we found out it was going to essentially be a retelling of Kieron Gillen’s ‘Darth Vader’ series that excitement still held. Why? Because it’s ‘Doctor Aphra’ and she’s a phenomenal character!

Firstly, it’s not a straight up retelling of Gillen’s series. It’s told from Aphra’s perspective. We get her thoughts, her insights, her excitement and her fears of being Vader’s attaché. We also get a considerable amount of back story into her and Sana Starros’ character. Readers of the ‘Rebel Jail’ story arc from Jason Aaron will be familiar with one section of the story too.

Sarah Kuhn has translated Aphra’s story arc into this medium brilliantly and given us some great insight into Aphra’s character and her past before becoming the rogue archaeologist we all know and love.

I really enjoyed the writing more in this audio drama, the narration didn’t feel quite as obvious as it did with ‘Dooku: Jedi Lost’ and even though it was a story I already knew, it always felt fresh.

I loved Emily Woo Zeller as Aphra. She brings so much life to the character and I would love to get an ‘Aphra’ animated series with Zeller voicing the character.

The rest of the cast were good. It took me a while to warm up to Sean Kenin’s 000, as I had always thought that he would have sounded more like C-3PO, probably with a slightly darker tone to the voice like in ‘The Rise of Skywalker’.

Marc Thompson nails Darth Vader. That’s all I have to say about that really. It’s Marc Thompson, we already know he’s amazing.

Nicole Lewis does a great job bringing Sana Starros to life. It was easy to picture Sana from the comics with Lewis’s voice and it was really fun finding out what had happened between Sana and Aphra when they were younger.

I really hope this is just the start of more Aphra content. I’d be all over a Disney+ series, live action or animated. I’d happily take more audio dramas, especially if the creative team behind this one we’re to return, but I’d like more original stories than any more adaptations. This works as an introduction but I think if they produced original adventures, they could be onto a real winner, more so than they already are with this.

Definitely worth a listen, and it’s a quick one too, at just under 6 hours it’s easy to get through, and worth every second.

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The New Rebellion by Kristine Kathryn Rusch Audiobook Review

When a mass extinction occurs, an old friend of Han’s arrives with a strange message and the Senate is bombed by a mysterious attacker, Luke, Leia and Han go on separate adventures to get to the bottom of a growing threat to the New Republic.

After what I can only describe as a rather dismal run of audio(books), ‘The New Rebellion’ puts an end to the downward slump and sets a course for a solid Star Wars adventure.

On Yavin IV, during a training session, Luke experienced a vision where a man, disguised in a death mask murders the whole population of a planet. Leia experiences the same vision as she is about to address the New Republic Senate, which is about to enter a new term, with a whole swath of new Senators from former Imperial worlds, whom Leia is very suspicious of. The address barely gets started when the chamber is bombed, killing many Senators and their staff and wounding Leia.

At the same time, Han meets with a former smuggling associate, Jarril, who gives Han a cryptic message before disappearing. As Leia heals, Han and Chewie go to Smugglers Run, a smuggling den hidden in an asteroid field. Luke meets with a recuperating Leia and the two discuss their visions. Luke leaves to find a former apprentice, Brakiss, who left Luke’s Academy and turned to the Dark Side. Luke is stalled when his X-Wing is put out of commission for upgrades and takes one of the New Republic’s new X-Wings, that doesn’t need an Astromech, so he leaves R2 with Cole Fardreamer, a mechanic from Tatooine to help fix Luke’s ship.

Lando, searching for Han, finds Jarril’s ship with Jarril dead and a communication with Han’s name on it. After visiting Leia, Lando follows Han to Smugglers Run. At the Run, Han and Chewie find out the smugglers have been dealing in droids, taken from a Droid Factory on Telti, right where Luke is heading to meet Brakiss, who runs the factory. Brakiss sends Luke to the planet Almania, where Kueller, his Master, resides.

The same communication with Han’s name on it reaches a group of Senators (fork former Imperial worlds) who call for Leia to resign from her post as Chief of State. Instead, she hands the title to Mon Mothma so that Leia and Wedge, after finding Kuellor’s location can take the fleet to stop the Dark Jedi from taking over the Galaxy.

Cole and R2, with the help of C-3PO find an old Imperial detonation device installed in Luke’s X-Wing, and after some investigation, in a new group of X-Wings, one of which Luke had taken on his mission. With Leia and Wedge’s help, they take a ship to Telti to find the source of the detonators.

Over Almania, Luke’s X-Wing explodes with the Jedi Master barely able to escape in time. His injuries are tended to by a local before he goes to face Kuellor. Meanwhile on the Smugglers Run, Lando is taken prisoner by a Crime Boss, Nandreeson and is saved by Han and Chewie, who, with Lando, become heroes when the Droids from Telti explode and they manage to save the smugglers.

Cole and the Droids arrive on Telti and whilst Cole distracts Brakiss, R2 and 3PO find that Brakiss is making Droids, with the Imperial detonators for Kuellor who has had them sent all over the Galaxy and Kuellor is the only one who can blow them up.

Luke meets and fights Kuellor when Leia arrives (as the New Republic fleet engages Kuellor’s fleet of Imperial ships) she attempts to take Kuellor on herself but her attempts fail. Han and Chewie arrive after meeting with Talon Karrde and Mara Jade to acquire a pair of Ysalamiri (Force deflecting lizards) which are eaten by a psychic animal that has imprinted on Luke. Luckily before they were eaten, the Ysalamiri Force Deflecting Bubble weakens Kuellor enough for him to turn to Plan B, blow up all the Droids. Luckily, R2 and 3PO are able to shut down the Droids and block the signal. Kuellor is killed by Leia firing on him with Han’s blaster. In space, Wedge is able to lead the fleet to victory by confusing the Droids operating Kuellor’s Star Destroyers long enough to ambush them.

Back on Coruscant, the call for Leia to resign is revoked after Han is found innocent and Leia prepared to make a speech to the Senate to announce tie beginning of the postponed new term.

Where ‘The New Rebellion’ really works well where others haven’t is that it doesn’t have an over complicated plot. Whilst Rusch does fall back onto some EU tropes, former students of Luke going to the Dark Side, rebuilding the Empire and the call for Leia to resign her post, none of them feel out of place here. The use of Droids as bombs all over the Galaxy is one of sheer genius, Droids are just about everywhere in the Galaxy so to use them as weapons (not an army like the Prequels) is great. The idea of Droids being used as weapons was revisited in Daniel José Older’s novel ‘Last Shot’ in which Droids were essentially brain washed into killing humans.

Something that I really enjoyed was Leia using the Force more, it’s her connection to the Force and to Luke that really push the story, with Luke dealing with the Force is a more usual way for his character given his experience by this point in the timeline, granted, Luke doesn’t get much character development in this novel, his role is really to put an end to a Galactic threat that he feels guilty for.

The Han, Chewie and Lando storyline is good fun. We get a look at the underworld of the Star Wars Galaxy and in a great twist, it’s Lando who ends up in deep trouble with Han and Chewie coming to his rescue. And who can beat the run-in at the end which results in Leia defeating the (audio)books villain.

The novel isn’t overloaded with new characters, we get a few but none of huge consequence other than Kuellor, Brakiss and Cole Fardreamer, so the story is mainly focused on the existing heroes, and a couple of appearances from some EU favourites. Rusch really utilises all the characters well, with each of the plot threads coming together nicely at the end for a satisfying ending.

‘The New Rebellion’ is certainly a high point for the 1990’s Star Wars EU run, it packs the same kind of punch that Zahn’s ‘Heir to the Empire’ series did and doesn’t overstay its welcome like ‘The Black Fleet Crisis’ Trilogy and its one I would highly recommend to either read or listen to.

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Dooku: Jedi Lost Review (Re-Release)

‘Dooku: Jedi Lost’ has just hit shelves in paperback form.

The script for the fantastic Audio Drama really allows you to have more of a deep-dive into the story, letting you pick up on those little things that you may have missed when listening.

To celebrate the release (1st April) here’s my original review for the Audio Drama.

Dooku has always been an interesting character. He is our introduction to the idea that Jedi could leave the Order, he is a political beast and a master manipulator, he is also incredibly strong in the Force.

But not much was known about his life prior to the events of ‘Attack of the Clones’ other than he was once Qui-Gon’s Master and he in turn was Yoda’s Padawan. Which gives us some understanding of his power in the Force and he’s incredibly enigmatic. The scene where he tries to tell Obi-Wan about Darth Sidious being in control of the Senate only to reveal that he is Sidious’ Apprentice is pure genius.

So when it was announced that an Auido-only novel about Dooku’s past I couldn’t wait and thankfully my wife had a spare Audible credit.

Dooku’s Story is told through holograms, a journal and stories told to Asajj Ventress, who is sent on a mission by Dooku, prior to ‘Attack of the Clones’ to find Dooku’s sister who has been captured by Republic Spies.

Asajj learns of Dooku’s youth in the Jedi Temple and his friendship with another young Jedi, Sifo-Dyas as they visit the planet Serenno on Jedi business he becomes involved in a mild conflict and rescues a young girl, Jenza, and her brother, Ramil. Jenza takes Dooku on a tour of the city and in an Force related accident where Dooku accidentally brings a building down on top of them, they find out that Dooku is her brother. Their father Gora has abandoned Dooku as a baby because of his Force abilities.

As they get older, Dooku and Jenza remain in contact as intergalactic pen-pals, sending holo-messages to each other regularly.

We learn on Dooku’s and Sifo-Dyas’ exploits in the Temple and how they broke into a hidden chamber filled with Sith artefacts, and their interest in these is noticed by Jedi Master Lene Kostana and she takes the young Dooku under her wing, but eventually she chooses Sifo-Dyas as he Padawan whilst Yoda takes Dooku.

After years of learning from Yoda Dooku’s secret is revealed after receiving a message from Jenza saying their mother has died and she is asking him to come back. Master Kostanna takes Dooku and Sifo-Dyas to Serenno’s Funeral Moon. The planet is in turmoil after Count Gora had replaced many professions with Droids and there is an uprising. They attack the funeral and Dooku, under duress uses the Force to throw everyone back, including the casket.

Afterwards, Dooku, Sifo-Dyas and Master Kostanna visit a nearby planet which they discover is consumed with the Dark Side and the three of them have horrific visions of war.

Years pass, Dooku and Sifo-Dyas drift apart, the latter continues to have debilitating visions and Master Kostanna stays with him whilst Dooku takes Rael Averross and then later Qui-Gon Jinn as his Padawan learners.

During Qui-Gon’s training they manage to uncover deep plot which involves a corrupt member of the Jedi Council who’s criminal contacts have sabotaged a racing speeder that Dooku’s brother was piloting which left him severely injured, and once Qui-Gon had become a Jedi Knight, Dooku was elected to join the Jedi Council.

Again, years later, Dooku was becoming more and more disenfranchised with both the Senate and the Jedi Council when he received a message from Jenza asking for his help in fighting off Mercenaries from Serenno. After debating with both groups, Dooku is joined by Kostanna and Sifo-Dyas.

They reach Serenno and are shot down, they manage to crash land safely and are met by Jenza and some of the Resistance fighters and it soon leads to a full scale battle which is eventually won by Dooku visiting his brother who has become more machine than man, controlling a Droid Army. During their fight Dooku deactivates the Droids and manages to best Ramil, killing him.

During the battle, a valuable resource was discovered deep underground, and realising that the Republic would now leap to their aid, Dooku decides to leave the Jedi and rule Serenno as an independent system.

Ventress, through learning these ordeals, cons to understand her new Master well, and once Jenza is found and her and Dooku are reunited, Dooku has his assassin kill his sister so that none of his secrets could come out, especially now that he is being influenced by a ‘hooded man’.

The story is well paced and fantastically written, Cavan Scott really gets into the heads of Ventress and Dooku, and gives us a greater understanding of their characters and motivations. Ventress is struggling with her new role as Dooku’s assassin and, at what seems to be an early stage of her time working for him, is frequently punished by Dooku for lying to him about her thoughts and her desires to leave. We really develop a growing sense of sympathy for her, and after also reading ‘Dark Disciple’ we really get to know more of her life and her ongoing story arc that, in terms of the timeline, starts here and ends in Christie Golden’s novel.

Dooku, of course, is the main focus of this story, and his backstory is so rich. From his early years at the Temple to his leaving the Jedi Order we really get to know what drives him, what kind of a Jedi he was, how he broke the rules of the Order but remains devoted to them, right until the bitter end where he realises the Order is not what it once was, no longer are they the Galactic Peacekeeping force but a tool for the Senate to use at their will.

What we don’t fully get is his eventual turn to the Dark Side, through the story he brushes the Dark Side but doesn’t turn and we only get a hint at his association with Darth Sideous at the end. If I have one complaint, it’s that there seems to be more story to tell about the time he is no longer a part of the Order and becoming Sideous’ apprentice. Hopefully we will get a sequel to fill that part of the timeline.

The secondary characters are great. Sifo-Dyas plays a prominent role and we learn of his almost debilitating Force Visions, which would eventually lead him to build the Clone Army. His master, Lene Kostanna, a Jedi with an interest in the Sith, who believes before anyone else that the Sith would return is an interesting character. Her mentoring of Dooku in the early parts of the story really give us an insight into Dooku’s mindset towards the Force which will be passed on through his Apprentice, Qui-Gon.

Jenza and Ramil are excellent plot devices, one hive Dooku a tie to his home whilstvthe other gives him a reason to come back at the end and liberate his home. Dooku’s relationship with Jenza is sweet but filled with peril as his communication with her is essentially forbidden by the Jedi but the siblings have a connection that neither wish to ignore. It’s quite sad at the end when Dooku has Ventress kill Jenza but it’s understandable in his twisted mindset, essentially killing her to protect her from further capture and torture at the hands of his enemies.

As I write this I am two-thirds of the way through ‘Master and Apprentice’ by Claudia Grey and I have to say I am impressed at how well these two stories connect, even is subtle ways, with the character of Rael Averross crossing over to appear, even though briefly, in this story whilst he features prominently in the other. The two act as brilliant counterparts and tell an even greater story when consumed together, and they are both amazing on their own to begin with, and this compatibility really gives me hope for the upcoming ‘Project Luminous’ which both Authors are involved with.

Cavan Scott has done a fantastic job giving us a deep-dive into the history of one of the most intriguing characters to come out of the Prequel Trilogy and it does not disappoint one bit, if only there was more of the story. I really want to get another Volume about Dooku and how he joins Sideous, the betrayal of Sifo-Dyas and the eventual build-up to ‘Attack of the Clones’.

‘Dooku: Jedi Lost’ is available where Audiobooks are sold.

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Star Wars: Operation Starlight Part 4

With the Rebel Fleet still in tatters, Leia and Kes share a moment of quiet to swap stories about their respective partners.

Soule slows the action down for a rare quiet moment which, after the past three issues is a needed chance to pause and have some character beats that don’t revolve around the action.

Kes shares the story of how he first met Shara after he made a bet on her ship in a race. After she wins he decides to meet the racer who won him quite a bit of money. He takes her for a drink and, years later they’re married, have a son and fighting to free the Galaxy from the Emperor’s hold.

Leia recounts a story about Han on Hoth before the Revels were discovered by the Empire. A reactor, linked to the heat supply for the Hoth base is about to explode. All of the Rebels are on the various ships keeping warm. Han and Chewie hava a part that could help and the two of them go to fix the reactor. In true Han and Chewie fashion, the repair job goes a bit awry, leading Han to tell the fleet to evacuate the base. Leia, on the Falcon waits outside the base, and after a few minutes Han and Chewie get in touch, the reactor patched up but needing the Techs to fix it up.

As the two talk, we learn more about why Leia has fallen in love with Han. Not because he’s a scoundrel or a smuggler, but because, deep down he’s one of them, an everyman who has become a hero of the Rebellion and won the hearts of the Rebels, and her.

Their conversation is interrupted, Shara Bey has got in contact. She speaks to Kes, telling him she has found a safe place to hide and has sliced into the Imperial network, Leia then speaks to her, asking her what she knows.

Taking a break from the action was what this arc needed and it gives us some great backstory for Han and Leia, and more of a reason for Leia’s feelings for Han, and answers the age old question, what Leia sees in him, which if we’re being honest, we’ve all wondered about at some point or other. Also, giving Leia a quiet moment in the story is something we’ve not really seen, in any medium, and that brief scene in ‘The Last Jedi’ when The Raddus comes out of Hyperspace barely counts (you know I’m right).

I really enjoyed getting some backstory on Kes and Shara, and rather than having them meet and fall in love during as part of the Rebellion, instead it’s pure chance, had Bey lost the race then would Kes have bothered to meet her? I doubt it, especially as he’s betting away his last seven Credits. It’s not fate, destiny or whatever you may call it, just pure chance which is a welcome break in a franchise full of destiny.

What was also pretty good was that we got some new Han Solo content, even when he’s frozen in Carbonite we are still able to get some new stories about our favourite smuggler this side of Mos Eisley. It’s a decent way of keeping him in the series without relying on memory flashes which we also get in this issue. Spike writes great Han and Chewie interaction, so it’s a bit unfortunate that his run on the series is without Han, maybe, just maybe, we could get a Canon version of Dash Rendar popping up later in the series.

A refreshing change of pace which cleanses the palette ready for this arc to ramp up, whether or not they will rescue Shara before the upcoming Boba Fett cross over event or she’ll be stuck on Tarkin’s Will for a bit longer, I’m starting to look forward to this run again after the last few issues felt a bit tedious.

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Star Wars Vintage: Clone Wars 2D Micro Series – Volume 1

Oh Disney+, you wonderful, beautiful beast you. Treating us to a whole array of Star Wars: Legends content.

Back in the 2000’s when this series first aired I really annoyed my parents, taking over the TV to record these onto VHS, in five minute bursts. But I didn’t care, it was wonderful new Star Wars content and I was living for it.

Now, I’m not going to lie, back then and up until now I’ve had issues with the series, the short runtime being one, probably because I just wanted more content and five minutes a piece wasn’t enough for me at the time. The character design was another issue for me, I really didn’t like how they looked, especially Anakin. I had some other issues, but I’ll go into those later in the post as I write about the series itself as I watch it through (Durge). Hopefully this rewatch (the first time since the 2000’s) will alleviate some of those issues.

Here I go…

… and that was painful. I went in hoping to get hit with some nostalgia feels and see what it is that fans rave about, and unfortunately I wasn’t and I didn’t. I spent most of the time feeling bored, the hour and three minutes runtime dragged so much, I had to check how much there was left on a couple of occasions.

Anakin was worse than I remembered, the whole teen angst that we got in ‘Attack of the Clones’ has been dialled up to eleven, the voice sounds more like a fourteen year old than a twenty year old. The petulant attitude makes ‘Attack of the Clones’ Anakin look like a model student. I’m really pleased that they took Anakin in a different direction for ‘The Clone Wars’ 3D series, I think I would have really struggled with it if they had kept this version of Anakin.

The introduction of the Bounty Hunter, Durge, with his army of IG Droids on Speeder Bikes with lances, that can take out an AT-TE by stabbing it, I’m not the only one that thinks that’s ridiculous? Right? Durge just keeps making me cringe as he fights Obi-Wan, gets slices in half only to return (ok, I get the Darth Maul parallel here) and return as a giant monster made up of worms. And now they’re bringing him into the Doctor Aphra comics… *sigh*.

Thankfully, Obi-Wan is a saving grace for the series, his Battle Armour looks amazing, and with James Arnold Taylor voicing him he’s almost perfect, with the exception of the dialogue with Anakin, it’s like they took the condescending tone from ‘Attack of the Clones’ and dialled it up to eleven (just like Anakin). I wouldn’t complain but if this had been done across the board as a stylistic choice I’d get it, but the rest of the characters don’t get this kind of treatment.

It’s not all bad, there are a couple of episodes that I do enjoy, the Kit Fisto episode where he leads the Clones and Mon Calamari forces against the Separatists and the Quarren is enjoyable and an obvious precursors to the ‘Water War’ arc from the fourth season of Filoni and Lucas’ ‘Clone Wars’ series.

Mace Windu vs. The Whole Droid Army on Dantooine is a fun episode, watching Windu lay waste to the Droids is incredibly enjoyable. The animators absolutely nail Samuel L. Jackson’s style as Windu very casually deflects blaster bolts and the slick way he takes the drink from the young spectator and returns to the fray is pure Jackson.

Of course, how could I forget the final episode of the season, where fans got their first encounter with General Grievous. The Droid General has never been so terrifying as he is here, taking on a group of Jedi, including Shaak Ti and Ki-Adi Mundi (and Sha’a Gi who looks just like Shaggy from Scooby Doo but with a Padawan braid). Grievous here makes his cinematic and 3D counterpart look like a whiny baby as he battles a whole group of Jedi, killing Sha’a Gi and another before the rest escape.

Whilst I still am not a fan, I’m pleased that I gave this series another chance, for a while this was the only on screen Clone Wars content as we waited for ‘Revenge of the Sith’, and whilst a considerable amount of it was cast aside by the books and comics (more so in Season 2), it was new Star Wars content, which is always exciting.

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Tyrant’s Test by Michael P. Kube McDowell Audiobook Review

As the New Republic and The Duskhan League trade ultimatums, Leia faces dissent within her own ranks. Luke’s quest to find his mother comes to a startling conclusion and Lando, Lobot and the Droids finally understand the ship they have been stuck on.

Returning to a standard format that jumps between the different plot lines, ‘Tyrant’s Test’ brings McDowell’s trilogy to a surprisingly satisfying ending.

Leia faces a hard choice, whether or not to step away from the role of Chief of State whilst the Yevethans have Han prisoner or to stay in power without the full support of her closest allies, fearing that she is emotionally compromised. After receiving a horrific video of Nil Spaar beating Han within an inch of his life, Leia visits her friend and mentor, Mon Mothma, before meeting with the New Republic Senate and announces her intention to stay in power until, at least, the end of the war, knowing her decision could cost Han his life.

Luke and Akanah end up on the planet J’t’p’tan, close to the Yevethan conflict, where they finally find the Fallanassi hiding and using their powers to hide The Temple of the Hidden Spirit, disguising the Temple as a set of ruins to make the invading Yevethans that they were dead. Luke enlists their help with the coming battle.

Chewie, with his son, Lumpy and two of his cousins, embarks on a rescue mission. Using an underworld contact they take the Millennium Falcon right to Nil Spaar’s Star Destroyer and make their way through, finding Han who is with a captured Fallanassi woman who uses her powers to confuse their captors until Han is rescued.

The battle begins, with the Fallanassi making the Yevethans believe that the New Republic fleet is much larger, the former Imperial soldiers, taken prisoner by the Yevethans, take back a number of their ships. Their leader orders the ships to leave the battle, reducing the Yevethan fleet considerably, the Commander, Sil Sorannon, takes control of Nil Spaar’s flagship, taking the Yevethan leader captive and locking him in an escape pod which they launch into hyperspace.

Luke learns that Akanah had lied about his mother, using the name and story of a woman whose twins had been taken from her to manipulate Luke into joining her. Feeling betrayed, Luke goes on a new mission, to find Lando.

On the Vagabond, Lobot has become connected to the ship through his cybernetic attachment as the ship encounters more and more attackers and becomes increasingly damaged. Called back to its home world by the crew of The Lady Luck. Luke arrives and with the scientist is able to rescue Lando and the crew as they learn of the Vagabond’s true purpose, to revive the Qella species once their home world of Brath Qella was ready to exit its sudden ice age, reviving the species.

Luke returns to Coruscant where he reunites with Leia, Han is doing much better in the Med-Centre and the two of them discuss family, Luke’s desire to find out about their mother and how he wants to be involved with the training of Jacen, Jaina and Anakin.

As the conclusion of the trilogy, ‘Tyrant’s Test’ works brilliantly. After the events of ‘Shield of Lies’ we get to see the aftermath here and it doesn’t disappoint. We know how great a leader Leia is and that point is Reuter ten-fold as she stakes her claim over the presidency of the New Republic, pushing all of her personal feelings for the situation away and focusing on what is best for the Galaxy at large. Even in the canon stories, we’ve never seen Leia this close to a breaking point, even when Han is killed by Kylo she keeps on going, but it is redressing to see her vulnerability shine through, even for a brief moment.

Akanah’s inevitable betrayal of Luke’s trust finally happens when she finally finds her people, and Luke, whilst initially angry manages to make peace with it. However, Luke does learn a new way of envisioning the Force and how to utilise it in new ways, which come into play in the rescue of Lando, Lobot, C-3PO and R2-D2 from the Vagabond. It was also great to see Luke fully back to his old self by the end, wanting to pass on his Jedi knowledge to his niece and nephews.

The new Chewie and Han storyline, starting with Lumpawaroo’s rite of passage being interrupted, with Chewie, his son and two other members of their family going on a mission to rescue Han in the Millennium Falcon. This part, for me, is the only bit that feels like a good old Star Wars adventure, risky odds, a daring rescue and infiltrating an Imperial ship (yes it’s under Yevethan control but it’s still a Star Destroyer). And they are in the Millennium Falcon. And of course they save Han.

The big problem, that really doesn’t tie into the rest of the plot, is the Lando storyline. My prediction that the Vagabond would emerge from hyperspace in the middle of the battle was wrong, instead the storyline remains separate until Luke arrives (after the battle is over). It feels like a waste of the characters involved when they could have been part of the main storyline.

Whilst I think this was the better of the three (audio)books, it’s not without its flaws. Firstly, the Fallanassi woman who helps in the rescue of Han from the Yevethans by using her powers of camouflage seems to appear out of nowhere in the audiobook which was truly bizarre and confusing.

I get the feeling that this audiobook had to skip a lot to meet the three hour run-time, whilst understandable given the time it was made, I feel like the abridgement could have been better executed. As far as the trilogy, it definitely got better as it went along but it’s not one I’d revisit.

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Shield of Lies by Michael P. Kube McDowell Audiobook Review

The second part of McDowell’s ‘Black Fleet Crisis’ Trilogy takes the three separate storylines from ‘Before the Storm’ and throws the characters headlong into their adventures.

Split into three parts, the first part focus’ on Lando, Lobot, R2-D2 and C-3PO as they make their way through the lost ship, the Teljkon Vagabond, which is blasting its way through Hyperspace, even taking out an Imperial Frigate that they happened to come across. They learn that the ship is alive and is able to recalibrate itself to accommodate the passengers on board.

The second part focus’ on Luke Skywalker and the Fallanassi woman, Akanah who is searching for her people. She has Luke travel to numerous planets, under the pretence of finding her people but she is really searching for her father a Gang Leader who has lost his long term memory to a drug addiction. After learning that she would have no relationship with him, she continues quest to find the rest of the Fallanassi people, including, supposedly, Luke’s mother.

Leia is busy with the building situation with the Yevethans. The New Republic army is gearing up for war and as much as Leia want to avoid it, she knows it’s going to happen and she has to remain in control as the Chief of State. Once the decision is made and a large number of New Relublic forces are killed in a surprise attack, war is inevitable. Leia has Han take command of the Fleet, but he is kidnapped by the Yevethans on the way which leads to members of the High Council along for Leia to resign her post.

McDowell really steps up the game for the second (audio)book of his trilogy. With the set up out of the way in ‘Before the Storm’, the heroes really get into their storylines in ‘Shield of Lies’. However, and this could just be for the audiobook, each of the plot lines are told individually, there’s no cutting back and forth, which was a huge detriment in my opinion.

The first part focused on Lando’s story, and whilst by the end the story had found its direction, for the most part it’s all about a group of people wandering around a ship and on the outside, the political fallout because the Vagabond has vanished again and the New Republic forces searching for it get pulled away except for the Commander who, with a small crew, continues their search for the ship. Whilst not the weakest storyline, I’m struggling to see how it will fit with the overall story other than the Vagabond arriving out of Hyperspace slap-bang in the middle of a battle and Lando, Lobot and the Droids save the day in some Deus Ex Machina style of finale.

The second part was Luke and Akanah, which is still the weakest of the storylines. Luke is being dragged around on a wild-goose-chase and it’s all coming across like an elaborate manipulation by Akanah who just wanted a Jedi protector and used Luke’s desire to learn more about his mother to get what she wants. It’s a real deviation for Luke’s character and quite disappointing to be honest.

The storyline that really held my interest and was the one I was most looking to hearing. The situation with the Yevethans has escalated and the New Republic is helpless. Leia’s position as Chief of State is also in jeopardy, she doesn’t want to enter a new war but Nil Spaar is forcing her hand with every planet the alien race conquers. The Yevethans take countless lives in their attacks and when the New Republic forces do respond the Yevethan tactics cause a horrendous defeat. By the end, when Leia puts Han in charge of the fleet and he is captured, Leia just goes to show how strong a leader she is, she doesn’t act impulsively whatsoever and instead remains calm and collected, much like how she acted through ‘A New Hope’ after Alderaan is destroyed.

Far more enjoyable than ‘Before the Storm’, which in hindsight was acting as a way of setting up the trilogy (something I didn’t consider when writing my review), ‘Shield of Lies’ does pick up the pace in terms of the story, however, the format of keeping each of the stories separate falls flat for me, especially feeling the slog of finally getting to the part I was most looking forward to.

However, some of my issues with the first book, predominantly the characterisation of Luke were alleviated somewhat. Luke feels more like himself, rather than how he acted in ‘Before the Storm’ which was completely unlike any version of Luke we have ever seen, and whilst still not the best version of Luke, McDowell has gotten closer to the character we all know and love.

Getting to see the inner workings of the New Republic is different, with a lot of Leia’s part focusing on the politics of the oncoming Yevethan conflict and how tied Leia’s hands are it’s a great insight into the Galactic Council, and something I went on to enjoy years later in Claudia Gray’s ‘Bloodline’.

A definite step in the right direction but far from the greatest Star Wats book of the nineties, I’m hoping that the third part of ‘The Black Fleet Crisis’ Trilogy, ‘Tyrant’s Test’ can steer the ship in the right direction for a grand finale.

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Before the Storm by Michael P. Kube McDowell Audiobook Review

When I was younger I bought this book, and as much as I tried, I just couldn’t get into it. I don’t think I ever made it past the first chapter. Something just didn’t click with me and it ended up in a box until I gave the majority of me EU collection to charity in 2015.

I later came across it a few years ago, going for a relatively low price along with the third part of the ‘Black Fleet Crisis Trilogy’ (of which this is the first part), and as I was just about to finish the Corellia Trilogy I went for it.

I got through about 90 pages, and that took me a really long time, and this was at a time before having a child where I would sit in the bath EVERY NIGHT (our shower was broken) and read as a way of winding down before going to bed. But around page 90 I just about had enough, I read something else and tried to go back to it but it just wasn’t happening.

So imagine my trepidation when, in my Post-ROTJ, Bantam Era Legends binge when I got to this one. I was not looking forward to it, especially after listening to four less than spectacular books in a row.

Thankfully, for the most part, the abridgement really worked for me. I still had issues with the story at times but I was able to finish it, where I never managed it with the book.

Set twelve years after the Battle of Endor, Chief of State Leia Organa welcomes Nil Spaar, the Viceroy of the Dushkan League, representing a vast number of systems with great wealth and advanced technology, to a meeting in regards to the New Republic and the Leagues future together. Over many meetings, it becomes apparent that the Yevetha (the species that forms the League) just wants to be left alone, with no interference from the New Republic.

Many of Leia’s key members of staff distrust the Yevethans and send the newly established ‘Fifth Fleet’ to Dushkan League space to scout for any trouble. Han Solo ends up in charge of the Fleet after his predecessor is fired by Leia after he disobeys her orders, Han continues the mission.

Nil Spaar launches attacks on all the planets in the Dushkan League and kills all non-Yevethan people in a mass genocide, blaming Leia for instigating war between the New Republic and the Yevethan people.

Meanwhile, a bored Lando Calrissian gets entangled in a search party for a missing ship, often considered a myth. The fleet he is with, as well as his own team consisting of himself, Lobot, C-3PO and R2-D2 join the mission that locates the ship, ‘The Teljkon Vagabond’ and Lando’s task force manage to crack the code to get access to the ship where the rest of the fleet cannot. Before they know it the Vagabond jumps into hyperspace and the team has no idea where it’s going.

Luke is on his own journey, after stepping away from the Jedi Academy, believing that he should go into exile like Obi-Wan and Yoda before him, he takes up residence in Darth Vader’s palace on Coruscant. After asking Han to tell Leia to leave him alone, a mysterious woman who claims to have ties to Luke and Leia’s mother arrives and Luke joins her to find a key to his past.

And, Chewie takes the Millennium Falcon to Kashyyyk for Lumpy’s coming-of-age ceremony and only appears in the book briefly.

Personally, I really could have just taken Luke’s storyline from this (audio)book and cut it out completely. I’m not sure if it’s because I just don’t like it, or that it is completely contradictory to when we got in the Prequel Trilogy (but Luke going off into exile is kind of like ‘The Last Jedi’, in a really loose way) about Padmé. If I were ever to jump on the #NotMyLukeSkywalker movement it would be about Luke in this (audio)book.

I’m guessing McDowell didn’t quite know what to do with Chewie here because the Wookiee is written out of the story very early on. I can understand why, writing a companion that doesn’t exactly speak can be a bit tedious, how many different ways can you describe the vocalisations of a Wookiee? But it does leave Han without a companion, so Solo is shipped off on a military mission to try and find answers on the Dushkan League. Of course, it all goes a bit wrong for them when their presence gives the Yevethans an opportunity to commit their abhorrent acts and proclaim it to be in defence of the New Republic people attacking the Yevethans.

However, it’s Leia’s storyline that I found to be the most interesting, with her slow descent into uncertainty at how she is performing in her role as Chief-of-State. She becomes erratic towards her colleagues, even accusing Ackbar, one of her strongest supporter, of working against her and against her best wishes, even though her meetings with Nil Spaar and becoming increasingly more and more pointless as very little gets achieved beyond their first couple of interactions. It all comes to a head when Nil Spaar announces to the Galaxy that the Yevethans have fought and defeated the New Republic citizens living within the Dushkan League. And it’s that storyline that makes me want to listen to the next one.

As I said before, I really could have done without Luke’s storyline in this novel, but I’m sure that by the end of the third part of the trilogy, Luke, Leia, Han and Lando will reunite with each of their storylines merging together for a good old team-up.

The Yevethans are an interesting species. After years of slavery under the Empire, the Yevethans become incredibly xenophobic, considering any other races to be ‘vermin’. My one issue with them however, it seems like McDowell has made them to be quite overpowered from the start, incredibly intelligent, quick, strong, amazing ship builders and a retractable needle like blade that comes out of their wrists.

The (audio)book focuses heavily on intergalactic politics, which in the abridged version is palatable, however, given my ongoing struggles with reading the book I wonder how it would have come across. I quite enjoy the galactic politics in Star Wars, one of my favourite canon novels is ‘Bloodline’ which gives a great look at the politics of the New Republic, and ‘Before the Storm’ gives us an interesting political tête-à-tête between Leia and Nil Spaar. It’s interesting seeing how Spaar uses and twists things to his own gains, leaving Leia and her people struggling to find out what they have done wrong to offend the Yevethans whilst Spaar puts his plan in motion. In terms of villains, it’s great to see one who works more on Leia’s level than another Pirate or Dark Jedi which are on Han and Luke’s levels respectively.

Much more palatable as an audiobook, the main story is interesting and for the most part, the characters feel like the on-screen versions than some of the previous (audio)books I have reviewed recently, except for Luke… which may or not play out later in the trilogy, but so far it’s not my cup of tea.

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The Crystal Star by Vonda N. McIntyre Audiobook Review

Imperial fanatics, a extra-dimensional chunk of meat, a kidnapping plot and the worst vacation ever pretty much sun this one up.

After Jacen, Jaina and Anakin Solo are kidnapped by Lord Hethrir, a former apprentice to Darth Vader. His goal is to restore the Empire with the help of the extra-dimensional being, Waru.

Han and Luke are on a vacation to Crseih where Han is looking for some much needed downtime whilst Luke believes there is a lost Jedi on the planet. They meet a former love interest of Han’s who was the one who supplied information about a possible Jedi, but she was in fact talking about the being, Waru. Waru had become almost like a cult leader, families would bring their sick and Waru would either heal them or they would die. Luke becomes obsessed with Waru as his connection to the Force begins to diminish, leading him to become distrustful of Han.

Leia follows the trail to her children and encounters a ship with a pair of Firrerreo on board, on is unhelpful but the other, a woman called Rillao who helps Leia after they realise they are both searching for the same person, Hethrir.

Hethrir has a number of children detained, some work for him in keeping the new acquisitions in line, including Jacen and Jaina. Meanwhile, Anakin is kept separate from his siblings, in the care of a child called Tigris, who works as Hethrir’s assistant. Hethrir takes Anakin, Tigris and a number of other children to the main city (where Han, Luke and Waru are) where Anakin is to undergo purification.

As Luke attempts to be healed by Waru to help reconnect to the Force, Han stops him in time and drags Luke away from Waru. During their departure Han sees Anakin being led by Hethrir and Tigris. As he starts to go after his son, he meets Leia, Chewie, Riallo and the Twins (whom Leia, Chewie and Riallo rescued after the twins staged a mass breakout and escaped Hethrir’s followers).

To save Anakin, Luke leaps into Waru (ew) and is followed by Han and Leia whilst Riallo battles with Hethrir over their son, Tigris, who Hethrir has lied to, calling his mother a traitor for taking away his Force ability, when Tigris never had a Force connection to begin with.

Han and Leia, with the help of the cries of the Solo children manage to get Luke out of Waru. The creature, still hungry and desperate to return to its own dimension consumes Hethrir and, using Hethrir’s Force connection transports them to Waru’s home.

Despite the end of Waru and Hethrir, Crseih is still in peril, orbiting an crystallised star (the real cause of Luke’s lack of connection to the Force), the star is being pulled into a black hole. The heroes manage to escape in time, bringing Crseih station with them, with Hethrir’s followers stuck on the planet-ship.

Oh I had so many problems with this (audio)book, and I can’t chalk them all up to being down to it being abridged.

Firstly, Anakin has a companion who is taken along with the Solo children and becomes one of Hethrir’s prisoners. It has no name and is referred to as a Wyrwulf… a six legged wolf-like creature. A freaking werewolf? Seriously? When they reach puberty the wyrwulf forms a chrysalis and emerges as a being called a Cordu-Ji. Werewolves in Star Wars? Really?

Secondly, Han Solo. Or more specifically McIntyre’s characterisation of Han Solo. In his first scene he basically gives an absurd impression to Luke that Han thinks it’s alright, as a married man, to go about flirting with women. I’m sorry, but what? Han has always been 100% committed and faithful to Leia and his family. And, if n a complete change of character, spends most of his time prattling on about being on vacation and putting a lot of time into drinking and gambling, than paying attention to Luke who is obviously going through some issues whilst on the planet. It’s only when he realises that Anakin is in danger that he becomes somewhat more like the Han Solo we know. Which again leaves me to wonder if McIntyre really doesn’t know Han Solo in the post Return of the Jedi era because the whole ‘when the cats away the mice will play’ attitude he has going on is utterly bizarre.

Whilst this is only the third time we have had a Solo Children kidnapping plot, and the first successful one, the whole idea just feels very played out. I will however give McIntyre some credit in how she writes the children which was really well done and the twins following in their parents footsteps as leaders, when they take charge of the breakout from Hethrir’s camp, which could have come across more like a kids adventure book is well played out.

And then there’s Waru… the extra-dimensional lump of meat protected by strange gold scales. I can get behind extra-galactic creatures, but extra-dimensional is a bit too far-fetched, even for Star Wars. It’s almost like, in a Galaxy full of different alien beings an unknown alien race wouldn’t seem much of a threat, so extra-dimensional was the way to go (well it worked for Lucas when Spielberg didn’t want do do aliens in ‘Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’ so he made them extra-dimensional instead).

I feel like ‘The Crystal Star’ relies heavily on Science Fiction than Science Fantasy that Star Wars has more in common with, which is understandable seeing that McIntyre was a well known Science Fiction author, but she really didn’t quite grasp that Star Wars feel that other authors like Timothy Zahn and Kevin J. Anderson had done previously. Had this not been set in the Star Wars universe, this could have been a great Sci-Fi novel in its own right.

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Planet of Twilight by Barbara Hambly Audiobook Review

I can safely say I am happy to be done with this ‘Callista Trilogy’.

‘Planet of Twilight’ finishes off this series, that Hambly started with ‘Children of the Jedi’ and followed by Kevin J. Anderson’s ‘Darksaber’. So far I haven’t been too thrilled with this run of (audio)books, finding the stories to really not have any sort of ‘Star Wars’ feel to them, and quite frankly have incredibly bizarre storylines.

Set around a year after the events of ‘Darksaber’, Hambly takes us to the planet of Nam Chorios, a veritable smorgasbord of problems. Killer bugs, disease and grouchy people fighting.

Leia is there to meet one of the political leaders, Seti Ashgad. After being drugged, Leia is kidnapped by the Force Sensitive Beldorion the Hutt. Her captors continue to keep her drugged until Ashgad’s aide, Dzim informs her and she manages to overcome the effects of the drugs.

Luke is also on the planet after receiving a message from Callista. After learning of Leia’s capture he makes his way to Beldorian’s stronghold, however, Leia manages to escape after killing Beldorion (Hutts are not so quick in a lightsaber duel it seems).

Luke arrives at the palace and finds out Leia has escaped but learns that Dzim is actually an evolved Droch, the killer insects I mentioned earlier and has been keeping Ashgad, Beldorion and Taselda, a Jedi who Luke encounters alive for centuries.

Leia meets with Callista during her escape and after Luke is imbued by the raw power of the Force the Droch and Dzim are defeated and their plan to use crystals mined on the planet to power weapons and fighters is thwarted. After Luke meets with Callista and they part ways forever, Luke and Leia escape the planet.

Not pulling any punches with this one. I didn’t enjoy it at all. The main villain being an evolved murder insect that has become sentient and can keep people alive? Way too far fetched for me. I appreciate the attempt to make a villain that isn’t just another Imperial Warlord or Dark Side wielding maniac but Dzim just wasn’t that compelling a villain. Murder bugs I can handle, and if they were being used as a weapon by someone then I could probably get behind that more, but yeah, this wasn’t one I could get behind.

I did like the idea of a Force Sensitive Hutt, that idea is incredibly compelling to me and it’s something I think would be very interesting to see again, especially in ‘The High Republic’ where we are seeing more and more Jedi, including Sskeer, the Trandoshan Jedi, a species that has until recently been exclusively villains.

The Callista storyline could have easily been removed from this (audio)book, she acts as more of a tool for exposition for Leia and her conversation with Luke was basically a less angsty version of her farewell hologram at the end of ‘Darksaber’. Of course this could have been down to the abridgement but I’m honestly not interested in picking up the book (I have a copy and was going to read it for this review, glad I didn’t) to find out. Even though Hambly worked with Anderson on how to write the love story between Luke and Callista out in order for Luke and Mara Jade to become an item (a decision that Lucasfilm had come to behind the scenes), the inclusion of the character here feels like Hambly wanting the final word on a character she created, in a similar way that Michael A. Stackpole essentially wrote an exit for Corran Horn in ‘The New Jedi Order’ series so that he wouldn’t get killed off by anyone else.

A disappointing entry into the EU, with very little to develop any ongoing stories. Easily one I would skip over in the future.

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The High Republic Adventures Issue 2 Review

The Nihil attack on Bralanak City escalates as the Jedi face overwhelming odds and the disdain of the locals.

Daniel José Older’s inaugural contribution to ‘The High Republic’ initiative continues with an action filled issue.

Lula, Farzala, Qort and their new companion Zeen must fight off the Nihil who are in league with the Force User-hating cult who populate the city. They are backed up by other Padawan’s as well as Masters Yoda and Buck, whose nickname is revealed to be “Buckets of Blood”, because he is a Jedi Healer, not because he’s some sort of mass murderer in a Jedi Robe. Although… fanfic alert!

We learn that Marchion Ro is leading the Nihil attack, and his ruthlessness shows no bounds here, going as far as threatening to leave Zeen’s former friend Krix who, as any normal child would, feels conflicted between the hatred of the Force that his people preach and his loyalty to his friend. During the escape, Ro almost destroys a Republic Medical Frigate during the Nihil’s escape.

With Zeen stranded, but her Force abilities being quite powerful, Yoda agrees that she should join the Jedi on their way to the Starlight Beacon.

I am really enjoying Older’s series. Two issues in and I am really engrossed, the characters are great fun, seeing this era from a different perspective and a new way of seeing Jedi Padawans, going off around the Galaxy with Yoda and Buck, my question however is, are they all Yoda’s apprentices? Are they you Jedi waiting to be taken on by a Master? I’m sure the answer will become clear at some point, so I won’t bother Older on Twitter just yet.

Yoda shows his age in this issue, being around 700 years old he definitely seems more sprightly, going off to try and rescue Krix from Marchion Ro, almost convincing the boy to go with them instead of The Nihil and taking on some of the pirates (with the help of Zeen’s pet bat Cham who full on eats parts of a Nihil). Yoda’s trademark sense of humour is also on show, the Jedi Master really comes across more favourable in this era, obviously, as the Jedi Order changed his outlook changed too, maybe it was his age as well, at 860(ish) in ‘The Phantom Menace’, his views of the Galaxy and how it has changed could have effected him.

One thing I did find interesting, Lula insists on Zeen joining the Jedi because of her abilities, which is understandable. However, Zeen is obviously in her teenage years, older than Anakin was in ‘The Phantom Menace’, and Yoda accepts her to join the mission. I know that this isn’t exactly a sign that Zeen is allowed to join the Order, but, it seems to indicate that the Jedi are willing to take on new members who are older. Maybe they prefer to take younger children in, but don’t outright deny others with abilities. Perhaps with the Republic expanding, as new worlds are discovered then the Jedi are opening their doors to train Force Users of any age from the outlying worlds of the frontier?

Maybe we will learn through this series why the Jedi become stricter on the age of children becoming part of the Order? Could Zeen be the reason? So… many… questions…

I really enjoyed this issue. I’m loving the writing and the art. Seeing a group of Jedi in battle is amazing and great fun and well worth a read.

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Alphabet Squadron: Victory’s Price by Alexander Freed SPOILER FREE Book Review

After the events on Troithe, Alphabet Squadrom would never be the same again. Picking up some time later, ‘Victory’s Price’ throws us right into the emotional aftermath of Quell’s defection and how the Squadron must come together as the end of the war draws closer.

Alexander Fred’s work in the Star Wars canon has been nothing short of fantastic. After throwing us into the front lines in ‘Battlefront: Twilight Company’ it was hardly a surprise to me when it was announced that he was writing the novelisation of ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’, which he absolutely nailed. When he was announced to be writing a Trilogy about star fighter pilots I was ecstatic and the first two instalments in the ‘Alphabet Squadron’ Trilogy were fantastic, and I had no doubt that the third would follow suit.

Boy, did I underestimate it.

‘Victory’s Price’ is phenomenal, I can’t put it any other way whatsoever. The emotional journeys that the main characters went through in ‘Shadow Fall’ really resonate here, the events of the last book changed all of them drastically, and Freed really lets us feel that here, and as the character development continues, it gives us some new dynamics that you (or the characters themselves) probably never would have thought possible.

Not even the Empire’s 204th Fighter Squadron, came out of the last book unscathed, with Shadow Wing being crammed into a “rinky-dink freighter” and Yrica Quell back with her former commander, Soran Keize and now under the command of Admiral Rae Sloane, Shadow Wing has a new mission which could have serious repercussions for the rest of the Galaxy and its down to Hera Syndulla’s Star Destroyer, The Deliverance to stop them.

Freed not only crafts an amazing story here, but he weaves details from other books, specifically to Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath: Empire’s End’ and allusions to the game ‘Star Wars: Squadrons’ which tied more into ‘Shadow Fall’ but gets referenced here.

‘Victory’s Price’ gives us an incredibly emotional, action filled and satisfying conclusion to a brilliant trilogy, it was a tough book to put down. Whilst the previous two books had more action sequences, the action here is more tightly packed into a couple of areas but once the action gets going it is all encompassing and as always with Freed, written to perfection. Where we don’t get the action, the character depth we get into is wonderful, seeing what this group of characters go through in this one really drives the story and how they move forward as the story builds just shows how well written they are.

At 460 pages (hardback edition), it’s one of the more heftier books in the Star Wars Canon but at no point does the story feel like it’s dragging, every beat of the story is well placed and works to move the story forward, putting characters in the right place or situations at the right time to drive the story.

The end feels well earned, things come as a surprise, others are expected but not obvious, and, without giving anything away, felt reminiscent of the last episode of the Netflix series ‘The Haunting of Bly Manor’ and it worked so well.

A brilliant end to a brilliant Trilogy. Freed doesn’t pull any punches and puts the characters through the ringer for a well deserved and satisfying conclusion, it’s left me wanting more Star Wars books from this great author.

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Darksaber by Kevin J. Anderson Audiobook Review

Boy, oh boy.

Darksaber sees the return of Kevin J. Anderson, the author of the ‘Jedi Academy Trilogy’ but the book falls short of the quality that I had expected after those great books.

Set not long after ‘Children of the Jedi’, the book follows a number of storylines that eventually tie together at the end, in a climactic battle that almost makes up for the lacklustre first and second acts.

Luke and Callista are trying to find a way for the latter to regain her connection to the Force. After Luke and Han go on a failed mission to Tatooine where Luke visits Obi-Wan’s old home and visit Jabba’s Palace where they learn that Durga the Hutt has been searching through Jabba’s computers, stealing information on The Empire.

Luke then takes Callista to a Comet which is part Mining Colony part Tourist Resort but soon leave when Callista gets frustrated when the relaxation Luke was hoping would help bring back her Force connection doesn’t work and they instead go on a tour of the places that Luke felt strong connections to the Force, taking them first to Dagobah where the two of them fight off the native wildlife and then Hoth where they end up joining a group of Wampa Hunters who end up under attack by a pack of the beasts, led by the one Luke encountered and dismembered in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’. When they manage to get back to their ship and fight off the Wampa’s, Luke and one of the Hunters repair the ship enough to limp away from the planet into the nearby Asteroid Field.

Meanwhile, Leia, Han, Chewie, R2 and 3PO are on their own mission, investigating Durga the Hutt and his allegiance with some known Imperial scientists who worked on the two Death Stars. Durga has them building a new version of the Death Star which is a bare bones mobile version of the planet destroying Super Weapon, which is being built in… the Hoth Asteroid Field. The New Republic fleet, with the help of Han’s team on the Falcon work to destroy the Super Weapon, named The Darksaber. After a sabotage mission led by Crix Madine fails, the New Republic Admiral is killed by Durga before the weapon is destroyed. The Falcon picks up the shuttle with Luke and Callista on board, Callista in an environment suit whilst Luke is in a deep Jedi trance, both near death. After they recuperate they decide that it’s time to go back to Yavin IV, Han, Leia, Chewie and the Droids take them in the Millennium Falcon.

Kyp Durron and Dorsk 81 are on their own mission, trying to locate Imperial Warlords and bring their reigns of terror to an end. What they find however is much worse than they could have imagined. Numerous Imperial united under the rule of Admiral Daala. Her plan, to vanquish The New Republic once they have enough forces, but at the time their forces are too small but an alternative target is chosen, the Jedi Academy on Yavin IV. Kyp and Dorsk 81 race against time to warn the Jedi at the Academy.

On Yavin IV, after Kyp and Dorsk 81 warn the Jedi students, the attack begins. Luckily the Students had been working at one of the other Massassi Temples and manage to wipe out a number of TIE Fighters and other Imperial Forces on the planet and, working together, use the Force to throw the majority of Daala’s attack fleet to the edges of the Yavin system and disable their hyper drives but Dorsk 81 is killed in the process.

The Millennium Falcon arrives in the midst of the battle and lands at the Jedi Temple, joining the fight on the planet, with Kyp joining Han and the crew on the Falcon and they take the fight to Daala’s Super Star Destroyer until Admiral Ackbar’s reinforcements arrive.

On the planet, Callista, after finally tapping into the Force, but only through the Dark Side, feels like her and Luke’s relationship is doomed to fail unless she reconnects to the Force on her own path, takes a downed TIE Bomber to the Super Star Destroyer. Once on board she sabotages a hanger full of TIE Bombers which causes a chain reaction that severely damages the ships hyperdrive. Callista confronts Daala and the two escape the doomed ship.

Luke, believing Callista is dead, is shocked when he receives a message from her, telling him she loves him but has to sort her Dorce issues out herself. Meanwhile, Dalla’s escape pod is found by Pellaeon. Daala relinquishes her command, promoting Pellaeon to Admiral, and the leader of the Imperial Remnant.

When I was younger I read this, again it was one I only read the once because I didn’t remember the majority of the events. After doing the Audiobook I remember why I only read it the one time.

What could have been a really enjoyable duology, what we get here is a single book crammed full to the brim with too many plot lines that really needed time to breathe and they get somewhat lost in the Audiobook version. The abridgement really makes a choppy book even choppier.

Had this been made into a Duology, the Darksaber project could have taken up one part and the second part could focus on Admiral Daala’s push to reform the Empire and the final conflict at Yavin. I would have liked to get more about Kyp and Dorsk 81’s quest to hunt down the Imperial Warlords. There was so much promise for that storyline but it just didn’t get enough attention.

The Luke/Callista storyline ends up being a greatest hits tour of Luke’s Force hotspots, and the Hoth section and the Wampa battle, with the one armed Wampa leading the battle is far too coincidental for my liking. And the fact that, even on Dagobah, Luke and Callista have to fight for their lives against giant bugs. Seriously, couldn’t that have just gone and not had a life and death confrontation?

The saving grace is the final confrontation at Yavin IV. The Jedi Students really get to shine although their working together is incredibly overpowered, and probably part of the reason that fans were expecting an overpowered Luke in ‘The Last Jedi’, seeing as a group of students manage to hurl a fleet of Star Destroyers through space… I mean, come on, as if… but it makes cool reading.

A disappointing listen to be honest. Far too much going on for the short runtime. So far the ‘Callista Trilogy’ hasn’t been as enjoyable as I had hoped, especially after the good run I of good – great Audiobooks I’ve reviewed so far this year.

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The High Republic: There is No Fear Part 3

As Keeve Trennis investigates a sink hole with a local boy, Marshal Avar Kriss must deal with Terec, who is acting strangely and Master Sskeer who’s recent odd behaviour has been noticed by Kriss and other Jedi.

Cavan Scott and the crew have brought us another great issue of ‘The High Republic’ ongoing series.

The Jedi face hostility and friendship from the locals of Sedri Minor, with Keeve investigating the disappearance of Ceret and a local boy whose parents are desperately searching for him. She is joined by a young boy, Bartol and the two of them discover a sinkhole.

They go into the underground cavern filled with strange vines. Held up against the wall in the same vibe are Ceret and the missing child, Julus. Keeve cuts them down, Julus is dead but Ceret is still alive and Keeve removes a strange parasite from him, a moment later they are attacked by the creatures responsible for the problems on the planet, the plantlike Drengir.

On the ship, Sskeer has been left with Terec who begins to act posessed, causing Sskeer to break down in despair at his inability to help.

In the cavern, Keeve, Bartol and Ceret are saved by Avar Kriss who cuts the attacking Drengir in two, but the two halves each become a new adversary, which is the least of their problems when a possessed Sskeer arrives under the control of the Drengir.

The horror vibes are strong with this issue, starting with Keeve in the field, it’s almost out of Stephen King and Joe Hill’s ‘In the Tall Grass’ and followed with Keeve and Bartol in the underground cavern finding their friends stuck to the wall in a moment reminiscent of ‘Aliens’. That’s not all though, Scott gives us some really creepy moments with the twins as they go through their possession moments and the parasite that Sskeer finds is a reference to ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’.

Sskeer’s descent into madness (or the Dark Side) is being noticed by the Jedi now and I think it’ll have been too late, now that he’s been possessed by the Drengir, and that ominous looking cover for Issue 5, which of course could be complete misdirection. I’ve not yet read ‘Into the Dark’ which also features The Drengir, so I’m not completely clued up to how they operate (hopefully I will be caught up by the time Issue 4 comes out).

In terms of the Jedi, we really get two amazing representations on how the Jedi are during this era in Avar Kriss and Keeve Trennis. Keeve is the kind of person that people gravitate to, as we have seen in this issue with Bartol and in Issue 1 with Kanrii. I think it’s safe to assume that Keeve is going to be the one me who connects with people on her adventures, using her empathic nature to best figure out problems and hopefully get through to Sskeer and bring him back.

I found it interesting that back on the Starlight Beacon, that Jedi Master Maru was part of a team that are performing an autopsy on the murdered Hutt from the last issue. I’d never considered the Jedi would personally perform autopsies, however they may have stopped doing so by the time of ‘The Phantom Menace’, or maybe on a rare occasions it was considered “Jedi business”.

Only three issues in and next to ‘Doctor Aphra’ this is one of my most anticipated comics each month. Everything about it is fantastic month-to-month and I can’t wait to see where it goes next.

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Darth Vader: Into the Fire Part 5

As Vader and Ochi are chased by Sly Moore into the Red Nebula on their way to Exogol, they experience visions of death before finally arriving at the long lost Planet of the Sith.

We really get to see again how great a pilot Vader is, as he avoids destruction from the giant Space Cthulhu creature as well as legions of TIE Fighters sent by Sly Moore in a hope to stop Vader from reaching Exogol.

After evading the threats, Vader and Ochi enter the Nebula and experience visions. Vader sees moments of his past, both of his duels with Obi-Wan and his battle with Luke from ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ but at one point the roles are reversed and it is Luke who cuts off Vader’s hand. Luke strikes at Vader, stabbing him through the chest and leaving him for dead as he walks away with The Emperor. Some of this is foreshadowing the events of ‘Return of the Jedi’ with Luke gaining the upper hand, cutting off Vader’s own hand and Palpatine claiming that it’s Luke’s destiny to turn to the Dark Side.

Once the pair reach Exogol, they are followed by Space Cthulhu and Vader uses to Force, when Ochi reminds him that he is forbidden to do so or the Emperor will kill him, Vader talks about fear leading to anger, anger leading to hate and hate leading to power when he manages to defeat the creature and using it as his mount that takes him to a cliff top above the Sith Temple from ‘The Rise of Skywalker’.

This issue really picks up the pace of this arc, now five issues in I feel like the story is finally going somewhere and I’m seriously hoping that next issue isn’t the final part because if it is I know I’ll feel short changed.

Pak finally reaches the part of the story that has been teased for what seems like forever and was the big draw for me, Vader reaching Exogol and tying in with ‘The Rise of Skywalker’. Sure we have had Ochi featuring heavily in the story, but by now my thoughts on Ochi have been pretty clear, not good, and The Eye of the Webbish Bog can hardly be classed as a tie-in because it wasn’t in the final cut of the film. And with the introduction of Exogol I’m hoping we get some backstory on what has been going on there leading up to Palpatine’s ‘death’ on the Death Star.

I have to really give Raffaele Ienco a shout out for this issue, the art is sublime. Vader’s space battle is beautifully depicted and it reminds me of Vader’s battle against the Rebel Starfighters in ‘Vader Down’. Ienco really brings Vader’s visions to life here as well and he has created one of the best pieces of Star Wars illustration in my opinion.

A true return to form after a lacklustre arc so far. I wouldn’t say that it’s been fully redeemed in my opinion, but I am finally looking forward to the next issue of this series which I haven’t been doing for he last few issues so the creators, for me, are heading in the right direction again.

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Children of the Jedi by Barbara Hambly Audiobook Review

I am not going to lie, as I listened to this, after reading it back in the late 90’s and barely remembering any of it, I had a few “What the #*$%?” moments, where I would have to take a moment to process what it was I had just listened to.

The story follows two plot lines, one where Han, Leia and Chewie go to the planet Belsavis after a former associate of Han’s attacks them. They trace some jewellery he was carrying and a mysterious note to the planet where it is believed there are hidden tunnels and crypts where they may find evidence of a group called the ‘Children of the Jedi’.

On Belsavis Leia encounters a former ‘concubine’ of Palpatine, Roganda Ismaren, who meets with Leia and convinces her she is in hiding but is secretly working with former Imperial supporters and her Force Sensitive son, Irek, who can use the Force to manipulate technology, bring a hidden weapon, The Eye of Palpatine online and help rebuild the Empire.

Meanwhile, drawn to the Eye, Luke Skywalker, C-3PO and two of Luke’s Jedi students, an A.I. genius turned Jedi, Cray Mingla and her lover, former Jedi Nichos Marr, who’s mind has been implanted into a Droid body after he succumbed to a life threatening illness find the ship, ‘The Eye of Palpatine’ which had been though lost for thirty years and was now performing its main objective, by visiting planets and picking up beings to turn into Stormtroopers. The creatures the ship picks up are tribes of Gamorreans, a group of Talz, Jawas and Tusken Raiders, among others.

When Cray is taken captive, the spirit of a former Jedi, Callista, reaches out to Luke and they save Luke’s student, retire The Eye of Palpatine and rescue all the beings on board before making sure the ship itself will self destruct. During all of this, Luke and Callista fall for each other.

Due to Nichos becoming more Droid than man, he sacrifices himself to assist in the rest of his team escaping. Cray, still in love with Nichos decides to give her life to be with him, allowing Callista’s spirit to take over her body. She escapes in an Escape Pod and is reunited with Luke.

Callista’s Force ability is no more after her spirit was transferred but she decides to pursue a relationship with Luke and the two of them return to Yavin IV to the Jedi Praxeum whilst Han, Leia and Chewie return to Coruscant.

‘Children of the Jedi’ is the first part of a loose trilogy, dubbed ‘The Callista Trilogy’, it is followed by ‘Darksaber’ and ‘Planet of Twilight’ and its one of the more absurd novels of the early EU era that I have encountered so far. The main storyline has Luke essentially fall in love with a ghost in a computer, amidst a turf war between the Gamorrean Tribes who have been brainwashed into becoming Stormtroopers and are wearing parts of Stormtrooper armour.

Some of the characterisations of the main heroes feels a bit off, at one point Han describes Cray as ‘The blonde with the legs.” to Leia. At no point has Han ever spoken like that to Leia, or anyone, even when he was trying to get under Luke’s skin in ‘A New Hope’ about Luke’s crush on Leia or his flirty bickering with Leia in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’. It feels really out of character and out of place.

When we were introduced to Nichos Marr, the way it is written, which could’ve be down to the abridgement, feels like this is someone we had been introduced to in a previous novel (I had to look it up just to check), turns out this is his first appearance. This made it more complicated that it needed to be, having just come off the back of the introduction of Luke’s Academy in ‘The Jedi Academy’ Trilogy and not meeting this character. And then getting a whole backstory where he was sick and got transferred into a Droid body, which was essentially a way of easing us into the idea that Luke could fall I love with a spirit in a computer. A bit much really, and (again probably to do with the abridgement) the character pretty much gets relegated to background fodder once Callista appears. And when we finally see Cray during the team’s rescue mission she is cursing Nichos because he’s more Droid and unable to help her… but then decides she can’t live without him… it was all very odd.

The whole Luke and Callista romance feels very forced, they have a few interactions but nothing really that would lead to them developing such intense feelings for each other so quickly. Sure you could attribute it to the Force, but still, that excuse can only work so many times. And the fact that Callista possesses the body of one of Luke’s students (who has been described as very attractive in many different ways) feels really uncomfortable for me. Surely there’s some boundaries being crossed there?

Part of me is pleased to say that this is the first of the EU/Legends novels that I have consumed in the last few months that has been disappointing for me. I’m not sure if it’s the abridgement or the story itself that doesn’t work for me, or probably a bit of both, but I’ll happily leave this one off of my list to revisit down the line.

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Luke Skywalker and Grogu: Master and Apprentice

Since last December, Star Wars fans have been asking the same question, “What happens to Grogu now he’s with Luke?”, which often is followed up with “Did Kylo kill Grogu when he destroyed the Jedi Temple?”

Both are fair questions (the second however is flawed as ‘The Rise of Kylo Ren’ comic series revealed that Ben didn’t actually destroy the Temple and only killed a couple of students).

For me, I do not believe that Grogu had anything to do with Luke’s Temple, which he didn’t start until Ben was in his early-to-mid teens, probably around eight-to-ten years after the events of ‘The Rescue’.

Roughly, according to the book ‘The Legend of Luke Skywalker’, and the Luke mission on ‘Battlefront 2’, he spends those early years after the death of Palpatine searching for any shred of knowledge about the Jedi, learning as much as he can to that he could become a better Jedi and eventually a Jedi Master. It’s at this time that Luke and Grogu meet.

As we learned in ‘The Jedi’, Grogu already has Jedi Training but has suppressed his abilities to keep him safe whilst the Empire was the ruling power and the majority of the Jedi had been killed, but instinctually he can use the Force (‘The Child’) and his confidence grows, using his powers to protect Din Djarin (‘The Child’, ‘The Reckoning’ and ‘Redemption’) but as Luke says, “talent without training is nothing.” By this, I don’t believe Luke will be giving Grogu any formal Jedi training, Luke’s not ready himself to undertake that responsibility, but perhaps he will guide Grogu is mastering those abilities and strengthening his connection to the Force, like I said, Grogu already has the foundation and all he really needs is some fine tuning.

I can’t picture Luke and Grogu heading off around the Galaxy like a Master and Apprentice from the Prequel era, but rather a more intensive boot-camp, allowing both of them to learn, because, let’s not forget, Grogu is the only character Luke has met (that we know) who was a member of the Jedi Order other than Yoda and Ono-Wan, and they didn’t really teach him about the Jedi of the past other than that they were the “Guardians of peace and justice of the Old Republic.”

When Grogu returns to Din, and we all know he will, however long that may be, I don’t think we will be seeing the kind of Jedi we are used to from the Prequels, I think we will be seeing a Force User who chooses the path of the light, much like Ahsoka and by the time Luke begins his Jedi Academy, Grogu and Luke will have parted ways, Ben may well have never met him, or if he did it could well have been as a child when Luke was visiting Han, Leia and Ben at some point.

Star Wars: Operation Starlight Part 3

Lobot’s life hangs in the balance whilst Starlight Squadron faces off against Zahra’s Star Destroyer and take on a daring mission into the heart of Zahra’s ship.

Lando and Kes’ showdown comes to a head whilst C-3PO is up to something. He manages to download the needed language into his own memory and turns off the Talky, freeing Lobot in time to get him to the Med-Centre and save him. Lando becomes distrustful of the Rebels after they were willing to risk Lobot’s life. He contacts Jabba, and instead of sending Rebel codes he agrees to send the deactivated Talky.

Meanwhile, Starlight Squadron is in trouble. They have no way to escape to Hyperspace without the Astromech’s to help navigate and syncing the X-Wings and A-Wings computers would take too long. When they get stuck in tractor beams they destroy the emitters before flying into to main dock in bay and blow up as much as they can. When Zahra sends ground forces in, Shara has the rest of the Squadron to hold them back. They steal an Imperial Astromech and Shara downloads as much information on the Empire’s dealings before sending the Squadron back to base after her ship is destroyed in the battle.

When the fleet are informed of what’s happened, Leia announces that they will take the fight to Zahra.

This issue left me feeling unimpressed. I hate to say it but it did. The Lobot storyline was predictable (and I’m not just saying that because I already knew he survived thanks to his appearance in a post-Return of the Jedi novel), but the whole story with the Talky was essentially to allow C-3PO to learn this new (old) language. I’m also really not all that keen on the whole Lando double-crossing the Rebellion. Sure, by the end we’ll find out it’s some sort of triple-cross that gets Lando into Jabba’s Palace in time for ‘Return of the Jedi’ but it just feels convoluted, and if he does get found out, why would he end up getting promoted to General (other than his manoeuvre at the Battle of Tanaab).

The Starlight Squadron story arc felt more interesting to me, and the whole attacking the inside of a Star Destroyer with starfighters is nothing less than genius. My issue here, however, is one that I have had before and I feel like an idiot for it being such an issue, but the stakes aren’t high. There are three characters in Starlight Squadron who are essentially untouchable and be of those is left behind enemy lines. As I’m reading it I feel like banging my head against a wall because I already know what happens and it made the cliffhanger ending feel redundant.

I have a feeling that I’m feeling this because of ‘The High Republic’. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but now we have been introduced to this brand new era, with new characters and genuine high stakes which whereas this run of ‘Star Wars’, being set between two films and with a number of stories set later in the timeline is essentially filling in the gaps, which is no bad thing, as it does add to the overall story of the saga.

Whilst the issue, and the story are enjoyable, I’m starting to find the lack of suspense a bit dull. Where other series like ‘The High Republic’ and ‘Doctor Aphra’ don’t have major ties to the stories that films tell, this run and to a degree, the ‘Darth Vader’ series have a defined ending which takes away most of the sense of surprise, which is a bit disappointing for me.

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I, Jedi by Michael A. Stackpole Audiobook Review

Rogue Squadron Pilot Corran Horn begins his Jedi Training and uses his CorSec skills to track down the Pirates who have kidnapped his wife.

Michael A. Stackpole writes a first person story focusing on Corran Horn who he introduced in the ‘X-Wing’ series. The story weaves through the narrative from Kevin J. Anderson’s ‘Jedi Academy’ Trilogy.

After experiencing a tremor in the Force where he feels his connection with his wife, Mirax diminish. Corran learns that she was working on tracking a Pirate group called The Invids. With the New Republic unable to assist him, Luke Skywalker offers Corran a place at his new Jedi Academy where he can learn how to hone his connection with the Force to help him in his mission.

Corran, under the alias Kieron Halcyon, joins as one of the original twelve students. The story tells the events on Yavin IV from the perspective of Corran.

Corran interacts through the already established story, adding some side plots to keep from changing Anderson’s narrative. He forms a friendship with Mara Jade, he attempts to confront the spirit of Exar Kun in Kun’s Temple and he fixes up the Z-95 Headhunter that Kyp stole and returned.

Once Luke is saved, Corran chooses to leave, feeling that he’s not being true to himself by focusing his attention on his Jedi Training after having a vision of his Grandfather’s death at the hands of a Dark Jedi.

He visits his Father-In-Law, Booster Terrik, a once famed smuggler who tries to blame the disappearance of his daughter on Corran who turns it back on the older man, knowing that Booster would have been helping Mirax and that Terrik hasn’t been in touch to discuss Mirax’s disappearance in the months since it happened.

Corran creates a new alias, Jenos Iranian. Under this new identity, Corran infiltrates a group of Invids, the Khuiumin Survivors and becomes part of their star fighter group. As his reputation grows he becomes one of the Squad leaders. They start working with the leaders of the Invids on raids, attacking a Caamasi Remnant planet.

On the ground, Corran saves a Caamasi, Elegos A’Kla from a group of the Pirates and badly wounds one, Sasyru. Elegos becomes Corran’s body servant. Horn is approached by Lenova Tavira, the Invid leader. She offers him the chance to become her consort, a position that would grant him access to a lot of sensitive information, including the location of Mirax and he has a month to decide.

Using his time wisely, Corran begins sabotaging the Invid’s base on the planet, wearing a hooded cloak and using Jedi techniques the Pirates become scared of the Phantom Jedi.

Tavira brings in a group of Force Sensitives called The Jensaari. Corran encounters them and is almost bested but is saved by the appearance of Luke Skywalker. They capture the five Jensaari and with the help of Corran’ Rogue Squadron wing mate, Ooryl Qrygg.

They interrogate the Jensaari and find out Mirax’s location within Tavari’s headquarters in Yumfla. Corran, Luke, Ooryl and Elegos make their way through the base and rescue Mirax before facing off with more Jensaari and their leader, Saari-kaar, who was with her Master, Nikkos Tyris, when the latter killed Corran’s grandfather. Using his Force powers of mind manipulation, Corran subdues Kaar. The Jensaari are neither Jedi or Sith and Luke extends an offer to Kaar and her disciples to join his Academy to learn to focus on the Light Side and dismiss the Sith practices from their order.

Meanwhile, Tavari’s forces are subdued by Booster Terrik’s ship, The Errant Venture, Rogue Squadron and Pash Cracken’s A-Wings, with the help of Corran’s mind manipulation of Tavares, causing the Pirate leader to escape.

The book is quite large, and for it to be condensed down to three hours a lot gets cut out. Whilst I have never finished the book when I read it as a kid, I did notice some emissions. The first I noticed was early on in Corran’s time at the Jedi Praxeum where Luke shows him to his sleeping quarters in the old Pilots Barracks from the time the Temple was used as a Rebel Base. Luke show Corran marks carved into the wall from him and his fellow pilots before the Death Star attack.

The other missing part was a section where Corran returns to Corellia after meeing Booster Terrik, before heading off to infiltrate the Invids. On Corellia he meets with his Step-Grandfather, Rostek Horn and they discuss Nejaa Halcyon, Rostek’s former friend, Jedi Master and Corran’s paternal Grandfather.

One thing I did enjoy was the introduction of Elegos A’Kla, seeing how he became part of Corran’s life and his connection to Corran’s past. The fact that he is also a descendant of Neeja’s partner is a tad coincidental but, is it coincidence or was is the Force at work… And seeing as I recently read more about the character in ‘The New Jedi Order: Dark Tide (Part 2) – Ruin‘ and his eventual demise and how it affected Corran’s character in that book, the new information from ‘I, Jedi’ really makes me appreciate his arc in that book more.

I enjoyed the change of perspective, using the first person narrative style that is well known for the hard boiled Private Detective stories from Raymond Chandler in the late 1930’s. Whilst it doesn’t have the same tone, the Audiobook certainly does its best to emulate the feel of the genre. It’s not the first time I have questioned the choice of Anthony Heald as narrator but I think a grittier performance would have suited the tone more.

Whilst an enjoyable book, the Audiobook experience was slightly lacking for me. I’m probably going to make an effort to pick the book up in the future for the full experience.

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The High Republic: A Test of Courage by Justina Ireland Review

WARNING!

SPOILERS!!!

Being a Star Wars fan in the UK can have its ups and downs… on the plus side, we tend to get the films earlier in cinemas (by a day). On the down side, we always have to wait longer for the Middle Grade and Young Adult novels to get released, and never as eBooks or Audiobooks.

That was the case with ‘A Test of Courage’, and I’m not going to lie, the wait was killing me. After Charles Soule’s masterpiece ‘Light of the Jedi’ and two amazing issues of ‘The High Republic’ comics, I was chomping at the bit to read this, especially as it was almost a month and a half since it got released.

Justina Ireland’s first entry into ‘The High Republic’ was worth the wait. Having already read the first three chapters (though not the prologue) I had already met four of the five main characters, Vernestra Rwoh, Avon Starros and her Droid Companion, J-6 and Honesty Weft but soon after that we meet our fifth protagonist, Imri Cantaros, a Jedi Padawan. The five of them are the only survivors of the Nihil sabotage of the Steady Wing, a luxury cruiser, the destination, The Starlight Beacon, just in time for the dedication ceremony.

Of course, the ship is sabotaged and the survivors land on a nearby moon called Wevo, where the ecosystem is nothing short of deadly with storms of acid rain and strange plant life that regrows itself every day.

The five heroes must survive and learn to overcome their feelings, with Imri and Honesty mourning the losses of their Master and Father respectively. But when The Nihil responsible for the attack show up, the two of them seek revenge but are stopped when they are captured and subsequently saved by Vernestra and Avon. With the Pirates captured, Vernestra must save Imri from himself as his anger at the loss of his Master starts to lead him towards the Dark Side. And to add to the already brilliant story, a surprise cameo from the fan-favourite Trandoshan Jedi Master Sskeer just makes a great book perfect.

Set during the events of ‘Light of the Jedi’, the Galaxy is still reeling from the Nihil attack on the Legacy’s Run which cements this story at a specific time and gives us an idea on how much time passes during Soule’s novel.

The characters we meet are a motley crew, Vernestra is a newly knighted Jedi and one of the youngest Jedi Knights in history. She’s proud of her achievements but still very unsure as to what she should be doing. She’s well connected to the Force and able to keep the unruly Avon in check.

Thanks to Vernestra, we get to see the introduction of the lightwhip into the Canon, having been previously utilised in the ‘Legends’ timeline. She was able to modify her lightsaber after having a vision in her sleep and spent the rest of the night working on the weapon and it comes in handy.

Avon Starros (an ancestor of Sana Starros) is somewhat of a wild child. A child genius, she’s always trying to learn as much as possible and usually trying to find a way to cause chaos in the process, even going as far as reprogramming J-6, her babysitter/bodyguard Droid, who at the start of the book could give C-3PO a run for his money in being prissy, but thanks to Avon’s shenanigans begins to act more like K-2SO.

Honesty Weft, the son of the Dalnan Ambassador who was travelling to the Starlight Beacon to meet with the Chancellor to discuss the possibilities of Dalna joining The Republic. He is angry at missing out on a rite of passage that his peers would be undertaking And is prone to arguing with his father. After the destruction of the Steady Wing and the death of his father, Honesty becomes angry and racked with guilt because his final interaction with his father had been another argument. As the days pass, his temper begins to wane thanks to Avon and Vernestra. However, once they discover The Nihil on Wevo, he wishes to take action and capture them. It’s at this point when Imri draws Honesty in and feeds off of the boy’s anger and the two of them go to confront the Pirates. During his capture he comes to realise that combat wasn’t the best option and instead asks Avon if it’s possible for Avon’s mother, a Senator, to get Honesty the chance to speak before the Council and plead a case for them to hunt down The Nihil.

Imri is the Padawan of Jedi Master Douglas Sunvale who is also on the Steady Wing when it’s destroyed. Imri is devastated by the loss of his Master, whom he refers to as his Father when thinking a bout him. Over the course of the book he lets the anger and rage fill his emotions until they boil over and he attempts to get revenge against the two Nihil on Wevo. However, after he is captured and then rescued he ends up battling Vernestra before coming to his senses. Back on Starlight Beacon, he believes that he will be punished but learns that if every Jedi was punished and expelled from the Order for one time losing control of their emotions then there wouldn’t be a Jedi Order left.

What’s amazing is that this book deals with the concept of death and how people deal with the loss of loved ones through Imri and Honesty, whilst it also tackles how people deal with those coping with loss through Vernestra and Avon, luckily it’s done in a way that doesn’t feel like a lesson but it comes across subtly. I think this is the first Star Wars book I have read that has been somewhat a morality tale, much like how Lucas planned the films to be.

‘A Test of Courage’ is not only an excellent continuation of ‘The High Republic’ but a fantastic Star Wars story, Justina Ireland’ first entry into the series deserves its place on the New York Times Bestseller list and I am very much looking forward to her next entries to the series, the Manga, ‘The Edge of Balance’ and the YA novel ‘Out of the Shadows’, which will feature Vernestra, Imri and Avon in an all new adventure. Can’t wait.

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Champions of the Force by Kevin J. Anderson Audiobook Review

With Jedi Master Luke Skywalker in a comatose state and Kyp Durron continues his path of destruction, it’s up to Han and Lando to stop the possessed Jedi whilst Leia worries about the ailing Mon Mothma and an attack on the secret location of her and Han’s third child, Anakin.

Kyp uses the Sun Crusher to destroy the Imperial Training Facility on Carida, he finds out that his brother Zeth is on the planet but it’s too late before the sun explodes, wiping the facility out in an instant. He continues his personal mission, attacking other targets when Han and Lando catch up to him at a former Imperial stronghold.

Luke is watched over by Leia, Jacen and Jaina and his students, but when a former informant to Commander Furgan, Terpfen, arrives with the news that Furgan is on his way to Anoth to capture Anakin, Leia, Terpfen and Ackbar give chase, leaving Jacen and Jaina at the Jedi Praxeum.

Luke’s spirit reaches out to Jacen and Jaina, and uses Jacen to protect his body from a swarm of Exar Kun’s evil two headed poisonous flying scorpion creatures. Jacen kills the three with his Uncle’s lightsaber and the twins communicate to the Jedi students that it is Exar Kun’s spirit that is causing all the trouble on Yavin. The Jedi students work together and manage to destroy Exar Kun’s spirit, allowing Luke to return and destroying the hold that Kun had on Kyp.

Kyp, with Lando and Han returns to Coruscant where they allow Kyp to pilot the ship to Kessel where it was to be sent into The Maw. Luke joins Kyp after he undergoes a Jedi Trial to ensure the Dark Side influence had left him, on the mission to assist him with the plan. Han takes Lando to Kessel to meet Mara Jade about him taking on a Spice Mining Operation with the Smugglers Alliance. The Millennium Falcon, along with the Smugglers ships end up in a space battle against Admiral Daala’s Star Destroyer, ‘The Gorgon’ that escaped the Sun Crusher’s attack at The Cauldron Nebula.

The Millennium Falcon flies into the Death Star to destroy the reactor, whilst Luke and Kyp arrive at the Maw Installation where Wedge and Chewie have led an assault on the base to learn the Empire’s secrets. The scientists on the Death Star attack the Installation which leads to an evacuation. Kyp steals the Sun Crusher to take down the Death Star.

Han, Lando and Mara Jade escape the superstructure after damaging the reactor and Kyp fires alone of the Sun Crusher’s missiles, which sends the Death Star into one of The Maw’s Black Holes which also sucks in the Sun Crusher. Kyp escapes the ship in a message container and is saved by the Falcon.

Leia arrives on Anoth in time to stop the Empire from kidnapping Anakin and returns to Yavin IV with her baby. Han brings Kyp back to Kessel after Luke got away with Wedge and Chewie’s team.

Cilghal uses her Force Healing abilities to get rid of the poison in Mon Mothma’s system what had been administered by Furgan at a diplomatic event. Whilst Mon Mothma is healed she is still weak and needs time to recuperate, and she informs Leia that the New Republic Council has voted that Leia is to be the new Chief of State.

Admiral Daala and what remains of ‘The Gorgon’ find a new hiding place where they can rebuild their forces. Leia, Han, Ackbar, Mon Mothma Wedge and Chewie go to a ceremony on Vortex where a new Cathedral of Winds has been constructed after Ackbar’s sabotaged BWing crashed into the old building in the previous novel and back on Yavin IV, Luke holds a ceremony for his newly Knighted students as they prepare to go on the next step of their Jedi paths.

The third part of the ‘Jedi Academy’ Trilogy ties up all of the storylines introduced in the previous novel, ‘Dark Apprentice‘ very nicely, of course with the exception of the surviving Admiral Daala who will return at various points in the EU.

This was the book I remembered the least about from my youth, the only part I could recall was the sequence where spirit Luke guided Jacen Solo with the lightsaber against the evil two headed flying scorpion creatures, so going back to it via the Audiobook was great fun and my enjoyment wasn’t diminished by noticing missing parts to the story. What shocked me was how fast paced it was, it’s at around the halfway point that Luke’s body and spirit are reconnected and Exar Kun, the seemingly big bad of the trilogy.

I was audibly shocked when ‘The Gorgon’ entered the Kessel sequence (I may have said something out loud in the middle of a supermarket when I heard it), and had to double check the end of ‘Dark Apprentice’ to make sure I hadn’t missed something, luckily I hadn’t and the reason for its appearance here is explained a bit later on.

I really enjoyed the fact that Han, Lando and Mara had to perform the same manoeuvre to destroy The Death Star prototype as Lando did in ‘Return of the Jedi’ and the fact that it doesn’t go to plan. The fact that it all comes down to Kyp to save the day really shows his complete change of heart after he’s no longer possessed by Exar Kun, and his actions manage to kill two birds with one stone and get rid of both super weapons.

Kyp’s storyline in this novel is really well played out. Firstly his attempt to save his brother from Imperial service leads to his killing of his last remaining family member. He never really deals with that under Kun’s power, it’s not until he undergoes his ‘cave scene’ in Exar Kun’s old Massassi Temple on Yavin IV where he encounters a vision of Zeth which gives him some closure.

The rest of the Jedi students get to shine in their valiant defeat of Exar Kun, working together to disperse his spirit into oblivion, saving their Master in the process. Cilghal gets a considerably more focus as her Force Healing power is used later on in the book, and she ends up becoming a temporary leader to the students after her time working as a diplomat on Mon Cala.

Listening to this trilogy and revisiting the story after so many years made me enjoy it a whole lot more now I’m older. As a kid this was my favourite series in the EU, and looking back I understand why, but when it comes to this period of the ‘Legends’ releases, I think (so far) that Zahn’s ‘Empire’ Trilogy has claimed that top spot.

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The New Jedi Order: Agents of Chaos (Part 1) – Hero’s Trial

After bumping into Roa, an old friend, Han Solo leaves his friends and family on a quest to track down and wipe out a group of Yuuzhan Vong allies called ‘The Peace Brigade’ and ends up in the middle of a New Republic Special Ops mission with a new ally, a Ryn called Droma.

Meanwhile, the Yuuzhan Vong has formed a plan to rid themselves of the Jedi menace by sending Elan, a Priestess to the New Republic under the guise of a defector with Vergere, her familiar. The Vong make it seem like they are high value targets but they are really on a mission to use a bio-weapon within Elan to kill all the Jedi at a meeting where Luke and the majority of the New Jedi Order will be present.

The Vong plot is thwarted when Han realised that the whole thing is a trap and manages to kill Elan with the bio-weapon she is carrying and lets Vergere escape, after the alien creature gives Han a vial of her tears. On her instructions, Han gives them to Luke to help cure Mara Jade of her life threatening illness.

I was in two minds about this book at first. Whilst I have enjoyed James Luceno’s work in both the Legends and Canon timelines, I have often struggled with his books. I can’t put a finger on why that is, I have thoroughly enjoyed the three other books of his I have read but I end up having to push myself through them.

The same was the case with this book, I ended up taking a few days at a time away from reading which isn’t normal for me, I always seem to find time to read, even if it’s only a chapter or two but once again I really enjoyed his work and am looking forward to the second part.

What I really enjoyed was that this book focused more on Han, who took a bit of a back seat in the ‘Dark Tide Duology’, left to wallow in his grief over losing Chewbacca in ‘Vector Prime’. However, we get to see Han and the rest of his family as well as Luke attending a memorial service for our favourite Wookiee before heading home. Han is just pushing everyone away in his grief and it’s so well written that anyone who has lost anyone will understand what Han is feeling and going through. His ire is especially directed at Anakin, his youngest son, who was with him when Chewie died on Sernpedial and was the one who flew the Falcon away from the planet as Chewie took his last stand.

With his friend Roa, a former Smuggling associate and teacher, who also lost someone, his wife, during the war, the two form an alliance on common ground and their sights are set on ‘The Peace Brigade’. Following leads they end up in the wrong place at the wrong time, on a space station above Ord Mantell when the Vong attack the station, using a snake like creature to suck people from the station, Han is able to rescue refugees with Droma. Their initial bickering leads to an unlikely friendship that really drives their scenes in the second half of the book, luckily he doesn’t become a replacement for Chewie but he does fill a hole for Han as a companion on adventures. After Droma saves Han’s life, Han vows to help his new friend find other members of his species who have been scattered around the Galaxy.

The Yuuzhan Vong plot of fake defectors being used to kill enemies isn’t a new one, but the way they play the New Republic into believing Elan has truly had a change of heart is interesting, by mounting two attacks to try to reclaim her and Vergere but feinting a defeat, something that goes against the Vong beliefs. It just goes to show how much they have begun to fear Luke Skywalker and the rest of the Jedi. It’s fortunate that Han catches on to the plot which would have led to the majority of the Order killed and the Galaxy without the hope that they inspire.

I am pleased that Han is able to patch things up with Anakin by the end of this book, reading about how the two of them were at odds was pretty rough for both characters, especially when Anakin could have died numerous times in the ‘Dark Tide Trilogy’ with their relationship strained as it was surely would have been a nail in the coffin for Han as well. It’s also great to get back to a more recognisable Han Solo.

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Dark Apprentice by Kevin J. Anderson Audiobook Review

As Luke’s Jedi Academy grows, so does a Dark evil, threatening to destroy the fledgling Jedi Order before it had even begun, meanwhile, Princess Leia has to contend with an ailing Mon Mothma and the sudden depart of Admiral Ackbar after piloting error caused the Mon Calamari to crash his ship into a historic monument on the planet Vortex. Meanwhile, Admiral Daala begins her attack on the New Republic, intent on avenging the fall of the Empire.

Oddly enough, I seemed to remember a lot more from this book than I did Jedi Search in terms of the story but I couldn’t tell you what was missing in the Abridged version of the Audiobook.

The story follows on about a month after ‘Jedi Search’, Luke’s Academy has grown, with more students having been recruited, numbering at 12. His lessons consist of learning from a Jedi Holocron and independent study. However one student, Gantoris, has far exceeded the skills of his peers. However, his power comes not from Luke’s teachings, but from the spirit of Exar Kun, an ancient Sith Lord. Kun shows Gantoris how to build a lightsaber and once the weapon is completed he challenges Luke to a duel, Luke bests Gantoris who is later found dead, immolated by Exar Kun.

Meanwhile, Leia and Ackbar narrowly avoid death when Ackbar’s modified B-Wing Fighter crash lands killing thousands, Ackbar resigns his command as a result. It turns out to be a Ship Technician who tampered with the Admiral’s fighter under the influence of Imperal brain implants. The Tech leaves Coruscant and turns out to be working for the Overseer of the Carida Training Facility, Furgan and gives the Imperial leader the location of Han and Leia’s third child, Anakin.

Han and Kyp, are taking time to get Kyp acquainted with normal life, but Han is pulled away, leaving Kyp to help dispose of the Sun Crusher in the Gas Planet of Yavin before he joins Luke’s Academy.

Han and Lando play a game of Sabacc for the Millennium Falcon which Han loses.

Leia learns that Mon Mothma is dying, and an attempt to maintain normality in the New Republic she goes to Mon Cala, and with the help of a Force Sensitive Mon Cala, Cilghal, she finds Ackbar.

Admiral Daala makes her way across the Galaxy. After losing one of her four Star Destroyers in The Maw, she takes what is left of her forces and attacks a settlement on Dantooine, wiping out the population. Her attention then turns to Mon Cala.

As Kyp begins his training, he is targeted by Exar Kun. Kyp begins to act out against Luke and his teachings. When Mara Jade arrives to do some training, Kyp steals her Z-95 Headhunter and finds Qui Xux who is with Wedge on Ithor. As the two become romantically linked, the happiness is cut short when Wedge finds her in tears with little memories left aft Kyp attacked her and stole her memories of how to operate the Sun Crusher.

Daala’s forces arrive at Mo Cala. Leia, Cilghal and Ackbar work furiously to fend off their attackers. Han also gets word of the attack and attenpts to commandeer the Falcon from Lando. On the way, they play another Sabacc game and Han wins back the ship.

The Battle of Mon Cala is devastating for the people of the planet, but Ackbar manages to turn the tide by remote piloting a Mon Cal ship and crashing it into one of Daala’s Star Destroyers. The battle is lost for the Empire and they retreat to The Cauldron Nebula.

Kyp returns to Yavin IV, and with the help of Exar Kun, retrieves the Sun Crusher from the planet Yavin before facing Luke and rips Luke’s soul from his body,l leaving his body in a coma-like state before taking the Sun Crusher to The Cauldron Nebula and wiping out Daala and her remaining forces.

The ante is certainly upped across the board from ‘Jedi Search’. Gantoris prophecy of his end coming at the hands of the Dark Man comes to pass is a more sinister way than I could have imagined (as a kid). The reveal of Exar Kun and the way he is described as almost oozing out of the wall is creepy.

The fall of Kyp Durron was easily predicted. In ‘Jedi Search’ we see him tapping into the Dark Side because the only way he could control the Force was by tapping into his anger. However, the Audiobook makes the transition go faster than Anakin in ‘Revenge of the Sith’, of course this is all down the to abridgement and Kyp’s descent to the Dark Side takes a bit longer. Once he’s gone Dark, his power is seemingly limitless with the assistance of Exar Kun. His mind manipulation of Qui Xux is horrifying and of course it comes at the worst time ever, just as her romance with Wedge is blossoming. Followed by his ability to pull the Sun Crusher from the heat of Yavin AND rip Luke’s souls from his body, it’s easy to say that Kyp is incredibly over-powered. It’s easy to say that someone can be incredibly strong with the Force, but even Luke has limits, which are noticeable even in ‘The New Jedi Order’ when he becomes exhausted after using the Force too much (and hey, just look at ‘The Last Jedi’ when he Force Projected which led to his death).

The Audiobook sidelines Han considerably. He gets a handful of moments, but they are reduced somewhat. Whilst Han gets a back seat here, it was Leia who got a back seat in the ‘Jedi Search’ Audiobook, so really, given the abridgement whittles the book down to its most important plot lines, and a second Sabacc game would have taken too much time away from the rest of the story at Mon Cala.

The introduction of Luke’s other new students, Dorsk 81, Tionne, Kirana Ti and Kam Soulsar get sidelined for the most part, except for Tionne who gets one moment with Kyp, but mainly the students who get most of the attention are Gantoris and Kyp. Again understandable but I do feel that this book has a lot of content that was skipped.

Overall I did enjoy the story as it was told but I did want more and I feel the need to pick up the whole trilogy for a proper revisit.

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The High Republic Adventures Issue 1 – Collision Course

WARNING!!!

SPOILERS!!!

This is the first issue of any of the IDW Star Wars comics and if this is any indication of the quality of the main series then I’ve got a lot of reading to do because it’s good!

The highly anticipated first issue of Older’s series does not disappoint (except for the lack of Sskeer) and introduces us to a whole range of new Padawan Learners who are under the tutelage of Masters Yoda and Torban Buck as they are called to the planet Trymant IV to protect its capital city from destruction as an Emergence of wreckage from the Legacy Run disaster occurs in the system.

On the planet, the Padawans try to help the people evacuate but the only ship big enough is a Spider Cruiser that belongs to The Nihil, who are protecting the leader of the city, whose population are fearful of and and have nothing but contempt for the Jedi and other Force Users.

One of the population, a young girl called Zeen, is a Force User and keeps her powers secret until a large piece of wreckage is about to crush her, her friend and the group of Padawans, she reaches out with the Force and stops the wreckage landing. With the help of the Jedi they save the people from the debris but in their distraction find that they are surrounded by The Nihil.

As I said before, we are introduced to a number of new characters. Firstly, Zeen, who has spent her life hiding her growing connection to Force from those around her, including her best friend Krix, who, when Zeen reveals her powers turns on her in a horrific manner. Luckily she is in the company of Jedi and will be able to join them.

Speaking of the Jedi, there are quite a few Padawans in Yoda’s care, but there are three that the book focus’ on, Lula Talisola, a human female who is the second main protagonist along with Zeen. Lula is intelligent and skilled but unsure of herself and how she will perform in the field. Her two friends, Qort and Farzala are her backup and seem very confident with following Lula’s lead, showing that they trust her judgment.

The writing is top notch and the art looks wonderful. The art team really managed to capture the terrifying nature of the Emergences, as these massive storms in space, for a comic that is geared towards a younger audience that looks scary (and I loved it). Just imagine if they ever showed one in live action.

A solid introduction to some great new characters. After initially being wary of Older helming a series after disliking his ‘Solo’ Tie-In novel ‘Last Shot’, needless to say my trepidation was unnecessary and all I can really say now is being on the next issue.

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#CollectionCorner – The Mandalorian (Beskar Armour) Black Series Figure

What a beautiful figure! What amazing packaging! It’s so beautiful!

This was one of those additions to the collection that just made my day when it arrived from Star Action Figures (mere days after the influx that was the whole set of ‘Rebels’ figures).

The Black Series figures have always had a high level of detail, sometimes there are flops, just look at Krennic from the ‘Rogue One’ set, or any of the Poe Dameron figures, and it’s always easy to get a masked character spot on. But this figure looks amazing.

The little details really accentuate the greatness. The wrinkles and folds in the under-suit look well worn and the brown really highlights the silver of the beskar, which could look awful but the contrast really lets the silver shine.

The helmet is the same sculpt at the Triple Force Friday 2019 release with a shinier paint job and the two blasters are also the same, but everything else looks new (perhaps the belt and bandolier are the same too). The addition of the Jet Pack is nice, we essentially got a Season 2 version of the character before the show came out.

One detail that really makes me smile is the Mudhorn Signet on the pauldron. It’s a really, really nice touch and looks great.

The new packaging is amazing. The artwork on the side is stunning. The orange tone really gives the character a Western feel, and, when put together with others in the series (Mandalorian, Clone Wars, Revels, Return of the Jedi etc.) they make a great looking mural.

It’s a really great addition to my collection and an overall great figure.

Jedi Search by Kevin J. Anderson Audiobook Review

If ever there was a trilogy of books that I regretted getting rid of other than Timothy Zahn’s ‘Empire Trilogy’ it’s Kevin J. Anderson’s Jedi Academy Trilogy.

‘Jedi Search’ was one of my most-read Star Wars books when I was younger, along with the rest of the trilogy, for me it was all about the training of new Jedi. I was always fascinated in the kinds of lessons they would have had, nothing as dull as Maths and Science that I was relegated to in real life.

And whilst ‘Jedi Search’ doesn’t delve too deeply into the lessons of new Jedi, it introduces us to some potential Jedi recruits. Now it has been many years since I read this book and diving back in with the Audiobook was something I was greatly looking forward to, and whilst it was enjoyable, and I was reminded of parts of the book it had forgotten (the Lando subplot), there were things that I did remember that were missed out, but that’s what you get with Abridged versions.

Han and Chewie are sent to Kessel to try to bring the Spice Mining planet into the New Republic, unfortunately, Moruth Doole who runs the Spice Mining operation has a few problems with Han Solo from their past dealings and afterHan and Chewie are captured they are forced to work in the Spice Mines.

Working in the mines they meet Kyp Durron, a young man who has Force abilities. When Han volunteers the three of them to help scout a fresh mine and their handlers are killed by a native creature, the three hatch an escape where they steal an old Imperial Shuttle but their escape sends them into The Maw, a series of Black Holes. Kyp navigates The Maw using the Force but they end up being captured by Admiral Daala, a former protégé of Grand Moff Tarkin who now runs the Maw installation where they developed Imperial Superweapons, designed by Qui Xux who believed her creations were to be used for good (the Death Star was meant to be used to break up dead planets for mining purposes), the last weapon she made was The Sun Crusher.

After she learns that her creations were used for evil, she breaks Han out and they break out Chewie and Kyp and they steal the Sun Crusher and escape the Maw, being chased by Daala and her Four Star Destroyers.

Meanwhile, Luke asks the New Republic for their blessing to start a Jedi Academy and to opportunity to find and trail potential Jedi. He finds two possible students, Gantoris and Streen. When they arrive back on Coruscant, Luke meets with Lando who had also been on a trip to locate a potential Jedi, but what he, R2 and C-3PO did was stop a gambler rigging races to escape from his suitor. Leia tells Luke and Lando that Han isn’t back, he’s almost a week overdue and that he had missed his children Jacen and Jaina finally arriving on Coruscant after they had been placed in hiding to thwart kidnapping attempts.

Luke and Lando travel to Kessel, pose as potential investors and find that the Millennium Falcon has been put into service on Kessel. They steal back the Falcon and in the ensuing chase, the Falcon and The Sun Crusher cross paths and the heroes work together to escape when the Imperial and Kessel forces begin to attack each other.

Back on Coruscant, Han is reunited with his family, he also introduce Luke to Kyp and they find out that Kyp has a very strong affinity for the Force, making Luke very excited to begin the young man’s training.

Two scenes that were noticeably omitted in the audio book that I remembered from my youth are the discovery of a device that is able to measure an individual’s Force ability. Luke uses it on himself and Leia before using it in Wedge, which of course yielded negative results. The device is mentioned however when Lando uses it to find out if their potential Jedi is actually that (obviously not).

The second is on Bespin when Luke and Gantoris meet Streen, Luke gives them an exercise where they are to use the Force to nudge a spire making local birds fly away. Both of the Jedi trainees are able to do this, Gantoris even manages to do it without gesturing with his hands, mastering the art of telekinesis quickly.

Despite the omissions, I still enjoyed the Audiobook. Anthony Heald narrates it well, although he doesn’t rank anywhere near to Marc Thompson in my book (seriously that man is Star Wars royalty). I’ve already started ‘Dark Apprentice’, the second in the ‘Jedi Academy’ Trilogy and boy is it bringing back memories.

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