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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