Books

Review – Star Wars: A New Dawn

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Review – Star Wars: A New Dawn

It was the Dark Times. Evil had triumphed, a light had gone out of the world, and people had lost hope.

The destruction of the Jedi? No, I’m talking about how I felt right after Star Wars Episode 3, which is why I’ve never seen an episode of Star Wars Rebels. After the Prequels I pretty much boycotted anything Star Wars-related and sulked.

But I’ve had time to heal, and I have hope for the future (imagine some John Williams music starting in the background) and a ton of people have told me I’m missing out if I don’t watch the show. And I will, especially now that I’ve read Star Wars: A New Dawn, by John Jackson Miller. I thought it was fun, but it’s a book that’ll be a lot more fun for anyone who’s gotten to know and love the characters already.

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Review: Star Wars – Aftermath

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Review: Star Wars – Aftermath

             “We have a problem…”

Remember the ending of Return of the Jedi, with the Ewok celebration (and in the re-release, the footage of liberated cities pulling down statues of Emperor Palpatine)? Star Wars: Aftermath starts just a few seconds after that, right when things start to go wrong.

Imperial troops fire indiscriminately into the celebrating crowds, dissidents are rounded up and imprisoned, and supporters of the old regime scramble for power. The Emperor is dead, but the Empire itself is far from gone.

I was a little worried about picking this one up. Everything else I’ve read has been from the Expanded Universe; this is the first novel set in a brand-new timeline: new characters, new story. How exactly will this measure up to what we’ve seen before?

The verdict? I liked it. I liked it a lot. It’s less “Journey to The Force Awakens” and more “What Happened In A Few Days Right After The Last Movie,” but Chuck Wendig obviously enjoyed playing in the Star Wars sandbox.

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Review: Star Wars – The Crystal Star

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Review: Star Wars – The Crystal Star

Continuing our month of Star Wars reviews, I wanted to take a look at 1994’s The Crystal Star by Vonda McIntyre, which picks up five or six years after Return of the Jedi.

There’s a lot of Expanded Universe books that got into some very deep subjects; topics that questioned the nature of morality, power, responsibility, and honor.

This is not one of those books.

It’s really just a fun adventure. The bad guy is completely rotten, the good guys fight the good fight, and there’s aliens all over the place. We get disguises, renegade Jedi, betrayal, brainwashing, world-ships, and centaurs. How could it not be fun?

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Review: After Alice

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Review: After Alice

Gregory Maguire has gotten pretty good at giving a voice to minor characters of major fairy tales; witches and stepsisters get a little more to say in books like Wicked, Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, and Mirror Mirror.

Now he’s taking another look at Alice in Wonderland, and instead of following Alice, we follow someone who’s following her. Click the jump for a review of Gregory Maguire’s After Alice.

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Review: Heir To The Empire

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Review: Heir To The Empire

“You’re not the last of the old Jedi, Luke, you’re the first of the new.”

After twenty-four years of Star Wars books, it’s hard to put into words just how excited fans were when the first Star Wars novel post-Return of the Jedi was announced. Sure we’d had comic books and TV shows set in the same universe. But this was the first story – officially sanctioned by George Lucas himself – that continued the adventures of all our favorite characters, finally answering the question we’d been asking in the eight years since the last film ended: “And THEN what happened!?”

Timothy Zahn’s Heir To The Empire was more than a spin-off. This was a sequel.

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Review – Star Wars Battlefront: Twilight Company

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Review – Star Wars Battlefront: Twilight Company

You don’t need to have seen a Star Wars movie, or played the Battlefront game, to read Star Wars Battlefront: Twilight Company. It’s a story that could be set in any universe. Alexander Freed has done such a good job of setting the scene and introducing the characters, you could be completely ignorant of all things Star Wars and still get caught up in the story.

Of course, the book is a lot more fun when you recognize someone you know.

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Review: Splinter of the Mind’s Eye

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Review: Splinter of the Mind’s Eye

Only seventeen more days until Star Wars: The Force Awakens is finally released! To celebrate, all of the book reviews in December will be Star Wars themed. There’s over thirty years of novels to choose from after all, so there shouldn’t be any trouble finding material. And it seems only fitting to start by going all the way back to the beginning.

The book for this week’s review…is not the very first Star Wars book. That honor is actually held by the SW: A New Hope novelization (ghost written by Alan Dean Foster), which came out six months before the movie did, so technically the Star Wars books are older than the film franchise…I’m digressing too much, aren’t I? Moving on.

Splinter of the Mind’s Eye (also written by Alan Dean Foster) came out a year after A New Hope, and was the first officially-licensed book continuing the adventures of Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia.

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Review: Nightwise

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Review: Nightwise

It was supposed to be one last favor for an old friend: track down the man who tortured and murdered Branko Bojich’s wife (along with many, many other people) and exact revenge so that a dying man could have some measure of peace in his last few days. Dusan Slorzack seems to have dropped off the face of the earth, but the search for him is being done by none other than legendary Laytham Ballard, world-famous wizard. Shouldn’t be too much trouble.

At least that’s what he thinks until a possible connection to Slorzack turns up dead. And then another. And another. Fires and strangulations and at least one car bomb, seven bodies in all, sending a very clear message: Back off.  Now Ballard has to go on the run while trying to find a Serbian war criminal with possible ties to the Devil himself, all without getting killed by demons, disappeared by dirty cops, or losing any more pieces of his soul than he’s already traded away.

R.S. Belcher’s first two books were set in the Old West in a little town that’s gotten surprisingly used to supernatural events. His latest novel, Nightwise, is a modern day urban fantasy where supernatural events are everywhere, with magicians, gods, and monsters in a life-or-death struggle – or just trying to make a living – all taking place just below the surface of what the rest of us believe is “reality”.

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Review: The Bazaar of Bad Dreams

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Review: The Bazaar of Bad Dreams

Anyone who regularly reads my book reviews will know I love short story collections. Anthologies by many different authors are great; collections by one of my favorite authors are even better. And there are two authors who could make me run a marathon if they told me they had a new collection waiting for me at the end. One of them is Neil Gaiman, the other is Stephen King.

Released two days after Halloween (dammit, Stephen, you had one job), The Bazaar of Bad Dreams is a sampler of the weird and the dark and, strangely enough, the mundane. King paints a picture of himself in the introduction as a street vendor laying out his handcrafted wares after midnight, and finishes with the warning, “Feel free to examine them, but please be careful. The best of them have teeth.”

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Review: Welcome To Night Vale – A Novel

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Review: Welcome To Night Vale – A Novel

Maybe she hadn’t seen anything. Maybe she had come into existence seconds ago and made up every moment until this moment to explain how she came to be sitting in this booth in this diner.

As long-time fans of the podcast will tell you, Night Vale is a little desert town where the scenario described above isn’t just plausible, it’s probably one of the only explanations that will make any sense at all.

For people who aren’t fans of the podcast, who have never wondered about the weirdness of time, questioned the existence of angels, or imagined a town where feral used-car salesmen bay at the moon, don’t worry, you don’t need to have listened to a single episode to appreciate how gloriously weird and incomprehensible this novel can be.

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