Sunday, July 20, 2014

Conquest: Lots of Things Changin' on Yavin IV


The New Jedi Order was my first passion in Star Wars literature. Soon after seeing the movies for the first time, I got caught up in this ongoing story about Jedi fighting aliens. About ten years later I’m re-reading the series with a fresh perspective.

"Edge of Victory I: Conquest," published in 2001, is the first Star Wars novel by Greg Keyes. At the time of its writing he was working on a degree in anthropology, and between Edge of Victory and his other New Jedi Order contributions one can see how his interest in cultures might have helped him flesh out the Yuuzhan Vong. This book is the one which I could hand to someone and say “this is why the New Jedi Order means a lot to me” - but I also wouldn’t expect it to convert them, wouldn’t expect it to stick in their brain the same way it did for me.

It is one of my favorite novels of the New Jedi Order because of the pathos and power of Tahiri’s transformation, and the shock of seeing both the Jedi Temple and Rebel base destroyed. Those events were a much smaller part of the book than I remembered, though.  Maybe there’s more form Riina’s perspective in the next book, but I remember her having to fight between two personalities more than was shown in “Conquest.” I also distinctly remember the damutek crushing the temple, but there was only one line of dialogue describing that in the book. I must have constructed more out of my own attachment to these scenes - unless they are detailed in the sequel.

 I was a big fan of the Jedi Academy trilogy, despite its flaws. The destruction of the temple hit me hardest out of all the irreplaceable losses in the New Jedi Order. I could have sworn I remember descriptions of stone cracking, the temple flattening, Yuuzhan Vong shovel-beasts scooping up the pieces. I suppose not.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Crystal Clarke and Pip Andersen join Episode VII

pip-crystalA parkour practitioner and an American actress living in the UK are the two picks from the Episode VII open casting call, announced today.
“The Star Wars universe has always been about discovering and nurturing young talent and in casting Episode VII we wanted to remain absolutely faithful to this tradition. We are delighted that so many travelled to see us at the open casting calls and that we have been able to make Crystal and Pip a part of the film,” said producer and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy.
 Parkour screams Darth Maul-style Sith character to me.

Today's post will be brief, but I also have things to say about the top 10 "Legends" Jedi at Den of Geek. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Galaxy Begins to Fall in Balance Point New Jedi Order was my first passion in Star Wars literature. Soon after seeing the movies for the first time, I got caught up in this ongoing story about Jedi fighting aliens. About ten years later I’m re-reading the series with a fresh perspective.
One of the downsides of having originally read the NJO mostly out of order almost ten years ago is that I tend to forget what I've read and what I haven't. Balance Point, for instance, with its single setting, female bonding, and the introduction of Tsavong Lah, didn't feel familiar. Jacen's vision and Mara's child, also introduced here and continued later in the series, did.

Balance Point is where things really start to go downhill for the New Republic. The Yuuzhan Vong gain an access point into the Core, and the New Republic finds itself tripping over its own feet with treacherous Peace Brigade groups, selfish Hutts, and an excess of refugees.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir #2 Review

Son of Dathomir is a clash of dark side heavyweights. Darth Sidious sought in the first issue to lure Mother Talzin into the open, while in #2 she quickly deduces this and makes her own strategy. Dooku aims to defeat Talzin (whom he calls “an older and fouler creature” in some of the issue’s best dialogue.) General Grievous is along for the ride, but performs his usual act of single-mindedly deploying alternatively ominous and quippy droids.

It’s a fast-paced, tense story, and just a few panels make the Pykes more sympathetic than ever before.

Sometimes it’s too fast, though. The action, sometimes, reminiscent of "The Phantom Menace," is oddly paced at times, with text to indicate obvious cinematic time or scene skips. A two-page spread containing one word of dialogue is pretty but static, with obtrusive, repetitive sound effects. (Perhaps some space could have been given to the civilians of Ord Mantell, who are, in an issue set in a city, nonexistent.) Maul’s relationship with his Mandalorians isn’t deepened. Instead, it feels very similar to that of a Jedi general with their clone troopers.

Kast and Saxon are still merely minions following the Death Watch party line. Like in issue #1, some fights that seemed like they should be climactic were brief, in Grievous’ case particularly.

Maul and Talzin seen to have a much stronger relationship in this issue than even in "The Clone Wars," and I am curious to see the roots of it - whether she’s using him, whether he’s grateful to go back to being someone’s apprentice and attack dog. Issue #2 doesn’t want to tell us, though. The Nightbrother leader Viscus knew both of Maul’s brothers, but thus far there is no mention of that connection - just “There is no time for a briefing,” and Mandalorians standing together like toy soldiers.

Every character here has history with one another, but the comic focuses on their present, and therefore doesn’t get beyond the surface of a battle fought on neutral ground. I’m enjoying the series, but, like last issue, look forward to seeing #2 as a preface for something more.