Wednesday, November 18, 2009

My Humble Return

Hey all!

It's been a while. Things have been crazy, but it looks like I'll have some time to do some serious reading/blogging come winter break in December. Keep your eyes peeled for entries on Death Troopers (which I am happy to discover happens right around the time period I'm in ATM, right around Rebel Dawn) and Imperial Commando: 501st. In the meantime, I managed to pick up two comics for your review-reading pleasure:

Knights of the Old Republic, Volume Seven

3,963 years BBY

Yeah, buddy. I love this series. Though, to be honest, I didn't have high expectations for this particular volume. I was afraid it was going to be just another one of those transitional story arcs where not much happens. I mean, starting a story-arc with the premise to the tune of, '"Free at last from the false charges against him, former Jedi student Zayne Carrick is ready and able to seek his fortune across the galaxy" (back cover synopsis) sounds like John Jackson Miller, quite frankly, ran out of ideas. Well, I wasn't as disappointed as I expected.

For the most part, it was a cut-and-dry transitional storyline. This volume contains three more or less separate adventures. But they were all unusually entertaining. First, Gryph's plan to con several frontier planet investors out of their (probably not so) hard earned cash results in some unexpected consequences. Meh. But what makes it worthwhile is the discovery that Jarael actually has the ability to (***censored***). And Slysk, the Trando pilot, is friggin hilarious in this one. Next, the crew stumbles upon a lost senatorial ship filled with corpses... sound like Death Troopers? Well, it's not, but let's just say the lone diminutive survivor is not as cute and cuddly as he seems. For the sake of not being too much of a spoiler, I will say no more. The last one takes place on what can be best described as the Disney World of gladiatorial arenas. As far as I'm concerned, a Mandalorian (e.g. Rohlan) fighting in a gladiatorial arena pretty much feeds my awesome bug.

In general, the art in the volume was particularly notable for me. As some of you may already know, this comic series is drawn by a wide array of artists, lending several different visual interpretations to the series. One that stood out for me was Dean Zachary's style (the second story), which, for me, is an odd mixture of real and surreal artwork. Bong Dazo (first story) is still my favorite for this series though.

Otherwise, all the revelations made concerning Jarael have certainly left me eagerly anticipating Volume 8 in the Spring and the (*sniff*) final volume later on.

Purge: Seconds To Die (one-shot comic)

Shortly after Episode III, 19 years BBY

My first reaction: Wait..what? Plo Koon!?! Surely Dave Filoni had something to do with this.

My realization soon after: Oh, that's Sha Koon, his niece.

Apparently Sha Koon survived Order 66. And, in a desperate attempt to destroy the Sith, she contacts the Emperor, claiming to want to become his new apprentice. Obviously, the Emperor was not fooled and sent Vader to "test" (code for "dispatch") the young Jedi.

The entire story is told in the final moments of Sha Koon's life (thus the title). I hope that wasn't a spoiler for anyone. I mean, really, did you expect her to win?

My overall opinion: "meh"

John Ostrander has done much better work. As for the art- kind of goofy at times (i.e. the Emperor). But hey, it was only $4. I'm not too upset.

Until Next time, MTFBWY, A

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Clone Wars: Secret Missions #1: Breakout Squad

Clone Wars: Secret Missions #1: Breakout Squad by Ryder Windham

circa 7 months ABG (circa 22 years BBY)

Despite the fact that this is a "young reader's" book, I enjoyed it. I've never been hesitant to pick up the books from Jude Watson's series (i.e. Jedi Apprentice, The Last of the Jedi) so why should I start now? I've greatly enjoyed previous works by Windham, especially his biographies- The Rise and Fall of Darth Vader, The Life and Legend of Obi-Wan Kenobi, and A New Hope: The Life of Luke Skywalker.

From the get go, what attracted me to this book most was the cover. A Chiss Jedi? I've never seen that one before. Nuru Kungarama, the clever Padawan of Ring-Sol Ambase, quietly follows his Master to the planet Kynachi, where a heavy Trade Federation blockade has cut off all contact with the Republic. But while the Kynachi claim neutrality in the Clone Wars, a discovery within the wreckage of the infamous Separatist super-weapon, the Malevolence, points towards uniquely Kynachi engineering. Little did young Nuru know that his Master would be incapacitated by a traitor in the squad, and that Nuru himself would be thrust into leading a squad of new recruits on an extremely hostile planet. But the mission must go on, and Nuru will stop at nothing to save his Master.

Something I appreciate most about this book is that it's one of the first books (there's also, for example, Wild Space by Karen Traviss) that adds some literary depth to the Star Wars: Clone Wars series. As far as I can tell, this story takes place between Season 1 and 2, as Cad Bane is a major character. However, it could be that this is Bane's first mission for Sidious. Speaking of the Dark Lord, his plot unfolding in this series is especially devious....I'll say no more. Not only that but bringing the Chiss into this (the second book will address this further) is a nice little addition, as the last time I heard from them was in Outbound Flight, 27 years BBY.

Nonetheless, this series could go either way. But I have faith in Ryder Windham. I'll be sure to watch this series grow "with great interest".

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Changing Seasons

Journal Update
12-4 months BBY

The keen eye will notice I took the "weekly" out of the subtitle for this blog. That's because the "weekly journal" updates will have to go on indefinite hiatus, as my school work-load this quarter is on the crazy side. My Star Wars reading will, of course, suffer for it.

On the bright side, I feel like this gives me an opportunity taking a more creative (somewhat anthropological and political) look at how the galaxy as a whole is changing, as well as its key villains and heroes. Thus, I'll try to incorporate the smaller things into a new format for my posts. And, as usual, I'll keep up the major book/comic/game reviews as I go.

Well, on with it then!

As I get closer and closer to Episode IV, events continue to take on a very familiar taste. I've really been able to see the contrast between the blooming Empire of 19-2 years BBY, versus the cold and callous regime we all remember in the OT. Let me expand on that. Looking back at pieces of EU material like Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader, The Force Unleashed, or the Last of The Jedi series, the Empire was significantly more jumpy and extreme. Not only were they struggling to establish a whole new Galactic Order, but even the dealings of the Vader and Palpatine were shrouded in uncertainty. A case in point example is Vader's questioning of his role in relation to Palpatine and to his old identity. Could he defeat him alone? Does Palpatine see him as an equal or is he just a place-marker for a "far younger and more powerful" apprentice? Finally, how can Vader, so plagued by attachment, let go of the Jedi he used to be or the woman he loved? These particular dilemmas are rife in all of the titles listed above.

But the nature of the Empire has changed in both subtle and dramatic ways. As I am mere months away from A New Hope, the Empire has really become that cold, calculating, and arrogant dictatorship that we saw in the original film. Although the Rebel threat is bigger than ever before, so seem to be the egos of the Imperial rank-and-file. While Vader and Palpatine are surely worried about the Rebellion that they have "unwittingly created" (The Force Unleashed), there is a sense that even they have fallen into a bit of complacency. One clear cause of this is that Vader has seriously scaled down on the Jedi hunting, as they are almost completely wiped out. Grand Moff Tarkin has also inched closer and closer to the center stage with his "Doctrine of Fear" ("Fear will keep the local systems in line"- ANH). His journal entries in the Death Star Technical Companion exemplify his growing confidence that once the Death Star is created, no force would seriously threaten or dare challenge the Empire.

So what do stagnant imperial leaders do while they laze around on their hover-couches? Plot against one other, of course! Recent readings have really highlighted the ruthless nature of Imperial complacency. Empire Volume One: Betrayal speaks for itself as a group of Grand Moffs try to assassinate the Emperor, but only succeed in assassinating themselves. Given this new air of treachery, Darth Vader is given a new task by the Emperor- keep an eye on Tarkin and his new toy. As revealed in Mara Jade: By The Emperor's Hand #0, Palpatine does not take an optimistic or idealistic view of Tarkin's rise to prestige.

But the Empire isn't the only one playing hard-ball. In Rebel Dawn, Jabba essentially murders his Aunt Jiliac and his infant cousin, insuring his place as leader of Desilijic. At the same time, Bria Tharen breaks the last straw with Han Solo by flat-out using the smuggler and his allies to further the causes of the Rebel Alliance- with no reward. Not to mention attempts by Bib Fortuna to wipe out his slimy master in Jabba The Hutt: The Art of the Deal.

But how will the Empire change when the Rebel Alliance achieves it first great victory? The Death Star, one could say, is a symbol of Imperial complacency. What will be the crucial differences in the political setting of the Empire or the GFFA as a whole when we finally come to Episode V?

Well, I hope you've enjoyed a change of pace! Let me know what you think of my new direction. More coming soon enough!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Rebel Dawn

Rebel Dawn by A.C. Crispin

3-0 years BBY

Every once in a while you come across a book that literally blows your mind. For me, a good book keep me excited the entire way through, ties plot points (and, for Star Wars, continuity points) together seamlessly, has a diverse and engaging cast of characters, and is well-written overall. Rebel Dawn is all of this and more. Call me crazy, but this just might be my favorite BBY book.

Let's break it down by the qualities I listed above...

I was always glad to pick up this book. It just had an exciting and foreboding feel to it. This story is pretty long for a Star Wars adventure, but I never even noticed that until I finished it. I can usually only read a book for about an hour straight (covering maybe 50 pages), but Rebel Dawn was so engaging that I found myself spending half my day reading it- and loving every minute.

When I think of what attracts me the most about this story, it has to be the astonishing smoothness with which it both creates it own story yet integrates so many others. Rebel Dawn takes place over 3 years and, being the obsessive galactic historian I am, I frequently had to put it down in order to read other books. The most notable interruptions were the Han Solo Adventures: At Stars' End, Han Solo's Revenge The Lost Legacy. Now, you would think A.C. Crispin would have been hard-pressed to incorporate this huge gap (during which Han is off fortune-hunting in the Corporate Sector). Not at all. In a brilliant move, Crispin changed the entire focus of the book away from Han and towards three other key characters: Bria Tharen, Jabba The Hutt, and Durga The Hutt. This book also covers a lot of continuity ground as well. It includes infamous events such as how and why Han and Chewie had to drop their spice cargo, how the Death Star plans reach the Tantive IV, and how Jabba became the leader of the Desilijic kajidic (Hutt clan).

The characters featured in this tale are some of the most iconic in the GFFA. Where else can you find Han, Chewie, Lando, Jabba, Boba Fett, Prince Xizor, Guri, Dash Rendar, Winter, and more? The list just goes on and on. This doesn't even include the numerous references to other major characters (i.e. Obi-Wan, Luke, Mon Mothma).

Finally, A.C. Crispin is an amazing writer. She may be even be my favorite (no disrespect to the mighty Zahn). Her reading is so natural and flowing. And she really created a story that, if I had to pick, would be my personal pick for a one-shot Star Wars movie. This really felt like belonged with the OT. In fact, it seems that this is truly a heartfelt welcome for me to the ABY galaxy.

If I scored this book out of 10, it would get a thousand.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Jabba The Hutt: The Art of the Deal

Jabba The Hutt: The Art of the Deal

12-4 months BBY

Calling all criminal scum! If you want to learn a thing or two about making your way on the sultry side of the galaxy, this is the lesson for you. Perhaps the goriest Star Wars comic I have ever seen, Jabba The Hutt: The Art of the Deal is a collection of four short stories starring the galaxy's most infamous crime lord. Follow Jabba as he deftly swindles fellow crime lords, foils pirate princesses, and, quite literally, smashes the opposition.

There are some definite pros and cons to this book. To be honest, the art in this comic was not in my tastes. It's done by Art Wetherell (who did some Tales of the Jedi work) and is very similar to other late-90's Star Wars comic artwork. Just looks grimy to me. But hey, it would take a truly masterful artist to make Jabba look otherwise.

The stories, by Jim Woodring, are OK, but the last story, "Betrayal", is my definite favorite. This is because, along with the rest of the comic, you get a nice view into the devious mind of Bib Fortuna. The last story, in particular, features a nearly successful plot by Bib to assasinate Jabba. The twist at the end made me chuckle, I must admit.

Also, if you didn't think anything could be more disgusting than a Hutt, check out Princess Nampi the Orooturooan. Now that's a looker- and she's hungry.

As I said at the beginning of this blog, this is the most gore I've seen come out of the Star Wars franchise (keep in mind I haven't gotten to Death Troopers). It includes Hutt body slams, severed heads, and space-vacuum fireworks (think about it)- all of which end in a pool of blood. This one is not for the kiddies.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Empire Volume One: Betrayal

Empire Volume One: Betrayal

12-4 months BBY

The title of this graphic novel is more or less self-explanatory. In the months before the Death Star becomes fully operational, a small group of overly-ambitious Grand Moffs plot to eliminate the Emperor and his dark enforcer, Darth Vader. Armed with a legion of specially-trained stormtroopers, bred especially for their invidious purposes, the conspirators see the perfect opportunity to strike. As Vader leaves to investigate reports of a rogue Jedi on an out-of-the-way planet and the Emperor prepares to board a shuttle to the Death Star, the Moffs set their plans. But their treachery runs on much deeper levels than some expected. Soon betrayal will run within and without this secret plot to destroy the Emperor.

While I managed to make the story sound interesting in my little introduction, it really isn't. Honestly, not much happens. Yes, there are some pretty sketchy Grand Moffs running around trying to overthrow the Emperor, but they just end up destroying themselves. Also, the "Jedi" Vader finds is just an idiotic force-user, eager to learn the ways of the Dark Side. Suffice to say she is quickly dispatched. The most exciting part of this story? The Royal Guards, bar-none. It feels like a nice little sample of what's in store for me with Crimson Empire.

Art-wise, there are pros and cons. The cover art, in my opinion, is horrible, as is the pencil work on the Emperor. The stormtroopers are also quite unsightly. However, there are a lot of cool character designs. One that particularly comes to mind is Grand Moff Trachta. For me, he looks like a mix between Wat Tambor and Cobra Commander from G.I. Joe.

Overall, I would would recommend skipping it. The graphic novel version was a bit elusive and I definitely paid more for that. Of course, I like to hear your opinions so feel free to comment if you think I didn't do this comic series justice!

Empire Volume Two: Darklighter, on the other hand, has already proven itself to be much more exciting.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Enter The Scarlett Assassin

Weekly Journal
September 15, 2009
12-4 months BBY

As if the title doesn't give enough away, last week saw the introduction of Mara Jade into my journey across the GFFA. But that's not all. Her future master, Kyle Katarn, also made his first appearance, as did the Ssi-Ruuk.

After finishing up Han Solo and the Hollow Moon of Khorya (see my review here), and getting a brief update on the construction of the "ultimate power in the universe" via the Death Star Technical Companion, I dived into the first half of Soldier For The Empire, the story of Kyle Katarn during his Imperial cadet training on Carida. I was very impressed by this story because it adds a whole new dimension to Kyle that I never got from the Dark Forces/Jedi Knight video games I played as a kid. You never quite get the full story on Kyle's roots or his Imperial training by playing the games. It was also kool to get reacquainted with characters like Morgan Katarn and Jerec. Thrawn also made an appearance as Jerec's second in command- that's always nice. =)

I then picked up The Truce At Bakura Sourcebook, which introduces our favorite life-energy-sucking, extra-galactic conquerors, the Ssi-Ruuk, as they begin to conquer the planet Bakura. We also meet Dev Sibwarra for the first time, the force-sensitive son of Jedi padawan Ydra, who fled the Jedi Order prior to Order 66. Dev, of course, is quickly captured because he thought, in his naivety, the Ssi-Ruk didn't want to conquer Bakura (wow?).

After that, I read a segment of Empire Volume 2: Darklighter, during which Biggs Darklighter graduates from the Imperial Academy and the first whispers of "a weapon capable of destroying planets" begins to spread amongst the ranks. Also read a small expert from the Movie Trilogy Sourcebook, which features a letter from Biggs to Luke, and hinting at Bigg's thoughts of joining the Rebellion (though very,very tactfully).

Finally, to the reason behind the title. Logged onto Star Wars Hyperspace and checked out the partially animated e-comic of Mara Jade: By The Emperor's Hand #0. The galaxy's most dangerous red-head is observed by Palpatine and Vader in this issue as she performs flawlessly in a simulated infiltration mission. Need I say much else? Go check it out if you have hyperspace!

And by the way, if you ever wondered why Darth Vader is really sent to the Death Star, Mara Jade's opening act explains it all...

Mara: "Are you really suspicious of Tarkin?"
Palpatine: "I suspect him of ambition."

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Star Wars Adventures Vol. 1: Han Solo and the Hollow Moon Of Khorya

1 Year BBY

If anyone out there still doubts the utter awesomeness of Chewbacca, drop what you're doing and go pick up this mini graphic novel now.

Han Solo and Chewbacca have made many friends along the way, but just as many enemies. Cornered on the planet Simbarc by the diminutive criminal casino mogul, Sollima, Han Solo is forced to infiltrate a heavily guarded Imperial base. What force in the galaxy could convince Solo to do something so foolish? Only a threat on the life of his best friend and first mate, Chewie (and a little debt forgiveness thrown in on the side). Joining in on the mission is a questionable character from Solo's past: the con artist extraordinaire, Billal Batross.

I can't think of anything I particularly disliked about this comic, but I can point out quite a few things I definitely enjoyed. The storyline, done by Jeremy Barlow, I admit was very simple. But I think that's how it should be. This graphic novel is meant to be just what it is- a one-shot story. What I liked most about the story is that it paid homage to a rarely glimpsed part of Han Solo's past- his time spent under the care and service of the criminal Garris Shrike, which is where Han originally met Billal. I've only really encountered a reference to Shrike in the Han Solo Trilogy, especially in The Paradise Snare. According to Wookieepedia, he is mentioned in a few other books, but most likely only tersely. Either way, quite a nice touch.

For some reason, I'm also really attracted to the art style of this comic. In this case, I think the most kudos go to the colorist, Michael Atiyeh. He really brought vivid and exciting dimension to the GFFA with his work. I'm also a fan of how the penciler, Rick Lacey, styled our favorite outlaw duo. Chewbacca, in particular, had an impressive, savage look in this book.

Which brings me to the number one selling point of this story- Chewbacca the gladiator. What does Chewie do while Han's away infiltrating Imperial bases? Fighting in the ring of course. You won't be disappointed.

Overall, I'm quite satisfied by the first installation of the Star Wars Adventures series. I'll be sure to read the one featuring Princess Leia and the yet-to-be released adventure featuring Luke on Dagobah. Apparently he battles the dragon snake (sweet!).

Monday, September 7, 2009

Old Corellian and Socorran Raava

Weekly Journal
September 07, 2009
12-4 months BBY

You never know how much you miss something until it's gone. I was glad to get out of the realm of Han Solo and smuggling for a while. Taking a trip with Boba Fett and Darth Vader definitely widened the scope of this time period a bit more. But my adventures last week brought me back to the criminal roots of this time in GFFA history.

I started out with two really amazing short stories written in 1994 by Patricia A. Jackson. "Out of the Cradle" and "When the Domino Falls" follow the adventures of a young and budding Socorran smuggler named Drake Paulsen. The two stories themselves aren't much in terms of importance for the GFFA but there is something just plain interesting about them. For me, being an anthropology major in college, it's the language/culture theme of the stories. I did a bit of research on Patricia A. Jackson, and apparently she is the key developer of the "Old Corellian" language. She also includes some of the Coyn language. Whenever I see an author take this extra step, making the story that much more vivid and real, it touches a special part in my heart. To top it all off, she gets in depth with the cultural traditions and beliefs of the people of Socorro (Lando is a notable Socorran). For instance, Socorrans do not refer to those who have passed as "dead". Instead, they refer to them as "doing business offworld". There is also a heavy distinction between Socorrans and Corellians in terms of the value of honor and pride. If you have Star Wars Hyperspace (most of us obviously do), they're in the archive- check 'em out.

I also read one of the new Star Wars Adventures one-shot graphic novels, Han Solo and the Hollow Moon of Khorya". I'll be writing a review of this shortly, so stay tuned!

On a final note, I've been reading the Essential Atlas and The Art of The Clone Wars. Many of you are aware that The Art of The Clone Wars is the source of the recent "continuity crisis" surrounding Karen Traviss' departure from the GFFA. Apparently, people are mad because they changed Mandalore's capital (as stated in the Art book). There's also rumor that Mandalore is now desolate except for this giant cube city. First of all, though the city's concept art is definitely cubical in nature, it's not just a giant cube. Plus, it's only concept art. Second of all, where are people getting the idea that the rest of Mandalore is desolate/barren? It says nothing of the sort in the Art book, merely that Mandalore was ravaged by war, leading to the rise of the New Mandalorians. This does not have to equate with desolate/barren.

In lieu of this, it is my opinion that everything is rumor until I see it in Star Wars: Clone Wars Season 2. It can't be that bad. Feel free to discuss and share your opinion on this blog!

Monday, August 31, 2009

As The Critical Moment Approaches

Weekly Journal
August 31, 2009
2 years BBY

Zero Year comes ever so closer, and appears ever so ominously in almost every tale I've read in the past two weeks. It's as if I can see the Force hear faintly in the background, like a breath in the wind. All the strings are coming together and soon the instruments of rebellion will be strung. There is no stopping it, just as one cannot stop the suns from setting. It is the will of the Force.

I began last week with Han Solo's Revenge, which I found to be more or less mediocre. I then moved into a chapter of Rebel Dawn, which primarily featured Boba Fett and a cameo from Lando Calrissian. Though it goes without saying that Lando escapes Fett's clutches, it's by the skin of his neck. I then moved into Han Solo and the Lost Legacy. That's where all the pieces began to come into place.

At the end of Lost Legacy, Han Solo mentions his intention to head back to Hutt Space in order to secure some work with Jabba, daring the infamous Kessel Run. Next, an old 1979 UK Marvel Illustrated Adventure, "The Way of the Wookiee", chronicles this particular run, during which Han and Chewie "get boarded" by Imperials and have to jettison their cargo. Catch my drift? Well, don't get your Wookiee hair in a knot. This isn't that fateful mishap, landing Han in debt to Jabba, but an eerie prelude to it. Nonetheless, Jabba is not pleased, as is alluded to by his attempt to kill Solo in the Dark Horse short, "This Crumb For Hire".

Moving on to an out of the way desert planet, far away from any bright center of the galaxy, the prelude of Empire: Darklighter features the final days of Biggs Darklighter on Tatooine, before joining the Imperial Naval Academy. But Biggs' interest in the Alliance is no secret, nor is Luke's.

Skipping over to yet another soon-to-be-member of Red Squadron, "Lucky" (Star Wars Tales Volume 6) relays the series of tragic events that lead to a young pilot by the name of Wedge Antilles to join the Rebellion. I must say, this story adds a very morbid tone to the character of Wedge.

But disgruntled Rebels aren't the only one's fighting the Imperial iron fist at this time. Boba Fett: Enemy of the Empire pits the galaxies most notorious bounty hunter against the Dark Lord himself. But none of these attempts at insurrection have swayed the Empire's mighty reign. An excerpt from The Rise and Fall of Darth Vader underscores this unfortunate reality, describing the slaughter of over 250,000 sentients on Faleen.

But it won't be long. Not long at all.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Boba Fett: Enemy of the Empire

Boba Fett: Enemy of the Empire

2 or 3 years BBY

Whew! You mean not another Han Solo post? Well, don't get too excited, there's at least two more on the way. But for now, I'm glad for a change of pace, especially when that pace is good, old-fashioned bounty hunting.

Colonel Abal Karda has been declared an enemy of the Empire, and has disappeared with an invaluable item. While all others have failed to track down Karda, Darth Vader knows the one man who will get the job done: Boba Fett. But Fett was foolish to accept a commission from the Dark Lord, especially when the prize in question must be kept secret at all costs. Two of the most feared men in the galaxy will go head to head, and it won't be pretty.

There's so much to like about this graphic novel. How can you not love a duel between Darth Vader and Boba Fett? And trust me- it's not one-sided. The storyline, by John Wagner, is beautiful in its simplicity. It's everything you'd want out of a Boba Fett comic- a bounty hunt, dark characters, and action at every turn. Wagner's representation of the Boba Fett character is right on par as well. He's ruthless and cunning, yet retains an odd sense of Mandalorian honor throughout the story. For example, he doesn't kill anyone he doesn't have to and always completes the deal. He's the ultimate "killer with a code", which has always been one of my favorite aspects of him.

For the record, the kooky religion on Maryx Minor called the "Order of Pessimists" cracked me up every time. "Woe, woe, a thousand times woe!".

The artwork in this graphic novel is hit and miss. The cover is awesome, by far one of my favorites. But the Gibson, Nadeau, and Ezquerra team really lack luster with the rest of the artwork. My number one complaint would be that Boba Fett's armor looks way too grimy, with weird dots all over him. And is it my imagination, or does Darth Vader seem kind of punier than usual in some of the scenes? The artwork definitely didn't do him justice.

Either way, awesome and quick read! Don't miss this one!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Han Solo and The Lost Legacy

Han Solo and the Lost Legacy by Brian Daley

2 years BBY

So who's legacy's been lost? Xim the Despot's of course. The third installment of the Han Solo Adventures offers a crash course in early galactic history. Xim the Despot was the greatest warlord of his time, conquering the vital Tion Cluster shortly before the rise of the Old Republic. However, as the fledgling Republic became more and more of a threat, Xim sought to build a war machine. Commissioning the legendary craft, The Queen of Ranroon, Xim's legions hid the galaxy's greatest treasure on the unassuming mining planet of Dellalt. But Xim never returned to collect his deposit, and the Queen disappeared into infamy.
Hooking up with an old friend- and some new one's too- Han Solo and Chewbacca get a lead on the location of this treasure, the solution of all their financial woes. But between them and the treasure are a gamut of foes- including Xim's legion of war-robots and the gunslinger, Gallandro, who has a score to settle with Solo.

Per my previous post on Han Solo's Revenge, I had hoped to review both Lost Legacy and Revenge as a set. But, as it turns out, the third book has followed suit with the rest of the trilogy. More specifically, Lost Legacy is only loosely connected by characters to Revenge, and hardly at all to Han Solo At Stars' End. This doesn't particularly bother me, it just means my views on Revenge haven't changed- not bad, not good, all around uninspiring.

Lost Legacy, on the other hand, was way more exciting for me. I would even go so far as to say that it was better than Stars' End, though of course not as classic. The best thing about this story, for me, is the undertone of galactic history. It's not very often that you find a book that gives you an idea of just how long the GFFA has been around. I felt it really emphasizes the idea that the Old Republic wasn't as unyielding and dominant as seemed during it's long reign. It wasn't the first galactic order- the Xim Dictatorship and the Rakatan Infinite Empire are evidence of that. Need I say why it wasn't the last?

But that's not all. Throw in Gallandro- who, by the by, really shows you what he's made of- Xim's fearsome Guardian Corps, and a fight between Chewbacca and a massive Houk, Lost Legacy is one of the best Solo adventures I've read. I especially like one of Gallandro's quotes towards the end:

"You were never the amoralist you feigned to be, Solo, but I am."

So much in such a small sentence. Isn't that the essence of Han Solo? The reluctant hero?

Great finale, overall, by Brian Daley.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Han Solo's Revenge

Han Solo's Revenge by Brian Daley

2 years BBY

Unfortunately, the book is not as exciting as the title suggests. I was tempted to review this book and the next book, Han Solo and the Lost Legacy, as a pair. After finishing Revenge, it seems like the last two books of the Han Solo Adventures will form a larger two-part story.

Han Solo and Chewbacca are down to their last credits. Desperate for a big break, they carelessly take a "no-questions-asked" job smuggling a mysterious cargo for 10,000 credits. Well that cargo ends up being slaves- and Han Solo doesn't do slaves. The slavers soon find that out the hard way. But, the way Han and Chewie see it, someone still owes them that 10,000 creds. With nothing but a data-disk as a lead, Solo and his first-mate head off into the Corporate Sector. But the allies and enemies they meet along the way are more than they seem.

As a stand alone book, Revenge was mediocre, especially when compared to Stars' End. I wouldn't say anything turned me away from this book, it's just that nothing turned me on to it. But, alas, there are some very good qualities to this adventure. Firstly, there's something unavoidably intriguing and nostalgic about reading a Star Wars book written in 1979. Secondly, this book is an easy read. Not only is Daley's writing smooth, clear and engaging, but the book is only 200 pages long. This further leads me to believe Revenge was only Part 1 of a larger story with Lost Legacy, while Stars' End is more stand alone (though all three, obviously, share a story setting and character roster). Finally, I always dig kool baddies. This time around its an infamous gunslinger named Gallandro, with a draw so fast even Han thinks twice about challenging him:

Keeping all this in mind, I'm going to postpone my final judgement on this book until I finish Lost Legacy, hopefully later this week!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Weekly Journal - Update!

August 17th, 2009
2 years BBY

Had a slow week this time around. I'm about halfway through Han Solo's Revenge, the second book of the Han Solo Adventures. The book hasn't blown me away thus far, but it does have some value. Stay tuned for a blog this week. After that, will be another chapter of Rebel Dawn and then the last book of the Adventures trilogy, Han Solo and the Lost Legacy. Shortly followed by more Han Solo tales. Anyone detecting a theme in this particular stretch of the timeline?

Anyway, a list of upcoming releases by Del Rey was posted on Sue Rostoni's blog not too long ago. I thought I'd share what Del Rey books (as well as Scholastic and Dark Horse) I'll be picking up later this year. Expect reviews!

09/01- A New Hope: The Life of Luke Skywalker by Ryder Windham

Happy birthday to me! Why am I excited about a Scholastic book? Well, one, it comes out on my birthday, and, two, the first two books- The Rise and Fall of Darth Vader and The Life and Legend of Obi-Wan Kenobi- were so helpful and fun. Each of these books chronicle the key moments in the lives of key characters in the Star Wars universe, often incorporating previous adventures found in other titles. I found the Obi-Wan book to be particularly interesting because not only does it recap on the Jude Watson young Obi-Wan series, but also reveals never-before heard of adventures of Obi-Wan on Tatooine. Did you know he fights a Jedi from the old Order during his exile? I'll only read a few parts of the Luke book when I first get it, but I can't wait!

10/27- Imperial Commando: 501st by Karen Traviss (*sniffles*)

My frequent readers will know I am juiced for this release. I think its selling point is that it will most likely enlighten us as to how clone troopers transitioned into stormtroopers. Some may already know that stormtroopers are a mixture of clones and enlisted humans, but I'm sure there is an interesting story there.

11/04 - Knights of the Old Republic, Vol. 7 - Dueling Ambitions

We left Zayne Carrick and the motley Gryph having at last defeated the Krynda Draay's Jedi Covenant. And Zayne officially renounced the Jedi Order. So what happens next? Well, for one, Zayne and Gryph have gone into business together! What adventures will they get into next? I'm sort of excited about his graphic novel, but it reeks "transition story" to me.

FYI: I don't pick up the individual comics, I prefer the neatness of graphic novels. So I have no idea what's going on currently in KOTOR.

11/18 - The Clone Wars Vol. 1- Slaves of the Republic

I've been waiting for this for a long time. I'm really hoping that Henry Gilroy, the creator, can add a bit more depth to the stories of the Clone Wars Animated Series, ultimately limited to 30 minute episodes. Just please, oh please, don't do any more damage to the original Dark Horse Clone Wars series. And is that Anakin dressed as a slaver on the cover? Awesome!

12/08 - Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil by Drew Karpyshyn

Get geared up for the final fight between Bane and Zannah, or at least I hope! Having read the blurb online, it seems the final installment of the Bane trilogy will have Bane seeking the key to eternal life.... Darth Plagueis anyone? Possibly, but definitely not directly. Still a few Sith Lords to get through (i.e. Millennial is next, I believe) before Plagueis.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Weekly Journal - Update!

August 10th, 2009
2 years BBY

Last week was a bit of everything. On one hand, it brings a joyful tear to my eye when stories that have been written over a span of 30 years come together so well. On the other, its saddening when continuity problems hit a disrespectful tone.

The week before last, I finished up Han Solo At Stars' End and, this week, The Force Unleashed. You can check out my reviews on my previous posts. However, what really made my day was a single chapter of Rebel Dawn, which brought all three stories together. Remember me saying Rebel Dawn is going to end up being my favorite Han Solo adventure? Well this is why.

I last left Rebel Dawn with Han and Chewie deciding to check out the Corporate Sector, a region of space still autonomous from the Empire. I then cracked into Stars' End, the first book of the Han Solo Adventures trilogy, which chronicles Han's exploits in that region. Once I finished Star's End, I finished The Force Unleashed, another exciting read. For those of you who recall, the Rebel Alliance is officially declared on Corellia (thus, the "Corellian Treaty") during TFU by the Senators Mon Mothma, Garm Bel Iblis, and both Bail and Leia Organa. Then, moving back to the next chapter of Rebel Dawn, there is a specific mention to the signing of the Corellia Treaty, Mothma "uniting three forces" (Chandrila, Corellia, and Alderaan) and the beginning of the Alliance. Finally, at the end of that chapter, there is an interlude that places Solo right where he left off after Stars' End- having a bit of a love affair with Jessa Vandangante, getting special upgrades done to the Falcon, and considering making tracks.

So what makes this all mind-blowing? This does: Han Solo at Stars' End was written in 1979. Rebel Dawn was written in 1998. And The Force Unleashed was written in 2008. That is an almost 30 year time-span. That kind of detailing, my friends, blows me away.

On a side note, I read the first two installments of Lost Tribe of the Sith, a free e-book by John Jackson Miller. While this story takes place 5,000 BBY, during the Great Hyperspace War, it can be expected to have some kind of tie in to Miller's Fate of the Jedi book, Omen. MIller is also the story-writer behind the Knights of the Old Republic comic-series. Even stand-alone, these short little novellas are a kick to read. Not only do they go way back, but they delve deeper into the Old Sith Empire culture deeper than I've ever seen. Fascinating, quick read! You can download PDF versions of these free e-books at:

However, I said this week was a little bit of both. I read recently that Karen Traviss, one of my favorite Star Wars authors, has decided to cease writing Star Wars once she finishes her Imperial Commando duology. The reason being, according to her blog post, was the 3-D animated Clone Wars. According to Traviss, the way that the Clone Wars team has planned out the story of their series directly interferes with the direction she was going. I can only assume that this may have something to do with the fate of the clones themselves, as well as the inclusion of Boba Fett in Season 2. I say this because Traviss is well known for her work with the clone-centered Republic Commando quadrilogy and that she was planning a new Boba Fett novel for the future.

Like I said before, its frustrating when new stories are disrespectful of the work done by those before them (those before being Del Rey authors). While I don't want to set the blame completely on any one person or group, I think we can surmise where some of the fingers are pointing. Traviss, her work, and what could have been will be sorely missed. May the Force Be With You, Karen Traviss.

See the article here:

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Force Unleashed

The Force Unleashed

3-2 years BBY

The Force Unleashed was groundbreaking for the GFFA when it was released in 2008. Vader had a Secret Apprentice? A plot to destroy the Emperor? It all seems to good to be true, but it is. And those of you who have played the game are aware that I left out one other especially important twist that shakes the very foundations of the Star Wars canon. Lest this blog become a giant spoiler. :D

You are "Starkiller", raised from youth as the secret apprentice of Darth Vader. Your entire life you have been trained for one purpose: to assist Vader in overthrowing the Emperor and to rule by Vader's side. Together with your crack pilot, Juno Eclipse, and your faithful (though programmed to be bent on killing you) droid, PROXY, you are tasked to hunt down Vader's Jedi enemies. Soon the day will come when your training is complete and your ultimate mission ready to be fulfilled.

There are three formats to this story: the game, the book, and the graphic novel. I will review all three somewhat separately in this blog. However, some general comments...

1. You cannot get the full effect of this story by reading/playing just one format.
2. Even for non-EU fans, this is something you don't want to miss, because it is critically important to the original trilogy.
3. My largest critique is that the different formats tell the story using different connecting plots, details, and events. This was a bit sloppy, but the essential plot points are still congruent
4. My favorite part about this story is that it does something very few stories of this era do- it tells you what the Jedi who survived Order 66 are doing. Trust me, you won't be disapointed.

First off, the story. Hayden Blackman, the visionary and the storywriter behind TFU, has created a story that never failed to blow me away at every turn. I was really excited for this game, and I wasn't let down story-wise. He managed to create a believable scenario that remained faithful to previous canon. he also tied it up nice and neat at the end, leaving very few holes that I can see thus far (stay tuned for my weekly blog to confirm this).

Perhaps my only critique of the story (and I'm not sure if this is Blackman's fault) is that both Leia and Bail Organa are identified as Senators from Alderaan. As I've read it in the EU, Bail should have stepped down by now and Leia should be the rightful senator. But as the TFU tells it, Bail is discovered as a dissident and pretty much relieved of duty, paving the way for Leia's rise. Either way, Leia is the senator of Alderaan by the end of this story.

On to the game. Put briefly- this is the best Star Wars game to date. Lucasarts really showed their merit on this one. The graphics are amazing. The scenery and levels are creative and original. This game was never boring or repetitive. However, I think the short play-through time might have something to do with that. I did leave the game wishing there was more. Also, the controls are really tough and frustrating. It's taken me 3 play-throughs to finally get the hang of it (though I do play on Sith Master difficulty). Ultimately, this game is about Starkiller's insane force powers, not his lightsaber skills.

The book adaption, written by Sean Williams, is another great read. I admit, I was originally a bit unimpressed by the first third of the book, feeling that it didn't really add much to the game. However, I was soon corrected. The middle and end of this book present the TFU story in a way that could never be matched visually. It really takes you into the mind of June Eclipse and Starkiller, and the nature of their relationship. Also, it expands on the role of Kota, who, when he joins the team, actually has no idea that Stakiller is the same person who blinded him. The book definitely offers some unique bonuses and plot points, including some extra fights with PROXY, taking on never before seen forms like Anakin Skywalker and Qui-Gon Jinn, and details such as who's lightsaber Starkiller is using and why he wears so many different outfits.

Finally, the graphic novel is a bit disappointing. The art, done by the Brian Ching team, is impressive none the less. This is the same team that does the KOTOR graphic novels, and I really like their art style. However, the graphic novel, told in a flashback fashion by a recovered PROXY, is very terse and skips a lot of important stuff (like the first Raxus Prime mission with Kazdan Paratus). Also, in this format, PROXY seems to know that Vader is Anakin, which doesn't make any sense whatsoever.

All in all, I recommend playing the game and reading the book. Skip the graphic novel unless you want to support Brian Ching and his team.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Weekly Journal - Update!

This is my weekly journal. This is where one will find a glimpse into the niceties of the Expanded Universe- the quirky, intriguing, yet easily missed twists and turns of my journey.

I will continue to update this particular blog post every week, sharing the progress of my exploits. Please check back regularly for updates.

August 3rd, 2009
2 years BBY

Had an interesting two weeks. Went to the Comicon last week. Quite the experience. Managed to have a conversation with one of the Del Rey staffers about the new
Clone Wars cartoon and the continuity hellhole it created. While there was no direct comment, it will suffice to say that Del Rey does not seem pleased.

Then I got an opportunity, during the Star Wars Day panels, to ask Dave Filoni himself (director of
Clone Wars) the same question. Basically, he said he doesn't feel "beholden to the continuity" and blamed George Lucas for forcing in his ideas. Far be it from me to tell Lucas what to do with his own creation.

Once I got back, I finished reading
Han Solo At Stars' End. Awesome book- check out the review:

Next up is the rest of
The Force Unleashed. Then I'll back track for a bit and read the firts two installments of the new free e-book Lost Tribes of the Sith by John Jackson Miller. I'm excited about that because this e-book is technically the third oldest piece of EU material, timeline-wise (7000-5,000 years BBY).

Han Solo At Stars' End

Han Solo At Stars' End by Brian Daley

2 years BBY

This is one of the originals. Written in 1979 (you'll recall, just before the release of Ep V in 1980), this is a truly classic Han Solo adventure.

Han Solo, hotshot smuggler and pilot of the Millennium Falcon, will do anything for a fast fortune. This time, the money brings Solo and his first mate, Chewbacca, to the far reaches of the Corporate Sector, one of the few parts of the galaxy not yet controlled by the ever-expanding Galactic Empire. However, in order to gain access to the untouched treasures of this vulnerable sector, Solo and Chewie must first complete a dangerous mission to unravel the mystery of the abrupt disappearance of several citizens by the hands of the Corporate Sector Authority.

The first thing I liked about this book was its date. Because it was written before the release of Episodes V and VI, the author had quite a bit (though not infinite) creative space with Han's character development. In this book we get to see the true nature of Han Solo- 90% rogue, 10% hero. However, as we know, that inner-hero takes charge when the people he cares about, or the ship he loves, are in need.

You have to be into Han Solo to dig this book. Like most of the stories during this particular stretch of time, you will get little to no lightsaber-swinging, Jedi action. That's one of the things I've come to cherish about reading this through in order. While the Prequel Trilogy and before were all about the Jedi order, its missions, and it's philosophies, the Dark Times (between Episodes III and IV) bring a totally different vibe. Han Solo At Stars' End is the epitome of this period- a time where everyone is out for themselves under the vice-like grip of the Empire. Those brave few with a shred of selflessness are considered fools.

While this is not my absolute favorite Solo book (Rebel Dawn quickly becoming that), I would definitely recommend this book to old school Star Wars enthusiasts.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Weekly Journal - Update!

This is my weekly journal. This is where one will find a glimpse into the niceties of the Expanded Universe- the quirky, intriguing, yet easily missed twists and turns of my journey.

I will continue to update this particular blog post every week, sharing the progress of my exploits. Please check back regularly for updates.

July 20th, 2009
5-2 years BBY

My recent exploits have been rewarding. It's wonderful to feel the magic of the GFFA once again, after my own personal "dark times" with the Ewoks and Droids cartoons. The overarching theme of the past week has been the birth of the Rebel Alliance.

Shortly before I began recording my travels, I had finished the
Droids Omnibus by Dark Horse Comics. Apparently, R2 and 3PO, who were left in Episode III under the care of Captain Antilles, were lost in an escape-pod test over the Karthakk system. This omnibus (and the Nelvana cartoons) chronicles their adventures at this time, though I'm not sure how they'll be recovered by Antilles. I have to say, I'm thoroughly impressed by this Dark Horse collection.

Moving on, I finished the first six chapters of
Rebel Dawn, the last book of the Han Solo Trilogy by A.C. Crispin. Without a doubt, this book is turning out to be one of my favorites. Take Han, Chewie, Boba Fett, Jabba, and Prince Xizor, put them all into one pot, and you've just gotten into my top 5 before I've even finished! Han finally wins the Millenium Falcon from Lando and Bria Tharen (his love interest) is roaming the galaxy, trying to unite rebel movements. It also ties in well with the events of The Starcave of Thonboka, the last Lando trilogy book (always a plus for good connections).

Just finished the first third of
The Force Unleashed. The book and comic are good, but you need to read both of these as well as play the game to get the full, and much better, experience.

In terms of minutia, I finished up the Princess Leia Diaries (
SW Tales Volume 3), ending with Princess Leia as the youngest Imperial senator (and already aware of her father's dream of a Rebel Alliance).

Also threw in a couple of short stories. First, one about young Luke and "sand surfing" on Tatooine, via the
Movie Trilogy Sourcebook. Kinda kool, and sets up the competition between Fixer and Biggs (Luke's friends), but no need to worry yourself on it. Also, read a couple short stories, in the Rebel Alliance Sourcebook, about some of the first attacks by the Empire on rebel groups in the Atrivis sector. This sets up the legacy of Mon Mothma as an Alliance leader.

So far so good.
Rebel Dawn, The Force Unleashed, and the short stories about the Alliance birth are meshing extremely well!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Worst So Far

So now that I've listed my favorites so far, I thought I'd take some time to tell you what my LEAST favorite EU materials have been. Now, this doesn't mean you can't like these things or that I didn't enjoy them at all. For the record, there hasn't been one story/adventure from the EU so far that I didn't enjoy at least somewhat. However, unless you are a die-hard fan like me, you may want to steer clear of these items:

#1 Ewoks Animated Adventures (Nelvana animated series)

3 years BBY

Contrary to popular opinion, I don't hate Ewoks. But this show is just a little bit more than I can handle. There are 25-odd episodes comprising 2 seasons and none of it really holds relevance to what's going on in the galaxy. The best episode is the last, when the Empire comes scouting out Endor. But honestly, after I watched about 5 episodes, learned all the characters and read the comic books, enough was enough.

#2 Rogue Planet by Greg Bear

29 years BBY

I remember this being the first EU book I encountered that I didn't really like very much. The best things this book has going for it are that it's one of the only books to feature young padawan Anakin and the bloodcarver ( This is also the first time when Anakin feels the pull of the dark side. Furthermore, it does have a nice connection to the book Outbound Flight and the Thrawn Trilogy, as Obi-Wan and Anakin are looking for answers Vergere's disappearance. However, in all, this book is not that interesting. It's not horrible, it's just kind of boring and not much happens. And, also contrary to popular opinion, I don't hate little Anakin and that's not why I didn't like the book.

#3 The Adventures of Lando Calrissian by L. Neil Smith

5-3 years BBY

I might catch some flak for this one, but honesty is the best policy. This trilogy chronicles the adventures of the young gambler Lando Calirissian before he owns Cloud City and while he own the Millennium Falcon. I must admit, the main villain, the Sorcerer of Tund Rokur Gepta(, was highly enjoyable. And the third book was actually really fun to read. However, in my opinion, the books themselves were poorly written and the trilogy as a whole was lackluster. On top of that, being one of the first EU books ever written, some of the vernacular and terminology was out of place. For example, "Portuguese man-o-wars" were mentioned. I don't think the sentients of the Star Wars galaxy know anything about Portugal or man-o-wars. However, I can forgive all of this because these books flow and connect exceedingly well with the Han Solo Trilogy. I'm convinced A.C. Crispin and Smith had many good conversations.

#4 The Clone Wars (3D animated series)

22-19 years BBY

I do enjoy this TV show for what it is and there are several things I love about it. However, The Clone Wars has completely and horribly defaced continuity, and I can't let that slide. I'm not upset about Anakin's padawan, Ahsoka Tano, although I wonder what's gonna happen to her come Episode III (partly why I watch the series). What upsets me is that it has irresponsibly tossed around the timeline for the Clone Wars. For example, Anakin, according to Jedi Trial, does not become a knight until 6 months before the end of the Clone Wars. Now, because of this series, he's a knight almost from the outset. Not to mention his scar, which shouldn't be there yet, and the fact that clone commanders shouldn't be popping up until Phase II clone armor is developed, whereas Captain Rex and his squad wear Phase I armor. I feels like, overall, the Clone Wars team did not do it's homework. This isn't beyond repair, but it's annoying to say the least. Regardless, I do genuinely enjoy this TV show, if only just to see/hear previously ancillary Jedi like Plo Koon, Luminara Unduli, and Kit Fisto. And Cad Bane is awesome!

At the end of the day, I can't wait for season two.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Best So Far

Because I'm well into this adventure already, I thought it would be helpful to recap on the best and the worst so far. First, my top 10 favorite pieces of EU material, in no particular order:

#1 Tales of the Jedi

7,000 - 3,986 years BBY

book cover of  The Golden Age of the Sith   (Star Wars : Tales of the Jedi) by Kevin J Anderson

You can't go much farther back than these graphic novels, which go back even before the Old Republic. Perhaps the most attractive part of this series is the chance to see the Ancient Sith Empire, a civilization of Sith far more numerous than in the times of Palpatine and Vader. The Jedi librarian Odan Uur, one of my favorite EU characters, makes his cameo in the first books of this series. This also chronicles the mortal life and fall of Exar Kun during the Great Sith War, 4,000 years before he posseses Kyp Duron and wreaks havok on Luke Skywalker's Jedi Academy. You also get a glimpse into the lifestyle of Ancient Jedi on the planet Ossus, when practices such as loving/emotional attachment and multiple apprentices were not yet forbidden. This makes the merit of the "dogmatic" ways of prequel-era Jedi seem much less convincing.

I can't wait for this period of time to be expanded on!

#2 Knights of the Old Republic (video game)

3,956 years BBY

This is one of the best Star Wars video games out. Being an RPG, you are relatively free to custumize your character and experience in terms of lightsabers, force powers, and allegience (lightside or darkside). You can also customize your team. All the while, the story remains essentially the same: you are the Sith Lord Darth Revan, who, having had your memory wiped by the Jedi Order and unable to remember your dark past, are on a mission to stop your old apprentice, Darth Malak, from harnessing the power of an invincible fleet. A word to the cannon-obesessed: the "true" ending to this game is Revan remaining loyal to the Jedi and defeating Malak. Another nice touch for this game is to read the Knights of the Old Republic graphic novel series, which features events during the Mandolorian War which lead up to this game. The sequel to this game, KOTOR II: The Sith Lords, is fun and interesting, but not nearly as story-driven as the first.

#3 Darth Bane: Path of Destruction by Drew Karpyshyn

1,000 years BBY

This book, the first of a trilogy, is absolutely fantastic. First, you get to see what the Sith were like before the "rule of two"- one master, one apprentice. You also get to see just how ancient Sith were trained. Trust me, it's brutal! During this book, the Jedi and the Sith are embroiled in the War of Light and Darkness and, all the while, Bane plots his takeover of the Sith Order, one betrayal and massacre at a time. Finally, the philosophical foundation of this book is intriguing and creative. Delving deep into the mind of Bane and his fellow Sith, you will come to understand the true nature of the dark side, and why it is a power that should only be shared by two.

Path of Destruction is a part of the Bane trilogy, Rule of Two being the second, but less engaging, book and Dynasty of Evil scheduled for release this October, 2009.

#4 Jedi Apprentice Series by Jude Watson (#1 by Dave Wolverton)

44 -34 years BBY

This may be a 20 book scholastic series, but it is well worth your time (and very little money). This series chronicles the adventures of a young Obi-Wan Kenobi as a padawan under Qui-Gon Jinn. Did you know that Qui-Gon had a previous padawan? Ever wonder why spirit Obi-Wan comments to Yoda that he, too, was too old for training when he began? The answers are here, as well as the very foundational philosophies and teachings of the Republic Jedi.

#5 Darth Maul

32 years BBY

Nothing like some good old dark side mayhem. And believe me, Darth Maul brings the pain! It's amazing Maul is so popular, espeically when his time in the Star Wars movies was so short (thanks, Obi). This is a very good origin story and one of the first appearances on the timeline of the Black Sun Criminal Organization- who, unsurprisingly, are no match for Maul.

#6 Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter by Michael Reaves

32 years BBY

Michael Reaves is one of my favorite SW authors, and I'll tell you why: every one of his books/series that I have read have taken place in different times and places. Yet, with the help of one or two common characters, all form a comprehensive story. This is the very first one and features everybody's favorite baddy, Darth Maul, as the key villain. If you read only one of Reaves' books, I recommend this one.

#7 The Republic Commando Quadrilogy by Karen Traviss

The Clone Wars: 22-19 years BBY

Once thing that I love about Karen Traviss is that, in every book of hers that I've read, she really challenges the way I think about the characters of the Star Wars Galaxy. This is especially so for the Republic Commando Quadrilogy, which takes place throughout the Clone Wars. If you read these, prepare never to look at Clones the same way, ever again. On top of that, she does a great job of highlighting the inconsistencies of conventional Jedi wisdom, such as attachment and the righteousness of their role as generals in the Clone Wars. This series is also a wonderful source to learn about Mandalorian (i.e. Boba Fett's) culture

I'm looking forward to her follow-up series, Imperial Commando, with the first book being released this October, 2009.

#8 Shatterpoint by Matthew Stover

21.5 years BBY

Now I don't know about you, but I love me some Mace Windu. Discover Mace's Korun roots in this exciting Clone Wars adventure to save his old padawan, Deepa Billaba! But before he can save her, he must overcome the malignant nature of the jungle that surrounds him at every turn. Just one question: Why's he gotta be from a jungle, Mutha F*&%$ !?

#9 Dark Rendevous by Sean Stewart

19.5 years BBY

Ever wondered what would happen if Yoda went to the dark side? Well so does Count Dooku. And if you read this book for any reason, read it for the final confrontation between Yoda and Dooku. Top that with lots of classic Clone Wars action and cameos from Asajj Ventriss, and you've got yourself a winner.

#10 Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader by James Luceno

19-18.5 years BBY

Vader didn't become the cold, "more machine than man" Dark Lord we know from the Classic Trilogy over night, even after he donned the suit. James Luceno really seems to tap into that easily forgotten fact. I really love books that bring everything together. And after the dramatic events of Revenge of the Sith (Ep. III), this book is where you really get some closure. While we all know now how Anakin physically became Vader, James Luceno does a great job of finishing the emotional and spiritual transformation of Anakin Skywalker to Darth Vader.

The Eras of Galactic History

For those that are interested in becoming a little more acquainted, here is a summary of the basic Eras of Star Wars:

The Old Republic:

25,000-1000 years BBY

This is the time of the Old Republic and the Jedi Order before the coming of the Galactic Empire. The tales of this Era tell the stories of the ancient battles between the Jedi and the Sith: the Great Hyperspace War, the Great Sith War, the Jedi Civil War, and the Battle of Rusaan. This is also the time of the infamous Mandalorian War. These are the tales of Ancient Sith Lords like Naga Sadow and Freedon Nadd, as well as fallen Jedi like Exar Kun, Uliq Qel-Droma and Revan. This era also has it's fair share of heroes, from Nomi Sunrider to Zayne Carrick.

These ancient stories are later returned to, full circle, as Luke Skywalker slowly rebuilds the Jedi Order and seeks out more and more information about his predecessors.

The Rise of the Empire

1,000-0 years BBY

This is perhaps the longest Era, material-wise, along the timeline. This period stretches from the founding of the New Sith Order by Darth Bane, all the way through the early adventures of Obi-Wan Kenobi as a padawan. This period also includes the Prequel Trilogy (Ep. I-III) and the Clone Wars (now a TV show), after which Anakin Skywalker becomes Darth Vader, the Jedi are slaughtered, and the Empire is born. But just as darkness falls, a new hope arises.This is the time of the birth of the Alliance to Restore the Republic, better known as the Rebel Alliance. This Era ends with the destruction of the first Death Star.

The Era of Rebellion

0-4 years ABY

Need I say more? This is the time of the Rebellion and the Classic trilogy (Ep. IV-VI). These are the most classic tales of Star Wars heroes and villains during and between the original films. This also includes epic Star Wars side-adventures such as Shadows of the Empire and Dark Forces, which tell the early tales of Dash Rendar and Kyle Katarn. This Era chronicles rise of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, and Chewbacca as great heroes of the Rebellion, as well as the fall of the evil Empire.

The New Republic

5-25 years ABY

Having defeated the Galactic Empire, the leaders of the Rebel Alliance found the New Republic. But the troubles aren't over, especially with the Imperial Remnant, led by ruthless leaders such as Grand Admiral Thrawn, Ysanne Isard and a reborn Emperor Palpatine, trying to regain strength. During this time, Jacen, Jaina and Anakin Solo, the children of Han and Leia, are born. Together, these young force-sensitives become some of the first members of Luke Skywalker's new Jedi Academy on Yavin. One of the greatest Star Wars trilogies of all time, the Thrawn Trilogy, takes place in this Era.

The New Jedi Order

25-30 years ABY

Luke Skywalker's New Jedi Order is growing rapidly. However, the invasion of a malevolent species from the Unknown Regions, the Yuuzhan Vong, as well as internal pressures, prove a daunting challenge for the fledgling New Republic. While the Yuuzhan Vong are defeated, the galaxy is changed forever.

Legacy of the Force

37-140 years ABY

Following the Yuuzhan Vong Crisis, the Imperial Remanant and the New Republic form, for the first time, a galaxy-wide unified government: the Galactic Alliance. The New Jedi Order is appointed the guardians of this body. However, this is also the time of the fall of Jacen Solo to the dark side, consumed by Darth Caedus, and his ascendence to rule. In order to combat this evil, Luke Skywalker and his Jedi Order abandon the Galactic Republic and wage war against Caedus, who is finally felled by his own sister, Jaina Solo. Alternately, this Era includes the adventures of Cade Skywalker, 100 years after these events.

Fate of the Jedi

42 years ABY

This is the newest Era of the expanded universe. Having defeated Darth Caedus, new tensions rise between the Jedi Order and the Galactic Alliance, led by Chief of State Natasi Daala. With a warrant out for his arrest, Luke Skywalker retreats into exile....

A Note On Timeline Shorthand

At the beginning of every entry, there will be a date that lists the placement of the book in question within the timeline of Star Wars history.

There are two simple abbreviations to know:

BBY - Before the Battle of Yavin. The Battle of Yavin is the classic battle in A New Hope (Ep. IV), during which the Death Star is destroyed. Thus, 10 years BBY takes place ten years before the original Star Wars movie (Ep. IV).

ABY - After the Battle of Yavin. Thus, Return of the Jedi (Ep. VI) takes place 4 ABY, or 4 years after A New Hope (Ep. IV).

For my timeline reference, up to date book placement, and help with the Era descriptions, I primarily use

An Introduction

Two years ago, I decided to begin a journey that has literally changed my life. I've always been a Star Wars fan and I've seen the movies millions of times. So I thought I'd expand my horizons a bit. Little did I know, I got hooked...

This journey begins, like all journeys should, at the very beginning. I started reading a graphic novel series called Tales of the Jedi, which encompasses Star Wars history dating all the way back to 25,000 years Before the Battle of Yavin, Episode IV (BBY) up until about 1,000 years BBY. Now, as I write this post, I'm reading the adventures of a young Han Solo, a mere 5 years BBY.

Along the way I've learned much about the Star Wars Galaxy, as I have about myself. You may laugh, yes, but you would be surprised how deeply the moral and practical lessons that the Star Wars mythos teaches us resonate with the real world. Lessons of discipline, of acceptance, of love- and, of course, fear, anger and hate.

Join me in this wonderful adventure, which I hope never, ever has to end.

May the Force Be With You, Always.