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The Star Wars Expanded Universe: Your Where-To-Start Guide

Hey everyone, hope you’re all well. :-)

I originally published this post over at The Fortress of Solitude (an awesome website run by some awesome people, and one of the most popular Geek-centric websites in South Africa), so I thought it was about time that I posted it here, to. :-)

Hope you find it informative!

Star Wars

‘A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far, Far Away…

You’ll struggle to find someone who doesn’t know what that phrase means. And that phrase is so evocative, bringing to mind lightsabers, Yoda, Jedi in their tan robes, the Force… and Darth Vader, who is, to many moviegoers, the ultimate badass with the coolest voice. If you dig Star Wars, and you dig reading, the chances are good that you’ll know that the great saga of Star Wars didn’t end with Return of the Jedi, nor did it begin with The Phantom Menace. Wait, what? Yep, you read that correctly.

You see, George Lucas brought us six episodes of the greatest movie saga of all time – but what he also did was allow others to expand upon that saga. He allowed games to be designed (including console games, PC games, even board-games, RPG’s and card games, to name but a few); he allowed TV series based on his creation (The Clone Wars and, starting next year, Star Wars: Rebels) to be produced; he’s allowed a new generation of film makers to bring us another movie to kickstart a whole new trilogy in 2015 (plus two confirmed stand-alone movies); and he’s opened up his galaxy to include novels and comics.

In this post I’ll be introducing you to the novels of Star Wars, representing what is collectively called ‘The Expanded Universe’, and hopefully you won’t feel as overwhelmed when you see a whole shelf full of Star Wars novels the next time you walk into your favourite book store.

So, how do you choose what to read? How would you know where to begin? Most readers read the back of a book to find out what it’s about – that’s where you’ll get the first taste of the characters and the story, and that’s when most readers put the book down, slightly confused and embarrassed, because they’ve got no clue what they’ve just read.

There’s an easy way to fix that – a couple of pages into the beginning of the book is an exhaustive list of novels, separated by dates. These dates are BBY and ABY, and you can use these dates to pick where you want to plunge in.

BBY stands for ‘Before the Battle of Yavin’ – this refers to the battle at the end of Episode 4: A New Hope, in which Luke Skywalker blows up that massive ball-thing, the Death Star. The battle got its name from the massive orange planet that is visible in some of the scenes in the movie.

Easy enough, right?:-) So that’s BBY, which should make ABY easy to understand. It stands for ‘After the Battle of Yavin’. Still with me? BBY details events in the Star Wars Galaxy before Luke destroyed the Death Star, and ABY details events after he destroyed the Death Star, which means that Episodes 1, 2 and 3 take place in years BBY and episodes 5 and 6 take place ABY.

But that still leaves the question: Where Do I Start? :-) So, you’re looking at this list, reading the various titles out aloud, and you’re surprised that there are so many stories! Don’t worry, I was, too.

Well, believe it or not, the choice is really easy – do you want to read about what happened in the Star Wars galaxy before Luke Skywalker’s birth, or after his birth? That’s it – that’s your choice. Pretty easy, eh?

And here’s your primer to understand the vast list you’re looking at.

The Old Republic Era

The first section is The Old Republic – this section tells stories in a time that stretches from tens of thousands of years BBY to Zero BBY. This era is important to the Star Wars saga because it explains plenty about the Jedi and the Sith, their philosophies, why they are constantly fighting against each other, and why the rest of the galaxy usually gets caught in the middle. There are armies of Jedi and Sith, and every name is unknown, but it remains true to what Star Wars is, and lays the foundation for what the movie-fans know, such as ‘The Rule of Two’, which Mace Windu and Yoda talk about in The Phantom Menace, and just what the Sith are.

Gamers will probably know more about The Old Republic because of the games, ‘Knights of the Old Republic’, ‘The Sith Lords’, and the MMO, ‘The Old Republic’.JIn one of the latest novels in this era, written by Tim Lebbon and called Dawn of the Jedi: Into the Void; in this novel, the group who will become the Jedi don’t even use lightsabers!

One of the cool things about this section is that most of the novels are stand-alones, which means you don’t have to buy a trilogy, and this section also has the novel, ‘Red Harvest’, one of two full-on Horror novels set in the Star Wars galaxy.

Rise of the Empire Era

The next section is called Rise of the Empire, which is also self-explanatory, since it details just how the Galactic Empire (that of the Emperor and Darth Vader) came to be. This is the era of the much-derided Prequel Trilogy (The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith). The characters you’ll meet in this section are more familiar – Mace Windu, Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, Darth Maul and Palpatine. You’ll also be able to much better understand just how a slippery old man (Palpatine) managed to not only destroy the Jedi but take control of the galaxy by engineering The Clone Wars. Another cool thing about this section is you’ll be able to read about Han Solo before he met Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia.

Rebellion

The next section now brings us to familiar territory and is called simply Rebellion. This is the era of the first movie trilogy (A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi) and this is the era when the Big Three (Luke, Leia and Han) steal the spotlight. There are many different stories in this section, particularly a trilogy that focuses on Boba Fett and the other Bounty Hunters that we saw Vader ordering around in The Empire Strikes Back. This section ends when the second Death Star is destroyed – and basically begins the next section in that terrible scene in Return of the Jedi where the Big Three are surrounded by Ewoks and enjoying it.

New Republic Era

Which brings us to New Republic  This era is also important because you meet Luke’s wife (yes, he got married!), and Han and Leia’s three children (ditto), and it also details how Luke rebuilds the Jedi Order – he becomes Grand Master (the role and title Yoda had in the Prequel Trilogy) and steers the Jedi (and the galaxy) into one of the most intense and controversial eras of The Expanded Universe:J– this era focuses on just how the Rebellion (led by Luke, Leia and Han) becomes the galaxy’s new democratic government while fighting all kinds of threats, including some Imperials who are still hanging around. I’d recommend that readers beginning their foray into The Expanded Universe start in this section, because it is home to one of the best trilogies ever written – The Thrawn Trilogy. Trust me, fans of the movies will love this trilogy.

The New Jedi Order Era

The New Jedi Order. This section’s title refers to a massive series, stretching over 19 novels and five years. A species of brutal aliens invades the galaxy, destroying planets, murdering billions, and giving Luke and the Jedi the greatest enemy they have ever faced because these aliens cannot be influenced by or felt through the Force. I’m not going to spoil the important events of this section, but suffice it to say that people die, and die hectically. This is Star Wars as you’ve never imagined it before, and it rocks.

The Legacy Era

The last section (so far) is titled the Legacy era, and focuses on the fallout of The New Jedi Order; the galaxy is still reeling from the nineteen-book war, the New Republic doesn’t exist anymore, and things are very, very different.

So, there we go – you should now have a much better idea of where to start in the great –and still growing- Expanded Universe of Star Wars. It may be a galaxy Far, Far Away but it’s an awesome galaxy, and every book in this massive list is still in print, so you can begin your collection any time.

If you want to order Star Wars novels, most book stores will know where to order them from – Star Wars novels are published by a US publisher called Del Rey, and here in South Africa Del Rey’s titles are distributed by Random House Struik. If you want to check out some of the titles and perhaps read some excerpts before deciding which book (or books) to order, check out a website called Suvudu – they have a Star Wars section which has the list (or timeline), including all of the published books so far. If you’ve got any further questions, feel free to comment on this post or connect with me on the blog’s Facebook Page. :-)

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on November 19, 2013 in Spotlight

 

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Double Star Wars Reviews: The Old Republic: Deceived and Riptide by Paul S Kemp

Double-Review time again! :-) I need to catch up with the reviews and doing Doubles seems the only way I’m going to be able to do that. :-)

Star Wars The Old Republic Deceived

Now, I haven’t been able to play The Old Republic , so I don’t know what the storylines in the game entail, but after reading Sean Williams’ Fatal Alliance, this novel and Drew Karpyshyn’s Revan (review coming), it seems clear to me that The Old Republic is a massive project that stretches over quite a long length of time.

Deceived takes place during a lull in the war between the Empire and the Republic, and gives us one of the best Sith Lords to have ever existed in the Star Wars galaxy – at least in my opinion. I’m sure you all remember the amazing cinematic from before The Old Republic was launched showing how Darth Malgus attacked the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. Well, I was blown away by that, and by the Sith Lord who had the (excuse me) balls to not only try something like that but to pull it off. I really wanted to know more about him, and Paul could easily have given us an all-over-evil psychotic Force-user with nothing but domination and subjugation going for him.

Thankfully, that’s exactly what Paul didn’t do. Malgus has one of the most interesting philosophies regarding the Force, the Jedi and the Sith that I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading, the kind of philosophy that made the characters that Matthew Stover tackled so damned interesting and real. Yes, Malgus is badass, but he also comes across as fallible and, at times, even stupid. Powerful as he is he’s in over his head and eventually chooses the only path that keeps him true to himself. Just on the strength of that I’m hoping that Paul is able to return to Malgus sometime in the future, because the Malgus at the end of Deceived is someone I wouldn’t wish on even the most powerful Jedi force that could be assembled. Hell, even the Empire and the other Sith would have to beware! :-)

But Malgus isn’t the only cool character in the novel – there’s a smuggler doing the best that he can for his daughter and a Jedi who is searching for the truth behind her master’s death; the smuggler is the guy that really had my sympathy – the man goes through some really tight situations in ways that would make Han Solo and Talon Karrde proud, and his very personal and practically unselfish motivation really got me cheering him on. The Jedi, on the other hand, had me worried, because we all know what happens when Jedi begin focusing on the things that their polar-opposites are known for. Don’t worry, it’s not as bad as I’m making it sound, but it does illustrate just how easy it is to lose sight of that which not only gives you strength but which also keeps you humble and thoughtful. There’s nothing wrong with asking questions and wanting answers, but we may not always like the answers, something the Jedi discovers, and also something that gives her the kind of motivation that any reader can identify with.

Characters aside, though, Deceived is also an excellent Star Wars novel – the action is exciting and intense, the humour spot on and just that bit campy (in other words, perfect Star Wars humour), and the intense personal explorations that the characters go on are make this novel very cool.
Is Deceived a good jumping-on point for readers new to the Star Wars Expanded Universe? Sure – if you want cool characters, thrilling action and walk-the-line looks at the philosophies of the Sith and the Jedi, then you’ll enjoy this novel. Hell, you might even end up burning to play The Old Republic! :-)

All in all, an excellent novel and another Force-strong effort from Paul; 8 / 10

Order your paperback copies here for Amazon US, here for Amazon UK, and here if you’re in South Africa. And do go and check out Paul’s website.

Riptide

Riptide is the sequel to Paul’s Star Wars EU debut, Crosscurrent (reviewed here), and though it’s a quick read (I finished it in three days), it’s a worthy successor, too.

Crosscurrent brought us Jaden Kor (some readers might remember him from the cool Star Wars PC game, Jedi Academy) and sent Jaden on a journey to find the meaning behind some disquieting Force-born visions he’d been having. Through that novel he discovered a very dangerous remnant from the days of Grand Admiral Thrawn and two smugglers who were tangled up in what quickly became an intense trial of survival. Jaden also came across a Jedi and a Sith literally thousands of years old and was pulled into their struggle for survival, too. (Incidentally, Crosscurrent is a novel that can also be read alongside the (much better than Legacy of the Force) Fate of the Jedi saga as well as John Jackson Miller’s Lost Tribe of the Sith.

Riptide picks up where Crosscurrent left off and sends the story hurtling into some very surprising directions, especially as regards Jaden. Not only is he still trying to solve the mystery of the Thrawn-era remnant I mentioned but he’s also trying to lead a Force-sensitive on the first tentative and dangerous steps toward Apprenticeship and Knighthood in the Jedi Order. Taken together these set up some intense problems for Jaden to overcome, and by extension, his friends. Fans of Knights of the Old Republic PC game and even the new Dawn of the Jedi comic series from Dark Horse should enjoy this novel as it gives readers another glimpse of an almost godly race of beings. Careful readers will also pick up nods to a certain Sith Order-offshoot created by one of the most controversial EU characters (who was first breathed into life by James Luceno in Cloak of Deception), and the storyline also settles in nicely with the then-current events in the Star Wars galaxy, namely the chaos left after the Second Galactic Civil War.

The novel has great humour, especially when certain characters are in very tight spots, excellent action and lightsaber duels, and the kind of philosophical journey’s that make Star Wars tales the kinds of tales that many diverse peoples can understand. I was hugely impressed with the (excuse the word) balls that Paul showed in this novel by doing what he did and I’m seriously hoping for more Jaden-centric novels from Paul.

8 / 10

To order your copies of the book click here for Amazon US, here for Amazon UK, and here for South Africa.

Till next time and the upcoming giveaway,

BE EPIC!

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2012 in Reviews

 

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Star Wars The Old Republic: Deceived (Book Trailer)

There’s an awesome book trailer for Paul Kemp’s Old Republic novel available, and although I can’t embed it for you I can give you this link to check it out. :)

Looks awesome! Darth Malgus is an absolutely badass-looking Sith Lord, and I’m really looking forward to reading this! :) Not the least because Paul writes awesome Star Wars. ;) If you want a taste of the book, read Chapter One here, Chapter Two here and Chapter Three here.

Pre-Order your copies here from Amazon US and here from Amazon UK, and don’t forget to check out this entry on Paul’s blog for a chance to win the audiobook of Deceived. :)

Be EPIC!

P.S. My review of The Demi-Monde: Winter will be posted here on Monday. :)

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2011 in Announcements

 

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News: Star Wars and Nolan’s 3rd Batman Movie

Just saw this news:

The cover of Paul Kemp‘s third (counting from Crosscurrent and including Deceived) Star Wars novel, Riptide, has been revealed. Riptide is the sequel to Paul’s Expanded Universe debut, Crosscurrent, which I reviewed here. Here’s the cover:

Er… I’ll have to be completely honest and say that this cover just doesn’t do it for me. Not only is it a complete departure from Crosscurrent’s cover, but it also just doesn’t look like Jaden to me (meaning, the Jaden in Jedi Academy).

But, I’m seriously looking forward to this book! :-) It’ll become available on July 26th, and you can pre-order your copies here (Amazon US) and here (Amazon UK). (Thanks to EU Cantina, where I saw the post; head on over to their site to read Riptide’s blurb) Paul will also be writing a dulogy set in the EU, check out the news here.

Next up, news about The Dark Knight Rises:

“Batman has found a nemesis for his next cinematic adventure – and it looks like a love interest, too.”

The love-interest? Anne Hathaway, who’ll be portraying (YES!) Selina Kyle – Catwoman! :-) (well, that’s who Selina is, so it’s a no-brainer). :-) Very chuffed with this – I think Anne will be able to pull off Selina damn well and it’ll be great to see her in an excellent action movie again.

Other news, and potentially bigger: BANE. You read that right. Check out this post for all the details.

And can I just say that I would give my left kidney for a ticket to the premiere? (including air-fares and accomodation?) ;)

Be EPIC!

 
4 Comments

Posted by on January 19, 2011 in Announcements

 

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Review: Star Wars – Fate of the Jedi: Vortex by Troy Denning (Novel & Audiobook)

Fate of the Jedi is proving to be an excellent series, far better, tighter and focused that Legacy of the Force (and I really dig LotF, btw). :-)

Novel Review:

Vortex (which is Troy’s second novel in the series) has managed to keep up (in my opinion) the pace, the action, and the mystery of the being, Abeloth. :-)

Christie Golden’s Allies certainly kicked the series into high gear and the events in that novel certainly pushed Troy into the enviable role of having to now keep all the levels that were reached from dropping; the situation at the Jedi Temple has reached truly terrifying extremes while Luke and Ben face Abeloth on one side while trying to maintain some sort of peace with the Lost Tribe of the Sith on the other. Not only was this a helluva act to follow, but also something that had to be done in such a way as to keep the various plot-threads going as well as upping the tension our heroes face. This is where I take my hat off to Troy, Christie, Aaron , Shelly and Sue – because Vortex succeeded.

In my opinion, Fate of the Jedi needed an onslaught of thrills and tension and horror, which Christie provided with Allies, and Troy had to replicate this without overshadowing Christie.

How did he do this? Well, let’s look at the plot as it stood at the end of Allies: Luke and Ben, along with Jaina and Lando’s help, had reached Abeloth’s planet with the Lost Tribe of the Sith strike force, and had defeated Abeloth. On Coruscant, the Jedi Temple was under siege, encircled by Mandalorians (will come back to them later), and under massive pressure from Daala to give up the insane Jedi. The Jedi are slowly fracturing under the pressure, and even Jaina and Jag’s relationship has suffered.

So what Troy does is this: the plot-thread involving the Sith and Luke pushed ahead – at first I was thinking, “Now how the hell do you plan on keeping this thread going, now that a problem has been solved?” and as I read on, I realized that Troy had neatly snuck up behind me and bopped me on the head, reminding me that where Sith and the dark side is involved, nothing is ever as it seems. :-) Another plot-thread that I was worrying about, the slave revolts breaking out on various planets, also received attention and kicked a gear higher. And on Coruscant, the situation between the besieged Jedi and Daala becomes even more hectic. The one plot-point that I want to really bring to your attention is the plot focusing on Tahiri’s trial for the premeditated murder of Gilad Pellaeon. Why? Well, a legal trial in the Star Wars universe seems like something very strange to have to read, but Troy keeps it interesting and tense – it works, adding a layer to Fate of the Jedi that shouldn’t fit at all but does, proving that not only are there plenty of story’s to tell in the Star Wars universe, but plenty of different ways to tell them :-)

If there’s one thing that Troy truly excels at, and consistently, its characterization. In Vortex, Luke is beginning to show signs of strain and dread – he’s not on Coruscant, though he knows what’s happening there; he has to keep an eye on his son and the Sith Apprentice who is doing everything in her power to wrest Ben from him; and he has to contend with the Sith and a being as ancient and twisted as they come. Talk about a Jedi Master (never mind Grand Master) having a full plate! It was great to see Luke in such extremes – it’s too easy to think of Vader’s son as this above-reproach, uber-Jedi who has all the wisdom and talent of the entire Order distilled in him, but Luke is a human being before all of the above and Troy brings that wonderfully home in Vortex. One character that irritated me beyond all forberence, however, was the leader of the Sith – Troy did an excellent job with him! The Sith leader is the under massive pressure to lead his forces to victory and is also in way over his head; pompous Sith means dangerous Sith, adding yet another headache for Luke to contend with.

Vestara and Ben’s ‘relationship’ was more strained in this book than in the previous novels, which I was thankful for, though I’m now not as sure as I was where they’re heading; there’s a scene in the book which definitely sets up possibilities, but nothing is set in stone. I can see them getting together, however, and a story like that would make for a great trilogy (wink, wink?). :-)

On Coruscant, the Kenth Hamner and Saba Sebatyne take center-stage and their story is one of the best in the entire series so far; it’s not often that a reader can see both sides of the argument as clearly as I did with regard to them, and sympathize with them both! :-)

Action-wise Vortex doesn’t go anywhere amazing, though there’s a cool and very intriguing dog-fight in the beginning of the book (which has surely set up events for future novels) and there are plenty (and I mean plenty) of cool lightsaber battles. All that was needed was a cool set-piece Fleet Vs Fleet battle, though I’m pretty sure we’ll get there soon enough. :-)

What Troy also kicked into high gear was he really made me see the Jedi in a new light – these Jedi are reeling and most definitely on the back-foot. More so, I think, than even during the Yuuzhan Vong war. I’m not talking attacks and deaths – I’m talking their sense of purpose, their place in the galaxy, etc. This, more than anything else, leads me to believe that we will definitely be ending this series by knowing just what the ‘Fate’ of the Jedi is. I truly hope so, because this series needs to fulfill the promise broken by Legacy of the Force – we need to know.

Everything considered, Vortex is as good as Allies – but Troy does this in a subtle, layered way. He paid attention to the plot-threads that needed seeing to, began new plot-threads that could prove to be very interesting (Allana and the Barabels), and kept our heroes in trouble. He’s set things up nicely for Aaron to lead on with (and I’m sure Aaron’s Conviction will be awesome despite the lacklustre Backlash) and I have absolutely no idea how he’ll end things in Apocalypse, though it’ll be undoubtedly huge and far-reaching. :-)

If you haven’t started reading Fate of the Jedi yet, get to it! This series is definitely getting better and better!

9 / 10

To order your copies: Amazon US Hardcover, Amazon UK Hardcover, Kalahari.net (for SA readers). And don’t forget to check out the official Star Wars website for any and all Star Wars news you might need. :-)

Audiobook Review:

I gotta take my hat off to Kevin Thomsen and Marc Thompson – the guys consistently bring their A-game and produce awesome audiobooks! Kevin’s choices of scene-music and sound effects were were perfect, adding just that extra layer of emotion to already hectic scenes, really adding the sense of enjoying a ‘mind-movie’, and Marc does perfect voices – Luke’s wisdom, Ben’s impatience, Daala’s arrogance and Abeloth’s utter creepiness all come through wonderfully. Really, treat yourself to the entire series!

Get your audiobook here: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Kalahari.net.

10 / 10

The next two Star Wars titles I’ll be reviewing are Matthew Stover’s Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor and Joe Schreiber’s Death Troopers’ prequel, Red Harvest. :-)

Until then,

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2011 in Reviews

 

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Review: Star Wars – The Old Republic: Fatal Alliance by Sean Williams (Novel and Audiobook)

I was pretty excited to read this: the first novel (of three that have been announced) that ties into the MMO game, The Old Republic, a sequel of sorts to the excellent PC games Knights of the Old Republic and The Sith Lords.

Sean has proved that he knows Star Wars, having co-written 3 novels in the New Jedi Order saga (The Force Heretic Trilogy, Remnant, Refugee, Reunion) as well as the novelization of the most awesome game I’ve yet to play, The Force Unleashed. And with Fatal Alliance, he’s proved it again, but unfortunately, not as well as I would have hoped.

Fatal Alliance is an excellent novel – I truly did enjoy it, and it’s definitely one of the most action-packed Star Wars novels I’ve read, and it’s also packed with great characters that work their way through an awesome plot.

We’ve got an enigmatic Mandalorian who is central to the plot, as well as one of the most surprising characters in the tale; we’ve got a Jedi Padawan who goes through an expertly handled Hero’s Journey; a smuggler who practically stole the show; an Imperial spy who is terrified of his own shadow but believes in justice and balance. These are just some of the characters that fill this novel, and almost all of them were well-realized and brilliantly brought to life, but not all of them were:

The Sith apprentice, Eldon Ax, was someone I just couldn’t get a handle on; chapters from her POV were great, with plenty of action and Sith coolness, but I found that when she opened her mouth she sounded like the stereotypical evil Sith-Lord-in-Waiting. I could be missing the point entirely (there were definitely chapters in which she said what she needed to achieve a specific goal) but I was routinely jarred out of the flow of the book while reading her POVs – she seemed like two different characters to me. I am looking forward to seeing her again, though – at the end of the novel, having grown and gone through all she had up to that point, she is left in a really difficult situation, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens with her.

Three of my favourite characters: Larin Moxla and Dao Stryver.

Larin really had my sympathy – she’s living in a very tense time and in a very difficult professional situation, and her POVs were pitch-perfect and afforded much of the drama and danger that filled the novel.

Dao Stryver is one of the best Mandalorians I’ve read – in my opinion, on the same level as Boba Fett. Resourceful, manipulative, highly intelligent and focused, an excellent fighter, and enigmatic, Dao really impressed me. :-)

Shigar Konshi was also pretty damn cool – there were echoes of a young Luke in him (hehehe, talk about a paradox, huh?) but he also had a personality all his own and made for some great discussions and thoughts about the Force, Sith, Jedi, the Empire and the Republic. I’m definitely looking forward to catching up with Shigar again!

Now, in terms of the action in the novel – damn! Massive set-pieces, excellent snub-fighter battles and great tactics; Sean definitely excels at these kind of scenes and it was like I was watching scenes on the level of Revenge of the Sith’s opening scene – that kind of massive spectacle. But Sean also kicks ass in the smaller battles – there’s a battle that takes place in a palace on (Nal)Hutta that is pretty damn awesome. :-)

Tying into the action are some of the creepiest (thanks to Marc Thompson and Kevin Thomsen) and most interesting droids this side of YVH droids (Yuuzhan Vong Hunter, for those who didn’t know) – I hope we see them again some time!

Plot-wise, Fatal Alliance is a massively sprawling novel – the (Nal)Hutta sequence (from the novel’s blurb) is just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much that happens, so much that the characters have to go through, that I was expecting something to fall flat somewhere, but Sean handled the plot masterfully. The tension and action ramp up continuously, and since I was listening to the audiobook, there were times when I just didn’t want to get back to work, or even go to work. There are plenty of surprises in the novel – just when I thought I had a handle on the story and what would happen, Sean proved me wrong – always a goo thing. :-)

Now, another problem: I just didn’t get the feeling, the true sense, that this novel was set in the Old Republic. Now, hear me out here – my reasons might be trivial, but here they are: too many times, the terms “Empire”, “Imperial”, “Emperor” and “Republic” were used, and I wasn’t confused by this -I know when the story takes place- but instead of grounding the tale in the Old Republic era, these terms made me constantly think that the tale took place in some kind of ‘Infinities’ alternate era, where Luke, Han, Leia or any of the characters we know were never born and the course of the galaxy’s history had changed. It was a bit confusing and I was expecting to hear someone, somewhere say “Darth Sidious”.

But Fatal Alliance was still an excellent Star Wars novel, nonetheless, and it definitely set the scene for what players of the MMO could expect – the Cold War is on the verge of erupting into all-out war and I can’t wait to see what Paul Kemp and Drew Karpyshyn bring to the Old Republic. :-)

Not the best introduction to the Old Republic MMO storyline, but a highly enjoyable if sometimes confusing novel.

7 / 10

Audiobook:

Once again, the team brought their best game. Marc Thompson did an incredible job with the massive cast of characters, giving each of them a vibrancy and a uniqueness that really made listening to him an experience; his treatment of the droids I spoke of earlier was incredible, and I’ve never been so creeped out by a robot before! The music and sound effects used came across as perfect and natural, really adding layers of sensory enjoyment to the tale, and I remain a fan of Star Wars audiobooks and the people who bring them to us. Excellent job!

10 / 10

To order your copies of Fatal Alliance, click here for Amazon US (novel and audiobook), Amazon UK (novel and audiobook), and audiobook download at Audible. Check out Sean’s website here and the official Star Wars website here, and for extra info about Fatal Alliance (beware of spoilers, though) check out the novel’s page over at Wookieepedia.

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on October 1, 2010 in Reviews

 

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Cover Reveal: Star Wars – Red Harvest by Joe Scheiber

The cover has been revealed and myOHmy does it look cool!

Now, going entirely on the cover, I’m expecting even greater things from this novel. How’s that, you ask? Well, look at the dude: there’s a good bet that he’s a Sith, considering the time in which this novel is set ( ) and considering that Death Troopers (reviewed here) didn’t have any Jedi / Sith or Force Sensitive individuals in it, I’m really looking forward to seeing what Joe can do by blending horror and Sith… :-) Red Harvest may also give us a lightsaber battles, too, and I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of lightsaber battle Joe writes.

Also, the ‘liquid’ leaking from the Sith’s mouth? I’d bet that has something to do with whatever has made the Sith look slightly more unbalanced than is the norm.

The novel will be released in hardcover and audiobook in December; click here to pre-order the hardcover at Amazon US, here for Amazon UK, and click here to pre-order the audiobook at Amazon US and here for Amazon UK.

Don’t forget to visit Joe’s webpage, either. :-)

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2010 in Announcements

 

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Review: Star Wars – Fate of the Jedi Book 4: Backlash by Aaron Allston (Audio Book)

Review of the novel:

The fourth book in the series, going on the title alone, seemed to promise quite a bit, but I was ultimately disappointed by it. It’s not one of the most terrible Star Wars Expanded Universe novels I’ve ever read (not by a long shot) but my hopes for it were disappointed.

Allies follows Luke and his son, Ben, as they try and track down Vestara Khai, the Sith girl they ran across in Troy Denning’s Abyss; meanwhile, Han and Leia have transported the insane Jedi that they saved to the Transitory Mists, away from Chief of State Daala; the Moff-plot against Chief of State of the Galactic Empire, Jagged Fel, is picking up speed (mixing the Solo’s daughter into the action); and Daala herself is seemingly becoming desperate to teach the Jedi a lesson.

Added to this mix is the weird and terrifying thing that Luke, Ben and Vestara came across in the Maw, the thing named Abeloth, and the fact that the Lost Tribe of the Sith are flexing their muscles and Force-abilities – this all could have led to some very interesting plot-arcs.

Instead, we are taken on a kind of anthropological lesson on how the various tribes on Dathomir operate – interesting in and of itself, but the storyline took too long to reach the point that aiming for: Luke and Ben finding out just why Vestara had aligned herself with the tribe of Dathomiri. The outcomes here are surprising enough, with some interesting territory being approached, especially as concerns the Jedi and the Sith, but I felt, unfortunately, that this whole Dathomir storyline was a waste. More of Ben’s detective skills were on show, and there were some pretty cool action sequences involving Rancors and the witches of Dathomir, but that was about it – the climax of the storyline, while interesting and cool, just didn’t seem to justify all the build-up.

Han and Leia’s part the storyline wasn’t really needed, either, though it was great to see Allana get more of the spotlight and fly her grandfather’s revered ship, the Millennium Falcon – which is probably why Han and Leia met up with Luke and Ben, to give Allana this chance. It’s only when the Solo’s return to Coruscant that their plot-arc in Backlash becomes really interesting, what with the dynamic between themselves and Chief of State Daala.

Here we are shown that Daala is not as in control as she believes and this I enjoyed because it was great seeing Daala a bit out of sorts – I think she’s been handled brilliantly in the series and she’s fast becoming one of my favourite EU characters, and yes, I’ve read the spoilers for Allies, so I’m looking forward to seeing what else Daala gets up to. :-)

Another aspect of this novel that I enjoyed was the interaction between Ben and Vestara – it’s almost obvious in what direction this interaction is going, but that’s okay; the conflicts that it will set up for future stories in the EU is awesome, and I can only imagine how the rest of the family members involved will react… ;-)

I’d have to say that Backlash was, so far, the weakest novel in the Fate of the Jedi series; it has Aaron’s trademark humour and great action sequences but I feel that the whole jaunt on Dathomir could have been made stronger (how, I don’t know). I’m not sure if Aaron’s health problems had any impact on the story (and I can understand if it did), and Backlash is not a terrible novel – it’s just not as great as I expected, and nothing substantially big was added to the storyline that the various characters find themselves in during Fate of the Jedi. I am, nonetheless, looking forward to Allies!

6 / 10

Review of the audiobook:

Marc Thompson and Kevin Thomsen have once again done and excellent job! Every Star Wars audiobook is an incredibly cinematic experience and Marc does and excellent job bringing the various characters and aliens to life. The music and sound effects are are really inspired and I would definitely reccommend this to anyone who has a long commute or goes for walks or even likes spending days at home listening to great audiobook-productions – Star Wars audiobooks never disappoint and neither does Marc or Kevin. :-)

9 / 10

To order the hardcover of Backlash, click here for Amazon US and here for Amazon UK; to order the audiobook, here are the Amazon links (US and UK) and the link at Audible. Also, check out the official Fate of the Jedi website and the official Star Wars website. Also, here’s Aaron’s website.

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2010 in Reviews

 

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The Podcast, The Sloth and Jedi Dood

Hey guys, got some videos and news for you today. :-)

First off, you’ve probably heard the announcement about the impending Angry Robot podcast! If you haven’t, here’s the low-down:

“Beginning in July 2010, Angry Robot will be broadcasting a new podcast series. Broadcast monthly, the 30-minute podcast will take the form of a joint interview with two Angry Robot authors or staff, along with genre and publishing news and a monthly competition to win Angry Robot titles.

The host and interviewer is Mur Lafferty. Mur is one of the world’s best-known and best-loved podcasters, and the co-author of the book Tricks of the Podcasting Masters. As well as hosting her own immensely popular podcast for wannabe writers I Should Be Writing, she was also recently announced as the new editor of Escape Pod – the world’s most popular short fiction podcast.

Mur commented: “One of the things I love most about podcasting is the chance to talk to so many talented authors. I’m thrilled to get the chance to chat with Angry Robot authors; it’s an honor to be producing a show for one of the newest and most exciting SF publishers around.”

The podcasts will be broadcast from the Angry Robot website, and will be downloadable as a subscription through iTunes. The first podcast interview will feature Angry Robot Publishing Director Marc Gascoigne and Editor Lee Harris, talking about the history of the imprint, the move to new partners Osprey, and the future. August’s guests are Angry Robot authors Lauren Beukes and Kaaron Warren – and you can believe that’s going to be an interview worth tuning in for!”

Awesome news indeed! I’m a huge fan of podcasts – my top casters are the guys who do the Dragon Page podacst, the guys behind the Smallville podcast, Starkville’s House of El, the group behind the Wheel of Time podcast, The Fourth Age, and the writing-podcast run by Brandon Sanderson, Howard Tayler and Dan Wells, Writing Excuses. I’ll have to get my act in gear and start listening to to Mur’s podcast, too! :-)
Can’t wait for the first one!

Next up, here’s the pretty damn cool Book Trailer for Lauren Beukes‘ still-awesome-read-another-fifteen-pages-half-an-hour-ago Zoo City:

And finally, here’s a video that Blake Charlton brought to my attention – being a Star Wars fan, I absolutely loved this! :-) So much, in fact, that Blake needs a new title. I thought long and hard about this, and decided that there’s only one name that really has a ring to it;

Blake Charlton, you will henceforth be known as…

Darth Numinous!

Hehehehe!

Be EPIC!

 
 

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Star Wars, Dark Tower & Wheel of Time News!

Man, what a day for news!

Let’s get right into it; first off, I’ll show you the cover to Sean William’s Star Wars: The Old Republic novel, Fatal Alliance:

Awesome, right? Check out the details for the novel at this post on the official site.

Sean is not only an awesome guy but knows what makes Star Wars so great and brings it in droves to the novels he writes in the Expanded Universe, so I’m definitely looking forward to this!

Next up, the long-awaited naming and cover-reveal of The Old Republic novel by Paul Kemp; I’ll let the cover do the talking! :-)

Awesome, right? :D And yes, that is the kickass Sith Lord who we saw in action in the cinematic of The Old Republic. :-) Check out the details of the novel at this post at the official site; if you want to have another look at the cinematic, check out this post at Paul’s blog, and here’s his announcement. :-)

Very, very chuffed for Paul that he got the chance to write a novel focusing on such a badass character! Here’s hoping that the story behind the cinematic is also included in the novel! :-) He’s already sent in the first draft of the novel, so everything looks a-okay for the December release date!

Paul’s Crosscurrent (reviewed here) showed that he has an awesome understanding of Star Wars, so this will, most probably, be awesome. :-)

Now for Wheel of Time news!

Check out this post over at A Dribble of Ink; Aidan gives us an extended blurb of Book Thirteen of The Wheel of Time, Towers of Midnight. If you haven’t read it yet, I’ll say this: Perrin and Mat.

:-)

And lastly, news of the Dark Tower movies!

Thanks to my buddy Lood, I can tell you that Ron Howard has been tapped to direct a trilogy that’ll bring Stephen King’s absolutely massive and brilliant series to the big screen. Just how he’s planning to cram 7 novels-worth of plot into three movies I have no idea, but this is Ron Howard, and I’m sure he’ll do movies that’ll be as true as possible to the King’s epic. :-) Check out the info here.

That’s it for now,

Have an awesome weekend!

Be EPIC!

P.S. Oh, and here’s something you all have been drooling for – the first pic of Thor. :-)

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2010 in Announcements

 

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