Posted in Rated E, Sci-Fi Friday, Science Fiction, Space travel, Star Wars, Uncategorized

Star Wars Bloodlines

9780425286784_p0_v1_s192x300 Author:

Claudia Gray

Genre:

Science Fiction

Rating:

Exceeded my expectations

Synopsis:

WITNESS THE BIRTH OF THE RESISTANCE
 
When the Rebellion defeated the Empire in the skies above Endor, Leia Organa believed it was the beginning to a lasting peace. But after decades of vicious infighting and partisan gridlock in the New Republic Senate, that hope seems like a distant memory.

Now a respected senator, Leia must grapple with the dangers that threaten to cripple the fledgling democracy—from both within and without. Underworld kingpins, treacherous politicians, and Imperial loyalists are sowing chaos in the galaxy. Desperate to take action, senators are calling for the election of a First Senator. It is their hope that this influential post will bring strong leadership to a divided galaxy.

As the daughter of Darth Vader, Leia faces with distrust the prospect of any one person holding such a powerful position—even when supporters suggest Leia herself for the job. But a new enemy may make this path Leia’s only option. For at the edges of the galaxy, a mysterious threat is growing. . . .

Opinion:

I’m not ashamed to admit that I am a Star Wars Legacy fan!  I’m not happy about the fact that they did away with the expanded universe and decided to rewrite everything.  So I was not looking forward to this book.  I intended to dislike it on principle.

Therefore, I was quite surprised to discover that I actually enjoyed it.  How odious it is to end up liking something one is quite determined to hate.

This book takes place about 6 years prior to the Force Awakens; so some 20 odd years have passed since Return of the Jedi.  Unfortunately the New Republic is just as ineffective as the Old Republic.  The only difference is that with the Old Republic there were several factions.  In the New Republic, there are only those that are pro- central government, and those who are against.  Because there is no leader, nothing gets done. Injustices occur and no one can decide to do anything about it.  But someone is using this to further their own ends.

The ending was a bit anti-climatic.  If you’ve seen the movie, then you know that the First Order is the bad group.  This story really explores how another “empire” was formed so soon after Palpaltine was destroyed. You also see the beginning of how Ben Solo ends up becoming Kylo Ren.

One thing that this book deals with that you really don’t see in the expanded universe series is how people react to finding out that Luke and Leia are the children of Darth Vader.  In the expanded universe, Luke and Leia’s action in the Rebellion seems to separate them enough from their father that no one has any problems electing Leia as the leader of the New Republic, but in this new universe people are terrified.  The fact that Luke and Leia suffered so much at their own father’s hands is a fact that a lot of people overlook.

Anyway, the book was well written.  It will be interesting to see where this new universe takes us.

Posted in Liked It, Sci-Fi Friday, Science Fiction, Space travel, Star Wars

Star Wars Lords of the Sith

Author:     Paul S. Kemp

Genre:       Science Fiction

Rating:     L



Synopsis:

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. . . .
 
When the Emperor and his notorious apprentice, Darth Vader, find themselves stranded in the middle of insurgent action on an inhospitable planet, they must rely on each other, the Force, and their own ruthlessness to prevail.
 
“It appears things are as you suspected, Lord Vader. We are indeed hunted.”
 
Anakin Skywalker, Jedi Knight, is just a memory. Darth Vader, newly anointed Sith Lord, is ascendant. The Emperor’s chosen apprentice has swiftly proven his loyalty to the dark side. Still, the history of the Sith Order is one of duplicity, betrayal, and acolytes violently usurping their Masters—and the truest measure of Vader’s allegiance has yet to be taken. Until now.
 
On Ryloth, a planet crucial to the growing Empire as a source of slave labor and the narcotic known as “spice,” an aggressive resistance movement has arisen, led by Cham Syndulla, an idealistic freedom fighter, and Isval, a vengeful former slave. But Emperor Palpatine means to control the embattled world and its precious resources—by political power or firepower—and he will be neither intimidated nor denied. Accompanied by his merciless disciple, Darth Vader, he sets out on a rare personal mission to ensure his will is done.
 
For Syndulla and Isval, it’s the opportunity to strike at the very heart of the ruthless dictatorship sweeping the galaxy. And for the Emperor and Darth Vader, Ryloth becomes more than just a matter of putting down an insurrection: When an ambush sends them crashing to the planet’s surface, where inhospitable terrain and an army of resistance fighters await them, they will find their relationship tested as never before. With only their lightsabers, the dark side of the Force, and each other to depend on, the two Sith must decide if the brutal bond they share will make them victorious allies or lethal adversaries.

Bluestocking’s Opinion:  I have to say I was really impressed with the fact that Cham came pretty darned close to destroying Vader and the Empire.  If he had done a little more planning, well….

The most interesting thing about this book was the fact that it delved into the relationship of the Emperor and Darth Vader.  Something that has never been touched on in prior books is that Vader didn’t fully have the Emperor’s trust.  I believe that in the Star Wars Revenge of the Sith it was briefly alluded to that the Emperor wasn’t getting quite what he bargained for in Vader.  First, Vade was missing a lot of limbs by that point, and it was insinuated that this would limit how powerful he could become in the Force.  Second, Vader still had underlying guilt about killing his wife.  In this book, that intense guilt crops up a lot for Vader.  In fact a couple of times it becomes a somewhat deadly distraction.  It never occurred to me that Vader struggled to embrace the Dark Side, but you get to see that in this book.  I guess this is what Padme meant when she said that she knew there was still good in him.

I liked this book better than some of the other revisionist Star Wars books that they’ve been publishing.  

I still miss the extended universe though.  

Posted in Liked It, Science Fiction, Star Wars, Uncategorized

Heir to the Jedi



Author:     Kevin Hearne

Genre:      Science Fiction

Rating:      LI

Synopsis:

Luke Skywalker’s game-changing destruction of the Death Star has made him not only a hero of the Rebel Alliance but a valuable asset in the ongoing battle against the Empire. Though he’s a long way from mastering the power of the Force, there’s no denying his phenomenal skills as a pilot—and in the eyes of Rebel leaders Princess Leia Organa and Admiral Ackbar, there’s no one better qualified to carry out a daring rescue mission crucial to the Alliance cause.
 
A brilliant alien cryptographer renowned for her ability to breach even the most advanced communications systems is being detained by Imperial agents determined to exploit her exceptional talents for the Empire’s purposes. But the prospective spy’s sympathies lie with the Rebels, and she’s willing to join their effort in exchange for being reunited with her family. It’s an opportunity to gain a critical edge against the Empire that’s too precious to pass up. It’s also a job that demands the element of surprise. So Luke and the ever-resourceful droid R2-D2 swap their trusty X-wing fighter for a sleek space yacht piloted by brash recruit Nakari Kelen, daughter of a biotech mogul, who’s got a score of her own to settle with the Empire.
 
Challenged by ruthless Imperial bodyguards, death-dealing enemy battleships, merciless bounty hunters, and monstrous brain-eating parasites, Luke plunges head-on into a high-stakes espionage operation that will push his abilities as a Rebel fighter and would-be Jedi to the limit. If ever he needed the wisdom of Obi-Wan Kenobi to shepherd him through danger, it’s now. But Luke will have to rely on himself, his friends, and his own burgeoning relationship with the Force to survive.

Bluestocking’s Opinion:  Well, I’m trying to be fair about this book.  It was a likeable read.  It was everything that you would come to expect from a Star Wars novel, but

WHY THE DEVIL DO THEY HAVE TO CHUCH THE ALREADY ESTABLISHED EXTENDED UNIVERSE AND START ALL OVER?  

Before this latest Star Wars movie rumor, the series was about to experience an enormous changing of the guard.  This was the subject of the book Crucible.  Since the newest Star Wars movies takes us back to practically the Rebellion, the powers that be (who are a little bit crazy in my opinion) have decided to scrap the past years of extended universe and start over.  I dunno if they think is going to capture more of the market.  

I’m not impressed.  Essentially there will be another Star Wars universe.  We are headed into comic book territory now.  By this I mean that every so often, comic books reinvent the story. 

**Sigh**

Posted in Liked It, Science Fiction, Space travel, Star Wars

Star Wars Tarkin

20141217-193603.jpg

Author: James Luceno

Genre: Science fiction

Rating: LI

Synopsis:

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. . . .

Bestselling Star Wars veteran James Luceno gives Grand Moff Tarkin the Star Wars: Darth Plagueis treatment, bringing a legendary character from A New Hope to full, fascinating life.

He’s the scion of an honorable and revered family. A dedicated soldier and distinguished legislator. Loyal proponent of the Republic and trusted ally of the Jedi Order. Groomed by the ruthless politician and Sith Lord who would be Emperor, Governor Wilhuff Tarkin rises through the Imperial ranks, enforcing his authority ever more mercilessly . . . and zealously pursuing his destiny as the architect of absolute dominion.

Rule through the fear of force rather than force itself, he advises his Emperor. Under Tarkin’s guidance, an ultimate weapon of unparalleled destruction moves ever closer to becoming a terrifying reality. When the so-called Death Star is completed, Tarkin is confident that the galaxy’s lingering pockets of Separatist rebellion will be brought to heel—by intimidation . . . or annihilation.

Until then, however, insurgency remains a genuine threat. Escalating guerrilla attacks by resistance forces and newfound evidence of a growing Separatist conspiracy are an immediate danger the Empire must meet with swift and brutal action. And to bring down a band of elusive freedom fighters, the Emperor turns to his most formidable agents: Darth Vader, the fearsome new Sith enforcer as remorseless as he is mysterious; and Tarkin—whose tactical cunning and cold-blooded efficiency will pave the way for the Empire’s supremacy . . . and its enemies’ extinction.

Bluestocking’s Opinion: I was really surprised. I don’t think It was possible for Tarkin to be sympathetic. I found myself liking him against my will. I thought it was really interesting the relationship between Tarkin and Vader. There was a great deal of camaraderie between the pair. Tarkin has clearly figured out that Vader is Anakin. They seemed to have fought together in the Clone Wars. I don’t know that story. I hope there is a novel about it.

I thought it was also very interesting to see how Palpatine manipulated him into being his little tool.

Oh, also, Palpatine’s first name is Shreev.

You know Tarkin seems to have principles in this book. I mean, he is definitely a product of his upbringing, but he doesn’t appear to be evil. But I supposed over 18 years he eventually became to person we saw in Star Wars A New Hope.

Kudos to the author for humanizing Tarkin.

Posted in Liked It, Sci-Fi Friday, Star Wars

Star Wars: Maul: Lockdown

Star Wars Maul Lockdown

Author: Joe Schreiber

Genre: Science Fiction

Rating: LI

Synopsis:

It’s kill or be killed in the space penitentiary that houses the galaxy’s worst criminals, where convicts face off in gladiatorial combat while an underworld gambling empire reaps the profits of the illicit blood sport. But the newest contender in this savage arena, as demonic to behold as he is deadly to challenge, is fighting for more than just survival. His do-or-die mission, for the dark masters he serves, is to capture the ultimate weapon: an object that will enable the Sith to conquer the galaxy.

Sith lords Darth Plagueis and Darth Sidious are determined to possess the prize. And one of the power-hungry duo has his own treacherous plans for it. But first, their fearsome apprentice must take on a bloodthirsty prison warden, a cannibal gang, cutthroat crime lord Jabba the Hutt, and an unspeakable alien horror. No one else could brave such a gauntlet of death and live. But no one else is the dreaded dark-side disciple known as Darth Maul.

Bluestocking’s Opinion: This book did something that I never thought was possible. It humanized Darth Maul. I recall that in one of the other Star WArs books, Count Dooku referred to Maul as an “animal.” For the most part that is correct, but Maul showed surprising compassion (though I doubt he’d call it that) on two separate occasions. This book also showed a vulnerability to Maul. He lived for his Master’s praise. It bothered him when or if he didn’t do something to meet his master’s expectation. That also surprised me. Reading some of the other Star Wars books and seeing the movie, he always seemed to have a swagger about him; there was no doubt that he would complete his mission.

There were two story lines that I would like continued: 1. whether or not he takes the boy he rescued as an Apprentice and 2. whether Vosa becomes a potential love interest. Wow!! Darth Maul in love, now that’s a scary thought.

Like others of Joe Schreiber’s works there was the out of control monster- Wolf Worm. Mr. Schreiber’s books seem to have a common element. It seems to be a group of people locked in a small space who are pitted against each other. There’s always some all consuming power roaming the area.

An interesting and quick read.

Posted in Liked It, Sci-Fi Friday, Science Fiction, Space travel, Star Wars

Star Wars Crucible

Star Wars Crucible

Author: Troy Denning

Genre: Science Fiction

Rating: LI

Synopsis:

Han Solo, Leia Organa Solo, and Luke Skywalker return in an all-new Star Wars adventure, which will challenge them in ways they never expected—and forever alter their understanding of life and the Force.

When Han and Leia Solo arrive at Lando Calrissian’s Outer Rim mining operation to help him thwart a hostile takeover, their aim is just to even up the odds and lay down the law. Then monstrous aliens arrive with a message, and mere threats escalate into violent sabotage with mass fatalities. When the dust settles, what began as corporate warfare becomes a battle with much higher stakes—and far deadlier consequences.

Now Han, Leia, and Luke team up once again in a quest to defeat a dangerous adversary bent on galaxy-wide domination. Only this time, the Empire is not the enemy. It is a pair of ruthless geniuses with a lethal ally and a lifelong vendetta against Han Solo. And when the murderous duo gets the drop on Han, he finds himself outgunned in the fight of his life. To save him, and the galaxy, Luke and Leia must brave a gauntlet of treachery, terrorism, and the untold power of an enigmatic artifact capable of bending space, time, and even the Force itself into an apocalyptic nightmare.

Bluestocking’s Learned Opinion: I feel really bad because I haven’t reviewed the last Star Wars books that have come out. The Crucible sets the stage for the next story arc in the Star Wars universe. I can tell from this book that it is going to be a major change. Luke, Leia, and Han Solo have been fixtures in the Star Wars universe. Finally they are passing the torch on to the next generation. It’s about time too! I mean, this book takes place 45 years after Star Wars: A New Hope. In that book, Luke and Leia were 18 which means they are about 63 now. They cannot handle all the adventures that are being thrown their way. Not to mention, they can’t recover from injuries the way that they used to. Vestara Khai is back. I’m sure in the end she will renounce her Sith ways and marry Ben Skywalker, but I’m sure that the writers will drag it out quite a bit. Tahiri is also back. Jaina Solo became a Jedi Master in the last book. I’m hoping we see motherhood in her future.This whole Force Monolith thing is going to be interesting. It appears that there is more than one. The monolith has the ability to give Force abilities to non-Force sensitive people. This of course spells trouble.

1: a vessel of a very refractory material (as porcelain) used for melting and calcining a substance that requires a high degree of heat
2: a severe test
3: a place or situation in which concentrated forces interact to cause or influence change or development

I think the title of this book was particularly apt because all three definitions of the word crucible applied in this book. I think Luke, Leia, and Han faced their greatest test and realized that they had to change. Physically, they could not go back. The Force had forever changed all three of them. I saw an interesting tie between this story and Star Wars Dawn of the Jedi: Into the Void. In the Dawn of the Jedi, the series is really getting into the beginnings of the Light/Dark side of the Force. The thing is Light/Dark isn’t necessarily good/evil. Nature has creative forces and destructive forces, but the destructive forces (for example a wild fire) aren’t necessarily evil. In fact some destructive forces are necessary to pave the way for new life. Luke realizes that at a certain point. It is all about balance.

Anyway, I’m eager to see where the new story arc goes.

Posted in Liked It, Sci-Fi Friday, Science Fiction, Space travel, Star Wars

Star Wars Fate of the Jedi: Outcast

This is the first book in the new Star Wars arc. It takes place following Star Wars Millennium Falcon.

Since this series will go on for two years, and there is a lot of history, I think it will helpful to add the cast of characters.

Ben Skywalker- Jedi Knight, son of Luke and Mara Jade Skywalker (human). He is 16 at the start of the story.
Corran Horn- Jedi Master (human); Halcyon line Jedi which means males don’t possess the ability of telekinesis.
Jagged Fel- Imperial Remnant Head of State (human); boyfriend to Jaina Solo
Jaina Solo- Jedi Knight, daughter of Leia Organa and Han Solo, niece to Luke Skywalker, twin to Jacen Solo (deceased), sister to Anakin Solo (deceased), aunt to Allana (daughter of Jacen Solo and Tenel Ka, Queen Mother of Hapes). A.K.A. the Sword of the Jedi (human); girlfriend to Jagged Fel.
Kenth Hamner- Jedi Master (human)
Leia Organ Solo- Jedi Knight, wife to Han Solo, mother to Jaina, Jacen (deceased), and Anakin (deceased), grandmother/adoptive mother of Allana (who goes by Amelia).
Luke Skywalker- Jedi Grand Master, brother to Leia Organa Solo, uncle to Jaina Solo, great-uncle to Allana, father to Ben.
Mirax Horn- wife to Corran Horn, mother to Valin and Jysella Horn.
Natasi Daala- Galactic Alliance Head of State, Former Imperial
Valin Horn- Jedi Knight, son of Corran and Mirax Horn.

The story opens with Jagged Fel and the Imperial Remnant being asked to join the Galactic Alliance. Jagged wants Jaina to open a Jedi school in Imperial space, mostly so they can be together.
In the next scene, conflict appears. Valin Horn and his sister Jysella are visiting with his parent. While Mirax is preparing Valin breakfast, Valin realizes something horrible, this woman is not his mother. Somehow she has been replaced. Valin tries to take his mother into custody, but then a man he thinks is Corran Horn shows up. The ensuing lightsaber duel spills outside of their apartment. In the end, Mirax is able to stun her son into unconsciousness. No his parents hadn’t been replaced; Valin was having some sort of break with reality.

Meanwhile, at the Senate Building, Luke comes to the stunning realization that the Galactic Alliance is in the hands of Imperial. Not that Daala isn’t doing a more than adequate job. After the opening of the talks, Luke is arrested by Galactic Alliance security which is being backed-up by bounty hunters. It’s clear that the bounty hunters are looking for a reason to take Luke out.
The reason for Luke’s arrest is that “in not recognizing Jacen Solo’s degenerative moral and ethical changes–the only way they can say ‘descent to the dark side’ in legalese–you were derelict in your duty as the Jedi Grand Mater and were partly responsible for every consequence of his subsequent abuse of power.”
Eventually, Luke and Daala make a deal. He agrees to be exiled for 10 years, and steps down as Grand Master turning control over to Kenth Hamner. He also decides to try find out why Jacen Solo went to the Dark Side so that they can prevent other Jedi from going that same path. Ben decides to accompany his father on their trip. Part of what makes Luke take this trip is Valin Horn’s condition. Somehow Valin is using the Force to make it appear that he is brain dead to neurological scans. This was a technique that Jacen Solo picked up during his wanderings among Force groups. They weren’t able to determine when Jacen could have taught this technique. Another rogue Jedi (Seff Hellin) that the Solos ran into in Millennium Falcon demonstrated a skill that Jacen had possessed. They all realized that there were too many gaps that need to be filled as to what Jacen had learned.
Master Cilgal, a Mon Cal, thinks she may have discovered when Jacen could have picked up this knowledge. Old Republic Jedi Master Plo Koon, a Kel Dor, mentioned a way that Kel Dor Force Users could block a neurological scan. The Kel Dor had an Order of Forces Users known as Baran Do Sages. Luke and Ben used this as their starting point. As it turns out, Jacen had visited the Baran Do Sages and did learn this technique from them. Luke has the Master of the Order teach him the technique. It also turns out that the Baran Do Sages have a disturbing way of preserving Force knowledge. They “die” and go live in an underground cave. Luke and Ben help them see the error of their ways.

Meanwhile, Han and Leia get a call from Lando and Tendra, who are running a spice mining operation on Kessel. The planet is not supposed to have any tectonic activity yet they’ve been experiencing earthquakes. The Solos with Allana decide to go investigate, but this is made quite tricky by the fact that there is an Executive Order requiring all Jedi to have an Observer with them any time they leave the Temple. They are also subject to random checks twice a day. But the Solos escape and have quite the adventure. It turns out that deep beneath Kessel’s surface there is a lot of technology on the order of the Centerpoint station. Some advanced alien race has the computers set to blow up Kessel, hence the earthquakes. The Solos and Calrissians manage to avert a catastrophe. But a more disturbing problem comes up. Allana has heard some sort of voice through the Force. She realizes that whatever it is wants her. The plot thickens.
Back to Coruscant, someone clearly has a dark sense of humor because Jaina gets stuck with the observer Dab Hantaq, who is a dead ringer for her brother Anakin. Soon after this measure, the Galactic Alliance also decides that until they can figure out what is wrong with Valin Horn, he must be put into carbonite to ensure he does not hurt anyone. The rest of the Jedi, of course, take care of their own. They decide not to leave research to the government. As a result a group led by Jaina capture Seff so they can study him themselves.
In the end, the High Court strikes down the executive order imposing restriction on the Jedi Order. One can imagine that this isn’t over yet.

I can certainly understand Daala’s reasoning behind arresting Luke. If anyone but Jedi tried some of these shenanigans they’d have been arrested. Yes, I did wonder why Luke let Jacen go so far. I mean hindsight is always 20/20. But there was evidence beginning with the story in Joiner King that Jacen was using his abilities irresponsibly. For instance, he flow walked back in time and gave one of his fellow Jedi encouragement. This same Jedi, Raynor (along with two others), ended up bringing the Killick species back to become a power in the present. Furthermore, Jacen used another Force ability to view the future which he saw as showing an everlasting war. He ended up causing this war by trying to change the future. He should have been smacked down big time. Anyway, there seem to be a lot of mysteries. So stay tuned.

Read more…

Posted in Liked It, Sci-Fi Friday, Star Wars

Coruscant Nights III: Patterns of Force

We have what is probably the final installment of this series.

The group is approached by a man who essentially betrayed Loran’s father. The man wants the droid to assassinate the Emporer. Strangely enough I-Five agrees to consider it. This fractures the group. Some feel the droid would be perfect as he cannot be read in the Force. The others-including Jax- are afraid Five will be destroyed.

Meanwhile there are the Inquistors roaming the streets looking for Force sensitives to capture. One gets the attention of the Inquisitors as well as Jac and Laranth. This kid is powerful and untrained. Despite his lack if training this kid could give even Vader a run for his money if not beat him out right.

The kid easily defeats the Inquisitor using techniques no one had ever seen before. Jax and Laranth befriend the boy (Kajin) and decide to train him as a Jedi. This presents a problem because the Kajin is so powerful that Force dreams and the like can be dangerous due to his lack of control.

Vader has everyone looking for this boy-even the local police! In fact the Inspector pays Jax a visit and reveals he knows that he is a Jedi. He wants Jac to trust him, but one can’t be too careful where Vader is concerned.

The groups finds an intersting way to shield the boy. Dejah’s former artistic lover made light sculptures using a substance that most beings utilize fir their neurosystem. This crystal blocks the ability to sense the Force. So they transfer Kajin to a warehouse full of these light sculptures so that he can be trained in safety. This discovery proves to be quite damaging to Dejah who belongs to a species that feeds off of the emotions of others. She realizes that her deceased lover was hiding from her emotionally.

More disturbing still about Dejah is that she has been using her pheromones to influence Jax. It appears the Force isn’t enough to block the phermones. In fact Jax realizes that Dejure used her pheromones to keep him from developing a romantic relationship with Laranth. He misread Laranth as shutting him out. As you can imagine he’s not too happy.

In addition to all this, Rhinnan is growing quite obsessive with his desire for the bota. He tries desperately to discover who has it. His plan is to use it to try to become Force Sensitive. He enlists (covertly) Dejah into helping find out what happened to the bota.

Back to the assassination plot. The group decides to to forward with it. Jax has major reservations about the whole thing because he discover that Five has enough self-awareness to make him readable in the Force.

Shortly before the assassination attempt, Laranth and Kajin are kidnapped. As the Inquisitors knew exactly where to find the pair there is a traitor.

The remainder of the group decide that the assassination attempt is the only hope they have of finding the pair. Well they get caught. Jax discovers that Vadet has had Kajin brainwashed into thinking that he is a Sith and that the Jedi captured him. It turns out that Dejah is more duplicious than anyone realized. She betrayed them to Vader. Dejah could sense the Force in a manner of speaking. She disliked the fact that Jax denied her this emotional feast by cloaking his use of the Force. Of course neither Vader nor the Inquisitos did any such thing so she was completely entranced and would do anything to feed off the power.

In hopes of freeing everyone or most of everyone, Jax gives Vader two of the three things he wants- the bota and the polonium. The third the was the Sith holocron.

Vader although a Sith could never reach his full potential because he was not a whole human. To augment his ability he needed the bota (which grants oneness with the Force) plus he needed the plolnium which is an unlimited though somewhat unstable power source. The Sith holocron would teach him how to use Sith alchemy to achieve this power.

Oh Laranth had the bota. But the bota had an unintended affect on Vader- it made him and his usage of the Force unstable. The bota as it turned out magnifies the flaws as well. Vader ended up destroying all of his Inquisitors except for Kajin and he inadvertantly killed Dejah as well. By this point Rhinnan snapped and attacked Vader. As revenge for nor having got a taste of the bota he jumped out the window taking Vader with him.

The rest of the group with Kajin who was unconscious at this point escaped. Jax did realize after being around Vader that Vader’s pattern in the Force was identical to Anakin. No two individuals has the same pattern.

Vader’s loss of control damaged Kajin to the point that they had to send him off planet to the care of the Silent Ones. They are Force users who specialize in healing.

Jax and Laranth begin a relationship and they look for the next person to help.

This was interesting. I didn’t see the twist and turns coming- like Dejah for instance. The way the story ended they could easily write more adventures with the pair. I’d really like to see what happens with Kajin.

Posted in Sci-Fi Friday, Star Wars

Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor

This story takes place soon after Return of the Jedi but prior to Han and Leia getting married. The death of the Emperor and Darth Vader has only served to fracture the the Empire. There are splinters that still need to be stamped out by the New Republic. The most dangerous of the factions is lead by Lord Shadowspawn who appears to have been on of the Emperor’s lieutenants. He and his shadowtroopers operate out of Mindor, a planet. Shadowspawn has made this particular planetary system hazardous by laying gravity mines as well as gravity interdictors. What this means is that any New Republic ships can only get so close before they are pulled out of hypespace.

Skywalker plus a good sized portion of the New Republic fleet go to Mindor. These shadow pirates overwhelm them. In fact Luke is forced to crash land his capital ship on the planet. It appears that Lord Shadowspawn’s design is to have Luke be crowned the new emperor. So he manipulates Luke into his lair. But of course, LUke doesn’t want to be the new emperor. So Luke and Shadowspawn fight. Luke senses that Shadowspawn’s intent is that Luke kill so of course Luke doesn’t oblige. He defeats the man and discovers through the Force that the man under the Shadowspawn headdress isn’t realy Shadowspawn- just a puppet being controlled by someone else. Of course the real brains of this operation incapacitates Luke. The real Shadowspawn had been in the Outerrim. It turns out that he belonged to some sort of philosophical group that believes that the Force is Dark. Since all things die, the end goal is destruction of everything. Shadowspawn believes that the reason the Emperor failed because he stopped destroying and tried ruling. Lord Shadowspawn has also mastered many Sith alchemy techiques. Strangely enough though, he does not seem to have force abilities like telekenisis.

Anyway, Leia, who is in the middle of negotiations, senses that Luke is in trouble, so Han and Chewie rush to his aid. Leia leaves the negotiations to Lando to help. When Lando finds out, he quickly settles the negotiations and joins the group as well. Anyway, Shadowspawn realizes after Luke escapes that he didn’t plan very well. But not to worry, he discovers that Luke has a twin who is on the planet so he goes after Leia. But he isn’t able to control her either. It seems Shadowspawn created this lattice that binds itself to a person’s nervous system. He intended to transfer his consciousness to Luke and then Leia and take over the galaxy himself. Luke is able to defeat Shadowspawn once and for all, the planet implodes, and all the good guys get away.

This story is different from the rest in the series. It read like a drama. In the beginning of the story Luke asks an investigator to gather evidence against him. See in all the destruction over 50,000 died. Luke feels responsible. In addition, everyone and their moms is cashing in on Luke and Han’s fame by making movies and adventure stories about them. Some details went awry- like the fact that Darth Vader killed the Emperor because he was jealous that Luke was going to take his spot; and that Luke killed Vader in revenge. The man who investigates Luke, instead of coming back with a serious report writes the novel Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor. So it’s a story within a story. How does this fit into the Star Wars universe? I don’t know. Maybe some of that Sith alchemy will make its way into the galaxy and cause more problem. All of the Star Wars tales are related, so this one will be too. This story was just ok for me. It was light and breezy, and it partially quenched my Star Wars thirst till Star Wars Coruscant Nights III Pattern of Force came out on January 27, 2009.

Posted in Liked It, Sci-Fi Friday, Science Fiction, Star Wars

Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter

I have an veritable mountain of science fiction books to review! So I’m starting sci fi Friday. I know most of you won’t like it; that’s why I’m doing it on Friday when the stats are low. But stick around. I will be covering more than Star Wars and Star Trek. You may find that you actually like it. Science fiction is not too far off from fantasy! A great deal of the plots are very interwoven like you find in the typical fantasy series. The Star Trek books tend to be more free standing thought there are mini series. Star Wars on the other hand, had some serious story arcs. Now on to the story…

This book takes place immediately before The Phantom Menace. One of Nute Gunray’s lackeys, Hoth Monchar, has gone missing. This is a problem especially as Darth Sidious is about to put the finishing touches on Naboo’s blockade. Let’s face it, loose lips sink ships. So Sidious send Darth Maul to track down the missing Neimodian, hopefully before the man starts talking and the Jedi find out that the Sith have indeed returned.
Maul does track Monchar down; however Monchar has recorded his stole information into a holocron which has sold to one Lorn Pavan. When we are introduced to Pavan we see that he has no love for the Jedi. As it turns out, the Jedi have taken his son away from him to raise. Once Pavan realizes the importance of the information, he decides to take it to the Jedi Temple.
Maul’s new assignment becomes to track down Pavan, kill him, and kill anyone with whom he might have spoken. Maul tracks Pavan back to Coruscant. However, Pavan (accompanied by droid I-Five) crosses path with Jedi Master Anoon Bondara and Padawan Darsha Assant, who are on a mission related to the Black Sun criminal syndicate. Maul attacks them, and Bondara gives his life so that Pavan and Assant can escape.

Maul tracks down the pair. Assant hold Maul off long enough for the droid to seal itself and Pavan in carbonite.. Assant triggers an explosion that kills her but barely misses Maul. Maul assumes Pavan is dead as he cannot sense Pavan through the Force not realizing the man is frozen.
One the timer runs out, Pavan is released from the carbonite. He tracks down Maul on a station and manages to sneak attack him. However, Maul cuts off his hand. Pavan is able to get away from Maul to the public area of the station. He passes the holocron off to Senator Palpatine who promises to help. Palpatine helps the man to his death by sending Maul to the man’s quarters.

At the end of the book, the blockade of the Phantom Menace starts.

I think it is so interesting that the Jedi were not well loved prior to Luke Skywalker. They had a really bad reputation as baby snatchers. In addition, I think all the “insight” from the Force, not mention the arrogant attitudes were probably annoying. In the later Star Wars books, you see that this attitude lingers for some of the older people. But it is so fascinating how close the Sith came to being exposed.