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.

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