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The Courtship of Princess Leia

I recently reread The Courtship of Princess Leia (Star Wars) in order to refamiliarize myself with the ultimate fate of the warlord Zsinj. The X-Wing Wraith Squadron books, although written after this novel, introduce Han Solo’s relentless pursuit, and I had just finished them.

Since I hadn’t read the novel since Episodes I – III were released, I wondered whether there were discrepancies with the movies, or just plain oddities not seen elsewhere:

* Like many novels, Wolverton assumes that all Jedi bodies “dissapate” after death. The movies (and related lore) seem to indicate that only some Jedi learned to become one with the Force as a “force ghost” who is able to interact with the living.

* The long dead Jedi for whom Luke searches is described as the “curator of records for the Jedi at Coruscant”, a striking prediction of the librarians of the Jedi Archives in the Jedi Temple complex on Coruscant. The holographic recordings in the novel certainly reflect the types of recordings shown on the library “shelves” in the movie.

* The recording discovered in the ruins describe Yoda and other Jedi giving reports to the high master in a throne room. Similar to the Jedi Council?

* Wolverton several times describes a Jedi ability to use the Force to translate alien languages (and even Droidspeak) into Basic. Both Luke and the witches of Dathomir appear to do this — I don’t recall this ability in any other novel….

* The deed to Dathomir is described as “a registry chip, one of the old kind with a holo cube built in. She thumbed the switch, watched the planet materialize in the air before her, a scene from space showing the planet.” Reminded me of the holographic device that Qui-Gon Jinn used on Tatooine to project the image of the Naboo ship.

* A Jedi academy on board a roving starship in not contradicted by the movies to my knowledge.

With so few people strong enough to master the Force, the ancient Jedi would have needed to scour the galaxy hunting for recruits. In each star cluster they might have found only one or two cadets worthy to join. (page 165)

* At the end of the novel, the Hapan Navy launches “pulsemass generators” to keep the warlord’s ships in realspace, preventing them from entering hyperspace. In other novels, the Alliance/New Republic relies on maneuvering their enemies into the gravity wells of planets and stars or use Interdictor cruisers or destroyers for this purpose. If these pulsemass generators were available, why aren’t they used in other situations? Seems like a one-off.

Plot-wise, not the most impressive Star Wars novel. Luke’s character feels right, but Leia is waaaay off.

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Star Wars: We Don’t Do Weddings by Kathy Tyers

We Don’t Do Weddings is an audio dramatization based on a short story by Kathy Tyers originally published in the short story collection Tales from Mos Eisley Cantina (Star Wars).

The story recounts the backstory of the Bith band that plays the Cantina theme in A New Hope — how did a group that “played in the finest palladiums in the galaxy” end up in a dirty Mos Eisley Cantina? Figran D’An and the Modal Nodes had been the exclusive band for Jabba the Hutt until accepting a gig for the wedding reception for another Tatooine gangster. Normally, the band doesn’t “do weddings” because they’re too much trouble for far too few credits, but the offer this time is too good to pass up: a surprising amount of credits and free run of the sabaac tables when on break.

The dramatization is simply exceptional and the voice acting, particularly the Bith narrator (Doikk Na’ts, the fizzz player), is top notch. The audio producer liberally adds appropriate background noises, Star Wars sound effects, and soundtrack snippets to bring the story to life. Several new Modal Nodes tunes were also performed.

You may need to listen to the story several times before fully appreciating the story, but you’ll want to…. it’s THAT good.

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Star Wars geek alert

While reading The Krytos Trap (Star Wars: X-Wing Series, Book 3) this evening, I noticed that the Dramatis Personae in the front of the novel shows Captain Aril Nunb as a “human male from Sullust” when the previous books explicitly state that she’s a Sullustan female from Sullust. Ooops.

(At least with my first edition paperback published in October 1996. I wonder if it’s been corrected in later editions?)

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Star Wars: Rogue Squadron by Michael Stackpole

I have always been fascinated by Star Wars ever since I saw the first film in 1978 with my family. While some of the Expanded Universe books have been dreadful (Children of the Jedi (Star Wars) and The Crystal Star (Star Wars (Random House Paperback)) are two that come to mind!), there are a few which continue to capture my imagination. The X-Wing Rogue Squadron series by Michael Stackpole which were continued by Aaron Allston in his Wraith Squadron books are some of the best.

I last “read” Rogue Squadron (Star Wars: X-Wing Series, Book 1) via audiobook. Actually, the last few times I’ve read through the series was audio-based. As I was organizing part of my book collection last weekend, I ran across the physical books and decided to take the plunge again.

What intrigues me the most about this series is that it doesn’t focus on the more mystical aspects of the Star Wars universe: the force and the Jedi Order. Instead, the “working joes” in the Alliance military are the stars. Rather than use deus ex machina through a creatively applied force power by a single Jedi, Stackpole’s characters use practiced flying skills, creative manoevering, tactical thinking, and logic as a team to meet their assigned goals.

It is also interesting how Stackpole builds the comradery and trust between the pilots. Corran Horn, an extremely talented flyer among talented flyers is relatively aloof, but perhaps not consciously so. He knows that his flying and targeting skills are formidable and that he outclasses most of the other pilots in the newly reformed Rogue Squadron. His past as a law enforcement officer in Correllian Security and several years under assumed names in hiding from the Empire causes him to reserve trust in himself and in those few who have totally proved themselves. Wedge Antilles has to take him down a peg for him to see the light.

I sensed realism in the way that hot-shot pilots are given their head to a degree within the military organization, and then yanked back when they go too far. I also believe that it was crucial that some members of the squadron not come back from difficult missions — it is war, and the Empire doesn’t play fairly.

One quibble I have is that the “bad guys” in the form of Ysanne Isard and Kirtan Loor are a bit too shallow.

  • Isard is a more mysterious figure with plans to hold the remnants of the Empire together. Her sinister character is similar to that of the Emperor in the movies — hidden behind the scenes, mysterious, with an almost over-the-top evil. We don’t get to see enough of her to understand her motivations.
  • Kirtan, on the other hand, is almost too weak and spineless. Although the reader gets a few glimpses of his insight and logic, he is almost always subservient to another’s will. He’s a coward rather than a forceful, imposing figure. I wouldn’t expect a story’s antagonist to be likable per se, but I’d like to respect their will or their inner strength. Granted, he’s just a tool for Isard….but I expected a bit more.

Very enjoyable book, and a great start to the X-Wing novels.

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