#RRSciFiMonth: Sunday Musings: Journey to The Last Jedi
Apparently, Disney has ten years worth of Star Wars movies lined up. This is extra good news for me, not just because OMG ANOTHER DECADE OF NEW STAR WARS, but because Star Wars Christmas Day has become a tradition in my family. Buying movie tickets makes for easy Christmas shopping, and it makes my heart swell to see three generations (four if my dad decides he’s not too sleepy) of my family in the theatre.
It’s been two years since this new phenomenon started with The Force Awakens and I have finally gotten around to listening to the audiobook. As always, Marc Thompson is the only person who should ever be allowed to narrate Star Wars books. It was nice to hear Han Solo’s smirk one last time and the subtext of emotion that he injects into the smuggler’s moments with Leia. As Tiara and Mogsy have already pointed out in their reviews, here and here, the novelization helps to add a few extra bits of context that were missing from the film. It fills in a few gaps, such as explaining what happened to Poe Dameron between his crash landing and his epic return, where the movie unfairly left me mourning the loss of that wonderful man for more than half the film.
After my exploration of novelizations last year, it’s nice to continue this journey with Alan Dean Foster. But The Force Awakens isn’t the only Star Wars adventure I took this year. As part of my 2017 Worlds Without End reading challenges, TFA served as the third of three Star Wars reads this year. The first was Revan. As a Star Wars: The Old Republic player who has followed Revan’s path since Knights of the Old Republic, I now understand people’s disappointment with this book. I’d long since gotten over Revan after playing some of his continued story in the BioWare MMO, but I’m no longer invested enough to have been hurt by it, but as I said, I understand.
The story follows Revans attempts to discover the truth behind his lost memories, which leads him to a literal dark place that only an unusual team-up between the protagonist from KOTOR2 and a new character, Lord Scourge, can save him from. It was supposed to be a conclusion to the game stories, but instead, it was a whole lot of exposition, a rushed ending, and no real conclusion for Revan. Which I already knew at that point, since I’d met him a few more disappointing times in Star Wars: The Old Republic. I’m all about inconclusive endings, but they have to actually be good.
Sticking with Star Wars: The Old Republic, the next step on my journey was Deceived, which focuses on Lord Malgus, the initial main villain of the MMO. First of all, as a book based on a game that includes battle sequences, I was really impressed with the way the author handled the action. Since I regularly play the game, I recognized many of the moves and could follow along with the battles.
Malgus is a Sith, through and through, but everyone has their weaknesses. Much like Revan, this story continues the intermingling of darkness and light, and it follows two main characters who walk the edge of the mirror. The Sith and the Jedi have always been two extremes. Good and evil aren’t always that simplistic. So I like books like this that explore the gray area.
My challenge was only for three books, but the library is always nice enough to recommend a few similar goodies, which led me to Thrawn. For many of us old school fans, Timothy Zahn’s first Star Wars trilogy was our first step into the glorious expanded universe. For me, it may have set the stage for my Star Wars: The Old Republic’s Imperial Agent’s sordid affair with a Chiss on the cold, cold planet of Hoth. Reading Thrawn just served to solidify the blue sexy. There’s a reason Grammarly wants me to change “Chiss” to “kiss.” But I digress.
Luke and company may have thwarted Grand Admiral Thrawn in the original trilogy, but I guess that doesn’t count anymore. Now we’re seeing Thrawn from a new angle, starting with his reintroduction through Star Wars Rebels where he hooked up with Anakin Skywalker. Now we’re meeting a man exiled from the aristocracy, who stealths his way into the Empire through his superior strategic intelligence. Despite being an alien, the Emperor recognized a good thing when he saw it and Thrawn’s skills quickly move him through the ranks. He is accompanied by a backwater assistant, Eli Vanto, through whom we get to access the emotions necessary to appreciate a character-driven book. Otherwise, the only insight we get into Thrawn himself is through his analysis of everyone he meets and their reactions to each situation, and his Art of War-like introductions to each chapter. He is able to read and anticipate everyone and everything, but we can’t have a perfect world here. Thrawn does fail to comprehend the political aspect of the Empire, which is where Orenda Pryce comes in. She understands how to read more than just people and knows how to play the political game. This story also serves to show us that the Empire isn’t necessarily as bad as it seems. The Emperor, well he’s one evil SOB, but there is something to be said about establishing some semblance of order, which is something Thrawn certainly understands.
So with all that Star Warsing this year, I feel like I’m ready for December 15th. Well, I’m ready, as in I am sufficiently Star Wars’d up. But I won’t be ready to see General Leia Organa on screen again and learn her fate. I will have at least one box of tissue ready. Maybe three.