Bad Batching Episode 5: Rampage

The Life Debt Podcast returns for another week (just a day late) and another episode of ‘The Bad Batch’ with the latest episode ‘Rampage’.

So stick some Star Wars podcast in those ears as I talk about the latest episode all about our favourite defective clones, and it’s right HERE for your convenience.

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#CollectionCorner Lando Calrissian ‘The Empire Strikes Back 40th Anniversary’ Black Series Review

“Hello, what have we here?”

When I dove into ‘The Black Series’ figures and started getting the 40th Anniversary series for ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ I debated buying the Lando figure.

Had to had not long released a Lando from ‘The Empire Strikes Back’, which looked pretty good in terms of the sculpt and the design, in the (then) regular black and red box, and the price was pretty good, but I could never pull the trigger because I didn’t think having an ‘Empire’ Lando in a regular box would be aesthetically pleasing on the wall. As it turned out, the 40th Anniversary version was just a repack of that figure (look at me doing research).

I finally pulled that trigger on Amazon Warehouse, knowing the packaging would be a bit dinged up in places and when it arrived it was slightly worse than I expected, with the blister pack loose, however a couple of strips of well placed sellotape have made the packaging look almost like new…

The sculpt looks great, the likeness to Billy Dee Williams is uncanny, seeing as the new cast are scanned so that the sculpts are spot-on, being able to do it for the cast in the older films is impressive and this is one of the best I have seen.

The outfit looks great and the detail on the cape gives Lando a regal look. I’m pleased that Hasbro went with a moulded cape over a soft goods one, I can’t imagine a fabric one would hold up as nicely with this figure. However, as an in-box displayer, I wish I could see more of the details on the figure that the cape hides (just no winning is there).

The accessories are spot on, Lando’s blaster is instantly recognisable from the films, however I don’t recall him ever using this model in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’, instead he used one of the E-11’s he and his security took from the Stormtroopers. The communicator/microphone however is straight from the film, which he uses to make the evacuation announcement to the citizens of Cloud City.

In terms of the packaging, I’m a huge fan of the 40th Anniversary throw-back to the old Kenner style card-backs. They look great and, through a stroke of genius, the fact this figures card is a bit battered feels like a genuine figure kept since its release.

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My Top Star Wars Moments 10

“You have something I want.” Moff Gideon, The Mandalorian: Chapter 7 – The Reckoning

As my introduction to Giancarlo Esposito as an actor, this moment was mind-blowing. Having not watched ‘Breaking Bad’, the show he was best known for at the time, I had no idea how amazing an actor he is. He’s so good in his brief scenes in Season 1 of ‘The Mandalorian’ that I started watching ‘Breaking Bad’. I still haven’t finished it but it’s good and I recommend it.

Aside from his brief appearance just before his troop unleashed hell on The Client and his lackeys, this was Moff Gideon moment to shine. And shine he does.

After landing his TIE Scout Fighter and approaching the wrecked bar, Gideon makes his appearance and sets the terms of engagement. “Give me what I want, and maybe, just maybe I won’t kill you now.” It also helps instantly establish his character, he’s a bad a$$ and means business.

Moff Gideon, for me at least, became an iconic villain the moment he gave this speech. Esposito’s performance raises the bar for everyone around him and between this and the speech he gives about the E-Web Blaster in ‘The Rescue’, he firmly establishes himself as an enemy to be reckoned with.

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The High Republic: There is No Fear Part 5 Review

Just when I didn’t think last month’s issue could be topped, Cavan Scott and his team absolutely smash it it with this issue.

With the Drengir attacking The Starlight Beacon and The Hutt Cartel attacking the Jedi on Sedri Minor, it all looks a bit hopeless for the Jedi. But when the Drengir attack the Hutts, a tedious alliance is formed but the Jedi and Hutt team-up still isn’t enough to fight back the deadly plants.

It’s a more personal battle going on between Sskeer and Keeve that, in true Star Wars fashion, is the true battle that everything hinges on. Keeve does her best to get through to her Master, she n a moment of clarity he confesses that his connection to the Force was diminished, leading to his problems through the past few issues. He hatches a plan, for Keeve to enter his mind, which is now connected to the Drengir, using the Force to convince the creatures to retreat.

Keeve does so, saving the Jedi and Hutts on Sedri Minor and those on The Starlight Beacon, including Imri, Vernestra Rwoh’s Padawan. However the attempt does come at a price, with Ssker dead in Keeve’s arms.

Just wow! That’s all I can really say.

Ever since Cavan Scott teased the death of a “beloved” character and then the solicitations for this month came out and we saw this cover I think we all knew what was going to happen, but I had no idea how phenomenal.

Seeing the end of Sskeer’s journey here, in the aftermath of The Great Disaster and the battle against The Nihil followed by his possession by The Drengir and his seeming descent to the Dark Side really gave him a great arc through all of ‘The High Republic’. He also gives us a look at something we have only seen once before, and recently in ‘Into the Dark’, which is a Jedi’s diminishing connection to the Force and part of me is wondering if it’s got anything to do with The Drengir.

Granted, Sskeer claims that his Force connection had been fading for a while but it seems very coincidental that both Sskeer and Dez Rydan who had been in contact with The Drengir who are strongly connected to the Dark Side and I hope that this is something that plays out throughout ‘The High Republic’.

Getting to see The Hutt Cartel in action for the first time, and in a time where they are essentially free to do what they wish without the confines of The Republic or The Empire, with Rancor Riders and lackeys of various species laying waste to anyone in their way and to top it off, the Jedi holding their own against an army of criminals. I never thought it was something I wanted to see but damn I loved it.

The highlight for me is the Sskeer/Keeve fight. It’s the kind of fight that that Star Wars does the best, the emotional battle, this one, for the soul of Sskeer as Keeve tries her best to get through to her former Master, to bring him back from the influence of The Drengir. As great as the new characters have been through ‘The High Republic’, Sskeer has been the one who, in my opinion, has had the best character arc throughout the initiative so far. However, this is mostly due to the fact that he’s had a considerable amount of coverage throughout, but it has been and incredibly interesting journey to go on, especially since he was one of the first Jedi we saw in the promotional art who fans gravitated towards for being a Trandoshan Jedi.

I am very interested is seeing what happens with Keeve going forward, I imagine she will be wracked with guilt after seemingly killing her Master to save people from The Drengir and that could be a hugely interesting story to follow moving forward.

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Bad Batching Episode 4: Cornered

The Life Debt Podcast returns for another week and another episode of ‘The Bad Batch’ with the latest episode ‘Cornered’.

So stick some Star Wars podcast in those ears as I talk about the latest episode all about our favourite defective clones, and it’s right HERE for your convenience.

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The High Republic: Into the Dark by Claudia Gray Book Review

After what felt like an eternity, I have finally finished Claudia Gray’s inaugural entry into ‘The High Republic’ series.

The first YA novel of the series ‘Into the Dark’ never feels like a YA novel, and only really falls into that genre because of the age of the main protagonists, Reath Silas and Affie Hollow, both in their late teens.

Happening during the timeline of The Great Disaster that has been the backdrop for the other two books in the first wave (Light of the Jedi and A Test of Courage), ‘Into the Dark’ follows the crew and passengers of the ship ‘The Vessel’, one of the ships from the Byrne Guild that operates on the frontier regions of the Galaxy, crewed by the Matthew McGonaughey of Star Wars, Leox Gyasi, the navigator Geode (a huge sentient rock) and Affie, who is learning the ropes of the Guild and will one day take over from her adoptive-mother, the owner, Scover Byne.

The Vessel has been hired to transport a group of Jedi, Padawan Reath Silas, Master Cohmac Vitus and Jedi Knights Orla Jareni and Dez Rydan to the Starlight Beacon in time for the dedication ceremony but The Great Disaster forces them out of Hyperspace early.

In what seems like the middle of nowhere, and stranded with an array of other ships, The Vessel locates a Space Station and shepherds the other ships to it in time to save them from a solar flare. Once inside, the crews of the stranded ships start mingling which leads to some chaos that the Jedi manage to settle, including a kidnapping of a young girl called Nan that Reath puts an end to, leading the two of them to become close.

Cohmac and Orla explore the central arboretum that makes up the bulk of the station, where a strong sense of the Dark Side is located. After experiencing visions they decide to remove a set of statues they believes have been imbued with the Dark Side. Meanwhile, whilst exploring the Station, Dez Ryden is killed when he enters a strange corridor and Affie finds proof that members of the Byne Guild have used the Station as a way point, despite its strange and seemingly dangerous nature.

Once the hyperspace lanes are reopened, The Vessel returns to Coruscant. Affie does more digging on the Station and it’s connections to the Guild, whilst Reath deals with the news of his Master, Jora Mali’s death during a battle with The Nihil and Cohmac and Orla take the statues to try and learn about their connection to the Dark Side.

Affie, Reath, Cohmac, Orla and the crew of The Vessel return to the Station, Reath to arrest Nan after he realises she and her guardian are members of The Nihil, Orla and Cohmac to return the statues when they realise that they were keeping the Dark Side forces in check and Affie to get proof that her adoptive mother was utilising illegal indentured servants as pilots for The Byne Guild in a bid to try and get her to change her practices.

On the station, they encounter The Drengir, plant based creatures, attached to the Dark Side and hungry for meat which the statues had been keeping in a state of stasis. Reath is transported to another planet where he finds a beaten and poisoned Dez who had been transported to the planet and now a prisoner of a group of Drengir. Reath manages to escape back to the Station with Dez but finds it in a state of utter carnage with The Nihil trying to take over. The Drengir, once again imprisoned are released again to act as a distraction for The Nihil but The Vessel becomes stuck and only a life threatening plan from Reath can stop the enemies fight and fire The Vessel.

With the Station now empty of hostiles, The Vessel returns to Coruscant, Reath asks Cohmac to be his new Master, Orla finally fulfils her goal to become a Wayfinder and Affie foils Scover’s plans for indentured pilots allowing Affie, Geode and Leox to make their own way in the Galaxy.

Despite taking me a long time to read (took a Star Wars break half way through and then struggled to find time to just sit and read) I really did enjoy this book. Structurally it felt very different to most Star Wars books, in the sense that the first half was a very slow burn, getting to know the characters and their situations before an explosive second half. It has a very ‘Alien’ vibe in how it plays out as well. Having already known that this was the introduction of The Drengir and that’s they were the main antagonists, I was fully expecting them to show up at any time, picking off the different crews onboard the station, but we only get the one real casualty in Dez.

The second half is an absolute whirlwind, the pace is doubled or even tripled and the long wait make that first appearance of The Drengir that much more scary when the surround Cohmac and Orla and even Reath when he finds Dez on the Drengir homeworld.

In terms of the structure, I feel like the middle where they return to Coruscant for the first time could have been altered, perhaps not going back to Coruscant, instead having the characters make their discoveries in transit and make an unscheduled return to the danger zone would have ramped up the tension for me and maybe cut out a part that had a bit of a lull for me.

My one critique aside, Claudia Gray has written an amazing entry to ‘The High Republic’ and given us some great characters, some of which are returning in some of the upcoming books and comics which I am looking forward to (I’m loving how connected ‘The High Republic’ is) and it gives us some new ideas on different aspects of The Jedi Order, that we never got to see in The Prequel Trilogy, such as Wayfinders, Jedi who essentially go off on a sort of gap year but still being active Jedi, unlike those who take the Barash Vow who essentially leave the Order without actually leaving it to meditate on the Force.

I’m really looking forward to seeing what else Gray is going to bring to ‘The High Republic’ in the future, with a very full second phase coming up, I wonder if Gray along with Charles Soule will be hitting the front lines for the third phase which I assume will be out towards the end of this year/beginning of next year.

In terms of the rest of Gray’s Star Wars library, ‘Into the Dark’ is her first chance to bring us something wholly new without characters or settings familiar to fans, this book allows Gray to give us a completely new ‘Star Wars’ book and she does it with style, and it managed to surpass my expectations brilliantly.

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My Top Star Wars Moments 9

“There are more of us Poe, there are more of us.” Lando Calrissian

Say what you will about ‘The Rise of Skywalker’, many already have and still do in the deep, dark realms of social media, but if even the most staunchest of haters doesn’t have even a tiny glimmer of emotion at the moment then I don’t know what to say.

The build-up to this moment is intense to say the least. After Poe watches his long time friend and wing mate, Snap Wexley get shot down by a Sith TIE Fighter, the battle starts to play on Dameron, as the sound design is filled with shouts, screams and questions for the General we see Poe at his most defeated, this is the most broken we ever see him, maybe that he has ever been (even more so than in the novel ‘Resistance Reborn’ where he is dealing with his actions at the beginning of ‘The Last Jedi’). His apology to The Resistance is a sign that he has resigned himself to defeat.

But when we get Lando’s voice, in the first of two great moments where Lando saves the day, we get not only the Millennium Falcon, The Ghost and the mish-mash of ships we got in the trailer, but a whole wide-shot of ships, led by Lando and Chewie.

The brilliance doesn’t rest at the feet of J.J. Abrams and Chris Terrio, sure they wrote a great moment (some would say lightning in a bottle for that team-up) or Oscar Isaac, even though his performance in the scene is fantastic. It’s the true master of Star Wars, the only other person next to George Lucas who has had a hand at crafting the Galaxy.

John Williams!

Like Lando, John Williams flies in and rather than giving us a new ‘Duel of the Fates’ or ‘Battle of the Heroes’, he simply and brilliantly gives us the Main Theme as the people of the Galaxy arrive and join the battle, becoming the overwhelming force of hope that will bring down the tyranny that has plagued the Galaxy.

The theme plays its way through the beginnings of this new battle, following the Millennium Falcon and the fighters on an attack, giving us that Wedge cameo that just added to the sequence, leading into the “Its not a Navy, it’s just people.” line that just sums up the whole moment beautifully.

Whilst the film isn’t the best of the Saga, it’s safe to say that it does have some fantastic moments and this, for me, is one of the best, if not of the whole Sequel Trilogy, hell, the whole of the Skywalker Saga.

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The High Republic Adventures Issue 3 Review

In a change of pace from the previous issues, Older gives us a look at the aftermath of the attack on Bralanak City as Zeen and Krix start on their new paths.

We learn that Zeen and Krix have been communicating with each other using the Com-Links that Yoda gave them in the previous issue.

Krix and Elder Tromak are taken by The Nihil to a fighting pit. Tromak must ride a beast called a Bogaranth whilst Krix leads it, the fight is called off by Marchion Ro who has found Krix’s communicator and it has a direct link to the Jedi.

Krix proclaims his innocence, saying that it belongs to Tromak who is sentenced to death, by becoming a snack for the Bogaranth and Krix is taken to Ro’s chambers.

Marchion knows that it was Krix’s and is impressed that the boy would so easily betray the man who was like a father to him to save his own neck. The problem is, however, that the Com-Link also contained a Transponder that could lead the Jedi straight to The Nihil. Ro tells Krix that this is a betrayal by his friend. The only way Krix can redeem himself is to allow the Jedi to come to them and wipe them out, with Krix’s help in luring them to their doom.

Meanwhile, on Starlight Beacon, Zeen’s experience is completely different. She is welcomed by the Jedi, especially Lula who has fast become her friend. The Masters all seem to have become quite taken with her, and even though she cannot join the Jedi Order because of her age, I get the feeling that, given her popularity with all of them, she will have a place on Starlight Beacon no matter what.

Whilst the Masters agree that, until her home has recovered from the attack by The Nihil, Zeen can stay aboard the Beacon, and her relationship with Krix and the now devoured Tromak could be useful. Something Yoda has already considered. Zeen is then asked to help the Jedi track down The Nihil using her communicator to keep in contact with Krix so the Jedi can help save the boy and stop The Nihil.

It’s no surprise that the two leads have very different experiences with the Jedi and The Nihil but Older uses them to show us life in each of the camps, which isn’t new for readers of ‘The High Republic’ series, but this is the first time we get to see inside a Nihil ship and it’s every bit as dark and dingy as I expected it to be.

We continue to see how vastly different the Jedi of ‘The High Republic’ are in comparison to those of the Prequels. We get Jedi Masters, Knights and Padawans all interacting in an incredibly light hearted social environment, Avar Kriss is having the time of her life listening to stories and good old Buckets of Blood just can’t stop eating. The most social interaction we saw the Prequel era Jedi have was in the lost Padawan arc of ‘The Clone Wars’ when the Padawans joined the travelling circus to save Ahsoka from Hondo. The more we see of these differences, the more I want to see how and why the Order changes and becomes what we have become so used to seeing on screen.

After a couple of fast paced issues, getting a bit of a breather to set up the next part of the story was much needed and the insight we get into both the Jedi and The Nihil really helps put into perspective how vastly different the two groups are, we’re not talking Force Users on two sides of the Force like we’ve had throughout the franchise, this continues to feel new and fresh and it’s just making me look forward to more content from ‘The High Republic’ even more.

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Bad Batching Episode 3: Replacements/Yub Nubbin: Cries of the Trees

Bad Batching returns after another amazing episode of ‘The Bad Batch’ called ‘Replacements’.

And as a bonus treat to tantalise your ear-buds, the first episode of ‘The Life Debt Podcast: Yub Nubbin’ is included to whet your appetite for the Early Access show on Patreon, starting in June. So if you like what you hear then please join the Patreon at any level to get access this new series as it won’t be released publicly until next year.

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Darth Vader: Into the Fire Part 6

After finally reaching Exogol, Palpatine tests Vader once again to determine whether he is still worthy of being a Sith Apprentice as Vader learns of his Master’s secret plans.

Questions get answered in this issue, we learn more about Palpatine’s master plan on Exogol than any of the material published around ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ concerning the Final Order. This wasn’t just something Palpatine had going on behind the scenes between the Original and Sequel Trilogies, this has been going on for a long, long time.

After Palpatine defeats the giant squid creature Vader brought to Exogol, the Sith Lord leads Vader through the ancient Sith Temple. We see the clone vats full of Snoke duplicates and even a container with Luke Skywalker’s severed hand.

Vader is forced to battle some Clone Warriors that he is seemingly overwhelmed by until he gains the upper hand, then a whole group of the Sith Acolytes surround him. He is tainted by Palpatine who says that any one of them could take Vader’s place. Vader kills them all.

Vader hears a crying sound throughout the Temple and as he makes his way through, along with Ochi, he finds the Star Destroyer fleet, and Ochi discovers the planet destroying weapons attached to them.

Vader finally finds the source of the crying, a giant Kyber Crystal that is being corrupted, like a Sith must do to make their lightsaber. Chunks of the Crystal are being removed for the Star Destroyer weapons. As a piece is removed, Ochi’s mask falls away and his eyes are burned by the blast.

Palpatine reiterates the way of the Sith to Vader and as Vader has a vision of him and Skywalker on Bespin when Vader tried to get Luke to join him, but this time with their roles reversed, Vader realises he is beaten and follows his Master with Sly Moore and Mas Amedda along with Ochi from the Temple.

It’s been a long time coming, but this issue has finally arrived (about two months after the last one) and we finally get a satisfying issue in this story-arc and unfortunately it’s the last part of the story as well.

Vader’s journey through The Exogol Temple answers more questions we had from ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ however, I’m sure this will be seen as a way for the Story Group to fix mistakes made by Abrams and Terrio, but for me this is just a way of expanding the lore.

Ochi’s character, whilst following Vader for most of the issue, comes across better now than in the past issues he’s been in and we finally get him unmasked, hopefully if the character stays in the series he’ll be more toned down and come across more like the sinister character we briefly glimpsed in ‘The Rise of Skywalker’.

The story, whilst really not wowing me over the last few issues really got to a great place with this one and I’m glad I stuck with the run. When I started seeing spoilers for this issue cropping up when it was released (I got it a day later) my intrigue was at a whole new level that it hadn’t been for this series. Park really brought the story to a great conclusion and Ienco’s art is fantastic.

Now Vader is back in Palpatine’s good books, I’m very interested to see what happens next for The Dark Lord of the Sith as ‘The War of the Bounty Hunters’ starts next month.

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Thrawn Ascendency: Greater Good Audiobook Review (SPOILER FREE)

Firstly, before I get started, I would like to thank Penguin Random House for sending a copy of this book for review.

Secondly I’d like to complain to Royal Mail for said book not arriving at all, which is why I got the Audiobook on Audible (thanks to having some spare credits). Anyway, time to talk Star Wars.

‘Thrawn Ascendency: Greater Good’ widens the scope of the first book in the trilogy, which spent a lot of time focusing on the Mitth family and gives us a wider view of the Ascendency as a whole, introducing new families and a brand new level of the Chris’s Family Hierarchy, branching away from the Nine Ruling Families and adding the Forty Great Houses, all of whom owe allegiance to one of the Nine Ruling Families.

Continuing on from where ‘Chaos Rising’ ended, the plots from within The Ascendency against Senior Captain Thrawn are mounting as the mysterious Jixtus begins putting his plans in motion to bring chaos to The Chiss.

‘Greater Good’ introduces us to new worlds within the Ascendency and new aliens from within The Chaos, one species, The Agbui, led by Haplif feature very prominently and bring a new perspective to the way the Chiss operate in day-to-day life.

Zahn takes the chess game that he usually plays when writing Thrawn and turns the 2D game board into a 3D board and really gets to play in the niche part of the Galaxy Far, Far Away that he created and sets us on a whirlwind story full of political intrigue and amazing space battles where every tiny detail feels like it has been plotted out before pen touched paper (or fingers touched keyboard).

As always, Zahn held my attention, but there were a few occasions where I wonder where the story was going in terms of the overall plot, there are events happening all over the Ascendency and Zahn juggles them well but some of the plot lines felt pretty slow at times. I’ll even admit that I did struggle slightly with the audiobook for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the new Chiss characters became very confusing, especially the numerous members of one specific Family, where almost all of the names sounded the same. It would become very confusing at times, especially when a number of them were in the same room. However, I’m sure that with a helpful reference, like a Dramatis Personae that is in the hard copy of the book, that confusion would easily have been avoided (thanks Royal Mail).

The second reason I struggled at times, and this feels like sacrilege to even say, but on a couple of occasions, Marc Thompson’s performance pulled me right out of the story when voicing a handful of characters in what feel like impersonations of Star Trek characters. I could easily point out Sulu, Chekhov and Worf voices for crew members of the Springhawk, and personally I didn’t get along with those choices.

Speaking of Marc Thompson, his performance overall was fantastic as always (despite my earlier complaint) and aside from Lars Mikkelsen, he is the only person I would ever want to portray Thrawn. The man deserves some kind of award.

On a whole, I wasn’t as enamoured with ‘Greater Good’ as I was with ‘Chaos Rising’, but what I did take away from this one was that rather than be the second act of a three act play, this one is being used as a vehicle to set up for the third book in the ‘Thrawn Ascendency’ trilogy, titled ‘Lesser Evil’ and out in November, which (I assume) will bridge the gap between ‘Greater Good’ and ‘Thrawn’, the first book of Zahn’s previous series which saw Thrawn rising through the Empire. However I still enjoyed the story, but I think I’d have enjoyed it more had I read it rather than just listened to the Audiobook.

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A Spot of Housekeeping

Hello there!

I’m just taking a moment to just keep everyone updated with some of the recent goings on in the world of ‘My Star Wars Life Debt’, especially with some new ways to support the Blog and Podcast.

Last week I bit the bullet and re-released the Life Debt Patreon last week with three brand new tiers and bonus content, including a brand new Podcast series (as of right now it’s unnamed) which will be similar to “Rebels Revisited’ and ‘Bad Batching’ where the focus will be (drumroll please) the 1985-6 Ewoks animated series. There are three tiers for folks to choose from, so head on over to and check it out.

I have also been working on bringing ‘The Life Debt Merch Cantina’ back, as such, I have added a brand new design to go with the original Andy Bailie artwork which is the brand new logo for ‘The Life Debt Podcast: Bad Batching’ which is now available on the store. Head on over to to see the products currently on offer.

All of these and the other ways to help support the Blog and Podcast are all on the Support Page. So if you would like to help keep the Blog and Podcast running as smoothly as a Hutt’s backside then please take a look.

Before I go, I just want to thank everyone who has taken the time to read the Blog and listen to the Podcast, every view and listen means a whole lot to me, so thank you again.

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War of the Bounty Hunters: Alpha

Marvel’s big Star Wars Crossover Event has arrived folks, and with a Charles Soule sized bang that means only one thing. It’s f@&#%*g amazing.

Boba Fett is bringing the Carbon-Frozen Han Solo to Jabba’s the Hutt but something is going wrong with the Crime Lords soon-to-be favourite decoration, leading Boba to Nar Shaddaa to visit an associate who calls himself a Doctor but he doesn’t have any of those Med-School certificates so I’m dubious of his moniker.

Needing to be paid up-front, Boba is enlisted to do a favour for Doc Ragon, Boba must enlist in the Fighting Pits and take out the Pit Warrior Wyrmin Lictor. Boba initially wants to walk away, but after the good Doctor manages to modify the look of Fett’s armour, the Bounty Hunter agrees to the terms.

Using the name Jango, Fett quickly makes a name for himself, killing all of his opponents until he faces off against Lictor in a spectacular fight which sees Boba injured before getting the upper hand.

Lictor’s benefactors approach Boba, demanding money or he does one more fight. Fett walks away ambit finds that Ragon has been killed and Solo has been taken, only to get a call from Bob Fortuna, saying that Jabba’s is getting impatient for the arrival of Fett’s prize.

Soule uses ‘Alpha’ to set the whole premise of ‘War of the Bounty Hunters’ up, and rather than just throwing a whole bunch of pieces into the story to set up each story thread over all of the connected comics in the Event, we just get one action-packed tale that leaves us with the mystery of who’s taken Solo and what is the biggest, baddest Bounty Hunter going to do about it.

Taking cues from 1996’s massive multimedia event ‘Shadows of the Empire’, telling the story of Boba Fett delivering Han to Jabba, it’s not going to be straightforward. And adding on the pressure of an impatient Hutt Crime Lord, Fett’s job has just gotten a lot harder.

With very little knowledge, other than the full list of issues that are part of the even being included at the end of the book as to who will be involved outside of the regular books we can look forward to seeing some of the classic Bounty Hunters appearing and I do wonder if we’ll get an appearance from Fennic Shand as a precursor to the eventual team-up between Fett and Shand in ‘The Mandalorian’.

With Soule at the helm, of course the story will be top-notch, but the art team of McNiven and Martin do a phenomenal job, especially with the black armour, keeping the iconic Boba Fett look but making it look completely different at the same time.

With 33 issues left of the Event, ‘Alpha’, is only the tip of the iceberg and I’m looking forward to where it takes everyone in all of the connected stories.

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Bad Batching 2: Cut and Run

The Life Debt Podcast series four has returned and this week we get a great fun episode that I loved talking about on the latest episode.

The second episode is out NOW, where I share my thoughts on the the latest episode of the series.

You can find the episode on most major Podcatchers, or find it over on HERE.

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Doctor Aphra: The Engine Job Part 3

On their search for a Nihil Hyperdrive Engine, Aphra and Sana come across a whole bunch of old Nihil ships, and of course, trouble.

I’m not going to lie to you folks, but I’ve been really looking forward to this issue but had to wait to get it but was it worth the wait? Absolutely.

Aphra and Sana look for clues in a bar on the planet Dol’har Hyde, a place where the plant life seems to almost have a mind of its own and grows exceptionally fast. Close to the bar is a tree which has grown around/through a crashed Nihil ship.

Aphra and Sana make their way into the wreckage, with Aphra’s gear malfunctioning causing her to fall into a part of the ship, luckily her landing was cushioned by the tree.

Once inside the ship, they try to reactivate the systems, something Aphra manages to do and they locate the ships hyperdrive and deduce that the one they their competitors have could be a fake. As they are about to remove the hyperdrive they are attacked from above by General Vukorah of ‘The Unbroken Clan’.

Amidst the destruction, Aphra downloads the schematics for the Nihil hyperdrive before her and Sana take a chance and jump into the inside of the tree but their grappling hook launcher doesn’t catch onto anything causing them to fall. Vukorah tells her group to go to Midarr, where the bartender told them the hyperdrive was.

Meanwhile, Lucky finishes an assassination and on his way home he is met by Ariole Yu who takes him to his boss, Wen Delphis.

Like I said before, I’ve missed this series. It’s been the one series other than ‘The High Republic’ that I’ve enjoyed every issue of and this one is no exception, and not just because of its connection to ‘The High Republic’ in this run.

The continued interactions between Aphra and Sana are great, something I’m really invested in, especially after the ‘Doctor Aphra Audio Drama’ that really dived into their relationship before Aphra became the rogue archaeologist. We get some really nice hints at that in this issue which just helps tie all of these different mediums together.

We meet a new enemy for Aphra in General Vukorah. Other than working for a newly introduced crime organisation we know very little about her and I’m intrigued to find out more.

My only nitpick for the issue is the reliance of characters falling. I get that having Aphra’s gear failing is a plot device that plays out at the end, but it just felt a tad repetitive. However I’m sure that it will play out brilliantly next issue.

The design ofthe planet Dol’har Hyde is great, it looks like an out of control Felucia and the colour palette makes it look gorgeous. I’m intrigued by the name though, it reminds me of the character Francis Dolarhyde from ‘Red Dragon’, which makes me wonder if it’s a reference to the character from the book or film.

A well written and beautifully depicted issue, it’s keeping me interested which has been tough to do in a couple of the other series I’ve been reviewing recently, and Aphra continues to be my favourite of the original characters created since the old EU became Legends.

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Bad Batching: A Life Debt Podcast Episode 1 – Aftermath

The Life Debt Podcast has returned for a fourth series folks, and this one is all about the latest animated series, ‘The Bad Batch’

The first episode is out NOW, where I share my thoughts on the first episode of the series.

You can find the episode on most major Podcatchers, or find it over on HERE.

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Showdown at Centrepoint by Roger McBride Allen Audiobook Review

With Centrepoint charging for another Supernova blast, the Solo/Skywalker family and friends are in a race against time to uncover the truths behind the events that n the Corellia Sector.

Roger McBride Allen really brings ‘The Corellian Trilogy’ to a stellar conclusion with ‘Showdown at Centrepoint’, with all of the leads reuniting to end the Corellian Conflict.

After splitting up on various missions, Han helps Dracmus pilot the homemade ship to Selonia followed by Leia and Mara. After coming under attack, the Selonian ship crash lands in friendly territory.

Luke and Lando, with Gaeriel and Kalenda go to Centrepoint Station where they meet the lone inhabitant of the massive station, Jenica Sonsen who takes them on a tour of the facility. They pass through the massive central core of the station and after learning about two previous flares and a third one starting to charge, Lando deduces that Centrepoint is what is the Novamaker that has been causing starts to explode.

On Drall Chewie, with Anakin, Jania, Jacen, Q-9, Ebrihim and Marcha keep a watch over the Planetary Repulsor. Through his tinkering, Anakin activates the station causing an underground lightning storm that damages the Falcon and Q-9. It also alerts ‘The Human League’ as to its whereabouts and an assault is launched, led by Thracken Sal-Solo. Chewie, the Children and the two Drall are captured but Q-9, who had been repaired had been hidden in one of the Falcon’s hidden compartments.

Sal-Solo records a message to Han and Leia, being held as hostages/prisoners by the Selonians, the spokeswoman for the Overden (the Selonian ruling council), Kleyvits, demands that Selonia should be freed from the New Republic and dates that the Solo’s and Mara Jade would be held until Leia agrees. The message shows Sal-Solo stood with Han and Leia’s children, wanting Leia to grant Corellia its demands of leaving the New Republic.

With the Interdiction Field down, a fleet of ships from Sacorria arrives. It starts to come clear that the whole plot involving the revolts in the different planets and the disdain between the three native species was generated by the Triad, the ruling power on the planet, made up by a Human, Drall and Selonian. Their intention was to make the Corellian Sector autonomous under their rule.

The Bakuran ship ‘The Intruder’ attacked ‘The Human League’ on Drall and freed ‘Sal-Solo’s prisoners, capturing Han’s cousin and taking control of the Repulsor.

On ‘The Intruder’, the Solo family is reunited as well as with Luke and Lando. Together, the Bakuran Admiral, Ossilege, Gaeriel and the rest form a plan to thwart the Triad. Luke and Lando stay with the fleet as fighters. During the space battle, Ossilege uses ‘The Intruder’ as a weapon against the Triad’s fleet, destroying the ship and killing himself and Gaeriel but winning the battle.

Han, Leia, Chewie and the rest of their motley crew return to Drall in time for Anakin to interact with the Drall Repulsor and used it to stop the third Supernova blast from Centrepoint Station.

After the conflict, after the previous Governor-General was killed in the conflict, Leia appoints Marcha as the new Governor-General of the Corellian Sector, with Ebrihim acting as her aide. Lando and Tendra reunite and their romance gets underway in earnest.

I have to say that ‘Showdown at Centrepoint’ was a thrilling and satisfying ending to ‘The Corellian Trilogy’, there’s suspense, drama, intrigue and romance and it’s all wrapped together in a fantastic package. The mystery around Centrepoint Station and those who are using it as a weapon is well played out, however, the reveal that The Triad is running the whole plot feels like it came out of nowhere, however, that could have been more down to the abridgement rather than the storytelling itself.

One thing that did bother me however, was the flirtatious interplay between Lando and Jenica. Lando has spent the past two-and-a-half (audio)books head over heels for Tendra, the key to spend a substantial amount of time flirting with another woman, only to tell her he’s in love with someone else. I get Lando is flirty, we all know that, but for some reason it just didn’t sit right with me. What could have been interesting would be if Jenica was flirting and Lando didn’t really notice, only for Luke to mention it at a later point. I think something along those lines would have sat with me better and would show some great character development. Sure, Lando shows growth here but not at the same level that could have been.

Allen does fall on a well used trip of the EU when Thracken manages to take the Solo kids hostage. We’ve seen them be kidnapped or almost get kidnapped before and it feels a bit played out, however it does allow us to get a great scene between Han and Thracken which is the juxtaposition of a scene they shared in ‘Assault at Selonia’, and we also get to see Anakin using his technical abilities to free himself and his siblings. His ability to understand technology and how things work has been a big focus in this trilogy and really comes to a head when he is able to use the Drall Repulsor, that has essentially linked itself to him, to stop the Triad from destroying the next Star on their hit-list.

I have to admit that ‘The Corellia Trilogy’ certainly reinvigorated my interest in the 90’s era EU (audio)books. Granted I’m not listening to them in release order, but rather chronological, but I was feeling very apathetic towards them after ‘The Callista Trilogy’ and ‘The Crystal Star’, none of which I enjoyed and found them to be tough to get through, even though they were only three hours each.

Allen certainly brings ‘The Corellia Trilogy’ to a satisfying conclusion that wraps up all the plot lines and mysteries that stem from it. This series is certainly not in the same league as Zahn’s ‘Empire Trilogy’ but Allen holds his own and delivers some great Star Wars stories with his contributions to the Galaxy.

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#CollectionCorner – The Armourer Black Series Review

This was a lucky purchase at the time, I found it in the aftermath of Christmas on Amazon and got lucky when I found it for a pretty good deal (just under £20 including postage). I had been eyeing her up for some time, especially after missing out on the Convention Exclusive version, which, when looking back, whilst having some lovely extra accessories, wouldn’t have looked great on the wall.

The sculpt is just beautiful and the level of detail on the figure is amazing. I absolutely love how this figure looks, with the leather-style look of her gauntlets and the layered design of the skirt (is it a skirt).

The helmet sculpt is so well made, the helmet on this figure reminds me heavily of the Spartan helmets seen in the film and graphic novel ‘300’, if you took away the visor and horns it would be almost a match. The horns are subtle, like in the series, and unlike those on the ‘Mandalorian Super Commando’ figure based on Maul’s Mandalorian followers from ‘The Clone Wars’ who have huge horns on their helmets.

The big difference between this and the Convention Exclusive is the cape, the exclusive has a fabric cape whereas the regular version has a plastic cape.

Her accessories are a set of tongs and a hammer which she uses to help forge armour. They are also the same items she uses against the Stormtroopers that invade the Covert in ‘Chapter 8: Redemption’.

The box art is beautiful. I love the orange hue that ‘The Mandalorian’ figures have. The pencil look is phenomenal and we get her in a very chilled pose with the hammer over her shoulder. It’s definitely the most relaxed we ever see the character.

This is one great figure and it fantastically represents the character and well worth adding to any collection.

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Why Does Bo Katan Want to Rule Mandalore?

I’ve been doing some contemplating on Bo Katan Kryze this week (I rewatched ‘The Rescue’) and I’ve been wondering quite a bit about her reasoning behind her, almost desperation to retake Mandalore.

In ‘The Rescue’, we learn a few things in regards to Mandalore, firstly, Boba Fett claims that “The Empire turned the planet to glass.”, so why the need to retake the planet if it’s so badly devastated?

We are also given a brief insight into the Darksaber, as a “symbol” of power, the power to unite the clans of Mandalore and rule as the Mand’alor. Bo Katan had this title once before when she was gifted the Darksaber by Sabine Wren and many of the Clans declared their alignment to Bo Katan against the Empire.

Since then, however, a lot has changed. The ‘Night of a Thousand Tears’ and ‘The Great Purge’ have been mentioned in the first season of ‘The Mandalorian’, both of which sound like massive events that are probably where the Empire reigned destruction on the planet after their rule was challenged by Kryze and her followers. The other thing that occurred, Bo Katan fought Moff Gideon. And lost. Knowing Gideon, he knew she wasn’t defeated and he probably didn’t kill her on purpose as he won the Darksaber in combat.

For me, when Kryze was given the lightsaber, that was her time to lead. The sister of Duchess Satine who stood against Death Watch and Maul. A true warrior who would lead from the front lines with the Darksaber held high. However, during ‘The Mandalorian’, the Galaxy is at peace. The Empire for the most part is gone, with warlords like Moff Gideon still around, and no matter what little they have in terms of resources, their numbers are dwindling. But Bo Katan’s hatred for Gideon is only outweighed by her desire for the Darksaber. In my opinion, Kryze isn’t the kind of leader that Mandalore needs right now. I’m reminded of a quote from ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, where James Gordon and his time as Commissioner is described as “A war hero, but this is peace time.”

Of course, we don’t know the state of Mandalore other than Boba Fett’s description. Is it still occupied until the Empire? I doubt it if the world has been so devastated as it’s described. Instead the Mandalorian people need someone to unite them. Would they be united by Bo Katan? Would some of them blame her for what happened to their homeworld? Do they see her defeat at the hands of Gideon to be part of the reason behind the destruction of their planet? Is that why she wants the Darksaber so badly, to right the wrongs of the past?

There’s another quote, this time from ‘Revenge of the Sith’ that comes to mind, “All who gain power are afraid to lose it.” Could Bo Katan be clamouring for the power she once held?

I do wonder if the third season of ‘The Mandalorian’ will give us a look at the reclamation of Mandalore and what Bo Katan’s role will be. There is a part of me that doesn’t think she will give up what she sees as her claim to the Throne so easily, but would she make a good ruler now? Would the people follow her? Only time, and hopefully a full season of episodes will tell.

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Assault at Selonia by Roger McBride Allen Audiobook Review

With Han Solo and Leia Organa prisoners of ‘The Human League’ and the New Republic Fleet unable to fight, Luke, Lando must find a fleet capable of breaking through the Interdiction Field. Meanwhile, Chewie and the Solo kids go with Ebrihim to his homeworld and discover the secret behind Corellia’s archaeological dig.

The second part of ‘The Corellia Trilogy’ is an action packed splendour that keeps the main heroes separated for the majority of the book. All three must rely heavily on unfamiliar allies to achieve their goals and reunite.

Han is captive of ‘The Human League’, led by his sadistic cousin, Thracken Sal-Solo, who’s aim is to reinstate an Imperial-type rule over Corellia. For entertainment, Thracken has Han fight a Selonian called Dracmus ago later becomes Han’s cell mate.

After a few days, they are rescued by Dracmus’ clan who have a series of underground tunnels. Suspicious but thankful for the help, Han is led into an Underground Complex where the Selonians have built their own space craft on which they attempt to escape to Selonia.

Leia is held hostage in the wreckage of the Government Building. A new cell mate is brought to her, Mara Jade. Despite a lack of trust between the two, they hatch a daring escape plan, making their way to Jade’s room she had been staying in prior to the attack and her incarceration.

First they retrieve Leia’s lightsaber and Han’s spare blaster and eventually make it to the room where they find the remote to bring the Jade’s Fire to them. After a brief skirmish, the ship arrives and they escape.

Chewie and the kids have arrived at Ebrihim’s homeworld, where they visit his Aunt Marcha. After he explains the events of Corellia, it turns out it’s happening on Drall also. The Solo children are encouraged to tell Marcha whet they found on Corellia and Marcha believes there is another on Drall. They find the location and enter the same style chamber and learn that it’s a repulsor, big enough to move a planet. They deduce that each of the planets in the Corellian System must have one.

Luke and Lando’s journey to Corellia is cut short by the Interdiction Field and the return to Coruscant and meet with the leaders of the New Republic. During a meeting with Admiral Ackbar, Mon Mothma and other leaders to discuss their options. Seeing as most of the fleet was under repair and the rest on other missions, Luke decides to visit Gaeriel Captison, an old flame from the novel ‘Truce at Bakura’.

After meeting with Luke, Gaeriel tells him that the Bakuran government has granted permission for the Bakuran Fleet to aid the New Republic on a mission to Corellia to vanquish ‘The Human League’ and their new Hyperspace technology would help them get through the Interdiction Field.

The Bakuran Fleet arrives in the system and pushes through the Field until one of the ships loses its systems. They learn they the Interdiction Field is being generated from Centrepoint Station. Lando and Luke fly with the fighter squadron, taking on Corellian fighters. The damages Bakuran ship is destroyed by another Planetary Repulsor, this one fired from Selonia. Dracmus reveals to Han that her group wanted to secede from the Corellian government and become part of the New Republic, and would have handed control of the Repulsor to them, however, it seems that their opposition had located it first.

Leia, in the Jade Fire, senses Luke and Han. The Bakuran fleet welcomes Leia, Mara, Han and the Selonian crew (whose ship became useless after Dracmus has the crew pull some daring manoeuvres. Lando also reunites with Tendra Risant who left her planet to search for him.

In another part of the Galaxy, Wedge is working tirelessly to evacuate people from the next system on Thracken’s list is stars that ‘The Human League’ will cause to go Supernova. Up until the last minute, Wedge believes that the threat was a hoax until the star starts acting strangely. Luckily Wedge and the New Republic ships were able to get to a safe distance, but many thousands of people died, and the next star on the list has a much higher population, many of whom would certainly die even if the New Republic was able to begin evacuations immediately.

As much as I enjoyed ‘Ambush at Corellia’, ‘Assault at Selonia’ really ramps it up and genuinely feels like ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ in terms of the structure with all the heroes on separate adventures that culminate with everyone together for the final part. Allen doesn’t hold back and puts each of them through some form of ordeal, Han’s imprisonment at the hands of his cousin doesn’t feel half as brutal as his incarceration in ‘The Black Fleet Crisis’, but adds something different where he has to trust Dracmus and her Selonian comrades, even though he has very little knowledge of their allegiance in the Corellian crisis, it’s not until they are stranded that Dracmus explains their position and for Han, trust isn’t easy.

The Leia/Mara dynamic is interesting, given that the two of them don’t really trust each other at this point in the timeline, but knowing that they become family later it’s great to see that relationship develop, we also get to see Han’s feelings of distrust towards Jade in a conversation with Dracmus, who also knows Mara, but as a legitimate trader who the Selonian trusts.

The continued pairing of Luke and Lando is still as enjoyable in this book and the two of them end up going on another mission of the heart, with Luke meeting his former love interest, Gaeriel. Having still not read/listened to ‘Truce at Bakuran’, I didn’t learn about this pairing until this (audio)book, and their initial awkward meeting before the New Republic meets with the Bakuran naval leaders managed to give some insight to their past relationship without a huge amount of exposition, and didn’t get in the way of the story.

Seeing Chewie with Jacen, Jaina and Anakin as they go to Drall, Ebrihim’s homeworld gave us a look at another different grouping. Usually Han and Chewie are the inseparable pair so this is another refreshing change that Allen has given us in this trilogy. The fact that the children are the ones who have the important information that leads their group and Aunt Marcha to finding out about the Planet Repulsor and the history of the Corellian Sector, being a solar system made by people gives some interesting history to the Galaxy.

This final part with Wedge really slams home the threat of the hidden ‘Star Burster’ weapon, and the fact that we get a well known and loved character like Wedge to be a witness really shows the high stakes of what the New Republic must deal with and is a great lead in to the next book.

The second part of any trilogy is just like the second act of any story, it’s where the characters go through the most, must deal with insurmountable odds and get them ready for the final part and ‘Assault at Selonia’ does just that in a really great way and is helping put ‘The Corellian Trilogy’ high on my favourites list for the Legends timeline.

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The High Republic: There is No Fear Part 4

Possessed by the Drengir, Sskeer has Avar, Ceret, Keeve and the boy called Bartol captured in the vines created by the plant-like creatures.

Remembering her time as a Padawan, Keeve reminisces about a lesson that Sskeer taught her, as she attempted to use the Force to aid her to reach the opposite side of a canyon. As she falls, he catches her and she tries again, taking on his lesson that “there are no shortcuts on Light’s path.”

Avar and Keeve try to reach Sskeer who’s mind is buried behind that of the Drengir possessing him.

He tells them the history of the Drengir, fuelled by the Dark Side they fought alongside the Sith for a time, possessing them as they saw fit, but the Sith fought back and imprisoned them.

Centuries later, the Great Progenitor was awoken by a group of Jedi who were waylaid on a space station (Into the Dark) the rest of the dormant Drengir awoke and began causing their special brand of destruction.

They finally manage to do so and the Jedi are released. Sskeer manages to fight the plant creatures possessing him and joins the Jedi in fighting the creatures. They kill the two Drengir and make their way to the surface where the village chief is beating one of the citizens for talking to the Jedi.

Avar arrives, accusing him of knowing about the Drengir and helping them by sacrificing villagers to them, but she realises that he knew nothing of the monsters, instead he was in league with someone else, and as a ship lands she learns that that someone is The Hutt Cartel.

Meanwhile, on Starlight Beacon, Maru’s autopsy on the murdered Hutt reveals the true cause of its death, a strange plant-like creature.

With Vernestra Rwoh and her Padawan Imri Cantaros assisting, they are soon under attack from the Drengir that has burst out of the Hutt’s corpse (an excellent Alien reference), the Jedi must hold their own and stop the creature from getting out of the quarantine zone and into the Starlight Beacon.

This series just continues to get better, with the horror vibes, the continuing downfall of Sskeer and an (my) extended introduction to the Drengir (I’m only 100 pages through ‘Into the Dark’). Learning their history here was great and I hope we get a more in depth look at them somewhere (probably ‘Into the Dark’). They are vastly different from The Nihil which gives us a decent range of villains and if The Hutt Cartel are joining the ranks of villains in ‘The High Republic’ and I’ve been intrigued by since their mention in ‘Light of the Jedi’.

As always, the art is beautiful, we get some stunning shots of the Jedi in this issue, the group shot of the four Jedi preparing to fight the Drengir is my favourite image from the issue, but Anindito spoils us on every page, another stand out image is Avar Kriss walking into the hut just before the Hutt Ship arrives, and the panel where the Drengir explodes from the Hutt corpse is phenomenal.

I’m continually being blown away by this series. I’ve loved each issue so far and it’s been a great backbone to ‘The High Republic’ initiative, keeping the story going between each round of books (I’d best finish ‘Into the Dark soon) and most of all, giving us a great look into the life of a Jedi at this time period of the Galaxy.

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Ambush at Corellia by Roger Macbride Allen Audiobook Review

The Solo family visit Han’s homework’s of Corellia for a Trade Summit as tensions rise amongst the people and a hostile group called ‘The Human League’ begins terrorising the planet. Meanwhile, Luke joins Lando on a strange journey to find Lando a wife.

As the first part of a trilogy, ‘Ambush at Corellia’ has got the hard job of being the scene setter, establishing the overall plot, introducing the key players and setting up for the second act.

Han, Leia, Chewie, Jacen, Jaina and Anakin visit Han’s homeworld of Corellia to golf to a Trade Summit. Before they set off, Han and Chewie are approached by Belindi Kalenda from the New Republic Intelligence, there is unrest on the planet and they need Han to act suspiciously to distract those working against the New Republic.

On Corellia, Han has a look around and crosses the path of a parade for a group calling themselves ‘The Human League’. Two members seem to recognise him and knock him out, he wakes up in a cell where another member of the League tells them he’s not who they think, and that he is in fact Han Solo. He’s knocked out again and returned to his family with a warning.

Leia hires a Drall (one of the three native species of the Corellia System) called Ebrihim, and his Droid, a modified R2 unit called Q9 to be the children’s tutor during their time on Corellia. The family go on various field trips, one of which is to the first archaeological dig on the planet where Han recognises the uniforms of those that ‘The Human League’ wear. As they go through the dig, Anakin is drawn to a part of the wall, the twins join him and they reveal a hidden panel. They press it and open a door to a chamber. They are joined by Q9 who, before leading the children back to the group, scans the area in case it’s needed later.

At the trade summit, Mara Jade arrives with a message for Leia that had been delivered to her. The message, originally intended to be delivered by Luke who has gone on a separate adventure with Lando. The message, from the head of ‘The Human League’ demands that the New Republic begins the process to allow Corellia to leave the Galactic Government as well as remove the Selonian and Drall inhabitants from the planet, or his group would trigger a series of stars to go supernova, the first of which has already happened.

Han finds Kalenda who has been keeping an eye on the Solo family. They devise a plan to get Kalenda off-planet with the message to show Mon Mothma and The Senate. When Han tells Leia the plan they share a brief moment, knowing that Han is going to end up captured. He then instructs Chewie that, if anything happens he is to get the kids to safety.

The building they are in is attacked, Chewie, the children, Ebrihim and Q9 to the Falcon and try to escape but are attacked, so Ebrihim directs Chewie to a safe haven they could use.

Han and Kalenda go through with their plan and Kalenda escapes but Han is captured. The following day, ‘The Human League’ sends a message, their hidden leader is revealed to be Thracken Sal-Solo, Han’s cousin who had believed to be dead.

Meanwhile, through all of this, Lando takes Luke across the Galaxy to find a wife, not for love but as more of a mutually agreed business transaction. Their first visit almost has Lando enter into a union with a Life Witch, where Lando would die at the end of their five year agreement, the second has recently gotten married but the third, Tendra Risant piques Lando’s interest in a more romantic venture but their meeting is cut short by the local government kicking non-citizens off planet due to the unrest in the Corellian Sector. As they head to Corellia to help Han and Leia they are pulled out of Hyperspace by an interdiction field, a measure ‘The Human League’ has put in place to counter any attacks against the planet.

As a set up to a trilogy, ‘Ambush at Corellia’ does a great job, and it gives us our first look at Corellia (in Legends, as far as I know). By the end, all of the characters are in place for their storylines in the next book and gives us a promise of some great action ahead.

I really enjoyed the Luke and Lando dynamic, it’s not one we usually get and whilst it’s a more subdued storyline than Han and Leia’s it is almost refreshing to see something different playing out in a Star Wars story.

Allen gives us a really nice look at family life for the Solo’s when not in the middle of some crazy adventure as they are travelling to Corellia when Han is telling his children about the Corellia System, of course it’s an expository scene and it gives us a swath of information we need about the different species, the planets of the Sector and the political situation that they are in before, during and after the Empire. It’s a lovely scene with the whole family, the children sat with their parents for something akin to story-time.

‘The Human League’ is a different kind of enemy, not a Sith or Dark Force user in sight, no Imperial Remnant leaders wanting to get their name out there or alien race hell bent on Galactic domination. And whilst the concept is new for Star Wars, it’s not me that we have seen a lot in the world recently and whilst I try not to compare Star Wars to the real world too often (not saying Star Wars isn’t political, I just like to keep the fantasy and reality separate), there is something awfully similar to the horrendous increase of racism over the last few years that comes to pass in this (audio)book.

A good and enjoyable book that promises great things from the rest of the series, I’m starting to look forward to these audiobooks again after the tough slog that ended with ‘The New Rebellion’.

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Doctor Aphra Audio Drama Review

Like ‘Dooku: Jedi Lost’, Del Rey have published the full Audio Drama script for the brilliant ‘Doctor Aphra’ Audio Drama in Hardback (6th April).

To celebrate the release, here is my original review for the Audio Drama.

When it was announced, I was so excited to be getting new ‘Doctor Aphra’ content. The previous audio drama, ‘Dooku: Jedi Lost’ was a great listen so I had the utmost faith that this would be just as good.

Even when we found out it was going to essentially be a retelling of Kieron Gillen’s ‘Darth Vader’ series that excitement still held. Why? Because it’s ‘Doctor Aphra’ and she’s a phenomenal character!

Firstly, it’s not a straight up retelling of Gillen’s series. It’s told from Aphra’s perspective. We get her thoughts, her insights, her excitement and her fears of being Vader’s attaché. We also get a considerable amount of back story into her and Sana Starros’ character. Readers of the ‘Rebel Jail’ story arc from Jason Aaron will be familiar with one section of the story too.

Sarah Kuhn has translated Aphra’s story arc into this medium brilliantly and given us some great insight into Aphra’s character and her past before becoming the rogue archaeologist we all know and love.

I really enjoyed the writing more in this audio drama, the narration didn’t feel quite as obvious as it did with ‘Dooku: Jedi Lost’ and even though it was a story I already knew, it always felt fresh.

I loved Emily Woo Zeller as Aphra. She brings so much life to the character and I would love to get an ‘Aphra’ animated series with Zeller voicing the character.

The rest of the cast were good. It took me a while to warm up to Sean Kenin’s 000, as I had always thought that he would have sounded more like C-3PO, probably with a slightly darker tone to the voice like in ‘The Rise of Skywalker’.

Marc Thompson nails Darth Vader. That’s all I have to say about that really. It’s Marc Thompson, we already know he’s amazing.

Nicole Lewis does a great job bringing Sana Starros to life. It was easy to picture Sana from the comics with Lewis’s voice and it was really fun finding out what had happened between Sana and Aphra when they were younger.

I really hope this is just the start of more Aphra content. I’d be all over a Disney+ series, live action or animated. I’d happily take more audio dramas, especially if the creative team behind this one we’re to return, but I’d like more original stories than any more adaptations. This works as an introduction but I think if they produced original adventures, they could be onto a real winner, more so than they already are with this.

Definitely worth a listen, and it’s a quick one too, at just under 6 hours it’s easy to get through, and worth every second.

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The New Rebellion by Kristine Kathryn Rusch Audiobook Review

When a mass extinction occurs, an old friend of Han’s arrives with a strange message and the Senate is bombed by a mysterious attacker, Luke, Leia and Han go on separate adventures to get to the bottom of a growing threat to the New Republic.

After what I can only describe as a rather dismal run of audio(books), ‘The New Rebellion’ puts an end to the downward slump and sets a course for a solid Star Wars adventure.

On Yavin IV, during a training session, Luke experienced a vision where a man, disguised in a death mask murders the whole population of a planet. Leia experiences the same vision as she is about to address the New Republic Senate, which is about to enter a new term, with a whole swath of new Senators from former Imperial worlds, whom Leia is very suspicious of. The address barely gets started when the chamber is bombed, killing many Senators and their staff and wounding Leia.

At the same time, Han meets with a former smuggling associate, Jarril, who gives Han a cryptic message before disappearing. As Leia heals, Han and Chewie go to Smugglers Run, a smuggling den hidden in an asteroid field. Luke meets with a recuperating Leia and the two discuss their visions. Luke leaves to find a former apprentice, Brakiss, who left Luke’s Academy and turned to the Dark Side. Luke is stalled when his X-Wing is put out of commission for upgrades and takes one of the New Republic’s new X-Wings, that doesn’t need an Astromech, so he leaves R2 with Cole Fardreamer, a mechanic from Tatooine to help fix Luke’s ship.

Lando, searching for Han, finds Jarril’s ship with Jarril dead and a communication with Han’s name on it. After visiting Leia, Lando follows Han to Smugglers Run. At the Run, Han and Chewie find out the smugglers have been dealing in droids, taken from a Droid Factory on Telti, right where Luke is heading to meet Brakiss, who runs the factory. Brakiss sends Luke to the planet Almania, where Kueller, his Master, resides.

The same communication with Han’s name on it reaches a group of Senators (fork former Imperial worlds) who call for Leia to resign from her post as Chief of State. Instead, she hands the title to Mon Mothma so that Leia and Wedge, after finding Kuellor’s location can take the fleet to stop the Dark Jedi from taking over the Galaxy.

Cole and R2, with the help of C-3PO find an old Imperial detonation device installed in Luke’s X-Wing, and after some investigation, in a new group of X-Wings, one of which Luke had taken on his mission. With Leia and Wedge’s help, they take a ship to Telti to find the source of the detonators.

Over Almania, Luke’s X-Wing explodes with the Jedi Master barely able to escape in time. His injuries are tended to by a local before he goes to face Kuellor. Meanwhile on the Smugglers Run, Lando is taken prisoner by a Crime Boss, Nandreeson and is saved by Han and Chewie, who, with Lando, become heroes when the Droids from Telti explode and they manage to save the smugglers.

Cole and the Droids arrive on Telti and whilst Cole distracts Brakiss, R2 and 3PO find that Brakiss is making Droids, with the Imperial detonators for Kuellor who has had them sent all over the Galaxy and Kuellor is the only one who can blow them up.

Luke meets and fights Kuellor when Leia arrives (as the New Republic fleet engages Kuellor’s fleet of Imperial ships) she attempts to take Kuellor on herself but her attempts fail. Han and Chewie arrive after meeting with Talon Karrde and Mara Jade to acquire a pair of Ysalamiri (Force deflecting lizards) which are eaten by a psychic animal that has imprinted on Luke. Luckily before they were eaten, the Ysalamiri Force Deflecting Bubble weakens Kuellor enough for him to turn to Plan B, blow up all the Droids. Luckily, R2 and 3PO are able to shut down the Droids and block the signal. Kuellor is killed by Leia firing on him with Han’s blaster. In space, Wedge is able to lead the fleet to victory by confusing the Droids operating Kuellor’s Star Destroyers long enough to ambush them.

Back on Coruscant, the call for Leia to resign is revoked after Han is found innocent and Leia prepared to make a speech to the Senate to announce tie beginning of the postponed new term.

Where ‘The New Rebellion’ really works well where others haven’t is that it doesn’t have an over complicated plot. Whilst Rusch does fall back onto some EU tropes, former students of Luke going to the Dark Side, rebuilding the Empire and the call for Leia to resign her post, none of them feel out of place here. The use of Droids as bombs all over the Galaxy is one of sheer genius, Droids are just about everywhere in the Galaxy so to use them as weapons (not an army like the Prequels) is great. The idea of Droids being used as weapons was revisited in Daniel José Older’s novel ‘Last Shot’ in which Droids were essentially brain washed into killing humans.

Something that I really enjoyed was Leia using the Force more, it’s her connection to the Force and to Luke that really push the story, with Luke dealing with the Force is a more usual way for his character given his experience by this point in the timeline, granted, Luke doesn’t get much character development in this novel, his role is really to put an end to a Galactic threat that he feels guilty for.

The Han, Chewie and Lando storyline is good fun. We get a look at the underworld of the Star Wars Galaxy and in a great twist, it’s Lando who ends up in deep trouble with Han and Chewie coming to his rescue. And who can beat the run-in at the end which results in Leia defeating the (audio)books villain.

The novel isn’t overloaded with new characters, we get a few but none of huge consequence other than Kuellor, Brakiss and Cole Fardreamer, so the story is mainly focused on the existing heroes, and a couple of appearances from some EU favourites. Rusch really utilises all the characters well, with each of the plot threads coming together nicely at the end for a satisfying ending.

‘The New Rebellion’ is certainly a high point for the 1990’s Star Wars EU run, it packs the same kind of punch that Zahn’s ‘Heir to the Empire’ series did and doesn’t overstay its welcome like ‘The Black Fleet Crisis’ Trilogy and its one I would highly recommend to either read or listen to.

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Dooku: Jedi Lost Review (Re-Release)

‘Dooku: Jedi Lost’ has just hit shelves in paperback form.

The script for the fantastic Audio Drama really allows you to have more of a deep-dive into the story, letting you pick up on those little things that you may have missed when listening.

To celebrate the release (1st April) here’s my original review for the Audio Drama.

Dooku has always been an interesting character. He is our introduction to the idea that Jedi could leave the Order, he is a political beast and a master manipulator, he is also incredibly strong in the Force.

But not much was known about his life prior to the events of ‘Attack of the Clones’ other than he was once Qui-Gon’s Master and he in turn was Yoda’s Padawan. Which gives us some understanding of his power in the Force and he’s incredibly enigmatic. The scene where he tries to tell Obi-Wan about Darth Sidious being in control of the Senate only to reveal that he is Sidious’ Apprentice is pure genius.

So when it was announced that an Auido-only novel about Dooku’s past I couldn’t wait and thankfully my wife had a spare Audible credit.

Dooku’s Story is told through holograms, a journal and stories told to Asajj Ventress, who is sent on a mission by Dooku, prior to ‘Attack of the Clones’ to find Dooku’s sister who has been captured by Republic Spies.

Asajj learns of Dooku’s youth in the Jedi Temple and his friendship with another young Jedi, Sifo-Dyas as they visit the planet Serenno on Jedi business he becomes involved in a mild conflict and rescues a young girl, Jenza, and her brother, Ramil. Jenza takes Dooku on a tour of the city and in an Force related accident where Dooku accidentally brings a building down on top of them, they find out that Dooku is her brother. Their father Gora has abandoned Dooku as a baby because of his Force abilities.

As they get older, Dooku and Jenza remain in contact as intergalactic pen-pals, sending holo-messages to each other regularly.

We learn on Dooku’s and Sifo-Dyas’ exploits in the Temple and how they broke into a hidden chamber filled with Sith artefacts, and their interest in these is noticed by Jedi Master Lene Kostana and she takes the young Dooku under her wing, but eventually she chooses Sifo-Dyas as he Padawan whilst Yoda takes Dooku.

After years of learning from Yoda Dooku’s secret is revealed after receiving a message from Jenza saying their mother has died and she is asking him to come back. Master Kostanna takes Dooku and Sifo-Dyas to Serenno’s Funeral Moon. The planet is in turmoil after Count Gora had replaced many professions with Droids and there is an uprising. They attack the funeral and Dooku, under duress uses the Force to throw everyone back, including the casket.

Afterwards, Dooku, Sifo-Dyas and Master Kostanna visit a nearby planet which they discover is consumed with the Dark Side and the three of them have horrific visions of war.

Years pass, Dooku and Sifo-Dyas drift apart, the latter continues to have debilitating visions and Master Kostanna stays with him whilst Dooku takes Rael Averross and then later Qui-Gon Jinn as his Padawan learners.

During Qui-Gon’s training they manage to uncover deep plot which involves a corrupt member of the Jedi Council who’s criminal contacts have sabotaged a racing speeder that Dooku’s brother was piloting which left him severely injured, and once Qui-Gon had become a Jedi Knight, Dooku was elected to join the Jedi Council.

Again, years later, Dooku was becoming more and more disenfranchised with both the Senate and the Jedi Council when he received a message from Jenza asking for his help in fighting off Mercenaries from Serenno. After debating with both groups, Dooku is joined by Kostanna and Sifo-Dyas.

They reach Serenno and are shot down, they manage to crash land safely and are met by Jenza and some of the Resistance fighters and it soon leads to a full scale battle which is eventually won by Dooku visiting his brother who has become more machine than man, controlling a Droid Army. During their fight Dooku deactivates the Droids and manages to best Ramil, killing him.

During the battle, a valuable resource was discovered deep underground, and realising that the Republic would now leap to their aid, Dooku decides to leave the Jedi and rule Serenno as an independent system.

Ventress, through learning these ordeals, cons to understand her new Master well, and once Jenza is found and her and Dooku are reunited, Dooku has his assassin kill his sister so that none of his secrets could come out, especially now that he is being influenced by a ‘hooded man’.

The story is well paced and fantastically written, Cavan Scott really gets into the heads of Ventress and Dooku, and gives us a greater understanding of their characters and motivations. Ventress is struggling with her new role as Dooku’s assassin and, at what seems to be an early stage of her time working for him, is frequently punished by Dooku for lying to him about her thoughts and her desires to leave. We really develop a growing sense of sympathy for her, and after also reading ‘Dark Disciple’ we really get to know more of her life and her ongoing story arc that, in terms of the timeline, starts here and ends in Christie Golden’s novel.

Dooku, of course, is the main focus of this story, and his backstory is so rich. From his early years at the Temple to his leaving the Jedi Order we really get to know what drives him, what kind of a Jedi he was, how he broke the rules of the Order but remains devoted to them, right until the bitter end where he realises the Order is not what it once was, no longer are they the Galactic Peacekeeping force but a tool for the Senate to use at their will.

What we don’t fully get is his eventual turn to the Dark Side, through the story he brushes the Dark Side but doesn’t turn and we only get a hint at his association with Darth Sideous at the end. If I have one complaint, it’s that there seems to be more story to tell about the time he is no longer a part of the Order and becoming Sideous’ apprentice. Hopefully we will get a sequel to fill that part of the timeline.

The secondary characters are great. Sifo-Dyas plays a prominent role and we learn of his almost debilitating Force Visions, which would eventually lead him to build the Clone Army. His master, Lene Kostanna, a Jedi with an interest in the Sith, who believes before anyone else that the Sith would return is an interesting character. Her mentoring of Dooku in the early parts of the story really give us an insight into Dooku’s mindset towards the Force which will be passed on through his Apprentice, Qui-Gon.

Jenza and Ramil are excellent plot devices, one hive Dooku a tie to his home whilstvthe other gives him a reason to come back at the end and liberate his home. Dooku’s relationship with Jenza is sweet but filled with peril as his communication with her is essentially forbidden by the Jedi but the siblings have a connection that neither wish to ignore. It’s quite sad at the end when Dooku has Ventress kill Jenza but it’s understandable in his twisted mindset, essentially killing her to protect her from further capture and torture at the hands of his enemies.

As I write this I am two-thirds of the way through ‘Master and Apprentice’ by Claudia Grey and I have to say I am impressed at how well these two stories connect, even is subtle ways, with the character of Rael Averross crossing over to appear, even though briefly, in this story whilst he features prominently in the other. The two act as brilliant counterparts and tell an even greater story when consumed together, and they are both amazing on their own to begin with, and this compatibility really gives me hope for the upcoming ‘Project Luminous’ which both Authors are involved with.

Cavan Scott has done a fantastic job giving us a deep-dive into the history of one of the most intriguing characters to come out of the Prequel Trilogy and it does not disappoint one bit, if only there was more of the story. I really want to get another Volume about Dooku and how he joins Sideous, the betrayal of Sifo-Dyas and the eventual build-up to ‘Attack of the Clones’.

‘Dooku: Jedi Lost’ is available where Audiobooks are sold.

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Star Wars: Operation Starlight Part 4

With the Rebel Fleet still in tatters, Leia and Kes share a moment of quiet to swap stories about their respective partners.

Soule slows the action down for a rare quiet moment which, after the past three issues is a needed chance to pause and have some character beats that don’t revolve around the action.

Kes shares the story of how he first met Shara after he made a bet on her ship in a race. After she wins he decides to meet the racer who won him quite a bit of money. He takes her for a drink and, years later they’re married, have a son and fighting to free the Galaxy from the Emperor’s hold.

Leia recounts a story about Han on Hoth before the Revels were discovered by the Empire. A reactor, linked to the heat supply for the Hoth base is about to explode. All of the Rebels are on the various ships keeping warm. Han and Chewie hava a part that could help and the two of them go to fix the reactor. In true Han and Chewie fashion, the repair job goes a bit awry, leading Han to tell the fleet to evacuate the base. Leia, on the Falcon waits outside the base, and after a few minutes Han and Chewie get in touch, the reactor patched up but needing the Techs to fix it up.

As the two talk, we learn more about why Leia has fallen in love with Han. Not because he’s a scoundrel or a smuggler, but because, deep down he’s one of them, an everyman who has become a hero of the Rebellion and won the hearts of the Rebels, and her.

Their conversation is interrupted, Shara Bey has got in contact. She speaks to Kes, telling him she has found a safe place to hide and has sliced into the Imperial network, Leia then speaks to her, asking her what she knows.

Taking a break from the action was what this arc needed and it gives us some great backstory for Han and Leia, and more of a reason for Leia’s feelings for Han, and answers the age old question, what Leia sees in him, which if we’re being honest, we’ve all wondered about at some point or other. Also, giving Leia a quiet moment in the story is something we’ve not really seen, in any medium, and that brief scene in ‘The Last Jedi’ when The Raddus comes out of Hyperspace barely counts (you know I’m right).

I really enjoyed getting some backstory on Kes and Shara, and rather than having them meet and fall in love during as part of the Rebellion, instead it’s pure chance, had Bey lost the race then would Kes have bothered to meet her? I doubt it, especially as he’s betting away his last seven Credits. It’s not fate, destiny or whatever you may call it, just pure chance which is a welcome break in a franchise full of destiny.

What was also pretty good was that we got some new Han Solo content, even when he’s frozen in Carbonite we are still able to get some new stories about our favourite smuggler this side of Mos Eisley. It’s a decent way of keeping him in the series without relying on memory flashes which we also get in this issue. Spike writes great Han and Chewie interaction, so it’s a bit unfortunate that his run on the series is without Han, maybe, just maybe, we could get a Canon version of Dash Rendar popping up later in the series.

A refreshing change of pace which cleanses the palette ready for this arc to ramp up, whether or not they will rescue Shara before the upcoming Boba Fett cross over event or she’ll be stuck on Tarkin’s Will for a bit longer, I’m starting to look forward to this run again after the last few issues felt a bit tedious.

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Star Wars Vintage: Clone Wars 2D Micro Series – Volume 1

Oh Disney+, you wonderful, beautiful beast you. Treating us to a whole array of Star Wars: Legends content.

Back in the 2000’s when this series first aired I really annoyed my parents, taking over the TV to record these onto VHS, in five minute bursts. But I didn’t care, it was wonderful new Star Wars content and I was living for it.

Now, I’m not going to lie, back then and up until now I’ve had issues with the series, the short runtime being one, probably because I just wanted more content and five minutes a piece wasn’t enough for me at the time. The character design was another issue for me, I really didn’t like how they looked, especially Anakin. I had some other issues, but I’ll go into those later in the post as I write about the series itself as I watch it through (Durge). Hopefully this rewatch (the first time since the 2000’s) will alleviate some of those issues.

Here I go…

… and that was painful. I went in hoping to get hit with some nostalgia feels and see what it is that fans rave about, and unfortunately I wasn’t and I didn’t. I spent most of the time feeling bored, the hour and three minutes runtime dragged so much, I had to check how much there was left on a couple of occasions.

Anakin was worse than I remembered, the whole teen angst that we got in ‘Attack of the Clones’ has been dialled up to eleven, the voice sounds more like a fourteen year old than a twenty year old. The petulant attitude makes ‘Attack of the Clones’ Anakin look like a model student. I’m really pleased that they took Anakin in a different direction for ‘The Clone Wars’ 3D series, I think I would have really struggled with it if they had kept this version of Anakin.

The introduction of the Bounty Hunter, Durge, with his army of IG Droids on Speeder Bikes with lances, that can take out an AT-TE by stabbing it, I’m not the only one that thinks that’s ridiculous? Right? Durge just keeps making me cringe as he fights Obi-Wan, gets slices in half only to return (ok, I get the Darth Maul parallel here) and return as a giant monster made up of worms. And now they’re bringing him into the Doctor Aphra comics… *sigh*.

Thankfully, Obi-Wan is a saving grace for the series, his Battle Armour looks amazing, and with James Arnold Taylor voicing him he’s almost perfect, with the exception of the dialogue with Anakin, it’s like they took the condescending tone from ‘Attack of the Clones’ and dialled it up to eleven (just like Anakin). I wouldn’t complain but if this had been done across the board as a stylistic choice I’d get it, but the rest of the characters don’t get this kind of treatment.

It’s not all bad, there are a couple of episodes that I do enjoy, the Kit Fisto episode where he leads the Clones and Mon Calamari forces against the Separatists and the Quarren is enjoyable and an obvious precursors to the ‘Water War’ arc from the fourth season of Filoni and Lucas’ ‘Clone Wars’ series.

Mace Windu vs. The Whole Droid Army on Dantooine is a fun episode, watching Windu lay waste to the Droids is incredibly enjoyable. The animators absolutely nail Samuel L. Jackson’s style as Windu very casually deflects blaster bolts and the slick way he takes the drink from the young spectator and returns to the fray is pure Jackson.

Of course, how could I forget the final episode of the season, where fans got their first encounter with General Grievous. The Droid General has never been so terrifying as he is here, taking on a group of Jedi, including Shaak Ti and Ki-Adi Mundi (and Sha’a Gi who looks just like Shaggy from Scooby Doo but with a Padawan braid). Grievous here makes his cinematic and 3D counterpart look like a whiny baby as he battles a whole group of Jedi, killing Sha’a Gi and another before the rest escape.

Whilst I still am not a fan, I’m pleased that I gave this series another chance, for a while this was the only on screen Clone Wars content as we waited for ‘Revenge of the Sith’, and whilst a considerable amount of it was cast aside by the books and comics (more so in Season 2), it was new Star Wars content, which is always exciting.

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Tyrant’s Test by Michael P. Kube McDowell Audiobook Review

As the New Republic and The Duskhan League trade ultimatums, Leia faces dissent within her own ranks. Luke’s quest to find his mother comes to a startling conclusion and Lando, Lobot and the Droids finally understand the ship they have been stuck on.

Returning to a standard format that jumps between the different plot lines, ‘Tyrant’s Test’ brings McDowell’s trilogy to a surprisingly satisfying ending.

Leia faces a hard choice, whether or not to step away from the role of Chief of State whilst the Yevethans have Han prisoner or to stay in power without the full support of her closest allies, fearing that she is emotionally compromised. After receiving a horrific video of Nil Spaar beating Han within an inch of his life, Leia visits her friend and mentor, Mon Mothma, before meeting with the New Republic Senate and announces her intention to stay in power until, at least, the end of the war, knowing her decision could cost Han his life.

Luke and Akanah end up on the planet J’t’p’tan, close to the Yevethan conflict, where they finally find the Fallanassi hiding and using their powers to hide The Temple of the Hidden Spirit, disguising the Temple as a set of ruins to make the invading Yevethans that they were dead. Luke enlists their help with the coming battle.

Chewie, with his son, Lumpy and two of his cousins, embarks on a rescue mission. Using an underworld contact they take the Millennium Falcon right to Nil Spaar’s Star Destroyer and make their way through, finding Han who is with a captured Fallanassi woman who uses her powers to confuse their captors until Han is rescued.

The battle begins, with the Fallanassi making the Yevethans believe that the New Republic fleet is much larger, the former Imperial soldiers, taken prisoner by the Yevethans, take back a number of their ships. Their leader orders the ships to leave the battle, reducing the Yevethan fleet considerably, the Commander, Sil Sorannon, takes control of Nil Spaar’s flagship, taking the Yevethan leader captive and locking him in an escape pod which they launch into hyperspace.

Luke learns that Akanah had lied about his mother, using the name and story of a woman whose twins had been taken from her to manipulate Luke into joining her. Feeling betrayed, Luke goes on a new mission, to find Lando.

On the Vagabond, Lobot has become connected to the ship through his cybernetic attachment as the ship encounters more and more attackers and becomes increasingly damaged. Called back to its home world by the crew of The Lady Luck. Luke arrives and with the scientist is able to rescue Lando and the crew as they learn of the Vagabond’s true purpose, to revive the Qella species once their home world of Brath Qella was ready to exit its sudden ice age, reviving the species.

Luke returns to Coruscant where he reunites with Leia, Han is doing much better in the Med-Centre and the two of them discuss family, Luke’s desire to find out about their mother and how he wants to be involved with the training of Jacen, Jaina and Anakin.

As the conclusion of the trilogy, ‘Tyrant’s Test’ works brilliantly. After the events of ‘Shield of Lies’ we get to see the aftermath here and it doesn’t disappoint. We know how great a leader Leia is and that point is Reuter ten-fold as she stakes her claim over the presidency of the New Republic, pushing all of her personal feelings for the situation away and focusing on what is best for the Galaxy at large. Even in the canon stories, we’ve never seen Leia this close to a breaking point, even when Han is killed by Kylo she keeps on going, but it is redressing to see her vulnerability shine through, even for a brief moment.

Akanah’s inevitable betrayal of Luke’s trust finally happens when she finally finds her people, and Luke, whilst initially angry manages to make peace with it. However, Luke does learn a new way of envisioning the Force and how to utilise it in new ways, which come into play in the rescue of Lando, Lobot, C-3PO and R2-D2 from the Vagabond. It was also great to see Luke fully back to his old self by the end, wanting to pass on his Jedi knowledge to his niece and nephews.

The new Chewie and Han storyline, starting with Lumpawaroo’s rite of passage being interrupted, with Chewie, his son and two other members of their family going on a mission to rescue Han in the Millennium Falcon. This part, for me, is the only bit that feels like a good old Star Wars adventure, risky odds, a daring rescue and infiltrating an Imperial ship (yes it’s under Yevethan control but it’s still a Star Destroyer). And they are in the Millennium Falcon. And of course they save Han.

The big problem, that really doesn’t tie into the rest of the plot, is the Lando storyline. My prediction that the Vagabond would emerge from hyperspace in the middle of the battle was wrong, instead the storyline remains separate until Luke arrives (after the battle is over). It feels like a waste of the characters involved when they could have been part of the main storyline.

Whilst I think this was the better of the three (audio)books, it’s not without its flaws. Firstly, the Fallanassi woman who helps in the rescue of Han from the Yevethans by using her powers of camouflage seems to appear out of nowhere in the audiobook which was truly bizarre and confusing.

I get the feeling that this audiobook had to skip a lot to meet the three hour run-time, whilst understandable given the time it was made, I feel like the abridgement could have been better executed. As far as the trilogy, it definitely got better as it went along but it’s not one I’d revisit.

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Shield of Lies by Michael P. Kube McDowell Audiobook Review

The second part of McDowell’s ‘Black Fleet Crisis’ Trilogy takes the three separate storylines from ‘Before the Storm’ and throws the characters headlong into their adventures.

Split into three parts, the first part focus’ on Lando, Lobot, R2-D2 and C-3PO as they make their way through the lost ship, the Teljkon Vagabond, which is blasting its way through Hyperspace, even taking out an Imperial Frigate that they happened to come across. They learn that the ship is alive and is able to recalibrate itself to accommodate the passengers on board.

The second part focus’ on Luke Skywalker and the Fallanassi woman, Akanah who is searching for her people. She has Luke travel to numerous planets, under the pretence of finding her people but she is really searching for her father a Gang Leader who has lost his long term memory to a drug addiction. After learning that she would have no relationship with him, she continues quest to find the rest of the Fallanassi people, including, supposedly, Luke’s mother.

Leia is busy with the building situation with the Yevethans. The New Republic army is gearing up for war and as much as Leia want to avoid it, she knows it’s going to happen and she has to remain in control as the Chief of State. Once the decision is made and a large number of New Relublic forces are killed in a surprise attack, war is inevitable. Leia has Han take command of the Fleet, but he is kidnapped by the Yevethans on the way which leads to members of the High Council along for Leia to resign her post.

McDowell really steps up the game for the second (audio)book of his trilogy. With the set up out of the way in ‘Before the Storm’, the heroes really get into their storylines in ‘Shield of Lies’. However, and this could just be for the audiobook, each of the plot lines are told individually, there’s no cutting back and forth, which was a huge detriment in my opinion.

The first part focused on Lando’s story, and whilst by the end the story had found its direction, for the most part it’s all about a group of people wandering around a ship and on the outside, the political fallout because the Vagabond has vanished again and the New Republic forces searching for it get pulled away except for the Commander who, with a small crew, continues their search for the ship. Whilst not the weakest storyline, I’m struggling to see how it will fit with the overall story other than the Vagabond arriving out of Hyperspace slap-bang in the middle of a battle and Lando, Lobot and the Droids save the day in some Deus Ex Machina style of finale.

The second part was Luke and Akanah, which is still the weakest of the storylines. Luke is being dragged around on a wild-goose-chase and it’s all coming across like an elaborate manipulation by Akanah who just wanted a Jedi protector and used Luke’s desire to learn more about his mother to get what she wants. It’s a real deviation for Luke’s character and quite disappointing to be honest.

The storyline that really held my interest and was the one I was most looking to hearing. The situation with the Yevethans has escalated and the New Republic is helpless. Leia’s position as Chief of State is also in jeopardy, she doesn’t want to enter a new war but Nil Spaar is forcing her hand with every planet the alien race conquers. The Yevethans take countless lives in their attacks and when the New Republic forces do respond the Yevethan tactics cause a horrendous defeat. By the end, when Leia puts Han in charge of the fleet and he is captured, Leia just goes to show how strong a leader she is, she doesn’t act impulsively whatsoever and instead remains calm and collected, much like how she acted through ‘A New Hope’ after Alderaan is destroyed.

Far more enjoyable than ‘Before the Storm’, which in hindsight was acting as a way of setting up the trilogy (something I didn’t consider when writing my review), ‘Shield of Lies’ does pick up the pace in terms of the story, however, the format of keeping each of the stories separate falls flat for me, especially feeling the slog of finally getting to the part I was most looking forward to.

However, some of my issues with the first book, predominantly the characterisation of Luke were alleviated somewhat. Luke feels more like himself, rather than how he acted in ‘Before the Storm’ which was completely unlike any version of Luke we have ever seen, and whilst still not the best version of Luke, McDowell has gotten closer to the character we all know and love.

Getting to see the inner workings of the New Republic is different, with a lot of Leia’s part focusing on the politics of the oncoming Yevethan conflict and how tied Leia’s hands are it’s a great insight into the Galactic Council, and something I went on to enjoy years later in Claudia Gray’s ‘Bloodline’.

A definite step in the right direction but far from the greatest Star Wats book of the nineties, I’m hoping that the third part of ‘The Black Fleet Crisis’ Trilogy, ‘Tyrant’s Test’ can steer the ship in the right direction for a grand finale.

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Before the Storm by Michael P. Kube McDowell Audiobook Review

When I was younger I bought this book, and as much as I tried, I just couldn’t get into it. I don’t think I ever made it past the first chapter. Something just didn’t click with me and it ended up in a box until I gave the majority of me EU collection to charity in 2015.

I later came across it a few years ago, going for a relatively low price along with the third part of the ‘Black Fleet Crisis Trilogy’ (of which this is the first part), and as I was just about to finish the Corellia Trilogy I went for it.

I got through about 90 pages, and that took me a really long time, and this was at a time before having a child where I would sit in the bath EVERY NIGHT (our shower was broken) and read as a way of winding down before going to bed. But around page 90 I just about had enough, I read something else and tried to go back to it but it just wasn’t happening.

So imagine my trepidation when, in my Post-ROTJ, Bantam Era Legends binge when I got to this one. I was not looking forward to it, especially after listening to four less than spectacular books in a row.

Thankfully, for the most part, the abridgement really worked for me. I still had issues with the story at times but I was able to finish it, where I never managed it with the book.

Set twelve years after the Battle of Endor, Chief of State Leia Organa welcomes Nil Spaar, the Viceroy of the Dushkan League, representing a vast number of systems with great wealth and advanced technology, to a meeting in regards to the New Republic and the Leagues future together. Over many meetings, it becomes apparent that the Yevetha (the species that forms the League) just wants to be left alone, with no interference from the New Republic.

Many of Leia’s key members of staff distrust the Yevethans and send the newly established ‘Fifth Fleet’ to Dushkan League space to scout for any trouble. Han Solo ends up in charge of the Fleet after his predecessor is fired by Leia after he disobeys her orders, Han continues the mission.

Nil Spaar launches attacks on all the planets in the Dushkan League and kills all non-Yevethan people in a mass genocide, blaming Leia for instigating war between the New Republic and the Yevethan people.

Meanwhile, a bored Lando Calrissian gets entangled in a search party for a missing ship, often considered a myth. The fleet he is with, as well as his own team consisting of himself, Lobot, C-3PO and R2-D2 join the mission that locates the ship, ‘The Teljkon Vagabond’ and Lando’s task force manage to crack the code to get access to the ship where the rest of the fleet cannot. Before they know it the Vagabond jumps into hyperspace and the team has no idea where it’s going.

Luke is on his own journey, after stepping away from the Jedi Academy, believing that he should go into exile like Obi-Wan and Yoda before him, he takes up residence in Darth Vader’s palace on Coruscant. After asking Han to tell Leia to leave him alone, a mysterious woman who claims to have ties to Luke and Leia’s mother arrives and Luke joins her to find a key to his past.

And, Chewie takes the Millennium Falcon to Kashyyyk for Lumpy’s coming-of-age ceremony and only appears in the book briefly.

Personally, I really could have just taken Luke’s storyline from this (audio)book and cut it out completely. I’m not sure if it’s because I just don’t like it, or that it is completely contradictory to when we got in the Prequel Trilogy (but Luke going off into exile is kind of like ‘The Last Jedi’, in a really loose way) about Padmé. If I were ever to jump on the #NotMyLukeSkywalker movement it would be about Luke in this (audio)book.

I’m guessing McDowell didn’t quite know what to do with Chewie here because the Wookiee is written out of the story very early on. I can understand why, writing a companion that doesn’t exactly speak can be a bit tedious, how many different ways can you describe the vocalisations of a Wookiee? But it does leave Han without a companion, so Solo is shipped off on a military mission to try and find answers on the Dushkan League. Of course, it all goes a bit wrong for them when their presence gives the Yevethans an opportunity to commit their abhorrent acts and proclaim it to be in defence of the New Republic people attacking the Yevethans.

However, it’s Leia’s storyline that I found to be the most interesting, with her slow descent into uncertainty at how she is performing in her role as Chief-of-State. She becomes erratic towards her colleagues, even accusing Ackbar, one of her strongest supporter, of working against her and against her best wishes, even though her meetings with Nil Spaar and becoming increasingly more and more pointless as very little gets achieved beyond their first couple of interactions. It all comes to a head when Nil Spaar announces to the Galaxy that the Yevethans have fought and defeated the New Republic citizens living within the Dushkan League. And it’s that storyline that makes me want to listen to the next one.

As I said before, I really could have done without Luke’s storyline in this novel, but I’m sure that by the end of the third part of the trilogy, Luke, Leia, Han and Lando will reunite with each of their storylines merging together for a good old team-up.

The Yevethans are an interesting species. After years of slavery under the Empire, the Yevethans become incredibly xenophobic, considering any other races to be ‘vermin’. My one issue with them however, it seems like McDowell has made them to be quite overpowered from the start, incredibly intelligent, quick, strong, amazing ship builders and a retractable needle like blade that comes out of their wrists.

The (audio)book focuses heavily on intergalactic politics, which in the abridged version is palatable, however, given my ongoing struggles with reading the book I wonder how it would have come across. I quite enjoy the galactic politics in Star Wars, one of my favourite canon novels is ‘Bloodline’ which gives a great look at the politics of the New Republic, and ‘Before the Storm’ gives us an interesting political tête-à-tête between Leia and Nil Spaar. It’s interesting seeing how Spaar uses and twists things to his own gains, leaving Leia and her people struggling to find out what they have done wrong to offend the Yevethans whilst Spaar puts his plan in motion. In terms of villains, it’s great to see one who works more on Leia’s level than another Pirate or Dark Jedi which are on Han and Luke’s levels respectively.

Much more palatable as an audiobook, the main story is interesting and for the most part, the characters feel like the on-screen versions than some of the previous (audio)books I have reviewed recently, except for Luke… which may or not play out later in the trilogy, but so far it’s not my cup of tea.

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The Crystal Star by Vonda N. McIntyre Audiobook Review

Imperial fanatics, a extra-dimensional chunk of meat, a kidnapping plot and the worst vacation ever pretty much sun this one up.

After Jacen, Jaina and Anakin Solo are kidnapped by Lord Hethrir, a former apprentice to Darth Vader. His goal is to restore the Empire with the help of the extra-dimensional being, Waru.

Han and Luke are on a vacation to Crseih where Han is looking for some much needed downtime whilst Luke believes there is a lost Jedi on the planet. They meet a former love interest of Han’s who was the one who supplied information about a possible Jedi, but she was in fact talking about the being, Waru. Waru had become almost like a cult leader, families would bring their sick and Waru would either heal them or they would die. Luke becomes obsessed with Waru as his connection to the Force begins to diminish, leading him to become distrustful of Han.

Leia follows the trail to her children and encounters a ship with a pair of Firrerreo on board, on is unhelpful but the other, a woman called Rillao who helps Leia after they realise they are both searching for the same person, Hethrir.

Hethrir has a number of children detained, some work for him in keeping the new acquisitions in line, including Jacen and Jaina. Meanwhile, Anakin is kept separate from his siblings, in the care of a child called Tigris, who works as Hethrir’s assistant. Hethrir takes Anakin, Tigris and a number of other children to the main city (where Han, Luke and Waru are) where Anakin is to undergo purification.

As Luke attempts to be healed by Waru to help reconnect to the Force, Han stops him in time and drags Luke away from Waru. During their departure Han sees Anakin being led by Hethrir and Tigris. As he starts to go after his son, he meets Leia, Chewie, Riallo and the Twins (whom Leia, Chewie and Riallo rescued after the twins staged a mass breakout and escaped Hethrir’s followers).

To save Anakin, Luke leaps into Waru (ew) and is followed by Han and Leia whilst Riallo battles with Hethrir over their son, Tigris, who Hethrir has lied to, calling his mother a traitor for taking away his Force ability, when Tigris never had a Force connection to begin with.

Han and Leia, with the help of the cries of the Solo children manage to get Luke out of Waru. The creature, still hungry and desperate to return to its own dimension consumes Hethrir and, using Hethrir’s Force connection transports them to Waru’s home.

Despite the end of Waru and Hethrir, Crseih is still in peril, orbiting an crystallised star (the real cause of Luke’s lack of connection to the Force), the star is being pulled into a black hole. The heroes manage to escape in time, bringing Crseih station with them, with Hethrir’s followers stuck on the planet-ship.

Oh I had so many problems with this (audio)book, and I can’t chalk them all up to being down to it being abridged.

Firstly, Anakin has a companion who is taken along with the Solo children and becomes one of Hethrir’s prisoners. It has no name and is referred to as a Wyrwulf… a six legged wolf-like creature. A freaking werewolf? Seriously? When they reach puberty the wyrwulf forms a chrysalis and emerges as a being called a Cordu-Ji. Werewolves in Star Wars? Really?

Secondly, Han Solo. Or more specifically McIntyre’s characterisation of Han Solo. In his first scene he basically gives an absurd impression to Luke that Han thinks it’s alright, as a married man, to go about flirting with women. I’m sorry, but what? Han has always been 100% committed and faithful to Leia and his family. And, if n a complete change of character, spends most of his time prattling on about being on vacation and putting a lot of time into drinking and gambling, than paying attention to Luke who is obviously going through some issues whilst on the planet. It’s only when he realises that Anakin is in danger that he becomes somewhat more like the Han Solo we know. Which again leaves me to wonder if McIntyre really doesn’t know Han Solo in the post Return of the Jedi era because the whole ‘when the cats away the mice will play’ attitude he has going on is utterly bizarre.

Whilst this is only the third time we have had a Solo Children kidnapping plot, and the first successful one, the whole idea just feels very played out. I will however give McIntyre some credit in how she writes the children which was really well done and the twins following in their parents footsteps as leaders, when they take charge of the breakout from Hethrir’s camp, which could have come across more like a kids adventure book is well played out.

And then there’s Waru… the extra-dimensional lump of meat protected by strange gold scales. I can get behind extra-galactic creatures, but extra-dimensional is a bit too far-fetched, even for Star Wars. It’s almost like, in a Galaxy full of different alien beings an unknown alien race wouldn’t seem much of a threat, so extra-dimensional was the way to go (well it worked for Lucas when Spielberg didn’t want do do aliens in ‘Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’ so he made them extra-dimensional instead).

I feel like ‘The Crystal Star’ relies heavily on Science Fiction than Science Fantasy that Star Wars has more in common with, which is understandable seeing that McIntyre was a well known Science Fiction author, but she really didn’t quite grasp that Star Wars feel that other authors like Timothy Zahn and Kevin J. Anderson had done previously. Had this not been set in the Star Wars universe, this could have been a great Sci-Fi novel in its own right.

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Planet of Twilight by Barbara Hambly Audiobook Review

I can safely say I am happy to be done with this ‘Callista Trilogy’.

‘Planet of Twilight’ finishes off this series, that Hambly started with ‘Children of the Jedi’ and followed by Kevin J. Anderson’s ‘Darksaber’. So far I haven’t been too thrilled with this run of (audio)books, finding the stories to really not have any sort of ‘Star Wars’ feel to them, and quite frankly have incredibly bizarre storylines.

Set around a year after the events of ‘Darksaber’, Hambly takes us to the planet of Nam Chorios, a veritable smorgasbord of problems. Killer bugs, disease and grouchy people fighting.

Leia is there to meet one of the political leaders, Seti Ashgad. After being drugged, Leia is kidnapped by the Force Sensitive Beldorion the Hutt. Her captors continue to keep her drugged until Ashgad’s aide, Dzim informs her and she manages to overcome the effects of the drugs.

Luke is also on the planet after receiving a message from Callista. After learning of Leia’s capture he makes his way to Beldorian’s stronghold, however, Leia manages to escape after killing Beldorion (Hutts are not so quick in a lightsaber duel it seems).

Luke arrives at the palace and finds out Leia has escaped but learns that Dzim is actually an evolved Droch, the killer insects I mentioned earlier and has been keeping Ashgad, Beldorion and Taselda, a Jedi who Luke encounters alive for centuries.

Leia meets with Callista during her escape and after Luke is imbued by the raw power of the Force the Droch and Dzim are defeated and their plan to use crystals mined on the planet to power weapons and fighters is thwarted. After Luke meets with Callista and they part ways forever, Luke and Leia escape the planet.

Not pulling any punches with this one. I didn’t enjoy it at all. The main villain being an evolved murder insect that has become sentient and can keep people alive? Way too far fetched for me. I appreciate the attempt to make a villain that isn’t just another Imperial Warlord or Dark Side wielding maniac but Dzim just wasn’t that compelling a villain. Murder bugs I can handle, and if they were being used as a weapon by someone then I could probably get behind that more, but yeah, this wasn’t one I could get behind.

I did like the idea of a Force Sensitive Hutt, that idea is incredibly compelling to me and it’s something I think would be very interesting to see again, especially in ‘The High Republic’ where we are seeing more and more Jedi, including Sskeer, the Trandoshan Jedi, a species that has until recently been exclusively villains.

The Callista storyline could have easily been removed from this (audio)book, she acts as more of a tool for exposition for Leia and her conversation with Luke was basically a less angsty version of her farewell hologram at the end of ‘Darksaber’. Of course this could have been down to the abridgement but I’m honestly not interested in picking up the book (I have a copy and was going to read it for this review, glad I didn’t) to find out. Even though Hambly worked with Anderson on how to write the love story between Luke and Callista out in order for Luke and Mara Jade to become an item (a decision that Lucasfilm had come to behind the scenes), the inclusion of the character here feels like Hambly wanting the final word on a character she created, in a similar way that Michael A. Stackpole essentially wrote an exit for Corran Horn in ‘The New Jedi Order’ series so that he wouldn’t get killed off by anyone else.

A disappointing entry into the EU, with very little to develop any ongoing stories. Easily one I would skip over in the future.

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The High Republic Adventures Issue 2 Review

The Nihil attack on Bralanak City escalates as the Jedi face overwhelming odds and the disdain of the locals.

Daniel José Older’s inaugural contribution to ‘The High Republic’ initiative continues with an action filled issue.

Lula, Farzala, Qort and their new companion Zeen must fight off the Nihil who are in league with the Force User-hating cult who populate the city. They are backed up by other Padawan’s as well as Masters Yoda and Buck, whose nickname is revealed to be “Buckets of Blood”, because he is a Jedi Healer, not because he’s some sort of mass murderer in a Jedi Robe. Although… fanfic alert!

We learn that Marchion Ro is leading the Nihil attack, and his ruthlessness shows no bounds here, going as far as threatening to leave Zeen’s former friend Krix who, as any normal child would, feels conflicted between the hatred of the Force that his people preach and his loyalty to his friend. During the escape, Ro almost destroys a Republic Medical Frigate during the Nihil’s escape.

With Zeen stranded, but her Force abilities being quite powerful, Yoda agrees that she should join the Jedi on their way to the Starlight Beacon.

I am really enjoying Older’s series. Two issues in and I am really engrossed, the characters are great fun, seeing this era from a different perspective and a new way of seeing Jedi Padawans, going off around the Galaxy with Yoda and Buck, my question however is, are they all Yoda’s apprentices? Are they you Jedi waiting to be taken on by a Master? I’m sure the answer will become clear at some point, so I won’t bother Older on Twitter just yet.

Yoda shows his age in this issue, being around 700 years old he definitely seems more sprightly, going off to try and rescue Krix from Marchion Ro, almost convincing the boy to go with them instead of The Nihil and taking on some of the pirates (with the help of Zeen’s pet bat Cham who full on eats parts of a Nihil). Yoda’s trademark sense of humour is also on show, the Jedi Master really comes across more favourable in this era, obviously, as the Jedi Order changed his outlook changed too, maybe it was his age as well, at 860(ish) in ‘The Phantom Menace’, his views of the Galaxy and how it has changed could have effected him.

One thing I did find interesting, Lula insists on Zeen joining the Jedi because of her abilities, which is understandable. However, Zeen is obviously in her teenage years, older than Anakin was in ‘The Phantom Menace’, and Yoda accepts her to join the mission. I know that this isn’t exactly a sign that Zeen is allowed to join the Order, but, it seems to indicate that the Jedi are willing to take on new members who are older. Maybe they prefer to take younger children in, but don’t outright deny others with abilities. Perhaps with the Republic expanding, as new worlds are discovered then the Jedi are opening their doors to train Force Users of any age from the outlying worlds of the frontier?

Maybe we will learn through this series why the Jedi become stricter on the age of children becoming part of the Order? Could Zeen be the reason? So… many… questions…

I really enjoyed this issue. I’m loving the writing and the art. Seeing a group of Jedi in battle is amazing and great fun and well worth a read.

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Alphabet Squadron: Victory’s Price by Alexander Freed SPOILER FREE Book Review

After the events on Troithe, Alphabet Squadrom would never be the same again. Picking up some time later, ‘Victory’s Price’ throws us right into the emotional aftermath of Quell’s defection and how the Squadron must come together as the end of the war draws closer.

Alexander Fred’s work in the Star Wars canon has been nothing short of fantastic. After throwing us into the front lines in ‘Battlefront: Twilight Company’ it was hardly a surprise to me when it was announced that he was writing the novelisation of ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’, which he absolutely nailed. When he was announced to be writing a Trilogy about star fighter pilots I was ecstatic and the first two instalments in the ‘Alphabet Squadron’ Trilogy were fantastic, and I had no doubt that the third would follow suit.

Boy, did I underestimate it.

‘Victory’s Price’ is phenomenal, I can’t put it any other way whatsoever. The emotional journeys that the main characters went through in ‘Shadow Fall’ really resonate here, the events of the last book changed all of them drastically, and Freed really lets us feel that here, and as the character development continues, it gives us some new dynamics that you (or the characters themselves) probably never would have thought possible.

Not even the Empire’s 204th Fighter Squadron, came out of the last book unscathed, with Shadow Wing being crammed into a “rinky-dink freighter” and Yrica Quell back with her former commander, Soran Keize and now under the command of Admiral Rae Sloane, Shadow Wing has a new mission which could have serious repercussions for the rest of the Galaxy and its down to Hera Syndulla’s Star Destroyer, The Deliverance to stop them.

Freed not only crafts an amazing story here, but he weaves details from other books, specifically to Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath: Empire’s End’ and allusions to the game ‘Star Wars: Squadrons’ which tied more into ‘Shadow Fall’ but gets referenced here.

‘Victory’s Price’ gives us an incredibly emotional, action filled and satisfying conclusion to a brilliant trilogy, it was a tough book to put down. Whilst the previous two books had more action sequences, the action here is more tightly packed into a couple of areas but once the action gets going it is all encompassing and as always with Freed, written to perfection. Where we don’t get the action, the character depth we get into is wonderful, seeing what this group of characters go through in this one really drives the story and how they move forward as the story builds just shows how well written they are.

At 460 pages (hardback edition), it’s one of the more heftier books in the Star Wars Canon but at no point does the story feel like it’s dragging, every beat of the story is well placed and works to move the story forward, putting characters in the right place or situations at the right time to drive the story.

The end feels well earned, things come as a surprise, others are expected but not obvious, and, without giving anything away, felt reminiscent of the last episode of the Netflix series ‘The Haunting of Bly Manor’ and it worked so well.

A brilliant end to a brilliant Trilogy. Freed doesn’t pull any punches and puts the characters through the ringer for a well deserved and satisfying conclusion, it’s left me wanting more Star Wars books from this great author.

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Darksaber by Kevin J. Anderson Audiobook Review

Boy, oh boy.

Darksaber sees the return of Kevin J. Anderson, the author of the ‘Jedi Academy Trilogy’ but the book falls short of the quality that I had expected after those great books.

Set not long after ‘Children of the Jedi’, the book follows a number of storylines that eventually tie together at the end, in a climactic battle that almost makes up for the lacklustre first and second acts.

Luke and Callista are trying to find a way for the latter to regain her connection to the Force. After Luke and Han go on a failed mission to Tatooine where Luke visits Obi-Wan’s old home and visit Jabba’s Palace where they learn that Durga the Hutt has been searching through Jabba’s computers, stealing information on The Empire.

Luke then takes Callista to a Comet which is part Mining Colony part Tourist Resort but soon leave when Callista gets frustrated when the relaxation Luke was hoping would help bring back her Force connection doesn’t work and they instead go on a tour of the places that Luke felt strong connections to the Force, taking them first to Dagobah where the two of them fight off the native wildlife and then Hoth where they end up joining a group of Wampa Hunters who end up under attack by a pack of the beasts, led by the one Luke encountered and dismembered in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’. When they manage to get back to their ship and fight off the Wampa’s, Luke and one of the Hunters repair the ship enough to limp away from the planet into the nearby Asteroid Field.

Meanwhile, Leia, Han, Chewie, R2 and 3PO are on their own mission, investigating Durga the Hutt and his allegiance with some known Imperial scientists who worked on the two Death Stars. Durga has them building a new version of the Death Star which is a bare bones mobile version of the planet destroying Super Weapon, which is being built in… the Hoth Asteroid Field. The New Republic fleet, with the help of Han’s team on the Falcon work to destroy the Super Weapon, named The Darksaber. After a sabotage mission led by Crix Madine fails, the New Republic Admiral is killed by Durga before the weapon is destroyed. The Falcon picks up the shuttle with Luke and Callista on board, Callista in an environment suit whilst Luke is in a deep Jedi trance, both near death. After they recuperate they decide that it’s time to go back to Yavin IV, Han, Leia, Chewie and the Droids take them in the Millennium Falcon.

Kyp Durron and Dorsk 81 are on their own mission, trying to locate Imperial Warlords and bring their reigns of terror to an end. What they find however is much worse than they could have imagined. Numerous Imperial united under the rule of Admiral Daala. Her plan, to vanquish The New Republic once they have enough forces, but at the time their forces are too small but an alternative target is chosen, the Jedi Academy on Yavin IV. Kyp and Dorsk 81 race against time to warn the Jedi at the Academy.

On Yavin IV, after Kyp and Dorsk 81 warn the Jedi students, the attack begins. Luckily the Students had been working at one of the other Massassi Temples and manage to wipe out a number of TIE Fighters and other Imperial Forces on the planet and, working together, use the Force to throw the majority of Daala’s attack fleet to the edges of the Yavin system and disable their hyper drives but Dorsk 81 is killed in the process.

The Millennium Falcon arrives in the midst of the battle and lands at the Jedi Temple, joining the fight on the planet, with Kyp joining Han and the crew on the Falcon and they take the fight to Daala’s Super Star Destroyer until Admiral Ackbar’s reinforcements arrive.

On the planet, Callista, after finally tapping into the Force, but only through the Dark Side, feels like her and Luke’s relationship is doomed to fail unless she reconnects to the Force on her own path, takes a downed TIE Bomber to the Super Star Destroyer. Once on board she sabotages a hanger full of TIE Bombers which causes a chain reaction that severely damages the ships hyperdrive. Callista confronts Daala and the two escape the doomed ship.

Luke, believing Callista is dead, is shocked when he receives a message from her, telling him she loves him but has to sort her Dorce issues out herself. Meanwhile, Dalla’s escape pod is found by Pellaeon. Daala relinquishes her command, promoting Pellaeon to Admiral, and the leader of the Imperial Remnant.

When I was younger I read this, again it was one I only read the once because I didn’t remember the majority of the events. After doing the Audiobook I remember why I only read it the one time.

What could have been a really enjoyable duology, what we get here is a single book crammed full to the brim with too many plot lines that really needed time to breathe and they get somewhat lost in the Audiobook version. The abridgement really makes a choppy book even choppier.

Had this been made into a Duology, the Darksaber project could have taken up one part and the second part could focus on Admiral Daala’s push to reform the Empire and the final conflict at Yavin. I would have liked to get more about Kyp and Dorsk 81’s quest to hunt down the Imperial Warlords. There was so much promise for that storyline but it just didn’t get enough attention.

The Luke/Callista storyline ends up being a greatest hits tour of Luke’s Force hotspots, and the Hoth section and the Wampa battle, with the one armed Wampa leading the battle is far too coincidental for my liking. And the fact that, even on Dagobah, Luke and Callista have to fight for their lives against giant bugs. Seriously, couldn’t that have just gone and not had a life and death confrontation?

The saving grace is the final confrontation at Yavin IV. The Jedi Students really get to shine although their working together is incredibly overpowered, and probably part of the reason that fans were expecting an overpowered Luke in ‘The Last Jedi’, seeing as a group of students manage to hurl a fleet of Star Destroyers through space… I mean, come on, as if… but it makes cool reading.

A disappointing listen to be honest. Far too much going on for the short runtime. So far the ‘Callista Trilogy’ hasn’t been as enjoyable as I had hoped, especially after the good run I of good – great Audiobooks I’ve reviewed so far this year.

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The High Republic: There is No Fear Part 3

As Keeve Trennis investigates a sink hole with a local boy, Marshal Avar Kriss must deal with Terec, who is acting strangely and Master Sskeer who’s recent odd behaviour has been noticed by Kriss and other Jedi.

Cavan Scott and the crew have brought us another great issue of ‘The High Republic’ ongoing series.

The Jedi face hostility and friendship from the locals of Sedri Minor, with Keeve investigating the disappearance of Ceret and a local boy whose parents are desperately searching for him. She is joined by a young boy, Bartol and the two of them discover a sinkhole.

They go into the underground cavern filled with strange vines. Held up against the wall in the same vibe are Ceret and the missing child, Julus. Keeve cuts them down, Julus is dead but Ceret is still alive and Keeve removes a strange parasite from him, a moment later they are attacked by the creatures responsible for the problems on the planet, the plantlike Drengir.

On the ship, Sskeer has been left with Terec who begins to act posessed, causing Sskeer to break down in despair at his inability to help.

In the cavern, Keeve, Bartol and Ceret are saved by Avar Kriss who cuts the attacking Drengir in two, but the two halves each become a new adversary, which is the least of their problems when a possessed Sskeer arrives under the control of the Drengir.

The horror vibes are strong with this issue, starting with Keeve in the field, it’s almost out of Stephen King and Joe Hill’s ‘In the Tall Grass’ and followed with Keeve and Bartol in the underground cavern finding their friends stuck to the wall in a moment reminiscent of ‘Aliens’. That’s not all though, Scott gives us some really creepy moments with the twins as they go through their possession moments and the parasite that Sskeer finds is a reference to ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’.

Sskeer’s descent into madness (or the Dark Side) is being noticed by the Jedi now and I think it’ll have been too late, now that he’s been possessed by the Drengir, and that ominous looking cover for Issue 5, which of course could be complete misdirection. I’ve not yet read ‘Into the Dark’ which also features The Drengir, so I’m not completely clued up to how they operate (hopefully I will be caught up by the time Issue 4 comes out).

In terms of the Jedi, we really get two amazing representations on how the Jedi are during this era in Avar Kriss and Keeve Trennis. Keeve is the kind of person that people gravitate to, as we have seen in this issue with Bartol and in Issue 1 with Kanrii. I think it’s safe to assume that Keeve is going to be the one me who connects with people on her adventures, using her empathic nature to best figure out problems and hopefully get through to Sskeer and bring him back.

I found it interesting that back on the Starlight Beacon, that Jedi Master Maru was part of a team that are performing an autopsy on the murdered Hutt from the last issue. I’d never considered the Jedi would personally perform autopsies, however they may have stopped doing so by the time of ‘The Phantom Menace’, or maybe on a rare occasions it was considered “Jedi business”.

Only three issues in and next to ‘Doctor Aphra’ this is one of my most anticipated comics each month. Everything about it is fantastic month-to-month and I can’t wait to see where it goes next.

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Darth Vader: Into the Fire Part 5

As Vader and Ochi are chased by Sly Moore into the Red Nebula on their way to Exogol, they experience visions of death before finally arriving at the long lost Planet of the Sith.

We really get to see again how great a pilot Vader is, as he avoids destruction from the giant Space Cthulhu creature as well as legions of TIE Fighters sent by Sly Moore in a hope to stop Vader from reaching Exogol.

After evading the threats, Vader and Ochi enter the Nebula and experience visions. Vader sees moments of his past, both of his duels with Obi-Wan and his battle with Luke from ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ but at one point the roles are reversed and it is Luke who cuts off Vader’s hand. Luke strikes at Vader, stabbing him through the chest and leaving him for dead as he walks away with The Emperor. Some of this is foreshadowing the events of ‘Return of the Jedi’ with Luke gaining the upper hand, cutting off Vader’s own hand and Palpatine claiming that it’s Luke’s destiny to turn to the Dark Side.

Once the pair reach Exogol, they are followed by Space Cthulhu and Vader uses to Force, when Ochi reminds him that he is forbidden to do so or the Emperor will kill him, Vader talks about fear leading to anger, anger leading to hate and hate leading to power when he manages to defeat the creature and using it as his mount that takes him to a cliff top above the Sith Temple from ‘The Rise of Skywalker’.

This issue really picks up the pace of this arc, now five issues in I feel like the story is finally going somewhere and I’m seriously hoping that next issue isn’t the final part because if it is I know I’ll feel short changed.

Pak finally reaches the part of the story that has been teased for what seems like forever and was the big draw for me, Vader reaching Exogol and tying in with ‘The Rise of Skywalker’. Sure we have had Ochi featuring heavily in the story, but by now my thoughts on Ochi have been pretty clear, not good, and The Eye of the Webbish Bog can hardly be classed as a tie-in because it wasn’t in the final cut of the film. And with the introduction of Exogol I’m hoping we get some backstory on what has been going on there leading up to Palpatine’s ‘death’ on the Death Star.

I have to really give Raffaele Ienco a shout out for this issue, the art is sublime. Vader’s space battle is beautifully depicted and it reminds me of Vader’s battle against the Rebel Starfighters in ‘Vader Down’. Ienco really brings Vader’s visions to life here as well and he has created one of the best pieces of Star Wars illustration in my opinion.

A true return to form after a lacklustre arc so far. I wouldn’t say that it’s been fully redeemed in my opinion, but I am finally looking forward to the next issue of this series which I haven’t been doing for he last few issues so the creators, for me, are heading in the right direction again.

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Children of the Jedi by Barbara Hambly Audiobook Review

I am not going to lie, as I listened to this, after reading it back in the late 90’s and barely remembering any of it, I had a few “What the #*$%?” moments, where I would have to take a moment to process what it was I had just listened to.

The story follows two plot lines, one where Han, Leia and Chewie go to the planet Belsavis after a former associate of Han’s attacks them. They trace some jewellery he was carrying and a mysterious note to the planet where it is believed there are hidden tunnels and crypts where they may find evidence of a group called the ‘Children of the Jedi’.

On Belsavis Leia encounters a former ‘concubine’ of Palpatine, Roganda Ismaren, who meets with Leia and convinces her she is in hiding but is secretly working with former Imperial supporters and her Force Sensitive son, Irek, who can use the Force to manipulate technology, bring a hidden weapon, The Eye of Palpatine online and help rebuild the Empire.

Meanwhile, drawn to the Eye, Luke Skywalker, C-3PO and two of Luke’s Jedi students, an A.I. genius turned Jedi, Cray Mingla and her lover, former Jedi Nichos Marr, who’s mind has been implanted into a Droid body after he succumbed to a life threatening illness find the ship, ‘The Eye of Palpatine’ which had been though lost for thirty years and was now performing its main objective, by visiting planets and picking up beings to turn into Stormtroopers. The creatures the ship picks up are tribes of Gamorreans, a group of Talz, Jawas and Tusken Raiders, among others.

When Cray is taken captive, the spirit of a former Jedi, Callista, reaches out to Luke and they save Luke’s student, retire The Eye of Palpatine and rescue all the beings on board before making sure the ship itself will self destruct. During all of this, Luke and Callista fall for each other.

Due to Nichos becoming more Droid than man, he sacrifices himself to assist in the rest of his team escaping. Cray, still in love with Nichos decides to give her life to be with him, allowing Callista’s spirit to take over her body. She escapes in an Escape Pod and is reunited with Luke.

Callista’s Force ability is no more after her spirit was transferred but she decides to pursue a relationship with Luke and the two of them return to Yavin IV to the Jedi Praxeum whilst Han, Leia and Chewie return to Coruscant.

‘Children of the Jedi’ is the first part of a loose trilogy, dubbed ‘The Callista Trilogy’, it is followed by ‘Darksaber’ and ‘Planet of Twilight’ and its one of the more absurd novels of the early EU era that I have encountered so far. The main storyline has Luke essentially fall in love with a ghost in a computer, amidst a turf war between the Gamorrean Tribes who have been brainwashed into becoming Stormtroopers and are wearing parts of Stormtrooper armour.

Some of the characterisations of the main heroes feels a bit off, at one point Han describes Cray as ‘The blonde with the legs.” to Leia. At no point has Han ever spoken like that to Leia, or anyone, even when he was trying to get under Luke’s skin in ‘A New Hope’ about Luke’s crush on Leia or his flirty bickering with Leia in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’. It feels really out of character and out of place.

When we were introduced to Nichos Marr, the way it is written, which could’ve be down to the abridgement, feels like this is someone we had been introduced to in a previous novel (I had to look it up just to check), turns out this is his first appearance. This made it more complicated that it needed to be, having just come off the back of the introduction of Luke’s Academy in ‘The Jedi Academy’ Trilogy and not meeting this character. And then getting a whole backstory where he was sick and got transferred into a Droid body, which was essentially a way of easing us into the idea that Luke could fall I love with a spirit in a computer. A bit much really, and (again probably to do with the abridgement) the character pretty much gets relegated to background fodder once Callista appears. And when we finally see Cray during the team’s rescue mission she is cursing Nichos because he’s more Droid and unable to help her… but then decides she can’t live without him… it was all very odd.

The whole Luke and Callista romance feels very forced, they have a few interactions but nothing really that would lead to them developing such intense feelings for each other so quickly. Sure you could attribute it to the Force, but still, that excuse can only work so many times. And the fact that Callista possesses the body of one of Luke’s students (who has been described as very attractive in many different ways) feels really uncomfortable for me. Surely there’s some boundaries being crossed there?

Part of me is pleased to say that this is the first of the EU/Legends novels that I have consumed in the last few months that has been disappointing for me. I’m not sure if it’s the abridgement or the story itself that doesn’t work for me, or probably a bit of both, but I’ll happily leave this one off of my list to revisit down the line.

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Luke Skywalker and Grogu: Master and Apprentice

Since last December, Star Wars fans have been asking the same question, “What happens to Grogu now he’s with Luke?”, which often is followed up with “Did Kylo kill Grogu when he destroyed the Jedi Temple?”

Both are fair questions (the second however is flawed as ‘The Rise of Kylo Ren’ comic series revealed that Ben didn’t actually destroy the Temple and only killed a couple of students).

For me, I do not believe that Grogu had anything to do with Luke’s Temple, which he didn’t start until Ben was in his early-to-mid teens, probably around eight-to-ten years after the events of ‘The Rescue’.

Roughly, according to the book ‘The Legend of Luke Skywalker’, and the Luke mission on ‘Battlefront 2’, he spends those early years after the death of Palpatine searching for any shred of knowledge about the Jedi, learning as much as he can to that he could become a better Jedi and eventually a Jedi Master. It’s at this time that Luke and Grogu meet.

As we learned in ‘The Jedi’, Grogu already has Jedi Training but has suppressed his abilities to keep him safe whilst the Empire was the ruling power and the majority of the Jedi had been killed, but instinctually he can use the Force (‘The Child’) and his confidence grows, using his powers to protect Din Djarin (‘The Child’, ‘The Reckoning’ and ‘Redemption’) but as Luke says, “talent without training is nothing.” By this, I don’t believe Luke will be giving Grogu any formal Jedi training, Luke’s not ready himself to undertake that responsibility, but perhaps he will guide Grogu is mastering those abilities and strengthening his connection to the Force, like I said, Grogu already has the foundation and all he really needs is some fine tuning.

I can’t picture Luke and Grogu heading off around the Galaxy like a Master and Apprentice from the Prequel era, but rather a more intensive boot-camp, allowing both of them to learn, because, let’s not forget, Grogu is the only character Luke has met (that we know) who was a member of the Jedi Order other than Yoda and Obi-Wan, and they didn’t really teach him about the Jedi of the past other than that they were the “Guardians of peace and justice of the Old Republic.”

When Grogu returns to Din, and we all know he will, however long that may be, I don’t think we will be seeing the kind of Jedi we are used to from the Prequels, I think we will be seeing a Force User who chooses the path of the light, much like Ahsoka and by the time Luke begins his Jedi Academy, Grogu and Luke will have parted ways, Ben may well have never met him, or if he did it could well have been as a child when Luke was visiting Han, Leia and Ben at some point.

Star Wars: Operation Starlight Part 3

Lobot’s life hangs in the balance whilst Starlight Squadron faces off against Zahra’s Star Destroyer and take on a daring mission into the heart of Zahra’s ship.

Lando and Kes’ showdown comes to a head whilst C-3PO is up to something. He manages to download the needed language into his own memory and turns off the Talky, freeing Lobot in time to get him to the Med-Centre and save him. Lando becomes distrustful of the Rebels after they were willing to risk Lobot’s life. He contacts Jabba, and instead of sending Rebel codes he agrees to send the deactivated Talky.

Meanwhile, Starlight Squadron is in trouble. They have no way to escape to Hyperspace without the Astromech’s to help navigate and syncing the X-Wings and A-Wings computers would take too long. When they get stuck in tractor beams they destroy the emitters before flying into to main dock in bay and blow up as much as they can. When Zahra sends ground forces in, Shara has the rest of the Squadron to hold them back. They steal an Imperial Astromech and Shara downloads as much information on the Empire’s dealings before sending the Squadron back to base after her ship is destroyed in the battle.

When the fleet are informed of what’s happened, Leia announces that they will take the fight to Zahra.

This issue left me feeling unimpressed. I hate to say it but it did. The Lobot storyline was predictable (and I’m not just saying that because I already knew he survived thanks to his appearance in a post-Return of the Jedi novel), but the whole story with the Talky was essentially to allow C-3PO to learn this new (old) language. I’m also really not all that keen on the whole Lando double-crossing the Rebellion. Sure, by the end we’ll find out it’s some sort of triple-cross that gets Lando into Jabba’s Palace in time for ‘Return of the Jedi’ but it just feels convoluted, and if he does get found out, why would he end up getting promoted to General (other than his manoeuvre at the Battle of Tanaab).

The Starlight Squadron story arc felt more interesting to me, and the whole attacking the inside of a Star Destroyer with starfighters is nothing less than genius. My issue here, however, is one that I have had before and I feel like an idiot for it being such an issue, but the stakes aren’t high. There are three characters in Starlight Squadron who are essentially untouchable and be of those is left behind enemy lines. As I’m reading it I feel like banging my head against a wall because I already know what happens and it made the cliffhanger ending feel redundant.

I have a feeling that I’m feeling this because of ‘The High Republic’. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but now we have been introduced to this brand new era, with new characters and genuine high stakes which whereas this run of ‘Star Wars’, being set between two films and with a number of stories set later in the timeline is essentially filling in the gaps, which is no bad thing, as it does add to the overall story of the saga.

Whilst the issue, and the story are enjoyable, I’m starting to find the lack of suspense a bit dull. Where other series like ‘The High Republic’ and ‘Doctor Aphra’ don’t have major ties to the stories that films tell, this run and to a degree, the ‘Darth Vader’ series have a defined ending which takes away most of the sense of surprise, which is a bit disappointing for me.

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I, Jedi by Michael A. Stackpole Audiobook Review

Rogue Squadron Pilot Corran Horn begins his Jedi Training and uses his CorSec skills to track down the Pirates who have kidnapped his wife.

Michael A. Stackpole writes a first person story focusing on Corran Horn who he introduced in the ‘X-Wing’ series. The story weaves through the narrative from Kevin J. Anderson’s ‘Jedi Academy’ Trilogy.

After experiencing a tremor in the Force where he feels his connection with his wife, Mirax diminish. Corran learns that she was working on tracking a Pirate group called The Invids. With the New Republic unable to assist him, Luke Skywalker offers Corran a place at his new Jedi Academy where he can learn how to hone his connection with the Force to help him in his mission.

Corran, under the alias Kieron Halcyon, joins as one of the original twelve students. The story tells the events on Yavin IV from the perspective of Corran.

Corran interacts through the already established story, adding some side plots to keep from changing Anderson’s narrative. He forms a friendship with Mara Jade, he attempts to confront the spirit of Exar Kun in Kun’s Temple and he fixes up the Z-95 Headhunter that Kyp stole and returned.

Once Luke is saved, Corran chooses to leave, feeling that he’s not being true to himself by focusing his attention on his Jedi Training after having a vision of his Grandfather’s death at the hands of a Dark Jedi.

He visits his Father-In-Law, Booster Terrik, a once famed smuggler who tries to blame the disappearance of his daughter on Corran who turns it back on the older man, knowing that Booster would have been helping Mirax and that Terrik hasn’t been in touch to discuss Mirax’s disappearance in the months since it happened.

Corran creates a new alias, Jenos Iranian. Under this new identity, Corran infiltrates a group of Invids, the Khuiumin Survivors and becomes part of their star fighter group. As his reputation grows he becomes one of the Squad leaders. They start working with the leaders of the Invids on raids, attacking a Caamasi Remnant planet.

On the ground, Corran saves a Caamasi, Elegos A’Kla from a group of the Pirates and badly wounds one, Sasyru. Elegos becomes Corran’s body servant. Horn is approached by Lenova Tavira, the Invid leader. She offers him the chance to become her consort, a position that would grant him access to a lot of sensitive information, including the location of Mirax and he has a month to decide.

Using his time wisely, Corran begins sabotaging the Invid’s base on the planet, wearing a hooded cloak and using Jedi techniques the Pirates become scared of the Phantom Jedi.

Tavira brings in a group of Force Sensitives called The Jensaari. Corran encounters them and is almost bested but is saved by the appearance of Luke Skywalker. They capture the five Jensaari and with the help of Corran’ Rogue Squadron wing mate, Ooryl Qrygg.

They interrogate the Jensaari and find out Mirax’s location within Tavari’s headquarters in Yumfla. Corran, Luke, Ooryl and Elegos make their way through the base and rescue Mirax before facing off with more Jensaari and their leader, Saari-kaar, who was with her Master, Nikkos Tyris, when the latter killed Corran’s grandfather. Using his Force powers of mind manipulation, Corran subdues Kaar. The Jensaari are neither Jedi or Sith and Luke extends an offer to Kaar and her disciples to join his Academy to learn to focus on the Light Side and dismiss the Sith practices from their order.

Meanwhile, Tavari’s forces are subdued by Booster Terrik’s ship, The Errant Venture, Rogue Squadron and Pash Cracken’s A-Wings, with the help of Corran’s mind manipulation of Tavares, causing the Pirate leader to escape.

The book is quite large, and for it to be condensed down to three hours a lot gets cut out. Whilst I have never finished the book when I read it as a kid, I did notice some emissions. The first I noticed was early on in Corran’s time at the Jedi Praxeum where Luke shows him to his sleeping quarters in the old Pilots Barracks from the time the Temple was used as a Rebel Base. Luke show Corran marks carved into the wall from him and his fellow pilots before the Death Star attack.

The other missing part was a section where Corran returns to Corellia after meeing Booster Terrik, before heading off to infiltrate the Invids. On Corellia he meets with his Step-Grandfather, Rostek Horn and they discuss Nejaa Halcyon, Rostek’s former friend, Jedi Master and Corran’s paternal Grandfather.

One thing I did enjoy was the introduction of Elegos A’Kla, seeing how he became part of Corran’s life and his connection to Corran’s past. The fact that he is also a descendant of Neeja’s partner is a tad coincidental but, is it coincidence or was is the Force at work… And seeing as I recently read more about the character in ‘The New Jedi Order: Dark Tide (Part 2) – Ruin‘ and his eventual demise and how it affected Corran’s character in that book, the new information from ‘I, Jedi’ really makes me appreciate his arc in that book more.

I enjoyed the change of perspective, using the first person narrative style that is well known for the hard boiled Private Detective stories from Raymond Chandler in the late 1930’s. Whilst it doesn’t have the same tone, the Audiobook certainly does its best to emulate the feel of the genre. It’s not the first time I have questioned the choice of Anthony Heald as narrator but I think a grittier performance would have suited the tone more.

Whilst an enjoyable book, the Audiobook experience was slightly lacking for me. I’m probably going to make an effort to pick the book up in the future for the full experience.

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The High Republic: A Test of Courage by Justina Ireland Review



Being a Star Wars fan in the UK can have its ups and downs… on the plus side, we tend to get the films earlier in cinemas (by a day). On the down side, we always have to wait longer for the Middle Grade and Young Adult novels to get released, and never as eBooks or Audiobooks.

That was the case with ‘A Test of Courage’, and I’m not going to lie, the wait was killing me. After Charles Soule’s masterpiece ‘Light of the Jedi’ and two amazing issues of ‘The High Republic’ comics, I was chomping at the bit to read this, especially as it was almost a month and a half since it got released.

Justina Ireland’s first entry into ‘The High Republic’ was worth the wait. Having already read the first three chapters (though not the prologue) I had already met four of the five main characters, Vernestra Rwoh, Avon Starros and her Droid Companion, J-6 and Honesty Weft but soon after that we meet our fifth protagonist, Imri Cantaros, a Jedi Padawan. The five of them are the only survivors of the Nihil sabotage of the Steady Wing, a luxury cruiser, the destination, The Starlight Beacon, just in time for the dedication ceremony.

Of course, the ship is sabotaged and the survivors land on a nearby moon called Wevo, where the ecosystem is nothing short of deadly with storms of acid rain and strange plant life that regrows itself every day.

The five heroes must survive and learn to overcome their feelings, with Imri and Honesty mourning the losses of their Master and Father respectively. But when The Nihil responsible for the attack show up, the two of them seek revenge but are stopped when they are captured and subsequently saved by Vernestra and Avon. With the Pirates captured, Vernestra must save Imri from himself as his anger at the loss of his Master starts to lead him towards the Dark Side. And to add to the already brilliant story, a surprise cameo from the fan-favourite Trandoshan Jedi Master Sskeer just makes a great book perfect.

Set during the events of ‘Light of the Jedi’, the Galaxy is still reeling from the Nihil attack on the Legacy’s Run which cements this story at a specific time and gives us an idea on how much time passes during Soule’s novel.

The characters we meet are a motley crew, Vernestra is a newly knighted Jedi and one of the youngest Jedi Knights in history. She’s proud of her achievements but still very unsure as to what she should be doing. She’s well connected to the Force and able to keep the unruly Avon in check.

Thanks to Vernestra, we get to see the introduction of the lightwhip into the Canon, having been previously utilised in the ‘Legends’ timeline. She was able to modify her lightsaber after having a vision in her sleep and spent the rest of the night working on the weapon and it comes in handy.

Avon Starros (an ancestor of Sana Starros) is somewhat of a wild child. A child genius, she’s always trying to learn as much as possible and usually trying to find a way to cause chaos in the process, even going as far as reprogramming J-6, her babysitter/bodyguard Droid, who at the start of the book could give C-3PO a run for his money in being prissy, but thanks to Avon’s shenanigans begins to act more like K-2SO.

Honesty Weft, the son of the Dalnan Ambassador who was travelling to the Starlight Beacon to meet with the Chancellor to discuss the possibilities of Dalna joining The Republic. He is angry at missing out on a rite of passage that his peers would be undertaking And is prone to arguing with his father. After the destruction of the Steady Wing and the death of his father, Honesty becomes angry and racked with guilt because his final interaction with his father had been another argument. As the days pass, his temper begins to wane thanks to Avon and Vernestra. However, once they discover The Nihil on Wevo, he wishes to take action and capture them. It’s at this point when Imri draws Honesty in and feeds off of the boy’s anger and the two of them go to confront the Pirates. During his capture he comes to realise that combat wasn’t the best option and instead asks Avon if it’s possible for Avon’s mother, a Senator, to get Honesty the chance to speak before the Council and plead a case for them to hunt down The Nihil.

Imri is the Padawan of Jedi Master Douglas Sunvale who is also on the Steady Wing when it’s destroyed. Imri is devastated by the loss of his Master, whom he refers to as his Father when thinking a bout him. Over the course of the book he lets the anger and rage fill his emotions until they boil over and he attempts to get revenge against the two Nihil on Wevo. However, after he is captured and then rescued he ends up battling Vernestra before coming to his senses. Back on Starlight Beacon, he believes that he will be punished but learns that if every Jedi was punished and expelled from the Order for one time losing control of their emotions then there wouldn’t be a Jedi Order left.

What’s amazing is that this book deals with the concept of death and how people deal with the loss of loved ones through Imri and Honesty, whilst it also tackles how people deal with those coping with loss through Vernestra and Avon, luckily it’s done in a way that doesn’t feel like a lesson but it comes across subtly. I think this is the first Star Wars book I have read that has been somewhat a morality tale, much like how Lucas planned the films to be.

‘A Test of Courage’ is not only an excellent continuation of ‘The High Republic’ but a fantastic Star Wars story, Justina Ireland’ first entry into the series deserves its place on the New York Times Bestseller list and I am very much looking forward to her next entries to the series, the Manga, ‘The Edge of Balance’ and the YA novel ‘Out of the Shadows’, which will feature Vernestra, Imri and Avon in an all new adventure. Can’t wait.

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Champions of the Force by Kevin J. Anderson Audiobook Review

With Jedi Master Luke Skywalker in a comatose state and Kyp Durron continues his path of destruction, it’s up to Han and Lando to stop the possessed Jedi whilst Leia worries about the ailing Mon Mothma and an attack on the secret location of her and Han’s third child, Anakin.

Kyp uses the Sun Crusher to destroy the Imperial Training Facility on Carida, he finds out that his brother Zeth is on the planet but it’s too late before the sun explodes, wiping the facility out in an instant. He continues his personal mission, attacking other targets when Han and Lando catch up to him at a former Imperial stronghold.

Luke is watched over by Leia, Jacen and Jaina and his students, but when a former informant to Commander Furgan, Terpfen, arrives with the news that Furgan is on his way to Anoth to capture Anakin, Leia, Terpfen and Ackbar give chase, leaving Jacen and Jaina at the Jedi Praxeum.

Luke’s spirit reaches out to Jacen and Jaina, and uses Jacen to protect his body from a swarm of Exar Kun’s evil two headed poisonous flying scorpion creatures. Jacen kills the three with his Uncle’s lightsaber and the twins communicate to the Jedi students that it is Exar Kun’s spirit that is causing all the trouble on Yavin. The Jedi students work together and manage to destroy Exar Kun’s spirit, allowing Luke to return and destroying the hold that Kun had on Kyp.

Kyp, with Lando and Han returns to Coruscant where they allow Kyp to pilot the ship to Kessel where it was to be sent into The Maw. Luke joins Kyp after he undergoes a Jedi Trial to ensure the Dark Side influence had left him, on the mission to assist him with the plan. Han takes Lando to Kessel to meet Mara Jade about him taking on a Spice Mining Operation with the Smugglers Alliance. The Millennium Falcon, along with the Smugglers ships end up in a space battle against Admiral Daala’s Star Destroyer, ‘The Gorgon’ that escaped the Sun Crusher’s attack at The Cauldron Nebula.

The Millennium Falcon flies into the Death Star to destroy the reactor, whilst Luke and Kyp arrive at the Maw Installation where Wedge and Chewie have led an assault on the base to learn the Empire’s secrets. The scientists on the Death Star attack the Installation which leads to an evacuation. Kyp steals the Sun Crusher to take down the Death Star.

Han, Lando and Mara Jade escape the superstructure after damaging the reactor and Kyp fires alone of the Sun Crusher’s missiles, which sends the Death Star into one of The Maw’s Black Holes which also sucks in the Sun Crusher. Kyp escapes the ship in a message container and is saved by the Falcon.

Leia arrives on Anoth in time to stop the Empire from kidnapping Anakin and returns to Yavin IV with her baby. Han brings Kyp back to Kessel after Luke got away with Wedge and Chewie’s team.

Cilghal uses her Force Healing abilities to get rid of the poison in Mon Mothma’s system what had been administered by Furgan at a diplomatic event. Whilst Mon Mothma is healed she is still weak and needs time to recuperate, and she informs Leia that the New Republic Council has voted that Leia is to be the new Chief of State.

Admiral Daala and what remains of ‘The Gorgon’ find a new hiding place where they can rebuild their forces. Leia, Han, Ackbar, Mon Mothma Wedge and Chewie go to a ceremony on Vortex where a new Cathedral of Winds has been constructed after Ackbar’s sabotaged BWing crashed into the old building in the previous novel and back on Yavin IV, Luke holds a ceremony for his newly Knighted students as they prepare to go on the next step of their Jedi paths.

The third part of the ‘Jedi Academy’ Trilogy ties up all of the storylines introduced in the previous novel, ‘Dark Apprentice‘ very nicely, of course with the exception of the surviving Admiral Daala who will return at various points in the EU.

This was the book I remembered the least about from my youth, the only part I could recall was the sequence where spirit Luke guided Jacen Solo with the lightsaber against the evil two headed flying scorpion creatures, so going back to it via the Audiobook was great fun and my enjoyment wasn’t diminished by noticing missing parts to the story. What shocked me was how fast paced it was, it’s at around the halfway point that Luke’s body and spirit are reconnected and Exar Kun, the seemingly big bad of the trilogy.

I was audibly shocked when ‘The Gorgon’ entered the Kessel sequence (I may have said something out loud in the middle of a supermarket when I heard it), and had to double check the end of ‘Dark Apprentice’ to make sure I hadn’t missed something, luckily I hadn’t and the reason for its appearance here is explained a bit later on.

I really enjoyed the fact that Han, Lando and Mara had to perform the same manoeuvre to destroy The Death Star prototype as Lando did in ‘Return of the Jedi’ and the fact that it doesn’t go to plan. The fact that it all comes down to Kyp to save the day really shows his complete change of heart after he’s no longer possessed by Exar Kun, and his actions manage to kill two birds with one stone and get rid of both super weapons.

Kyp’s storyline in this novel is really well played out. Firstly his attempt to save his brother from Imperial service leads to his killing of his last remaining family member. He never really deals with that under Kun’s power, it’s not until he undergoes his ‘cave scene’ in Exar Kun’s old Massassi Temple on Yavin IV where he encounters a vision of Zeth which gives him some closure.

The rest of the Jedi students get to shine in their valiant defeat of Exar Kun, working together to disperse his spirit into oblivion, saving their Master in the process. Cilghal gets a considerably more focus as her Force Healing power is used later on in the book, and she ends up becoming a temporary leader to the students after her time working as a diplomat on Mon Cala.

Listening to this trilogy and revisiting the story after so many years made me enjoy it a whole lot more now I’m older. As a kid this was my favourite series in the EU, and looking back I understand why, but when it comes to this period of the ‘Legends’ releases, I think (so far) that Zahn’s ‘Empire’ Trilogy has claimed that top spot.

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The New Jedi Order: Agents of Chaos (Part 1) – Hero’s Trial

After bumping into Roa, an old friend, Han Solo leaves his friends and family on a quest to track down and wipe out a group of Yuuzhan Vong allies called ‘The Peace Brigade’ and ends up in the middle of a New Republic Special Ops mission with a new ally, a Ryn called Droma.

Meanwhile, the Yuuzhan Vong has formed a plan to rid themselves of the Jedi menace by sending Elan, a Priestess to the New Republic under the guise of a defector with Vergere, her familiar. The Vong make it seem like they are high value targets but they are really on a mission to use a bio-weapon within Elan to kill all the Jedi at a meeting where Luke and the majority of the New Jedi Order will be present.

The Vong plot is thwarted when Han realised that the whole thing is a trap and manages to kill Elan with the bio-weapon she is carrying and lets Vergere escape, after the alien creature gives Han a vial of her tears. On her instructions, Han gives them to Luke to help cure Mara Jade of her life threatening illness.

I was in two minds about this book at first. Whilst I have enjoyed James Luceno’s work in both the Legends and Canon timelines, I have often struggled with his books. I can’t put a finger on why that is, I have thoroughly enjoyed the three other books of his I have read but I end up having to push myself through them.

The same was the case with this book, I ended up taking a few days at a time away from reading which isn’t normal for me, I always seem to find time to read, even if it’s only a chapter or two but once again I really enjoyed his work and am looking forward to the second part.

What I really enjoyed was that this book focused more on Han, who took a bit of a back seat in the ‘Dark Tide Duology’, left to wallow in his grief over losing Chewbacca in ‘Vector Prime’. However, we get to see Han and the rest of his family as well as Luke attending a memorial service for our favourite Wookiee before heading home. Han is just pushing everyone away in his grief and it’s so well written that anyone who has lost anyone will understand what Han is feeling and going through. His ire is especially directed at Anakin, his youngest son, who was with him when Chewie died on Sernpedial and was the one who flew the Falcon away from the planet as Chewie took his last stand.

With his friend Roa, a former Smuggling associate and teacher, who also lost someone, his wife, during the war, the two form an alliance on common ground and their sights are set on ‘The Peace Brigade’. Following leads they end up in the wrong place at the wrong time, on a space station above Ord Mantell when the Vong attack the station, using a snake like creature to suck people from the station, Han is able to rescue refugees with Droma. Their initial bickering leads to an unlikely friendship that really drives their scenes in the second half of the book, luckily he doesn’t become a replacement for Chewie but he does fill a hole for Han as a companion on adventures. After Droma saves Han’s life, Han vows to help his new friend find other members of his species who have been scattered around the Galaxy.

The Yuuzhan Vong plot of fake defectors being used to kill enemies isn’t a new one, but the way they play the New Republic into believing Elan has truly had a change of heart is interesting, by mounting two attacks to try to reclaim her and Vergere but feinting a defeat, something that goes against the Vong beliefs. It just goes to show how much they have begun to fear Luke Skywalker and the rest of the Jedi. It’s fortunate that Han catches on to the plot which would have led to the majority of the Order killed and the Galaxy without the hope that they inspire.

I am pleased that Han is able to patch things up with Anakin by the end of this book, reading about how the two of them were at odds was pretty rough for both characters, especially when Anakin could have died numerous times in the ‘Dark Tide Trilogy’ with their relationship strained as it was surely would have been a nail in the coffin for Han as well. It’s also great to get back to a more recognisable Han Solo.

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Dark Apprentice by Kevin J. Anderson Audiobook Review

As Luke’s Jedi Academy grows, so does a Dark evil, threatening to destroy the fledgling Jedi Order before it had even begun, meanwhile, Princess Leia has to contend with an ailing Mon Mothma and the sudden depart of Admiral Ackbar after piloting error caused the Mon Calamari to crash his ship into a historic monument on the planet Vortex. Meanwhile, Admiral Daala begins her attack on the New Republic, intent on avenging the fall of the Empire.

Oddly enough, I seemed to remember a lot more from this book than I did Jedi Search in terms of the story but I couldn’t tell you what was missing in the Abridged version of the Audiobook.

The story follows on about a month after ‘Jedi Search’, Luke’s Academy has grown, with more students having been recruited, numbering at 12. His lessons consist of learning from a Jedi Holocron and independent study. However one student, Gantoris, has far exceeded the skills of his peers. However, his power comes not from Luke’s teachings, but from the spirit of Exar Kun, an ancient Sith Lord. Kun shows Gantoris how to build a lightsaber and once the weapon is completed he challenges Luke to a duel, Luke bests Gantoris who is later found dead, immolated by Exar Kun.

Meanwhile, Leia and Ackbar narrowly avoid death when Ackbar’s modified B-Wing Fighter crash lands killing thousands, Ackbar resigns his command as a result. It turns out to be a Ship Technician who tampered with the Admiral’s fighter under the influence of Imperal brain implants. The Tech leaves Coruscant and turns out to be working for the Overseer of the Carida Training Facility, Furgan and gives the Imperial leader the location of Han and Leia’s third child, Anakin.

Han and Kyp, are taking time to get Kyp acquainted with normal life, but Han is pulled away, leaving Kyp to help dispose of the Sun Crusher in the Gas Planet of Yavin before he joins Luke’s Academy.

Han and Lando play a game of Sabacc for the Millennium Falcon which Han loses.

Leia learns that Mon Mothma is dying, and an attempt to maintain normality in the New Republic she goes to Mon Cala, and with the help of a Force Sensitive Mon Cala, Cilghal, she finds Ackbar.

Admiral Daala makes her way across the Galaxy. After losing one of her four Star Destroyers in The Maw, she takes what is left of her forces and attacks a settlement on Dantooine, wiping out the population. Her attention then turns to Mon Cala.

As Kyp begins his training, he is targeted by Exar Kun. Kyp begins to act out against Luke and his teachings. When Mara Jade arrives to do some training, Kyp steals her Z-95 Headhunter and finds Qui Xux who is with Wedge on Ithor. As the two become romantically linked, the happiness is cut short when Wedge finds her in tears with little memories left aft Kyp attacked her and stole her memories of how to operate the Sun Crusher.

Daala’s forces arrive at Mo Cala. Leia, Cilghal and Ackbar work furiously to fend off their attackers. Han also gets word of the attack and attenpts to commandeer the Falcon from Lando. On the way, they play another Sabacc game and Han wins back the ship.

The Battle of Mon Cala is devastating for the people of the planet, but Ackbar manages to turn the tide by remote piloting a Mon Cal ship and crashing it into one of Daala’s Star Destroyers. The battle is lost for the Empire and they retreat to The Cauldron Nebula.

Kyp returns to Yavin IV, and with the help of Exar Kun, retrieves the Sun Crusher from the planet Yavin before facing Luke and rips Luke’s soul from his body,l leaving his body in a coma-like state before taking the Sun Crusher to The Cauldron Nebula and wiping out Daala and her remaining forces.

The ante is certainly upped across the board from ‘Jedi Search’. Gantoris prophecy of his end coming at the hands of the Dark Man comes to pass is a more sinister way than I could have imagined (as a kid). The reveal of Exar Kun and the way he is described as almost oozing out of the wall is creepy.

The fall of Kyp Durron was easily predicted. In ‘Jedi Search’ we see him tapping into the Dark Side because the only way he could control the Force was by tapping into his anger. However, the Audiobook makes the transition go faster than Anakin in ‘Revenge of the Sith’, of course this is all down the to abridgement and Kyp’s descent to the Dark Side takes a bit longer. Once he’s gone Dark, his power is seemingly limitless with the assistance of Exar Kun. His mind manipulation of Qui Xux is horrifying and of course it comes at the worst time ever, just as her romance with Wedge is blossoming. Followed by his ability to pull the Sun Crusher from the heat of Yavin AND rip Luke’s souls from his body, it’s easy to say that Kyp is incredibly over-powered. It’s easy to say that someone can be incredibly strong with the Force, but even Luke has limits, which are noticeable even in ‘The New Jedi Order’ when he becomes exhausted after using the Force too much (and hey, just look at ‘The Last Jedi’ when he Force Projected which led to his death).

The Audiobook sidelines Han considerably. He gets a handful of moments, but they are reduced somewhat. Whilst Han gets a back seat here, it was Leia who got a back seat in the ‘Jedi Search’ Audiobook, so really, given the abridgement whittles the book down to its most important plot lines, and a second Sabacc game would have taken too much time away from the rest of the story at Mon Cala.

The introduction of Luke’s other new students, Dorsk 81, Tionne, Kirana Ti and Kam Soulsar get sidelined for the most part, except for Tionne who gets one moment with Kyp, but mainly the students who get most of the attention are Gantoris and Kyp. Again understandable but I do feel that this book has a lot of content that was skipped.

Overall I did enjoy the story as it was told but I did want more and I feel the need to pick up the whole trilogy for a proper revisit.

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The High Republic Adventures Issue 1 – Collision Course



This is the first issue of any of the IDW Star Wars comics and if this is any indication of the quality of the main series then I’ve got a lot of reading to do because it’s good!

The highly anticipated first issue of Older’s series does not disappoint (except for the lack of Sskeer) and introduces us to a whole range of new Padawan Learners who are under the tutelage of Masters Yoda and Torban Buck as they are called to the planet Trymant IV to protect its capital city from destruction as an Emergence of wreckage from the Legacy Run disaster occurs in the system.

On the planet, the Padawans try to help the people evacuate but the only ship big enough is a Spider Cruiser that belongs to The Nihil, who are protecting the leader of the city, whose population are fearful of and and have nothing but contempt for the Jedi and other Force Users.

One of the population, a young girl called Zeen, is a Force User and keeps her powers secret until a large piece of wreckage is about to crush her, her friend and the group of Padawans, she reaches out with the Force and stops the wreckage landing. With the help of the Jedi they save the people from the debris but in their distraction find that they are surrounded by The Nihil.

As I said before, we are introduced to a number of new characters. Firstly, Zeen, who has spent her life hiding her growing connection to Force from those around her, including her best friend Krix, who, when Zeen reveals her powers turns on her in a horrific manner. Luckily she is in the company of Jedi and will be able to join them.

Speaking of the Jedi, there are quite a few Padawans in Yoda’s care, but there are three that the book focus’ on, Lula Talisola, a human female who is the second main protagonist along with Zeen. Lula is intelligent and skilled but unsure of herself and how she will perform in the field. Her two friends, Qort and Farzala are her backup and seem very confident with following Lula’s lead, showing that they trust her judgment.

The writing is top notch and the art looks wonderful. The art team really managed to capture the terrifying nature of the Emergences, as these massive storms in space, for a comic that is geared towards a younger audience that looks scary (and I loved it). Just imagine if they ever showed one in live action.

A solid introduction to some great new characters. After initially being wary of Older helming a series after disliking his ‘Solo’ Tie-In novel ‘Last Shot’, needless to say my trepidation was unnecessary and all I can really say now is being on the next issue.

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#CollectionCorner – The Mandalorian (Beskar Armour) Black Series Figure

What a beautiful figure! What amazing packaging! It’s so beautiful!

This was one of those additions to the collection that just made my day when it arrived from Star Action Figures (mere days after the influx that was the whole set of ‘Rebels’ figures).

The Black Series figures have always had a high level of detail, sometimes there are flops, just look at Krennic from the ‘Rogue One’ set, or any of the Poe Dameron figures, and it’s always easy to get a masked character spot on. But this figure looks amazing.

The little details really accentuate the greatness. The wrinkles and folds in the under-suit look well worn and the brown really highlights the silver of the beskar, which could look awful but the contrast really lets the silver shine.

The helmet is the same sculpt at the Triple Force Friday 2019 release with a shinier paint job and the two blasters are also the same, but everything else looks new (perhaps the belt and bandolier are the same too). The addition of the Jet Pack is nice, we essentially got a Season 2 version of the character before the show came out.

One detail that really makes me smile is the Mudhorn Signet on the pauldron. It’s a really, really nice touch and looks great.

The new packaging is amazing. The artwork on the side is stunning. The orange tone really gives the character a Western feel, and, when put together with others in the series (Mandalorian, Clone Wars, Revels, Return of the Jedi etc.) they make a great looking mural.

It’s a really great addition to my collection and an overall great figure.

Jedi Search by Kevin J. Anderson Audiobook Review

If ever there was a trilogy of books that I regretted getting rid of other than Timothy Zahn’s ‘Empire Trilogy’ it’s Kevin J. Anderson’s Jedi Academy Trilogy.

‘Jedi Search’ was one of my most-read Star Wars books when I was younger, along with the rest of the trilogy, for me it was all about the training of new Jedi. I was always fascinated in the kinds of lessons they would have had, nothing as dull as Maths and Science that I was relegated to in real life.

And whilst ‘Jedi Search’ doesn’t delve too deeply into the lessons of new Jedi, it introduces us to some potential Jedi recruits. Now it has been many years since I read this book and diving back in with the Audiobook was something I was greatly looking forward to, and whilst it was enjoyable, and I was reminded of parts of the book it had forgotten (the Lando subplot), there were things that I did remember that were missed out, but that’s what you get with Abridged versions.

Han and Chewie are sent to Kessel to try to bring the Spice Mining planet into the New Republic, unfortunately, Moruth Doole who runs the Spice Mining operation has a few problems with Han Solo from their past dealings and afterHan and Chewie are captured they are forced to work in the Spice Mines.

Working in the mines they meet Kyp Durron, a young man who has Force abilities. When Han volunteers the three of them to help scout a fresh mine and their handlers are killed by a native creature, the three hatch an escape where they steal an old Imperial Shuttle but their escape sends them into The Maw, a series of Black Holes. Kyp navigates The Maw using the Force but they end up being captured by Admiral Daala, a former protégé of Grand Moff Tarkin who now runs the Maw installation where they developed Imperial Superweapons, designed by Qui Xux who believed her creations were to be used for good (the Death Star was meant to be used to break up dead planets for mining purposes), the last weapon she made was The Sun Crusher.

After she learns that her creations were used for evil, she breaks Han out and they break out Chewie and Kyp and they steal the Sun Crusher and escape the Maw, being chased by Daala and her Four Star Destroyers.

Meanwhile, Luke asks the New Republic for their blessing to start a Jedi Academy and to opportunity to find and trail potential Jedi. He finds two possible students, Gantoris and Streen. When they arrive back on Coruscant, Luke meets with Lando who had also been on a trip to locate a potential Jedi, but what he, R2 and C-3PO did was stop a gambler rigging races to escape from his suitor. Leia tells Luke and Lando that Han isn’t back, he’s almost a week overdue and that he had missed his children Jacen and Jaina finally arriving on Coruscant after they had been placed in hiding to thwart kidnapping attempts.

Luke and Lando travel to Kessel, pose as potential investors and find that the Millennium Falcon has been put into service on Kessel. They steal back the Falcon and in the ensuing chase, the Falcon and The Sun Crusher cross paths and the heroes work together to escape when the Imperial and Kessel forces begin to attack each other.

Back on Coruscant, Han is reunited with his family, he also introduce Luke to Kyp and they find out that Kyp has a very strong affinity for the Force, making Luke very excited to begin the young man’s training.

Two scenes that were noticeably omitted in the audio book that I remembered from my youth are the discovery of a device that is able to measure an individual’s Force ability. Luke uses it on himself and Leia before using it in Wedge, which of course yielded negative results. The device is mentioned however when Lando uses it to find out if their potential Jedi is actually that (obviously not).

The second is on Bespin when Luke and Gantoris meet Streen, Luke gives them an exercise where they are to use the Force to nudge a spire making local birds fly away. Both of the Jedi trainees are able to do this, Gantoris even manages to do it without gesturing with his hands, mastering the art of telekinesis quickly.

Despite the omissions, I still enjoyed the Audiobook. Anthony Heald narrates it well, although he doesn’t rank anywhere near to Marc Thompson in my book (seriously that man is Star Wars royalty). I’ve already started ‘Dark Apprentice’, the second in the ‘Jedi Academy’ Trilogy and boy is it bringing back memories.

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Star Wars: The High Republic Issue 2 – There is No Fear Part 2



Sskeer, Keeve and the twins, Ceret and Terec have been sent to investigate a distress beacon.

When they arrive they sense a single survivor on the inactive ship. On board they realise the ship was attacked by The Nihil. The group splits up, Sskeer and Terec explore the ship looking for survivors whilst Keeve and Ceret go to the Flight Deck.

Sskeer and Terec are attacked and Terec is injured, the attacker, an injured member of The Nihil attacks Sskeer who easily defeats the pirate and proceeds to have flashbacks to the Battle of Kur where he lost his arm and savagely dismembers the dead body.

Keeve and Ceret arrive at the flight deck to find the corpse of a Hutt and a record of what was being transported, Vratixian Barley, a key component in the making of Bacta. After contacting Avar Kriss on Starlight Beacon, the Marshal brings a ship to the wreckage to meet Keeve and Ceret whilst Sskeer and Terec go to Sedri Minor where the crops originated.

Keeve shows Avar the dismembered Nihil and the two discuss Sskeer and how he’s been different since the events of ‘Light of the Jedi’.

Meanwhile, on Sedri Minor, whilst Sskeer is talking to one of the locals, Terec follows a Rodian into a field. Back on the ship, Cerec feels something terrible through the Force. Sskeer goes after his companion but only finds Terec’s lightsaber half-buried in the ground.

Scott, Anindito and co. have knocked it out of the park again. The character arc of Sskeer has me hooked already and given this fresh new era and a vastly different Jedi Order than we are used to, how they will deal with Sskeer going forward, and why, if they have already noticed his changing attitude why hasn’t anyone done anything to help him?

We have a new mystery to solve, the strange tentacle that seemingly grabbed Terec. From the looks of it, it could be the introduction of The Drengir, the strange plant-like creatures that, from what we have heard, will be properly introduced to in the upcoming ‘Into the Dark’ by Claudia Gray, and if it is The Drengir, then what are they doing on Sedri Minor and are they in league with The Hutts?

I loved to get a visual representation of the aftermath of a Nihil attack, the ruthlessness and savagery is fantastically depicted, and the dead Hutt is just the icing on the cake.

The cameo of Vernestra Rwoh is a nice touch, it just goes to show how much interconnectivity is going on in this Publishing Initiative, now I just need to get ‘Test of Courage’ when it comes out in the UK.

I’m definitely enjoying this series so far, the new characters, ships, locations and overall feel slots right in with ‘Light of the Jedi’, and once ‘Test of Courage’ and ‘Into the Dark’ are out it will be keeping ‘The High Republic’ going before the next books come out later this year. Now I only need to find a way to get ‘The High Republic Adventures’ digitally.

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#CollectionCorner – Trouble on Tatooine Lego

After the struggle that was acquiring ‘The Razorcrest’ (for my wife anyway), I was cautious when going in for this one, mainly due to the shortage of Lego we’re seeing at the moment due to COVID.

But as I kept my eye on this set, waiting to have the necessary funds available I thought I was in luck, it was in stock everywhere. Not a problem. So when the funds became available I went straight to a the Lego Online Store… Back Order available… Will ship within 60 Days…

Amazon… no idea when it would be in stock.

It was time to go local, there are two toy stores near me, on has closed due to various COVID restrictions, not even offering Click and Collect (which is annoying as I have an order waiting to collect) but thank the maker that the other was open. And I snapped it up and picked it up, the clerk was wearing a Star Wars face mask too, which only added to the experience. Once I got it home and had time (wife and daughter asleep) I dove in.

The box contains three bags and the instructions, with no stickers the build would be pretty straightforward.

Bag 1 build the Speeder Mando borrows from Peli Moto in ‘Chapter 9: The Marshal’ and includes Mando and Grogu.

The Speeder Bike is well designed with some really great design elements. It’s a great looking take on a Speeder Bike which I have never seen before and it’s incredibly screen accurate. The way the two bags are placed at the back makes it easy to swap them out for Boba Fett’s armour to make it look like the end of the episode.

The Mando mini-fig has him in his Beskar armour and the detail is gorgeous. His pauldron also has the Mudhorn signet and his gauntlets have their gadgetry painted on too. The Grogu mini-fig is the same as we got in ‘The Razorcrest’ set and can slot into a little pouch like in the series.

The second bag gives us the Tusken Raider hit and campfire. The hut is a good build, with some nice detail and the campfire is a decent size to fit a few mini-figs on for display and play.

The Tusken Raider mini-fig is the same as we have had in previous Tatooine based sets in the last few years and comes with a buildable Gaderffii Stick like previous versions.

The giant crossbow weapon used in the Krayt Dragon attack is a really nice addition to the set. The screen accuracy is top-notch. Even the missile launcher that is out on display looks right at home. The winch at the back rotates for play.

Overall, this is a really good set and the price/piece ratio is brilliant, at £27.99 for 276 pieces is great. The mini-fig selection is good, it’s a great and affordable way for people to get the Grogu mini-fig without paying £120 and the new Beskar Mandalorian looks beautiful. The set is great for new builders and older builders and I highly recommend getting it, if you can, given the fact that Lego.con won’t be sending any more out until late February/March.

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Doctor Aphra: The Engine Job Part 2

I love this series. There. I said it. Out of the three ongoing series I read (and not including’The High Republic as we are only one issue in) it has been consistently fantastic and this issue is no different.

Aphra finds Sana Starros on Corellia and spends the majority of the issue trying to convince Sana to help her get a meeting with Lady Proxima, leader of The White Worms Gang from ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’.

Sana kicks Aphra out of her apartment but finds Aphra outside the next morning and decides to help.

At the White Worms lair, they are granted an audience with Lady Proxima, who it turns out that Aphra already knew and had double crossed before, but her past transgressions are forgiven when she reveals to Proxima what she is looking for and hope that Proxima has information on (which she does).

Meanwhile, after finding out his gambling addicted brother is in over his head with a local crime boss, Just Lucky offers his services as an assassin to pay off his brothers’ debt.

Have I said how much I love this series? Oh, yes I did. There is so much great happening in every issue and this one is no exception, and for the most part it’s just people talking. In an apartment, and a corridor. The only really ‘Star Wars’ thing happens when they meet Proxima.

The relationship between Sana and Aphra is the focal point of this issue. Their past, which we get to learn about in Sarah Kuhn’s ‘Star Wars: Doctor Aphra’ Audio Drama that came out last year. It goes into how they first met, how their relationship developed and the inevitable break-up and in the few moments they were together in previous comics, Sana was always pretty cold, understandably. But now they are back under the same roof and Aphra needs Sana’s help, leading to the two of them having to work together on the job. I’m really looking forward to seeing how this plays out over the rest of this arc.

Getting to see The White Worms, so many year after the events of ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ shows us how little life for the gang has changed. Lady Proxima is just as vile as she was in ‘Solo’ and the artists really bring her to life, so much so that I can hear her voice in all of her speech bubbles.

So far, this has been a consistently fantastic series and this issue is no exception, its definitely one of, if not my favourite series from the Marvel era.

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The Courtship of Princess Leia by Dave Wolverton Audiobook Review

My binge of Star Wars ‘Legends’ Audiobooks took a turn away from the X-Wing series for a moment, after tearing through the first four books of the series I opted to take a break from the rip-roaring fast pace of Star Fighter Pilots. In doing that I have also made the decision to listen/read all of the early EU novels from 1991 – 1999.

Of course I recently reviewed Timothy Zahn’s ‘Empire’ Trilogy and last year reviewed ‘Shadows of the Empire, so I’ll cross those off my list. After finding out that ‘Star Wars: Truce at Bakura’ isn’t available on Audible (WTF??) I went for another book I had missed out on in those early years of my fandom, ‘The Courtship of Princess Leia’.

Returning to Coruscant from the hunt for Imperial Warlord Zsinj, Han Solo on the Mon Remonda is shocked to find a legion of Hapan Battle Dragon ships orbiting the planet. It turns out that the Hapes Consortium has arrived to bestow gifts on Princess Leia in a ceremony, where she is given jewels, a mind control weapon called ‘The Gun of Command’ and the most extravagant gift, the Queen Mother has sent her son, Isolder, to propose to Leia so she may take the Hapan Throne one day.

Angry, Han Solo tries his best to convince Leia otherwise, and after a couple of heated encounters between Isolder and Han, the former smuggler plays some high stakes sabacc games where he wins the planet Dathomir, intending to give it to Leia as a new home for the Alderaanian refugees still searching for a place to call their own.

When Leia hints that she may take Isolder up on the proposal, Han gets desperate and uses the ‘Gun of Command’ to get Leia to the Falcon. When she comes to her senses she realises she has been kidnapped but the Falcon is on its way and Han has locked the controls so only he can change course. He asks Leia to give him one week, if she doesn’t fall in love with him all over again he will leave.

Once at Dathomir, they find that Zsinj’s forces are above the planet, and after some not-quite-great piloting the Falcon lands in Imperial territory. They hide the Falcon but are captured by Imperial forces before being freed to a clan of Force Witches who follow (as much as possible) the Light Side and they find out that The Nightsisters, a clan of Dark Side Force Witches has taken control of the Imperial facilities on the planet.

Isolder, with the help of Lukeand R2 arrive on Dathomir to track Leia, Han and the others. On the planet that locate an old Jedi Starship which was a travelling Jedi Academy. They are attacked and captured by Teneniel Djo, a Light Side Witch who claims the two men as her slaves. They make their way back to her clan, on the journey, Luke spurns her romantic advances as she wishes him to mate with her because of his connection to the Force but she develops feelings for Isolder.

Her clan is the same that Han, Leia, Chewie and C-3PO encountered and they learn that Zsinj is collaborating with the leader of The Nightsisters, Gethzerion, Zsinj knows Solo is on the planet, and he wants Gethzerion to capture Han and give him to the Empire, in return he will give the Nightsisters a ship on which the clan can leave Dathomir. If she refuses he will activate a Satellite Chain that will block the sun from the planet and essentially kill all life.

After a battle between the two clans in which Luke is injured and Teneniel Djo uses Dark Side powers and must exile herself for three years, Han hands himself over to Gethzerion, planning to kill as many of the Nightsisters as possible with a suicide bomb.

As the Imperials arrive to take Han and Gethzerion arrives in the hanger, it turns out his bomb was disarmed by a Nightsisters who detected it. The head Witch breaks Han’s leg using the Force and is about to inflict more agony on him when Luke, Leia, the Droids, Chewie, Isolder and Teneniel Djo arrive in the Falcon, they save Han but the Nightsisters escape on a transport. Luke chases the transport but the Imperials in orbit don’t want the Nightsisters to flee into the Galaxy, so after being lured into Luke’s trap they destroy the evil clan.

The Hapan fleet arrives as well, to save Isolder, and they battle the Imperials. Han manages to locate Zsinj and kills the Warlord by getting close enough to his Super Star Destroyer to fire missiles into the control deck.

Free from the Empire and its satellite weapon, the heroes along with the Light Force Witches and the Hapan leadership celebrate. Leia tells Han she wants to marry him, Han gives the planet to the head of the Witch Clan and Isolder announces that he and Teneniel Djo are to be married, much to his mother’s chagrin.

The book ends with Luke arriving late to Han and Leia’s wedding.

It’s strange, reading this novel, learning how Han and Leia ended up getting married in this strange adventure full of Force Magic and Rancor riding Witches, with satellites that block out the sun in a way that would make ‘The Simpson’s’ Mr Burns green with envy. And yet, once this was removed from the Canon, Han and Leia basically elope on Endor. Where Lucasfilm are taking aspects of the old EU and making them Canon, surely the story of Han and Leia’s wedding could have had at least one Rancor. Yes, I do kind of feel short changed here.

But in all seriousness, I did enjoy this audiobook. The story was great Star Wars fun and introduced a concept that George Lucas would one day visit in ‘The Clone Wars’ when he made his version of The Nightsisters (no Rancors though).

The Hapan Consortium is introduced, and they would continue to appear through the EU, especially the daughter of Isolder and Teneniel Djo, Tenel Ka who was one of the Young Jedi Knights from the series of books of the same name.

The book has some interesting Jedi lore, a Jedi Academy Ship, the Chu’unthor had landed on the ship and was sealed against anyone accessing the Jedi secrets within. However, one of the Elder Witches had met Master Yoda when he had tried to reclaim the ship for the Jedi. She met Luke and told him she had once had a vision of him coming to Dathomir and ridding the planet of the Nightsisters, and I return she would give him a box, the box is filled with data cards that contain Jedi teachings from before the Empire, something that Luke would need in rebuilding the Jedi Order.

So far, not my favourite of the EU books, but certainly not the worst I have ever encountered. It’s a fun and well paced adventure and a must read for anyone wanting to jump into the ‘Legends’ timeline.

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Darth Vader: Into the Fire Part 4 Review

On the run from Ochi’s Droid Assassins, most of the issue is taken up with action as Vader destroys the Droids.

Once they are vanquished, he threatens Ochi’s life, forcing the assassin to help him hook up the Wayfinder to the Jedi Interceptor used by Anakin Skywalker to reach Mustafaar in ‘Revenge of the Sith’.

Taking Ochi with him by connecting their ships, Vader arrives at the Red Nebula on the path to Exogol where they encounter a strange monster in space.

Personally, this arc is starting to drag. Every issue there’s more enemies to slice apart with a lightsaber and a few quips from Ochi, a bit of exposition and lore and then a cliffhanger. The cliffhanger Incan live with, it gets us pumped for the next issue, but right now the rest of the issue is just a repeat of the last couple in terms of plot points.

There were two things about this issue that stood out for me, the first, one of the Assassin Droids manages to slice a component off of Vader and goes on about how Vader is made up of outdated parts, something we already knew but I think that this was the first time it’s actually been mentioned in a story. The second, they finally get off of Mustafaar, and Ochi explains how to connect a Wayfinder to a ship’s navigation system.

I’m still not a fan of Ochi’s character here. He’s in no way a threat, he’s actually scared of his Assassin Droids and ends up being dragged along for the ride to Exogol, for no other reason that I can see, than to have someone on hand for Vader to talk to on Exogol. Seriously, leave Vader to be stoic and have him narrate the next couple of issues, dump Ochi on some planet somewhere until it’s time for him to hunt down Rey.

One saving grace is the art. Ienco has been a saviour for this arc for me, his design of the cobbled together Vader continues to be a great way of changing the character visually and still have him maintain his imposing presence, and some of the panels where Vader is in shadow are beautiful.

Unfortunately, this was a mostly disappointing issue and what, for me is a disappointing story arc. I had high hopes after the fantastic previous arc but the quality now is on a downward slide and I hope it really picks up over the next two issues and gives us a decent pay-off.

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The New Jedi Order: Dark Tide (Part 2) – Ruin by Michael A. Stackpole

After the loss of Dantooine, The New Republic looks for allies and answers as a new weapon presents itself that could turn the tide of war.

With the New Republic on the run once again, Leia turns to The Imperial Remnant, led by Admiral Gilad Pellaeon for aid against the Yuuzhan Vong.

Corran Horn, Ganner Rhysolde and Jacen Solo lead a scouting mission on the planet Ghent, where they plan on taking some Human slaves so that scientists can find a way of saving those infected. During the battle, they discover that the Yuuzhan Vong’s living armour is allergic to a certain type of pollen from trees originating from the planet Ithor. With this knowledge they return to the New Republic.

Luke, Anakin, Mirax, R2 and a man called Chaco go in search of the Jedi Daeshara’cor who, after learning that the Vong take slaves, goes in search of old Imperial Super Weapon technology. Through the efforts of the whole team, Anakin and Chaco finally locate her and bring her back to the Jedi.

Meanwhile, Senator Elegos A’Kla, on a fact finding mission with the leader of the Yuuzhan Vong forces, Shedao Shai, is outed as a friend of Corran Horn, the Jedi who killed Shai’s kin on Bimmiel.

The Vong send A’Kla’s ship back to the New Republic, who are staging for an attack on Ithor, with a message for Corran, in to form of A’Kla’s bones, arranged in the formal Yuuzhan Vong fashion.

Corran devises a plan, to call out Shedao Shai for a duel to give the people of Itho a chance to evacuate. After a battle above the planet and a small incursion, Corran sends his message to the Vong leader who accepts the terms, if Shai wins he gets the bones of his ancestor recovered from Bimmiel, if Corran wins then Ithor is to be safe from further Vong attack.

The fight, observed by Luke Skywalker and Shai’s underling Deign Lian, Corran is mortally wounded, but endures by using the Force. He manages to beat Shai, leaving Deign Lian to return to the Vong Warship. Lian, secretly working for Vong Warlord Tsavong Lah, goes against the agreed terms and sends Yuuzhan Vong missiles onto the planet, the missiles expel a bacteria that eats and destroys all life on the planet.

Ithor is destroyed, luckily most of the population has been evacuated with samples of the trees that produce the pollen that the Vondum Crab Armour is allergic to. However, the Warship’s escape is hampered by an Imperial Interdictor Cruiser that disables the Vong’s gravity based defences and the ship is destroyed, killing Lian in the process.

After his Bacta treatment is complete, Corran holds a meeting with Luke, Ganner, who after being injured in a battle with a Vong warrior on Ghent and realising the threat they do possess and changes his point of view of the Force and how the Jedi should act and Jacen Solo, who had grown closer to Corran and Ganner in their work together. The purpose of the meeting is to announce that, after the people of the New Republic were seeing him as the reason Ithor fell, which would cause a political nightmare for the Jedi Order, he was going into self-imposed isolation on Corellia, admitting that his plan to fight Shedao Shai was spurred by the Vong leaders murder of his friend and the fact that, during the battle, Corran’s murder of Shai came not from a place of defence, but from an act of revenge, touching on the Dark Side. Ganner and Jacen both try to convince him to reconsider but his decision has been made.

‘Ruin’ really ups the ante from ‘Onslaught’, the stakes become increasingly higher, especially with the pollen which could turn the tide of the Yuuzhan Vong invasion before its really begun. We learn more about the Yuuzhan Vong through conversations between Shai and A’Kla, as well as through Shai’s treatment of Lian. Their embrace of pain and how they use it to strengthen themselves truly makes them a formidable enemy, even before you take into account their technology and the fact that they are invisible in the Force.

Something that can be said about this series is that we can easily be introduced to new Jedi very easily, some of which will go on to become major players and others who are used as Yuuzhan Vong, one of such we get in this book, Daeshara’cor, who plays a major part in the book and becomes a big part in Anakin’s life, later teaching him more about loss. Jaina also experiences this when her Rogue Squadron wing mate Anni is killed in combat which leads to the two of them having a touching sibling moment towards the end of the book. Jacen and Jaina get one earlier on before Jacen goes on his mission with Corran and Ganner, but the dynamic between the twins is different than with their younger brother.

One part of the book that, in a way seemed quite petty on Stackpole’s part is how he sidelines Corran Horn at the end. The self imposed exile of Horn basically takes him off the board until further notice, but he is more than happy to use other authors original characters from the series.

The book really pushes the series forward at a fantastic pace. Stackpole was a great choice to drive the series forward here, making the Yuuzhan Vong a genuine threat after the New Republic defeated them at the end of ‘Vector Prime’ and laying the groundwork for the next authors to carry on the series.

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The New Jedi Order: Dark Tide (Part 1) – Onslaught by Michael A. Stackpole

I’ve finally gotten around to reading this after finishing ‘Vector Prime‘ months ago. It’s not because it’s taken me months to read (it’s barely 300 pages) but the mass amount of Star Wars content we have had since has kept me busy.

‘Dark Tide: Onslaught’ was the first book from ‘The New Jedi Order’ series that I read, when I got it to read on the train from London to home with my Grandparents. Needless to say I was very confused, Chewie was dead? What were the Yuuzhan Vong? Luckily, Michael A. Stackpole took Stan Lee’s rule that every comic was someone’s first and so Stackpole gives us just enough information to get us up to speed.

Following on from the events of ‘Vector Prime’, the Jedi and New Republic are in a state of panic, with the threat of the Yuuzhan Vong lingering. Although defeated they will be back.

After an attack on Lando’s mobile mining city on Dubrillion, the facility is in ruins and the survivors need to be evacuated. Leia, Jaina and Danni Quee help on the ground whilst Gavin Darklighter and Rogue Squadron help from above. After losing pilots in skirmishes with the Vong, Jaina joins Rogue Squadron at Leia’s request to Darklighter.

Luke and Jacen go to Belkadan to investigate the ExGal facility after the Vong reformed the planet. They find that the Vong are using the planet to grow their technology using slaves. In an attempt to free the slaves after having a vision, Jacen goes to the Vong’s farm(?) but is captured and later saved by Luke. The two leave Belkadan to join Mara Jade and Anakin on Dantooine.

Anakin, after feeling guilty over Chewie’s death and Han’s attitude led towards him, is sent to care for the ailing Mara Jade on Dantooine where Anakin is taught how to not rely heavily on the Force for everyday tasks. They meet a tribe of locals who become allies until the tribe is attacked by a Yuuzhan Vong group. Anakin defeats the Vong soldiers and takes Mara into the mountains where they are pursued by more Vong attackers until they are saved by Luke and Jacen.

The evacuation of Dubrillion is foiled by the Vong, using their gravity-based shields as makeshift gravity wells, stopping the refugees going to their destination, luckily they are able to plot a new course, to Dantooine.

Meanwhile, Corran Horn and Ganner Rhysolde are sent to Bimmiel to rescue a group of scientists, who it turns out have found remains of a Yuuzhan Vong scout, dating back fifty years. After a pair of scientists go missing, Corran and Ganner find a Yuuzhan Vong settlement, and after some planning, evacuate the scientists and rescue the captured pair. In the escape, Corran battles two Vong warriors, killing both but mortally wounded in doing so.

On Dantooine, the Refugees and the Jedi join forces where they await the Bothan Capital Ship ‘The Ralroost’ to return with enough supplies to take them on the rest of their journey, but they are attacked by Yuuzhan Vong ground forces. Luke, Anakin and Jacen help the soldiers on the ground whilst Leia, Danni, Lando and Mara hunt for Vong infiltrators in disguise. Rogue Squadron keep the Coral Skippers at bay whilst destroying as much of the Ground Forces as possible.once the refugees evacuate, their escape is once again blocked by a Warship but they are saved when the Ralroost returns with aid and destroys the Warship.

Corran, it seems, was saved at the last minute by Ganner and placed in a Bacta Tank in time before his wounds took their toll.

Despite the victory, half of the Refugees are killed in the battle, and when a report is brought to the New Republic High Council’s attention, it is almost laughed out of the office. Only with Leia’s help and the threat of the military breaking away from the Republic does Borsk Fey’lya concede, with the New Republic now at war with the Yuuzhan Vong.

Stackpole fills this book with some great action sequences. From dogfights to melee combat, each fight feels like it could be the last for any of the characters, something Stackpole is good at, given that he would kill off pilots in each of his X-Wing novels, outlining the perils of combat.

The Yuuzhan Vong expansion into the Galaxy is slowly becoming a larger threat and in these early days. These new villains aren’t given much of the spotlight here, but this adds some mystery to their ways. Rather than have things dictated to us, here we learn about them and their ways as the main characters do.

The main characters from the films take a step back in this book, even though they are integral to the plot, we get more focus on the EU characters, for example, the scenes with Luke and Jacen are told from Jacen’s perspective which is refreshing and allows the newer characters to shine more. The same could be said for the Corran and Ganner storyline, but Corran has already held his own as protagonist in Stackpole’s X-Wing series. It was quite enjoyable for me reading this as I had been listening to the X-Wing audiobooks so I got to see Corran Horn and Gavin Darklighter at different points in their lives.

‘Dark Tide: Onslaught’ is (for me) a much more digestible introduction to the series that ‘Vector Prime’. It doesn’t rely on the shock value from the previous novel but instead slams us back in our seats for a Galaxy-changing adventure and gives enough time to the old and new characters.

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Star Wars: Operation Starlight Part 2 Review

As C-3PO and R2 work on fixing the ‘Talky’ Droid, it reactivates and goes haywire until Lobot steps in and uses his cybernetic link to calm the Droid allowing it to communicate. C-3PO requests that the Droid assist them in translating the Thwark language. Talky initially denies the request and Lando steps in to make a deal which the Droid and Lobot both accept as Lobot has to keep the Droid’s memory working.

Lando gets a message from Bib Fortuna asking for Lando to cough up information that he owes Jabba for not killing him before. Lando dishes all the info on the Rebellion he can without jeopardising their mission too much.

Leia sets up a new Fight Squadron, ‘Starlight Squadron’ consisting of Wedge Antilles, Shara Bey, L’Ulo L’Ampar, Mary Matten and two new pilots we’ve never seen before, Freyta Smyth and Evaan Verlaine. Their mission is to locate the missing groups of the Rebel Fleet. They locate the ruins of the Sixth Division and a group of Probe Droids who attack the Fighters’ Astromech Droids, attempting to retrieve the rest of the Rebel locations. They eject the droids, which self destruct but are soon attacked by Commander Zahra’s Star Destroyer.

The Talky communicates with Lobot before telling Leia, Lando, Chewie and Kes that the connection between them is killing Lobot. Lando calls for them to break the connection and find another way but Kes shuts him up by pointing a blaster at Lando.

For me there was one major factor riding against this issue.

It came out the same day as Star Wars: The High Republic Issue 1, probably one of the most anticipated Star Wars comics in recent history.

Whilst the issue has some action, the majority is a series of conversations, which really slows the arc down after last issues action-packed story and an attempt to build tension around the idea that Lobot will die because of the connection with Talky, however, Lobot isn’t going to die yet as he shows up in ‘Aftermath: Empire’s End’. Unfortunately, for the story there aren’t many characters introduced so far that could give us an emotional loss, so it feels like Soule is clutching at straws for a good old tug on the heart strings.

Unfortunately, even the Starlight Squadron scenes don’t have enough emotional connection with us where any of the characters we already know are in danger. Granted, there are three of the six pilots who we know make it through the Original Trilogy (and I doubt that Charles Soule is pitching Mart Matten to be a big emotional death). However, we do get the return of Commander Zahra and her really cool looking damaged Star Destroyer.

For me, it was a disappointing second part of what looks to be a three part story arc. Thankfully, the story is bolstered by some amazing art here, especially in the dog fight scenes, and the final page with Starlight Squadron being chased by the Star Destroyer is beautiful. Hopefully prt three will be a return to form for this series. Soule has been knocking it out of the park so far and this could just be a build-up issue before the proverbial hits the fan.

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#CollectionCorner – The Razorcrest Lego

It’s with extra special thanks to my wife Sara that this post is possible.

After hunting online for this in all the usual places (Lego, Amazon, Smyths Toys) and coming up empty handed in the run up to Christmas, I had resolved myself to the fact that I wasn’t going to be getting this set until the new year. Was I disappointed? Yes. Out of all the current sets, this was my grail, in fact, it’s the only set I could say that about since getting The Death Star last year.

But my wife, who didn’t want to lose the title of ‘Gift Giving Goddess’ after last Christmas’ Death Star reveal went to work.

And thanks to her intrepid E-Bay skills, mere days before Christmas she bid her final bid and beat out almost 50 other people, throw in a 20% discount voucher, she ended up paying just over the £120 price.

Of course, she tricked me on the day, packing the instructions and the first Bag in a mid-sized box. Let’s just say I was just as surprised as last year. And when she directed me to the box I got an even bigger surprise, the name on the box ‘The Razorcrest’, rather then the Copyright inflicted name ‘The Mandalorian Bounty Hunter Transport’. Whilst not a huge difference, it added something a bit more special.

Naturally, I started building as soon as I could.

The set is made up of 1023 pieces, which come in six bags (and a loose canopy piece) with a sticker sheet for added details.

Bag 1 contains the base of the ship. At this point I had no clue which was the front of back given the design of the ship, it does however give us a look at how the ship will be put together, with Technic pins and supports showing.

Bag 1 also gives us the first two mini-figs for the set, Din Djarin himself with his Ambien Phase Pulse Blaster and a Scout Trooper with Blaster. Mando comes in his Chapter 1 & 2 armour with cape. Leaving the Beskar clad version for this years ‘Trouble on Tatooine’ set.

The ship’s layout becomes clear with Bag 2. Detail for the lower deck is built and the top deck is added, including the cockpit. Again there are quite a bit of Technic parts to put the ship together securely, and it’s very secure to say the least.

And we also get the cutest mini-fig ever, The Child (according to the packaging, seeing as his name hadn’t been revealed yet). He has a soft, rubber like head on hip of a plastic body. The details in this are really good given the size and I’ve had a hard time prying him away from my daughter.

The Third Bag gives us a bit of the top hull of the ship, leaving space for the canopy and the middle section. We get a couple of stickers to add the details on either side of the canopy. There’s not a whole lot of greebling here, but the detail is still very, very good and screen accurate. Granted, not many ships need a lot of greebling other than The Millennium Falcon. We also get the IG-11 mini-fig. Which is essentially IG-88. This is probably my one disappointment with the set, as they could have easily altered the design to make him more screen accurate. Three landing gears are added so the ship doesn’t rest on its base when landed.

Bag 4 puts the bulk of the outer hull together at the front and the lower portion of the ship. All of which are connected with clips at the bottom to allow the set to open up to access the interior, which includes a pair of Carbon Frozen Bounties for Din Djarin to deliver to Greef Karga (one of which is Mythrol from Chapters 1 and 12). The design is spot on and looks great.

Bag 5, the smallest of all the sections, builds the canopy in two sections, the back is hinged and opens to reveal a pair of clips to store weapons, the front half lifts away completely and gives access to the seats in the cockpit. The middle part of the top hull is put together in the form of a one-mini-fig escape pod. The main part of the pod fills the missing section nicely and has some nice little details with the two thrusters. The lid of the pod has the outer hull detail and slides on easily.

We also get Magistrate Greef Karga in his Season 1 attire along with his two blaster. It’s well detailed and gives us two expressions, a smug grin and the other grim determination.

The sixth, and final section is the two large engines. Using a large sticker on each, they are solidly built and have some decent detail, especially with the individual flaps that go around the intakes.

Overall, this has got to have been one of my most enjoyable builds in the past year. Taking away the stress of taking apart and rebuilding a pre-owned set (I’m still building The Ewok Village) and the sameness of building new version of older sets (Millennium Falcon, X-Wing and TIE Fighter), tackling a whole new design has been wonderful (not to say that building the other sets wasn’t great).

The selection of mini-figs is accurate but somewhat lacking. I have been clamouring for a Kuill mini-fig since the series came out and it would have fit perfectly with this set, and a more a more screen accurate IG-11 would have worked well too. The Mandalorian was always going to be part of this set, and it didn’t matter which version we got. Greef Karga is a great addition. Whilst not mini-figs, the addition of two Bounties in Carbonite is a very welcome added detail, especially Mythrol. The second Bounty isn’t a named character but it looks remarkably like D.J. from ‘The Last Jedi’.

With some interesting building techniques, good mini-figs and fantastic detail, The Razorcrest is a brilliant set, a fun build and a very welcome addition to the collection. I just hope that my daughter doesn’t take inspiration from Chapter Fourteen (when it gets destroyed). Now I’ve just got to go and move the Grogu mini-fig to a more inaccessible location.

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#CollectionCorner – Summer 2021 Lego Rumours

Thanks to the always informative JediJacPenguin, recently updated with some exciting looking sets, which at this point are rumours, and what’s exciting, a couple of these were even on my recent Mandalorian Lego Wishlist.

Summer 2021

On the list for the Summer, there are seven sets on the list, however not all of them have information yet, so it’s a waiting game on those for now.

First up is ‘The Mandalore Throne and Vault’ coming with Ahsoka and Darth Maul. The piece count is pretty low at 147 pieces but this could be a great set for kids and it’ll be a very affordable way of getting the ‘Clone Wars’ era Ahsoka and a new Darth Maul from the latest season.

One of my Wishlist sets is up next. A 478 piece version of the Imperial Troop Transport, complete with Greef Karga, Mortar Trooper and two Stormtroopers. I’m reserving the right for mild disappointment, only because I would have liked a Mythrol mini-fig. Given the piece count and the two Stormtroopers, I wonder if it includes a Speeder Bike or two?

Next up is a 592 piece version of Slave 1 with Boba Fett and Han Solo. I’m not surprised that we are getting a new Slave 1, especially in the new range with fewer pieces at lower prices.

To coincide with the upcoming release, ‘The Bad Batch Shuttle’ with Wrecker, Hunter, Crosshair, Tech and Echo and 969 pieces is lined up for Summer release, leading me to believe the show will at least be starting around August. But seeing as we are only really getting ‘Clone Wars’ Season 7 sets at the tail end of last year and this summer, then is could very well be a tie-in to that rather than their own upcoming series.

Another ‘Clone Wars’ set looks to be on the cards in the shape of a ‘Mandalorian Fighter’. There’s no rumoured piece count yet, but the mini-fig selection includes Bo Katan, Gar Saxon and a Mandalorian Loyalist. The Bo Katan and Loyalist figures could also be used along with ‘The Mandalorian’ sets.

Speaking of which, the second of my Wishlist predictions is one I am most hopeful for… ‘Moff Gideon’s Light Cruiser’. An unknown number of pieces but a price of $160 makes me believe that it’s a big one. Featuring Mando, Grogu, Cara Dune, Fennec Shand, Moff Gideon and a TBA mini-fig, this is right at the top of my list.

There is also a Darth Vader Meditation Chamber set on the cards for summer, featuring Vader, Admiral Piett, and a Stormtrooper. This listing has no other details on price or piece count but it does have an 18+ next to it, I’m not really sure what that would mean for a Lego set, seeing as there are other listings for UCS sets. Perhaps one of those Lego Portraits?

Speaking of the UCS sets. There are three listed for this year. The May release has no details, so it’s anyone’s guess right now. Could it be the rumoured 11,000 piece Death Star?

The seconds, with a release date of ‘2021’ is the Republic Gunship, clocking in at 3292 pieces. This was the winner of the fan choice poll in late 2019/early 2020.

The third and final of the UCS sets, with a piece count of 6782 and a release date of 26th November, the AT-AT. There are no rumoured mini-figs yet, but I imagine an AT-AT Driver and a General Veers.

In September there will also be the annual release of the Advent Calendar, which I will make sure is top priority to purchase when it is released. Not missing out on that one this year. It wouldn’t have been so bad last year but I didn’t even get a chocolate Advent Calendar to dull the pain.

I’m infinity more excited for these sets than the one from the Winter and Spring waves (other than ‘Trouble on Tatooine’ of course). Lego seem to be really holding the good stuff back, probably due to the fact that there seems to be a worldwide Lego shortage in the age of COVID so they’re playing it safe and hoping by Summer things will be looking better.

I’m most excited for ‘Moff Gideon’s Light Cruiser’ and I’ll be squirrelling away some money every week to make sure it’s here as close to release day as humanly possible. The ‘Clone Wars’ sets look exciting too, I’ve been wanting a ‘Mandalorian Fighter’ for a while now due to their interesting design. And I’ll more than likely grab the two smaller sets as and when.

I’ll reserve excitement for ‘The Bad Batch Shuttle’, I wasn’t the biggest fan of their story in ‘Clone Wars’ Season 7 and, whilst I’m looking forward to the new new series, it’s one I’ll have to bide my time before I invest in it that much especially when the set will cost around £100.

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Star Wars: X-Wing 4 – The Bacta War Audiobook by Michael A. Stackpole

After the majority of the team resigned their post, Rogue Squadron is well and truly rogue and taking the fight to Isaard on Thyferra.

Wedge Antilles and the rest of Rogue Squadron end up on their own after resigning in the previous book, The Krytos Trap. Their newfound freedom from the Politics of the fledgling New Republic allow them to take the fight to Isaard who has been made the ruler of Thyferra, the main source of Bacta in the Galaxy. Isaard is slowly unraveling as the Rogues thwart her plans by stealing/liberating Bacta and distributing it to those in need.

The group also find help from a pair of notorious smugglers, Talon Karrde (who was introduced in Timothy Zahn’s Empire Trilogy) and Booster Terrik, father of Mirax who has become Corran Horn’s romantic interest, the book follows their relationship as it grows rather quickly, which also leads to tensions between Corran and Booster.

The Squadron find a new base of operations within a space station which Booster ends up running, but are soon betrayed by an Imperial spy in Karrde’s operation. They use this to their advantage, luring Isaard’s forces to them whilst the Squadron and some support ships attack Thyferra using a newly liberated Star Destroyer.

The battle is fierce in space, whilst on the ground, Iella Wessiri and Elscol Loro make trouble on the ground, where they find and capture Fliry Vorru, Isaard’s second in command who has seen Isaard begin to go mad and has made contingency plans for his escape which is thwarted not only by Wessiri and Loro, but by Isaard herself who steals his escape shuttle.

Isaard attempts to flee, but thanks to the efforts of Corran Horn and Tycho Celchu, she is defeated in a spectacular fireball.

Once the battle is over and the Imperial forces at Thyferra defeated, the New Republic welcome Rogue Squadron back, along with a number of captured Star Destroyers, including the Lusankya Super Star Destroyer where Corran was held prisoner.

This book feels like a season finale, tying up the story arc started with Stackpole’s first book in the series, which followed the newly formed Rogue Squadron as their missions built to this intense crescendo. Plot threads tie together, questions get answered and we get to see our heroes learn and grow.

One thing that has been a constant in the series has been the romance between Mirax and Corran. The children of two enemies, their fathers fight doesn’t hold the two back from developing feelings for each other, and, although the romance seems to develop quickly in this book (after it starts in earnest at the end of Krytos Trap), they get engaged very quickly, which, given their given professions seems to make sense, they both face insurmountable danger on a regular basis. But by the end of the book they are married. Granted I have been listening to abridged audiobooks so everything moves along at a quicker pace, but the romance feels rushed, they are barely out of the honeymoon period and they are eloping on a captured Super Star Destroyer… come to think of it that would be cool.

In a surprise move, former Rogue Squadron member Bror Jace returns, seemingly from the dead. His death was staged by his family, who owned one of the two lead Bacta manufacturers on Thyferra to make the opposing group believe he had perished so that he could work with a rebel group on the planet to oppose his family’s rivals who favoured The Empire and Director Isaard. His return was timely as he managed to save Corran’s life after he was shot by an enemy.

Stackpole once again utilises characters and scenarios from previous novels to make the growing Expanded Universe feel connected. Having Talon Karrde enter the story as a fellow Smuggler for the newly introduced Booster Terrik to work with was a great choice, especially when Stackpole could have just given us a new character with no ties anywhere. The Katana Fleet, which was a massive plot line in Zahn’s ‘Empire Trilogy’ is also mentioned as well as ‘Outbound Flight’. These little connections really help flesh out this series and cement it as part of the overall and growing story that helped develop the Expanded Universe.

A solid end to a great story, I really enjoyed listening to the first four parts of the X-Wing series that really make up this overall story arc. At some point I will start on the next set of books in the series that were written by Aaron Allston but before I do I’m going to do some catch up on the early Expanded Universe novels (in audiobook form), starting with Dave Wolverton’s ‘The Courtship of Princess Leia’.

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Darth Vader: Into The Fire Part 3

Continuing his punishment by Palpatine, Vader encounters The Eye of the Webbish Bog and finds the key to learning The Emperor’s grand plan.

Cut off from Ochi, Vader travels through treacherous terrain, guided by a mysterious voice as he battle creatures and visions until he encounters The Eye where he acquires the Wayfinder that Kylo Ren would find thirty-three years later. As he finds a ship (the Jedi Interceptor that took him to Mustafaar in ‘Revenge of the Sith’) to take him away from Mustafaar, Ochi returns with a squad of Assassin Droids.

An improvement on the previous issue, Ochi takes a bit of a back seat for a bit, I’m still not a fan of his portrayal in this book, but that’s more down to my interpretation of the character based on what little we saw of him in ‘The Rise of Skywalker’. I was anticipating more of a silent killer, like Javier Bardem’s Anton Chigurh in ‘No Country for Old Men’ than the talkative ‘Arkham Knight’ rip-off we’ve gotten so far.

Vader’s journey has him fighting the local fauna, firstly the large Flea-like creatures we saw the Mustafarrans in ‘Revenge of the Sith’ riding. Then he encounters a large beast which puts the Minotaur to shame. His visions of Obi-Wan and Luke give us the requisite flashbacks that have been a staple of this series.

The encounter with The Eye reveals that the baby head the weird spider-creature sits on has a body under the water, which is revealed when it hands Vader the Wayfinder.

Part of me expected more from this encounter, probably because I built it up on my head to be grander. Although I expect that Vader will return to converse with The Eye later on in this run, especially seeing as he has to place the Wayfinder in the chest for Kylo to find it.

I’m hoping the Ochi storyline will come to an end soon. We’re this character named anything else I wouldn’t mind but this is the danger of having a head-canon that doesn’t mesh with the story we are given. However, the issue doesn’t suffer for this in my opinion.

Whilst not the best issue of the run, I feel like this and the last issue are building towards something greater, now he has the Wayfinder, the logical theory is that Vader is going to Exogol, where Palpatine’s contingency plan would be well underway.

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