Archive for July, 2012

Novel Review: X-Wing: Rogue Squadron

- Spoiler Review -

The most convincing scene in Rogue Squadron for me is when Corran Horn tells a fellow squadmate that she isn’t in love with him. She only thinks she is, because she’s had a near-death experience and wants to feel alive. That emphasis on motives, and how those motives can be used for good or ill, continues throughout the book. The characters are wonderful, and I would be happy to read a book that’s entirely about the squad featured here goofing off and mocking on one another. Rogue Squadron is at its weakest when plot starts taking over.

Michael Stackpole uses dialogue to further his plot whenever possible; like in the Star Wars movies, no dogfight is silent. When the pilots are out of the cockpit the dialogue is just as well-done. It takes its time: a conversation about how to deal with loss weaves in and out of the story of the first Death Star explosion without sounding like it’s trying too hard to be relevant to the movies. The death of one character leads to Gavin Darklighter coming to terms with not that specific death but that of his cousin in A New Hope. The feeling that there’s more going on in the characters’ heads, and a lot of imperfect logic, makes the members of Rogue Squadron feel real. Some characters sound too similar to each other: Admiral Ackbar talks a lot like Wedge, which made it hard to hear his distorted voice from Return of the Jedi making those snappy remarks. In a way that’s a good thing, but it also makes the book feel a bit separate from the Star Wars universe.

In almost all other ways, though, it’s like watching a movie. The characters are down-to-earth working people, and they aren’t paraded in front of the audience like heroes. People worry and lose face and cause as much trouble for themselves as the Imperials do for them. Corran brings his policing skills to the war, showing off skills as a leader and tactician that he will later refine in the Jedi academy. He’s one of my favorite characters because through both his own clarity of sight and all the different kinds of battles he’s been through, he never stops learning. His little moments of kindness and pity for both the people and the droids around him make him a hero. A scene where he attempts to jettison his astromech droid to save it from an upcoming suicide mission goes by in about five lines of dialogue, but tells a lot about Corran as a person. It’s easy to forget now that Rogue Squadron was one of the first novels that did not heavily feature characters from the movies.

The novel takes into account realistic disadvantages the still-struggling Rebellion faces, including not having enough ships for all of their pilots to use. There is no sense that any resource is unlimited, and this also makes the Star Wars universe feel realistic.

The book has a nice balance of talk and action, but I could talk about that all day without addressing the fact that the action doesn’t build up. This is the first in a series, so the lack of a large ending battle was understandable, but fell flat. None of this is to say that the ending wasn’t thrilling: Corran Horn used all his talents at the end, and his future wife Mirax made a great appearance. However, the stakes in the rest of the book remained relatively low. Kirtan Loor and Ysanne Isard remain for me unconvincing villains, cut out from the Moff mold in an effort to serve as Vader and Tarkin. Loor has his own motives and I almost feel sorry for him at points, but he isn’t frightening and isn’t particularly good at being a bad guy – and Isard points this out.

I would recommend Rogue Squadron to both new and old Star Wars fans alike. For newcomers, it introduces a lot of characters but all of them can stand on their own, and form a new Rogue Squadron didn’t inspire in me the fanaticism that I have seen some people express about identity together.the later installments of the series, but it was a solid adventure story. It’s a great fit for anybody who wants to know what it’s like to fly an X-Wing.

-Megan

SEE ALSO:
Star Wars eBooks Coming Soon
Star Wars: X-Wing Series (9-Book eBook Bundle)

Cover Synopsis:

They are sleek, swift, and deadly. The are the X-wing fighters. And as the struggle rages across the vastness of space, the fearless men and women who pilot them risk both their lives and their machines. Their mission: to defend the Rebel Alliance against a still-powerful and battle-hardened Imperial foe in a last-ditch effort to control the stars!

Its very name strikes fear into enemy hearts. So when Rebel hero Wedge Antilles rebuilds the legendary Rogue Squadron, he seeks out only the best — the most skilled, the most daring X-wing pilots. Through arduous training and dangerous missions, he weeds out the weak from the strong, assembling a group of hard-bitten warriors willing to fight, ready to die. Antilles knows the grim truth: that even with the best X-wing jockeys in the galaxy, many will not survive their near-suicidal missions. But when Rogue Squadron is ordered to assist in the assault on the heavily fortified Imperial stronghold of Black Moon, even the bravest must wonder if any at all will survive. . . .

Video Game Review: The Force Unleashed II

- Spoiler Review -

Despite the protagonist’s death at the end of the first The Force Unleashed, but thanks to its large commercial success, a sequel was quickly announced and put into development. To build the hype train, LucasArts started reassuring gamers they had heeded the criticisms leveled at the first game. Then Haden Blackman, writer and executive producer on both games, said the sequel would tell a more personal story about Starkiller and the early days of the Rebel Alliance. But it was when the developers stated the sequel would be their Empire Strikes Back, several hundred eyebrows raised in either terror or hope. Could a game ever be anything like one of the most revered Star Wars films of all time? On October 26, 2010, with the release of The Force Unleashed II, the answer to that question was finally revealed: Nope. Even though the game looks great, its overly repetitious gameplay and levels, a dismissible story, and short length make for an underwhelming experience.

To begin to understand where the TFU2 went wrong compared to its predecessor, the game’s story needs to be vetted first. Whereas its predecessor had galaxy-spanning drama to cover up its protagonists’ rather cookie-cutter personality, TFU2 doesn’t have that luxury. The game starts with Darth Vader arriving on Kamino, where he is overseeing the training of a “clone” of Starkiller. This “clone” has memories from events in the first game, including his love interest Juno Eclipse. Vader tries convincing Starkiller these are merely memories of dead man implanted to speed-up training, but Starkiller doesn’t bite and escapes the planet. What follows should be an interesting journey to find one’s identity and the issues with trying to choose between the fate of the Rebel Alliance or the fate of Juno, but these potentially strong story beats get passed over without a second thought.

Let’s start with the whole, “is Starkiller a clone or is he not?” Whether one watched a trailer for the game, read the back of the game’s case, or looked at the label of the save game file, the identity crisis storyline was front and center to the game’s marketing. By the end of the game, you never actually get a definitive answer (even though many supplementary materials clearly label Starkiller as a clone). Confusion, and therefore the lack of an answer, stems mostly from the continued insistence from Master Kota, stating several times that he believes Starkiller isn’t a clone. It can be argued the answer doesn’t really matter since Starkiller ended up doing the right thing no matter what.
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Novel Review: X-Wing: Mercy Kill

- Non Spoiler Review -

It’s been over a decade since we’ve seen a new X-Wing novel. I’m not sure why we had to wait that long, but I’m glad the wait is over! Aaron Allston returns with an all new X-Wing adventure, Mercy Kill, featuring Wraith Squadron. The elite unit must face new challenges as they aim to root out a suspected traitorous general in the Galactic Alliance Army.

As I started to dig into the book, it was immediately apparent that I was reading an X-Wing novel. I enjoyed revisiting the characters I love, and the fact that an original X-Wing author was at the helm. In Mercy Kill, Aaron Allston built a great new adventure like only he can do, utilizing known characters in a way that was familiar, yet fresh. And there were many times when I chuckled while reading. Mercy Kill has an abundance of smart, well-placed humor to keep the mood light.

The plot is engrossing and keeps you guessing until the very end, which unfortunately means there is an end to this book. I dreaded turning that final page! It’s just that the X-Wing series is so fun to read, and reread.

A great thing about Mercy Kill is that it also has stand-alone appeal. Although it ties into the earlier X-Wing novels, particularly the ones about Wraith Squadron, this new adventure stands on its own. Mercy Kill is an ideal entry point into the backlist for new readers. And again: Aaron Allston. According to Random House, Aaron has 3.3 million Star Wars novels in print, so he’s an obvious Expanded Universe favorite. I personally have asked and have seen other fans ask for a new X-Wing novel from him for years. It’s something that hasn’t gone unnoticed. Here’s a note from him in the book:

Longtime readers of the X-Wing series have persisted for years in asking me, Del Rey, Lucasfilm, and possibly passing strangers, “When will there be another X-Wing novel?” The answer is “now”, and I suspect that a lot of the credit for Mercy Kill goes to your dogged and tireless insistence that this project should happen. Thanks, guys.

You’re welcome Aaron. I think speak for many others when I say, especially after reading Mercy Kill: We want more X-Wing novels!

Oh, and let’s get Michael Stackpole involved in this comeback too.

DISCLOSURE: I received a copy of this book from the publisher at no charge in order to provide an early review. However, this did not affect the overall review content. All opinions are my own.

SEE ALSO:
X-Wing: Mercy Kill 35-Page Excerpt!
New X-Wing: Mercy Kill Cover Art
Star Wars: X-Wing: MERCY KILL Blurb
Star Wars: X-Wing: Mercy Kill Cover and Blurb
Star Wars: X-WING: MERCY KILL

Cover Synopsis:

The intrepid spies, pilots, and sharpshooters of Wraith Squadron are back in an all-new Star Wars adventure, which transpires just after the events of the Fate of the Jedi series!

Three decades have passed since Wraith Squadron carried out its last mission. Taking on the most dangerous and daring operations, the rogues and misfits of the elite X-Wing unit became legends of the Rebellion and the Second Galactic Civil War, before breaking up and going their separate ways. Now their singular skills are back in vital demand—for a tailor-made Wraith Squadron mission.

A powerful general in the Galactic Alliance Army, once renowned for his valor, is suspected of participating in the infamous Lecersen Conspiracy, which nearly toppled the Alliance back into the merciless hands of the Empire. With orders to expose and apprehend the traitor—and license to do so by any and all means—the Wraiths will become thieves, pirates, impostors, forgers . . . and targets, as they put their guts, their guns, and their riskiest game plan to the test against the most lethal of adversaries.

The Rancho Obi-Wan Experience Coming to Celebration VI!

Star Wars fans have yet another reason to attend the upcoming Celebration VI this August: The Rancho Obi-Wan Experience! Read the press release below:

A selection of rare, interactive, and one-of-a-kind treasures from the world’s largest privately-held collection of Star Wars memorabilia will be on display at Star Wars Celebration VI as part of The Rancho Obi-Wan Experience!

“I’m really excited that we’re going to be able to share with tens of thousands of fans a carefully curated exhibit that shows the breadth and depth of both worldwide Star Wars merchandise over 35 years and the passion and skill that fans have shown in creating their own tribute works,” said Steve Sansweet, owner of the collection and president and chief executive of Rancho Obi-Wan Inc., the nonprofit company that runs the membership museum in Petaluma, CA.

The Rancho Obi-Wan Experience will occupy a 600-square-foot mini-museum space on the main exhibit floor of Celebration VI, which takes places in Orlando, FL, from August 23 through 26 (www.starwarscelebration.com). Items will range from props and prototypes to original art and fan-made wonders.

In addition, fans will have the opportunity to chat with Steve and ask any questions. There will be advance sales of the upcoming Star Wars: Ultimate Action Figure Collection book (Chronicle Books, fall 2012), with unique and colorful free bookplates that can be personalized and signed by all four authors.

Fans will also be able to become members of Rancho Obi-Wan and take home personalized membership kits that—in addition to a card, letter, and 2012 ROW patch—will contain an exclusive matching Celebration VI patch available in very limited quantities. There also will be a limited amount of ROW and special Rancho Obi-Wan Experience merchandise available, along with some of Steve’s Star Wars books.

Steve and other managers and board members of Rancho Obi-Wan will be doing a panel on ROW as part of the Collectors’ Track. Fans can also get help at the exhibit planning a future trip to ROW (www.RanchoObiWan.org), (twitter: @RanchoObiWan), (www.facebook.com/RanchoObiWan).

STAR WARS™ and related properties are trademarks and/or copyrights, in the United States and other countries, of Lucasfilm Ltd. and/or its affiliates. TM & © Lucasfilm Ltd. All rights reserved. All other trademarks and trade names are properties of their respective owners.

SEE ALSO:
The Ultimate Action Figure Collection
Rancho Obi-Wan: Plan Your Visit Now!

Back To Celebration VI Main Page

The Clone Wars Season 5 Teasers

Both Entertainment Weekly and IGN have exclusive looks at two The Clone Wars season 5 teaser videos that were released at San Diego Comic Con 2012. Check them out!

SEE ALSO:
The Clone Wars Season 5 Premiere Screening
The Clone Wars Season 5 Celebration VI Trailer
The Clone Wars Season 5 Trailer
Introducing: Clone Commander Thorn
The Clone Wars Season 5 Teaser

Sponsored Giveaway: Lord of the Sith Poster by Steve Thomas!

For our latest giveaway, artist Steve Thomas is providing one of his stunning Star Wars posters as the prize: Lord of the Sith! It’s heavily based on an old “Sandeman” port advertisement poster. This poster is an artist proof, silk screen, x of 25 and will come signed. Regularly a $50.00 value!

Here are the entry details:

  • Retweet the designated tweet. NOTE: We will re-post the tweet all during the contest. You only need to retweet it once. We keep track of all the entries.

That’s it! The winner will be selected from the list of eligible entries and notified. The giveaway starts tonight (7-18-12) and ends this Saturday night (7-21-12). May the Force be with you!

Thank you Steve for providing the prize!

SEE ALSO:
Knights Archive Exclusive: Steve Thomas
Steve Thomas Star Wars Posters at Acme Archives Direct
Steve Thomas Star Wars Posters at Ltd. Art Gallery‏
Lord of the Sith by Steve Thomas
Steve Thomas Star Wars Posters

All Steve Thomas images on our site are used with permission by Steve.

Star Wars: Crucible: Last Hurrah For The Big 3?

Star Wars: Crucible has been added to the Edelweiss/Random House online catalog, and the entry includes some interesting information about the book: Link

FATE OF THE JEDI FOLLOW-UP: Releasing a year after Apocalypse, this is the first book to follow the popular nine-book Fate of the Jedi series. As such it will be eagerly aniticipated by fans desperate to know what’s in store for their beloved Star Wars heroes.

SETS UP NEW SERIES: With this book, Han, Luke, and Leia are passing the torch to the next generation of Star Wars heroes, and the stage will be set for the next major Star Wars series.

THE HEROES RETURN: This will be the first cover to feature Han, Luke, and Leia since the 1990s!

I’m really curious about the second point there. Will this be the last novel at this point in Expanded Universe timeline to feature the Big 3? We shall see…

SEE ALSO:
New Star Wars: Crucible Cover Art
Star Wars: CRUCIBLE

Knights Archive Exclusive: Steve Thomas

Artist Steve Thomas had worked for newspapers churning out graphics and illustrations for almost 14 years.

Self portrait. The reflection in the glasses is Steve holding a lightsaber.

Steve now tries to come up with new and interesting ideas for illustrations. His love for vintage poster, propaganda and product art from the early 20th century and an interest in retro-futuristic art from the mid-20th has led him to create some cool poster art. Steve also has experience creating marketing and advertising art for various companies, from label expo organizers to architecture firms.

From vintage travel and propaganda to sci-fi and fantasy, Steve has created some truly masterful works of art.

It was a link in an article to some of his Star Wars-themed posters that caught my attention a few years ago, and I’ve been a fan ever since. I had a chance to chat with Steve recently about him, his work and his incredible vintage Star Wars posters.

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Newly revealed at San Diego Comic Con 2012: the cover and synopsis for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, by Michael Reaves and Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff! Current paperback release date is March 26, 2013. Link Via

Here’s the synopsis:

Another fast-paced, action-packed Star Wars stand-alone mass market original by New York Times bestselling authors Michael Reaves and Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff!

Ever since Emperor Palpatine’s Order 66–which called for the execution of all Jedi–Jax Pavan is the last Knight around to fight the dark side of the Force. Together with his droid I-5, Jax has eluded Vader time and again, all the while wreaking havoc against the Empire through the underground resistance on Coruscant. But now the Rebel’s leader on the city-planet has been captured, and it’s up to the Last Jedi to ride again…possibly for one final adventure.

SEE ALSO:
Welcome to the Archive: Michael Reaves
Talking The Last Jedi with Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff
Novel Review: The Last Jedi by Bry Dean
Megan’s Review: The Last Jedi
44 Pages of The Last Jedi Now Online!
Star Wars: The Last Jedi Blurb
I-Five Returns in The Last Jedi
Welcome Back, Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff
Knights Archive Exclusive: Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff

Star Wars: Dawn Of The Jedi: Into The Void

Newly announced at San Diego Comic Con 2012: Star Wars: Dawn Of The Jedi: Into The Void by Tim Lebbon! This will be a stand-alone mass market tie-in to the successful comic book series, Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi! Link Via

Random HouseSEE ALSO:
Dawn of the Next Great Star Wars Author: Tim Lebbon Exclusive Interview
Novel Review: Dawn of the Jedi: Into the Void by Bry Dean
Megan’s Review: Dawn of the Jedi: Into the Void
The Adventures of Lanoree Brock, Je’daii Ranger
Dawn of the Jedi: Into the Void Audio Clip
27-Page Preview of Dawn of the Jedi: Into the Void Now Online!
Read Chapter 1 of Dawn of the Jedi: Into The Void Now!
Dawn of the Jedi: Into the Void Cover Art
Dawn Of The Jedi: Into The Void Summary
Dawn Of The Jedi: Into The Void Synopsis

Bry Dean is the founder and administrator of Knights’ Archive. You can follow him on Twitter at @bry_dean.

Star Wars: CRUCIBLE

Newly announced at San Diego Comic Con 2012: Star Wars: CRUCIBLE by Troy Denning! Current hardcover release: Spring 2013. The cover art above is not final. Link Via

Here’s a synopsis:

Han, Luke, and Leia are back in action–older and wiser, but as ready as ever to leap headlong into adventure!

Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, and Princess Leia have spent a lifetime fighting wars, bringing the Jedi back from extinction, raising families, and saving the galaxy more times than they can count. They’ve earned the right to rest on their laurels and let the younger generation shoulder the burden–but fate has another adventure in store for our heroes, a quest only they can tackle and hope to survive…

SEE ALSO:
New Star Wars: Crucible Cover Art
Star Wars: Crucible: Last Hurrah For The Big 3?

Star Wars Reads Day 2012‏

This will be quite a busy year for those interested in Star Wars and reading! On the heels of the EUCantina’s Summer for Children’s Literacy program announcement, we now have word of a major reading initiative straight from Lucasfilm and its publishing partners! Read the press release below:
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