Sunday Star Wars: Kreia, the One-Woman Critique of the Force

Concept art of Kreia.

At the heart of the best-written video game based on the Star Wars universe is Kreia, a complex character who serves to voice criticism against, and complicate, the way we perceive the Force.

Kreia, known also as Darth Traya, was a Jedi Master turned Sith after her exile at the hands of the Jedi Council. Her best-known apprentice is the Jedi Knight Revan who led many Knights to arms in opposition to the Mandalorians in the Mandalorian Wars, circa 5,000 years before the events of the Original Trilogy. Revan is one of dozens of characters who deserve their own posts but we’ll leave him alone for now. Keep your eyes peeled over the next few weeks!

It wasn’t just he amongst Kreia’s apprentices to have left behind the Jedi’s role as peace-keepers in the Galaxy at large. All of her pupils followed, which contributed to the weakening of the Order and its eventual near-destruction, one of the closest times the Jedi have come near extinction. But let’s not open that can of worms either.

Kreia from the KOTORCG (Wookipedia tells me that’s the source)

At the core of Kreia is this: She hates the Force. The notion of it disgusts her. A power that runs through all living things, dictating and influencing their every choice in the search for balance in all things. The Force is destiny, with a will all its own. And isn’t destiny anathema to freedom?

Kreia is a humanist. I just realised this now, and considering the lives lost over her actions, I can see how you would doubt this – but she seeks the death of the Force, the end of its power over all living beings. She seeks to unchain the galaxy from a cyclical struggle between destiny, a fight that’s gone for untold millenia and, as we well know, shall continue to go on and on for millenia yet.

But for all that, this Grey Jedi – for I can think of no one who’d fit the title better than she – still made use of the Force. Was it because she sought to destroy it from within, or did it become a crutch? She herself is uncertain – though I like to think it was the former rather than the latter.

Kreia is the most deliciously complex character in Star Wars, and her role is Socrates-like in KotoR 2. No matter the choices you make she will question you, forcing you – as a character in the game and as a player outside it – to question, in turn, the preconceptions you’ve constructed about the way this universe operates.

Kreia is the reason I fell in love with Star Wars all the more as a teenager, and I bet that if I went back and played it now, I’ll find her even more endearing than before. Props to the amazing Chris Avellone, former lead writer for Obsidian Entertainment, for giving voice to such brilliant, engaging criticism of Star Wars all those years ago. I leave you with this, Kreia’s reason for hating the Force in her own words:

If you enjoyed this, please don’t forget to hit that like button, share the post on your socials and leave a comment to tell me what you think about Kreia! Come to think of it, Kreia wanted to prevent the Sequel Trilogy. #showerthoughts

Sunday Star Wars: March Meme-A-Thon

It is a dark time in the galaxy. So what better way to alleviate the darkness than via a selection of memes based on everyone’s favourite space opera?!

DISCLAIMER: I’ve made none of these memes, I’ve merely saved them over the years.

We all know the bothans are incompetent, Admiral Ackbar Just Confirms it.
Here you see Darth Vader and his son refusing to practice social distancing. Though Vader is using a futuristic hazmat suit, his boy has no such luck and is directly under the threat of the coronavirus.
One could argue that the writing of the Clone Wars is of superior quality to the dialogue as crafted by one George Lucas
This one courtesy of Jedi: Fallen Order – the best Star Wars game since Knights of the Old Republic 2
You CANNOT have a meme-a-thon without baby Yoda…
…or this nightmare.

Lawlesness, cruelty, what else do you need as proof for the corruption of the Galactic Senate? Well, I’ve a message for you all.

Every time I see this, I snort-giggle.
And in the annals of personal ideology…

And, before we wrap it up for the day, the most upvoted post on r/PrequelMemes ever:

Most glorious thing I’ve ever seen, courtesy of 0_darth_plagueis_0

If you did not enjoy this rubric…

Sunday Star Wars: Enough With the Crappy Retconning!

Star Wars fans on Twitter, Reddit and all over the Internet have had a field day with all kinds of interesting tidbits, courtesy of Episode IX’s novelization. Virtually all of it has to do with Palpatine clones – which is one nightmare I’d hoped we had collectively turned away from after Disney’s wiping of ye olde Star Wars cannon.

Alas, no such luck. That nifty legacy idea of clone Palpy is back and ready to rumble, everyone!

The “controversial” news is that Palpatine’s Rey’s dad was a bad Palpatine clone, and that the Palpatine we saw in Episode IX was also a Palpatine clone, I ain’t impressed. I’m also a Palpatine clone, to tell you the truth. And so are you. It’s a palpandemic.*

Point on the first – ah, yes, gods forbid if any Disney property admits to its bad guys having sex. As for the second? Of course it was a Palpatine clone, this makes as much sense as everything else in the movie does! Which is to say, it’s not even in the same ball park.

To avoid more of this nonsense, I offered an elegant solution over on twitter:

This would work so much better for everyone involved, don’t you agree?

This is unfortunately the shortest entry in the venerable four-week history of my weekend Star Wars column as I’ve been busy with several other projects, including the conclusion of the penultimate chapter in my four-year long D&D game; I hope to talk about that too but for more Star Wars goodness, tune in next weekend! I suspect I’ll be talking about one or some of my most beloved or hated characters. Time will tell.

*No comedy writers were hurt in the writing of this joke.

Month in Review: February 2020 at the Reliquary

Greetings, Reader! Join me once more as I reminisce about the last month at the Grimoire Reliquary! I’ve read wonderful books, I’ve read good novellas, I even read a couple of forgettable but I regret that not at all – few things offer as many teaching moments to the aspiring writer as mediocrity does! But I’m not here to talk about the bad, I’m here to sing the praises of the exceptionally good with…

MY FAVOURITE FANTASY NOVEL READ OF FEBRUARY

Just so happens to be Rob J. Hayes’ Along the Razor’s Edge, which releases at the end of March. I think it’s a remarkable novel whose control over voice is prodigious. What’s more, the fun Rob has with foreshadowing makes for fantastic build-up, which I have every faith the next two installments in The War Eternal will honour in full.

Further, in the words of a wise guy:

The novel is an intelligent work about the costs of perseverance fuelled by the basest human emotions. As thrilling as this first chapter in Eskara’s tale is, it offers caution too. Though anger keeps her alive – that’s no great spoiler, I think, as the older Eskara’s narration is immediately evident – the urge to lash out at those around her costs our protagonist immeasurably much.  

But don’t take my word for it, read the review in full!

MY FAVOURITE SCI-FI READ OF THE MONTH

Roger Zelazny, you brilliant man of brilliance, you, with your platonic fancies and interests in gods and science and wonders big and small. I love you. I ever tell you that? Well, I do, there’s no denying it. There’s something about this one, something that sparkles and glitters in the sun.

Lord of Light is an epic contained in just under a three-hundred page novel. Its ideas are grand and ambitious, as much in the vein of fantasy as in science fiction, the basic structure of much of the novel borrowed from the creation myth of Buddhist lore (heavily based on reality but mythologised after two and a half millennia), the aforementioned Sam taking on the role of prince Siddhartha Gautama. But Sam is not a man to only wear a single hat – his identities throughout the seven chapters of the book are many and the role of destroyer comes as easy to him as that of ascetic philosopher. Whether he believes in what he preaches or not is besides the point.   

And here’s my full review of LORD OF LIGHT.

A PAIR OF FUN SCI-FI NOVELLAS

I enjoyed Binti, despite it suffering of a serious structural flaw, a plot hole the size of the Vatican. I wish, badly, this weren’t the case but it is what it is. I am curious to read the second installment, even so. My review you can find here.

Murderbot was fun, and it didn’t shy away from serious questions, either. That one got a four-star score from me and I cannot wait to read more about the likable misanthrope!

A BOOK TOUR REVIEW OF KINGSHOLD

…Which, while ultimately a read with a number of pleasant elements, suffered from some serious issues in terms of pacing and overwriting. A book in sore need of two additional rounds of editing. Fair’s fair, though! I loved the humour most of all, and several other elements showed real promise!

PLENTY OF STAR WARS TALK!

I talked about the Ahsoka Novel! I talked about talking about Star Wars on a podcast! You can find more about both of them here!

I talked about why the CLONE WARS IS SO GOSH-DARN GOOD!

I talked about how the recently-announced HIGH REPUBLIC imprint has my blood boiling with excitement!!!

I don’t have a Star Wars problem. You have a Star Wars problem.

I READ SOME MORE MURAKAMI!

…And felt promptly colourless after. Good times, good times.

A REVIEW OF A GAME!

I love reviewing games. It’s how I excuse spending hours playing them. Some mental gymnastics going on there, as you can plainly see. The video is here:

Hopes and Dreams of March

I was hoping to finish A LITTLE HATRED by Joe Abercrombie – and guess what, after four hours of intense sweating and NO BLINKING WHATSOEVER, I did! Care to wager a guess what my favourite fantasy read of March is?

Other than that, I would love to keep up with one – ONE – regular column on my blog, the Saturday/Sunday Star Wars series! Ah, ’tis free to dream.

Thanks for reading! Looking forward for another month of fun content and emotional torture through empathetic reading!

SATURDAY STAR WARS – The High Republic Imprint Has Me Excited!

Here’s a little something you might’ve learned about me over the last few weeks, reader, if not the last few years. I am…quite fond of Star Wars. Yes, it’s true; I know, I know, you are shook to the core of your being, considering the title of this post. Bear with me as I gush about the newest Star Wars updates coming out of Lucasfilm!

Why am I this excited about a prequel series? “No matter what happens, we all know how it ends, right?” the more cynically inclined of you might think but to this I say: So what?! It’s the stories I care for; the notion of seeing Jedi philosophy at its absolute heyday, long before the Order grew complacent and eventuually . I love what the writing team is building; an age of heroism with the darkness of the sith far from sight. If done right, this event could revitalize the mythos of my favourite science-fantasy universe and really wash away some of the bad taste left from the unfortunate mess that was the sequel trilogy.

I have faith that this will go very well indeed, because I hold the work of Claudia Gray and Charles Soule in high regard. Both Gray’s “Master and Apprentice” and Soule’s “Darth Vader” run for Marvel Comics are some of my favourite Expanded Universe works in the post-Disney Star Wars canon, adding so much to beloved characters such as Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon and Vader himself.

Outside of these two novels and a third one aimed at middle-grade readers, The High Republic will also be explored over comic books, in an ongoing series by Marvel studio, which’ll bear (predictably) the High Republic title. Another Marvel ongoing, especially a flagship title for an event, likely means that the folks at Marvel editorial will get some heavy-hitters. I haven’t seen any artist names attached as of yet but the writer is Cavan Scott, of whom I know next to nothing – I think he did the Star Wars: Jedi Lost audiodrama, a Dooku-centric prequel. We only have a variant cover for the Marvel series:

The cover above features the new bad guys, the nihil, who have been described as “Space pirate vikings”. To this I can only say:

Yes, I went there.

There’s also going to be a comic series aimed at younger readers published by IDW, which I am somewhat confused by; for what it’s worth, it looks pretty sweet!

I suspect this Adventures series will revolve around Jedi of the Outer Rim which will be akin to sheriffs in the Wild West, but also explorers of new worlds in the Unknown Regions. This is where Star Wars excels – and I can’t wait to see what the writers have come up with!

Oh, and the cherry on top? Yoda’s going to have some part to play! He’s going to be a lean 700-year old Jedi machine! No one has come out and said so yet – but I will be damned if that little green friend of Palpatine’s isn’t going to be buzzing left and right with his tiny lightsaber, Jedi-ing like a crazy muppet.

Jokes out of the way, I am excited to see the Jedi draw from Arthurian legend; I want to see the Republic at its best; I believe this event has the potential to be fun and memorable and I hope it’ll bring plenty of new elements to the universe. And I love the aesthetics so frickin’ much, I cannot lie to you, there’s something about the brilliant light colours and the gammut of lightsaber colours that gets to me.

May the Force be with the architects of The High Republic! GIVE ME SOME BLOODY GOOD STAR WARS ALREADY.

SUNDAY STAR WARS: In Celebration of the Clone Wars!

I want you to seriously consider what you’re about to read. Even with the first season of The Mandalorian available for streaming, the Clone Wars is still the definitive Star Wars experience on the small screen.

“What? No!” I hear you say. “The Mandalorian was so good! How can a 3D animated series that ran from 2008 to 2014 beat a live-action show from 2019?”

The answer, reader, hides within the nature of The Clone Wars, a series which spans the adventures not only of the main characters of the Star Wars saga but of countless players, big and small, in the war itself. What The Clone Wars manages to do, especially once it moves past its weak opening season is the investigation of dozens of different theatres of operations in a galaxy at war. The show does so with admirable skill, empathy and intelligent storytelling.

This is Star Wars at its best, refusing to shy away from the complexities of adult life, offering children (it’s a kid’s show! It ran on Cartoon Network) a plentitude of moral questions and ethical dilemmas.

The Clone Wars looks at so many serious issues, not only specific to Star Wars but questions that offer serious food for thought on a moral level. Further, the show does a wonderful job at offering a multifaceted look at a conflict that, if you’ve only seen the prequel movies, comes across as very black-and-white. In the Season 03 episode, Heroes on Both Sides, the viewers are introduced to the separatist senator Mina Bonteri, a personal friend of Padme Amidala.

Mina Bonteri, Padme Amidala and Ahsoka Tano, S03E06

What better way to present entirely different stakes in a war that previously seemed clear-cut than to put a human face on it? Bonteri, whose attempt to pave a way to peace talks between the Republic and the Separatist Confederacy eventually costs her her life.

I would be remiss not to mention Ahsoka Tano once more in this column, as she is the character offering the viewers a way out; like us, she’s only ever experienced the Separatists as a hostile force, has never been in contact with members of the Coalition outside of Dooku’s agents, has never even considered whether the hundreds of worlds that broke off the Republic did so for good reason. And can we blame her? It’s the easiest thing in the world to see the enemy as less than you, some evil force possessed by malicious intent.

In Star Wars, of course, we know that malicious intent is real; and we know also that our heroes are, for all their nobility, tools in a war orchestrated by the Sith Lord Darth Sidious, in a chess game that is best encapsulated by the following image:

The story of is just one arc, a few short episodes. Other arcs examine questions of loyalty (to a commander whose orders are actively harmful to his platoon of Clones), guerrilla warfare as a force for good and ill, corruption and the role of banking in society (IN A KIDS’ SHOW!!!). And I’ve not touched on Jedi, the Force and lightsaber combat once!

I have yet to see the new season – I’ve been playing catch-up with the last two seasons, which I realised recently, I’d never finished watching. My excitement to see its seventh and final season, however, grows by the week – and I am overjoyed to know that The Clone Wars is back on the air.

Saturday Star Wars: Ahsoka by E. K. Johnston (Book Review) and Talking About Star Wars on Under A Pile of Books!

Hello everyone, and welcome to a new weekly column I’ll be writing for the foreseeable future, based on one of my favourite fictional universes of all time, STAR WARS! (In case the title was somehow misleading.)

As this is the first post in the series, I’ve a double treat for you all!

Ahsoka by E. K. Johnston – The Book Review

We readers and listeners sometimes enjoy books that are not necessarily great works of fiction. Ahsoka, for example, has no shortage of small issues, the greatest of all which is its rushed pacing – and yet, I cannot find it within myself to feel more than trifling annoyance at author E. K. Johnston. Not when I had such a wonderful eight hours listening to voice actress Ashley Eckstein bring the character to life once more.

Ahsoka is a brilliant character, one of the finest additions to the Star Wars universe. Her arc in the Clone Wars animated series never ceased to capture the imagination and her fate post-Order-66 was the subject of great interest before Anakin Skywalker’s former apprentice resurfaced in the Rebels series a few years ago.

With Ahsoka, E. K. Johnston fills in the blanks and shows everyone’s favourite togruta at one of her lowest moments. Ahsoka Tano has spent the first years of the Empire hidden away, uncertain about how to make a difference in a galaxy controlled by fear and plummeting ever further in the depths of oppression. Changing circumstances force her to relocate from her hiding place on planet Thabeska to a small Outer Rim moon by the name of Raada, a settlement of only a few hundred farmers. In this settlement, Ahsoka – or Ashla, as she goes by now – befriends some of the locals, embracing the uncomplicated life of a mechanic.

It doesn’t last long, as an Imperial contingent arrives with the sole purpose of exploiting the arid lands of Raada in order to grow a crop of nutritional supplement, which has the side effect of leeching the nutritional elements inherent in the Raadan soil. The Empire forces the farmers to grow this poisonous crop, to which Ahsoka does not take kindly to; the farmers are even less happy about working at the end of a blaster, and resistance is quickly in the works.

I’m continually impressed with how dark stories involving Ahsoka tend to get, and this is no different – there’s elements of torture here, of oppression, forced labour and mass murder. Just like the Clone Wars! Y’know…for kids!*

Ahsoka Tano, the confident wisp of a girl we know, is much changed at the beginning of this novel, the full extent of the Jedi Purge weighing down on her beyond anything she’s faced previously.  It’s no wonder that she’d be hesitant to find a cause to fight for, then; however, Ahsoka goes through a transformation as she witnesses the brutality of the Empire first-hand. Through luck, a few new friendships and even an old ally or two, however, we really see her find her footing in this cruel new galaxy; Ahsoka is above all, a story about hope regained.

Ahsoka side by side with her voice actress, Ashley Eckstein

Ashley Eckstein is a brilliant narrator; she’s truly made Ahsoka her own, to the point where thinking of anyone else taking over for her would force me and the rest of the Star Wars fanbase to rebel. She elevates an enjoyable novel to something I couldn’t stop listening to, an audiobook I want to return to despite having finished it a mere two days ago.

My other major complaint, besides the pacing which is really uneven throughout, has to do with the following: a few chapters felt out of place – especially one concerning everyone’s favourite Obi-Wan, which I can only imagine the editor forgot to delete, or perhaps the publisher inserted into the book by mistake. Bit of a weird flex, as the kids say.

My score for Ahsoka is 4/5 stars – with a recommendation to listen to the audiobook if you can, since it’s nothing short of brilliant. Please, Mister Mickey Mouse, gimme more Ahsoka stuff narrated by Ashley Ekcstein, sir!

*Though I make fun of this, I do actually believe that the adult way in which the Clone Wars, Rebels and, yes, this book too, deal with a variety of heavy topics is mature and something kids should bear witness to. The Clone Wars in particular has a depth of interesting topics, which are very relevant to the world we live in.

Talking about Star Wars on Under a Pile of Books

I’m on a podcast, y’all! *Squeals*

This is the first ever podcast I’ve done and though I was a little nervous and I did fumble words twice or thrice, I thought the end product turned out quite well! Chatting with fellow book blogger and Star Wars afficionado Calvin Park was tremendous fun – looking forward to next time! We spoke about so many different elements of the universe – the old Knights of the Old Republic Games, the original Thrawn trilogy, the Clone Wars and what we hope for in terms of what comes next for the movies!

You can listen to the podcast on Spotify:

That’s it for this edition of Saturday Star Wars! Thanks for joining me – come back next week!

Six Excellent Sci-Fi Novels I read in 2019

A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine

First of all, look at that cover art. Look at it. It’s breathtaking. It creates within you certain expectations, of majesty and power and Empire, of two cultures clashing with one another, of two individuals removed from all others for entirely different reasons. It sets up a confrontation, too, a central notion of otherness; it is, in a word, one of the finest sci-fi covers I have ever seen.

The book itself?

A Memory Called Empire is a celebration of masterful worldbuilding and cerebral storytelling, the story of exciting political intrigue and murder, of civilization and the other. All these vastly differing aspects are threaded seamlessly into one, a narrative that enfolds steadily at first, turning ever more unpredictable and complex as the story progresses.

The reader will find the culture and society of the Teixcalaanli Empire both familiar and alien; while individuals are driven by passions that will be familiar to any of us, the culture is ruled by an obsession with the past and the recreating of it. One of the tools in the recreation of the Teixcalaanli’s past is poetry, which plays a unique role in the Empire, from politics to its every other social aspect. Whether criticizing authority or in defense of it, poets have influence enough over the citizens of the Empire to force them onto the streets; the role of poets reminded me of what Percy Bysshe Shelley described as “…legislators of the world” in his essay, “A Defence of Poetry.”

This is but a part of my full review of the novel. A Memory Called Empire is my favourite sci-fi novel of 2019, and second only to The Word for World is Forest in terms of blowing my sci-fi mind with the sheer scope of its ideas.

Starsight by Brandon Sanderson

Brandon Sanderson, why you gotta be so good?!

Spensa returns in this character-driven adventure, forced into a situation wholly outside her experience. As a result, Starsight is an exploration of the other, and a way to reconcile with it. It is a story of fear, of facing that fear and growing stronger for the staring down of it. It is a tale of friendship, loyalty and sacrifice. And it is beautiful.

You can read my full review of it here.

The Word for World is Forest by Ursula K. Le Guin

The 2010s took Ursula K. Le Guin from us at the venerable age of 88; as I find my way through her works, I realise more and more that hers was an extraordinary loss, one that will leave a void in the SFF community. Her humanity, humility, wry humour and wisdom, her ideas – they humble you. They make you a whole lot more human, they change and transform you. It’s a scary thing – you can sit down, thinking you know yourself, then open up a book by Ursula K. Le Guin and suddenly, you’re not so sure. Something, a process, a shift has taken you away from yourself and you are new, you are different, and that is scary. Scary as all hell. But also special.

Here is a work of speculative fiction worthy of the “Masterworks” label. The Word for World is Forest  has plenty of meat on the bone despite the short number of pages its text occupies. It’s thematically rich, a novel of memorable ideas and characters both. Le Guin problematises the ethic of exploitation in her signature style, poignant and deeply thoughtful.

“…it was becoming clear that the ethic which approved the defoliation of forests and grainlands and the murder of non-combatants in the name of “peace” was only a corollary of the ethic which permits the despoliation of natural resources for private profit or the GNP, and the murder of the creatures of the Earth in the name of “man”. The victory of the ethic of exploitation, in all societies, seemed as inevitable as it was disastrous.” (from Le Guin’s Introduction).

This realisation is the initial push that gave birth to The Word for World is Forest. The theme of exploitation is joined by the equally relevant subject of colonialism: our very own human race, now travelling along the stars, has promulgated across different planets; central for The Word is the so-called world of “New Tahiti,” dominated by oceans and lush green forests, where a little over two thousand men are working to deforest the world one island at a time, in order to sate the unquenchable thirst of an Earth that has exhausted all its natural resources of wood.

My full review for it is here.

Shadow and Claw by Gene Wolfe

What is this madness, and what right does it have to be so damnably good?

This is the first half of Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun, one of the most complex sci-fi novels ever written – at least that seems to be the prevailing opinion. It’s complex and not a quick read, and it takes an emotional toll. But there’s something about this world, this Urth awaiting the birth of its New Sun, that is nothing short of transcedental. It treads the line between sci-fi and postmodernism, playing around with time and voice and philosophy, and it’s unnervingly complex.

Well-worth the read, though, for everything the torturer Severian goes through. And possibly the re-read. I’m slowly making my way through the remaining two novels – you can expect my review/essay/manifesto on the series later this year.

11/22/63 by Stephen King

Stephen King writes a time-travelling thriller about an English college teacher’s attempt to . Is it as sci-fi as anything else on the list? Likely as not. But is it as good as anything else on the list? Yes, yes it is. You want to read more about it? Here you go!

Thrawn: Treason by Timothy Zahn

Despite the extremely divisive nature of The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker, we live in a golden age of Star Wars for fans of the franchise. Not since Zahn’s original trilogy and the Knights of the Old Republic games has there been such a sheer amount of excellent expanded universe content; comics, novels, even audio dramas (though, I hear, the Dooku audiodrama of last year wasn’t quite as good as most would’ve liked). Leading the

Thrawn: Treason is but the latest of Zahn’s New Canon novels and it does an excellent work of playing to the blue-skinned tactical genius’ strengths. Though it was really cool to see him match wits with Darth Vader in 2018’s Thrawn: Allegiances, that novel had a number of issues – Treason corrects the course in a satisfying way and digs deeper into the divided loyalties Thrawn has to the Empire and to his own Chiss Ascendancy. It’s really good, good enough to be on this list.

You can read my full review here.

Honorable Mentions:

Master and Apprentice by Claudia Grey – another Star Wars book, quite excellent; as it’s centered on Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn’s relationship, it’s a lot more fantasy than sci-fi because…Jedi. It’s really good, though, you’re welcome to read my review of it if you enjoy that.

I also listened to nine Horus Heresy novels! Some were entertaining, some weren’t, none of them are really all that great. Except for Fulgrim, which is absolute nonsense but in the best way possible. Or the worst way. Can’t quite tell.

For the Emperor…?

Evil Revenge Of The Sith GIF by Star Wars - Find & Share on GIPHY

STAR WARS JEDI: FALLEN ORDER REVIEW – Excellent, Buggy, Lacking Ambition

Jedi: Fallen Order has a lot going for it – an excellent story, an addictive combat system and plenty of Metroidvania elements in the planets we players explore as we take on the role of Cal Kestis. Unfortunately, Fallen Order is also plagued by bugs and the number of gameplay systems directly copied from other games make for a certain lack of ambition in terms of the innovation developer Respawn Entertainment implements.

In this video, I did my best to take a critical look at the story, dialogue, gameplay systems and the overall presentation of the game. I’m happy with how it turned out – if you are too, leave me a comment and please, please, please…share the video with your friends!

Star Wars: Master and Apprentice by Claudia Gray – Book Review

Welcome back, Reader! Today’s review is of one of 2019’s best Star Wars novels, Master and Apprentice. It was originally posted over at booknest.eu.

The Cover is courtesy of the ridiculously talented Alice X. Zhang

Published by: Del Rey Books
Genre: Science Fantasy
Pages: 352
Format: Audiobook
Purchased Copy:  from Audible.co.uk

At last, the one question that has been bugging me since I was 9 years old receives an answer! The question? Why the heck does Obi-Wan Kenobi hate flying so much? Now I know, and if you read this book, you will too!

Master and Apprentice deconstructs first and foremost the relationship between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn, portrayed by Ewan McGregor and Liam Neeson in what was the best part of The Phantom Menace. The novel’s opening sees this relationship burdened with issues because of what both master and padawan consider to be   The myriad differences between Kenobi and Jinn have made Obi-Wan’s apprenticeship difficult ever since its beginning. Qui-Gon is among the most unorthodox knights in the Jedi Order, all too happy to break procedure if it will bring him closer to his goals; he is, though the word has never been used in Master and Apprentice, a radical, willing to cross borders other Jedi knights wouldn’t even come near – which makes the fact that he gets offered a spot to the Jedi Council at the very beginning of the novel all the more interesting a hook.

Obi-Wan, meanwhile, is very firm on following the rules at this point in his training. He has his own set of problems – feeling like he is a bad apprentice, unable to live up to what is required of him is but one of them. The fact that he has difficulty finding peace in the Force during combat, his battle meditation easy to shatter, is another. What is evident early on is that both he and Qui-Gonn blame their own shortcomings but never one another. That’s a very Jedi thing to do, but it also speaks to how much they care about each other.

It’s at this point that Rael Averross, the previous padawan of Count Dooku (Qui-Gonn was Dooku’s last padawan), requests Qui-Gon’s assistance on the planet Pijal for the signing of a hyperspace lane treaty between the soon-to-be Queen Fanry and Czerka Corps, with the representative of the Galactic Republic ratifying it. Planet Pijal and its moon are rocked by the subversive activity of The Opposition, a former performance troupe turned terrorist cell that now threatens not only the signing of the treaty but Princess Fanry’s coronation.

Czerka Corporation, known to me first and foremost from the fantastic RPG developed by Obsidian Entertainment, Knights of the Old Republic II, makes its proper debut in Disney cannon. Its business practices, chief among which is the possession of slaves, give rise to a lot of interesting arguments as to the role of the Jedi, the inability of the Republic to enforce its law (slavery is illegal in Republic-controlled space) and more. Averross, whose role on Pijal is that of planetary Regent, immediately set off some red flags with his indifference towards Czerka’s use of slave labour and general conduct.

A tertiary thread runs in parallel with Obi-Wan/Qui-Gon’s and Averross/Fanry’s – that of Rahara and Pax, a pair of jewel thieves with their own grievances with Czerka. I liked both of these characters, whose dynamic was inspired by Elementary’s versions of Holmes and Watson. Pax is a recluse who lacks all social graces – for a good reason, as he spent his adolescence onboard a drifting ship in the company of protocol droids. Rahara is the more human of the two, the part of this dynamic duo that helps Pax be more of a decent chap.  Their unlikely friendship and budding romance were very sweet to read about, and the rapport they build with the Jedi adds an additional layer to an already great story. It also serves to challenge Obi-Wan’s views – working with jewel thieves tends to do that to any young Jedi hopeful.

A lot of great elements collide to create a politically-charged, morally complex story that has a lot going for it – great leads, interesting worldbuilding that both adds new elements to the cannon and reintroduces certain old ones for the first time after ye grand old Disney Legacy purge. I’m impressed with Claudia Gray and will be reading her ‘Bloodlines’ at some future point, no doubt about it now. My score for Master and Apprentice is a 4.5/5; I thought this was a tremendous read, as fun as Thrawn: Treason (reviewed here) in its own way.

Oh, and lest I forget about it, Jonathan Davis is as spectacular as ever in the narrator’s booth. His Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon are eerily true to the originals, and he breathes a lot of life into  Even his young Christopher Lee captures the essence of the character, even if he’s not on the level of Corey Burton, who voices Dooku on both Clone Wars animated series, and almost does the late, great Lee justice. As usual, the sound effects are also present – lightsabers, blaster fire, engines and plenty of mileage from those godly John Williams soundtracks. Del Rey doesn’t cut corners when it comes to the production budget of their Star Wars audiobooks, and us audiophiles are all the better for it.

One last name demands attention: The ridiculously talented Alice X. Zhang is to blame for the wonderful cover. Having looked her up only recently, I can already tell that I love her style so very much.

You should read this if you’re interested in:

  • The difference between what is moral and what is lawfully good;
  • political intrigue;
  • a look at the issues that plagued the Galactic Republic before Palpatine’s take-over;  
  • a good mystery that totally got me with several of its twists and turns;
  • good character arcs; Loads of Prophecy-talk; Dooku flashbacks!
  • And More! Prob’ly!

Thanks for reading! For updates and more, check out my twitter handle, @TheFilipMagnus.