Archive for January, 2011
Knight Errant 4: Aflame Part 4
I love Lord Daiman. I absolutely love Lord Daiman. In just four comics, he has rocketed up my favorite villain list. He is just wonderfully insane. I find his arrogance so much fun to read. He thinks he created the universe and is god…or at least a god. His twisted view of the universe and his place in it is just downright fun to read. Note to Dark Horse and John Jackson Miller, I want more Lord Daiman!
Issue 4 opens with Lord Daiman interrogating Gorlan, where Daiman begins by charging Gorlan with taking, “advantage of my (Daiman’s) sporting good will.” That shows Daiman’s wonderfully twisted view of the universe, since Daiman has done nothing put oppress, oppress, and more oppress the people of Chelloa. When the people needed food and other supplies for life, Lord Daiman gave them a statue of himself. His insanity is just great. Later in this interrogation, Lord Daiman goes so far as to as if Gorlan actually exists and what is Gorlan because in Lord Daiman’s mind, he is the creator of everything, and he cannot grasp that he created a subject that would betray him. He confusion over his creation working against him makes me just smile.
Report – Part 2
Do you remember Middle School when that jerky duo used to push everyone down? Every Middle School has one. One’s job is to lull you into a sense of security. He or she come up to you and engages you in some interesting discussion, While you are engaged in this interesting discussion, the other of the jerky duo sneaks in behind you and gets down on all fours behind you. As you are getting more and more into this interesting discussion and fired up on this imaginary topic, the first of the jerky duo pushes you while you are making a great point, and your calves hit the second of the jerky duo. Then, you fall slightly embarrassed that you fell, but more so at the fact that you were so comfortable and engrossed in this conversation with jerk one. That is how I felt after completing Vortex. Let me first say, that I think Vortex is one of the best of this series. I think it is easily the best since Outcast, which I really liked despite its continuity issues, and Vortex could be the best in the entire series, but at the end I did feel a little like they missed it.
Troy Denning gave me hope. He gave me hope that this series could be turned around and become something great. I wrote just how powerful chapters 16 and 17 were in my previous Daily Reading Update on this story, then, the rug gets pulled out from under my feet.
First, I am on record as to not liking Abeloth what-so-ever. It is not that Abeloth is a particularly terrible villain. It is the fact that Abeloth is taking pages away from the more interesting plot lines such as: The Empire and Galactic Alliance talking reunification, Luke reconstructing Jacen’s mysterious five year journey, the Jedi realizing they could be outnumbered by Sith, Tahiri Veila’s trial and the question of her responsibility to her actions, the Jedi’s responsibility for Jacen’s fall or turn, and so on. Abeloth, a super power villain that needs to be killed, is just unnecessary. Fate of the Jedi has enough interesting plot lines, so I have not loved Abeloth and just when I think I am done with her so we can get back to the plot lines I am interested in, Vortex brings her back with a vengeance, and there will be more Abeloth in the future too take even more pages away from the truly interesting plot lines in this series. I am beginning to think we are never going to get back to retracing Jacen’s steps.
Episode 17 “It’s Like Podracing…Only Smellier” or “What Kind Of Engine Do You Have Under That Hood” of Your Star Wars Book Report
In today’s episode, Wayne and I have a great time making fun of each other as I poke fun at Canada’s Junior Hockey team, and Wayne makes fun of my knowledge of Hockey and at how only six inches of snow can paralyze our community…Oh yeah, and we also discuss a novel, Rogue Planet by Greg Bear, and how this novel bridges the gap between The Phantom Menace and The Attack of the Clones.
We discuss at length the fascinating character development of Anakin Skywalker from boy to teenager, and how Mr. Bear has Anakin dealing with his tremendous power in the force and his responsibility of being the chosen one. We discuss Tarkin and his slimy plans to farther his own ends. We share our thoughts on the depth of Obi-Wan Kenobi and his issues at being the one who is training the chosen one. We open up the question of when do the ends justify the means. On top of all this, there is an assassin, a living planet, the biggest engine ever, tying in a future series, some football talk and so much more, so join us as we explore the galaxy one page at a time.
Thank you for listening, Jesse
This book is vastly different is style compared to the previous three installments of this series, and I could see how that would turn off some readers. This series is a sci-fi mystery series where Jack, Draycos, and Uncle Virge are trying to discover who is trying to help the Valaghua eliminate the Shontine and K’da and prevent them from moving to an uninhabited planet in the Orion Arm to escape war. It has been filled with Jack and Draycos trying to steal knowledge and unravel this mystery, so that they can save Draycos people and the Shontine. This novel has very little unraveling of the mystery. Jack and Draycos do attempt steal knowledge at the very beginning, but this soon becomes a travel story very much in line with The Fellowship of the Ring and the entire Lord of the Rings series, The Eye of the World, Eragon and so many other fantasy novels where the heroes are trying to get from point A to point B, and there is a great deal of character self discovery along the way. Now, I love character discovery and character development, and a well done travel story is one of my favorite story types, so I enjoyed this change of story type. I can also see how someone expecting a sci-fi mystery would be disappointed when reading this story filled with walking, walking, and more walking.
In this novel Jack and Draycos, through certain circumstances which I will leave for you to read, are running from some mercenaries from the Neverlin group who are trying to capture Jack on a jungle planet. While one this planet they meet up with a group of native who have K’da, or Phookas as they call them, but these K’da are nothing like Draycos as they are slow moving and slow in thought. Jack and Draycos take these natives with them on their trek to keep them from being slaughtered by Neverlin’s mercenaries.
Vortex by Troy Denning
Shortly after criticizing this series, Troy Denning gave me two of the most unbelievable back to back chapters I have ever read. Denning is a master of the action scene, and in this book, especially in chapters 16 and 17, he takes the action scene to an entirely new level by adding tremendous emotion and wielding words more sharply than lightsabers. These two chapters were incredible, and as soon as I finished chapter 17, I had to take a rest from reading because I was so tense from the tension in the story. Getting through Fate of the Jedi is absolutely worth it just to read Vortex chapter 16 and 17.
One hard thing to do with the written word is to convey emotion without flatly telling the reader what the emotion is. I read each line in a book the same speed, which makes it very hard for me the reader to pick up on tone, inflection…basically the emotion of the words spoken. Denning because of Star Wars fans connection to the universe and our intimate knowledge of the Jedi gives us two powerfully emotional chapters.
First, chapter 16 deals with slavery, which for a guy who has always lived in the southern United States is quite familiar with racial tension due to past slavery, and now, is familiar with too many migrant farm workers who by some wicked farmers are treated as slaves. This racial and migrant farmer issues are very emotionally driven, and Denning captures the power of these issues wonderfully even in a make believe space opera. The slaves in this story are treated well by their masters in this story, and the slave masters give their slaves a far better life than the slaves could get on their own due to their species abilities. That fact alone added a dimension to the story that was quite unexpected. You expect the slave masters to be brutal and the slaves to be oppressed because slavery is evil, but that is not the situation in this chapter.
I mentioned recently that Corran Horn is my favorite Jedi, and that the Fate of the Jedi series is missing out on the most powerful aspect of their story by not developing Horn’s relationship, service, and support of Galactic Alliance more than they have. Vortex does focus a little bit more on Corran, but I think Fate of the Jedi missed a real opportunity. They chose the most fascinating Jedi to have his children frozen in carbonite because of Horn’s unwavering support of the GA. The Dark Nest Trilogy shows Corran stand against Luke’s unifying force idea because of its neglect of the GA, and Corran’s belief that the Jedi have a duty to the GA. They have not pounced on this great idea, but I am rehashing my last article, so let me get to why Corran is my favorite Jedi.
First, he was a cocky pilot in rogue squadron. If there is one thing we love in Star Wars it is cocky pilots. You have Han Solo, of course, Wedge Antillies, and the rest of Rogue Squadron, Anakin Skywalker, Syal Antillies, Jaina Solo, Jagged Fel, among others. If you have watched Top Gun, and we all have, then you have dreamed of being of cocky arrogant pilot that put jerks like Iceman in their place. Corran was a cocky pilot who cared deeply for his friends and put his life on the line, willing to die, to protect his friends. I like a arrogant guy who on the inside greatly loves others.
I do not like to be negative…Quick name one book I have said was terrible…It’s hard to do because I love books. I love stories, and it is rare for me to not get into and enjoy reading whatever I get my hands on. I want to enjoy everything I read, and for the most part I do, but there are aspects of Fate of the Jedi that I just don’t get. I hope you can tell me I am wrong about this series, and I hope you can give me multiple reasons to love this series. As of now though, Fate of the Jedi leaves me scratching my head.
First, this series was set up to fail with the earlier appointment of Admiral Daala as the Chief of State. I don’t know whose idea this was, but it was not a very good one. Daala as Chief of State makes no sense. She was the developer of super weapons for the Empire. Her work helped destroy planets and entire galaxies. She was Grand Moff Tarkin’s lover and disciple. How is it evenly remotely possible for her to be elected as Chief of State with that background? This would be like the United States electing the head of the Nuclear Weapons Program of Russia as its own President. There is just no way it would happen. Making Daala chief is like they ran out of eligible candidates with Mothma, Ackbar, Leia, Fey’lya, Omas, among others all out of the political picture, so they went with the last character standing. The only problem is there is only one story to tell with Daala…former imp fights with former rebels. I can’t see any other direction. Develop new political characters or C3PO will be the next Chief!
Wayne and I break down Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn. We discuss Zahn’s ability to write great characters. Some you love, and others you love to hate. We also break down plot and how Zahn truly captures the spirit of Star Wars and is faithful to George Lucas’ vision.
Later we share with you and interview with Paul Kemp author of multiple Forgotten Realms and Star Wars novels, short stories, and more. Mr. Kemp shares with us his favorite characters he has written, if any of his Forgotten Realms characters come from his RPG days, how he would describe his own writting, and I couldn’t resist asking who is crazier Star Wars or Forgotten Realms fans, and much, much more.
One note – early in the podcast I mistakenly say that Crosscurrent by Paul Kemp was connected to the Legacy of the Jedi series, and that is incorrect. As you all know, and I do too, I just misspoke, it is connected to the Fate of the Jedi series.
Thank you for listening. Please share us with your friends.
Exploring the galaxy one page at a time, Jesse
Clone Wars Gambit: Siege
One of my favorite aspects of the Clone War Cartoon tie-in novels is the journey we have gotten to take into the dark mind of Darth Sidious. We have watched Sidious usually appear in a hazy blue form of hologram. Then when we see Palpatine, we have to watch Sidious be covered up by the smiling polite politician. These new Clone War’s novels have revealed to us the twisted genius that is inside the head and heart of Darth Sidious. We have gotten a taste of the evil one hidden behind that smile, and the more novels I read with Darth Sidious, the more I realize just what an amazing villain he truly is.
My fifth favorite scene comes from Clone Wars Gambit: Siege by Karen Miller, and if you are the kind of person who likes to listen at the door when a co-worker gets called into the boss’s office, or went or goes, “Oooooooooo, someone’s in trouble” when someone gets called into the principal’s office, then this is the scene for you.
In Clone Wars Gambit: Siege, this scene literally made my jaw hit the floor. Brief synopsis without giving too much away, Yoda and Bail Organa try to end a terrorist threat without the Supreme Chancellor knowing anything about it. Well, they fail fairly significantly in one area of this mission which brought the terrorist threat to Palpatine’s attention. Then like those school children called into the principal’s office, Yoda and Bail appear before the Dark Lord of the Sith.
Timothy Zahn is a very good writer at keeping you guessing, and he usually ends the book in a way you never expected. Dragon and Slave fits this bill. If you have read Dragon and Solider: The Second Dragonback Adventure, you remember that Jack joined a mercenary group trying to find out which mercenary group is assisting the Valahgua in the Orion Arm galaxy. The Zahn twist in that novel, and here will be a spoiler, is that Jack and Draycos fail in their quest. It is rare in action novels for the heroes to not succeed in their goals, so that was surprising. In Dragon and Slave, Jack is going to become, you guessed it, a slave for the same purpose of trying to discover which mercenary group is helping the Valahgua, so they can find a way to save Draycos’ people the K’Da.
First, what makes this novel series special is the character interaction between Jack, Draycos, and Uncle Virge. In this novel you see Draycos’ and Uncle Virge’s relationship develop, which was fun and like Zahn is want to be unexpected. These three characters are great. Also, Dragon and Slave has the best active villain so far in this series in Gazen. He is the first villain that Jack has faced that can out street smart and somewhat out con him, and that made Gazen fascinating to me because he actively engages Jack in a mental contest of trap and counter trap that I enjoyed. Also, Gazen is a slave master and slave trader, which makes him incredibly vile. I surely wanted to see Gazen get his comeuppance. I was disgusted by him and had to recognize his intelligence, which made for a good villain.