Saturday, August 31, 2013

Review - Kenobi

Kenobi - by John Jackson Miller

I highly enjoyed this book, and I wasn't necessarily expecting to.  Why?  Well, despite the title of this blog... I don't really enjoy Westerns all that much.

This book was a Western.  It's about Ben Kenobi wandering out into a little patch of the west.  There were Indians... um, I mean Sand People.  There was a plucky widow shopkeeper, there were powerful ranch hands... you could have changed the names and set this in 1880s Wyoming.

And it was... just lovely.

The EU - No Planets or Species Were Harmed in the Production of This Book.  The book, and its consequences were... small.  You see just a little bit of how Obi-wan becomes Ben, that old Wizard.  And it's understated.  It's not a earth shattering or galaxy spanning affair.  It was just a simple story set in the Star Wars Universe... with realistic characters acting in a realistic way.  And this is something utterly, utterly refreshing.

The EU - A Western In Space? But Nathan Fillion isn't Ben Kenobi - I will admit that I am a Firefly fan... and so, what I will say is that this ended up having very much a Firefly sort of feel... almost what you could see happening if Book decided to exile himself.  But just the gritty, on the edge, but getting on with getting on approach.  It's the best of the Western genre, really, it is.  And it was great fun.

The Bad - Intergalatic Expanded Name Dropping - Yes, I know that there is an extended universe.  Yes, I know who several of these names are, like Kiera Holt, or A'Sharad Hett.  And yes, I know they take up large sections of other times and places in the Star Wars Universe.  But... did they have to be here?  In this book?  I mean, it wasn't terrible that they were here, but here you have such a close, tight book, just about this little out of the way place -- I don't like the random "must run to wookiepedia" sort of character dropping normally, but this stood out a bit more brashly, precisely because the rest of the book was so close and... local.

The Ugly - Nothing.
Seriously, there wasn't anything ugly about this book.  I guess I could see how some people might not find a character to latch on to, but there's nothing that makes me say "ugh."

Just a solid book.  This will be in the stack that I re-read.

Grade: A

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Crucible. Yeah. By Troy Denning

I can't do it.  I just can't write up a normal review with the Good and Bad things with this book.  I mean, there are parts I liked and such, but, just, no.

Here's the problem with this book.  There's too much "inside baseball" and too much power.

The main villains are Columi.  That's not a common race - but they only get a passing description.  There's even reference to their mother.  And I went "Huh?"  Keep in mind that I have purchased every non-juvenile bit of Star Wars fiction to come out in the past 20+ years, and I actually reread them. 

And here I am, reading the book, and my reaction is "Huh?  What are they talking about?"  Because this information was not given in a "these are hints the author is including to provide motivation" but rather pointing to a backstory.  And thanks to wookiepedia, I found it.  A Choose Your Own Adventure style segment in a role playing supplement... from 1990.

Written by Troy Denning.


How in the world am I supposed to be expected to remember that?  Or why would I have been expected to have READ that, ever?

And it goes on.  I thought this was supposed to be a stand-alone novel.  Apparently "stand-alone" means "We won't call it the 10th book in the previous series, but we will just make it totally dependent on the previous, forgettable series."  This book required me to remember more things from the previous book (Apocalypse by... you guessed it) than most of the books in the series did.  When the book requires me to remember small, throwaway details from a previous series so that I can try to understand an obscure journey through an esoteric meta-plot that I think is dumb anyway... yeah, that no longer feels like the Star Wars Universe that I know and love. 

Come on Reboot!  Help us, J. J. Abrams, you're our only hope!

And of course, the other problem is, well, Denning's solution.  To everything.  MORE POWER!  To have a better fight, just give everyone more power!  The fight's going to be better if they are level 85 and not level 25... because level 85 means "more drama!"


And it's just unsatisfying.

To be fair, some scenes were great. I thought there was some great Sabacc scenes.  But yeah.  No more.  No more Denning.  Please.  Because I am a sucker and I will buy it and read it, but please, no more.