Monday, 26 March 2018
The Clone Wars Novel is the literary retelling of the animated feature film of the same name, set during the events of the Clone Wars between the movies Episode 2 and 3. War is ravaging the galaxy as more and more systems succeed to the separatist movement in league with the ex Jedi and secret Sith Lord count Dooku. Together with Ziro the Hutt, a plot is underway that will see either the Separtists or the Republic gain control of some crucial hyperspace lanes current commanded by Jabba The Hutt. They have kidnapped Jabba's son, and look to either feign a rescue of the Hutt youngling from the Jedi, or to frame the Jedi for his capture or even death.
Obi-Wan and Anakin are commanded by the council to move from their normal war time challenges to assist Jabba in the reunification with his son, something Anakin is incredibly against after his history as a Tattooine slave. Battling with his inner emotions and working towards the greater good, Anakin is also lumbered with no prior warning with new Padowan, Ahsoka Tano, a Togruta with a passion for combat and a nativity of war.
Together, with a particularly interesting group of Clone Troopers, the 501st, the Jedi must safely return Jabba's youngling to him to restore his faith in the Jedi and to allow for the negotiation for sole occupancy of the hyperspace trading lanes.
In doing so, they must confront swathes of battle droids; dark jedi Asaaj Ventress; sith lord Count Dooku whilst negotiating the inhospitable terrain of Teth... Of course, things don't go as smoothly as you'd think, and the plan is constantly changing when things don't go the way of the Jedi. Events unravel and even the evil Sith must adapt.
This is an ace retelling of the Clone Wars animated movie, and delves a little deeper into the personas of Anakin, Ventress, Ahsoka and of the Clone troopers from the 501st, establishing some really interesting and believable character traits for all of them giving them some much needed authenticity away from the cartoon. Dooku, as one of my favourite Star Wars universe bad guys, is also described brilliantly here in his typically reserved malevolence. Traviss is a good sci-fi writer, and this is no exception. The battle scenes are well described, being exciting and tense, but the political plots that unfold throughout are also excellently told.
Sometimes I felt things had been missed, or had to jump back a few pages to clarify something, but this happened rarely and the story was enough of a page turner for me to recommend to any Star Wars fan, especially those looking for a bit more depth of the story of the animated movie.
Marc Maron is a damaged individual, dealing with eating disorders, anxiety, self loathing and addiction, which of course makes him perfect for a career in comedy.
In Attempting Normal, Maron details events from his life that hold significant real estate in his memory of his struggles to find where he fits in in the grand scheme. Navigating through life Marc is tasked with many cats, encounters with prostitutes, fear of flying, dysfunctional relationships and more, which he communicates in an often melancholy but very witty style of writing. His honesty and intelligence yet humbleness together with his very dry sense of humor make this collection of stories a joy to read and Marc comes across as a genuinely likable yet troubled human being.
You'll recognize some of the stories from his podcast, but the written retelling adds a level of detail that you won't mind having heard it before. I found myself feeling blue; laughing out loud and occasionally grossed out by Marc's tales of his constant effort to find his place in the universe. This was an incredibly entertaining read and I'd wholly recommend for any fans of comedy, particularly that with a melancholy edge which I really love.
Friday, 9 March 2018
Jedi Trial tells the story of the mission that finally grants Anakin the position of full-fledged Jedi Knight.
Whilst Obi-Wan is off in the galaxy on other missions, Anakin is appointed to assist Jedi Master Nejaa Halcyon as he takes what limited resources are available in this time of war to go and defend the planet of Praesitlyn.
The planet is home to the key republic intergalactic communications center and is under attack by an excellently portrayed villain and minion of Count Dooku, Poors Tonith - a ruthless and calculating ex-banking clan turned military commander Muun with a love of a narcotic tea that leaves a black stain over his mouth and makes him seem all the more evil...
Currently, the planet's only defense is a rebel faction, led by Commander Zozrider Slayke, who puts me in mind a little of Saw Gerrera from the Rogue One film as a battered and bruised militant, who Halcyon must begrudgingly assist - Slayke had once stolen a starship under the command of Halcyon out from under his very nose... The Jedi, with the help of clones, clone commandos, pilots, arc troopers and a battle hungry Rodian, must employ a variety of tactics to defend as best they can the communications center and the hostages within.
I found this entry in the Clone Wars novels to be a good page turner, but not without it faults. So far, many of the stories have focused on the deceit, corruption and the dark, political underworld of the Star Wars universe in the decent to the dark side. Jedi Trial is pretty much a war story, that just happens to be set in the Star Wars universe. Many of the events are written around the varying deployment of military tactics, and how 2 steps forward can often lead to 3 steps backward when something doesn't go according to the strategy, as is so often the case in Jedi Trial. At one point, Tonith is able to relay orders on behalf of Halcyon and things go very much awry as the armies unquestioningly follow their orders.
I also like the mix of characters, and I enjoyed the relationships that develop throughout, especially between Anakin and Halcyon who actually have a lot in common. That being said, a lot of the time I felt this to be very rushed and I feel could have been fleshed out a lot, especially between Anakin and Grudo the Rodian. At one point he didn't seem to have done much apart from be there with Anakin, then all of a sudden they seem to profess a mutual love for one another? This confused me slightly, and as the characters are actually all really likable and well described, I would definitely have liked a longer book to accommodate proper development of these relationships.
However, as I said before, this definitely feels like a war story, and the battles are all suitably chaotic and exciting; peril laden and adrenaline pumping. Anakin takes control beautifully, and the struggles he faces as the force flows through him remind you that he's younger than his capability for command would suggest, and that he's always battling between the dark and the light.
So, whilst not perfect I did find this exciting. It's also fairly short with quick chapters so if you're a Star Wars fan, especially of the Clone Wars; or like good, exciting military stories, then Jedi Trial is worth a punt. There are better Star Wars books, but definitely worse ones, too.
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