Friday, July 17, 2009

Before the Storm

I am a Star Wars fan. When the first movie came out I was just out of the 9th grade and was absolutely captivated. It is one of the few movies I have seen more than once in the theater and I actually saw it 5 times there, even taking my 85 year-old grandfather to see it. I've seen every one of the movies as soon as it came out and while I agree with most people that the second trilogy (prequel) was not as good as the first trilogy I still enjoyed them. I read the first few novels that came out as well (remember I am a completest) but thought them merely OK. I didn't read them for the great writing/characterization, etc. but rather to gain factual knowledge of that universe I loved.

But then more and more novel tie-ins started to come out and the quality was just not high enough for me to continue with them. I knew there would be an inexhaustable supply, too many to read unless I read little else and so I made the decision to stop reading any of them. I broke that decision once when RA Salvatore came to town and I bought a copy of Vector Prime so he could sign it and I could give it to my dad who also had been reading quite a few Star Wars books. Now cut to this year. For Father's Day my son gave me a computer game "Gold pack" of 5 older PC Star Wars games. I've been enjoying it quite a bit and it got me "in the mood" all over again. And I had one more Star Wars trilogy still on my shelf that my dad had given me and that I still had not read. So now was the time.

Before the Storm is the first book in the "Black Fleet Crisis" trilogy, written by Michael P. Kube-McDowell. I found this book to be a lot like all of those other SW novels I had read...that is it was OK but certainly did not set new standards for quality science fiction. This takes place about 12 years after the events of "Return of the Jedi". The New Republic has entered a time of relative peace and so, of course, a new threat needs to be invented. I found the writing to be pretty good throughout this novel; I could easily follow the plot and the author captured the voices of the major characters pretty well: Luke, Leia, Han, Lando, 3-PO, Admiral Ackbar, etc. The plot however was slow. There seems to be several main plot lines developing independantly of each other and I'll just have to wait to see if the other two books bring them together. The best plot line was Leia's where she acts as the head of state and allows her trusting nature to lead the New Republic into catastrophe with the bad guy race. Han's role was disappointing as he has settled down into his role as father to the kids although it looks like he might get some action in the next book. Luke's role was the most disappointing as he abandons everybody and goes off on his own (doesn't that always happen?). This trilogy was written before the second set of movies was filmed and so there are some major conflicts, most especially, Luke's mother.

So I guess I'm still where I was before...I'll finish out this series but am doubtful of reading more SW books, at least about this era. I have heard good things about some of the "origins" stories, about the beginnings of the Sith, etc. which I may look into one day.

Of course I also finished the next short story in Stephen King's collection, Skeleton Crew, "The Reaper's Image" about a mirror which shows the reaper standing next to the viewer. It's mostly the history of the mirror as told to an antiquities collector by a museum curator. The collector is skeptical until he sees it himself. This story is one of the shorter works in the collection and is more of a classic horror tale than the others, continuing to demonstrate King's versatility as an author.

Next up: a new author for me as I try David Gibbon's Atlantis which I just got free from Border's by doing on-line surveys. Hey, the first step is to acknowledge you have a problem and I fully acknowledge my addiction to acquiring books to read :)

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Top 10 Books in no particular order (Well Known Authors)

  • "The Stand" by Stephen King
  • "Kane and Able" by Jeffrey Archer
  • "The Killer Angels" by Michael Shaara
  • "The Dark Elf Trilogy" by RA Salvatore
  • "Name of the Wind" by Patrick Rothfuss
  • "River God" by Wilbur Smith
  • "Mortalis" by RA Salvatore
  • "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card
  • "Centennial" by James A Michener
  • "The Repairman Jack" series by F. Paul Wilson

Top Books/ Series in no particular order (Lesser Known Authors)

  • "The Sculpter" by Gregory Funaro
  • "Power Down" by Ben Coes
  • "Revolution at Sea Saga" by James L. Nelson
  • "Black Rain" by Graham Brown
  • "Top Producer" by Norb Vonnegut
  • "Prairie" by Anna Lee Waldo
  • "The Wild Blue" by W. Boyne & S Thompson
  • "Unsolicited" series by Julie Kaewert
  • "Freedom" by William Safire