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Book Review: Thrawn: Alliances

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4.5 Score
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Thrawn: AlliancesTitle
Timothy ZahnAuthor
24 July 2018Release date

Thrawn Alliances CoverThrawn: Alliances consists of two separate stories which are closely linked, the first is a story about Commander Thrawn, Anakin Skywalker and Padmé Amidala and takes place during the Clone Wars (and was hinted at in the previous book), the second is a story that takes place before A New Hope and is about Grand Admiral Thrawn and Darth Vader.

When Palpatine feels a disturbance in the Force he sends Grand Admiral Thrawn and Darth Vader to the edge of the galaxy to investigate. The two are not exactly eager to work together but Thrawn is worried the disturbance Palpatine feels could also be a danger to his homeworld and agrees to accompany Darth Vader to Batuu, the planet where the two met years before, during the Clone Wars.

During the Clone Wars, Padmé receives news from her former handmaiden Duja, Duja thinks she may have discovered a secret Separatist weapon. Padmé travels to Batuu to investigate and help Duja. But once there, Duja is nowhere to be found, her ship is deserted and Padmé sets out to investigate. Weeks later Anakin gets worried since he hasn’t heard from Padmé since she left and decides to head to Batuu aswel to find his wife. After arriving he bumps into Commander Thrawn, of the Chiss Ascendancy, who offers his help to find Padmé and Duja. It’s not long before they all end up in a big adventure together.

Thrawn: Alliances is not directly a sequel to it previous part, the story is completely in itself and readers do not have to read the previous part, or Star Wars Rebels , to understand and enjoy this story. The style of writing is largely the same as we are used to from Zahn, although these stories seem to be a lot snappier than the previous book. Especially the Padmé/Anakin/Thrawn storyline could easily be a Clone Wars story arch. As before, we regularly get a glimpse into Thrawn's mind when he focusses his attention to other beings or situations in order to gain as much information as possible. Zahn also uses a similar trick for Anakin and Darth Vader this time. In action scenes we often get a kind of Force vision that describes how he experiences the world around him during a fight and how he looks briefly in the future to be able to avoid or repel blaster shots

Another interesting addition was the First Legion, an elite commando unit within the 501st, under Darth Vader’s command. Their role was not very big, but they were certainly introduced in a way that suggests we’ll see them more often in the future. And I can imagine that will produce some interesting stories. Thrawn: Alliances also gives us a new set-up to the Unknown Regions, which certainly will get a bigger role in the Star Wars universe. This also goes for a certain material Padmé, Anakin and Thrawn discover during their adventure.

Although the stories take place in two different time periods, they are not completely independent of each other, apart from Thrawn and Vader, there are various connections between the two. But Zahn does a good job making clear which time period you are reading. Not just through the chapter indications, but especially Anakin and Darth Vader give you a good grip on time, despite the fact that many environments and characters around him remain the same.

If you think Thrawn's character in Thrawn is unbelievable and far too clever, then Thrawn: Alliances will not change that opinion, but I expect more people will enjoy Thrawn: Alliances than did the previous book. Apart from Thrawn we also get a lot of depth in the characters of Anakin and Padmé and especially their relationship. I would definitely recommend the book.

Thanks to Century Books for making available Thrawn: Alliances for this review.

Lifetime Fan. Reads a lot of books and comics. Makes replica props in his spare time.

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Reference works

Book Review: Star Wars Icons: Han Solo

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Star Wars Icons: Han Solo

Publisher: Insight Editions

Author: Gina McIntyre

Release: November 2019 (Hardcover)

Pages: 241

NB: This book is currently only available through Sideshow en Amazon UK. From April 2019 it will also be available through other stores and websites.

It is not often that a complete reference work is devoted to one Star Wars character. C-3PO (Tales of the Golden Droid, 1999) and Darth Vader (The Story of Darth Vader, 1998 and The Complete Father, 2009) were the first many years ago and now there is Star Wars Icons: Han Solo; a book about, you guessed it: perhaps the most popular Star Wars character ever.

To play the same open card: Harrison Ford's Han Solo is my favorite movie character ever and Ford is even my favorite actor. Add to that the fact that the author Gina McIntyre has made use of an interview that I have taken out of which I am mentioned in the credits and it is difficult to remain objective, but I am going to try.

When I opened the book I was genuinely impressed: where I mostly expected photos that had already been published in countless other reference works (such as the three Making Of's by JW Rinzler) showed that there is still enough to keep the fans in the Lucasfilm archives. to surprise. The book is packed with photographs, drawings and sketches of which more than enough are really new. Add to that that it is a nice size and has a hard cover, so it is absolutely good in terms of presentation.

But is the textual content also of the same level? The book describes the character Han Solo. Of course one starts with how George Lucas came up with this character and how he became the smuggler of Corellia from a green alien (the original idea). This also includes the entire casting process (among others Walken, Russell, Katt and Nolte were on the list of Lucas). Gina McIntyre then describes the role of both Solo and Ford in the original trilogy, which is done in a comprehensive manner, but unfortunately matters such as the alleged affair of Ford with Carrie 'Leia' Fisher or how Howard Kazanjian played a role in the return of Ford. in front of Return of the Jedi get no attention. 241 of the 115 pages are spent on 'Original Trilogy Han'.

What I did not follow on this scale from page 116: 26 pages dedicated to Legends / Expanded Universe Han; the Han Solo, which we stopped until Disney in 2014 stopped the Expanded Universe to come up with their own stories. Things like the Solo trilogies of both Brian Daley and AC Crispin are coming along just like the old Marvel and Dark Horse comics. This segment is really fantastic and I suspect the author is almost of himself an 'EU' fan.

After this, things like 'The Han Solo effect' (the character influences characters like Indiana Jones, Jack Burton, Malcolm Reynolds and Madmartigan) and 'Where's Han' (in which the Special Editions, art, merchandise, the radio plays and West End) Games are discussed) discussed.

The last 73 pages are then before The Force Awakens en Solo: A Star Wars Story where Disney's version of Han is highlighted as well as the new canon books and comics.

I think no one can deny that this is just an excellent book that Ford / Solo fans love. On the other hand, it must be said that if you have very little with the character you can logically get bored.

I at least certainly express my hope that this will grow into a series and in the future more 'Star Wars Icons: ...' books will appear. Leia, Luke, C-3PO, Obi-Wan and Yoda like to be first.

Special thanks go to Chris van Insight Editions and to author Gina McIntyre.

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Reference works

Book Review: Scum and Villainy

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4 Score
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Scum and Villainy: Case Files on the Galaxy's Most NotoriousTitle
Pablo HidalgoAuthor
23 October 2018Release date

Scum and Villainy is a collection of information and images of criminals and scoundrels from the Star Wars universe. The book is written (in the book) by Exantor Divo, a police commissioner in the New Republic. He is, just like his mother and grandfather were before him, in law enforcement. His grandfather, Tan Divo, was police inspector in the Republic before and during the Clone Wars, while his mother, Andressa Divo, was an agent in the Imperial Security Bureau during the time of the Galactic Empire. In this book Exantor has collected information and stories from records of both his family members and his own and we get a good picture of the criminal underworld during these three eras.

Hidalgo writes as Exantor and gives background information on criminals, gangs, rebels and bounty hunters. Names like Moralo Eval, Saw Gerrera, Grummgar, Boba Fett, Dengar and, because these are also compiled from Imperial documents, Leia Organa and Han Solo have been included. Hidalgo chose both well-known and lesser-known characters to highlight, like characters we only see in the background of the films or that have roles in the Clone Wars TV series. In addition to characters he also talkes about gangs and organizations like the Scrumrats of Corellia and the Hutts.

As far as the information goes, we do not get a lot of news bits, Hidalgo mostly seizes the opportunity to put characters and situations from books, comics and the Clone Wars in the spotlight again, which makes for a lot of 'Oh, right!' moments. Hidalgo talks about the evolution of Boba Fett, how he stood out as a teenager as a member of the Krayt's Claw Gang during the Clone Wars, but Tan Divo soon realized Fett was the leader of the gang and because we look at multiple eras we see Boba later coming back as a ruthless and extremely skilled Bounty Hunter. The situation with the Xrexus Cartel is partially described, the comic story in which a Jedi Padawan was captured and sold to the highest bidder on a black market auction. Obviously, Hondo Ohnaka could not be left out of a book like this and he shows up a number of times. A letter is included that he leaves behind on ships that his gang has plundered, in which he apologizes and hopes that the crew of the plundered ship understands the situation. He also indicates they should be proud to have been robbed by the great Weequay pirate.

What makes the book especially worthwhile is the artwork, almost every page has a large image that represents the character in question, these images are mostly stills from security holograms, but sometimes they are wanted posters. There are also letters, brochures or images of weapons or other equipment included.

The pieces of art are all breathtaking and definitely worth coming back to again and again. Artwork like the overview shot of a New Republic Patrol walking through a market or the lifelike portrait of Moloch are gems that would look great on any wall.

The book itself is also nicely designed. The book comes in a clear plastic slip case which has the title printed on it, so the cover, which consists of a cool image of some scum and villainy, is uncluttered by text once removed from the case.

All in all, Hidalgo delivered another great book that you can browse through on a rainy afternoon. Reading through all the information is fun and educational, but the artwork really steals the show and makes this a book that is perfect to leave on the coffee table so you can keep enjoying the artwork by artists like Raph Lomotan, Ronan Le Fur, Russell Walks, Will Biks, Gunship Revolution, Rodrigo Ramos, Alberto Rocha, Lucas Parolin, Fares Maese, Studio Hive and Chris Trevas.

Scrumrats attack surveillance cam by Lucas Parolin (link) Moloch of the White Worms by Lucas Parolin (right)

Scrumrats attack surveillance cam by Lucas Parolin (left)
Moloch of the White Worms by Lucas Parolin (right)

Wanted: Bom Vimdin by Raph Lomotan (left) Wanted: Chelli Lona Aphra by Lucas Parolin (right)

Wanted: Bom Vimdin by Raph Lomotan (left)
Wanted: Chelli Lona Aphra by Lucas Parolin (right)

Grumgar Holo Image by Fares Maese (left) Illegal hunting encoded advert by Gunship Revolution (right)

Grumgar Holo Image by Fares Maese (left)
Illegal hunting encoded advert by Gunship Revolution (right)

Thanks to Epic Ink for making available Star Wars: Scum and Villainy: Case Files on the Galaxy's Most Notorious for this review.

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Reference works

Book Review: Women of the Galaxy

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4.5 Score
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Women of the GalaxyTitle
Amy RatcliffeAuthor
30 October 2018Release date

Women of the Galaxy CoverWomen of the Galaxy by Amy Ratcliffe is a collection of summaries of the lives and adventures of 75 female Star Wars characters. In alphabetical order Ratcliffe discusses well-known characters like Leia Organa, Rey and Hera Syndulla as well as lesser known characters like Kaydel Ko Connix, Derla Pidys and the Tonnika sisters. Each character gets at least a two page spread on which her life and adventures are summarized, making the book more or less an encyclopedia and an excellent reference work to look up various things about these characters. In addition to the information Ratcliffe shares in a very understandable and fun way, each character also gets at least one full page piece of art by a female or non-binary artist. Some of these characters have never been depicted before.

The size of the book, the beautiful page lay-out, the short and clear text and the over XNUMX pieces of amazing art make Women of the Galaxy not just a decent reference book, but it is also very suitable for having lie around the house so it can be opened up to enjoy the art whenever you feel like it. The eighteen artists each have their own style, from somewhat realistic to rather cartoony, but each of them was able to represent the characters in a way that suits them very well. From the static portrait of Rae Sloane, in uniform with two Stormtroopers behind her (from the hand of Cryssy Cheung) to the dynamic shot of Sabine Wren jumping away from a colorful explosion (by Sara Alfageeh) or the helmet/mask-less Phasma with her home world of Parnassos in the background (by Annie Stoll). Each and every one of them is masterpiece. The artwork alone is worth the price for the book. Fans of Star Wars related art will enjoy the book and maybe find new artists whose work they can start following.

Ratcliffe rotes about all of the chosen characters to get the reader acquainted with her. The character’s life and personality are summarized and here and there Ratcliffe shares a quote from a (voice) actor or author to give the character a bit more depth and to show what makes these characters unique and recognizable. We don’t really learn any new facts in this book but Ratcliffe shares the information with humor and a in a friendly style. Ratcliffe seems to be talking to the reader, it is not like the reader is reading a Wookipedia article. Nothing wrong with Wookiepedia of course, that is still the best place to get as complete a picture as possible of a character. But Ratcliffe makes the lives of these 75 characters accessible and fun for readers of all ages, where it is irrelevant whether the reader has a lot or very little prior knowledge.

The only drawback of a book like Women of the Galaxy is that it can never be complete, although there are certainly characters that we will probably never hear about again and the summary in this book will be adequate, think of characters such as Oola and Camie Marstrap. For others such as Rey, Leia and Ahsoka there are so many more stories ahead pf us that it is a shame that their complete story can not be told here. On the other hand, the book is currently so complete and up to date that Ratcliffe even shares information about Star Wars Resistance characters like Aunt Z and Torra Doza. But if we are honest, a reference book in the Star Wars world can never be complete, it is clear that we can look forward to new stories for many years and years to come. Perhaps we will see a sequel or an updated edition of Women of the Galaxy in the future.

The design and content of the book is so good that I would love to see more books like it with various themes in the future.

Women of the Galaxy is definitely recommended for fans of good characters or great artwork. Or for fans who just want to have a good overview of life stories and adventures of these characters on their shelf.

Sana Starros by Jennifer Aberin Johnson

Sana Starros by Jennifer Aberin Johnson

Coat Emari by Eli Baumgartner

Coat Emari by Eli Baumgartner

Padmé Amidala by Geneva Bowers

Padmé Amidala by Geneva Bowers

With thanks to Chronicle Books for making available Women of the Galaxy for this review.

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Book reviews

Book Review: Solo A Star Wars Story

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4 Score
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Solo: A Star Wars Story Expanded EditionTitle
Mur LaffertyAuthor
4 September 2018Release date

Solo: A Star Wars Story Expanded Edition is the novelization of the latest film in the Star Wars universe. Just like The Last Jedi novelization this one got the 'Expanded Edition' subtitle, which indicates that the book shares more with the reader than the film did. In addition to internal thoughts and monologues, we also get some new scenes. Scenes that were cut from the film (but can be found as bonus material on the home release) are present in the book, but we also get completely new scenes and we get to look back at the lives of characters like Han, Qi'ra, Beckett and Val.

As you might expect from a novelization, the book is almost entirely true to what we see in the film and gives the reader a better comprehension of the events. The addition of character’s thoughts is always interesting to get a better understanding of them and their motivations. Where the novelization increases its value even further however, is in the added scenes. Han and Qi'ra's escape through the streets of Corellia is a nice addition, but it is also clear why it was left out of the film for time. Qi'ra's perspective after she is captured by Moloch and brought back to Lady Proxima and the short description of her life between Han's departure and their reunion on Dryden's yacht make Qi'ra a much richer character and make her motivations and actions in the later part of the story much more credible.

The chapters in which we learn more about the past of Val and Beckett are also great additions that give both characters much more depth. They make the loss of Val more emotional and really make me want a book about the adventures of these scoundrels. The moment where Qi'ra and L3 have a conversation in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon is a lot longer and much more interesting in the book. I would have loved to have seen their conversation in the film in this way. And to stay with L3 and the Falcon, the book does an interesting job of communicating what happens to L3 when she is absorbed into the Falcon, how she experiences it and, after some protest, is at peace with it. The farewell conversation between Lando and L3 is very emotional and a more worthy ending for the eccentric droid.

In addition, there are also a number of things that we do not find much of in the book, like descriptions. Whoever reads the book after having seen the film may not really notice it, but Lafferty spends little time describing locations and characters. There is a good chance that people who only read the book have a very different mental image from what we see in the film. The fact that there are hardly any descriptions does mean you fly through the book a bit faster, but I personally like it when the author describes characters, locations and situations a bit.

Just like The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi novelizations the book sports a number of glossy pages with photos from the film accompanied by a short summary of the whole story. This in combination with the dust jacket, which looks like an old yellowed and damaged book, gives the whole thing a nice feel and makes it a book that you can occasionally take off the shelf to just look at and enjoy. Definitely recommended for fans and people who want more depth in the story.

Thanks to Century Books for making Solo available: A Star Wars Story Expanded Edition for this review.

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