A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…
Eight years after the fall of the Old Republic, the Galactic Empire now reigns over the known galaxy. Resistance to the Empire has been all but silenced. Only a few courageous leaders such as Bail Organa of Alderaan still dare to openly oppose Emperor Palpatine.
After years of defiance, the many worlds at the edge of the Outer Rim have surrendered. With each planet’s conquest, the Empire’s might grows stronger.
The latest to fall under the Emperor’s control is the isolated mountain planet Jelucan, whose citizens hope for a more prosperous future even as the Imperial Starfleet gathers overhead…
This one was our book club read for my Fancy Tea Book Club that I run, a pick from my husband. I don’t read many media tie-in novels so this book was a bit, well, novel for me. But in other ways it felt like standard YA fare.
Let’s start off with the things I really liked. One of the things I’d really like to see more of in the Star Wars universe is just normal people going about their lives and what it’s like where they live and how the war or living in the Empire affects them and their daily lives. I guess you could call it Star Wars slice of life maybe? But any way, this isn’t exactly that BUT, it is about normal people going about their normal lives. I enjoyed seeing a different planet and getting to know the people there even if it wasn’t hugely fleshed out, there was at least some world-building there with the cultures which was cool. I also loved that the two main characters grew up being loyal to the Empire because that’s an interesting perspective.
One of the other things I really liked about this is the character arc of one of the main characters, Thane Kyrell. I think the author did a great job in showing his motivations and thinking in why he decided to go the route he did. I also enjoyed that it took him a while to make up his mind. I loved seeing him just flying around with a merchant crew doing his thing (like a normal person going about a normal life). And I loved the Wookie captain of the ship! This is a character I fully approve of, we should have more Wookie characters, heck yeah.
Ciena was an interesting character as well, and I liked that she stuck to her values even though they may not have aligned with her feelings all the time. I feel like she didn’t quite have a much inner conflict as Thane with certain issues, but then with others she was a ball of indecision so she was a bit inconsistent to me, but I still liked her. I appreciated her drive if nothing else.
There were other things that I felt like were handled a bit clumsily. The main character’s relationship never really matures even as the characters do. They remain juvenile toward one another even after becoming young adults. They just weren’t very emotionally mature, and maybe I’m expecting too much from young people, but I don’t think I am. Also, Thane’s background with his father–I’m not sure why that was included because it didn’t really bring much to the story at all or his character in my opinion. It felt like a cheap way to make us say ‘poor little rich boy’ since his status was higher than Ciena’s back on their home planet.
In addition, there was perhaps a little too much fan service. I can almost imagine this book having been given certain perimeters–mainly to bridge a gap between the original Star Wars films and the new trilogy. We get the war we all know and love from the first trilogy from our character’s POV’s and then we learn about further battles mentioned in the new films from their POV’s as well. But, that wasn’t even what bothered me so much. Remember when I said I wanted stuff from ordinary people? These two quickly end up on opposite sides of the war, which is fine, but why does Ciena have to get promoted high up so quickly and be so involved with original characters? Out of all the vast star fleet this is where she ends up? Come on. And the same with Thane, but at least the rebellion is smaller so it’s more likely that he’d end up running into some characters we know. In the end this felt like it was trying too hard to remind us that, yes, it’s a Star Wars book.
Overall, this was an okay read, but it felt a little shallow. I do wish it had dove a little deeper with some things. For example, there was a missed opportunity, in my opinion, to explore the whole banality of evil concept. But I still enjoyed the read for the most part. 3/5 stars.