FSFH Book Review

Site Navigation
The Best
The Worst
Abnett, Dan
Adams, Douglas
Aguirre-Sacasa, Roberto
Allen, Roger MacBride
Allie, Scott
Allston, Aaron
Anderson, Kevin J.
Barclay, James
Barnes, Steven
Baum, L. Frank
Bear, Greg
Bendis, Brian Michael
Bischoff, David
Bisson, Terry
Blackman, Haden
Bova, Ben
Bowen, Carl
Brooks, Terry
Canavan, Trudi
Card, Orson Scott
Chadwick, Paul
Clarke, Arthur C.
Clarke, Susanna
Clemens, James
Collins, Paul
Crichton, Michael
Crispin, A. C.
Cunningham, Elaine
Daley, Brian
David, Peter
DeMatteis, J. M.
Denning, Troy
Dick, Philip K.
Dickens, Charles
Dietz, William C.
Dixon, Chuck
Donaldson, Stephen
Eddings, David
Edginton, Ian
Elrod, P. N.
Erikson, Steven
Feist, Raymond E.
Foster, Alan Dean
Fraction, Matt
Furman, Simon
Gaiman, Neil
Gemmell, David A.
Gerber, Michael
Gibbons, Dave
Golden, Christopher
Goodkind, Terry
Goodwin, Archie
Graham, Mitchell
Grant, Alan
Green, Jonathan
Green, Laurence
Guggenheim, Marc
Hagberg, David
Hambly, Barbara
Hamilton, Laurell K.
Hand, Elizabeth
Harras, Bob
Harrison, Mick
Heinlein, Robert A.
Herbert, Frank
Herbert, James
Hine, David
Hobb, Robin
Howard, Robert E.
Jacques, Brian
James, Charlie Hamilton
Jenkins, Paul
Jeter, K. W.
Johns, Geoff
Jones, J. V.
Jordan, Robert
Jurgens, Dan
Karpyshyn, Drew
Kennedy, Mike
Kerr, Katharine
Keyes, Greg
King, Stephen
King, William
Knaak, Richard A.
Kube-McDowell, Michael P.
Lawhead, Stephen
Layman, John
Le Guin, Ursula K.
Lewis, C. S.
Lieberman, A. J.
Loeb, Jeph
Lorey, Dean
Lowder, James
Luceno, James
Lumley, Brian
Macan, Darko
Manning, Russ
Martin, George R. R.
Marz, Ron
Matheson, Richard
McCaffrey, Anne
McIntosh, Neil
McIntyre, Vonda
Michelinie, David
Millar, Mark
Miller, John Jackson
Miller, Karen
Milligan, Peter
Moench, Doug
Moesta, Rebecca
Moore, Alan
Nicholls, Stan
Nicieza, Fabian
Nylund, Eric
O'Neil, Dennis
Ostrander, John
Paolini, Christopher
Perry, S. D.
Perry, Steve
Pratchett, Terry
Pullman, Philip
Quinn, David
Reaves, Michael
Reed, A. W.
Reed, Brian
Rice, Anne
Richardson, Nancy
Roberts, Adam
Rowe, Matthew
Rowling, J. K.
Rubio, Kevin
Rusch, Kristine Kathryn
Salvatore, R.A.
Shelley, Mary
Shultz, Mark
Simone, Gail
Simonson, Louise
Simonson, Walter
Smith, L. Neil
Spurrier, Simon
Stackpole, Michael A.
Stevenson, Robert Louis
Stewart, Sean
Stoker, Bram
Stover, Matthew
Straczynski, J. Michael
Stradley, Randy
Strnad, Jan
Sutcliff, Rosemary
Tolkien, J.R.R.
Traviss, Karen
Truman, Tim
Turtledove, Harry
Tyers, Kathy
van Belkom, Edo
Veitch, Tom
Wagner, John
Watson, Jude
Whitman, John
Williams, Sean
Williams, Tad
Williams, Walter Jon
Windham, Ryder
Wolverton, Dave
Woodring, Jim
Wurts, Janny
Yeovil, Jack
Zahn, Timothy
Collaborations A - F
Collaborations G - M
Collaborations N - R
Collaborations S
Collaborations T - Z
Anthologies A - R
Anthologies S
Anthologies T - Z
Still to come
Reviewing Literature
Collaborations Titled S

Books by two or more collaborating authors.

Servant Of The Empire
This book has all the elements of it's predecessor, 'Daughter of the Empire' combined with much stronger links to the other books of the Riftwar saga.  The subtle plotting and political manouvring is as cunning and well thought out as before but this time there is the added bonus of the point of view of Kevin, a Midkemian slave, whose ideas force the Tsurani to reevaluate their inflexible codes of honour.  Plus, for the voyeuristic reader, Kevin and Mara do it like rabbits throughout the whole book.  In fact, it seems to be their answer to every situation; they're scared, so they have sex, they're happy, so they have sex, they're angry, so they have sex (and so on).  Don't get me wrong, it sounds like a damn good way of dealing with life if you ask me, but I doubt it's feasibility.  The scenes linking the novel with the Riftwar books are the best because we get a whole new perspective on things like Pug's furious destruction of the Great Arena and the despatching of Tsurani warriors to fight with their former enemies at Sethanon.  All in all an excellent book, even better than the first one.
5 out of 5
'The breeze died.'
Star Bores
by Steve Barlow & Steve Skidmore
As you've probably guessed, this is a parody of Star Wars.  But wait!  You actually get two parodies for the price of one in that this book contains 'Star Bores' and also 'Star Bores: The Prequel'.  Generally speaking, this book is more amusing than it is funny, lacking the really sharp satirical content that would set it apart.  I did, however, like the idea that the Jello Knights are basically a group of intergalactic vagrants who allow the Republic to fall through sheer incompetence.  I was also amused by the character of Count Dookula, who is constantly becoming confused as to which Christopher Lee character he is (ie Dooku, Dracula, Saruman, Scaramanga etc) and is decidedly unhappy when, after 200 movies, it actually looks like he might triumph over the heroes.  Then there's the Padme Amidala knock-off, an overweight nymphomaniac called Prodme Allova.  This book is worth a read for a bit of fun but don't expect anything too clever.
4 out of 5
'Patrolbeing Fibaci of the Galactic Police lounged in the saddle of his gleaming spacecycle as it hovered in a parking orbit behind a small asteroid.'
Star Trek: Spectre
by William Shatner, Judith Reeves-Stevens & Garfield Reeves-Stevens
This book is ideal for anyone who has watched too much Star Trek as it carefully stitches together parts of the various series', weaving them around a fascinating new story about the so-called Mirror Universe.  First, you have to understand that Captain Kirk has been resurrected in the TNG/DS9/Voyager era, once you've accepted that you can get on and enjoy the story.  Kirk becomes involved with the mirror-Janeway and a Vulcan who is the daughter of mirror-Spock, discovering a plot by the mirror-baddies to steal Federation technology.  Meanwhile, Picard and the Enterprise crew discover the long-missing U.S.S Voyager, or at least, they think they do.  The most interesting element of this book is seeing the mirror versions of familiar characters (particularly mirror-Picard).  Fans of the old Star Trek crew will be overjoyed by the scene which has Kirk (resurrected), Spock (still alive), McCoy (still alive, but mostly bionic!) and Scotty (trapped in a transporter for decades then released in TNG) together again in the face of danger.
5 out of 5
'"He's still alive," the Vulcan said.
Star Trek: Dark Victory
by William Shatner, Judith Reeves-Stevens & Garfield Reeves-Stevens
Kirk's wife is mysteriously poisoned and a secret branch of the Federation has plans to use him against his mirror universe counterpart, Tiberius.  However, Kirk decides to set out on a quest of his own to find Tiberius and a cure for his wife.  This book is a disappointment after 'Spectre', but is nonetheless an interesting new Trek story, particularly note worthy for how it shows Kirk trying to deal with his new life.
3 out of 5
'The Enterprise hung dead in space, surrounded by the floating ruin of the crossover device, like an ancient sunken vessel shrouded in kelp and debris.'
Star Trek: Preserver
by William Shatner, Judith Reeves-Stevens & Garfield Reeves-Stevens
The Kirk/Mirror Universe trilogy continues it's downward slide with this largely disappointing effort.  The story of the secret organisation within the Federation is interesting, but the resurrection of the Preserves from a not-particularly-good episode of the Original Series was quite uninspiring.  I also found Kirk and Tiberius getting almost friendly, ridiculous, and Tiberius' moral turn around at the end of the book even more so.  Finally, the fact that Teilani doesn't make it gives the entire book (and the previous one) a feeling of pointlessness.
2 out of 5
'All was chaos.'
Star Wars: Tales Of The Jedi - Dark Lords Of The Sith
(Graphic Novel with art by Chris Gossett, Art Wetherell, Mike Barreiro and Jordi Ensign)
Set nearly four thousand years before 'A New Hope', this is one of the best Star Wars graphic novels available.  It tells the story of two great Jedi Knights, Ulic Qel-Droma and Exar Kun, whose passions and ambitions (respectively) lead them to the dark side of the Force and, ultimately, to revive the Sith Order.  Ulic's is the more tragic story as it is his desire to eliminate the dark side that sets him on the path to his own destruction, but I enjoyed Kun's story more simply because Kun has that same sort of dark charisma that Darth Vader has.  This book is an important read for any Star Wars fan, but particularly for those who want to know more about the Sith or have always wondered where the temples on Yavin 4, in Episode IV, came from.
5 out of 5
Star Wars: Clone Wars - Last Stand On Jabiim
(Graphic Novel with art by Brian Ching, Victor Llamas, Jan Duursema and Dan Parsons)
The best of the Clone Wars graphic novels so far, this book tells the story of the fighting on Jabiim.  The war depicted in this book is a lot more visceral and murky than much of Star Wars, showing the truth of most military campaigns; they're dirty, uncomfortable and often fruitless.  One of my favourite elements of this book is the way the Jabiimi talk about Jedi, cutting people in half, stealing children and riding giant four-legged monsters (at which point an AT-AT lumbers over the horizon).  When Obi-Wan is apparently killed in battle (well, he obviously isn't, but still...) Anakin goes off the rails, using the old Force-choke for the first time.  He then finds himself partnered with the Tusken Jedi A'Sharad Hett, dredging up memories of his killing the Tusken women and children in Episode II.  A great read this.
5 out of 5
Star Wars: MedStar I - Battle Surgeons
People expecting a Star Wars epic will be disappointed.  People expecting battles and lightsaber duels will be disappointed.  People expecting this book to combine elements of the authors' previous Star Wars novels ('Darth Maul - Shadow Hunter' and 'Shadows of the Empire') will also be disappointed.  Basically, anyone with any expectations for this book will be disappointed.  The story is about a group of battle surgeons (duh!) on Drongar during the Clone Wars, to whom very little happens and whose characters develop very little.  Don't get me wrong, this book is well written, but at no point does it justify the fact that it was written, telling us nothing new about the war, the Force or the only two recognisable characters (Barriss Offee and I-5YQ).  Some Star Wars books are essential reading but this one is certainly not.  Also (like 'Shatterpoint', which was an 'Apocalypse Now' rip-off), the fact that 'Battle Surgeons' is clearly just 'M.A.S.H' with Star Wars packaging cheapens not just the book, but the franchise in general.  I just hope that 'MedStar II - Jedi Healer' has more of a point to it.
2 out of 5
'Blood geysered, looking almost black in the antisepsis field's glow.'
Star Wars: MedStar II - Jedi Healer
This book is a much better attempt by the authors than it's predecessor.  The relationship between Jos and Tolk is actually made interesting and given some genuine romantic tension; Den and I-5YQ's discussion actually lead somewhere; Barriss actually behaves like a Jedi, exploring the Force and the line between light and dark.  Also, the nebulous tension caused by the spy in the first book is made into a more interesting and immediate threat here, as are the machinations of the Black Sun operative.  Although the book still lacks the epic scale I would expect of a Star Wars book, as well as failing to capitalise on the potential links between the authors' previous Star Wars books, it is a much better read all round.  The biggest downside is that you'll probably have to read 'Battle Surgeons' first.
4 out of 5
'In the moment, there was little time for thought.'
Star Wars: Jedi Trial
by David Sherman & Dan Cragg
This fifth novel in the Clone Wars cycle changes the pace dramatically.  The story is the battle of the important world of Praesitlyn and, interestingly, the battle spans the entire book.  The authors' experience of the armed forces makes for some good combat scenes in which there's plenty of dirt, blood and confusion.  Generally speaking, this is a far more epic story than the fairly small-scale ones that have featured in the other Clone Wars novels, which fits nicely into the Star Wars saga.  Sadly, however, events seem rushed and characters inadequately explored (particularly in the case of the romance between the stupidly-named couple Odie and Erk), giving the book and overwhelming sense of shallowness.  What I disliked most was the mercenary leader who knowingly throws his troops into impossible confrontations (outgunned and outnumbered) and then is portrayed by the authors as some sort of tactical genius.  Perhaps we should be worried for the American armed forces (rather than just worried about them! - whoa, little bit of politics!)
4 out of 5
'"Obi-Wan!" Anakin Skywalker exclaimed when the hologrammic image of Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi appeared before him.'
Star Wars: Clone Wars - When They Were Brothers
by Haden Blackman & Miles Lane
(Graphic Novel with art by Brian Ching and Nicola Scott)
This book, the seventh graphic novel in the Clone Wars series, collects the five issues of the comic 'Star Wars: Obsession', as well as the follow-up created specifically for 2005's Free Comic Book Day (it's alright, I don't know either).  The story revolves around Obi-Wan's determined belief that the Dark Jedi Asajj Ventress is still alive (despite being thrown off a roof by Anakin in 'Clone Wars: On The Fields Of Battle') and his efforts to find her.  This is one of the best Clone Wars stories, providing an excellent link between the stories that have gone before and Episode III.  There is so much here for fans to enjoy; Black Sun agents, the final fate of the double-hard bastard Durge, Anakin and Padme spending some quality time together on Naboo, the return of the ARC Trooper Alpha and a big battle in which many familiar Jedi go toe to toe with Count Dooku, General Grievous and, of course, Ventress.  The only down side is the fact that the final part of the story, the Free Comic Book Day bit, is the non-event that you'd expect from something that was given away free.
5 out of 5
Star Wars: Dark Times - The Path To Nowhere
by Welles Hartley & Mick Harrison
(Graphic Novel with art by Douglas Wheatley
The first book in a series set immediately after 'Revenge Of The Sith'.  The Jedi are on the brink of destruction, the galaxy has been conquered by the Empire and the times are truly dark.  This book focuses on Jedi Dass Jennir and the Separatist Bomo Greenbark and their quest to find Bomo's wife and daughter who were enslaved by the Empire.  In order to find their prize Dass and Bomo have to join forces with a motley crew of smugglers and Dass in particular is forced by expedience into darker and darker acts.  At first I was worried that this story would be another Jedi-walking-the-line-between-light-and-dark story a la the tales of Quinlan Vos.  However, Dass' slide towards the darkness is actually a mere shadow of the overarching sense of the galaxy sliding into darkness.  Understand that this is not like the Star Wars stories you've seen before; not only is there no happy ending here, there is an ending that is truly horrific.  A brave new direction for the franchise, but one that might not sit too comfortably for some.
4 out of 5
Star Wars: The Protocol Offensive
by Anthony Daniels, Ryder Windham & Brian Daley
(Graphic Novel with art by Igor Kordey)
A very short story, it stars the droids R2-D2 and C-3PO as they attempt to solve a murder mystery and save a planet from civil war.  An enjoyable little story that is probably the best Artoo and Threepio-orientated story so far released.  And in case you haven't realised it, C-3PO's dialogue was written by the man who brought the character to life in the films, the actor Anthony Daniels.
4 out of 5
Star Wars: Death Star
This book tells the stories of some of the individuals who lived and worked on the Death Star as it neared completion and and what happened to them when it met it's fiery end at Luke Skywalker's hands.  The best thing about this book is the fact that we get to see the Imperial perspective of 'A New Hope' and of particular interest are the thoughts of moviedom's greatest villain, Darth Vader.  However, there is a downside; pretty much everything else. There have been dozens of stories about the Death Star, it's construction, the capture of it's plans and it's demise. This book was the perfect opportunity to tie them all together into a definitive history of the Star Wars galaxy's greatest weapon, much the same way A. C. Crispin pulled together all the threads of Han Solo's past in the Han Solo Trilogy. That opportunity is not only missed, it is studiously avoided. Instead of drawing on the wealth of existing background story, Reaves and Perry use it as a chance to create another bunch of mundane nobodies, much as they did with the MedStar Duology. The authors (one of whom I usually like and one of whom I don't) don't even bother to develop the preexisting characters that they do use. We learn nothing new of Grand Moff Tarkin or Admiral Motti, except that they're ambitious and they're on the Death Star. In fact the only significant thing about any of the characters featured is that their boring lives take place on the Death Star. Basically a waste; of it's potential and of my time/money.
2 out of 5
'The alert siren screamed, a piercing wail that couldn't be ignored by any being on board with ears and a pulse.'
Star Wars: Empire - In The Shadows Of Their Fathers
by Thomas Andrews & Scott Allie
(Graphic Novel with art by Adriana Melo, Joe Corroney and Michel LaCombe)
The sixth book in the Empire series, set eight months after Episode IV.  Luke, Leia and a Rebel team travel to the planet Jabiim to convince it to join the Alliance, but find the situation far more complicated than they imagined.  The title of this book refers to Luke and resistance leader Nolan Gilmunn and is about how they inherit the conflict between their fathers.  The conflict in question happens in 'Star Wars: Clone Wars - Last Stand On Jabiim' and I think it's important for you to have read that story to really appreciate the interplay here.  Darth Vader also plays a role here, in the excellent but understated prologue in which he shows a (slightly) more diplomatic side and then later he arrives on Jabiim.  I was a little disappointed that more wasn't made of Vader's connection to Jabiim, but there you go.  This is a pretty good book, but ironically finds itself in the shadow of it's much better Clone Wars predecessor.  Also, I have to admit to being very tired of Luke and Leia's Rebel adventures, that period in Star Wars history has reached saturation point in my opinion.
4 out of 5
Star Wars: Rebellion - My Brother, My Enemy
by Rob Williams & Thomas Andrews
(Graphic Novel with art by Brandon Badeaux and Michel Lacome)
The first book in a new series set amid the height of the Rebellion's struggle.  First off, I was a little frustrated by the fact that, despite being touted as a new series, it really is just a continuation of the 'Empire' series.  In fact, you really need to have read 'Empire: The Wrong Side Of The War' to fully understand the events portrayed here.  The cynic in me just screams 'marketing scam' when someone tries to sell me the same product with a different label.  However, with all that said, this is still a good book.  It continues the story of Imperial officer Janek Sunber, who is a childhood friend of Luke Skywalker.  We get a good amount of introspection from both Janek and Luke as they question their own life choices and those of the other.  In keeping with the post-Episode III trend, the plot here is a darker one than those seen in the 'Empire' books and also a more mature one.  I was also glad to see the continued expansion of Deena Shan's character, as she loses her naievete.  Plus, the art is great, especially a double page spread showing Vader surveying the Imperial fleet from the bridge of the Executor as it ambushes the Rebels.
4 out of 5
Star Wars: Rebellion - The Ahakista Gambit
by Brandon Badeaux & Rob Williams
(Graphic Novel with art by Michel Lacombe)
The second book of the 'Rebellion' series (which is really just a rebranding of the 'Empire' series) focuses on Wyl Tarson, a peripheral character from the previous volume.  Wyl is a Rebel Alliance spy in the employ of the crimelord Raze, but his cover has been blown and Raze has implanted a bomb in Wyl's head.  He is then tasked with assembling a team of Rebel agents to assault an Imperial facility on Ahakista, all the while serving Raze's purposes.  This is something like a Star Wars version of the Dirty Dozen, with Wyl's team being made up of the Rebel Alliance's washouts.  Sadly, this book has nothing on the classic WW2 movie.  Whilst it was good to see the return of characters such as Darca Nyl and Rasha Bex, the other characters here are cliched and predictable.  Even the duel between a Dark Jedi and Darth Vader failed to capture my interest.
2 out of 5
Star Wars: Galaxies - The Ruins Of Dantooine
by Voronica Whitney-Robinson & Haden Blackman
I'll start by saying that I was sour towards this book before I even read it, because those plonkers at Lucasfilm cancelled a Clone Wars novel in favour of it.  My mood didn't improve with reading.  Frankly, this book is little more than an overblown advert for the 'Galaxies' computer game and I think that is a terrible abuse of fans, luring them into buying an item just so you can advertise another (more expensive, I might add) item.  The core story is a quite pointless planet hopping adventure for a very transparent character named Finn Darktrin (the revelation about him at the end is about as surprising as the fact the sun came up this morning) and a simpleton woman called Dusque Mistflier, who has to have every single event explained to her.  By far the worst thing about the book is the way it seems to be a catalogue of items to be found in the game.  The planets they visit are described like they probably are in the game's manual, every location has to include a zoological break down of what creatures might be encountered there and there's even a scene where Finn and Dusque stand around taking about a series of weapons and their specifications.  It's not all bad (thank the Force, or whatever else takes your fancy), the prologue being actually quite good in that it shows Naboo as occupied by the Empire as well as a feared Imperial Inquisitor being made to seem pretty meek compared to the might of Darth Vader.  Cameos are always good in a Star Wars book and here we get some by Vader, Luke, Leia, Lando, Han, Chewbacca, the Droids, Wedge and Nym (from the 'Starfighter' and 'Jedi Starfighter' computer games).  However, rather than being a device for tying the fiction franchise together, the cameos here seem more like they're crammed in just to give the book some credibility.  They fail.
1 out of 5
'A light rain misted the hillside.'
Star Wars: Mara Jade - By The Emperor's Hand
(Graphic Novel with art by Carlos Ezquerra)
The story of how Mara Jade goes from being the Emperor's most trusted assassin to being an interplanetary vagrant.  When Zahn and Stackpole bring their two best female characters together (Mara and Ysanne Isard) then this book is great.  Sadly, however, the storyline in which Mara goes after Black Nebula is pretty poor and the Nebula has none of the sinister promise that Black Sun and Xizor did.  So much more could've been done with this excellent character by these two excellent authors that you will be disappointed.
3 out of 5
Star Wars: X-Wing Rogue Squadron - The Phantom Affair
(Graphic Novel with art by Edvin Biukovic, John Nadeau, Jordi Ensign and Gary Erskine)
One of the best of the eight X-Wing graphic novels, this story is about the Rogue attempting to gain possession of a cloaking device by bidding against the Imperial representative, Loka Hask.  Through a brilliant flashback sequence, we learn that Hask is responsible for the atrocity that led Wedge to join the Rebellion in the first place, raising the tension nicely.  When it's revealed that the local scientists have also developed a powerful superweapon, it becomes a race to see who can get hold of it first.
5 out of 5
Star Wars: X-Wing Rogue Squadron - The Warrior Princess
by Michael A. Stackpole and Scott Tolson
(Graphic Novel with art by John Nadeau and Jordi Ensign)
Stackpole and Tolson use the fate of Tsar Nicolas and his family to bring us one of the most interesting concepts in the Star Wars franchise; Anastasia in a Galaxy Far, Far Away.  This blending of history and space opera makes this another great graphic novel and the book that got me hooked on the adventures of Rogue Squadron's X-Wing jockeys.
5 out of 5
Star Wars: X-Wing Rogue Squadron - Requiem For A Rogue
by Michael A. Stackpole, Jan Strnad and Mike W. Barr
(Graphic Novel with art by Gary Erskine)
Probably the worst X-Wing graphic novel, this is a fairly uninspiring tale for the Rogues.  Somehow this book even manages to make the inclusion of a Sith temple and two dark side adepts seem mundane.  It is marginally redeemed by the prologue (featuring the Rogues, aka 'Red Squadron', shortly before the events of 'A New Hope') and by the introduction by John Fass Morton, who played one of the Rogues (Dack) in 'The Empire Strikes Back'.
2 out of 5
Star Wars: Crimson Empire
by Mike Richardson and Randy Stradley
(Graphic Novel with art by Paul Gulacy and P. Craig Russel)
Linking in with the events of Tom Veitch's Dark Empire trilogy of graphic novels, this book is simply one of the best Star Wars comics available.  It focuses on Kir Kanos, one of the last two of the Emperor's personal Guard, and his quest for revenge on the other survivor, Carnor Jax, who betrayed Palpatine.  Kanos' quest brings him into alliance with Mirith Sinn of the New Republic, but their growing respect and affection conflicts strongly with their duties and loyalties.  Meanwhile, Jax is turning the might of the Empire towards the hunt for Kanos, leading to several spectacularly presented battles scenes (in which we see Rogue Squadron and Wedge Antilles' Super Star Destroyer Lusankya in action).  Finally, in true Star Wars tradition, it comes down to a duel between Kanos and Jax.  A brilliant book and perfect for any Star Wars fan.
5 out of 5
Star Wars: Crimson Empire II - Council Of Blood
by Mike Richardson and Randy Stradley
(Graphic Novel with art by Paul Gulacy and Randy Emberlin)
Kir Kanos takes on the identity of a bounty hunter in order to seek revenge on the members of the Imperial Ruling Council who had helped Carnor Jax betray the Emperor.  Meanwhile, Mirith Sinn investigates Grappa the Hutt's connection to the Black Sun crime syndicate.  This sequel is a disappointment in many ways, lacking the action, style and Star Warsness of it's predecessor.  Understandably, the writers wanted to avoid making a clone (Ha! That's a pun you'd get if you'd read the book) of 'Crimson Empire', but I feel they went too far in another direction and lost what made that other book great.  Ofsetting the book's failings ever so slightly is the fact that we actually get an early look at Nom Anor's machinations in preparation for the Yuuzhan Vong invasion.
3 out of 5
Star Wars: Young Jedi Knights - Jedi Shadow
An omnibus containing the first three books of the YJK series; 'Heirs of the Force', 'Shadow Academy' and 'The Lost Ones'.  The stories are well written and the two new characters Lowbacca and Tenel Ka are, in fact, far more interesting than Jacen and Jaina, the kids of Han and Leia (if you didn't know).  'Heirs of the Force' is a good stable beginning to the series, developing the bonds between the main characters as they face an Imperial pilot in the jungles, but the story as a whole is rather boring.  'Shadow Academy' is far more interesting as it reveals that the insidious Second Imperium has tasked the Dark Jedi Brakiss with creating elite dark warriors to fight the Jedi.  Brakiss' attempts to turn Jacen, Jaina and Lowbacca and their resistance makes for compelling reading.  However, it is the secondary story in which Luke and Tenel Ka must go undercover on Dathomir that holds far greater interest.  'The Lost Ones' is, in my humble (Ha!) opinion, the best of the three stories as it introduces the troubled urchin Zekk, whose life in the darkness of Coruscant leads him away from his friends, Jacen and Jaina, and towards the dark side.  A good book to get you into the YJK series, which is essential reading for any Star Wars fan young or old.
4 out of 5
'Jacen Solo had stayed at Luke Skywalker's Jedi academy for about a month before he managed to set up his room the way he wanted it.'
Star Wars: Young Jedi Knights - Lightsabers
Here Jacen, Jaina, Tenel Ka and Lowbacca are tasked by Luke Skywalker with building their own lightsabers as the next stage in their Jedi training.  One of this book's best elements is that it shows that even these goody-goody young Jedi are not above pride and the mistakes it causes.  We also get a good look at Hapes in this book, something not seen in any other Star Wars novel to date.  It is, however, a slightly sugar coated Hapes, obviously because the cruel selfish infanticidal Hapes mentioned in 'The Courtship of Princess Leia' isn't suitable for younger readers.  The best thing about this book is Zekk's training at the Shadow Academy, in which he must confront his rival Vilas in a fight to the death.
4 out of 5
'Daybreak at last spilled across the treetops on Yavin 4, where Luke Skywalker, Jedi Master, listened to the stirring, rustling sounds of the awakening jungle.'
Star Wars: Young Jedi Knights - Darkest Knight
An excellent book which takes us to the Wookiee homeworld of Kashyyyk (no, I don't know how you pronounce three 'y's either!).  We learn alot more about Lowbacca and his past here, much as we learned about Tenel Ka in 'Lightsabers'.  The secondary story of the book has Zekk, the Darkest Knight of the title, leading his first mission for the Shadow Academy, a mission that draws him into direct conflict with his old friends.  Zekk is by far my favourite character in the YJK series and here he must truly confront his split loyalty.  Another great element to this book involves the young Jedi taking on the vicious Nightsisters in the forests of Kashyyyk (Kash-eek, maybe?).
5 out of 5
'The Massassi trees that towered over Yavin 4's jungles were smaller than the enormous wroshyr trees on the Wookiee homeworld, but Lowbacca considered them to be the next best thing.'
Star Wars: Young Jedi Knights - Jedi Under Siege
The final part of the Shadow Academy, sub-series.  Without a doubt the best book in the series and a fairly strong contender for one of the best books in the Star Wars franchise.  The Second Imperium and the Shadow Academy are about to unleash their fury and their forces against the Jedi Academy on Yavin 4 and only the young Jedi stand in their way.  The book is basically one big battle, beginning when the Shadow Academy appears above Yavin 4 and Imperial infiltrators bring down the moon's shields and progressing on various fronts.  Jacen copilots for the freighter captain Peckhum, Jaina steals a TIE-Fighter to fly against the Imperials, Tenel Ka and Lowbacca confront Stormtroopers and Nightsisters and the Academy's young Jedi battle their dark counterparts in the jungles of Yavin 4.  This isn't an emotional exploration of the characters (although Zekk's divided loyalties make a good sub-plot), that's covered in the series' other books.  Make no mistake, this is action and strategy all the way and, frankly, I loved it.  Nice to see Lando and Admiral Ackbar in action again too.
5 out of 5 
'In the uncertain predawn light, Jaina watched her uncle, Luke Skywalker, maneuver the Shadow Chaser into the Jedi academy's hangar bay at the base of the Great Temple.'
Star Wars: Young Jedi Knights - Shards Of Alderaan
The first book in the Diversity Alliance sub-series.  Jacen, Jaina and their friends travel to the Graveyard of Alderaan (that's all the rubble left from when the Death Star blew it up) in order to find a gift for Leia's birthday; although, bizarrely, they completely forget the fact that Luke and Leia are twins, so it's his birthday too (poor fella probably sat in his room singing 'happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me...').  It is in the Graveyard that they encounter a deadly enemy from the past in a welcome return to the character second only to Darth Vader in coolness, Boba Fett.  The book isn't anything spectacular and is very disappointing after 'Jedi Under Siege', but it does begin to hint at larger events to be covered in later books.
3 out of 5
'Morning mists clung to the rubble of the Great Temple, making the huge stone blocks dangerously slippery as the repair crews set to work.'
Star Wars: Young Jedi Knights - Diversity Alliance
The young Jedi Raynar Thul's father, Bornan Thul, has disappeared under odd circumstances and he asks Jacen, Jaina and the other Jedi-in-training to help him in his search.  I liked the fact that their search takes them to Kuar, a planet from 'The Sith War' comics series, it's another one of those little things that helps bind the franchise together, as is the reappearance of IG-88, one of the bounty hunters from 'The Empire Strikes Back'.  Zekk's career as a bounty hunter leads him into perilous encounters with the ever-so-cool Boba Fett and he begins to uncover a sinister plot by the human-hating Diversity Alliance.  This shadow of a threat adds a great deal of tension to the book and, indeed, to the series, making it alot more fun to read.  Beware of the gruesome scene involving one of the villains actually eating a prisoner alive, though.
3 out of 5
'The ragtag group of ships drifted through space, maintaining silence, broadcasting no telltale signal that could give away their location.'
Star Wars: Young Jedi Knights - Delusions Of Grandeur
The young Jedi attempt to find Tyko Thul who, like his brother Bornan, has mysteriously disappeared.  There's not really alot to this book but it is redeemed by appearances by the classic bounty hunters Boba Fett, Dengar and IG-88, as well as a return to Mechis III, the Droid world featured in Anderson's short story about IG-88 for the 'Tales of the Bounty Hunters' anthology.  It was also interesting to see Lusa (the horse-girl from Vonda McIntyre's 'The Crystal Star') as she is after years of anti-human indoctrination by the Diversity Alliance.  Nolaa Tarkona continues to show she is a sinister bitch as she puts an end to the Imperial Guardsman who escaped at the end of 'Jedi Under Siege'.
3 out of 5
'A knock at the wooden door startled Jaina Solo out of her reverie.'
Star Wars: Young Jedi Knights - Jedi Bounty
The young Jedi travel to Ryloth to rescue Lowbacca from the Diversity Alliance.  However, the human-hating organisation captures them and has no intention of allowing them to disturb their plans to seduce Lowie into their organisation.  I enjoyed the detailed look at Ryloth (home of the Twi'leks) we get in this book but generally, there is nothing remarkable here.  A fair next step in the series, but far from groundbreaking.  To be honest, though, I've never like scenes where the heroes are imprisoned for long periods of time and this is basically the main body of the book.
2 out of 5
'Jacen Solo added another branch to the small campfire.'
Star Wars: Young Jedi Knights - The Emperor's Plague
The conclusion of the Diversity Alliance sub-series involves the two opposing forces, the genocidal Diversity Alliance and the New Republic, racing to reach a remote asteroid where the Emperor hid a vast supply of deadly biological weapons.  There is another plot, in which Luke and the Jedi Knight Cilghal lead a group of New Republic ambassadors to Ryloth to investigate the Alliance's base and this plot is every bit as tense and exciting as the main one.  IG-88 is back in action here and Boba Fett's part in the story will surprise you with how it reveals the hunter's true code of conduct.  A good end to the sub-series, but not a patch on 'Jedi Under Siege'.
4 out of 5
'After days of recuperation, Jaina Solo steadied herself on the edge of the bacta tank, dripping.'
Star Wars: Young Jedi Knights - Return To Ord Mantell
The start of a new sub-series within the YJK series has Black Sun, the criminal organisation from 'Shadows of the Empire' beginning to rear it head.  On Ord Mantell (the planet with the bounty hunter that Han mentions in 'The Empire Strikes Back') Han is confronted by a ghost from his past in the form of Anja Gallandro, daughter of Gallandro the gunslinger from the Han Solo Adventures trilogy (classics!).  In general, the story is nothing remarkable but the inclusion of Anja, as well as cameos by the Jedi Knights Kyp Durron and Streen make this book worth the read.
3 out of 5
'The tree stood in the middle of a small jungle clearing, its gnarled, woody tentacles writhing through the air in search of prey.'
Star Wars: Young Jedi Knights - Trouble On Cloud City
A slighty ridiculous plot device, in which the young Jedi stumble across a Black Sun plot whilst testing a theme park for Lando Calrissian, is thankfully overshadowed by the exciting story of murder and intrigue set on the wonderfully described Cloud City.  The tensions between the characters is particularly interesting here, of special note being the fact that Jaina and Tenel Ka are jealous of Anja Gallandro's affect on Zekk and Jacen, a very believable situation for teenagers, as well as Tenel Ka's reaction when she believes she has lost Jacen.  That brings me onto the book's best scene in which Jacen falls from a speeding Cloud Car and falls down into Bespin's bottomless atmosphere; I won't spoil it by telling you how he gets out of that particular certain-death scenario.
4 out of 5
'Jaina Solo, daughter of the legendary pilot and smuggler Han Solo, ran through the dense jungles of Yavin 4 as if her life depended on it.'
Star Wars: Young Jedi Knights - Crisis At Crystal Reef
The final part of the Black Sun sub-series.  Black Sun is on the brink of taking control of the New Republic and Anja Gallandro, in the grip of drug (sorry, 'spice') addiction, has fled from Yavin 4 and her young Jedi friends.  The Jedi set off in search of her but in the course of their search a threat to Nien Numb (the funny looking alien in the Millennium Falcon with Lando in 'Return of the Jedi'), administrator of Kessel's spice mines, is uncovered and Jaina and Lowbacca must face an army of Black Sun enforcers.  Meanwhile the other Jedi travel to Mon Calamari and end up searching for a spice cache deep beneath it's oceans.  Once again, an interesting look at the planets in question, Mon Calamari and Kessel, but nothing to stand up and dance about.  Cameo appearance by the Jedi Knight Cilghal, though.
3 out of 5
'On the grassy landing field in front of the Jedi academy's Great Temple, and old-model cargo ship gleamed in the morning sun.'
Star Wars: The New Jedi Order - Force Heretic: Remnant
by Sean Williams & Shane Dix
The first and best of the Force Heretic trilogy, this novel charts the beginning of two very different missions.  Luke decides to take a team of Jedi in search of the long-lost planet Zonama Sekot, which he believes may be the key to defeating the Yuuzhan Vong.  Han and Leia are given command of a task force and set off to reestablish communications with worlds cut off by the Vong invasion.  There is also a sub-story in which a fleeing Nom Anor finds an unlikely place among the Shamed Ones deep in the bowels of Yuuzhan'tar.  This book has several excellent scenes, my two favourites being the arrival of the Jedi in Imperial space amid a great battle and Jaina's discovery that the Yevethans (the genocidal aliens, much like the Vong, from the Black Fleet trilogy) have faced the Vong with cataclysmic consequences.  I was very glad to see Gilad Pellaeon back in action but less gladened by the hints that a long boring sub-plot about Tahiri's loyalties was in the offing.  Williams and Dix are a talented team and their style lends itself excellently to Star Wars' mixture of action, philosophy and politics.
5 out of 5
'Saba Sebatyne knew the moment she emerged from hyperspace that Barab I was burning.'
Star Wars: The New Jedi Order - Force Heretic: Refugee
by Sean Williams & Shane Dix
This book features two main storylines.  One follows Luke and a group of Jedi into Chiss (that's Grand Admiral Thrawn's species) space in search of the living world Zonama Sekot and the other has Han and Leia returning to the planet Bakura with a Galactic Alliance task force.  The latter means we get to see what's changed on Bakura since 'The Truce At Bakura' as well as the plots the Vong will use to weaken the Bakurans and their former enemies, the Ssi-ruuk.  It made an interesting change to have an NJO battlescene that didn't feature the Vong too.  I'll admit I'm sick to death of Tahiri's internal conflict and the relationship between Jag and Jaina is more than a bit insipid.  The better story here is the one following Luke, Mara and the other Jedi.  We finally get to see Csilla, homeworld of the enigmatic Chiss, and also we get a glimpse of how Chiss politics often conflicts with their code of honour.  And there's a welcome return for Baron Soontir Fel too.  The sub-plot about Nom Anor's rise among the Shamed Ones drags in places, but suggests that this excellent villain may have a larger part to play in later novels.
4 out of 5
'The man who was no longer a man stood before an alien who was not what it seemed.'
Star Wars: The New Jedi Order - Force Heretic: Reunion
by Sean Williams & Shane Dix
Luke's Jedi team reaches the near mythical planet Zonama Sekot, whilst elsewhere the Galactic Alliance has to ally with the Imperial Remnant to protect a vital communications relay.  Once again, this book is basically two storylines and once again Luke's one is better.  We discover more about the remarkable world of Zonama Sekot (first revealed in the prequel-era novel 'Rogue Planet') and see how it's flight through hyperspace into the Unknown Regions has changed it's people and Sekot, it's planetary consciousness.  It is here that we have this book's finest moment, when Luke and Jacen discover that it was on this world decades earlier that Anakin Skywalker first used the dark side to kill.  This is a true revelation for Luke and Jacen and, I think, very important to their character development.  The second story is not as good, but includes a dramatic battle which is commanded by Gilad Pellaeon, a character who is honourable yet ruthless and who I can't get enough of.  Tahiri's internal conflict is finally resolved too, which is good, because it was really starting to bore me.  Finally, it's good to see Nom Anor showing his true sinister genius rather than just being the lackey that some of the NJO books reduced him to.
4 out of 5
'Neither moved; neither spoke.'
Star Wars: Legacy - Broken
by John Ostrander & Jan Duursema
(Graphic Novel with art by Jan Duursema and Dan Parsons)
The first book of the most innovative Star Wars story ever, this story begins 126 years after 'Return of the Jedi'.  The galaxy has changed dramatically in the century since the times of Han, Luke and Leia.  The Empire rules the galaxy again, this time led and policed by a vast new Sith Order.  However, a rebel Empire exists under the command of Emperor Roan Fel.  Meanwhile the Jedi Order is once again scattered and it's most lauded apprentice, Cade Skywalker, has became a ruthless pirate.  Naturally, Cade is the main character here and it is him that both the 'Legacy' and the 'Broken' of the title refer to.  Worn down by the weight of the Skywalker legacy, he is torn between his Jedi upbringing and the ruthless life he has chosen for himself.  My favourite bit of this book is where Cade, on the verge of shooting up with 'death sticks' has a heated argument with Luke Skywalker's ghost (a la Ben Kenobi).  Action fans won't be disappointed as this book is packed with fierce Jedi versus Sith action.  However, what I enjoyed the most was simply exploring the new ideas of the distant Star Wars future, from the Yuuzhan Vong armour wearing Darth Krayt to the Imperial Knights (think a cross between the Jedi and the Emperor's Red Guard).  Also worth a special mention is Darth Talon, a relentless assassin who's kind of like a sexy female Darth Maul.
5 out of 5
Star Wars: Legacy - Shards
by John Ostrander & Jan Duursema
(Graphic Novel with art by Adam DeKraker, Travel Foreman, Colin Wilson, Jan Duursema and Dan Parsons)
The second book of the series lives up to it's title by being a collection of shorter tales, mostly written solo by Ostrander, from across the new galactic landscape of the Legacy era.  The first takes us back into the prologue of 'Broken' and reveals the machinations behind the Sith's usurping of the throne and Roan Fel's escape.  The second tale jumps us back to the future to tell the story of a squad of Stormtroopers forced by the Sith to fight against their brethren loyal to Fel.  This is by far the best story on offer here, being about the bond between soldiers on the front lines and featuring a nicely sinister Sith called Darth Maleval.  The next story follows the hunt for Cade Skywalker by the Empire.  There is also a subplot involving a meeting between Fel's agents and the remnant of the Galactic Alliance (the Legacy era's Rebel Alliance), but it never really develops to any depth.  The best element of this story is the introduction of Imperial agent Morrigan Corde, who has an interesting relationship with Cade.  The penultimate story has Emperor Roan Fel doing battle with a Sith assassin in an old-fashioned comic book mosh-up.  The final story reaquaints us with Cade himself as he is forced to confront his emotional demons in order to complete his Jedi training.  These stories are all entertaining as far as they go, but due to their length none of them develop to the same depth and quality as the story in 'Broken'.  This book is worth reading, if only for the return of fan favourite Jedi K'kruhk and his gift to Cade ("I, too, hav a gift for you - this is Artoo Detoo.").
4 out of 5
Star Wars: Legacy - Claws Of The Dragon
by John Ostrander & Jan Duursema
(Graphic Novel with art by Jan Duursema and Dan Parsons)
The third book of the series sees Cade infiltrate Coruscant in the hopes of rescuing Jedi Hosk Trey'lis.  He is soon captured by the Sith, however, and begins his induction into their ranks.  Meanwhile, Cade's friends gather and formulate a plan to rescue him.  I enjoyed this book a great deal, as we see a new aspect of Cade's struggle with the dark side, not to mention his friends overcoming their distrust of him.  Sadly, however, the book's strong story is somewhat overpowered by a series of revelations about characters we thought we knew.  The most significant of this is finding out who Darth Krayt used to be.  This makes for the book's best moment when Krayt (before he was Krayt) battles Obi-Wan Kenobi outside a certain moisture farm on Tatooine.  The downside of this awesome scene is that it makes much of the rest of the book look less good by comparison.  Overall, very good but not perfect.
4 out of 5
Superman: Sacrifice
by Greg Rucka, Mark Verheiden & Gail Simone
(Graphic Novel with art by Ed Benes, John Byrne, Karl Kerschl, Rags Morales, David Lopez, Ron Randall, Derec Donovan, Georges Jeanty, Tom Derenick, Tony Daniel, Alex Lei, Rob Lea, Mariah Benes, Nelson, Bit, Mark Propst, Dexter Vines, Rob Petrecca, Cam Smith, Sean Parsons and Marlo Alquiza)
Part of the 'Countdown to Infinite Crisis' series.  As this book begins the people of Metropolis are beginning to consider the dangers of their favourite hero out of control, which is only exacerbated by his devastating battle with Blackrock.  Superman is then caught in a series of vivid delusions in which he witnesses old enemies brutally murdering Lois, causing a violent reaction.  Eventually the Justice League confronts Supes with the truth; during his delusions he was actually beating Batman to the brink of death.  It is discovered that the Man of Steel is under the influence of Max Lord and soon Wonder Woman is forced into a titanic conflict with her friend (a section of the story which is also printed in 'The OMAC Project', for some reason) before being forced to kill Lord.  This book is brilliant in the way it's story forces a wedge between the previously unshakeable DC trinity.  Superman can no longer be trusted, Wonder Woman has become a murderer and Batman falls deeper and deeper into distrust and paranoia.  Despite not being a Superman fan at all, I really enjoyed this book, not least for the return of the Eradicator in the final chapter.
5 out of 5

'Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realise that we cannot eat money.'

FSFH Book Review - Fantasy - Science Fiction - Horror - Book Review - Hardback - Paperback - Comics TPB - Anthologies - Star Wars - Book Review - FSFH Book Review - Fantasy - Science Fiction - Horror - Book Review - Hardback - Paperback - Comics TPB - Anthologies - Star Wars - Book Review - FSFH Book Review - Fantasy - Science Fiction - Horror - Book Review - Hardback - Paperback - Comics TPB - Anthologies - Star Wars - Book Review