FSFH Book Review

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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
The Books of James Luceno

James Luceno (who has written several novels with the late Brian Daley under the pseudonym Jack McKinney) is well known for his ability to work with other people's material, having written for the Star Wars and Young Indiana Jones franchises, as well as two movie novelisations.  He lives in Annapolis, Maryland.
Average Review Score: 4.9 out of 5

Star Wars: Darth Maul - Saboteur
This e-book (later published in the paperback edition of 'Star Wars: Darth Maul - Shadow Hunter' by Michael Reaves) serves as a prelude to 'Cloak Of Deception' as well as 'Shadow Hunter' itself.  The Sith Lord Darth Sidious has decided to make his play for galactic domination, but to do so, he must gain the service of the Trade Federation's Neimoidian officers.  Sidious despatches Darth Maul to Dorvalla, where the miners have been resisting Federation control, in order to impress the Neimoidians.  The rest of the story revolves around Maul killing everyone in sight.  It's not a bad read, albeit rather limited, and I would say that it's better than 'Shadow Hunter' by a long shot.
4 out of 5
'Nearly every world in the Videnda sector had something to recommend it - warm saline seas, verdant forests, arable grasslands that stretched to distant horizons.'
Star Wars: Cloak Of Deception
A prequel to 'The Phantom Menace' (which is, of course, itself a prequel!).  Political turmoil engulfs the Republic and a trade summit is called at the urging of Senator Palpatine (that sinister bastard!).  However, a group of pirates and terrorists threaten the summit and Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi must disobey the wishes of the Jedi Council to prevent disaster.  Luceno is a true master at weaving the disparate strands of the Expanded Universe together whilst still maintaining a strong narrative of his own.  The story of Qui-Gon's quest and the political manoeuvring would be enough to make a good book on it's own, but Luceno doesn't stop there.  There are too many cameo appearances to count, but a few are; Jorus C'baoth (the Jedi whose mad clone threatens Luke in the Thrawn Trilogy), Darsha Assant and Anoon Bondara (from 'Darth Maul - Shadow Hunter), Vergere (from the New Jedi Order series) and Sate Pestage (who becomes Emperor in the X-Wing comics).  Definitely the best prequel-era novel released so far.
5 out of 5
'Luxuriating in the unfailing light of countless stars, the Trade Federation freighter Revenue lazed to the edge of Dorvalla's veil of alabaster clouds.'
Star Wars: Labyrinth Of Evil
The prelude to the upcoming 'Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith'.  Luceno once again works his magic at tying together the various threads of the franchise.  This book serves as a summing up of all of the events of the prequels and the Clone Wars, as well as driving on towards the final phase of the story of the fall of Anakin Skywalker.  The story involves the Jedi finding clues to the mysterious Sith Lord Darth Sidious and through this story, all the remaining pieces of the puzzle fall into place for the unmasking of Sidious in Episode III (as if we didn't already know it's Palpatine!).  It is this mission that Anakin and Obi-Wan embark on and gives us a good understanding of their much changed characters and relationship (Obi-Wan is on the Jedi Council, whilst Anakin is now a Knight - not to mention a borderline psychotic).  I enjoyed the fact that we also get to experience events from the point of view of the villains who've been kept fairly secretive thus far, Dooku and General Grievous.  Throughout the story Luceno weaves in subtle references to the rest of the EU, as well as explaining some of the mysteries of Episodes I and II.  The book's final third involves the Separatist attack on Coruscant, which is where 'Revenge of the Sith' is set to begin.  A great book for fans, but also anyone wanting a sneaky peek at what to expect in the final Star Wars prequel.
5 out of 5
'Darkness was encroaching on Cato Neimoidia's western hemisphere, though exchanges of coherent light high above the beleaguered world ripped looming night to shreds.'
Star Wars: Dark Lord - The Rise Of Darth Vader
When combined with 'Labyrinth Of Evil' and the 'Revenge Of The Sith' novelisation (by Matthew Stover), this book becomes the concluding part of a loose trilogy which tells the story of the end of the Clone Wars, the fall of Anakin and the consolidation of the Empire.  This book can be divided into roughly three parts.  The first is set within the timeframe of Episode III and features a brilliantly written Republic assault on a Separatist homeworld.  During the battle, however, the Jedi there are caught in Order 66.  This becomes the book's best moment, when a squad of Clone Commandos refuses the Order and springs an ambush on a group of clones intent on killing the Jedi.  The story's second phase features the Jedi attempting to escape the Empire's grasp and gather their scattered brethren, whilst Darth Vader tries to adapt to his new role as the Emperor's emissary.  The final section of the book is the best overall as the Jedi gather on Kashyyyk and Vader leads an attack intended to destroy them and enslave the Wookiees (to be used in constructing the Death Star).  The Battle of Kashyyyk portrayed here is far better than the one we saw in 'Revenge Of The Sith', not least for the lightsaber duel between Master Roan Shryne and Vader amidst a rain of debris and turbolaser fire.  Chewbacca fans (like me!) will be glad to see him in action again, I daresay.  This is another excellent book by Luceno, second only to 'The Unifying Force' really, which ends the transition from the irritating and emotional Anakin Skywalker to the dark and menacing Vader that we see in the classic trilogy.  My only problem with the book was that it didn't have as many EU references as I've come to expect from Luceno, but hey, you can't have everything.
5 out of 5
'Dropping into swirling clouds conjured by Murkhana's weather stations, Roan Shryne was reminded of meditation sessions his former Master had guided him through.'
Star Wars: The New Jedi Order - Agents Of Chaos I: Hero's Trial
Luceno's talent for combining a good story with plenty of familiar characters is in clear evidence here, in the fourth NJO novel.  Han Solo, broken by the loss of his best friend Chewbacca, withdraws from his family and friends.  However, the return of his old friend Roa (a character from 'The Han Solo Adventures' by Brian Daley - a good friend of Luceno's) convinces Han to take up the path of the lonely rogue once more.  Meanwhile, the Vong have begun a plan to infiltrate the New Republic and destroy the Jedi.  The story is exceptionally well written, particularly the creation of the new species, the Ryn, but the cameos really make the book.  Look out for appearances by characters from the Corellian Trilogy, the Black Fleet Crisis Trilogy, 'The Han Solo Adventures' and even the bounty hunter Bossk (from 'The Empire Strikes Back').
5 out of 5
'If the system's primary was distressed by the events that had transpired on and about the fourth closest of its brood, it betrayed nothing to the naked eye.'
Star Wars: The New Jedi Order - Agents Of Chaos II: Jedi Eclipse
Han Solo and his new copilot Droma continue their search for Han's friend Roa and Droma's family, taking them through the darker side of the Star Wars galaxy.  Luceno also runs two other brilliant storylines through the book; Leia's efforts to bring the Hapans (from 'The Courtship Of Princess Leia') into the war and the mission of the Jedi Wurth Skidder, who allows himself to be captured by the Vong.  By now, Luceno has long-since proven himself to be an asset to the Star Wars franchise and this excellent novel, which adds to stories written years ago, is another triumph.
5 out of 5
'It was morning in Gyndine's capital city, though that fact was scarcely evident to anyone on the surface.'
Star Wars: The New Jedi Order - The Unifying Force
The 19th (!) and final NJO novel.  Lucasbooks drafted in the right man for the job too.  Luceno's ability to weave the Star Wars franchise together around a strong original story makes him the perfect author to wrap up the disparate threads of the NJO series.  The war between the Galactic Alliance and the Yuuzhan Vong builds towards a climatic end as the intelligent planet Zonama Sekot appears in the skies over Yuuzhan'tar (formerly Coruscant).  There are several layers to this novel; the first is the smaller adventures, such as Han and Leia's mission to free Vong captives, another is the grand military picture, yet another is the finally resolved question of the Vong's origins and the final one is the Jedi's connundrum over their role in the escalating conflict.  The story and tension builds and builds and is finally unleashed in the most awesome battle in any Star Wars novel.  Once again, Luceno includes plenty of treats for fans ranging from the appearance of Boba Fett and his new Mandalorian apprentices (hurrah!) to the Rothana Transport (the Republic assault ships from 'Attack Of The Clones') which participates in the onslaught against Coruscant.  This is definitely the best novel in the NJO series and quite probably the best novel in the franchise as a whole.  Essential for fans.
5 out of 5

If you liked Luceno:
I would recommend that fans of Luceno's Star Wars novels read 'The Han Solo Adventures' by Luceno's old friend the late Brian Daley.

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