FSFH Book Review

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Abnett, Dan
Adams, Douglas
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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.
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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
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Rowe, Matthew
Rowling, J. K.
Rubio, Kevin
Rusch, Kristine Kathryn
Salvatore, R.A.
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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
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Zahn, Timothy
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Reviewing Literature
The Books of Matthew Stover

Matthew Woodring Stover lives in Chicago with artist and writer Robyn Fielder.  He is a student of the Degerberg Blend (apparently), a form of jeet kune do comprised of approximately twenty five martial arts from around the world.
Average Review Score: 4.3 out of 5 (3 books)

Star Wars: Shatterpoint
The first novel of the Clone Wars series, set six months after 'Attack Of The Clones'.  This book features one of the most popular characters introduced in the Star Wars prequels, Jedi Master Mace Windu (aka Samuel L. Jackson) as he returns to his jungle homeworld in search of his former apprentice Depa Billaba.  Stover focuses on the main character, rather than the events and as such, we get a deep insight into Mace as he is faced with the possibilty that everything he believes about the Jedi path is wrong.  I really enjoyed the book when Mace was sticking to his guns and refusing to play by anyone else's rules.  Sadly, the character's implacability suffers when suddenly his will breaks and he starts doubting everything.  Although this allows the character to consider his life in-depth, it just really didn't fit with Mace's established character.  The writing in general is very good, brilliantly conveying this 'dirty' war in which right and wrong are unclear.  However, the book has two major flaws, the first being that the story is based on the novel 'Heart Of Darkness' which was later rewritten and made into the film 'Apocalypse Now'.  This copying of a previous plot leads me to the other flaw, the story cloning is pretty much all this book does to earn it's 'A Clone Wars Novel' subtitle.
4 out of 5
'In my dreams, I always do it right.'
Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge Of The Sith
The novelisation of George Lucas' final Star Wars film.  The story opens on the massive Battle of Coruscant, where, in the darkest hour of the Clone Wars, Count Dooku and General Grievous have captured the Supreme Chancellor of the Republic.  As the Clone Wars continue unabated, tensions grow between Chancellor Palpatine and the Jedi Council, with Anakin Skywalker stuck in between.  Finally Palpatine reveals the truth about himself, he is the Sith Lord Darth Sidious, and leads Skywalker down the path that will culminate in the creation of Darth Vader.  George Lucas' overall story is much improved over the first two prequels and the dialogue is far less awkward and corny.  To this strong foundation, Stover adds what he does best; deep insights into the minds of the characters.  As each major character (even those we know well) is introduced in the story, Stover pauses to give a detailed summary of that character's history, feelings and goals, making them far more accessible to the reader.  This insight continues throughout the story, explaining Anakin's internal conflict over his loyalties to the Jedi, to Palpatine and to Padme.  There's also a great bit where Obi-Wan's character is broken down and it is explained that simplicity is his greatest asset and, in fact, he is a master of it.  The tension builds brilliantly througout the book, although Anakin's sheer stupidity makes for frustrating reading.  Then, suddenly, all Hell breaks loose.  Anakin becomes Darth Vader (without the mask and armour at this point) and in a tragic sequence, leads Clone Troopers into the Jedi Temple to kill the Younglings.  Elsewhere, the Clones turn on Jedi all across the galaxy.  The story becomes so dark that at times it makes for uncomfortable reading; which is exactly as it should be.  I was a bit disappointed by certain elements that will be in the film but didn't appear here, particularly the Wookiees (including Chewie) fighting on Kashyyyk.  There are no other real downsides to the book except the creeping fear that Lucas' film might not actually be as good (there's a scene where Dooku scorns the silly way Anakin and Obi-Wan lead droids in and out of turbolifts, seeming to express Stover's own feelings about some awful element of 'comic relief' that will be in the film).  Sadly, Jar Jar Binks does make an appearance, but thankfully just sits still and doesn't talk.
5 out of 5
Star Wars: The New Jedi Order - Traitor
The thirteenth NJO novel and Stover's first foray in the Star Wars universe.  His writing talent lies in his focus on a main character, making other characters and events secondary.  The character in question here is Jacen Solo, who fell into the hands of the brutal Yuuzhan Vong at the end of 'Star By Star' by Troy Denning.  Jacen encounters the mysterious Vergere, who becomes both his teacher and his torturer, believing that no lesson of worth is bought without pain.  The book is Jacen's journey of self-discovery as Vergere and the Vong force him to confront painful truths and overwhelming challenges.  I've never liked imprisonment storylines, so I didn't start getting into this book until Jacen starts to turn the tables, subverting the Vong's Worldbrain and (in a scene reminiscent of Leto II and the sandtrout in 'Children Of Dune') convincing a swarm of amphistaffs to bond to him like armour.  Later in the book there is also the best-written death scene of any in the Star Wars franchise as Ganner Rhysode (whose character has come on in leaps and bounds since Michael A. Stackpole's 'Onslaught') faces down an army of Vong warriors with the words 'None shall pass' and goes on to have a place in the Vong consciousness as the giant that guards the gates of death.  I've only given the book four out of five simply because, although character development is important, in a series like the NJO I would've liked for some kind of significant event or battle as well.
4 out of 5

If you liked Stover:
Then you should read 'Star Wars: Republic Commando - Hard Contact' by Karen Traviss, which similarly shows war without the sugar coating.

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