Thrawn by Timothy Zahn, Marc Thompson (Narrator)

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In this definitive novel, readers will follow Thrawn’s rise to power—uncovering the events that created one of the most iconic villains in Star Wars history.

One of the most cunning and ruthless warriors in the history of the Galactic Empire, Grand Admiral Thrawn is also one of the most captivating characters in the Star Wars universe, from his introduction in bestselling author Timothy Zahn’s classic Heir to the Empire through his continuing adventures in Dark Force Rising, The Last Command, and beyond. But Thrawn’s origins and the story of his rise in the Imperial ranks have remained mysterious. Now, in Star Wars: Thrawn, Timothy Zahn chronicles the fateful events that launched the blue-skinned, red-eyed master of military strategy and lethal warfare into the highest realms of power—and infamy.

After Thrawn is rescued from exile by Imperial soldiers, his deadly ingenuity and keen tactical abilities swiftly capture the attention of Emperor Palpatine. And just as quickly, Thrawn proves to be as indispensable to the Empire as he is ambitious; as devoted as its most loyal servant, Darth Vader; and a brilliant warrior never to be underestimated. On missions to rout smugglers, snare spies, and defeat pirates, he triumphs time and again—even as his renegade methods infuriate superiors while inspiring ever greater admiration from the Empire. As one promotion follows another in his rapid ascension to greater power, he schools his trusted aide, Ensign Eli Vanto, in the arts of combat and leadership, and the secrets of claiming victory. But even though Thrawn dominates the battlefield, he has much to learn in the arena of politics, where ruthless administrator Arihnda Pryce holds the power to be a potent ally or a brutal enemy.

All these lessons will be put to the ultimate test when Thrawn rises to admiral and must pit all the knowledge, instincts, and battle forces at his command against an insurgent uprising that threatens not only innocent lives but also the Empire’s grip on the galaxy—and his own carefully laid plans for future ascendancy.

I really enjoyed this book and one of the many reasons why is because Thrawn is part of the new Disney canon! I was so happy to see him on Star Wars: Rebels. Not much was changed about him. Still the same species, still a tactical genius and a savant at studying artwork to know his enemy. I squeed when he gets his Star Destroyer, Chimaera. I now want to go back and listen to the audiobooks of The Thrawn Trilogy (Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising, The Last Command).

It feels funny rooting for him because he works for the Empire, but he is just so good at what he does. Of course he has faults. He’s not very good at politics and he does face prejudices for being an alien from the Unknown Territories.

I really enjoyed Thrawn’s insight into people. There would be an aside of his observations of them and their reactions. Like studying art, it’s how he would anticipate their actions.

I also loved how every chapter started out with his how-to-be a genius at strategy. It was like the Star Wars version of “The Art of War by Grand Admiral Thrawn.”

A few critiques:
1. Some parts I thought were slow and my mind would wander off. Mostly it was the parts with Arihnda Pryce, but there is a point to her subplot. Her political manipulations balance with Thrawn’s military tactics. Some of the missions Thrawn and Eli were on were slow, but they all come together in the end and add up to a final conclusion.
2. Sometimes Thrawn’s voice was so soothing I would drift off to sleep and would have to go back and listen again. (Thrawn says “Perhaps” a lot. A LOT.)
3. Thrawn’s aide, Eli Vanto, got on my nerves sometimes. He was taking too long to get up to speed with Thrawn’s plans.

Marc Thompson is an excellent narrator. I know I said Thrawn’s voice was so soothing I would drift off to sleep, but it was so perfect. Matched the voice on Star Wars: Rebels. He was also excellent at performing the voices for the Emperor and Tarkin.
My favorite voice though was Arihnda Pryce’s friend. I think her name was Jewett? I can’t find her on Wookieepedia. It is really annoying when their articles and character lists are incomplete. I wonder if the printed edition has a Dramatis Personae…
Anyway, her voice was so funny. It was like the Star Wars version of a valley girl and I could not be more amused by the way Marc Thompson performed her voice.

From now on I want to listen to Star Wars on audiobooks. It’s like a radio drama with the sound effects and the music.

4 out of 5 Glowing Red Eyes.

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Spoilers Below.

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Review – Catalyst: A Rogue One Story, by James Luceno, Jonathan Davis (narrator)

Words can’t describe how devastating today has been. I don’t cry for a celebrity’s passing, but I have cried many times today after hearing of Carrie Fisher’s passing. I really hoped and prayed she’d pull through after her heart attack. 2016 had been so cruel taking a few of our legends from us.

I am obviously heartbroken as a fan but what is really sad is knowing the grief her family feels. Her daughter Billie is still too young to lose her mother, and my heart goes out to Debbie Reynolds. A mother should not outlive her daughter.

My condolences to her family. You are one with the Force, Carrie, and you will be missed. ❤

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War is tearing the galaxy apart. For years the Republic and the Separatists have battled across the stars, each building more and more deadly technology in an attempt to win the war. As a member of Chancellor Palpatine’s top secret Death Star project, Orson Krennic is determined to develop a superweapon before their enemies can. And an old friend of Krennic’s, the brilliant scientist Galen Erso, could be the key.

Galen’s energy-focused research has captured the attention of both Krennic and his foes, making the scientist a crucial pawn in the galactic conflict. But after Krennic rescues Galen, his wife, Lyra, and their young daughter, Jyn, from Separatist kidnappers, the Erso family is deeply in Krennic’s debt. Krennic then offers Galen an extraordinary opportunity: to continue his scientific studies with every resource put utterly at his disposal. While Galen and Lyra believe that his energy research will be used purely in altruistic ways, Krennic has other plans that will finally make the Death Star a reality. Trapped in their benefactor’s tightening grasp, the Ersos must untangle Krennic’s web of deception to save themselves and the galaxy itself.

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Star Wars: Ahsoka, by E.K. Johnston, Narrated by Ashley Eckstein

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Length: 7 hrs and 8 mins

Fans have long wondered what happened to Ahsoka after she left the Jedi Order near the end of the Clone Wars and before she reappeared as the mysterious Rebel operative Fulcrum in Rebels. Finally her story will begin to be told.

Following her experiences with the Jedi and the devastation of Order 66, Ahsoka is unsure she can be part of a larger whole ever again. But her desire to fight the evils of the Empire and protect those who need it will lead her right to Bail Organa – and the Rebel Alliance.

Ahsoka is a well written YA novel that gives us some insight into the missing pieces of Ahsoka’s life between the end of The Clone Wars series and her appearance on Rebels.

It begins about a year after the birth of the Empire. Ahsoka is learning to adjust to a new life and new situations without her fellow Jedi and Clone comrades. She is understandably cautious about making new friends, but then learns who she can trust. She is moving from place to place without a goal or mission, just laying low and making a living as a mechanic. This is the story where she finds a new mission.

The pacing is steady and the story has a bit of everything for the fans. Battles, Jedi meditation, friendships, strong characters, cameos from old favorites, and some flashbacks to fill in the gaps of Ahsoka’s life. There was no romance, but I didn’t miss one. I did have the sense that Kaeden had a crush on Ahsoka, but that’s all. These characters have a lot a problems with the Empire at the moment and a romance would have clogged the story.

My one critique was the Lightsaber crystals lore when it came to the red sabers. It’s not the explanation I like.

Ashley did a good good narrating her first audiobook. Sometimes I feel like the editing was a bit off, like her tone was different from sentence to sentence and I guess they were editing a few different takes together. Hearing the book in her voice was perfect though. No one else could ever narrate an Ahsoka story.

I never heard a Star Wars audiobook before, but I loved the addition of sound effects and John Williams’ music.

I really hope there are more novels, or comic books, about Ahsoka’s life between leaving the Jedi Order and being introduced on Rebels. There is so much to tell.

4.5 out of 5 Rebel spies

Star Wars and the Power of Costume Exhibition

The Star Wars and the Power of Costume exhibit recently opened in Discovery Times Square. I’ve gone twice already. It is a amazing. They have great collection of costumes, headdresses and some props. There is some history about the costumes, the inspiration and some concept art. They also had some swatches of the fabrics that you could touch! That was cool because I was just itching to touch all the costumes, look inside at the construction and to even try on Padmé’s gowns. Natalie is petite and so am I. I can fit into her costumes.

My critiques:

*Leia’s white gown from A New Hope was mislabeled as being from The Empire Strikes Back.

*Now that The Hunger Games costume exhibit closed the Star Wars one should expand. There were many more of Padmé’s costumes not on display as well as many more of Leia’s. They had none of her, (nor Han’s or Luke’s) costumes from Hoth, Cloud City, or Endor.

* We could take photos with no flash because some of the costumes are so old and sensitive to light. But they should turn the house lights brighter. It made it difficult to see in some rooms and made for terrible photos since the flash was forbidden.

Just a suggestion 😉

Without further ado below are just a fraction of the photos I took.
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Star Wars: Dark Disciple by Christie Golden

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Based on unproduced episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, this new novel features Asajj Ventress, former Sith apprentice turned bounty hunter and one of the great antiheroes in the Star Wars galaxy. 

The only way to bring down the Sith’s most dangerous warrior may be to join forces with the dark side.

In the war for control of the galaxy between the armies of the dark side and the Republic, former Jedi Master turned ruthless Sith Lord Count Dooku has grown ever more brutal in his tactics. Despite the powers of the Jedi and the military prowess of their clone army, the sheer number of fatalities is taking a terrible toll. And when Dooku orders the massacre of a flotilla of helpless refugees, the Jedi Council feels it has no choice but to take drastic action: targeting the man responsible for so many war atrocities, Count Dooku himself.

But the ever-elusive Dooku is dangerous prey for even the most skilled hunter. So the Council makes the bold decision to bring both sides of the Force’s power to bear—pairing brash Jedi Knight Quinlan Vos with infamous one-time Sith acolyte Asajj Ventress. Though Jedi distrust for the cunning killer who once served at Dooku’s side still runs deep, Ventress’s hatred for her former master runs deeper. She’s more than willing to lend her copious talents as a bounty hunter—and assassin—to Vos’s quest.

Together, Ventress and Vos are the best hope for eliminating Dooku—as long as the emerging feelings between them don’t compromise their mission. But Ventress is determined to have her retribution and at last let go of her dark Sith past. Balancing the complicated emotions she feels for Vos with the fury of her warrior’s spirit, she resolves to claim victory on all fronts—a vow that will be mercilessly tested by her deadly enemy . . . and her own doubt.

If you’re a fan of The Clone Wars it is a must read. It’s actually heartbreaking because there were some scenes that I wished I could have seen on TV. Damn you, Disney! However, I am happy DelRey took the scripts and turned them into something the fans can enjoy.

One of my critiques is that the story does drag a bit at the end. I felt the final few conflicts were not necessary and could have been resolved sooner and in a much less complicated manner. There is also another issue I have but if I express it here it would be a major spoiler so I am saving it for later (see below).

I loved the chemistry between Ventress and Vos. At first I felt I was betraying my love for the Republic Comics, but I could not help myself, I ship them – in the The Clone Wars universe. I say The Clone Wars universe because their backstories have been altered so much it’s really two different realms now. Actually, it has taken me a while to not be so annoyed with the changes. I can enjoy The Clone Wars stories like Ventress being a Nightsister from Dathomir, the Mandalorians being pacifists, Barriss being a traitor and a terrorist who is Ahsoka’s peer instead of Anakin’s – and though that is now canon, I still consider it a different EU. (I still don’t like or accept the resurrection of Maul though. Cut in half means dead and why cheapen Obi-Wan’s victory?)

Anyway, I am getting away from the review of Dark Disciple. (I could talk about Star Wars all day.)

Back on topic, I love The Clone Wars and though I enjoyed reading Dark Disciple I found myself still mourning its cancellation. I know I mentioned that the ending dragged on and could have been simplified but the one great thing that came from it was seeing Anakin and Obi-Wan fighting together. Their brotherly banter cracked me up and I so would have LOVED to see that on TV. There was even a scene between my favorite ship, Anakin and Padmé. (Though I can’t tell how much of the novel came right from the eight scripts and how much Golden added and embellished. I would love to ask her.)

This is how far I can go without spoiling everything, but I am going to work on a review that analyzes the novel more and will be full of spoilers.

4.5 out 5 Full On Gambits. 

I want to go back and reread the Republic Comics now. It has been a few years.

Here is a refresher of The Clone Wars episodes Ventress and Vos appeared on.

There is also a lovely Foreword by Katie Lucas. She along with Matt Michnovetz and Dave Filoni wrote the scripts for the unfinished “Dark Disciple” episodes. She talks about growing up with Star Wars, spending her adolescence on the set of the Prequel Trilogy, writing for The Clone Wars, and when she and her dad would sneak into a movie theater showing Star Wars. It was so heartwarming. 🙂