EMPIRE AND REBELLION BOOK 1
Publisher: LucasBooks/Random House Del Rey
Published: 24 September 2013
On the cover:
(From the publisher's website)
Times are desperate for the Rebel Alliance. Harassment by the Empire and a shortage of vital supplies are hindering completion of a new secret base on the ice planet Hoth. So when Mid Rim merchants offer much-needed materials for sale, Princess Leia Organa and Han Solo lead an Alliance delegation to negotiate a deal.
But when treachery forces the rebel ship to flee into territory controlled by pirates, Leia makes a shocking discovery: the fierce marauders come from Leia’s homeworld of Alderaan, recently destroyed by the Death Star. These refugees have turned to pillaging and plundering to survive—and they are in debt to a pirate armada, which will gladly ransom the princess to the vengeful Empire . . . if they find out her true identity.
Struggling with intense feelings of guilt, loyalty, and betrayal, Leia is determined to help her wayward kinspeople, even as Imperial forces are closing in on her own crippled ship. Trapped between lethal cutthroats and brutal oppressors, Leia and Han, along with Luke, Chewbacca, and a battle-ready crew, must defy death—or embrace it—to keep the rebellion alive.
This novel brought back a lot of memories to me. It's set two years after the Battle of Yavin (, the destruction of the first Death Star). And it has Leia, Han, Luke, Chewbacca, C-3PO, and R2-D2 in it - this is in the middle of Original Trilogy territory.
On one hand the nostalgia is a good thing. Star Wars set in that period is the most important thing when it comes to getting me interested in Science Fiction in the first place. On the other hand it means this novel has to compete with the memory of a lot of the comics that Marvel published in the 1980s (and that I read in Norwegian translations). Honestly, I think the two cancel eachother out. The nostalgia is balanced with me having read many stories with these characters. I have already seen these characters outside the movies, so while I want to reminisce, I don't want repetition of what I've seen before.
Wells has written a story that definitely fits in with the feel of 1980s Star Wars. It captures the action-filled Space Adventure vibe that drew me, and many of my friends, into the world of George Lucas & co perfectly.
When this story starts out, it concern the practical realities around establishing something that will be familiar to fans of the movies. It's a nice hook, and an interesting look behind the scenes - so to speak - of the rebellion against the Empire. In itself that would be something that is interesting, although to many it could become a bit mundane. But this doesn't go that straight path, it very quickly veers off to become a much more action filled and exciting story.
There's lots to instantly like here. Pirates, battles, betrayals, peril, action, eh...you get the picture (- don't think there's a need for me to sound like an '80s movie trailer). This is fast paced, action filled, with a lot of tension and suspense. Of course there's little suspense as to what will happen with the main characters, most of us have already seen them in two movies set after this. But Wells introduces us to some very interesting new characters that you are never certain where will end up.
And that isn't the only tension you get in this story. Wells is excellent at getting you close to the action, and feeling the peril the characters are in. Even with the characters from the film you sometimes forget that you know where they are at a later time. Wells pulls you in with writing that makes you live in the moment of the story, and that is a great strength of this novel.
The characters are important in this story, and of the familiar ones it's Leia Organa that shines the most here. It's good to see her at the forefront of events, and being the one who initiates much of what happens. We get to see Leia in some depth here, and she handles herself very well. Wells manages to show off Her Holiness to great effect and really make her come alive.
There's also some very interesting new players here, one of them is very much connected to Leia. And that works very well, it means she has someone to play - and show herself off - against. It is also handled well. For me it was in some ways the deciding point of what I felt about the novel. This is something that could have broken this novel for me if it felt artificial, like something put there for the sole purpose of showing off Leia. Fortunately it doesn't. It adds a lot of depth to the story, and raises the stakes. It's the element that lifts this above the average Star Wars Extended Universe story for me.
All in all this is a great Star Wars story for those that want to reminisce about the days between the end of Star Wars and the beginning of Return of the Jedi. And it is a great place to start for those that wants to know more about the days of the Original Trilogy. It is also a good Space Opera tale in its own right.
Wells writes great action and adventure set in space, and you don't have to be a Star Wars fan to enjoy this novel. I can recommend this to anyone who wants a "fun romp" between the stars.
NOTE: I got an e-ARC of this book from the publisher/NetGalley.
REVIEW: Emilie & the Hollow World
STAR WARS REVIEW: Kenobi
LINKS: Martha Wells Star Wars at Suvudu (Del Rey)