In vain

February 28th, 2011 — 2:29am

Pasted from my wordpress.com (since I’m not talented enough to create for two blogs right now):

One of the more fascinating things about writing a novel is crafting the personalities and voices of the many characters that appear on the page. What I find simultaneously enjoyable and frustrating is the physical act of creating dialogue that I could never even imagine myself saying.

In Damen, this comes about most often while writing Corey. Corey is crass, blunt and curses like the proverbial sailor, yet when I write dialogue, I often need to whisper the words back to myself to make sure they make sense, and when a character is so unlike myself that it’s rather sickening, I feel dirty even writing what he would say. That is to say, I used to feel dirty when writing Corey’s dialogue. I’ve now grown accustomed to it and can easily separate my own voice from Corey’s. Damen, however, is far different.

To make him a character all on his own, I gave him “life” by giving him small pieces of my own personality. Since Damen is not an autobiography, however, he is a completely different person with a voice and history all his own. I go to church often (not as often as I could and should, but we’re all Christ’s works-in-progress) and I try to thank God for all His gifts every day of my life. Damen, on the other hand, rests somewhere on the line between agnostic and plain atheist. So much has happened in his life that make him doubt that a creator could have any hand in the machinations of his world and the fact that he has had none of the religious reinforcement that many others his age would experience, has tainted him even further against God and all religion. And so, he when he swears (and when he’s still reeling in Corey’s influence, it’s very often), Damen will often use the Lord’s name in vain.

My mind and heart make great conflict over this. The mind says that words on a page are simply that and as long as I don’t go around screaming “Godd***t!” all the time, I remain clean. On the other hand, the heart that helped me walk out into the church aisle years ago, crying as I went to the altar to join the church, knows that it is wrong to use the Lord’s name in vain in any context. If I’m writing it, I’m saying it, even if I do skip over those words and phrases as I whisper dialogue back to myself and thus the battle continues.

This reminds of when my 16 century Brit-Lit class was studying “Faustus” and the effect of being an actor in the play during a time when folks were far more religious than they are now. The actor playing the titular character would have to call upon the devil to make Mephistophilis appear and whether one is acting or not, there is still that innate worry of “calling upon the devil.” While I have stopped blatantly swearing and using God’s name in vain years ago, the mere acting of writing such dialogue is difficult to the point that I go through four or five waves of typing and backspacing as I decide whether or not to have Damen think “Jesus Christ!” in a moment where he is clearly not praying. Even typing that last sentence used to get across my point gave me pause.

I can’t say that I’m completely indoctrinated as I have only come to the church in the last five years and had written off myself as an agnostic prior to that, but I must say, each time I’ve got a choice between staying true to my character and saying what I know to be wrong to say, I struggle…a lot.

I wrote 626 words tonight (his first extracurricular conversation about a novel since his father had passed) and when a moment called for Damen using God’s name in vain, somehow my heart took control and I’m glad I found a better way to say I wanted. That said, I’ve still a lot of Damen’s character to unleash and eventually, I’ll be pressed with the same battle again.

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A good start

January 4th, 2011 — 12:18am

With only laying out just two major goals for myself as of 1/1/11 (be a better child of God and write every day), I think I have done a decent job so far: I managed to get to church on Sunday and I’ve written something every day.

I suppose now is as good a time as any to set some real goals for myself, though not for the year, but for just the month. A year is a really long time when you think about it and so much can change in a year. Houses could be bought and lost, weight could be lost and gained again, families could be shattered or started…a lot can happen in just 12 months. So, since I am desiring a change (one of them being the current theme of this blog and the state of DorienneSmith.com), I think the best way to set goals is to create some realistic ones and follow-up once a month to make sure I’m on track.

This month’s goal, on top of the other aforementioned daily ones, is to get a least a twenty minute workout at least once a week. It doesn’t sound like much, but after this weekend, I realize I may need to start slow.

I was playing Kinect with my little cousins Friday night and Saturday morning I was in so much pain that I could barely move. At first I thought it was just some new side effect of a caffeine headache, but then slowly I realized that it was just moving around with the Kinect the previous night. I have been so sedentary these last five or sixth months that just fifteen minutes of activity that I used to be able to do at a moment’s notice was too much for me. I was worn out after the first round of games with the kids and, while I’m no spring chicken anymore, there’s no reason that just a little physically activity should leave me in paralyzing pain the next day. It’s time to stop the madness.

A workout a week is barely anything at all, but I at least have the plan to place what I need to go straight to the gym after work in my car so that I’ll have no excuse. Hopefully next week, I can stretch it two weeks and maybe even add a new goal, but if I can just manage this through January, I can look back on the start of this year proud of what I tried to do for myself.

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A new year

January 1st, 2011 — 11:59pm

Pasted from my wordpress.com:

I made it to see another year! Go me!

I was just going to post something to have something entered, but then I thought, “Dorienne…you know you need to write something today.” so I did. I got through exactly 1200 words and decided to break my mid-point in Chapter 7 into Chapter 8 after all, especially how I ended the previous part. It just read like the end of a chapter.

I wasn’t able to finish the laundry or about half of the full cleaning that I wanted before I left for Watch Night service last night, but I at least got the laundry sorted and the house straightened to the point that it feels clean, even though there’s a ton of dusting, etc. that needs to be done. I would have done some work today, but after trying to fight the headache, shakes, slight hallucinations and nausea that come with trying to detox from caffeine, I pretty much got nothing accomplished except for my 1200 words. I also played Kinect last night with my little cousins and, given that I hadn’t done any real exercise in close to two months, every single muscle in my body is screaming. It took me half the day to figure out if the pain was just from running around the house or if it was a new piece of the caffeine withdrawal, but when I remember all the running and jumping I did with the Kinect, I got completely psyched to get mine on Monday.

The interesting thing about writing is how difficult it is to get started when I haven’t written in a while, which explains so many of my lulls in 2010. I only went about 3 1/2 days without writing and I had to listen to only instrumental music to help my mind focus before I was able to construct a sentence. Previously, I’d go three or four weeks without writing anything and would then be surprised that I couldn’t get motivated to write anything worthwhile. I suppose one of my main lessons of 2010 was that I have to write every day. Even if it’s just a quick 200-word blurb, I have to get those juices flowing.

Well, it’s a new year and a new opportunity to get things done. In 2011, my goals are God and writing. If I can keep those things in focus, I’ll do just fine.

A PS to myself: I’ve got waaay too many drafts sitting on this blog. 2011 will see far more posting at this blog. 🙂

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Why is there suffering?

October 29th, 2010 — 1:54pm

Everyday I get up and read about some new catastrophe that has befallen the world. Cholera, tsunamis, murder, rape, war…It gets to the point where I become apathetic about it. With all the evil that exists in this world, people (mostly Christians) get asked where God is amongst all this tragedy. A question long asked of me by agnostics and atheists is, if God is loving, merciful and just, why is there so much pain and suffering in the world?

I return this with a separate question: Where in the bible do you read that this world would not have suffering or pain?

God is merciful and loving, but He is also just.

This world is full of evil things and sinful people; as people are on the whole evil (think of what you would do if you knew you would never get caught and never had to deal with any comeuppance).

Since this world is evil and sinful, there will be pestilence and pain, suffering, heartache, rain. The strong will prey upon the weak and the rich ignore the poor. The unsaved will gallivant around in Porsche’s and limousines while the saved watch their children die because they cannot afford the health care needed to give them a simple shot. That is the nature of this world because this world is filled with sin.

So, if one were to look only about this Earth and try to find God’s goodness and greatness and mercy, one would be sorely displeased. That is not to say there is not grace and beauty in this world, but it is often overshadowed by the dark, dark sin.

God’s mercy and love, does not come from Earthly goods and desires. You are thinking and speaking of a being that exists outside the confines of space, time, matter and energy. How can you equate all of His wonder to that which you can see and touch? God’s mercy and love comes from the fact that, though we are sinful and evil creatures amongst whom even the holiest of holy are conceived in sin and bear the sins of Adam, God still loves us enough to allow us to come home into his heaven.

He loves us enough to allow His Son to bear the penalty of our sins (which is death), and allow us to be at peace. What we deserve is eternal damnation, but we have the opportunity to receive life everlasting.

He is merciful enough to leave us with a Comforter on this Earth. As we walk about and live in this sinful world, the catastrophes and the discord can leave us weak and weary and unwilling to go forward, but…

God leaves us with the Comforter, who gives us strength and keeps us calm throughout the stormy sins of ourselves and our brethren.

God is just. The sinful can and will flourish on this Earth, but everyone dies and at death begins the judgment. “For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

God is!

God is loving, merciful and just in more ways than we deserve…He simply is.

This is not to say that when you see catastrophe in the world that you should turn a blind eye and say everything will be sorted in the next life. Good people should still seek to do all the good they can do in the world. My point is that God’s existence should not be questioned simply because bad things happen in this world.

When you look at the blessings of the beautiful things that thrive despite the evil of this world: children laughing, dawn, births and weddings, smiles and hugs and love, you can find it fascinating that anyone could doubt that God not only exists, but that He touches each of our lives, regardless if we heed His word.

Fun reading: http://www.old-wizard.com/ten-dumb-things-people-say-about-religion

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Dorienne, age 26

September 15th, 2010 — 8:59am

Throughout most of 2009, I ran around in a frantic tizzy about getting old and turning 25. There were so many things I desired to do before getting “old” and, yet, it was happening nonetheless. Despite all the planning and scurrying, I managed to accomplish very little by my actual birthday and started to get depressed because of it.

For most of this year, I feel as if I have wandered around in a fog, reacting to life instead of progressively taking hold of it.

As this September brought another time of deep reflection, I began to once more grow sullen about what I presumed to be my lack of accomplishment throughout age 25, but in my hours of reflection, a thought occurred to me.

Instead of age 26 being another year of prospective failure, this past year has been the year when my career (backup as it is) has really taken the strides it should be taking.

Age 26 also marks 5 five years since I was saved.

Though I was baptized at age 7, I wasn’t really saved until I was 21, on the floor of my apartment, on my knees praying for Christ’s blessings and all that He could do for me. It was in that dark hour that I found Christ and that was five years ago.

So, instead of being upset about what I didn’t get accomplished, I will go into this time of reflection remembering how far I’ve come. I am not the person I was five years ago and I do not want to be that person again. I am stronger from what Jesus has sent my way and I know that ages 26-30 will bring more challenges to make me even stronger in Christ.

🙂

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91-Books – Lost Tribe of the Sith series

August 20th, 2010 — 2:44am

From http://blogs.starwars.com/kaitco:

The Challenge! http://blogs.starwars.com/kaitco/2
The Review:

Scale:
😀 – The Force is strong with this one.
🙂 – I’d read it again.
😐 – Meh…
🙁 – I have a bad feeling about this.

Lost Tribe of the Sith by John Jackson Miller
My rating for the series as a whole: 😐 – Meh…
Precipice: 😐 – Meh…
Skyborn: Between 🙂 and 😐
Paragon: 🙂 – I’d read it again.
Savior: 🙁 – I have a bad feeling about this.

I decided to review all four books in one set since the e-books were so short. It was difficult to come up with a complete rating for each one since one book was on the low side of “Meh…” and another was almost a four-star effort, but I stand behind my shrugging humph as I think upon what I have read.

While I liked some better than the others, the series fell a little flat for me, both in mechanics and in general storyline. What bothered me the most was that there was not a proper balance between “show versus tell” throughout the entirety of the series and, while “show versus tell” is something with which many writers suffer, I came into this series expecting far more from a seasoned author like Miller.

Right from the start, I was thrown into a completely unknown landscape with very little to help me grapple with what I was being told and that, more than anything, brought out my old skepticisms about science fiction literature. A part of me feels like any reader should be able to pick up any book about the galaxy far, far away and should instantly be able to fall into the novel without little to no background knowledge. With Precipice, there were several times in that first chapter where I had to keep backing out of the novel on my Kindle to make sure I was reading the first book in the series. I was completely lost!

Granted, my Star Wars knowledge is limited, but I honestly thought I needed some kind of Star Wars concordance by my side to help me understand what I was reading. Perhaps it is just because I am still fairly new in this journey of mine, but I think that strong storytelling about this universe should assume only a few things: 1) That the reader has at least watched some of the films and 2) Even if the reader has not seen the films, he or she at least knows that there are Jedi and Sith, there is the Force and that lightsabers come in several colours and can cut everything. Unless the novel explicitly picks up after another series, there should be few if any assumptions made.

In Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, was it helpful to have watched or have read the novelization of Episode 4? Of course! That’s why the cover had “From the further adventures of Luke Skywalker…” in bold letters at the top. The reader knows going into the novel that if the name Luke Skywalker does not ring a bell, he or she is going to miss a lot of the novel.

I also equate this idea to reading The Lord of the Rings. Is it helpful to have read The Hobbit and have some understanding of who Gandalf is and what hobbits look like? Of course! Yet, Tolkien does not jump into the story assuming the reader has read what was actually a prequel of sorts to his masterpiece. If I sound like I’m ranting a bit, it is simply out of the frustration of not having any idea what was happening for close to a full chapter and one of the longer ones in the novel, at that. I knew next to nothing about who I assumed was my protagonist, names were being dropped left and right to the point that I was truly turned off by what I read.

Honestly, imagine watching Return of the Jedi without ever knowing a thing about Star Wars and picture the opening scene. Two random robots are walking in the middle of some desert, you have no idea who they are, where they are or why the little one beeps instead of talks, and the one that is talking keeps referring to some guy named Luke and something else about a princess. Even the opening scroll would not help you get far and the rest of the film would make no effort to explain anything to you. This is acceptable in ROTJ because it is a part of a trilogy so assumptions can be made. I had nothing to help me understand whether or not Lost Tribe of the Sith was a part of another series, I was thrown a lot of names in those few pages and, thus, I was frustrated.

My frustrations were also deepened by how the novels flowed. Far too much detail went to facts that did not make a difference by the end of the series, whereas characterization were, in most cases, left to basic summaries.

In Precipice, was it really necessary to read about every single muscle Korsin flexed as the Omen crashed on Kesh? Did the reader really truly need to see each facet of Keshiri life before getting on with the rest of the story? Likewise, why was the reader simply told about the history between Korsin and his brother instead of allowed to see a part of it before their jump to hyperspace and the eventual crash? This is where the balance between “show versus tell” comes into play. Far too many scenes in the novel were shown when they could have quickly been told and vice versa. In my eyes, if the author was going to spend eons describing what could be summarized, then the novellas should have been great epics of detail from every character down to the last sparkle of the rocks on Kesh.

Once I moved past the initial shock of being thrown into a novel with a back story I may never learn and the long spans of description that came to nothing in the end (seriously, several thousand words were spent on the crash alone and it made not one bit of difference how the ship crashed in the end), I did enjoy many aspects of the series that caused me to think of the Sith on a deeper level and encouraged me to continue with the novels on my list.

Precipice
As I said earlier, the beginning caught me off guard, like a Chemistry mid-term on something the professor never covered in class, and there were several times in the novel where I was shouting to myself, “Let’s get on with this! Somebody bring out a lightsaber!” That initial boredom was quickly overshadowed by the Sith themselves.

The idea of “pureblooded” Sith was completely new to me and utterly fascinating. These red-skinned people had somehow interspersed with humans and other species creating other Force-sensitives, but in a sense, not as attuned to the dark side as a pure-blood Sith would be. The only part that dampened my new-found intrigue with the Sith were some of their conversations.

“‘What’s the third choice?’
Gloyd’s painted face crinkled. ‘There isn’t one. But I figured it’d cheer you up if you thought there was.’
‘I hate you.’
‘Great. You’ll make someone a fine Sith someday.'”

Some of the discourse between the Sith sounded almost ordinary and just as balanced as the Jedi, albeit in a slightly more sarcastic light. I had always imagined that the Sith were a mysterious and magical sect so bereft of the normalcies found in non-Force sensitives that they were barely capable of holding almost jovial conversations like the above quote. This view has also been reinforced by what I had seen in the films and in Clone Wars. I suppose, however, that this runs with the idea of what Anakin was screaming at the end of Revenge of the Sith; the Sith are just as “normal” as anyone, depending on a certain point of view.

The idea that the Sith ran in a gamut of shapes, sizes and colours was the complete “Oh wow!” moment in the book. Again, the films leave one with the perception that any Force-sensitive being is human since it takes a humanoid form to hold a lightsaber and, ergo, master the Force. I was delightfully surprised to “see” the array of Sith colour; from the pure-blooded red Sith, to every other colour in the rainbow. It was like viewing the world through John Lennon’s Imagine, but then brought back to your senses by the fact that they all carried “evil-coloured” lightsabers.

Further fascinating for me was the concept of something as basic as drug use in the GFFA. Korsin’s brother is an addict and I found myself sympathizing with his plight, regardless of the fact that I have had no similar experiences in my own life. That said, I also find that the more I read, the more the GFFA begins to mirror real life, but in a manner that makes the characters appear simultaneously down-to-earth and still like the wayward warriors they are.

In the end, though, the Sith did live up to what I expected Sith to do and I had to hold back a cold laugh at the callousness of the protagonist in the last chapter. What I enjoy most in an anti-hero like Korsin is whole-hearted evil and cruelty. It does not due for a villain or the protagonist’s character to be wishy-washy or grey. What Precipice confirms (at least for me) is that the Sith are evil, but some are clearly more evil than others.

Skyborn
By the time I came to Skyborn, I had imagined I could not be shocked again by another onslaught of information I did not understand, but once again, I was proven wrong. Within the first few hundred words, I was wondering if I was reading a story within the same series. The beginning of Skyborn was packed with so much mundane detail that I was certain that The Lost Tribe of the Sith was just a collection of short stories that were in no way interconnected. Of course, by the end of the second chapter, I finally saw the connection, but much of the second book of the series left me a little muddled.
Since I was unable to see how Adari and her Keshiri people related to the Sith, I found myself, again, wondering when the author was planning to get on with the actual story. Like in Precipice, detail upon detail was lain upon the reader, this time about the purple-skinned Keshiri and their view of the world, when much of this could have been summarized rather quickly without hurting the story.
When considering the novel on whole, Adari’s characterization frustrates me almost as much as my initial confusion in Precipice.

“Adari had never felt shame for all those hours she’d spent searching the creek beds, or for finding more interest in the shards of a shattered stone than in her children’s first words.”
Initially, I was not intrigued by Adari as a protagonist. She did not reach me on a “womanly” level or otherwise and I think what made this most apparent was the description of her love, or lack thereof, for her children.

Adari had her children simply because it appeared to be the appropriate thing to do and had no love for them. Even the Sith love their children, so what does this say about her? I cannot see her apathy towards her children as a more masculine quality either. It just feels fake and unbalanced. I am one of the last people to stigmatize the role of women in literature, but I have rarely seen the aloof mother done properly where some kind of vice was not involved and, even in Moth Smoke, one of my favorite novels, the author was discussing a woman who cared for little outside of herself. Adari obviously cares about rocks, but she just disregards people.

Adari is presented as more level-headed that the rest of the Keshiri, but lacks the outright selfishness necessary to make her behaviour to her children and her people believable. That is not to say that a lack of a maternal instinct is tantamount to selfishness, but for something that is so ingrained in womanhood, there needed to be more than just a few lines telling the reader that Adari did not love her children or motherhood.

Adari’s heresy trial, while somewhat amusing with its Scopes Monkey Trial meets Star Wars storyline, has incredibly little to do with the actual plot. Her chief “prosecutor” is given a plethora of detail and back story, but Izri Dazh plays no part in the overall story.

“‘But you know that all that is Kesh came from the Skyborn,’ Izri said, jabbing his cane in her direction. ‘Nothing can be born of Kesh anew!’
She knew; every child knew. The Skyborn were the great beings above, the closest thing the Kesh had to deities.”

Most of the first chapter was downright boring. Seriously, this was my Kindle note from this part of the story:
Star Wars: Lost Tribe of the Sith #2: Skyborn (JOHN JACKSON MILLER)
– Note Loc. 104 | Added on Tuesday, August 10, 2010, 06:38 PM
this story just got a million times more mundane. really? we are just reading about a darwinesque stone trial? even when described in the context of another world it has been done so many times it is simple and inane.

I suppose Izri plays the Dr. Zaius in the story, but he shines brightly for a long while before fading into inconsequence.

This is not to say that Miller could have summarized everything about the Keshiri by saying, “All folks down in Tahv-ville believed in the Skyborn a lot, but Adari, who lived just north of Tahv, did not.” but all the detail just became overbearing.

What would have made an incredible story would have been to make it one complete novel, where the first chapter showed the reader what was happening to the Sith, the second chapter discussing Adari and the Kesh, the third including more information about the Sith on Kesh and so forth until Adari meets the Sith, bringing the two parallel stories together.

I could not help but notice, however, the glaring dig at religion Miller inserted into this story and, while I would like to see his ultimate point being that science can break down anything in the universe into matter, energy, space and time, a dig is still a dig no matter how annoying.

What I did enjoy was when Adari met the Sith. Miller did an outstanding job of presenting how the Sith would appear to someone who knew of nothing outside of her terrestrial bounds and this was where the overflowing detail was finally put to good use. The reader got to “see” the Sith precisely how Adari saw them which helped paved the way for the third and, in my opinion, the best novel of the series.

The second half of the novel is what kept me drifting between two ratings for the whole book. While the first half was drab and grey, the second was full of life and colour, much like in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy steps out of her Kansas home into the beautiful land of Oz; the two halves are like night and day. By the end of the book, I found myself, again, wishing that Miller had made this one continuous story.

Paragon
While I found the italicized trips into Seelah’s memory a little heavy-handed, I think Miller did a good job with the memories and with the third novel altogether.

There was more of a balance between “show versus tell” in the third than in any of the others and, even though, Miller did include irrelevant details in this book as well (again the memories), the details did not distract one long enough to wonder where the author was going with the book.

At this point, the groundwork has been laid and all that is left is story. I did find it difficult to believe that the Sith were still earnestly attempting escape after fifteen years on Kesh, but their actions were exactly what I had expected of them; a lack of justice for the voices of the weak and a complete sense of power and control. Fascinatingly enough, the one I had thought who would feel the most comfortable overpowering a Force-lacking species, was the one most anxious to still leave the planet.

All this notwithstanding, Paragon was far from perfect and some of the same questions I had about the ability to “see” using the Force while watching ROTS, sprang up in this story as well. In ROTS, I found it amusing (for lack of a better word) that the Jedi, who could sense the slain souls of fallen Jedi half a galaxy away, could not sense a Sith lord sitting just a stone’s throw away from them, i.e.: Yoda sits directly across from Palpatine in the beginning of AOTC, but other than simple mistrust thrown at any politician, there is no sense that Yoda senses a real disturbance in the Force. In Paragon, I see marked similarities, though on a smaller scale.

Ravilan, a red Sith and from my limited understanding, a pure Sith, should have been able to “feel” or interpret the Force with far greater accuracy than any of the humans around him. Why Ravilan could not see or sense Seelah’s murders on a Force-limited planet like Kesh is just mind-boggling. As soon as I had read that Seelah oversaw all births, I assumed she was doing something naughty and this intuition was without anything that came out of her past memories; this was based solely on her character in the past two books.

Adari’s character seemed a bit shunted to the side for the greater part of the story and I could not help feeling slightly betrayed considering the amount of time spent on her in the previous book. I also did not like, or perhaps I simply did not understand, the end and Adari’s newfound desire to return the Keshiri lifestyle back to its roots. In hindsight, this was just the beginning of what would become a truly mundane end to the series.

Savior
This novel was what almost brought the entire series down a complete notch for me. There are so many issues that I could probably take up the remainder of my blog space complaining about it, but instead, I will focus on characterization.

Adari Vaal began as the wayward heroine to the series and, robbed of what could have been an incredible rise and a fantastic level of depth, Adari’s character was left lifeless and bland. There were several points in Skyborn and Paragon that Adari seemed to have some promise, but in the end, she was simply wasted.

What caught my attention most in Skyborn, infuriated me most in Savior. Skyborn presented the reader with an Adari who was the heretic, the mother to children she barely loved, and the geologist who would rather spend her time examining rocks than interacting with her own people. How and when and, better still, why did she develop these feelings of patriotism about her homeland and her people?
I was at no point struck with the sense that Adari particularly cared for her own people and Korsin’s fascination with her throughout the second and third books gave the perfect setup to have Adari either run away with the Sith should their help arrive or overthrow Korsin to set herself up as the supreme leader of her people. Good God! She had ample opportunity!

She reunited the Skyborn with the Keshiri; Adari could have, should have, claimed herself queen/empress/Skyborn Elect/whatever over her people and, if she harbored some understanding of injustice, why not use her newfound power to overcome the Sith and bring her people into a Kesh Age of Reason? The Keshiri are so numerous that they don’t have a number to count their population. Surely, amassing an army devoted to their Keshiri-Skyborn could have helped take down the Sith. I am not saying it would have been easy or bloodless, but anything would have been better than what came of Adari in the novel.

Adari’s plan was comical in its inanity. What it proved was that she had learned nothing from spending twenty years amongst the Sith. She had spent years in their inner circles and, even if she was not Force-sensitive, she surely could have learned enough about the Sith and the ways of the dark side to come up with a plan better than what was presented. Were the Sith not a resourceful people? Could they not, knowing that food and shelter were just a ways off, have fought and clawed their way back to the mainlands eventually? She spent a minimum of ten years drawing up plans and the idea to “strand” the Sith was best someone with inside knowledge could create? It is unthinkable!

Adari’s character had so much promise and yet it was all for naught. Even worse were the open questions that will never receive answers. Why devote an entire novel about a single character and her view of her world only to have her dissolve into mediocrity in the end? Why would a character with such spirit and so out of sync with the rest of her people, even want things to go back to the way they were? The reader was told a million times that Korsin thought the world of her, but why? We were not shown anything out of the ordinary about her other than what was given before her encounter with the Sith and yet, somehow, we are left to decipher what specific actions of Adari endeared her to Korsin. I just can’t stand it when great characters are just wasted; it is like they are brought to life with a real purpose, but laid to rest never realizing their full potential. I may not have been able to immediately associate with her, but Adari’s character had great potential to become like the Sith, yet the antithesis of them at the same time.

What was probably most disappointing about the last book and the series as a whole was that the series did not leave me feeling like I was further enlightened in the Star Wars universe. There are likely other series I kicked off this list since Lost Tribe of the Sith made the cut in my first glance that would have been far more gratifying, but it will be a long while before I even get to them.

Unlike with the first two books on my list, I don’t feel like I have learned anything significant from the series. Since I was reading about completely foreign characters who were not developed as well as they could have been, I felt nothing when reading about their deaths or banishments. There was nothing more than a, “Okay…I guess it’s over, now.” when I got to the end. Actually, it was more of a “He’s going to end it like that?!?!?” but either way, I was not pleasantly surprised as I had been with the last two. It was evitable though; there was no way I would be able to read 91 books without coming across a few that did not settle well with me.

Oh, well…Onto Darth Bane: Path of Destruction!

Truth be told, I have already started Darth Bane: Path of Destruction and am loving every minute of it, which is what made it so difficult to come back to these, but on I trek! 🙂

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91-Books – Splinter of the Mind’s Eye

August 5th, 2010 — 8:20pm

From http://blogs.starwars.com/kaitco:

The Challenge! http://blogs.starwars.com/kaitco/2

Scale:
😀 – The Force is strong with this one.
🙂 – I’d read it again.
😐 – Meh…
🙁 – I have a bad feeling about this.

Splinter of the Mind’s Eye by Alan Dean Foster
My rating ~ : 🙂 – I’d read it again.


The Review:
The novel, the first true instance of the Expanded Universe, felt like a complete lesson in Star Wars for me. Only two novels into the Star Wars universe, I already see the underlying story in a clear and bright light. So many things I had never considered sprang to mind while I was reading and when I got to the end, it seemed as if I had come out of the book a little wiser.

It was not until the scene where Luke was attempting to get Leia to appear less regal that it occurred to me that Leia was actually a princess and often behaved like one would expect a wealthy monarch to behave. In the films, she came across as simply bold, but the novel gave me a little more insight into that boldness.

Likewise, there were parts that, while pulling me out of the fictive dream (though, at no fault of the author), expanded my thinking about the characters/inhabitants of the Star Wars universe.

“‘I am told this mining is an expensive venture. The Empire is smart enough to save where it is able,’ he concluded with pride.
‘That probably extends to your pay and retirement,’ the Princess ventured maliciously.”

Even while reading “Episode 4” and gaining some insight on the idea that all or most of the Alderaanians actually perished in the first full test of the Death Star, I never considered the day-to-day folk that interacted with, or were part of the Empire; that they would have normal lives and even think of things like a salary and retirement.

Intriguing me further is what happened to all the people who had remained loyal to the Empire after Episode VI. Going beyond that even has me wondering about the people who possibly sided with the rebels before and during The Clone Wars, but then decided to “play it safe” and remain loyal to the Empire during the next rebellion, again finding themselves on the losing side. I suppose that is why I’ve got this great reading challenge, but still, I am intrigued.

Most striking in this novel, using my knowledge of the prequels, was how much Luke and Leia model their parents and how their personalities differ from what one would expect. Leia is often quick to anger and has an absolute surety in herself that goes beyond being raised a monarch and, by contrast, Luke is far calmer throughout all of their hardships and surprises. Leia’s personality reeks of her father, while Luke encompasses all of Padme’s rational and sensible, albeit sometimes passive, calm.

Just when I thought I could not be further intrigued, the idea that since Leia was the one who obtained the most of her father’s personality and spirit, would she have made the better Jedi of the pair if they had been trained simultaneously? I have to admit, she appeared rather powerful being able to somehow withstand one of the most powerful sith lords that had ever lived with no training in the Force. It just makes me wonder…

All of this pondering and wondering aside, I enjoyed the novel on whole. The underlying story of trying to find a crystal that could enhance the Force came across as fascinating, though it made Rumiko Takahashi’s InuYasha manga appear far less original for me. The new world was a treat to discover along with more of the Empire’s dealings and simply a wider view of how the people in the galaxy far, far away interacted with one another. All this notwithstanding, there were some parts that confused or disappointed me.

The mechanics of the novel were far different from the first; the sentence structure was far more jagged and broken, perhaps creating some misunderstood rhythm, but the change was definitely noticeable.
Parts of the story also seemed a bit rushed to me, especially Halla’s character. Halla’s appearance came across as far too easy and, while a part of me believes I think this way because my knowledge of the prequels, but the characterization just seemed off-balanced. It reminded me of reading Christopher Paolini’s Eragon for the first time and how the mythology he presented felt like he was just trying too hard to come up with something original.

In fact, even by the very end of the novel, I still did not trust Halla as I was not keen on our protagonists trusting this person who had come out of the blue with all this knowledge and a pension for help at no cost. I would have liked to see some more distrust coming from Luke, especially after their separation.

When Halla describes herself as simply ambitious, I started to suspect as ambition feels like a very un-Jedi-like quality and, as he knew virtually nothing about her, I wondered why Luke had not bothered to ask more questions.

Obi-Wan had mentioned that Vader had helped hunt down and destroy the Jedi after turning to evil, so why hadn’t the question come up about how Halla managed to escape Vader for so many years and, better still, why did Luke never questioned whether Halla was good or evil when he understood she was Force-sensitive? Vader was Force-sensitive, was he not?

There were also a few places were the characters seemed to contradict themselves, most notably Luke. In the beginning of the novel, Luke discusses some of his studies on Tatooine and his lack of interest in zoology, “only the stars.” Much later, however, Luke pulls an entire alien language out of almost nowhere, which means he must of brought his head out of the clouds for long enough to study languages and culture, i.e.: anthropology.

While zoology and anthropology do not fall hand in hand, in my eyes, if Luke was as focused on the stars as he had earlier said, he would not have been able to pull the language of the Yuzzem from past studies at the opportune time.

It sounds to me that Luke would have been just as interested in the ecology of other planets as with their cultures. It is like describing snow to someone who has never seen it. The listener is entranced with something the storyteller would find very simplistic. I imagine it would be the same with Luke; learning about all the flora and fauna of other worlds would preoccupy his time when he was trying to get off the sand-ridden Tatooine.

“The universe is full of dead people who lived by assumption.” (Best quote ever! ^_^)

I would have liked to see Grammel’s character expanded more. There was just so much potential with him, but we only got to chip the surface of what appeared to be a very deep character. From his initial descriptions from Halla to his final demise, I had hoped more would come of the character and, from the way he was written, a part of me wonders if more details of Grammel had been included in an early draft of the novel, but were shed by an editor.

What completely caught me by surprise was the outright violence of the novel.

“Luke refastened the heirloom at this belt as the four of them ran for the front of the building, leaving confusion and blood in equal amounts behind them.”

I am still unsure whether the violence gratified or disgusted me. On one hand, I am unaccustomed to getting a full dose of anything more than mild PG violence from Star Wars and, since reading something always makes it far more acute for me, I experience the violence to a greater degree. The higher detail of violence comes across as so foreign it is distasteful, but on the other hand, it enriches the story and truly brings it alive in front of my eyes.

What leaves the matter further muddled is that when compared with what I have seen in the films and Clone Wars, the violence is not really that bad, but it is only when I read such depictions that I think about exactly what happened. That is, thoughts of, “Whoa, that soldier is not just dead…he’s dead.” spring to mind to make the whole experience more real for me, which, again, can be both bad and good.

“Mostly parted in sleep, her lips seemed to beckon him. He leaned closer, seeking refuge from the damp green and brown of the swamp in that hypnotic redness.”

Luke and Leia’s…um, relationship, was rather interesting to read. Strange as it may sound, for the majority of the novel, I found it easy to forget that Luke and Leia were siblings as they wandered about Mimban. In fact, at times, I was so entrenched in Luke’s mind that it almost possible to forget that the mild sexual tension between them could have been perfectly normal…almost.

There were also points where I was simply amused by how close Foster came to the complexity of the emotions coursing through Luke and Leia. They both “feel” something and they (or at least Luke) think it is some kind of romantic love because they simply don’t know any better, which brings me to something I touched upon in my review of “Episode 4” and I know I will bring up again.

“‘He’s near, very near.'”

Towards the latter end of the novel, Luke picks up the “disturbance in the Force” and knows that it is Vader, which intrigues me to no end.
The scene was very creepy, though a part of me is romantic enough to believe that part of the reason Luke feels Vader’s presence so strongly is because they are father and son, meaning that George Lucas could have possibly had an idea of where the whole story was heading at the time of Episode 4, which leads us into Leia’s foresight:

“Leia inhaled in terror, her eyes widening. ‘No, not him again, not here.'”

Out of all beings in the universe, her mind jumped to Vader. Why? Why not Essada himself since she apparently goes into shock anytime anyone refers to him? Better still, why not think of something in regards to the jewel they are seeking? Hadn’t she been the loudest opponent of the expedition to find it and was she not distrustful of Halla, even at this late point in the novel?

These questions and more were running through my mind as I read and, while I suppose I was literally reading too much into it, several scenes in the novel seemed very much like they were a glimpse into Episodes 5 and 6.

There was one thing about the novel that I can honestly say I did not like, though it was more of a constant ideal or thought pattern than any singular event.

“‘Using energy weapons on primitive sentients,’ she muttered in outrage.”

I was a far cry into the novel when I simply could not overlook the ideas of “primitive” versus “civilized” any longer. Throughout the entirety of the novel, and most often through Princess Leia, was the subtle discussion of the primitive species on Mimban and how they were uncivilized in comparison with their visitors. Perhaps my ideals are more “modern” from growing up in the 90s, but I find it a bit far-fetched for any one or entity to determine what amounts to being civilized.

A culture rich in differences does not make it uncivilized or necessarily primitive and, likewise, a culture ripe with technology is not necessarily civilized or advanced; just different.

It reminds me of reading Anna and the King of Siam and reading as Anna Leonowens disregarded the Siamese people as simple and akin to primitives since their culture was nothing like that of the English. That titular character can be forgiven of her ignorance, but as there did not appear to be any of the same redemption from that line of thinking in this novel, I am unwilling to afford Princess Leia the same courtesy.

Somehow this unapologetic description of the native Mimbans dates the novel for me, as I cannot imagine a writer of this new century so boldly declaring a culture sad and primitive; it maintains a pre-Civil Rights and pre-Women’s Lib feel to it.

A part of me wants to pass off these sporadic claims as coming from Leia’s relatively sheltered and slightly spoiled upbringing, but she was not the only speaking or behaving in such a manner. The Imperials thought in this same manner, as did Luke and it was only Halla who first noted that the Coway considered them (Luke, Leia and Halla) to be the primitives, though this was not until close to the end of the novel.

Leia’s disgust with Empire’s dealings with the native Mimbans does not exempt her from a similar line of thinking. The same thought process that allows the Imperials to laugh at the “greenies” as they perform the most menial jobs for just a drop of liquor is the same thought process that goes into deciding what “like us” and civilized and what is not.

Those thoughts were almost…uncivilized.

Despite ringing declarations of what was civilized and what was not, there were parts of the novel that I simply adored and often brought a smile to my face.

“He rapped another of the growths, was rewarded by a totally different ring. They exchanged smiles, and then the cave was filled with crude but sprightly tunes as the natural chimes sang under their hands.”

Some scenes of the novel were downright wonderful and the above was no exception. Their experience in the cave right up to the point that they met the natives was incredibly well-written and, at times, so picturesque that I often wished there was a film made of this novel as well.

“‘I am afraid your slow-witted companions will no longer be able to help you or anyone else, Skywalker.'”

As always, Darth Vader stole the show for me and brought the novel from a close “Meh” into a definite re-read.

Cold, callous and simply evil to the end, Vader brought the Force back into focus and, from his toying with Leia and then Luke to his not-so-complete demise, he was exactly what I had hoped to receive from a “new” Vader appearance. Equally gratifying was that there were few inconsistencies with the character I have grown to love from the films.

I can accept just about every move he makes and everything he says as the last scenes seem to fall in line with what I “know” about the character. He is “devoid of any spark of humanity” just as he appears in the films and, while I still wish the irony of Vader removing Luke’s arm in Episode 5 as Luke had done to him could have somehow made it into the films as well, Vader’s character as a whole left me fully satisfied.

What I got most from the novel, however, was a great appreciation for Princess Leia.

In all the years of watching the films, she had always seemed just a really cool character, but with nothing of the depth of Luke or Yoda or especially Vader. Splinter of the Mind’s Eye allowed me to really “see” Leia as a complete character with a full, unwavering personality and history.

Her snarky running commentary, her proud and patriotic sureties, her desire to defeat absolute evil and, of course, how she beat the crap out of Luke after he slapped her in the bar. Leia’s character was so very well-defined and well-drawn in comparison with my first experiences with her that I think I might have found the novel generally satisfying even if Vader hadn’t made an appearance.

Foster’s first original foray into what would be known as the Expanded Universe was the complete treat to read and, now, I am primed to continuing delving further into this literary world. The excitement was not as thrilling as “Episode 4’s” novelization, but it was still a delight to read. I must say that it is rare for me to go into a novel with extraordinarily high expectations and, despite not living up to my ideal, still find it enjoyable enough to want to experience it another time. Splinter was not my blockbusting jaw-dropper, but it was still a great ride.

Next up: Lost Tribe of the Sith #1: Precipice

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I feel blessed

July 28th, 2010 — 10:14pm

I got promoted again today…that’s not why I feel blessed though.

Nine months ago, I found myself wallowing in a depression, the likes of which I had not experienced since before I was saved. In the passing weeks and months, He has blessed me time and time again, but…

I always found myself thinking back to that dark point in my life when I thought nothing would ever go right again and I thought I would simply sink lower and lower until the darkness consumed me. I often wondered why I had to go through all of that, why it had to be me, why I had to be brought so low before I was able to feel so high and, until recently, I had passed it off with the easy reason of knowing that one has to go down before going up, even though I never fully understood it. Today, however, it occurred to me why I had to go through my trial and why I will continue to go through trials as I travel through life.

To go through something is always worth telling or sympathizing, but to go through something, only to come out on top afterward is a testimony and this is what He wants. Not just someone to say, I’ve lived through X and survived, but a true light to the world who can I say I lived through X and triumphed!

Today, I was able to testify to someone, albeit in a more secular fashion than I would have preferred, and it was not until afterward that it occurred to me why I was made to suffer. Without my suffering, my doubt, my pain, I would have had nothing to tell this someone who so clearly was searching for guidance. With no hardship of my own, my advice would have been a lecture, not a testimony.

At nearly 26 years old, I have had a blessed life. I can’t remember ever going hungry a day in my life and, even though my mother tells me we were poor when I was a small child, I never once felt it. As yet, I have yet to miss a rent payment, even though I had gone four months without a job and, while my debt to income ratio is not where I would like it to be, I at least know it exists and can still make plans for the future without worrying about a seven-year black mark on name. I am an American who was raised during the 90s, who never saw life on welfare or drugs in my home or wanton acts by parental figures in my presence; I’ve lived a charmed life.

When I became saved, the first thing I wanted to do was bring someone else to Christ, anyone! But, few willing participants could be found. I won’t go so far as to say that I saved anyone today, but I love simply realizing why Jesus pushes us through trials and uncertainty: so that we can be lights to others wandering in the darkness.

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91-Books – Episode IV: A New Hope

July 19th, 2010 — 11:52pm

From http://blogs.starwars.com/kaitco:

The Challenge! http://blogs.starwars.com/kaitco/2
The Review:

Scale:
😀 – The Force is strong with this one.
🙂 – I’d read it again.
😐 – Meh…
🙁 – I have a bad feeling about this.

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope by George Lucas/Alan Dean Foster

My rating ~ 😀 – The Force is strong with this one.

I have to begin by explaining that I had my doubts going into this. From a young age, I had the idea of the science fiction novel as a genre as being full of poor writing styles and being likened closer to flash fiction than anything significant driven home in most, if not all of my English classes, so when I first began reading, it was with pursed lips and a skeptical brow. I came to find, however, that my initial assumptions were correct: Mrs. Whatever-her-name-was’s tenth grade Literature class was not the be all and end all of fiction and science fiction is not necessarily “bad.”

On the whole, I thoroughly enjoyed my first real foray into the Star Wars Expanded Universe and my first film novelization. Alan Dean Foster’s writing style took some time to grow accustomed, but once I got a feel for the rhythm of novel, I was able to fall into the fictional world easier each time I began reading. The beginning did start out a bit slow for me since I was not really sure what to expect or how to re-visualize what I reading.

The first few chapters went by nauseatingly slow, even with the first descriptions of Vader, as my mind tried to figure out what it was reading. The memories from watching the film began to fight with my own mental images as one side of the brain said, “I think Tatooine looks like this” while the other side said, “But this is how it really looks!” Once that hurdle passed, I still found myself just wanting the novel to get on with it to the point that I was halfway through it and wondering if I had really bit off more than I even wanted to chew. The only thing to really keep me going were the small details that were either changed from the films or left out entirely.

The novel started to pick up speed, however, once Han Solo hit the scene; there was just something about his character that was very “readable.” All of his quotes seemed all the more quotable in writing and he was the one character who seemed livelier on the page than in the film.

I really enjoyed how Luke’s movements were described during the lightsaber training aboard the Millennium Falcon and also how Kenobi described the elusive and magical nature of the Force. For a brief moment, you begin to fully fall into the fictive dream about how the Force works.

I did not, however, feel fully engaged with the novel until we (Luke, Han and Ben) saw what had become of Alderaan. The destruction of Alderaan was far more profound when described in writing. It was almost as if one could feel the magnitude of what happened far more when one is within the collective conscious of Han, Luke and Ben. I cannot count the number of times I have watched Episode IV, but it never really hit me until I read the novelization, that the entire planet, that is, an entire population, ecosystem and way of life was destroyed in an instant and, it was not until this point that Empire appeared as heinous as the film’s characters had been telling me.

“And while he would have preferred the company of equals, he had to admit reluctantly that at this point, he had no equals.”
What brought the novel from “Meh” into the realm of “I’d read it again.” and beyond were just a few lines of Vader’s thoughts. The one thing missing from the original film was little to no insight on Vader’s thoughts apart from dialogue, which I am unwilling to cite as a true flaw in the film since I am not sure how one is really supposed to convey subtle unspoken emotion through an opaque mask. I will concede they managed to get it done towards the very end of Return of the Jedi, but nothing in the vein of the above quote can be executed on screen without the help of a voice-over. It is not until one can “hear” Vader’s thoughts for some magical, grandiose scheme or the flat out notion that he knows he is the greatest of his kind that one fully realizes how sinister he is and, in hindsight, how far he has fallen.

“If he had miscalculated the degree of arc in their swing, they would miss the open hatch and slam into the metal wall to either side or below it. If that happened he doubted he could maintain his grip on the rope.”
The bridge scene with Luke and Leia was very gratifying and it was at this point in the novel that I could finally appreciate the purpose of a film novelization. For once, my imagination and my memory were not struggling for omnipresence. With a clear image of what had happened, my imagination filled in any gaps that may have been missed and the excitement increased as I got to focus on the moment instead of both re-creating the mental image from scratch and the focusing on the prose.

There were two points in the novel that simultaneously had me glad I could envision the scene purely as written and could also draw from what I had previously watched; the first being when Vader and Obi-Wan meet and the second when Luke is asked if wanted a new Artoo before the battle.

The exchanges between Obi-Wan and Vader were just splendid and, even if I did not have knowledge of all their past history together, I still got the sense that there was a far greater story between the pair than even the characters were letting on at that point.

When Luke is asked if he wanted another R2 unit in the novel, I could appreciate what I read, forgetting that I ever saw the prequels, but having the images of Artoo as a “friend” of Anakin Skywalker from the prequels and from Clone Wars made the question and answer pull a smile to my face.

Chapter Twelve held the entirety of the Battle of Yavin and it was INCREDIBLE! The action was intense and I loved every minute of it. I had to let out a sigh of exhaustion when I finished because I was so absorbed in what I was reading. The dialogue and prose were even perfectly paced to match the excitement I experienced from the film.

It was at this point in the novel that philosophical questions started to bounce in my head, particularly: What else in life have I been missing? If science fiction action could be this gratifying, what other completely awesome things have I disregarded? What greater things could I be experiencing at that very moment?!? Fortunately, the novel’s action kept me from pondering on any of this for too long and I was able to get through the remainder of the book. 🙂

“‘I met your father once when I was just a boy, Luke. He was a great pilot. You’ll do all right out there.'”
As I said earlier, I truly enjoyed reading the novel, but I did have a few disappointments with it that brought me out of the fictive dream, the first of which being the interlude with “Blue Leader” prior to the battle.

This character, described only as “older” and “war-worn,” and his dialogue with Luke left me with so many questions that I had to put down the book for a moment and tear through my memory in a wild attempt to place him somewhere. How did Blue Leader know Anakin was a great pilot? If he was “older” then how young could he have been to not only have been old to enough to be “war-worn,” but also young enough to meet Anakin as a boy and know he was a great pilot? Did he fight in the Clone Wars? If so, how did he not know, or at least see fit to mention, that Vader and Anakin were one in the same?

I feel that there is some explanation I have yet to uncover because I am just starting this journey and have barely perused the comics, but I know an answer must exist other than, “Whoops! Foster wrote this before anyone knew how far the expanded universe…expanded.” which leads me to another point…

In traversing about the Star Wars universe, I have heard theories and counter-theories regarding if Lucas had the entire story of Anakin Skywalker in mind at the time of ANH or not. Reading this now definitely makes me wonder. There were scenes that leaned towards the idea that Lucas did have a master plan in place, such as Han and Luke discussing Leia. It is not experienced to the same degree in the film since we do not have any insight to Han’s thoughts, but the novelization alludes to “something” between Han and Leia in that very scene.

Also, the dialogue between Obi-Wan and Vader sounded as if it had been written fresh from watching the last hour of Episode III. On the flip side, there is the above issue with Blue Leader which leaves many questions unanswered for me, at least for the meanwhile. I also wonder if maybe the edition I have has been “updated” to account for later changes in the EU, but if that is the case, why leave all the little kisses between Luke and Leia?!?

My only other slight disappointment with the novel had to be the description (or lack thereof) for Princess Leia. When I hear phrases like “indescribable beauty,” I cannot help but roll my eyes. How am I supposed to imagine something when the author tells me it cannot be described? It is like telling a long story and stopping every few minutes to say, “Well, man, you had to be there.”

Even in a novelization, things as basic as eye and hair colour are just plain necessary. While I understand the necessity of keeping a protagonist as blank as possible to fit every type of John Q. Everyman out there, the “damsel in distress” should give the reader some kind of imagery. I did, however, really like the prologue from Leia which gave a lot of insight on Jedi and the Republic, which could have benefited the films (but then there would have been little need for prequels and then where would we be?)

All in all, I was quite pleased with A New Hope. It started out a little rocky as it battled through my own prejudices, but it pulled a beautiful story out of my initial experience and helped me enjoy what I had already loved to an even greater degree.

Next up: Splinter of the Mind’s Eye. 🙂

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My 91-Book Challenge

July 15th, 2010 — 12:11am

From http://blogs.starwars.com/kaitco:

In the past three months, in between working a little, mentoring a little, and editing Wookieepedia a little, I had been pondering on what, if any, Star Wars items I could see myself collecting.

At first, everything I saw looked completely overwhelming to the point that I could not see anywhere to dip my feet into the collecting pool or even where the best place to simply take a great plunge was. There were key chains and figurines and 10-inch R2’s just waiting to be chosen as well as beautiful prints, hats, busts, Obi-Wan Kenobi boots and those ever-covetous Anakin Skywalker lightsabers. Zounds! The options!

Simply put, I had no idea where to begin (though my ‘lil Vader hoodie is en route as I type).

Even my fail safe love of books left me at a loss when I took a good look at the lengthy list at Wookieepedia that shows all the different novels that made up the EU. I know I counted at least a hundred, without even including the youth novels and non-fiction works out there as well, and quite a few of these were out of print.

All this notwithstanding, I have loved literature since I was a kid and, if my own sense of self-satisfaction cannot be met through the unlikely goal of obtaining every single novel of the expanded universe, I can certainly satiate my pseudo-collecting desires by at least attempting to read as many of those said books as possible.

I now battle my long held stigmas of science fiction literature to learn about the Rule of Two and Yuuzhan Vong, about Naga Sadow and Admiral Thrawn, and to finally learn what happened just before the end of the Clone Wars and just after Anakin Skywalker redeemed himself.

The written word has always fascinated me and so I see the books of the EU a fitting method of cementing Star Wars into my life, (fanfiction will probably follow suit as I have started making notes on my very first one).

I had begun reading A New Hope about a month ago since it preceded even the first film and I will continue with the Splinter of the Mind’s Eye since it was the very first foray into the EU. From there, I will delve into the Lost Tribe of Sith series since those books are already itching to be read on my Kindle, but the remaining 85 will move in, more or less, this order:

Episode IV: A New Hope – Review!
Splinter of the Mind’s Eye – Review!
Lost Tribe of the Sith: Precipice – Review for all 4!
Lost Tribe of the Sith: Skyborn
Lost Tribe of the Sith: Paragon
Lost Tribe of the Sith: Savior

Darth Bane: Path of Destruction
Darth Bane: Rule of Two
Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil
Darth Maul: Saboteur
Cloak of Deception
Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter
Episode I: The Phantom Menace
Rogue Planet
Outbound Flight
The Approaching Storm
Episode II: Attack of the Clones
Republic Commando: Hard Contact
Shatterpoint
The Cestus Deception
The Hive
Republic Commando: Triple Zero
Republic Commando: True Colors
MedStar I: Battle Surgeons
MedStar II: Jedi Healer
Jedi Trial
Yoda: Dark Rendezvous
Labyrinth of Evil
Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
– I am anticipating this one more than any other novel as I have heard amazing reviews of the book from both Star Wars fans and otherwise.

Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader
The Paradise Snare
The Hutt Gambit
Rebel Dawn
Death Star
Allegiance
Star Wars Galaxies: The Ruins of Dantooine
Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
– Both anticipating and dreading this one. Novelizations can be almost tedious in comparison to their respective films and, with this being one of my favorite films of all time, I am not sure the novelization will live up to my standards.

Shadows of the Empire
Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
The Mandalorian Armor
Slave Ship
Hard Merchandise
The Truce at Bakura
The Courtship of Princess Leia
Tatooine Ghost
Heir to the Empire
– I am intrigued by the Thrawn Triology as these books began what started the river of EU books that followed in the past two decades. That said, a part of me thinks that there is no way these can live up to the hype I have placed on them.

Dark Force Rising
The Last Command
Jedi Search
Dark Apprentice
Champions of the Force
Children of the Jedi
Darksaber
Planet of Twilight
Before the Storm
Shield of Lies
Tyrant’s Test
Specter of the Past
Vision of the Future
Survivor’s Quest
Vector Prime
– I have been shaking with anticipation to start the New Jedi Order series since I first caught an article about the Vong on Wookieepedia. Out of the whole mix, I think I may enjoy these the most.

Dark Tide I: Onslaught
Dark Tide II: Ruin
Agents of Chaos I: Hero’s Trial
Agents of Chaos II: Jedi Eclipse
Balance Point
Edge of Victory I: Conquest
Edge of Victory II: Rebirth
Star by Star
Dark Journey
Enemy Lines I: Rebel Dream
Enemy Lines II: Rebel Stand
Traitor
Destiny’s Way
Force Heretic I: Remnant
Force Heretic II: Refugee
Force Heretic III: Reunion
The Final Prophecy
The Unifying Force
Dark Nest I: The Joiner King
Dark Nest II: The Unseen Queen
Dark Nest III: The Swarm War
Betrayal
Bloodlines
Tempest
Exile
Sacrifice
Inferno
Fury
Revelation
Invincible

Anyone who perused the list may notice that there were whole series I decided to skip and this was intentional. I spent hours skimming through summaries to choose what I thought would interest me the most. I am not sure if this master list is even doable, but that is why I called this a Challenge! instead of my Life-Long Reading List. That said, I am sure there are a few gems I might have missed based on summary since poor summaries can be made about fantastic books, but this is the challenge I have presented to myself and I am going to run through this list heartily.

The goal is also review each one I complete, but I will satisfied if I can just get through the list. I suppose delving into the comics will be the next step in my mental collection, but that is a topic for another day.

Wish me luck! 🙂

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