Tag Archives: Star Wars Expanded Universe

Book Review: X-wing Mercy Kill

X-wing: Mercy Kill Review


Warning: This review may contain very minor spoilers.  Characters and locations are mentioned but no major plot points or events are revealed. 

I have a confession to make.  Until now I had never read an X-wing novel.  When I started reading the post Return of the Jedi novels back in the late 90’s I skipped right past the X-wing novels.  I read Star Wars novels to see what happened to the movie characters after they blew up two Death Stars.  I read Star Wars novels to learn more about the Jedi and the Force.  I wanted lightsabers and Luke Skywalker not space battles and Wedge Antilles.  I have since learned to appreciate Star Wars books that aren’t about Skywalker or the Jedi (although I still very much prefer those stories), but I am so far beyond the X-wing novels that I am not sure I will ever go back and read them all.

When I heard about X-wing Mercy Kill coming out I thought it might be another one to skip.  But lately I have been reading every new Star Wars novel and Mercy Kill was set after the events of Fate of the Jedi.  How could I not read the latest novel in the Expanded Universe timeline?  I had to, space battles or not.

Here is the official summary…

The intrepid spies, pilots, and sharpshooters of Wraith Squadron are back in an all-new Star Wars adventure, which transpires just after the events of the Fate of the Jedi series!

Three decades have passed since Wraith Squadron carried out its last mission. Taking on the most dangerous and daring operations, the rogues and misfits of the elite X-Wing unit became legends of the Rebellion and the Second Galactic Civil War, before breaking up and going their separate ways. Now their singular skills are back in vital demand—for a tailor-made Wraith Squadron mission.

A powerful general in the Galactic Alliance Army, once renowned for his valor, is suspected of participating in the infamous Lecersen Conspiracy, which nearly toppled the Alliance back into the merciless hands of the Empire. With orders to expose and apprehend the traitor—and license to do so by any and all means—the Wraiths will become thieves, pirates, impostors, forgers . . . and targets, as they put their guts, their guns, and their riskiest game plan to the test against the most lethal of adversaries.

The good news for new readers is that this book, although titled “X-wing”, is basically a stand-alone novel.  The story does not rely on prior knowledge of the X-wing series, but having that knowledge will most likely expand your enjoyment of the book.  I will give a bit of a warning though.  If you plan to read the initial run of the X-wing novels, you may want to do that before reading this book.  Yes it is a stand-alone story, but there are mentions of events from past novels and some of those mentions are spoilerific.

As I started reading the book I immediately got an A-Team sort of feel.  As the book went on I also got some Mission Impossible and maybe even some Ocean’s Eleven.  It is very much a special unit/team-up/caper/undercover kind of story.  I was also very happy that there weren’t a lot of space battles.  In fact there was only one time in the book where I found myself zoning out because of spaceships maneuvering and chasing each other.  Mostly it was just great characters planning missions, going on missions, and getting the bad guys.

And the characters really were great.  Initially I was turned off by the main protagonist, a genius Gammorean who goes by the name “Piggy”.  Being a big fan of the Expanded Universe I had heard of this character but had never really thought that much about him.  Now I was having to follow him as a main character.  It didn’t take long for me to warm up to him though, and his character progression was interesting to follow.  “Piggy” was also surrounded by a team full of impressive characters.  I really enjoyed most of the Wraiths in this book and I would love to see where some of this new generation end up in future books.  They even managed to slip a Force user onto the team which made this Jediphile very happy.

Aaron Allston really knows how to write humor and this book is full of it.  It maybe has a little too much.  I liked the lightheartedness of the book but it started to feel like every line was a quip or sarcastic jab.  I know many appreciate this type of humor in a Star Wars book but it got to be too much for my taste.  Not that there weren’t serious moments.  When Mercy Kill got serious, it got very serious.  Mixed in with the humor there were exciting moments of action and even some heart wrenching emotion.  Although a little heavy on the humor, It was actually a really good mix and I found myself highly entertained for most of the book.

As someone who needs lightsabers and the Force in my Star Wars I was not expecting to like this book nearly as much as I did.  It was the characters and storytelling that won me over.  Even though the book did not have some of my favorite Star Wars elements it did have things like Star Destroyers, X-wings, and familiar alien species that place it firmly into the correct universe.  Don’t expect any Luke or Han cameos or galaxy shaking events, but if you are looking for a fun stand-alone Star Wars story I would highly recommend this book to you.  Established fans of the X-wing series will utterly love this book.

Buy this book.

(More spoilery stuff below)

Random Thoughts

I loved the characters of Myri, Trey, and Jesmin and hope to see them again.
I didn’t really like the Vong character of Scut. Maybe I wasn’t supposed to.
I took the main character much more seriously when he was going by Voort instead of Piggy.
Referring to people by names, code names, AND numbers got really confusing.
A Clawdite Wraith.  Very convenient.
Using the Force to make people need to pee.  That’s a first.
Some great flashbacks fill us in on what’s been going on with the Wraiths.
Just when you thought you had heard the last of the pilot with a horse head.
Wedge cameo!
Look for me wearing my “Quad-Linked Militant Pacifists” shirt at Celebration 6 next month.

- Aaron Goins

 

SWBTF Feedback – April 2012

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Hey everyone and welcome back to Star Wars Beyond the Films!

On this special episode, your hosts the Defender of the EU (Mark), and the EU Guru (Nathan) answer your questions and read your feedback!

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Parenting in the Saga – SWBTF #22

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Welcome back to Star Wars Beyond the Films!

Kelly Adams joins Nathan and Mark this week as they focus on parenting in the saga far far away.
How did some of our more prominent character handle raising their brood?
Nathan ponders back in the day with black and white TV, Nick at Nite and how Star Wars fits into the equation.
Did many of the kids raised by the characters focused in this episode grow up “normally”?
The hosts start with the Skywalkers and look deeper at the relationships there in.

Kelly brings up Padme’s WILL TO LIVE, and how it is ESSENTIAL to parenting. No will to live. No parent. Not very in-character of Padme.

Shmi the virgin Mary of our beloved saga was explored as well. The single mother struggling to provide for a very special boy.
The hosts have a lot of fun this week, exploring as well as poking fun of some situations the saga has provided.
Imagine a galaxy where Shmi struggled with Anakin’s being born with no father….

Maybe using the saga as examples of good parenting isn’t such a good idea……
Moving a long the hosts break down the Skywalker line by generation.
The Solos it would appear average 1 out of 3… No wonder Han said never quote him the odds.
In fact the Solos could be some of the worst examples of parenting in the EU. Or a good example of what not to do.
But is this the fault of the books? A lot of the kids early lives were offscreen. Perhaps this is something a crafty author could go back and correct?
Duty over honor- is this the descision that hurt the Solo kids? That the parents were too focused on the government and the galaxy and less on parenting?
Should the Solos have taken more time off? They certainly seem to be better grandparents than they were parents to their own three kids.

Mark STILL wants more fleshing out of the gaps in the timeline. More Solo kid adventures and so forth.

At least we’re seeing character growth in the next gen characters in the last few 9 book series (Legacy of the Force, and Fate of the Jedi).
The hosts even focus on some of the EU exclusive characters as well, and how their style of child rearing worked out.
Who was the best? And who was the worst?
One thing seems certain- kids in the EU will work in the profession of their parents more often than not.
Kelly mentions Chewie’s family as represented by the Holiday Special.
Like the balance to the Force the hosts discuss the balancing of Shmi Skywalker and the anti-Shmi, Jango Fett.

Also, quick show of hands, who wants us to cover the Mandalorian culture sometime in an episode?
Lastly they touch on adopted and foster parents.
The moral of this week’s episode: Don’t use Star Wars as an example of parenting!

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Fate of the EU… Uh, Jedi – SWBTF #21

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Welcome back to Star Wars Beyond the Films!

EDITORS NOTE: Ahead there be spoilers…. consider this your warning!
This week Mark and Nathan are joined by Intrepid Bothan Reporter and Lightsaber Rattling Jedi, Peter Morrison, to discuss the Fate of the Jedi series as a whole.

Mark ponders the excerpt at the start and end of the series and it’s possible ramifications.

The guys hit the plot in a nut shell to set the tone of the episode and then break down the series from there.
The series has an odyssey feel to it, while also telling a multitude of stories all enterweaved to make up a bigger overall story.
Jacen’s past was explored. Or was it? Was Abeloth TOO POWERFUL? Did Luke need an enemy more powerful than even him?

Nathan takes a moment to show his brotherly side. Did FotJ suffer an identity crisis?
Mortis makes its way into the series and the guys ponder how much Lucas knew of the plot. How much of this was made up on the spot? Nathan brings up the recent Insider interviews with the FOTJ authors.
He also ponders if the publishing group has changed the game plan and shifted to a looser planning style?
Did this allow for a more interchangable author feel to the series? Did that play into the success of Christie Golden stepping into Karen Traviss’s slot? Had Abeloth been Lucas approved would she have been the”Mother” in all respects? Instead of some being trying to be like them? Did Jacen’s story get resolved?
Peter proposes that the series might have done better had Abeloth been left out and the Lost Tribe been the main villian. Perhaps give her a stand alone book?
Mark ponders (or possibly rants) that Abeloth had to have hedged her bets and had a spare possessed body out there hidden away.
The guys focus on the pacing of the series. It almost made each book read like a stand alone. Was this a mistake? Should longer series be set to release closer together vs being spread out?
The Krayt factor: Was it or was it not Darth Krayt at the end of the story who came to Luke’s aide? Seems Denning doesn’t even know and he wrote the scene….
SPOILER WARNING: So in the end they stop Abeloth (for now) but in doing so have put back on the throne the dark man whom Jacen stopped which kicked everything off in the first place. Kind of crazy huh? But didn’t Jacen’s destroying Centerpoint Station cause her to get free? Wait, but wasn’t that ordered by Luke?
So did this give us closure? Or an open plot thread awaiting a crafty author later?
What? Nathan gets political with his satire? But it was necessary to understand the plot of FOTJ.
FotJ makes Dark Nest more meaningful to the SWEU.

Celestial, the Ones, and so much left open…. was this a good thing?? Bad thing? Or a GREAT Thing?
Random Mark ponder: Will Shelter be used to keep Beyond Shadows and the Mind Walker plots going?
They discuss Beyond Shadows, the Font of Power as well as the Lake of Apparitions, as well as Sith Spirits, Force Ghosts, Force Apparitions, Force Entities, and so forth.
This leads to pondering the “next generation” of Jedi. And how the Big 3′s story has overshadowed the newer Jedi’s individual stories.
Should the Jedi have destroyed the Font of Power? Is this something that should have been taken out? A weapon of Jedi Destruction….
Nathan touches on Ben and Vestara’s love plot. But not in a Tahiri touching kind of way…. …which leads to Vestara’s character growth throughout the series, dispite her Sithly Father’s pressures during the series.
Will this make Ves drop out of the saga? Or will the One Sith make an appearance BEFORE Legacy? (Even though it would happen after Legacy was published.)
Jaina Solo’s character grew a lot by the series end.  Even Tahiri had her character go through a lot of changes. Especially in light of past series directions with her character. We almost had our Imperial Knights!

The personal relationships were well executed. All the hosts agree that was a very strong point for the series.
Anakin Skywalker CAUSED the imbalance?! Wait… say again? So does that mean Luke and Ben are the Chosen Ones per Lucas before Mortis? This leads the hosts to discuss Balance and what that means for a bit.

Nathan had a very interesting outlook on it. Or at least gives EU Fans OPTIONS. Or was this addition to the FotJ plot a huge mistake? Or one to come?

Mark takes a minute to have a fan crush moment about the Horn family

Were the Barabels the ‘sleeper agents’ of the whole series?
Allana’s back in the open. They developed her up to own her own portion of the next generation of characters. She and Ben could have been 3rd generation, but ended up growing into the 2nd.
Does judging children characters age vary from person to person?
The hosts also judge the series, and give it a 1-10 ranking and a one word description.
And sit back after the credits for a Marvel treat… erm.. we mean bloopers!

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Future of the SWEU – SWR #46

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Hey there, welcome back to another episode of the Star Wars Report podcast.

 

It’s just me (Riley) and Mark this time! We’ve been very busy painting the house this week but not too busy to sit down for an hour and talk some Star Wars!

We talked about next week’s LIVE AOTC commentary, Chris Smith’s really cool Kickstarter project, and much more!

I’m considering running a marathon this fall and we brainstormed how to StarWarsify it up just little.

And lastly, we talked about the Fate of the Jedi wrapping up, how Del Rey might move forward, and the future of the SWEU!

Please take a moment to check out our sponsor for this episode ToyHutt! You want action figures? THEY GOT ACTION FIGURES!!!

http://www.toyhutt.com/

Thanks for tuning in!

Riley

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