Hey everybody! Welcome to my blog! Another Saturday is here, so it’s time for some more ramblings from me 🙂
I’ve got another week off coming up, so there’ll be lots of excitement to come! But first, a brief look at the exciting things that have been happening in the past week!
Yes, some completely unexpected news here from Fantasy Flight Games, who announced the standalone Star Wars card game on Thursday. Essentially a re-skin of the old Cold War: CIAvsKGB card game, it uses movie stills rather than original artwork. I quite like Cold War, as it’s a nice, quick game that is really fun. It’s also pretty cheap (I picked Cold War up for under a tenner), so it’s hard to say no, really.
The big and unexpected news this week came on Friday, when they announced Wave Five for the X-Wing miniatures game, but you can read all about that here.
Moving away from Fantasy Flight now, there’s another game that I’ve been looking forward to for over twelve months now that has finally had some exciting news – I’m talking about Fallen, by Watchtower Games. A Kickstarter project, I backed this game back in June last year and was absolutely overjoyed to see it funded to the extent that it was (598%, in case you’re wondering). At the time, it was estimated to have a December release date, then that was pushed back to February this year, then it was “summer”, but finally things seem to have firmed up again. It seems that the company, for whom Fallen is their first game, has taken an almost OCD-like approach to making sure the game is absolutely perfect. Fine by me, as I wouldn’t want a sub-par quality game, but it just seemed to get a bit ridiculous what they were doing. JUST GIVE ME MY GAME, ALREADY! So after weeks and weeks and weeks of email updates telling us that the card quality just wasn’t quite right, or the inlay wasn’t sufficient, or whatever, we finally had the email I’ve been waiting for on Friday – the game is being sent off to the printer! At last! I’ve backed this game as much as I could afford, as I was crazy-excited to get it in my hot little hands, so I’m now really excited. Only two or three more months to wait!
I haven’t mentioned my Star Wars reading of late. I’ve been reading the Jedi Academy trilogy by Kevin J Anderson, one of the earliest trilogies of Star Wars novels that I read. I have got to say, however, that I’ve not been enjoying it as much as I did when I first read it all those years ago. Primarily I suppose because it reads a bit too simplistically for me. Especially after the Zahn trilogy. While George Lucas had always said that he made the Star Wars movies “for young people”, the Jedi Academy trilogy seems to be aimed at an even younger demographic than George intended, I feel. When read in this respect, I suppose it’s not too bad, but otherwise, I do feel that it unfortunately misses the mark. Which is a shame, because I’m pretty sure I used to really like this trilogy!
The storyline follows Luke as he attempts to rebuild the Jedi Order following the resurrection of Palpatine and the discovery of more Force users during the Dark Empire shenanigans. He finds a remarkably high number of Force users in a short period of time, considering they were supposed to have been wiped out, and establishes a base on Yavin IV. Soon, however, he discovers the long-dormant power of Exar Kun slumbering within the temples, and when an extremely powerful student named Kyp Durron arrives for training, things take a turn for the worse. Kun seduces Kyp to the Dark Side, and with his help he incapacitates Luke and goes on a rampage against the Empire. Han eventually talks him out of it and everything seems to be resolved by the end. In the course of these events, Han also stumbles across a secret Imperial weapons-development facility near Kessel, guarded by Admiral Daala, a protege of Grand Moff Tarkin and the only female flag officer in the fleet. Daala goes on a rampage of her own before realising her outdated tactics are ineffective and she basically rides off into the sunset (though she will reappear later…) Leia has her own storyline where she tries to bond with her children, is given more and more responsibility in the government until an ailing Mon Mothma makes her the new Chief of State of the New Republic. And Lando goes to a blob race. I’m not joking.
The events of the trilogy are actually really important, and it’s almost required reading for any Star Wars expanded universe fan if you want to know more about what happens later in the saga. However, I just don’t like the execution! Luke seems to be paralyzed by fear – while it’s likely that he would embark on training an entire Order of new Jedi single-handedly with some trepidation, I don’t think the hero of the original trilogy would be this down about it all. Leia is also reduced to being some sort of caricature – gone is the strong leader we saw in the films, this is a Leia who can’t do anything without her husband. I also thought we got a bit too much, I dunno, kiddie-time, as she tries to connect with her twins (who are now aged 2) and whatnot. While this sort of stuff is all necessary for character and whatnot, it’s not really what Star Wars is all about. I get the impression that, if Anderson had still had Vader to write as well, we’d see the Dark Lord as he struggles with oiling the joints of his mechanical legs, or something equally mundane. Star Wars shouldn’t be mundane, but we get too much of it here.
Kyp Durron…ah, what can I say? While every Star Wars author at this period seems intent on adding their own characters firmly into the storyline, most of the time this never really comes off. Tim Zahn’s additions of Mara and Karrde, Thrawn and Pellaeon just work, but there are others that just, well, don’t. Kyp Durron really rubs me up the wrong way, in a similar fashion to Corran Horn, who I’m sure I’ve mentioned before. Kyp is a teenager who has spent most of his life in the spice mines of Kessel, and when he declares some kind of aptitude for the Force he is tested by Luke and discovered to be absolutely amazing. Kyp turns to the Dark Side, flies around blowing stuff up, then it’s decided that actually, no, he didn’t turn to the Dark Side, but after a brief apology and some time spent looking more sullen than penitent, he is completely forgiven and, within the space of a few more pages, makes it to full Jedi Knight status well before any of the other students at the academy, who have been studying there longer. Basically, the impression I have is that Anderson loves Kyp Durron, and wants to put him into every kind of situation where he can show off just how awesome he is. The thing with him turning to the Dark Side feels like it was done just because Vader was a cool villain and Kyp needs to be cool, in a shimmery black cloak and crap. But then, no, he needs to be a Jedi so – I know, why don’t we say that it was actually Exar Kun who had such a powerful control over him, it wasn’t really Kyp doing all that bad stuff. So, uh, is Kyp so immensely weak that he can be controlled in such a way? Because, during Dark Apprentice, Kyp seemed to be pretty much in control of his own thoughts to me. Meh. It’s basically one of the worst Mary Sue characters in the universe. There are plenty more, of course – Bria Tharen instantly springs to mind – but perhaps the very worst part was the way Han was made to be his best friend/surrogate father. That just wasn’t the Han Solo we all know and love, no matter how much fatherhood might have softened him.
I feel that there is a way for authors to integrate their own characters into the saga with the movie characters, but this is definitely not it. If we look at Zahn’s books, we get to know these new characters on their own first, before we see them with the others. Plus, these characters aren’t perfect people, they have flaws – even Grand Admiral Thrawn needs to take time to think things through, for goodness sake! Xizor is another good example, from Shadows of the Empire. We see him within his own organization, we then see him with Vader and the Emperor, and it just feels natural, to the extent that we almost feel like we’ve known about Xizor and Black Sun forever.
But…Lando at the blob races… I just… urgh.
I feel like my literary criticism is being a bit too harsh lately. First Dark Empire, now this, right?! I’m always really interested to see what other people think about these things, so please leave comments whether you agree or disagree with me!
I’m also currently in the thick of writing the next in my series of short stories set in the GFFA, which I hope to make available here tomorrow. I’ve spent seven and a half hours writing it today (according to the file properties tab), though it has largely been gestating for the past couple of days. I have some finishing touches I want to put to it tomorrow, but then it’ll be posted – as a sneak preview, it’s about an assassin…