Saturday, March 17, 2018

James Review -- Star Wars: Thrawn

This week I decided to review Star Wars: Thrawn by Timothy Zahn. 

Shortly after the book begins, a scouting party from the Venator-class Star Destroyer Strikefast finds an encampment on a planet in the Unknown Regions. Following standard operating procedure, they begin to study the encampment, but after suffering causalities, the destroyer’s commander, Captain Voss Parck, orders them to withdraw. Captain Parck swiftly realizes that the encampment’s inhabitant, Thrawn, managed to board the Strikefast by disguising himself as a stormtrooper and captures the Chiss exile. 

After an interview, aided by Cadet Eli Vanto, who speaks a rare language known by Thrawn, Parck decides to take the Chiss to Emperor Palpatine who assigns Thrawn to a three-month course at the Royal Imperial Academy to study Basic and Imperial technology and procedures with Vanto finishing his own training there while tutoring Thrawn in Basic.

Thrawn and Vanto manage to evade both traps designed to get them expelled from the Academy, and assaults from fellow cadets to graduate second and third in their class. Vanto is assigned as Thrawn’s aide but even after graduating they face prejudice due to Thrawn being nonhuman and Vanto’s home far from the Core. They also face jealousy from superiors embarrassed by Thrawn’s superior skill, at times leading to retaliation against their few friends among their superiors. Eventually they meet a pirate known as Nightswan, the first of many encounters with Nightswan’s plans to spark rebellion against the Empire.

Meanwhile Arihnda Pryce is driven from her home on Lothal after the family has to give up their mine holdings there in response to local Imperial officials framing her mother for embezzlement. Pryce sets out to gain the power and status needed to retaliate against her enemies. During her rise through the ranks, she inadvertently became part of an organization linked to Nightswan and aides Thrawn and the Imperial Security Bureau in dismantling the group. In time she becomes governor of Lothal, but eventually the area where her parents live is taken by Nightswan’s rebels with Thrawn assigned to root them out. She receives permission to launch an effort to rescue her family but events swiftly go out of control sending the plans of both Pryce and Thrawn disastrously awry…

I give this book 9.5 out of 10. I enjoyed the various characters and learning more about their goals and motives. I also respect the author for being willing to stand against the Rebels writers efforts to paint Thrawn as more of a stereotypical Imperial. The only things I felt could be improved were expanding some of the space battles and adding more detail to a few sections. Honestly I think giving the Thrawn and Pryce plots separate novels and filling the space with more details on the plot of each character would have been great.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Aragami Now Available For Pre-Order

I got the ebook file back from the company I hired for conversion, and it looks pretty darn good. Better than anything I've ever published, if I do say so myself. Really professional work. You can now pre-order the book on Kindle. It will be released on March 27. Just head on over to the Amazon page. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Aragami Cover Reveal

Here it is, people: the official cover for Aragami. Much thanks to Ramon Moncairap for putting this together. I'm shooting for a March 13 release, but I won't put it up for pre-order until all the formatting has been accomplished which hopefully won't take too long.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

James Review -- Kris Longknife: Admiral

This week I decided to review Kris Longknife: Admiral by Mike Shepherd. 

Kris Longknife was assigned to establish an embassy in the Iteeche Empire. But when she arrived she found that the empire was in the middle of a civil war and that the Emperor had requested her presence so he could give her command of the loyalist fleet. 

This book opens with Kris leading a training exercise which turns into a battle when a number of her captains turn against her. After defeating the turncoat vessels, Kris returns to the Imperial capital just in time to save some of the merchants that came along in hopes of negotiating trade deals from public execution.

Once back on the Imperial capital Kris struggles to work her way through the Iteeche military bureaucracy to gain information that would aid her efforts against the rebels while also trying to maintain the peace between the human merchants and the Iteeche. Also she finds herself facing an attempt to assassinate her and the emperor in one blow when rebel agents attempt to force a vessel she is planning to disassemble to crash. And she also faces an ongoing struggle to find ways to incorporate human advances into the Loyalist ships without violating traditions held dear by the Iteeche

Eventually the rebels attack a key loyalist industrial center and the loyalist fleet under Longknife’s direct command moves to assist the planet’s defenders. But when they arrive they swiftly realize the attack was a diversion, leading to a desperate race to defend the Imperial capital’s population from a rebel attack force that massively outnumbers Longknife’s fleet.

I give this book 8 out of 10. I liked learning some more about the Iteeche culture and the various problems Longknife encountered because of Iteeche beliefs and taboos. But while I usually love the battle scenes in this series, I found the climatic battle in this book very disappointing. Also, I had hoped the five year time skip in the setting would lead to a restored diversity in warship types. Instead it seems like almost all the warships seen are battlecruisers. I’ve always been interested in ship classes and types and I find this uniformity boring.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

James Review -- Andromedan Dark: Darkness Falling

This week I decided to review Andromedan Dark: Darkness Falling by Ian Douglas. 

When the novel begins, the colony mission led by the Tellus Ad Astra has found itself displaced four billion years into the future to an age where the Andromeda and Milky Way galaxies have merged. The expedition has fended off an attack by the Andromedan Dark. When the expedition approaches a world believed to have once been Earth, they encounter the Galactic Cooperative, an alliance of civilizations fighting the Andromedan Dark.

The Galactic Cooperative offers the humans a new world and support in exchange for the expedition doing battle against their enemies. Grayson St Clair, the expedition’s military commander, questions why such an advanced force needs the Tellus Ad Astra’s assistance, but the Cybercouncil, the mission’s civilian leadership, agrees to the alliance without consulting him. This leaves the human forces facing the rapidly approaching Bluestar, an Andromedan Dark attack platform. 

After a scouting mission goes horribly wrong, St. Clair is forced to attempt to convince the Cooperative’s leadership to give him the resources needed for a desperate attack plan. Meanwhile, the ousted former leader of the Cybercouncil has been trying to turn the population against the alliance with the Cooperative. This leads to the Cybercouncil sending an assassin after him, and they swiftly add St. Clair to their target list because they're angered by him exercising the authority granted him during military emergencies. And St. Clair is still exploring many questions regarding ties between the Cooperative and the Dark as well as the role one of, or both of, the factions played in bringing the Tellus Ad Astra to this era.

I give this book 9 out of 10. It has a nice variety of scenes, problems and questions for the characters to deal with. I also enjoy a lot of the characterizations, and the number of view point characters. That being said, there are some plotlines that I wish had received more attention then they did.