Friday, June 12, 2015

James Review -- Star Wars: Tales from The New Republic

This week I decided to review Star Wars: Tales from The New Republic, a short story collection edited by Peter Schweighofer and Craig Carey which contains eleven stories.

The first is "Interlude at Darkknell," a four-part novella with parts one and four written by Timothy Zahn and parts three and four written by Michael Stackpole. Corellian Security detective Hal Horn is chasing a thief named  Moranda Savich who has fled to the planet Darkknell. But Savich has inadvertently stolen highly classified data intended for delivery to the fledgling Rebel Alliance, data that is so valuable that Armand Isard, the head of Imperial Intelligence, assigns his daughter Ysanne to retrieve it personally. When Horn and Isard form a shaky team, Horn, who has his own personal reasons to wish for the fall of the Empire, must decide if he is willing to risk hindering Isard’s efforts and thus potentially make a very dangerous enemy. Meanwhile, Garm bel Iblis, former Corellian senator and founding member of the leadership of the  Rebel Alliance, who is also widely believed to be dead, must race to locate Savich and the stolen data before the Empire does.

The second story is "Jade Solitaire," this time written by Zahn alone. Mara Jade and the crew of the Wild Karrde find themselves kidnapped by Ja Bardrin, a man highly involved in a weapon and ship component manufacturing conglomerate. His daughter Sansia and her yacht have been captured by a pirate known to despise humans, and the dealer wishes for Jade to infiltrate the pirate fortress as a prisoner, then rescue his daughter and retrieve the vessel. But when Mara deduces during her mission that the father might have sent  his daughter into a trap, he must decide what to do with the information should they escape.

Next is "Gathering Shadows" by Kathy Burdette. It is a story focusing in a rebel commando and a rebel-alied mercenary who are stuck in a cell together after being captured. They are struggling to remember and sort out many of the details of their pasts as a side effect of an Imperial mind probe, and this leads to the commando suffering a number of short flashbacks while some of their allies work on a plan to break them out.  

Following this is "Hutt and Seek" by Chris Cassidy and Tish Pahl. This one focuses on a ship trying to deliver some dancing girls to a Hutt. But the vessel carrying the dancing girls is intercepted by a slaver vessel en route and is badly damaged. And to make matters all the more complicated, the crew and mercenaries hired to escort the dancers find themselves weaving through an ever more complicated net of plots within plots as they grow closer to their destination.

The next tale is "The Longest Fall" by Patricia A. Jackson. It tells of Imperial Star Destroyer Captain  Jovan Vharing as he apologizes to a High Inquisitor for a subordinate’s errors, and includes a few flashbacks to the captain’s past.

After this is "Conflict of Interests" by  Laurie Burns,  This one is about New Republic agent Selby Jarrad who has been sent to aid a native anti-Imperial uprising on Verkuyl, a world whose governor has begun construction on a new bacta refinery. But soon after her team attends a party at the govenor’s mansion, everything begins to go wrong and the team is captured. And when Selby meets a loyalist agent who tries to explain why the inhabitants of the world are actually better off under the Empire then they were before the Imperials came with the uprising being a kneejerk reaction to recent events in the galaxy and Selby must decide if carrying out her mission is worth the effects it will have on Verkuyl.  

Next is "No Disintegrations, Please" by Paul Danner . It is a flashback telling of Boba Fett, who had been hired to eliminate a slicer who stole from Jabba the Hutt. But the slicer’s brother, an Imperial general, is willing to deploy the full forces of his command to defend his sibling and a massive battle ensues, ending with the general and Fett hunting each other one on one.

Following this comes "Day of the Sepulchral Night" by Jean Rabe. A Weequay bounty hunter and his mate are vacationing on Zelos II when they decide to go hunting for a legendary treasure which is easiest to reach during the story’s namesake holiday. They ally with a Qwohog, a species which can’t safely spend time in salt water, named K'zk, and during the hunt the group join forces with a pair of shipwreck survivors. But in the end is there a treasure, and even if there is will treachery cost them everything?

After this comes  "Uhl Eharl Khoehng" by Patricia A. Jackson. A Rebel officer, whose father was a Jedi, seeks out a renegade former Imperial inquisitor hoping to be trained to resist the Dark Side techniques of a Dark Jedi she has fought in the past. But she begins to fall in love with her teacher’s son and the former inquisitor does not approve. When the confrontation begin between, student and teacher and father and son, will any escape or will they all become footnotes in history?

Next up is "The Last Hand" by Paul Danner. After the legendary gambler Kinnin Vo-Shay, who has been missing for half a century, appears in a cantina wishing to join a sabacc game but has one problem. He has no money until a young man named Nyo loans him a credit which he turns into a small fortune. After giving Nyo back most of the money, he asks what the young man wants to do with it. Nyo, who has always dreamed of being a Jedi despite the order being outlawed (and is Force sensitive), is planning to travel to Nar Shaddaa to buy a lightsaber from a dealer that is holding one for him. Vo-Shay offers to fly Nyo to Nar Shaddaa but en route they are ambushed by a small force consisting of a  freighter and a pair of fighters hired by Doune, the gambler who lost the money to Vo-Shay. And when they manage to reach their destination they discover that Doune has beaten them to the lightsaber and Vo-Shay must face him in another card game, this time gambling his personal lucky charm.

Finally, there is "Simple Tricks" by Chris Cassidy and Tish Pahl. The partner of Fenig Nabon, a smuggler and con artist, has been kidnapped by Hutt agents. Fenig discovers a Jedi who is willing to help rescue her partner, but the Jedi has a dark past, and when Fenig discovers his secrets, she must decide whether or not he can be trusted. And forces allied with the Hutts await either way.
I give the collection an 8.5 out of 10. There is a great array of stories here but I wish they had included one focused on a starfighter battle, fleet action, or stories about both. Still, the battle sequences in the stories are well done. However there are a couple of stories that I feel were thrown in just to make the collection longer, especially "The Last Hand" and "Jade Solitare". They are not bad stories but they have little or nothing to do with either the New Republic or the Rebel Alliance so I don’t see the point of putting it in a collection focused on the New Republic.

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