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Star Wars - the new canon

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Finally (for now) the third volume of Vader's current series. And it's another that keeps up its series' quality. Again this is set in the very early days of the Empire, but Marvel have been very clever with their concurrent series set in different time periods, because this ties in very closely with the events of the main Star Wars story "Mutiny At Mon Cala" - in fact they could be seen as two parts of the same story, set decades apart. Which also means I probably read them the wrong way round. But even so this is a great story in its own right, and as usual with this series it is full of insights into the young Vader's mind. Interestingly, as this is a little later on, his inner perception of himself has started to match his outer appearance, masked and armoured, even when thinking back to events that occurred before his immolation and "imprisonment" in his life-support apparatus. And just like its companion volume in the main Star Wars line - what a cover again! Spoiled by that blurb but you can't have everything. Oh and I should also say that this collection also includes a one-off story which links Vader to the events of the novel Catalyst, and implies that - no, I can't just say it like that. BIG spoiler alert!

 

Vader, out of rivalry with Tarkin, tipped off Lyra Erso about what she and Galen were really working on (i.e. a super weapon rather than an energy source), which led Galen to defect and then eventually build in the defect which allowed it to be destroyed. Sounds a bit silly on paper but it really works, especially in the context of Vader and Tarkin's relationship which is central to this whole book.

 

I make that four thumbs up and one meh out of five, which is a much better hit rate than Marvel were managing not too long ago. And long may it continue.

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Just one more, because I finished this last night, and I'm glad to say it carries on at the same level as the previous volumes and the related Vader collection above. It carries on directly from the last volume and now the story moves more into space, so there are lots of beautifully illustrated dogfights and gigantic explosions, which is always a good thing in my book. It seems like Gillen has a complete story planned out for his time on the main Star Wars series, and we are about halfway through, and it's all hanging together perfectly, including its links with the rest of the canon including his own previous Darth Vader series. Speaking of which, one thing that's occurred to me is that with all these links between different comics, they could all be full of call out boxes with "See Darth Vader #7 - Ed" etc. all over the place, but Marvel have wisely avoided that altogether, and worked on the basis that readers either recognise characters or events from elsewhere or they don't. Not knowing the links doesn't diminish the stories in any way, but I'm glad they've kept the cross-reference clutter off the rather beautiful pages. And speaking of beautiful, again I must say what a fantastic front cover that is. With this recent bunch of collected editions, Marvel are producing real top notch stuff.

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New book & comic news!

 

There are four new novels that have been announced but not yet published. These are:

 

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Master & Apprentice by Claudia Gray - coming in February. Claudia Gray is THE new canon Star Wars author. This WILL be brilliant.

 

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Queen's Shadow by EK Johnstone. This could go either way! Due in March.

 

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Alphabet Squadron by Alexander Freed. It has been revealed that this isn't a stand alone novel but the first part of a trilogy, AND it ties in with the forthcoming TIE Fighter comic series (see below), with the books telling the Rebels' side of the story and the comics covering overlapping events from the Imperial point of view. I've been impressed with Alexander Freed's books so far, so I'm glad he's been given a bigger assignment (assuming he writes the whole trilogy) and I'm intrigued to see how well the cross-media thing works. Coming in June.

 

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And of course the final part of Timothy Zahn's new Thrawn trilogy. I liked the first but haven't read the second part yet (I've got too many books on my pile of shame and I'm waiting for Kindle discounts before adding to it), but this should be good. Due in July.

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On the comics front, as well as the next instalments in the ongoing Star Wars, Darth Vader and Doctor Aphra series, the following collections are on the way:

 

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Han Solo: Imperial Cadet. The series is running now, the paperback is coming in May.

 

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Two collections coming in May: Age of Republic - Heroes and Age of Republic - Villains. Again these series are running now but are more loosely connected individual stories about particular characters. I've not read any reviews of the series so far (I avoid them generally because I know I'm going to read everything anyway) so I've no idea how well they're turning out.

 

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Then in August there's the equivalent two volumes of the forthcoming Age of Rebellion series...

 

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Also in August is Vader: Dark Visions, the collection of yet another Darth Vader series (the individual comics start in March), about which very little has been revealed so far. Intriguing!

 

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At some point (date TBA) there will be a pair of Age of Resistance collections to go with the corresponding Republic and Rebellion books. The comics don't start coming out until July though, so this is ages away yet.

 

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There'll be a collection of the TIE Fighter series that ties in (ho ho) with the Alphabet Squadron novel trilogy. The comics are published from April.

 

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And finally there's Galaxy's Edge, which also starts in April and will come out as a collected edition some indeterminate time later. This one is based on the forthcoming "Star Wars land" at Disney World, so set your expectations accordingly!

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I'm so looking forward to the new Claudia Gray novel.  I got SO many books over the Christmas holidays that my Star Wars collection has had to take a back seat.

 

And wasn't it E K Johnston who wrote the Ahsoka novel?  I really liked that so maybe the Padme/Amidala book will be worth checking out?

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Yes, EK Johnstone wrote Ahsoka and it was pretty good, so the Padme book could be good. I think I'm just wary of anything prequel-related, which is unfair and of course I'm hypocritically giving Claudia Gray a free pass for her prequel era book.

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More new book news - this time a return to the franchise for Delilah S Dawson (who wrote the rather brilliant Phasma).

 

 

A prequel to the theme park?!  Okay.....

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1 hour ago, NickC said:

It's a clone!!!

 

Didn't some old Expanded Universe book do that stoyline?

Yes. Dark Empire (comic) did... not sure any other books have? 

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11 hours ago, Stoppy2000 said:

Does any of this new canon hint at a Palpatine return? I remember as a teenager I thought Dark Empire was cool (I imagine it isn't). 

 

Yes, it's not so much hinted at as left open as a definite possibility in the Aftermath trilogy, and the same thread is picked up at a key moment in the (excellent) novelisation of The Last Jedi. If you don't want to read four books for what in total is probably about half a dozen pages of relevant text, just look back in this thread for discussions of those novels, particularly the spoilered stuff @Boothjan and I wrote about them. The conversation was around who is Snoke, and where did the First Order come from, but the Emperor is involved in both, and we had some fun reading between the lines and speculating on what might have happened.

 

And given that Aftermath and its sequels were the big tie in novels when The Last Jedi came out (despite being set 30 years earlier) perhaps we shouldn't be too surprised if the final film ties off the major loose ends deliberately left hanging back then. It's almost as if there was an overall plan and they knew what they were doing...

 

Edit: and of course the Shattered Empire comics (also part of the TFA build-up and set even earlier than Aftermath) includes droids programmed with the Emperor's AI to act on his behalf after his death to make sure everything still goes his way. They even have his holographic face and speak with his voice... So it's possible what we hear on the trailer is one of them, although I hope not as they seemed a bit daft to me. I prefer the idea of force users living on in the force, rather than achieving ersatz immortality by cobbling together robot stooges. But we shall see!

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On 12/04/2019 at 20:43, Stoppy2000 said:

Does any of this new canon hint at a Palpatine return? I remember as a teenager I thought Dark Empire was cool (I imagine it isn't). 

 

It is not

 

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I finally got round to reading this on holiday over the last week. It's not quite as good as the first one, but I think that's mainly because of the jumping around between two time periods with (some of) the same characters in the same places about 20(? ish) years apart. It's a nice idea but I think it's a device I just don't get on with - by which I mean, my old brain gets confused about who's doing what and when - as I had a similar problem with Last Shot. Which is a real shame because other than that it was great. Thrawn's inner voice is always great and in this we also get a brilliant insight into the way Vader thinks, and in particular the way he thinks about his former life as The Jedi. The prequel-era chapters aren't as interesting, and as @Matt Defis said, the Padme chapters are the weakest of the lot, with Padme being quite a blank slate in this book, generally capable and resourceful but ultimately quite dull.

 

But despite these minor gripes this is definitely an above-average entry in the growing new canon pile of books. One thing I was surprised by is how stand-alone this is - despite being the middle part of a trilogy it doesn't follow on directly from the first book and you don't need to have read part one to understand and enjoy this. However it does hint at the theme of the final part (Thrawn Treason) and I'm looking forward to seeing how this particular saga plays out.

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Oh yes, there's grudging respect from Vader but Thrawn's under no illusions about who's the brains of the operation. I love the moment near the end where he finally goes too far and says something like "as I told you last time we were here" or something similar, and Vader knows that he knows but has to keep up the pretence of not knowing what he's talking about. (That sentence definitely makes sense if you've read the book.)

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