Showing Star Wars a Little Literary Love

Week 3: The Jedi Path and The Book of The Sith by Daniel Wallace

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Understandably, I’m a few days late on this, but I did finish these two books — however short they may be — on time. I swear!

The first thing I’d like to comment on these two books is how immaculately and forcefully they stay true to the character of the Star Wars universe. You know when you open a book and there’s some publishing information, perhaps a few excerpts from reviews, a page “For..” such and such, not here! The first page in the Jedi Path is commentary from Luke Skywalker about the contents of the book as well as the reasoning the pages themselves are lined with the handwriting of voices of an era past. There is writing in these books, characterized by their own unique penmanship and signature of characters like Emperor Sidious, who presumably found the text after Order 66, Qui-Gon Jinn, who handed it to Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, and even Yoda.

The Jedi Path is the handbook to everything you need to know about being a Jedi in the Star Wars universe, from a Jedi, to a potential Jedi. They go in depth on the Jedi Code, the Force, there are entire chapters dedicated to lightsaber construction and what style of lightsaber fighting best suits you. (I’d probably be Form III, Soresu. Defense for the win).

The latter half of the book is a manual dedicated to making you, the reader the most effective Jedi you can be. Diplomacy, dealing with exotic and deadly flora and fauna on certain worlds in the galaxy. Resources you can utilize to help keep the peace on your next assignment in the Outer Rim.

Even if you’ve no knowledge of the Expanded Universe, the in depth look of the Star Wars universe via literature and comics, this book is a breath of fresh air if you adore the Star Wars universe. Go read it, right now. *Jedi hand wave*

Now, to the Dark Side!

The Path of the Sith is a bit tougher, even for someone who is well versed on the Star Wars universe. The first complexity is that this is not a single book, but a compilation of strung together texts that have been made into a single manual. Each book has a different writer, a Sith Lord from a different time frame. While I won’t spoil it, I will admit that if you have never played Star Wars: The Old Republic you will not know who two of the six writers are, and if you’ve never watched Star Wars: The Clone Wars cartoon, you’ll be mystified as to why one of the writers is not a Sith Lord at all.

The Path of the Sith is the ultimate manifesto for becoming a dark sider, but it’s more a historical tool than it is a practical one. Approximately 70% of the book is history on the Sith, and sprinkled within are practical tools on how to best force choke your way to the title of Darth.

I enjoyed the different perspectives, whereas in the Path of the Jedi there is a single unifying voice, here you can feel how one Sith’s opinions greatly differed on another. This book also is pockmarked with individual writing from those who once held the books. Characters like Mace Windu, Emperor Sidious and Darth Vader are some of the characters that offer commentary in this book. The comments here are much rarer here, which is something I really enjoyed from the Path of the Jedi.

That being said however, I feel that if you were to read one of these books, the universe at large would require you to read the other — if only to keep the cosmic balance. I read a third book this week, the Bounty Hunters Code, which I’ll be speaking about in my next post later today. For those that prefer a blaster to a lightsaber, you’ll want to come back for that.

Now I’m asking you, Daniel Wallace. Will we see a Smuggler’s Codex, perhaps? Or an Imperial Stormtrooper Field Manual? I’ll get back to you on that.

Bonne jounée, mes amis.

Why Everyone Needs a Friend Like Coburn

Week 2: Double Dead by Chuck Wendig.

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The second attempt of my year long adventure to conquer fifty-two different books of as many different authors and genres as I can muster has ended. Successfully. I read this novel fast. So per usual, I’ll give a miniature review of what I thought of the book as well as some dubious thoughts on how my own writing has been proceeding. Let’s get to it.

I won’t lie, I’m a huge zombie fan. Bigger than you. I play zombie board games (Dead of Winter, go check it out immediately! After you finish reading this). Sometimes I put a zombie movie on and just absentmindedly listen to it in the background while studying or doing class work. I’ve read the Walking Dead graphic novels and can readily put out discrepancies and differences between the comic and the television show. Yet I’ll admit, the world at large has been suffering a bout of zombie fatigue. I think Chuck Wendig realized that, and that’s why this book works.

Double Dead‘s setting is a world beset by the zombie apocalypse — the dead have risen up, moaning and groaning and hungry for living flesh. It’s been done a thousand times. Actually, just as you read that another book with that exact premise was just published. So let’s change it up. Let’s add a vampire. Then make him a complete dick.

The main character, Coburn, is not so different from the other living characters that are sprinkled throughout the book. Beneath it all, Coburn is just trying to find his next meal — it’s just that his next meal is usually the fleshy neckmeat of some unsuspecting human.

The world Chuck paints is desperately human, and I think it exists in stark contrast to many other decrepit post-apocalyptic settings of the zombie genre. While others depict the world as one of hope, where people put aside their differences and the do-gooders put down those who would harm them and their loved ones, it seems like Chuck Wendig’s version of the post apocalyptic world is run by genuinely evil people. Cannibalistic hunters, opportunistic lowlifes and hyper religious fanatics are some of the forces of momentum that hope to take hold while the rest of us are scurrying away the zombie scourge like roaches from the exterminator.

I got through this book in five days because once Chuck generates the momentum to get the story going, he doesn’t let it stop. He doesn’t let you catch your breath and I can’t hold my breath that long so I just had to hold on and enjoy the ride. My favorite aspect of this book is the creeping humanization of Coburn, and I’d spoil it for you but I want you to go read it for yourself.

If you haven’t checked out Chuck, you’re missing out!

The book I’ll be dismantling for Week 3 is The Book of the Sith by Daniel Wallace. A book that attempts so seriously to come right out of the Star Wars universe I had to look up online that Daniel Wallace was the author because the book itself says Emperor Palpatine (as well as other Sith Lords) are the actual author. Good times.

Thank You, Mr. Conroy

Week 1: Rising Sun by Robert Conroy

So I told you on Christmas that I intended to read one book a week to ultimately read fifty-two books this year. I started Robert Conroy‘s Rising Sun, but because I went on vacation to visit my wonderful girlfriend, I could not finish the book until today. Have no fear! I can still accomplish my goal, with room to spare given some thoughtful planning. I’ve finished the book and I’ll give you a miniature review on it, my thoughts and of course an update on all things writing.

First, I’d like to say quite sadly that it wasn’t until I finished the book and looked up Robert Conroy that I learned he passed away due to a battle with cancer. I’m overwhelming glad that beyond his life he lived on through his writing, and I seriously doubt Rising Sun will be the only Conroy book I read in my fifty-two week long journey.

I’ll that say Robert Conroy’s literature is not prodigal, but his ability to tell stories is ultimately compelling. The book’s premise is that the Battle of Midway is won not by the United States, but rather by the Imperial Japanese Navy. The primary character is a naval officer named Tim Dane, and he has a cast of characters who grow throughout the novel and you are ultimately concerned with their fate. There are two fictional Japanese characters as well, but I wish they had been fleshed out more, as I’ve always enjoyed the perspective of antagonists, more so since the Japanese were compelled to fight on no matter what.

The plot is fluid and dynamic and there are few moments of downtime. However, because this is an alternate historical fiction novel, I thought it would have been keen to add the dates to see how everything progressed. Without dates, you’re kind of left to your own devices to ponder how much time has passed.

There are also several sex scenes in the novel, some more detailed than others and while I won’t complain, I felt they were oddly placed in a alternate fiction novel based on heavily on several nation’s military’s during the second world war. It’s a doubler edged sword for me because I know these characters are intended to be human, and humans have sex. A lot of sex. Even when people are killing each other. So it made them feel more human, all the while feeling slightly off as the scenes were usually written between intervals of naval bombings and banzai charges.

There were some instances where characters were introduced, I believe, purely for the sake of moving the plot forward and were never heard of again. I’m not necessarily a fan of this, but I understand that it’s a better alternative than having characters do unworldly things to advance the plot.

Ultimately, Robert Conroy creates an interesting story with a plethora of characters set during the most atrocious and costly war humankind has ever known. He takes on real life characters like Admiral Spruance and the Japanese genius Isoroku Yamamato with a verve and charm that gives life to human beings I can only imagine from greyed out pictures in my history books. I don’t have a rating system, but if I would recommend this book to anyone who has a love of anything historical!

The book I’ll be reading for the second week of 2015 will be Double Dead by Chuck Wendig. I have no earthly idea how I came across Chuck Wendig, but I purchased his self-published book the Kick-Ass Writer when I made the conscious decision to take my writing seriously and I found him both a realist and a comedian. What better way to compliment a writer than reading another of his books? Swing by in a week and see what I think of Chuck this time.

Bonne journée, mes amis.