In my last post, I mentioned that the boredom was starting to set in. I also mentioned that said boredom might lead me to start reviewing the books on my shelf.
Well, this is that.
As I mentioned on my Instagram earlier this week, the first round of reviews will be courtesy of my Star Wars shelf:
I’ll be moving through the books in the Disney-era EU in a roughly chronological order, with the aim of being done by the time E.K. Johnston’s Queen’s Peril comes out in June, and then I can just review them as they come out! Hopefully by then we won’t be in lockdown anymore, but who knows.
My initial plan was to do this as a combination blog post/podcast. I might still do that down the line, but for now the podcast part is on hold. My favourite kinds of podcasts are the ones with more than one host bouncing off each other. Me talking about a book alone will almost certainly end with a lot of “and…uh…yeah!”. And I want to spare you all from that.
One thing I will not be doing is giving these ratings. My rating system tends to be something along the lines of “everything is made up and the points don’t matter”.
Let’s dive in, starting with my favourite script-slash-audio drama, Dooku: Jedi Lost.
Of all the stories in the Star Wars literary canon, this is the one I’ve read the most (listened 3 times, read once). Surprising, maybe, given that it’s not my favourite one. It does hold a special place in my heart though.
It was announced as an upcoming project shortly after I’d decided I wanted to read all the books in the Disney-era EU. I was excited at the idea of a new story, but that quickly turned to disappointment when I realized it was an audiobook-only project. I didn’t think I had the focus for audiobooks. But then I saw that this was going to be a full production, with a full cast of actors. Maybe it wouldn’t be as hard to follow as I thought. Less than a month before it was released, I signed up for a free trial of Audible and used my one credit to pre-order D:JL. When it popped up on my phone 3 weeks later, it totally changed how I saw audiobooks. The sound effects, the different voices, the faint strains of John Williams’ score adding subtle emotional weight to scenes and hitting me right in the feels. This was what audiobooks should be.
Sometime before we ever meet him onscreen, Dooku enlists his assassin/apprentice Asajj Ventress to complete one easy task: track down his sister, Jenza. He provides Asajj with old holodiscs, messages sent to Jenza during his time as a Padawan in the Temple, up to his adulthood when he had Padawans of his own. Asajj is accompanied on her quest by the ghost of her former Jedi master, Ky Narec.
The story takes place across two timelines: the first is Asajj’s, as we follow her on her mission. The second is Dooku’s, taking place through the messages, and eventually through journal entries, and detailed eyewitness accounts. This second timeline concerns itself with Dooku’s struggles at the temple. Though he is a proficient student, with amazing potential, he finds himself feeling more and more trapped by the kind of confined life the Jedi lead, pushing him to finally break free to try and do good in another way.
The book is very episodic, which is nice. It makes it easy to refer back to certain sections like they’re episodes of a TV show. The structure reminded me, on the most recent reread of the 2019 adaptation of Little Women (naturally), with two timelines both moving forward from their start points.
4 Things I Liked (and 1 I Didn’t)
1. Temple Life
I always love getting a look at life within the Temple and the Order, even though the system is deeply flawed. It’s part of why I love the prequels so much. The Phantom Menace was the first one I saw in theatres, and it happened to be right around the time I started reading Harry Potter. Naturally it made me wonder what a school full of teenage padawans would look like, and I’m glad we got some of that here.
2. Revisiting the issue of Jedi attachment
I have a lot of thoughts on the Jedi and their attitude towards attachment. It’s one of the reasons I think they ended up the way they did. I think detachment in the name of neutrality can eventually lead down the path of apathy and indifference, and this route becomes very apparent in this book. When they find out one of the Jedi masters had a child in secret, Yoda swears that had they known sooner, the council would have helped. But we, the reader, know that their views on the subject don’t ever change. Why else would Anakin Skywalker keep his marriage a secret?
Dooku receives a message from his sister, begging for him to return to Serenno and help fight off invaders that are causing havoc in the system. The Senate doesn’t want to get involved, calling it an internal matter and the Jedi council refuses to grant him permission to go alone. Attachment to his home and family is forbidden and all that. He goes anyway and succeeds in helping his sister, only to be greeted by the council now claiming that the Senate is very willing to help clean up, coincidentally after Dooku uncovered a valuable natural resource in the system. That the politicians are corrupt comes as no surprise. That the Jedi don’t see a problem with it, that does. They had a bigger issue with someone wanting to help due to a personal attachment than they do with a governing body taking over for personal gain.
Though this is decidedly not-awesome of the Jedi, I thought this was such compelling storytelling. I’m also interested to see how the High Republic books deal with the question of attachment
I remember Asajj from The Clone Wars. But mostly, I remember her aesthetic and her distinctive way of speaking. If anything about who she is as a person ever came up, I didn’t pick up on it any of the times I watched. So the fact that we get Asajj backstory here was amazing. It makes me want to watch the show again. I know not every character needs extensive backstory always, but I always like a character more if there is something about them I can empathize with, you know?
4. Dooku – Not such a bad guy?
Dooku is a villain, I’m not here to say otherwise. But through most of the book, he’s portrayed as a smart kid, and later a smart man who really means well. He has a fascination with the dark side and with his own ancestry, sure, but his heart is in the right place. Even his reasons for leaving the order seemed, to me, to be with the best of intentions. But the well-intentioned person we see in flashback is not the cruel master that Asajj has to contend with. The book doesn’t really go into how that switch flipped for him, and I don’t think it’s strictly necessary, but I do think it added a lot of interesting depth for a character I didn’t much care about before reading this.
5. The Hospital on Protobranch
Generally speaking, I don’t like extensive action scenes and I reeeeeeally don’t like chase scenes. It’s worse if I have to read them. Guaranteed my eyes will glaze over, and I’ll wind up stuck on the same passage for too long, or worse, I’ll skip it and miss something important. There are a few of these in this book, but they end fairly quickly. But the one that sticks out the most to me is this very extensive sequence where Dooku and his friend Sifo Dyas are trying to save a group of patients and doctors from a hospital that is rapidly filling up with bacta. I understand the significance of the scene in the work as a whole, and I understand the need for action scenes, particularly from this franchise, but it really isn’t my cup of tea.
The dialogue pulled from the movies/shows was great and made me gasp out loud the first time I heard it
I love little Qui Gon. He’s so keen, it’s adorable.
Rael Aveross sort of sounds like Sam Elliott to me which means I could listen to him talk all day
If certain movies are to be believed, Force Lightning is apparently Palpatine trait so I can only assume Dooku is a Palpatine clone (I kid I kid)