Saturday, February 27, 2016

Vision of the Future: The Review

We now come to the second book of the Hand of Thrawn Duology. This book was the final book published under Bantam before Del Rey took over. In a way it sort of concluded so much of what had happened in all of the books leading up to it. It's also worth noting that the time between this book and the start of the New Jedi Order, is several years. Indicating that there was actually a stretch of peacefulness not worth writing stories about. This was also a LONG book. I'll do my best to get the good stuff in here, and fortunately there was some good stuff.

We begin with.... well, it doesn't begin with Han and Leia, but that's where I'm going to begin. Because before that it begins with lots of bad guys and Karrde and Wedge and stuff and then Luke going to try and find Mara. Do we need details on that? I agree we do not. So WE begin with Han and Leia on that little "vacation" Han suggested at the end of the last book. Remember how in the last book review I joked about the Solo kids being treated like those sitcom babies added late in a show run? You don't really see them or hear from them much? Well this book is an even worse offender in that regard. They only make a very brief appearance at the very end. I'm not really complaining, it was just something that stood out to me. Han and Leia needed their vacation time anyway, and the kids are apparently hanging out on Kashyyyk playing in the trees with Chewie.

They do have to at least pretend to be "working" for part of this trip. But Leia was quite happy with Han's idea of the vacation. "And it had been a good idea, too. In the half day since their arrival Leia had already begun to feel the tension draining out of her. Getting away from Coruscant was exactly what she’d needed, and she’d taken great pains to mention that to her husband at least twice now and to thank him for his thoughtfulness." Oh, good, Leia appreciating Han.

Unfortunately, because this is Han and Leia, someone is planning an attack on them. And while they're on vacation, no less. But first they have to finish sitting through the talks on Pakrik Major, but once those are over they head over to Pakrik Minor, which is quiet and has farms and forests and some cute little inn where Han has booked a room for them. Leia, for once, is very happy about all of this and even feels the tension leaving her. Sadly, those moments of leaving tension are short-lived, as their attackers arrive and start firing on them. Han and Leia at least act as a good team here, working together to try and stop the bad guys, as usual. Han leaves Leia to pilot and goes into the upper gun turret, which she is not happy about because he isn't well protected up there.

Han starts trying to take them out and coaches Leia through some fancy pilot maneuvers that causes one of the ships to collide with them and Leia to bump her head, though not too badly. It doesn't stop Han from being very concerned when he returns to the cockpit and sees the blood on her head. The impact has also caused them to lose the ability to fly, and they start falling toward the planet below.

The Falcon had been with the two of them all their married life, and with Han even longer than that, and Leia knew it would hurt him terribly to let the ship go. But it was the height of foolishness to hold so closely to any possession that it killed you. Grimacing, she keyed for escape pod activation.
Nothing happened.

"Oh, no," she breathed, keying it again, and again. "No."

But the result didn’t change. The escape pods were inoperative.

And she and Han were trapped in a ruined ship, plummeting toward the ground.

Well, clearly that isn't good. Han remains in the back trying to do whatever he does with his ship while Leia waits up in the cockpit watching the planet get closer. It's not looking good, though.

 ...if you’ve got any Jedi tricks up your sleeve, it’s about time to give them a try."

"I’m already trying," Leia said, her heart aching within her. She had been trying, in fact, ever since realizing the full extent of the danger they were in.

She’d tried to contact any Force-sensitives in the system, had quieted the distractions in Han’s mind so that he could concentrate better on his work, had stretched out to the Force looking for guidance or inspiration. But none of it seemed to have helped; and with an almost overpowering sense of helplessness she knew there was nothing more she could do. She couldn’t repair the sublight engines with a wave of her hand, or stop the Falcon’s inexorable fall planetward, or call for help where none existed.

We’re doomed. Threepio’s oft-repeated wail echoed through her mind. It was just as well he wasn’t here, she decided. Or the children, safe on Kashyyyk under Chewbacca’s care. Or even their Noghri guards. If it was their time to die, there was no need for anyone else to go with them. Good-bye, Jacen, Jaina, Anakin, she thought toward the stars, knowing that the message would almost certainly not reach them, wishing with a deep regret that she could see them one last time.

Yikes, things are pretty dire here, aren't they? Leia thinking she's never going to see her kids again? As you can probably guess, they don't die. (Remember when they both used to live through stuff?)  Some TIE Interceptors slow to their speed and basically catch them with some cables and lower them down safely to the planet. They have no idea who it is, and it turns out to be these clones who were created by the Empire, but really only want to be left alone in peace on their beautiful planet. The only reason they stopped the Falcon from crashing was to save their own landscape from the damage it would've caused. Han and Leia still need to find out which Bothans were responsible for the Camaas attack and decide that since they are from the Empire, they can get them in to find out. So Han volunteers to go.

"Wait a minute," Leia cut in. "Don’t you mean take us out there?"

"Sorry, hon," Han said, shaking his head. "But if there’s one person everyone in the Empire knows by sight, it’s you."

"Oh, really?" Leia countered. "You think you’re any better?"

"I wasn’t ever president of the New Republic," Han pointed out. "Besides, one of us has to

"Why?" Leia demanded, a dull ache around her heart. Han had done a lot of crazy things in his life; but walking into the heart of the Empire was beyond even his old smuggler’s rashness. "The New Republic has other people they could send."

"Yeah, but which ones can we trust?" Han asked. "Besides, we don’t have time to go back and hunt up a team. The whole New Republic’s balanced on a blade edge right now."

"But you can’t go alone," Leia insisted. "And don’t forget I’m a Jedi. Any trouble you get into?"

I do like the way Zahn writes them. He doesn't get too crazy with things getting mushy, but it is so clear how much they care about one another, and how well they worked together. There is some more discussion on Han going and he decides he's going to take Lando with him. Leia is not happy about any of it, but she reluctantly agrees that it is all the right way to do things.

Under the table, Leia caught Han’s hand. "So much for our little vacation," she said, forcing a smile that probably looked as unconvincing as it felt.

The look that flickered across Han’s face made her wish she hadn’t said that. "I’m sorry, Leia," he said in a low voice. "We never seem to get a break from all this, do we?"

"Not very often," she agreed with a sigh. "If I’d realized at the beginning how much all of this was going to cost... I don’t know."

"I do," Han said. "You’d have died on Alderaan, Palpatine would still be running the Empire, and I’d still be shipping spice for slimetails like Jabba. All that by itself makes it worth it."

"You’re right," Leia said, feeling slightly ashamed of her moment of self-pity.

Very good points, Han. Then the conversation continues.

"When were you and Carib planning to leave?"

"Well, let’s see," Han said consideringly, an unexpected glint of roguishness touching the somber tone of his emotions. "I’ve got to get a transmission across to Lando, and Carib’s got to roll their freighter out and run a check on it. And he’s a family man, too, so he’s going to need time to say good-bye to his wife and kids. So let’s say... tomorrow morning?"

Translation: he’d told Carib they weren’t leaving till morning, with whatever excuses he’d needed to make it stick. "Thank you," she said quietly, squeezing his hand and trying the smile again. It felt much better this time.

"It’s not what I was looking for," Han said. "But I guess it’s better than nothing."

"Much better," she assured him. "But do you think all these crises can wait an extra night?"

"I don’t know," Han said, sliding out of his seat and offering her his arm in one of those old Royal Alderaanian gestures he too rarely used. "But I guess they’ll have to."

End Chapter. Good for you, Han. Making sure you and Leia get at least one night together before you take off. I'd say this could be a good spot for a missing moment, because we all know what they spent most of that night doing.

I'll mention here that Luke and Mara spend the majority of this book together. Uh, falling in love, I guess? I mean, I remembered thinking at the time I first read this one that it seemed to come out of nowhere, and my feelings on that were confirmed. There is like one tiny moment where Luke notices her hair or something and that is pretty much it. I'll talk more about that later though. They spend the whole book trudging through some primitive planet.

Anyway, Han and Lando are off on Bastian and Leia actually takes the Falcon and goes to meet with Admiral Palleon about potential peace treaties. She finds out that Bastian isn't the safest place to be:

Except that for once that source had failed her. Or perhaps more correctly, she had failed it. No matter how hard she stretched out to the Force, all she could see was the turmoil of her own fears for Han’s safety. Fears that she’d managed to suppress until now; guilt that she’d allowed him, even encouraged him, to step onto a hostile world in the first place; resentment and anger that after all their years of sacrifice she and Han were still the ones who always seemed to be called on to risk everything for others.

Blinking back tears, she tried to push back the sudden surge of emotion. But it remained a restless churning pool washing across her mind and spirit.

Aw, poor Leia, worried about Han and hating that they are always the ones putting their lives on the line.

Han and Lando are busy looking through Imperial archives on their little mission and Lando at one point mentions how Han still has some standing with the New Republic and people know Leia and:

"....Especially if they know how Leia reacts when one of her family gets in trouble."

"You mean like when one of the kids gets kidnapped or her husband gets beaten to a pulp or something?" Han growled, feeling his face warm.

Ah, referencing other books. No, Leia doesn't like it when either of those things happen. I should mention that Han and Leia spend the majority of the middle of this book apart, but they do seem to think of each other often.

Han and Lando of course encountered some complications on their little mission, though they did get what they went for. So we actually get a call from Han to Leia. It's so weird in these books how sometimes I swear it's like they can't really talk to each other.

"It’s so good to hear your voice again, Han," Leia’s voice came over the Lady Luck’s speaker, and there was no mistaking the relief in her tone. "I’ve been so worried about you."

"Hey, hon, it was no big deal," Han assured her, only fudging the truth a little.

There would be plenty of time to tell her the whole story of their little trip to Bastion when he could hold her hand while he did it.

Aw, Leia worried about Han. And Zahn seems to like having Han call Leia "hon" which is cute. The real reason Han isn't telling her more is for security, but I like that he knows he doesn't want to tell her the real danger he was in unless he is there to reassure her. Then Leia starts telling him about what she has been doing and it starts to sound like something bad happened and there is mention of Han's hands curling into fists at the thought that someone tried to hurt her, but luckily she was fine. Then we come to the end of the call:

"I’m just glad you’re safe. I’ll call Gavrisom right away and give him the good news about your mission."

"And tell him I’m not going to give it to him unless he promises you some real vacation time when this is over," Han warned.

"Absolutely," she agreed.

"Okay. I love you, Leia."

He could almost hear her smile. "I know," she said in their private joke. "I’ll see you soon."

I'm such a sucker for this. I of course write it in my own stories but I totally think they would often go back to that line with one another and I just love the line about how he could almost hear her smile. And then, fortunately, finally, they are reunited again:

And as he and Lando ducked aboard through the Lady Luck’s docking hatch, and the waiting Leia melted into his arms, the whole annoying hassle suddenly seemed worth it.

"I’m so glad you’re back," Leia murmured, her voice muffled by his chest as she clung to him. "I was so worried about you."

"Hey, hon, you know me," Han said, trying for a casual tone but hanging on to her as tightly as she was to him. Suddenly, now that it was all over, it was as if he was finally able to admit to himself what their reckless jaunt to Bastion might have cost. What he might have lost...

"Yes, I know you," Leia said, looking up at him and trying a smile that didn’t fool him for a second. Maybe she was seeing what they’d almost lost, too. "And I know you’ve never been able to stay out of trouble in your life. I’m just so glad you got through this one."

"Me, too," Han said honestly, giving her a closer look. "You look tired."

"I’m just up a little early," she explained. "Gavrisom has us on Drev’starn time, and it’s just after dawn down there."

"Oh," Han said. It hadn’t even occurred to him to ask the duty officer what ship’s time was. "Sorry."

"No problem," she said. "Believe me, this was well worth getting up early for."

Aw, so much sweetness in this little passage. This to me is close to perfect for Han and Leia reunions. No hesitation, she "melted" into his arms, they're both clinging to each other and worried but trying for the other one's sake to act like everything is no big deal and there was nothing to worry about. And Leia doesn't care that she had to get up way too early to greet her husband. Such nice, warm fuzzies.

I'm going to quote kind of a long passage now. A lot of the stuff in the middle isn't that important but it seemed a little choppy so I'm just going to quote the whole thing. Before I do, I'll mention that while Leia had the Falcon, she took a lightsaber to part of it to purposely disable it in order to get another ship to bring them in, knowing very well that Han was probably going to kill her for messing with his beloved ship.

"What about me?" Han asked. "What do I do?"

"You give me another hug," Leia said, standing up and moving close to him. "No, seriously, you’d better stay completely out of it," she added soberly. "You’re the one holding the Caamas Document, the one standing on the high moral ground. You can’t be seen dealing directly with either side."

"Yeah," Han said, grimacing. "I always like standing on the high ground? you make such a good target up there. Come on, Leia, I can’t just sit around and do nothing."

Pressed against him, he felt her body stiffen a little. "Well, actually... the Falcon does need a little work," she said carefully. "We lost the starboard power converters and ion flux stabilizer on the way into the system. "

"That’s okay, I’ve got spares for both," Han said. "Any idea what happened to them?"

He could almost feel her wince. "They ran into a lightsaber."

He twisted his neck to look down at the top of her head. "Oh," he said. "Really."

"It was for a good cause," she hastened to add. "Really it was."

Han smiled, stroking her hair. "I believe you, sweetheart," he assured her. "Okay, I’ll get right on it. You’re docked over on the other side, right?"

"Yes." Leia drew partway away from him. "One other thing. There’s a passenger aboard, who we’re also sort of keeping out of local politics for the moment. Elegos A’kla, a Trustant of the Caamasi Remnant."

Han lifted his eyebrows, then shook his head. "I can’t leave you for a minute, can I?" he said. "I take off from Pakrik Minor on a simple little trip; and the next thing you know you’re consorting with high-level Caamasi."

Leia smiled up at him. But the smile had a disturbing brittleness to it. "You don’t know the half of it," she said, reaching up to stroke his cheek.

"So tell me."

Reluctantly, Leia shook her head. "We don’t have time right now. Maybe after Gavrisom and I get back from the Predominance, I can tell you the whole story."

"Okay," Han said. "Sure. I’ll just get to work on the Falcon, then, okay?"

"Okay." Leia hugged him again and gave him a quick kiss. "I’ll see you later."

Of course a few good things there. Han wants to help and Leia just wants him to hold her. Even though of course the Falcon is Han's baby, he doesn't get mad that Leia sliced into it with her lightsaber. He strokes her hair and some cute banter and then Zahn even lets them kiss, which we know is rare. (there were 2 hand squeezes and an arm squeeze in a passage just before this that I didn't quote) I don't know, I just like this interaction, it's very cute, very much like how I'd see them with each other.

Unfortunately, once they separate, there is an attack and Han knows that Leia is on the ship being attacked and goes to bring the Falcon in closer.

"We’re under attack," Leia said, her voice tense. "Three Diamalan ships have joined up against us, one of them sitting between us and the planet in case we try to fire on Drev’starn again. No serious damage yet, I don’t think, to either side. But that can’t last."

"Didn’t you tell them what happened?" Han asked.

"I told them, the Predominance’s captain told them, Gavrisom told them," Leia said. "They’re not listening."

"Or else don’t care," Han said, clenching his teeth hard enough to hurt. Leia, trapped aboard a ship under massive attack... "Look, I’m going to try to get over there," he told her. "Maybe I can at least get you and Gavrisom off."

"No, stay away," Leia said sharply. "Please. You’d never make it."

Han gazed bitterly out at the swirling battle. She was right, of course; from his new vantage point he could see the Predominance now and the storm of turbolaser fire raking across it, and he knew full well the Falcon’s shields wouldn’t stand a chance in there. But he couldn’t just sit out here and do nothing. "Look, I’ve outfought Star Destroyers before," he said.

"You’ve outmaneuvered them," Leia corrected him. "There’s a big difference. Please, Han, don’t try to-"

There was a squawk, and suddenly she was cut off. "Leia!" Han shouted, his chest tightening as he looked back at the Ishori war cruiser. It still seemed intact; but all it would take would be a single lucky shot into the bridge area.

This is why they should never, ever separate. It is never a good sign. Leia is all right though, the communications are simply being jammed. So Leia isn't in contact with him anymore either and is busy with fighting her own little battle. Han and the Falcon are grabbed by the enemy's tractor beam and it isn't good. Leia isn't even close enough to see this happen, but even from afar:

But in that sudden, heart-stopping moment, none of that mattered; not the battle, not her own life, not even the terrible threat of civil war. With that flicker of distant emotion, that sudden tremor in the Force, one thing alone had surged to overriding importance for her.

Somewhere out there, Han was in deadly danger.

This was always something I had sort of wondered about, whether Leia could really sense what was going on with her husband when he was in trouble or in pain. I really like the idea that she would know, and I'm glad it was included. And also that the simple fact that he is in danger becomes more important than anything to her at that moment. She can only sense that he is in danger though, and it mentions how she can't get past his emotions to get to his thoughts. I guess it could be nice, but also sort of creepy that at times she can get into his thoughts. At times like these though it's probably a good thing.

So Leia is going after Han and next we get what I think may be the most reckless thinking we ever get from Leia:

A blast of turbolaser fire shot past, burning a scorch line in the Predominance’s bridge canopy. It was like an omen, Leia thought darkly as she stepped past the outer monitor ring and into the central control cluster: an omen of her own impending downfall. What she was about to do, she knew, would most likely be the end of her political career. It could possibly send her to a penal colony. It could even cost her her life.

But Han’s own life was hanging in the balance. Against that, nothing else mattered.

I mean how many instances before did we have Leia thinking about the good of the Republic or whatever even before her own husband? And now it seems as though she is willing to sacrifice anything in order to help him. Leia moves forward and uses the Force to take control of the ship she's on, and then she actually uses some Jedi skills to take some blasters away from people and her lightsaber to block some shots taken at her. Then she says some words you probably wouldn't expect to hear her say:

"I hearby resign from the High Council, and the Senate, and the Presidency. I am no longer anything but a private citizen."

Whoa. Go, Leia. But the ship's captain decides to go with Leia, understanding what she is doing is important, and turns out she won't be shot or taken into custody or anything. As you might expect, Han doesn't die. They get to him and Leia can finally call him:

"Han?" Leia’s voice cut in, sounding breathless and relieved and tense all at the same time. "Han, are you all right?"

"I’m fine, hon," he assured her.

Again calling her "hon." It's apparently his new favorite term of endearment.

Of course, everyone winds up being ok. I think I had mentioned before that one of the elements of these books is the return of Grand Admiral Thrawn, who they previously thought was dead. Well, this being a Zahn book, of course it's just a clone.

I also need to mention Luke and Mara in this book. I said before they spend the whole time alone together on this weird planet. Someone mentioned in the comments on some other post that they claimed that Mara "waited" for Luke. Well, while at least in this book it doesn't outright say she waited for him, it does mention that apparently her being with Lando was all just a ruse for a mission. Oh, yeah, right. Seriously, that is one of the dumbest retcons I've ever heard. It even specifically mentions her wearing his shirt was part of the game, referencing a moment from another book where she is on a holocall wearing Lando's shirt. Sorry, just, really?

And the moment Luke asks her to marry him? They hadn't even so much as kissed. There is like one time where he thinks to himself that her hair is pretty and then suddenly out of the blue he looks at her and she is the most important thing ever and he asks her to marry him, and she totally immediately accepts. Because that makes sense. Seriously, there is like no lead-up to that at all. It almost makes you want to smack your head, it's like poor Luke is that guy who has never had a girlfriend and proposes to the first woman who talks to him for more than five minutes. But whatever.

Anyway, the point of this book and the conclusion of what we now refer to as the Bantam era of the EU, is the signing of peace treaties between the Empire and the New Republic. This is, as you would imagine, quite the occasion.

Fifteen days later, in the secondary command room of the Imperial Star Destroyer Chimaera, the peace accords between the Empire and New Republic were signed.

"I still say you should have been the one over there," Han groused as he and Leia watched from the back of the room while Pellaeon and Gavrisom performed the ceremony amid the crowd of assembled dignitaries. "You did way more on this than he did."

"It’s all right, Han," Leia said, surreptitiously wiping a tear from the corner of her eye. Peace. After all the years, after all the sacrifice and destruction and death. 

Finally, they had peace.

"Yeah?" Han countered suspiciously. "Then how come you’re crying?"

She smiled at him. "Memories," she said. "Just memories."

He found her hand, took it comfortingly. "Alderaan?" he asked quietly.

"Alderaan, the Death Stars?" She squeezed his hand. "You."

"Nice to know I’m in the top three, anyway," he said, looking around the room. "Speaking of old memories, where’s Lando? I thought he was going to be here."

"He changed his mind," Leia said. "I guess Tendra wasn’t very happy with him heading out to Bastion with you without at least telling her about it. He’s taken her art shopping on Celanon to make it up to her."

Han shook his head. "Strong women," he said, mock sadly. "They’ll get you every time."

"Watch that," Leia warned, digging her elbow into his side. "You’ve always liked strong women. Admit it."

"Well, not always," Han said. "Ow-okay, okay. I like strong women."

Very cute. Yes, Han certainly does like strong women. One in particular. There is very brief mention that the kids are finally back, and they are playing with Chewie. Having a Wookiee babysitter on call must be great for busy parents. The treaties are still being signed and Han is talking with Karrde:

"You know, I asked you once what it would take to get you to join the New Republic. Remember?
You asked what it had taken to get me to join up?"

"Yes, I remember," Karrde cut him off, an uncharacteristic note of embarrassment coloring his voice. "Kindly bear in mind that I have not joined the New Republic. And my relationship with Shada is nothing like that."

"Neither was mine," Han said smugly, putting his arm around Leia. "That’s okay. Give it time."

"It’s not going to happen," Karrde insisted.

"Yeah," Han said. "I know."

I thought this was cute, too. And I can just picture Han smiling and putting his arm around Leia and of course while it isn't stated, I can picture Leia smiling as well. Then the book ends with more talk about how totally connected Luke and Mara are and they're like the same person and the Force and whatever.

Phew, ok, like I said, VERY long book! I'm going to give this one another 4 for Han and Leia. I think they are very much in character. They are, annoyingly, separated for a large portion of the middle of the book. But in a rare change, while they are apart, they are thinking of each other often. And any time they do spend together I think is done well. None of that annoying stuff where Leia undermines him, good banter, nothing overly mushy but clearly there is lots of love there and they are quite bonded given what each feels whenever they think the other is in danger. I mean, aside from more kissing or outright sex scenes, we couldn't really ask for much better in this case. Especially in such a plot-heavy book. Oh, yeah, it was plot-heavy. Just ignore the fact that I left most of the plot out. This book was like 650 pages and I can't spend weeks writing reviews.

And thus concludes the Bantam run of EU books. Rare attempts at a cohesive story, jumping around in the timeline, stories where nothing overall really changes and usually you end up about where you started by the time each book is over, so whatever book comes next they won't have to know what happened before. Of course this all changes when we get to the New Jedi Order, which we will be reviewing next. 



  1. Great job on this review! My favorite parts were where Leia renounces the Republic for Han's safety and then at the end where she finally gets to witness the peace agreements and what that must mean to her. I really enjoyed 'witnessing' that moment for Leia.

    I also like anytime that Leia gets to fly the Falcon. I think it is something that Han doesn't take lightly but at this point, doesn't even blink an eye at anymore. I don't know if it's just me, but I really like that. :-)

    1. Yeah, Leia had basically spent her whole life working toward that moment so it was nice that she finally got to see it.

      I agree on the Falcon, too. I like that it is just as much hers as his at that point and he doesn't even flip out when she tells him she slashed at it with her lightsaber ;)

  2. "Then the book ends with more talk about how totally connected Luke and Mara are and they're like the same person and the Force and whatever." - this made me LOL because this is how I feel. During Empire, even at 9 years old I called the long Dagobah scene "the time to get popcorn". - kels

    1. I'm glad that made you laugh. Really, when Luke suddenly realized that he and Mara were meant to be together it was stated like it had always been the most obvious thing in the world. And I was just like... wait, no, it wasn't obvious at all and where did that even come from? And it's not like when Chandler and Monica got together on Friends, and it totally shocked me when it happened but now when I go back and re-watch the older episodes it totally makes sense that they would wind up together. No, re-reading the EU still made me like, nope, there doesn't really seem to be much foreshadowing that this couple was so "mean to be."

    2. Never understood Luke/Mara or their appeal as a couple. It really seemed like, just have them keep saying they love each other, and therefore they do.

    3. Agreed, and it is even more obvious as I read the NJO. I had forgotten how annoying all that "my love" and "husband mine" crap was.

  3. Yayyy! NJO! I miss it soooo much!!!! *sobbing uncontrollably.
    I need to read this one. All the "hon" moments are so cute!

  4. Awww, at their private joke. Zahn definitely has them more mushy here than they were in TTT. It's kind of sad reading about Leia being so happy signing the peace treaty when you know like the next 20 years of her life are going to be never ending war. At least she gets like 6 years off after this. And what is with that she and Han and everyone refers to her as a Jedi but when VP starts everyone says she was never a Jedi? Argh!

    I remember the Luke/Mara thing coming totally out of the blue too. I was like WHAT? They don't even kiss right? I wonder if that's why the NJO authors felt like they had to go overboard in writing a zillion sex scenes between the two of them in the NJO because they way they got together was so forced that they had to try really hard to "sell" the couple. And didn't this book have Luke thinking a couple with a Force bond would be even closer than Han and Leia? Grr.

    Aww, the first few NJO books are pretty painful for a H/L fan. But the later ones get really good. Looking forward to seeing those.

    1. Correct, they had not even kissed when he asked her to marry him. And they didn't kiss after he asked her, either. And yes, it does mention that Luke and Mara would be closer than Han and Leia because of the Force. Which we all know isn't true!

  5. Edited to add: Oh yeah and the retcon of the Mara/Lando thing was so forced. It was like "Oh no, she's going to be mated to Luke, so she never could have had any kind of sexual past, that would make her a slut and sluts can't marry Jedi Masters!" Then in Survivor's Quest, Zahn throws in something about Luke and Mara being each other's firsts, and Luke never really loving Callista. I never really got why Luke/Callista and Mara/Lando got so retonned while Han and Bria got such deference! One of my pet peeves of the old EU!

    1. Oh it's Survivor's Quest that implies they saved themselves for each other? I never read that. What a stupid retcon. Bria was added later, so it was like a retcon that actually made things worse. The removal of Bria from canon might be the only good thing about the new Han Solo movie, although my fear is that they will do something even worse and give him a different "love of his life." I have very little optimism for further Star Wars movies.

    2. Bria was one of the things that definitely annoyed me the most in the old EU after COPL. Han having previous relationships was fine (he was almost 30 when he met Leia), but I just didn't buy this idea of Han being so heartbroken in ANH that he waited 3 years to pursue Leia which was the author's explanation. She also said that Han was thinking of Bria during the "I love you/I know" moment and put a section in her book to "explain" that line, that's such a great moment for Han/Leia, there's no need to "explain" it! My dislike of her may have been made worse by having to battle it out with several fanatic Han/Bria fans on some Han/Leia forums way back when the books came out who were CONVINCED that Han and Bria were soulmates.

      I somehow doubt they'll put a "love of his life" character in the Han Solo Anthology. Kasdan is writing it and he pretty much writes Han like he writes Indy, so they'll probably just be an Indy girl love interest, but nothing long-term. Han is only going to be like 20 in the Anthology I think, and he's obviously single in ANH so any relationship he gets into in the Anthology has to end. In the new canon ANH novelization, Han has a girl on his lap and he's thinking about all the other girls he has in various ports around the galaxy and how he can't keep all their names straight, so he obviously hasn't been with anyone serious in a while. Far cry from the HST "he lost the love of his life the day before he met Leia" version.

    3. What is this "new canon ANH novelization"? There was a novelization that came out in 1977. Is Disney trying to rewrite the original movies as well? - kels

    4. New novelization: I've read it and it's really well done, the author really gets inside Leia's head on her thoughts on Alderaan and it also goes a lot into her life pre ANH and her role as a Senator. The author also does a good job with the Han POV, there are several snippets that show he starts falling for Leia from basically the moment he meets her. I'd recommend it for Han/Leia fans.

    5. Zyra:

      Re the new Han Solo movie: if it ain't Harrison Ford onscreen, it ain't Han Solo. Ignore the living daylights out of it :) - kels

    6. The new Han Solo movie is supposed to take place 10 years before original Star Wars so I'm convinced it will about how he gets together with Chewie because that topic has been off limits for all books/comics/etc
      in the past. I'm also convinced the movie will not be good. The most interesting thing I've heard about the movie is from I think Nerdist Youtube movie reviewer who was discussing all the upcoming movies and said the only way for this one to be interesting and good was if it was animated and a comedy. A straight dramatic action/adventure will not be good.

    7. Going back to reply to some of these comments...

      Yes, one of the most annoying things about Bria was that there were so many moments that were written in to sort of echo or mimic him and Leia, so it almost makes it seem like everything he does with or says to Leia is only because it already happened with Bria. And I also agree it is stupid and unnecessary to imply that Han was so heartbroken over Bria that it had any effect at all on him and Leia. It's totally fine to have Han be in relationships before Leia, but it's stupid to imply that any of those relationships would've made a difference as to how he was with Leia later. I remember her coming on to defend the relationship later and saying that they were soulmates. Not until recently have Han and Leia fans been so collectively irate! The only reason I mention the "love of his life" thing is because it seems like they are going to be playing out all of my worst case scenarios as they move through this "new canon" so I'm just preparing myself.

      New ANH novelization? What is even the point? George must just be like, WTF are you people doing?

      Artoo23, I had actually thought that myself, the only way I MIGHT enjoy a young Han Solo movie is if it is animated. Making stuff cartoons just makes it so much easier to deal with. Like when young Leia had a cameo on Rebels, it didn't bother me, because whatever, it's a cartoon. But if they try and cast an actual human and try and convince me that she is young Leia, I would be annoyed. Same goes for Han. Or Luke. Isn't it annoying now that they never let them write anything about how Han rescued Chewie? Considering none of that canon "counts" anymore anyway, they could've written whatever they wanted.

    8. I'm probably dating myself here, but my dislike of the HST is tainted by having to hang out on in the same area (RASSM mailing list) as Ann C. Crispin back in the 90s when the books came out, and she was a piece of work. The best description I can use to describe her was deranged Han/Bria fangirl. She would post (sometimes hundreds of times a day) about how much Han loved Bria, that she was the TRUE love of his life, every line in the OT was somehow a "reference" to Bria, the reason Han came back at the end of ANH was because of Bria's devotion to the Rebellion, that the REAL reason Han joined the Rebellion in ROTJ was to "honor" his soulmate's cause, him saying "I know" back to Leia in ESB was because he thought he might be dying and be "reunited" with Bria in the afterlife, and so on. It drove me nuts and I did my best to ignore her, but she had a habit of trolling the Leia fan section of the mailing list about how while Han cared about Leia, he never really loved her the way he loved Bria. I mean come on, the movies came before the books. Han was supposed to end up with Leia! End of story. I actually liked her books quite a bit but her behavior was extremely off-putting. Now looking back, I'm quite sure she had some sort of mental illness causing her to self-identify with Bria and vicariously live through her to be Han's love interest, and the whole situation is actually kind of sad though. This sounds bad, but it probably would have been better to have had a man write those books to avoid that kind of thing happening.

      I fell out of fandom for a decade or so after that, but I heard that she also got caught trolling some Han/Leia boards about how Bria was the love of Han's life, was anyone here around for that?

    9. I remember her being on some Han and Leia message boards, boards that are gone now. And saying some of the things you mention. Almost makes me wonder though if someone was trolling as her, but I know she was on the Jedi Council forums and they make a point to verify when the actual authors are posting so that had to have been her.

      She passed away a few years ago though, from what I understand.

    10. Ah. Well I suppose I shouldn't speak ill of the dead. I think I remember her stirring up a bit of a rukus on the Jedi Council Forums with the Han/Leia fans, but I don't remember the details now. But I think because of my interactions with her it was relatively easy to forget the HST as canon - it was written by someone who clearly was living her fantasies as Bria to be the real love of Han's life, and not someone who just wanted to write Han's backstory.

      Even with the old Legends timeline, Bria being the real love of Han's life makes little sense because he thinks of her maybe three times in over 50 books written from his POV. If she really was his soulmate and love of his life and Leia his second choice, wouldn't she come up in his thoughts fairly often?

    11. I was just saying this in the Han/Leia EU thread over at the JC, that even in the 5 books written between ANH and ESB, Han never thinks about Bria once! Supposedly during this time according to the HST, he's heartbroken and grieving over Bria's death and that's why he never makes a move on Leia, yet in Allegiance which is only one year post ANH, he's already developing pretty strong feelings towards Leia. And in Scoundrels, which is literally a week after he loses the great love of his life, he never even thinks about her once. So yeah, even in the old EU timeline, this idea that Bria was the real love of Han's life wasn't followed through by the other authors.

      I was mostly a lurker back then, but I also remember AC Crispin trolling Han/Leia boards about how Han loved Bria far more than he ever loved Leia and other such nonsense. Her and Karen Traviss I remember both caused a lot of trouble on the SW fan boards, and then tried to claim "sexism" when fans didn't respond well to their trolling. Uh, it's not sexist to be offended when you go into a Leia thread about how Han never really loved Leia and she was his second choice after the real love of his life died. Geez.

      I guess there is one good thing we can say about the old EU - Apparently AC Crispin begged LFL to let her write a Leia prequel, and from what I heard it was going to be all about Bria teaching Leia how to be a Rebel and be the reason Leia got involved in the Rebellion. She already set up that scenario by having Bria go to Alderaan in Rebel Dawn, I believe. Thankfully, that project never got approved by Del Rey/LFL.

    12. Eh, my main problem with the HST is that it made the entire OT look like a rehash. We're supposed to believe meeting Luke and Leia changed Han into a better person and that he changed for them. Once you've read the HST, you see that he already changed into a good guy for whatever the equivalent of Luke was in the HST and Bria and there was nothing "special" about him changing for Luke and Leia. He was written as ROTJ Han for the entire HST, who only reverts into selfish ANH Han after Bria betrays him, then by the end of ANH he's back to good guy Han again. So he was only selfish mercenary Han was what, a week? Kind of makes his entire character arc in the OT pointless.

      However, I doubt Kasdan will go there for his Young Han Solo movie. Kasdan LOVES womanizing smuggler Han, not good guy ROTJ Han. It's the reason he and JJ hit reset on Han's character in TFA and undid all his character development in the OT. There'll be a girlfriend, no doubt. But a love of his life type character? Doubt it.

      But will some hack EU author no doubt have Han running into his ex-gf while he's separated from Leia and going for a roll in the hay? Probably. - Karen

    13. PS - I stopped reading the old EU a while back. Going through and trying to find good Han/Leia books now. Would you recommend Millennium Falcon for Han/Leia fans? That was one of the recommended titles that came up.

  6. Oh and the bodyguards for Lady Vadar. It might have seemed like a good idea at first, and then became an impediment as fiction went on.

  7. Great review! Zahn did Han and Leia a lot better here than he did in the original Thrawn Trilogy. There were too sterile in that version. They actually act like husband and wife here.

    When does the next EU book come out? I read it's about Leia, is Han in it?

    1. Yeah, Jen Heddle has confirmed they are still together in it. It takes place 6 years before TFA. It's about how Leia gets drummed out of the Senate and how she eventually starts the Resistance. Not sure if Ben will make an appearance but Han is in it.

    2. So all of this "they've been apart and haven't seen each other for 15/10 years" stuff is bs then? I'm really confused about timeline of everything in this new version of the SW universe they're trying to create so they can sell me more stuff, and since I'm not buying into their new worldview or its tie-in merch and books, I'll just end up finding out about it here. But the timeline still seems very garbled to me. - kels

    3. Yes, they are still together 6 years pre TFA so they have been separated at most 6 years or less. Since they're still together I'm guessing Ben hasn't gone Dark yet. That sort of makes sense since Anakin didn't fall until 23, 24. I'm thinking the massacre might occur in this book though.

      The 15 years rumour I think was based on a lot of people assuming Rey was dropped off on Jakku the same time as the massacre (15 years before TFA) but Pablo Hidalgo has said she was dropped off years before the massacre occurred.

    4. But then the massacre wasn't 15 years before TFA either? Meh. Whatevs. I'm lost and need to stop trying to be found. - kels

    5. No, it looks like the massacre occurs when Ben is 23 or older.

    6. Makes more sense then what we were earlier led to believe.

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    8. I'm still not counting on this timeline until actual books come out. It makes me nervous that in the description of this book it doesn't even mention Han.

    9. Jen Heddle has already confirmed Han is in the book and not in flashback.

    10. Oh I know she said that. I'm just skeptical of everything now until I actually see/read it for myself. I mean Kathleen Kennedy said to everyone at the premiere in England "Everyone you see here will be back for the next one" which included Harrison standing there with the rest of the cast, and we all know how that turned out.

    11. That was a bit different though - TFA hadn't been released to the general public now, Kathleen Kennedy would be releasing a major spoiler if she said "Everyone is coming back except Harrison and Max".

      Isn't it possible that Han and Leia are already broken up and come together briefly to consult on an issue in this book though? Just because there are H/L scenes doesn't mean they are still together.

    12. I don't think so. Jen Heddle says Bloodline shows Han and Leia "in happier times". How could they be happy if they were already split up and their son is an evil Sith?

      I think I'd trust Jen Heddle not to troll H/L fans. She's a huge Han/Leia fan herself. She was the one who told us to calm down about the Sana thing and that turned out to be fine in the end.

  8. Speaking of reconning isn't this the book that required the whole Young Jedi Knights and Junior Jedi Knights series to be reconned?
    Those were supposed to take place after this book but were written before and never mentioned Luke and Mara being married and never even included her at all.

    1. Interesting, Luke wasn't married to Mara in the Young Jedi Knights series? I never read those, didn't realize that. Well, oops on them.

  9. Daisy "People thought I was Han Solo's daughter. I wasn't."

    1. That's really no surprise though, I thought TFA made it pretty clear she wasn't Han and Leia's. Plus, Bloodline is coming out and it's from Leia's POV and Claudia Gray has tweeted she DOESN'T know who Rey's parents are, so obviously there aren't going to be any references to her. It'd be super weird to have an entire POV book of Leia that will probably go a lot into her relationship with Han and Ben and have her never mention a daughter that was missing and/or presumed dead 15 years ago. Leia's not just going to get forget that tragedy. So yeah, I think we've all known for a while that she wasn't Han and Leia's.

    2. Thanks, Daisy, for reminding us that for sure nothing good came out of Han and Leia's relationship. Except I guess providing a villain for the REAL hero (NOT Han and Leia's daughter) to defeat.

    3. Disney is going to make damn sure that no one ever has a true happy ending, because they will be cranking out these films long after we're all dead. I read an article recently in which a fan says that his biggest objection to TFA/Disney Wars is that it has ruined the original trilogy as the pre-eminent example of a modern myth and just turned it into another serial like the Marvel films where there are really no endings. So...basically all this crap is about Disney Dollars. - kels

    4. Yes, exactly. And really this is what has made it easier for me now to dismiss this as just different random people playing in the Star Wars universe, and it doesn't "count" like if George did it. They destroyed the mythology, and now with a movie a year they're just going to keep telling random stories and as you said, nobody gets a happy ending because they need to continue to add conflict. At some point they'll probably go back and retell the whole story at least one more time in an entirely different way, if not more. Reboots. Ugh.

    5. Glad Rey Solo can finally be put to rest. It'd make her and Han's actions of TFA look horrible. If she knows, it's ridiculous. If she doesn't know she still never brought up the fact that she had a daughter as well when she spent the entire movie talking with Han about how they needed to go and find their son and bring him back and everything was about Ben but oh yeah lets not even mention that I also had another daughter who "died". Let's ignore the fact that when people think they've already lost one kid, the phrase "i can't lose Ben too like we lost our daughter" or her name or whatever would come up and if it doesn't and she's their daughter, it's incredibly contrived and a massive retcon.

    6. Eh, I could've tolerated some sort of Force-y mind-wipe or something so Han and Leia didn't even remember they'd had a daughter. Yeah, it would've been sad that Han spent time with her without knowing that it was his daughter if that were the case, but still.

      I don't know, it all just really sucks. Seriously, one kid, and he's pure freaking evil. I will never get over that insanity or killing off the most beloved movie character of all time in the first movie when you could've had him stick around.

    7. I'm okay with her not being Han and Leia's. They had enough tragedy in their lives without adding a 5 year old daughter going missing and presumed dead to the mix.

      Laura Dern has been added to the cast of Episode VIII, and a lot of people are speculating she'll be playing Rey's mother/Luke's wife. I had assumed she died, but maybe not. Maybe Luke hasn't been on that island alone but he's been with her?

    8. I bet Laura Dern is playing Mara Jade/Rey's mother!

    9. Laura Dern is over 40 (49 in real life) so she must be treated poorly like all the over 40 characters in Episode VII. I agree with previous predictions that she is Luke's wife or Rey's mother (if that isn't the same character) but add that she's only in flashbacks because she's dead.

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    11. Daisy knows who her parents are. Interview here:

      It was supposed to be revealed in Episode VII, but JJ decided one parental reveal was enough. Both JJ and the director for Episode VIII and IX have said they know who Rey's parents are.

      Pablo's also confirmed Han isn't her dad - he said Maz's statement "whomever you're waiting for is never coming back" doesn't make sense if Han is her dad and he's right upstairs.

  10. I am childish enough to feel peeved that she gets to pilot the Falcon then. I really don't know how this storyline could be any worse. Yeah that was worth waiting 30 years for.mckak

  11. "She" in the above means Rey. Why should Rey get the Falcon in light of not Han's daughter.

    1. If she's Han's niece (which I suspect she is), I could see Han wanting her to get the Falcon...not like he's going to will it to his Dark Lord son ;). But I think Chewie will get it in the end.

  12. I just remembered, this is the book where Mara rips into Luke and criticizes him for all his past mistakes right? What I found hilarious is that she criticizes him for making himself a Jedi Master after only ten years, then when VP opens up she's a Jedi Master, so she was made one in 6 years lol.

    But at least Zahn didn't fall into the trap of a lot of other authors and tried to make Leia look weak to bring Mara Jade up. Leia was pretty strong in her own circle (politics) here, AND she was a Jedi Knight, which is pretty cool. Then of course Del Rey had to come along and say she was never a Jedi and never trained.

    1. Yes, and there is a sort of funny moment where she also gives him a hard time about his failed relationships with Gaeriel and Callista, which actually makes Luke snap at her about Lando and leads to the whole thing about how that was just a ruse. Right.

      Zahn writes Leia quite well. She is strong, she has control of her Force powers (the talk of her reaching out to find Han, wanting to/being able to send him soothing thoughts and such) and she is a capable politician. Also the mention of how she and Han don't need the Force to be able to read each other and be bonded together. He definitely doesn't cut the others down in order to make Mara and/or Luke shine.

  13. Luke didn't do too well romantically in the Marvel comics either. The one nice, well-adjusted girl he hooked up with was killed by a mob, and then there was Shira Brie. She was a Imperial spy/assassain who was supposesd to take out Luke. He accidentally killed her instead and stood trial for it (the trial of O.J. Simpson it was not), but Shira was resurrected as Lumiya, a villaness with a seriously S&M whip and costume. She and Luke didn't reconnect, but how about starring them in one of these upcoming stand alone movies. It could be called "Fifty Shades Of Skywalker". Luke could be the submissive.

  14. Okay, Harrison Ford answered questions on Tumblr.

    Check out his responses, especially the one about Carrie Fisher! You'll laugh at that one!!

  15. Okay, Harrison Ford answered questions on Tumblr.

    Check out his responses, especially the one about Carrie Fisher! You'll laugh at that one!!