Friday, July 7, 2017

Balance Point - The Review




Well, finally we come to Balance Point. I’ll tell you right up front that this marks the END of the splitting up of Han and Leia. From what I recall, from this point forward, they are pretty rarely apart from one another for just about every single book for the entire rest of the EU. It doesn’t totally make up for the split in the first place, but it does at least help somewhat.

I can’t remember if I knew or not when I got this book that Han and Leia were finally going to be back together. But I’m positive that when I got it I sat down immediately and flipped through it and was happy to find that it appeared they did, in fact, finally reconcile. Of course, those of you who remembered that these books seriously lacked on the emotional side are very much correct. But the end game is going to be the same, Han and Leia are back together. So let’s get them there…

The first thing that happens in this book, is that Jaina is injured while flying for Rogue Squadron. She has to eject from her X-wing, and of course since Jacen is her brother, he knows something bad has happened. Jacen is on Duro, and Han is there too. They are working to settle many of the refugees that had been displaced by the war, and basically living as refugees themselves. But in the midst of Jacen realizing that his sister has been hurt, he has a vivid vision that basically makes him believe that he should no longer use the Force, or terrible things will happen.

He eventually wakes up on a cot with his father and some medical droids trying to help him since he collapsed during his vision and hit his head. Han is clearly worried and asks what happened, and Jacen then mentions Jaina, which of course gets Han riled up, and Jacen tells him that she has been hurt. And remember when we said we didn’t like that it was all so light on emotion? That’s it, that’s the end of the chapter. Jacen tells Han that Jaina was hurt, and that’s it. I mean I guess we all assume Han is very protective of his daughter, and all his kids really, but still maybe would’ve been nice to have seen a little more there.

Later Han and Jacen are on the Falcon, and Jacen is thinking a lot about what his father has been going through:

They waited in silence. The weeks when Han's grief had overwhelmed them all drifted up into Jacen's memory. He'd happened into a cantina when Han had gone looking for oblivion. And on a worse night, he'd heard Han scald Leia, using words that never should've been spoken and could hardly be forgiven. Jacen had never mentioned that night to his mom. She probably hoped Jacen had forgotten.

 Jacen doubted his dad remembered even saying them. He hoped his mother could somehow forget.

Gee, thanks for the reminder that Han was terrible for a very long time. This always made me wonder if they meant things he overheard that we saw in the books, or stuff they are just alluding to him having said and we don't even know exactly how terrible the things he said were. And by the way, at the beginning of the book they tell us it has been 10 months since Chewbacca died. So Han has been terrible for a long time. 
They get an update about Jaina and find out that she was fairly injured, but bacta is helping and she will recover totally, which is a great relief to Han and Jacen. Then they are asked if they know where Leia is. Apparently none of them know where anyone is.

"Isn't she back on Coruscant?"

 "No, Captain. SELCORE administration seems to have lost her."

 "Lost her?" Han echoed sarcastically. "Sorry. I can't help with that."

 Jacen flicked the console's edge. "I could stay out here," he offered. "I'll try to find her."

 Han's eyes focused on something in the distance. "Sure," he said. The pain in his voice reminded Jacen that things were not well between his parents. "You do that."

Ugh, poor kid, having to know that his parents aren't doing well. 
Then we find Leia, who is, as usual, working very hard to help people. This time it is getting a real community going to help refugees, building facilities to handle them, stuff like that. Threepio is with her, so I guess she does have someone. In a sort of sweet moment Threepio asks her if Han will be permanently absent from their operation there. Leia says she doesn't know because he didn't know where he was going last time they spoke. Then she wonders why he cares if Han had been so mean to him over the years. But apparently he had helped some droids on another planet. Leia can't believe that Han actually helped droids.

"Good heavens," Leia said softly. "Whatever was he thinking?" She'd love to rub his nose in that little tale.

 Actually, she'd love to rub his nose against hers. It'd been so long.

 Did his long silence mean that an enemy had found him? But he had Droma's help, now. He'd made it plain that he didn't want hers.

 If he was dead, and their last words had been scornful taunts, she would regret it for the rest of her life. She was almost tempted to stretch out with the Force, looking for him.

 No. He could be on the other side of the Mid Rim by now. If she reached out and felt nothing, she would fear the worst. She finished her meal in silence, then assembled her dishes for C-3PO to recycle.

 "Whatever happens, I'll take care of you," she promised. "I need you." 

Again, poor Leia. All she has is Threepio. She is longing for her husband even though he has recently been nothing but awful to her. And she doesn't even really know if he's all right, or if he would even want to see her. Still bad news all around. She then thinks about how busy she has been, and it explains why she hasn't been looking for him.
No wonder she hadn't had time to go looking for Han. She would've given everything to see him, the way he'd been before tragedy tore them apart. He'd matured so much from the scoundrel she'd come to love, although he'd never lost the glimmer in his eyes, or the quirk to his lips - till he lost Chewie. Suddenly, he was Han with the itchy trigger finger again. Han with the low-life friends. Scoundrel she could tolerate, even enjoy. All right, she admitted to herself: Scoundrel she'd adored. Over the years, he'd learned to drop the defenses that first turned him into a scoundrel. He'd learned to let her glimpse his real idealism. He needed warmth in return.

 Over the years, slowly, she'd learned to give it. She loved both sides of him, the knight-errant and the scoundrel - but this time, she must wait until he came to her. She couldn't baby a full-grown man.

Of course I hate a lot of this, but I like a lot of this as well. Like that Leia loves both sides of him, and adores the scoundrel. But we are reminded that without the other side of him, there isn't much there to love. It still seems just terrible that she doesn't have much choice but to wait for him to come to her, if he will at all. 
Now a brief interlude with Luke and Mara. You know, the ones who can speak to each other through their minds. Well they're talking about the Solo boys, and the rift coming between them. And Luke can tell that Anakin still blames himself for Chewie's death, and now for what happened in the last book at Centerpoint Station. And then they think about how powerful he is:

As it would chase Anakin, who was raised by an ex-smuggler who loved to bend rules, a loving but often absent mother, her talented aide, and a protocol droid - and at the Jedi academy, in the shadow of two siblings. If Anakin didn't fall to the dark side, then having resisted temptation could leave him even stronger - maybe the most powerful Jedi of his generation. 

Oh, are we blaming anything that happens to Anakin on his "absent" mother? Also, let's be clear that Han doesn't bend the rules just for the sake of it. He just does what needs to be done whether or not it falls within the range of the rules. But really the most annoying part of this to me is being reminded how powerful he is, when all they're going to do is *spoiler alert* kill him a few books from now. Anyway...

Now Jaina is brought to Han and Jacen, and of course they are both excited to see her. 

 Han stepped forward. "You've got my girl, I hope." His voice echoed oddly inside the cofferdam.

 "Her attendant's helping her forward. Sign here, please." The pilot thrust out a datapad.

 "Nope," Han said. "Not till I see her."

 Watching over his father's shoulder, Jacen spotted a dark gray coverall, dark hair chopped surprisingly short, and his sister's face, half covered by some kind of mask.

 Jaina batted away her droid-attendant's extended limb. "I can walk down a ramp. Hi, Dad. Hello, Jacen. Thanks for coming to pick up the pieces."

 She walked down, limping slightly. Han embraced her, rocking from foot to foot. Then Jacen slipped his arms around her shoulders. Until he knew more about her injuries, he didn't want to squeeze.

 "I'm not a skeleton leaf," she growled, tightening her grip. Her fingers dug into his triceps.

I of course like the image of Han hugging his daughter, and referring to her as "my girl." I also like that Jaina has the same fire as her parents because she doesn't like being treated like an injured person.

 Finished with the medical team, their dad clapped an arm around her shoulder. "Come inside, sweetie. I'll get you settled before I head back to the pumping station."

Ok, now briefly to Luke and Mara for some plot stuff. Things are not great for the Jedi. The Vong hate the Jedi, and they want them to be turned over. There is a group called the Peace Brigade that basically is working to try to "make peace" with the Vong by giving them the Jedi. The New Republic senate actually votes to see if they will turn the Jedi over themselves. The vote comes out so they won't do it, but Luke and Mara are understandably still worried about what might happen later. It is during a meeting they are having with New Republic officials that Mara realizes that she is pregnant. After she was sick she thought it might not be possible. She tells Luke, and they have some brief moments of wondering if this is something they should be happy about, and Mara thinks she didn't know she really wanted it until now, but they decide not to tell anyone just yet.

Now back to Han, Jacen and Jaina. There are these bugs that are infesting the tents at their refugee camp. And here is just a random thought from Jacen. I should note here, one of the things that annoys me about this book, and probably a large part of why I think it is lacking emotionally, is there is virtually nothing from Han's point of view in it. Which is kind of annoying to me. 

 Han stared at Jaina, arching his eyebrows, his eyes soft and sad.

 Jacen glanced from his father to his sister, comparing profiles. People generally claimed she resembled a young Leia, but below her bobbed hair, her forehead and cheeks really did have the same angles as Han's. Jacen abruptly pitied any man who wounded Jaina's heart with less than a galaxy between himself and her father.

I guess all of us agree that Han would not react nicely to someone breaking his daughter's heart.

 As Jaina hiked off with Romany to look for Mezza, Jacen asked his dad, "Do you think all this is going to take the edge off her fighting ability?"

 "If she doesn't want it to, it won't." Han shifted his weight, frowning. "She's too much like her mother."

 Jacen looked up sharply, hearing a depth of loneliness that Han never expressed openly.

The only good thing about this is that finally Han at least appears affected by his self imposed isolation, rather than appearing completely indifferent to everything. Jacen then goes to Jaina and tells her it's time for them to look for their mother, because none of them have seen each other in a while. Again though, there is nothing about anyone's internal thoughts here, that's just it, he tells her it's time to go looking for her. 

Well, they can't reach her. And things for them get worse because there is suddenly an infestation of moths and they are overwhelming the camp, and they all have to evacuate. And they also need to decontaminate to make sure nobody transfers any of the eggs to make the whole thing worse. They don't have enough decontaminant to dip them all in, so everyone will have to be shaved. In the midst of all the chaos, another vehicle approaches, and Jacen realizes that someone very familiar is on board before the door even opens. 

 "Hello," Han said, hastily setting his dirt-streaked face to a slight smile. "Thanks for sending the crawlers, but we've got a slight problem. One of your crewers just found something he thought was an egg. We've got to find out where those bugs came from, but my people here deserve a little respect."

 "We'll do our best."

 Jacen strained his ears. The voice sounded husky, but right.

 "Equal treatment for everyone. SELCORE is enormously grateful for refugee sponsors."

 Han extended a hand. "Glad you understand. Han Solo."

 Instead of taking his hand, the administrator reached up for her mask's clasps.

 "Hey, wait," Han exclaimed. "You'll end up in decontamination."

 She pulled off her mask one-handed. A long coil of dark-brown hair tumbled loose. "That's all right," she said somberly.

 Leia stared at Han's weary face - his gaping hazel eyes, his slack jaw stubbled with gray. Luke and Mara must have known Han was here, and assumed she did, too. How many people made that assumption - and so they just didn't tell her?

 Now, she knew she might have only a moment to reach him, before he remembered the last time she spoke to him. Angrily. "If your people have to be decontaminated," she told Droma, "I'll show them Gateway and SELCORE are with them, not against them." For the moment, her aide Abbela could manage Gateway's day-to-day business. Before Han's eyes went hard and empty again, she had to reach him. She stepped closer. "Besides, I had no idea you were here. I should've known, but ... I don't think you ever sent over a roster."

 "We, ah, didn't." A lopsided grin appeared. "I suspect SELCORE's been too busy administering Gateway to notice."

 She glanced over her shoulder. Olmahk stayed close, on watch, as C3PO assisted the newcomers. Where would she put them all? She'd hoped to bring those poor Thirty-two people inside her more permanent dome eventually, and send workers back in week-long shifts. Gateway had plenty of space, but construction equipment was booked for weeks ahead, her new apartments filled before she built them. There were tents, carefully struck when her first charges moved into sturdier huts - and there was the decontamination issue ...

 Later! She had four-fifths of her family in plain sight, everyone but Anakin. This hadn't happened in months!

 She flung her arms around Han. His body remained stiff, but he laid an arm on her shoulders.

 She backed away from him.

 "Hello, Mom." Jacen opened his arms, then hesitated.

 Leia set down her droopy fabric helmet. Since she was committed to quarantine now, she yanked off her chem suit and then flung her arms around Jacen. "By the Force, you're as big as your father." 

 Then she spotted Jaina, hanging back. "What are you doing here?"

 Jaina dangled a pair of fancy goggles from one hand. "Sick leave. We tried to find you."

 Leia's stomach took a dive. "Were you injured?"

 "Temporary partial blindness. Nothing serious." Jaina lowered her voice. "Get it straight with Dad, Mom. That's first." She turned and strolled back toward the Ryn mob.

 Smiling ruefully, Jacen placed both hands on Leia's shoulders.

 He gently turned her toward Han, who had thrust his hands back into his pockets. "First," Jacen murmured.

 Hesitantly, Leia caressed both twins through the Force. Jacen glowed with the pleasure of being reunited; in Jaina, there was a repressed bitterness that she'd obviously have to face - later.

 "Guess it's time I found something to do." Droma replaced the soft cap he'd doffed. "Good to see you again, Princess Leia." He followed Jaina.

 Leia linked one arm through her husband's. "Let me show you the whole quarantine area," she said lightly.

 In a converted repair dock, families clung to each other, shuffling forward. She mustn't look at them. She had to settle things with Han. Her fault, his fault - didn't matter. Beneath her strength and independence, she really was happiest with someone to help carry her burdens.

 On the other hand, that meant she had to help carry his. 

 "Yes," she admitted, "SELCORE and Gateway have been taking care of themselves. And trying to reclaim the planet. Remember Honoghr, where we couldn't do much of anything? Here, it's in reach. And the Yuuzhan Vong don't want it. This could be a haven for millions."

 "I don't think you've paid much attention to the Duros." He frowned. "They're -"

 "Barely tolerating us," she admitted. "But we haven't given much back, yet. This world is the key to a new future, where all peoples can live side by side. Wait until you see what our scientists are starting to accomplish."

 "Where's old Goldenrod?" Han rubbed his rough chin. "I could've used him. All they gave us was a pair of beat-up modified loadlifters. I had to scam a medical droid."
 
 Leia half smiled. "Threepio? Just what you needed. Someone to really irritate you." Han must be utterly distracted, she thought, not to recognize C-3PO in a vermin-proof chem suit.

 Han's eyes narrowed. "Has Isolder shown up?"

 She pulled away, feeling blindsided. "What?"

 "At least ten people played me that HoloNet bite of you and His Gorgeousness stepping off that Hapan ship together on Tald. You looked pretty cozy."

 Leia got a good breath. "You, who wants everybody to trust you - can't you trust me? The nets have used that as a publicity stunt. I couldn't back out without losing the Hapans' support. We needed those ships."

 His expression softened. "Yeah. We did need them. Too bad, how that turned out."

 One crisis resolved! On to the next. "How's Jacen?" she asked. "I heard he was taking it all pretty hard."

 "Still chewing on it, I guess." He grabbed her hand. "You accused me of having a fling with my past. Well, look at these people. Does this look like a fling -"

 "No," she said. "Han, I'm sorry. It's been tough, lately. Really hard."

 "Yeah. Well." He firmed his lips, swallowed, then glanced up again. "You probably won't forget some things, but I was hoping you'd forgive them."

 Leia threw her arms around him again. This time, he returned the embrace. His arms gripped her, his breath had the sweetness of ...

 Well, of a wet Wookiee.

 She held her breath while she kissed him.

 Then there was no more time for reconciliation.

FINALLY! I remember being incredibly relieved to flip ahead and find out that they were back together, even if it was incredibly short and fleeting, and again kind of lacking in the emotional department. But, well, there are things to like about this little exchange as well. First, that Jacen and Jaina step in and are totally insistent that their parents fix things. I can also buy Leia thinking at that point that it doesn't really matter anymore whose fault anything was. I guess it's too bad his breath stinks, but at least she kisses him anyway. I should note that while in this particular book it makes it seem like this is all it really takes, one brief conversation, one quick kiss, and everything is fine again. But when we move on to Recovery you will see that there is still some trepidation there, both wondering if things can ever really be the same. Han knows what he did was awful, and Leia wonders if he truly even wants her back. Reading that just kind of reiterates how it is quite glossed over in this particular book. But, as I said, at least it is getting resolved and they aren't apart anymore. 

Which reminds me, back when we started doing these reviews we invited anyone to submit any sort of "missing moments" pieces to anything related to these books. Seems like a lot of good opportunities here in this one, as you'll see.

Then Han and Leia are talking about logistics things, and there are moments where Leia just keeps noticing things about him. Wondering if he had broken his nose another time since she last saw him, also seeing his lopsided grin and thinking she will never get enough of that. And things like this little part:

 "We'll process the sick and injured as priority. Then we can include Jaina, unless she'd rather stay in quarantine indefinitely than get her head shaved. She's at that age, you know. Young men are looking."

 He reached out and fingered the long coil of hair that hung forward over her blue uniform. "Can the old guys look, too?"

 She touched his hand. "I ... guess it'll have to come off, Han."

 He shrugged. "It'll grow. It'll just take a while."

 "Will you stick around while it does?" She tried not to plead, but she wanted to.

 He ran a hand over his unruly hair. "Hey, someday I might lose mine for good. We'll call it a dry run."

 Then he winked, and she melted inside.

Aw, Leia still melts when he winks at her. And he is already back to flirting with her. Well, at least this is an improvement. 

Before we get too excited about the good news, we are reminded that now is when Jaina starts getting pretty mad at her mom for not being there enough when they were kids. I somehow had forgotten this part. Now, remembering how this all went back then, I am sure I really hated this. I still don't love the implication that Leia really wasn't there for her kids when they were growing up. But at the same time, Jaina is 16 or 17 here. And honestly I think a lot of kids get pretty angry at their parents around that age, and even judge them unfairly about certain things. Even a kid whose parents were totally there for them might get angry and accuse them of not being there. But who knows, it's still definitely part of things here. 

 "Jaina, I'm trying to help them - and you."

 "Maybe," Jaina said through her teeth, "I just don't want help anymore. You showed me I had to learn to do without you. So I did." She stalked away.

 Leia gave chase. "You seem to have missed something," she said. "I'll be decontaminating out of here, the same as you, the same as anyone. Think about it."

 Jaina stared at the long coil of hair. "You're kidding," she said quietly. "Mother, if you ... how long did it take to grow it that long?"

 "That's not even slightly important. You are. I suppose we won't ever find it easy to live in the same place, again. We're too much alike."

 Jaina's grin showed teeth. "Bullheaded, obstinate, perfectionist ... me? How could you accuse me of -"

 "Heredity," Leia answered. "And environment. You were doomed. At least you've got your father's luck."

The morning after they all found each other again, Han and Jacen are having breakfast and Jacen is thinking how he wishes his parents would have had some time alone together. 

 Now Jacen spotted the soft light in Han's eyes and a self-satisfied grin. Maybe his parents had found a few moments alone. In his opinion, they'd both made convenient use of their circumstances to keep from reuniting. There was something splendid about the universe when your mother and father loved each other.

Aw, now this I like. I like the implication there, and find his whole statement very true. But, then we go back to Jaina being mad at Leia. She is now with Mara, but at least Mara is on Leia's side on this one:

 "Didn't ask about me, did she?" Jaina raised her head to stare at Bburru, growing on the fore screen.

 "I would've told her if you'd been hurt."

 "Some women shouldn't have children."

 Mara drew up straight, and a back muscle twanged. She must've overstretched it, scrabbling along on the stony ground. "I can't believe you said that."

 When Jaina pursed her lips, she looked a very young seventeen. "To her, I'm an inconvenience. 'Winter, take Jaina for a walk.' 'Threepio, tell Anakin a story.' 'Here, Chewbacca, watch the twins.'"

 "And how many mothers gave up a seat on a shuttle headed for safety this year? Put their kids on board and stayed behind, to die or be enslaved? Sometimes staying with your child isn't possible."

 "Then mothers who are too important to raise their kids should just sign them over and go off to work."

 Mara, who had only vague mental images of her parents, dropped her voice to an icy alto. "For such a mature young woman, you are being surprisingly childish."

 Jaina ran a hand over her bare head. It was starting to show a faint brown shadow of regrowth. "I'm also being honest. Mara, I nearly died at Kalarba. I lost an awfully good friend at Ithor. She gave up everything, to give families a chance to survive somewhere else."

 "And your mother is giving those survivors somewhere to live. This planet is hope, literally and symbolically."

 Jaina sighed heavily. "Poor Mom. She's got a half-blind, stubborn daughter who can't fight anymore and a son who's afraid to be a Jedi. Good thing Anakin came along." 

Ugh, yeah, I still hate the idea that Jaina feels like she was just an inconvenience to her mother. Also, as we've discussed a fair amount lately, this sends a bad message about how women can't work and be there for their children. At least Mara defends Leia.

So, eventually the Vong attack them where they are on the planet and everything gets extremely chaotic. Anakin and Luke and Mara are fighting in ships, while Jaina, Jacen, Han and Leia are on the planet. This book has a lot of the family working together, and it's pretty nice to read. And it reminds you how fun that would've been to see on screen at some point. But anyway... This is just one quick little line as they are all trying to figure out how to get everyone out and Han and Leia have to split up again:

 "Hey, Leia. Stay right here. I just found you. I want to find you again, when I get back."

Doesn't this seem like the perfect moment for some sort of introspection or something else? Well, too bad, you're not getting any, because it isn't there. Again. BUT, not too soon after, they are saying goodbye to each other.

 Han wrapped an arm around Leia's shoulders and pulled her close, momentarily resting his chin on her white turban. "Take care of yourself, then."

 "You, too."

 Jacen's parents kissed each other - barely a peck at first, and then Han leaned into it. Leia went up on her tiptoes. Jacen lowered his eyes, caught Jaina's glance, and half smiled.

 She nodded. 

Aw, that at least is very sweet. Although to be honest I got kind of tired of how most of what we read about them is from Jacen's perspective. Still, at least they are kissing again, and the kids are happy about it. Oh, but wait! Finally, for the first time I think in this book, we get a brief moment from Han's point of view:

 He knew exactly what Leia wanted to do: sabotage the Yuuzhan Vong operation herself, no matter what it cost her - or him. Call him selfish, but he wanted her alive. Not a dead hero. With or without that gorgeous hair, she had the spark that lit a fire in him. 

Yay! Of course she does! 

 Han did the same. The Yuuzhan Vong were probably wearing battle armor anyway. One shot, and they'd hear him - and all come down on him.

 He paused, shocked by his own thoughts. Where was the old Han Solo who would've charged right in?

 Maybe he had died with Chewbacca. "Right," he said. "Keep me in sight, but if they get me, tell Leia ..."

He is talking to his pal Droma there. Luckily we all know Han makes it and can tell Leia whatever he has to tell her himself. 

There is a moment where Leia is with the twins and Jaina needs some help with the Force, but Jacen still won't use it. Jaina is not happy with this. Leia had had a conversation with him earlier about his not wanting to use it, and Jacen thinks that she should understand that not everyone with that potential should need to use it, because she hasn't really done any training or anything. This sort of contradicts the last Zahn book where Leia seems quite adept with the Force, but whatever. Unfortunately as they are trying to escape, Leia gets caught by a Vong warrior and tells the twins to keep running. In Leia's conversation with the enemy, she finds out that there is a Hutt traitor from their midst who had offered the Vong Jacen. Well, as you can imagine, Leia does not like that one bit. She winds up reaching out to Luke to let him know she's in trouble, as she doesn't want to put her kids in danger. Luke finds out that Jacen and Jaina are already going back to help their mother.

 Jaina responded instantly, though. He even felt the assurance that Jaina was already returning to try to help her mother. Linked with her, now, circumventing the irritation Jaina usually showed toward Leia, Luke sensed her love for the woman who was so much like herself. Her first friend, her role model. 

Leia is able to get a message to Jaina and tells her to go warn everyone that the Vong are going to attack all the Duros cities. She also tells her to get her father, and only then can she maybe come back to try and get her. Things start to get pretty bad for Leia right about now. First, she is forced to watch as the Vong start killing innocent refugees. Then she realizes that this is all a trap to lure her kids back to her, and she frantically tries to warn them all to leave, and attacks the Vong. But they take her down and then just start lacerating her legs, and her screams are even heard by Jacen. He finally makes his way back to her, sees her bleeding profusely from her legs as she tells him to go and run away. And he decides that the only way he can save her is to use the Force.

Well, of course he does manage to save her, and he can even feel her presence weakening. He even uses the Force to try and slow the bleeding. Jaina finally arrives and Jacen picks up his mother and they start to take her out. They frantically make their way back to the Falcon to escape, knowing that Leia's life is very much in danger. Or, at the very least, her legs. In another missed opportunity, we are told that Han finally sees them all coming, and sees Jacen carrying Leia, and the mangled mess that her legs are. And that's it. But then the kids make it to the ship and strap Leia to the med bunk.

 Leia's eyes fluttered open. "Jaina," she murmured. "Heard your voice. Thanks."

 Jaina tucked a thermal blanket around Leia's shivering shoulders, then uncoiled a fluid drip and applied it to her bared arm. "Jacen did the hard part," she said gruffly.

 Jacen adjusted the bandage cuffs. Finely tuned microrepulsor fields were already compressing the damaged arteries, even while they enhanced peripheral circulation to his mother's lower legs. Something just as invisible as the field, but warmer, flowed between his sister and mother. A deep understanding, a living connection.

 "No. What you did," Leia managed. "Harder. Furious with me, but ... came back."

 Jaina made a wry face, then bent to kiss her mother's cheek. "Lie still. We'll get you out of here."

 "But ... Duro ... Basbakhan ..."

 "We're evacuating," Jacen said. What had happened to her other Noghri? "Basbakhan?" he asked.

 Leia's eyelids fell shut. Jacen looked up at Jaina, worried.

 "There's a sedative in that drip," Jaina explained. "Otherwise she'd roll down, crawl to the quad guns, and bleed to death." In her voice, Jacen heard heartfelt respect.

Well, at least her kids seem to know her well enough to know she would literally die trying to help out. 

This is as close as we get to Han dealing with Leia's injuries:

Luke's voice: "Han, is she all right?"

 Han sounded tense. "She's hurt bad."

Then eventually Han tells his kids to prepare to jump because, "We're taking her home."

And they all escape Duros, and that's the end. Oh except for a brief little thing at the end where the Vong decide what they really want is Jacen Solo. So, also bad news for him. 
Ok, we did it. We got them back together. It's definitely far from the greatest resolution ever, but at least the nightmare is over. And we never again have to deal with Han and Leia being apart or being anything but warm and loving to each other. It was really disappointing to not see more from Han's point of view, or really just more on the emotional side of things in general. I did kind of like that as soon as Leia is with Han again it's like everything he does affects her, she notices everything about him that she likes. And they kissed! And the kids are happy about it, too. These are the important things. It's just too bad that at the end of the book Leia is near death, and also bald because of the decontamination thing. 

One thing I did like, as I mentioned, is there is a lot with Han and Leia working with their kids. This was something I'd missed, and something that would've been really fun to see more of. The kids really do have their own personalities here. Jaina is the more feisty one, Jacen is dealing with his own moral dilemma dealing with using the Force, and at one point Mara is thinking how much Anakin is similar to Luke. 

So, what do we give this one? It's hard to tell, and I will take some suggestions if anyone else thinks I'm wrong here. I mean, the last few books have been SO bad for Han and Leia. So, so bad. And, well, now they're together. And Leia is acting like Leia, and Han finally seems to be acting like Han, we're just missing more of what is going on in his head as the author almost entirely leaves that out. It seems like an awfully quick resolution. Finishing this book again made me realize just how much we really needed the ebook Recovery, to be reviewed next, to make up for what this one is lacking. Anyway, I think I'll go with 2.5 here. I wouldn't really tell a Han and Leia fan to go out of their way to read this, because I think they'd maybe be a bit disappointed. But I did like a lot of the Solo family stuff, and, as mentioned, they DO reconcile, which is the most important thing. If anyone wants to fill in any missing moments, please feel free to do so. 

As one final note, I also seem to recall reading that Kathy Tyers was another author who wasn't really a big fan of Han and Leia. So of course that made me furious that someone who doesn't even like them was the one who got to write them coming back together, and perhaps that explains some of the disappointment. The good news is, we are only a few books away from when Troy Denning was brought to writing Star Wars books, and he is someone that could always be trusted to do right by Han and Leia.


22 comments:

  1. I remember this book as kind of eh, like I was glad they were back together but the reunion was really not given the weight and depth it should have and then it seemed like a kick in the teeth to have Leia be brutally tortured right after they reconciled and have her hair shaved off. I remember the same thing you did that Kathy Tyers was not a fan of Han/Leia because she had been this hardcore Luke/Leia shipper back in the day and I guess was really mad at Lucas for making them siblings. They also seemed off in Truce at Bakura too. I felt like she never really "got" their relationship which is why the reconciliation came off poorly IMO. There was some interview where someone was asking her why Han didn't really seem to care about his separation from Leia and her response was "Han's Han. To some guys, their personal relationships aren't the most important thing to them." or something like that which I thought was a super off characterization of Han (but being a huge Luke fan I can see why she wouldn't think much of Han.)

    I also remember the H/L fans getting mad at her because she was a regular poster at the JC forums and she said something about how she was told to write a longer reunion but she really wanted to focus on Luke/Mara (her favourite ship) so she cut the Han/Leia scenes out of the outline Del Rey gave her, not surprisingly a lot of H/L fans were pissed with that haha. It's been a while since I read it but I remember a LOT of super lovey dovey scenes between Luke and Mara that didn't really add anything to the plot and also that weird scene of Anakin drooling over Mara and Mara in general being a Mary Sue. It does seem like for some reason a lot of Del Rey authors (like AC Crispin and Kathy Tyers) preferred to write their female Mary Sues like Mara and Bria at the expense of Leia unfortunately.

    I did like Han's interactions with his kids, Jacen's bond with Leia and Leia's characterization so those were good. But the whole separation and reconciliation was definitely sloppily handled with in the next book Han and Leia not even being in it and then in the book after its like nine months later and barely even mentioned.

    On the plus side, all the outrage over the favoritism Luke/Mara got and Han/Leia's reunion being cut short led to Recovery.

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    1. Yes, getting Recovery out of the deal was a decent fix. Still would've been nice to have a better reunion in the first place. I don't know why they would give key moments like that to an author who is open about not being interested in those characters. I don't ever remember authors saying they didn't like Luke or Mara or anything like that, and that wouldn't be right either. Also I have never understood the need to show that Luke and Mara are somehow better. This isn't a mutually exclusive thing. Luke and Mara can be totally in love and devoted to each other, and Han and Leia can too. One doesn't need to be better or worse than the other!

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  2. Zyra, reading your review is way better than reading the actual book! I remember scanning this for the H+L stuff, and being confused by Leia's Force abilities (or lack-thereof) here. (Doesn't she at some point in the EU become a Jedi?) I also wanted more background re Jaina's apparent anger toward Leia. Anyway, looking forward to your review of Recovery; it's one of my favorites. (Or maybe it's just the prologue that I really like; can't remember now.) Thanks for this!

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    1. Yep, I mean go read my review of Specter of the Past and you'll see Leia pulling some pretty sweet Jedi moves. So, no clue where she really stood there.

      Recovery has some good stuff. It's also a little disappointing because there is a big chunk in the middle where Leia is just asleep basically, but still.

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  3. Ohh, I've written so many missing moments for the short time between this one and Recovery!

    I agree that the emotional side to this novel lacked but I'm always just thankful that issues were resolved and I love BP for that. Besides Han and Leia's side of things, I wish we could have gone into more depth with the issues between Jaina and Leia. In the entire EU, really, I wish their relationship could have been explored more deeply.

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    1. I agree that just the fact that this marked the end of the split up makes this book a decent one for me. As for Jaina and Leia, I think that gets more attention in further books. Although I don't remember exactly, but we'll find out soon.

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    2. Well, I do remember a specific scene in Rebel Dream that's supposed to be The Fix, but- you know. One conversation and that's IT. Things are magically solved with no further smoothing over. Kinda like in the case of this novel, though we do get Recovery.

      I should say, I got really excited when I got the notification for this post. So excited, I made a really awkward noise when I saw it. I can't wait to see what you have to say about Recovery!

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    3. Glad to hear you were excited, it's nice to know the reviews are appreciated. These are incredibly time consuming to write, and that is with the "luxury" of being able to copy and paste the quotes rather than type them, but still, lots of time on these. Recovery I should be able to write up later this week, and then the book after should be easy, because I read it already and Han and Leia aren't even IN it. So not much quoting going on there! Then I may need a breather before taking on Star by Star. I'm sort of looking forward to reading it again, because in spite of the awful thing that happens, I do remember liking the book in general.

      Well, I think I know what you're referring to in Rebel Dream. A few books away from now, of course. I didn't totally mind that, because I think that Han is always going to be a man of actions and not words, and that particular gesture would be incredibly meaningful. I don't think much more would need to be said. But I'll refrain from judging entirely until I actually read it again!

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    4. Actually, I was still talking about Jaina and Leia, so I meant a different scene. As for the part you're talking about, I think it was absolutely adorable and my heart melts every time just thinking about it! (The chair, right? Now we're talking about the chair?)

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    5. Yes, of course the chair! I don't even remember a resolution to Jaina and Leia really.

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    6. Oh, it's my favorite scene in that book!

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  4. Zyra , you are really plowing through these books! I hadn't known that about the author. Sounds like she should have been fired.
    I'm looking at the art work. On the previous one, I couldn't even recognize Han. And who's that person on this cover?
    Thanks for finding the "good parts" for us.

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    1. Thanks, I am definitely plowing through them. I've actually already read Recovery and the book that comes after, but still have to sit down and write the reviews before I get too far ahead!

      I don't know who that is supposed to be. Jacen maybe?

      And you're welcome. I am finding the good parts so that someday I'll be able to go back and just see the good parts without having to read them again ;)

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  5. Zyra, your efforts are much appreciated, believe me. I can't tell you how much I value being able to selectively read the EU novels for the Han/Leia content without wasting my time on the ones that do them a disservice (or ignore them altogether).

    Does anyone know where I can lay my hands on a PDF of Recovery? Amazon UK says it's "no longer available".

    Obviously, with my tendency to devote 10k words to bubble baths and canoodling in the bunkroom, I'm a pretty rubbish writer when it comes to conflict and tension. As a reader, I do appreciate it when others do it well, but I really do NOT like it when it seems wholly contrived and illogical, just a plot device that doesn't make any sense. Of course, Han would be very upset over Chewie's death, and he would grieve hard and maybe feel a prolonged depression over it... but to flee his family and stay gone almost a YEAR, and then to seem still so cold towards Leia after so long? Rubbish. Absolute nonsense.

    And that information about Kathy Tyers just makes my blood boil. Why oh why could we not have had a Han/Leia 'shipper writing some of this stuff!? Guhhhhhhhh.

    I like to fantasize about Knighted Rogue being asked to step in and re-write all the post-RotJ novels. If I ever win the lottery, I plan on hiring her to do it! haha

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    1. Didn't KR write a fic with missing moments from this series a long time ago? Let me go dig up the link... The Reality of the Love Story: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/3200866/1/The-Reality-of-the-Love-Story - yet again proof that fanfic writers just do it better. Between Zyra's review and this fic I'm set. I don't think I'll need to read the real books!

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    2. Erin Darroch, I was able to download an ebook of Star by Star which has Recovery tacked on the end from my library. Not sure if you have that option in the U.K.

      Zyra, well done review! My fav part of the book is "there's something wonderful about the universe when your parents love each other." Awwww. And I have just the missing moments fic almost done...I've kind of forgotten about it but I'll get back on it. It's from Recovery.

      Dant Solo once wrote a fic called Oblivion, which was missing moments from BP. I can't find it anymore though except a very chopped up version. Sad face.

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    3. Wayback machine link to all of dantsolo's fics:

      http://web.archive.org/web/20080203235132/www.swtats.com/han.html

      Jediofgrace, I love that line too about having parents who love each other.

      I'll have to re-read a lot of this stuff I'm sure I read once but it's been a while.

      And Erin, yes, definitely selectively read the EU. I had already read them all anyway so it's too late for me. But I like being able to save the rest of you :)

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    4. Thanks all. I've acquired a copy of Recovery and I look forward to reading it.

      Zyra, you're an angel. I don't think I could survive some of these books, and I know I couldn't have survived reading them as they were coming out. I bailed out of the EU some time before NJO.

      I've just read KR's "The Reality of the Love Story" and, although it was beautifully done, it was also rather painful. I'm afraid I've wailed all over her reviews page. lol And now I can't stop thinking about Jaina watching her parents together. Oh, my poor heart.

      My response, of course, is to dive right back into the fluffiest or silliest stuff I can find (or make)!

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  6. Dont forget Dant Solo's Oblivion.

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  7. Please, JainaDurron7, share us all the missing moments you've written! ♡

    And Zyra, these reviews are highly appreciated! I'm happy they are so detailed about the most important things, so I don't need to purchase them. That will spare me a lot of wasted energy, because EU-books are quite hard to find. Well, maybe easier as an ebook ,and Youtube has even some of them as audio book, but some how I still consider a book being made of paper! :'D

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    2. Yes! Paper books for the win! It's funny you leave this comment today because I'm actually posting the first part of my own in-between-BP-and-Recovery story tomorrow. I'm putting it on Tumblr but I don't think it will be long before I add them to my ff.net. And maybe I'll send one of my older ones Zyra's way.

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