Archive for Sidelong Glance

Thrawn & Pryce – Rebels Revisited Special Review

thrawncoverTimothy Zahn made a grand return to the Star Wars canon with his book Thrawn. Its release timing was perfect for publicity, out a scant few days before the opening of Celebration Orlando, but that was part of the reason for a delay in any article on this site actually talking about it. Another reason for that delay is that the book is very good, a return to form for Tim Zahn, so a review would not be all that interesting. A simple quality check of the book would be redundant at this point since we would just be adding a voice to the chorus. Thus, rather than heap more praise onto it, we intend to instead analyze its portrayal of the two lead characters – Thrawn and Arihnda Pryce – and how they tie into Star Wars Rebels.

Be forewarned folks, we’re off the edge of the map. Beyond here, there be spoilers.

Thrawn being a part of the Rebels show itself is a topic we have discussed in the past. A topic we have not discussed is that he and Governor Pryce were both formally introduced to Rebels in the same season. Pryce was mentioned previously within the show but never seen, always having excuses made on her behalf by Minister Tua for not attending functions on Lothal herself, almost as if they were intentionally avoiding actually showing her. Then, she walks onscreen scant moments before Thrawn enters the scene. At the time, it just seemed a coincidence, the introduction of new antagonists to replace the ones who ended their journeys in the second season.
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Mandalorians in Rebels – From Traviss to TCW and Back Again

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Ever since Boba Fett first graced screens, whether you count the Holiday Special or The Empire Strikes Back as his debut, the Mandalorian visage, that “T”-shaped visor, all-encompassing armor and jetpack with weapons strapped across every extremity, has intrigued people. From that initial appearance, with as little time spent on him as there was, a whole subculture of the Star Wars fandom grew, even before anyone really knew or codified exactly what “Mandalorian” meant. It was the mystery that drew people in, the very Star-Wars-fan idea of taking something that looked cool and sounded cool and latching on to it, filling in the gaps in the existing storytelling with our own ideas.

Since then, there have been several waves of Mandalorian backstory fleshed out, both canon and not, but there has been a main, consistent drive through almost all of them: a warrior culture. In the grand tradition of dozens of other fantasy and sci-fi franchises, the Mandalorians became a Proud Warrior Race, with honor, a clan-based social hierarchy, and a thirst for battle as the cornerstones of their society. This led to problems, of course, because what little we know of Boba Fett showed a man very different from that, and the idea of him being an outlier or social outcast was established early on.

Thus, Mandalorian culture left him behind and continued to grow and evolve through its different portrayals, typically in novels and comics. But things did not really start taking off until Jango Fett, Boba’s father, came onto the scene in Attack of the Clones. In establishing Jango’s backstory, the ideas of Mandalorian terrorist groups like the Death Watch, who took the ideals of their culture to their most violent extremes, and of more honorable groups like the Protectors, were first really presented. Also, and just as important in the long run, was the ideal of family.

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The Manipulation of Galen Erso – Catalyst: A Rogue One Story

catalyst1It’s a unique time in the life of Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel. The book is, as the name indicates, a direct tie-in to Rogue One, a movie which is not even out in theaters for another few weeks. We still do not know the extent of how the two works will tie in together, what from one will show up in the other or how much one work may lean on the other for support in character development or story. Thus, this will be an examination of the book on its own merits rather than as a tie-in.

Let’s start with overall impressions before we get into what might be considered spoiler territory. Catalyst is written by James Luceno in the grand tradition of Luceno Star Wars novels, in that it ties to the larger events of a film or other project while still telling its own story. Catalyst is very much a prequel, but it tells its own tale well enough to not need the help of the film to support it. It does, however, give context to larger events by taking us behind the scenes, as it were. In this case, we go behind the scenes of the creation of the Empire’s first superweapon.

Through the novel we follow three characters, Galen Erso and his wife Lyra, along with their “friend” and greatest supporter Orson Krennic. The relationship between the three is complicated and ever-evolving as the galaxy spins, events unfold and everything changes around them. We follow our dysfunctional trio from the midst of the Clone Wars through the end of the war to the midst of the Galactic Empire, but the true strength of the book isn’t in the myriad of references or hints at things yet to come; its strength is the leads and the choices they make, the characters themselves bearing the weight of the story.

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Clone Wars Character Autopsy: Saw Gerrera

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It’s been a long time since we had one of these, so let’s recap exactly what we aim to accomplish. Character Autopsy as a term means a deeper look into how a character is portrayed, digging into their subtext and motivations and trying to figure out what makes them tick. Thus far, the articles in this series have focused on characters from The Clone Wars and were focused on their portrayal within the show’s context to form a basis for how they could be portrayed in future media.

So let’s talk about Saw Gerrera. Saw appeared in four episodes of TCW, through one extended season five arc that took place on the classic Expanded Universe world of Onderon. It was just announced that he would be making the jump from the small screen to the big one as portrayed in Rogue One by the esteemed Forest Whitaker. But who is he? What makes him tick? And why would he stumble out of the shadows asking prospective rebel agents about what they will become if they continue to fight the Empire?

We first see Saw as the self-appointed leader of the resistance against the Separatists on his world, along with his sister Steela and Lux Bonteri, the recurring-not-love-interest to Ahsoka Tano. Saw is a reckless and straightforward sort of person, focused on fighting the enemy and relying on Bonteri and his sister to be the diplomat and voice of reason respectively. He has the infectious enthusiasm to lead, but lacks the tact to soften the blows he strikes for the cause. » Read more..

Fatal Faves: Darksaber

darksaberYou know how many people with the benefit of hindsight like to rag on Kevin J. Anderson’s work? A lot, including myself. But that’s hindsight; in his time he was an extremely influential (and prolific) author throughout most of the Bantam Expanded Universe, and regardless of the critics a lot of his works are still beloved by fans. Because of his proliferation, his work was often among the first stories that thousands of burgeoning young fans read. That includes me. My first “adult” EU book was the anthology Tales of the Bounty Hunters, where, I’ll be honest, I loved KJA’s IG-88-centric story “Therefore I Amsecond most out of all of them. (What was the first? “The Last Man Standing”, of course.)

Once I had moved from the short story collections and into full-fledged novels, I was given a number of Bantam-era novels from a used bookstore for a birthday. It was a mixture of them, no complete sets, meaning I owned a third of the Crispin Han Solo trilogy, a third of the Bounty Hunter trilogy, and so on. One of the books was the KJA scribed Darksaber, a lesser book of his, not as high-profile as the Jedi Academy Trilogy or as landmark as Tales of the Jedi. The book blew my mind in a lot of ways, I recall reading it through several times, and going back over my favorite chapters more often than that.

Here’s the thing. I enjoyed so much of Darksaber, and it made such an impression on me that scenes are still stuck in my mind today. That’s more than I can say for most of the other books I had in that era (Slave Ship anyone?). When I think of the Bantam era, I think of the X-Wing series first, and then Darksaber, even before Heir to the Empire. It so perfectly exemplifies the era of Star Wars publishing for me. The story, the characters, the plot(s), the twists, everything is just so pulp, so Flash Gordon or Buck Rogers. » Read more..

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