Thursday, October 12, 2006

Book 88: The Crystal Star

The Crystal Star opens with a bang, of sorts. The children of Han and Leia have been kidnapped while Leia is out on a diplomatic mission. Leia feels that somehow the Dark Side of the Force must be involved, though the diplomats she is meeting with suggests that it is just the local custom of kidnapping for social status and that it is part of a local tradition. Leia feels otherwise and she is right. The children are kidnapped by the Lord Hethrir who takes the children and tells them their parents are dead. Somehow he is able to block their limited and young ability to use the Force. Meanwhile Han is on vacation with Luke. Luke is searching for missing Jedi and their travels take them close to a planet which is slowly dying and turning to crystal. This is messing with Luke's ability to sense with the Force and Vonda McIntyre gives the reader a very different spin on Luke Skywalker. Rather than the hero, we have a despondent and sluggish man who is not thinking rationally. It is a different spin on Skywalker and may be disappointing to many readers. Luke is less of a presence in this novel anyway as the focus is more on the kids in captivity and Leia's attempts to rescue them. Luke and Han are almost a side plot which eventually gets pulled into the main storyline as it all comes together in a mess of villainy.

My biggest problem with The Crystal Star is that it focused far too much attention on the Solo children. Sure, they will eventually become major players in the Star Wars Universe and sure, the readers needs to be introduced to the characters so they don't just show up one novel as fully formed characters who we have not had the chance to get to know, but I think Anakin is three years old, which would put Jacen and Jaina around five. Unless Anakin is only two. I'm not sure, but they are a bit too young to get such a large role. Roger MacBride Allen did a far better job with the children in the Corellian Trilogy which was only set a year or so after this novel. They're no Ender Wiggin, I'll say that much.

After the children my complaints have to do with the storytelling. There is nothing wrong with having Luke's mission go poorly, but everything felt rushed. Leia spent so much time wanting to find her children but not really following them until all of a sudden she knows exactly where they are and the kids and everyone end up in the same place with Han and Luke. Sorry, I guess that is a bit of a spoiler, but come on now. Really? The novel might have been better served by focusing soley on Leia and the children with perhaps a cameo at best of Han and Luke. Not the wasted chapters with no real story development, though we do get a bit of Han's past came to light.

Bottom Line: Even fans of the Star Wars novels should skip this one. It does nothing, or little to build on future stories (a minor character or two from this book may appear in future volumes as Jedi) and it does not resolve any ongoing storylines. The book is essentially self-contained and reading a basic summary would be just as enjoyable as reading this novel.

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