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SPOILER Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Lost Stars (Review)

Discussion in 'Star Wars: Books & Comics + Legends' started by Hard Case, Sep 2, 2015.

  1. Hard Case

    Hard Case Porg Whisperer
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    Lost Stars by Claudia Gray - Review

    Well, Force Friday has come and gone and has forever made it’s impact on the Star Wars universe. On Friday, fans were given five options of brand-new books to read as an adult novel, three children’s novels, and a young adult novel, Lost Stars, hit retail shelves. To be honest, of all of the new books that would be adding to the Star Wars canon, and giving us hints and clues about The Force Awakens, I was looking forward to Lost Stars the least. However, deciding to wait on Aftermath and the children’s novels about the big three, I went for Lost Stars first over the weekend.

    [​IMG]


    The publisher’s book summary described the book as a thrilling Young Adult novel that gave readers a macro view of some of the most important events in the Star Wars universe, from the rise of the Rebellion to the fall of the Empire. Readers would experience these major events through the eyes of two childhood friends - turned lovers who find themselves on opposite sides of the war.

    Upon reading this description, Romeo and Juliet immediately came to mind, and when I discovered that the book would be authored by Claudia Gray, a young adult paranormal romance author (best known for the Evernight series), my immediate thought was “Oh great…Twilight in space…”

    After reading the book - I can say that the novel lived up to the expectations set by the publisher. It did in fact give us a big-picture view of the original trilogy through the eyes of two childhood friends - turned star-crossed lovers. However, my own expectations were completely blown away.

    I was amazed at how much I really enjoyed this book. Gray took great care in the development of her characters and left me rooting for them to make it through the war and find a life together at last. It seems that every turn of the story brings them closer together, yet pulls them so far apart at the same time.

    Thane and Ciena.JPG

    One of the things that surprised me was how naturally the romance of this story came into play. It wasn’t about romance at first – it was about two best friends – Thane Kyrell and Ciena Ree who met at the tender age of eight when both of their families were in the capital city of their planet Jelucan to commemorate the induction of their world into the Empire. Ciena and Thane were from two different people groups of their world that lived drastically different lifestyles, each despising the other. Thane belonged to the “second-wavers”, descendants of the second group of people to make Jelucan their home. The second-wavers embraced technology and fashion, often looking down on the more simplistic valley people, to which Ciena belonged.

    Both children were very ambitious and longed to become an Imperial pilot someday. When some of the kids decided to sneak a look at an Imperial shuttle, a fight broke out as some second-wave boys began to pick on Ciena calling her “valley trash”. Thane comes to her rescue only to discover that she could hold her own pretty well without him. Soon, a very familiar Grand Moff breaks up the fight and commends Ciena and Thane for not running away like the other children. He encourages them to practice their flying and maybe one day they can serve their Empire by joining the Imperial Navy.

    Thane and Ciena become instant friends despite their social differences. Knowing that Ciena doesn’t have access to a ship to practice flying, Thane invites her to fly with him and the rest is history. They join the officer’s academy on Coruscant at 16 and graduate after three years. They soon join the ranks of the Empire, Thane being assigned to the defense fleet of a secret space station and Ciena to Darth Vader’s flagship Devastator. The story then shows us key events of the original film through the eyes of Thane and Ciena, from the capture of Leia’s Tantive IV to the destruction of Alderaan by the Death Star.

    [​IMG]

    The destruction of Alderaan was a key event in the story that began to galvanize Ciena’s loyalty to the Empire, despite her reservations about the tragedy. She rationalized that it was necessary to put an end to the war, and was further sure of her place in the Empire after the Rebel “terrorists” destroyed the Death Star (and many of her friends on board). The destruction of Alderaan had the opposite effect on Thane, who was already more cynical than Ciena, as he saw it for what it was – the murder of countless innocents all so the Empire could flaunt its might. He continues to become even more disillusioned and eventually chooses to defect, which hinders his newly romantic relationship with his best friend, Ciena, who chooses to remain loyal and honor her commitment to the Empire.

    The rest of the story spans years and takes readers through more key events like the Imperial attack on Echo Base and the Battle of Endor, with the climax of the story taking place at the Battle of Jakku bringing a very exciting and satisfying conclusion. The only complaint I can muster from this great read is actually one of the reasons I so enjoyed it (if that makes any sense). Those who have issue with the “small world” mentality that has been played out so many times before in the saga will find no absence of that here as characters in this story play very crucial off-screen roles to events that take place on screen in the main saga. It is so well-crafted though and was such a joy to read that I didn’t mind. There is also a subtle explanation that the will of the Force itself may be directing the events of this story, although that notion is rejected by Thane Kyrell throughout.

    [​IMG]

    I strongly recommend this book to Star Wars fans as it provides a great overview of the original trilogy and shows us a side of the Empire we have never seen, answering an important question: Is everyone in the Empire evil, or are they just following orders? Not to mention it is just a well thought-out and expertly crafted story. If you plan to read it, stop here, and pick up your copy. If not and you still want to know what happens in this book, read on for some spoilerific plot points and details.


    Lost Stars Story Details and Plot Points:

    Plot points related to the OT / Plot points related to TFA


    At the beginning of the story, we are introduced to the main characters at eight years of age: a boy, Thane Kyrell, a “second-waver” and Ciena Ree, a girl from the Valley. Both are traveling with their families to the capital city of Valentia to join in the ceremony commemorating Jelucan’s induction into the the Empire.

    Grand Moff Tarkin himself announces Jelucan's induction into the Empire and meets young Thane Kyrell and Ciena Ree. A young officer Piett is also present.

    Both children were enamored with the thought of one day becoming Imperial pilots and officers. Thane invites Ciena to practice flying with him in his family’s V-171.

    Thane's father was verbally and physically abusive. His mother was indifferent to him altogether. His older brother Dalven, who seems to despise Thane and his new friend Ciena leaves to join the academy.

    Thane and Ciena make a hideout for themselves near Thane’s home, dubbing it their “fortress”.

    Imperial History portrays Mace Windu as the one who started the Clone Wars as he interfered with a legal execution on Geonosis.

    An officer’s academy on Arkanis is mentioned. This is where Zare Leonis (Rebels) went in hopes of finding information about his sister who went missing there.

    At 16 both Thane and Ciena are selected for the prestigious Royal Imperial Academy on Coruscant.

    Both excel in the academy becoming friendly rivals vying for the top spot in the class.

    Ciena is framed to appear to have sabotaged Thane’s project and Thane in turn is framed to look like he was the one that framed Ciena after her aliby was verified. A cynical Thane wanted to expose the notion that an officer must have been the one to frame them both. Ciena is afraid that such action would cause them to be expelled and refuses to stand with Thane which causes them to barely speak to one another for about two and half awkward years. Eventually, they make amends as they each miss the friendship they once had.

    During this time, they begin to see one another in a slightly different light as they grow into adulthood, entertaining thoughts about the other that they never imagined before.

    The top students in the class are invited to a VIP ball held at the Imperial Palace. Thane dances with junior senator Princess Leia who is viewed as a celebrity by most of the students.

    After graduation, Ciena is posted on the Devastator, Vader’s flagship, while Thane is posted to the defense fleet of a secret space station.

    Ciena activates the tractor beam that catches Leia's ship, the Tantive IV at the beginning of A New Hope.

    Both Ciena and Thane are on the Death Star when Alderaan is destroyed.

    Thane is sent on the mission to Dantooine to scout the Rebel base.

    Jude Edivon, a friend of Ciena’s and her former roomate at the academy gives the report of the threat of the Rebel attack on the Death Star that makes it’s way to Tarkin where it is quickly ignored.

    After the destruction of the Death Star, Ciena is sent with fellow lieutenant, Berisse - a graduate of the academy on Lothal, in a freighter to lock onto Vader 's signal and bring him back to the Devastator.


    After their reunion on the Devastator after fearing the loss of one another, Ciena and Thane embrace tightly and kiss for the first time, realizing how natural it is for them to be together in this way. After their short reunion, Thane is sent to spice mining world Kerev Doi to shake down the financial powers that be to find out if they are involved in Rebel funding.

    While on Kerev Doi, Thane sees slaves being used by the Empire and becomes further disillusioned by the government he once was so proud to serve.

    Thane contacts Ciena via the holonet and tries to see where she stands on her loyalty to the Empire without coming right out with it for fear of being monitored.

    They misread one another and Thane deserts his post while Ciena remains in service.

    Ciena is tasked to find Thane to sort out his disappearance which she blames on grief insisting on his ultimate loyalty. She sets off to Jelucan to find Thane and hopefully some answers...

    Thane waited for a few weeks for Ciena. When she arrives, they embraced and talk for hours. Ciena is torn between her loyalty to Thane and the Empire which were now in conflict. Thane is hurt to choose to leave Ciena but to choose to remain in the Empire feels more wrong after all he'd seen. They make love throughout the night and part in the morning.

    Ciena tells Thane she would have to report him after one week and gives him a head start. When she gives her report she chooses instead to lie, stating that Thane had committed suicide.

    7 months after the Battle of Yavin, Thane is working as a pilot for benevolent Wookiee cargo transporter, Lohgarra. 18 months ABY on a relief mission to Oulanne (a pangea type planet ravaged by storms), he encounters Wedge Antilles.

    Wedge convinces Thane to join the Rebellion.

    3 years ABY, Ciena (now lieutenant commander) has been transferred to the Executor at the personal request of Vader. Admiral Ozzel gives her high commendation in a performance review. She was onboard when a probe droid reported a strange signal from the uninhabited Hoth system.

    Thane is now on Echo Base talking with Dak Ralter (Luke Skywalker’s gunner). Thane apparently helped set up Echo Base on Hoth a month prior, and now the Imperials have discovered its location and are on the way.

    Now a member of Corona Squadron, Thane gets in his snowspeeder and flies in the Battle of Hoth, taking down an AT-AT by hitting weak points at the feet. Harpoons and tow cables soon prove even more effective.

    Flametroopers are mentioned by Thane as he suspects that the specialized troops will no doubt be a part of the ground assault, setting fire to the base and those that remain inside.

    After the battle, Ciena is tasked by captain Piett with providing auxiliary navigation to the four TIE pilots entering the asteroid field to apprehend the Millennium Falcon. One of the pilots, Penrie, was a graduate of the academy on Lothal. Despite her efforts, all the pilots fly to their deaths in the asteroid field.

    After Hoth, Thane joined up with the fleet. Later, in a hooch drunken stupor he confided in a woman while she held his puke basin. The next morning at the briefing he realized the woman was none other than Rebellion leader, Mon Mothma.


    Thane and the rest of Corona Squadron, including Ciena's old friend and new Rebel Kendy Idele are told to remain on the Liberty for an upcoming dangerous intelligence mission.

    On Bespin, Ciena and Nash Windrider (native Alderaanian and former friend and roomate to Thane) disable the hyperdrive on the Millennium Falcon.

    Ciena receives a holo from home where her father reveals her mother is about to face trial for embezzlement charges. Everyone in the town knows the accusations are false but are afraid to stand with the family as doing so would implicate that an imperial officer had framed her. They are afraid to stand up to injustice yet are unwavering in their own commitments to honor the Empire. Ciena travels home to be with her father and starts to lose faith in the Empire she once loved.

    Out of the blue, Thane shows up to stand vigil with the family, a practice sacred to the valley people, which involved families staking their own honor on the honor of another, in essence – vouching for them. However, Thane must do so privately as his discovery would put his life in jeopardy.

    The next day, Ciena makes it clear she does not intend to turn him in while he is standing vigil with her family. To ease the discomfort of the awkward situation, they decide to go flying.

    Even though much has changed, they discover that they still intimately know one another, which they discover as they fly, predicting one another’s movements and flying as if they were two arms of the same pilot.

    After they land, Ciena leads Thane to their old fortress and confronts him about joining the Rebellion. He attempts to get her to defect, however, her resolve to remain continues as she feels that the Empire is not all bad and sees the necessity of having good people in its ranks. Although they may never see eye to eye on this one thing is clear...they still love each other deeply.

    Ciena pulls him into a kiss and they make love with passionate fervor.

    Ciena 's mother is sentenced to six years hard labor in the mines. Ciena accepts her family’s shame and both she and Thane return to their posts.

    Interesting nod: The new base for the Rebel fleet is on an uninhabited planet so small and obscure that it has no name only a numerical designation 5251977 (a nod to the release date of the original film).

    Corona Squadron is sent by Admiral Ackbar on an intelligence mission to investigate the Imperial fleet massing in the Hudalla system.

    Tethered to debris in the gas giant's ring, the Rebel spies gather intel on the fleet. Thane suspects the Emperor is involved first hand with the gathering of so many ships.

    Admiral Piett sends Ciena and Nash with a small TIE squadron to investigate what he believes are Rebel ships hiding in the rings. Ciena is given special orders to allow at least one ship to escape.

    Trying to avoid needless loss of life Ciena broadcasts on an open frequency to allow the ships time to flee. After hearing Ciena’s voice, Thane gives a response about the galaxy not being big enough. Nash recognizes Thane’s voice as well. Angry at Thane's betrayal he moves in for the kill. Ciena saves Thane 's life by cutting Nash off. Corona Squadron escapes except for one pilot who was killed.

    After the skirmish, Ciena freshens up and realizes they have come out of hyperspace and are near a small forest moon. She gasps as she sees that a second Death Star is under construction.

    Ciena was present when Palpatine arrived on the Death Star. Seeing him was a shock as he apparently has not appeared often in public since his disfigurement. The Palpatine she was expecting to see was the one from the Clone Wars - not this pale wrinkled hunched old man that exuded such evil.

    Corona Squadron is given the responsibility of covering the Death Star attack. The Liberty is destroyed by the Death Star laser…


    All fighters were called to their ships; Ciena was among them. She entered the scene just as thousands of Rebel ships exited hyperspace. Conflicted by her new doubts about the Empire and confused by the emperor’s theatrics, she does her duty. She witnesses a Rebel pilot fly his ship through the bridge of the Executor and sees the gravity of the Death Star pull the dead ship into its surface. Her friend Berisse was on board…

    The Death Star explodes and Thane heads to Endor to join in the celebration. Kendy steals a dance with General Lando Calrissian.

    Ciena, her TIE debilitated by the stations explosion, heads to the nearest Imperial ship and crashes in the hangerbay.

    Ciena was severely injured, requiring her to be fitted with a life-support belt and to take months of medical leave while her liver was re-grown. After the destruction of the Death Star and the death of the Emperor, the Empire descends into chaos. Coruscant is in turmoil, and Grand Vizier Mas Amedda tries to keep it all together.

    The galaxy is more divided than ever…law no longer rules…only chaos…Imperial factions form under leaders who each have ambitions of the Imperial throne. These factions war with each other as systems are claimed by each, including the Anoat sector (Star Wars: Uprising) which was closed off to rest of the galaxy.

    The Rebellion also declared itself the prominent authority in the galaxy as the “New Republic”, with entire systems in support of it as well. A year later, the war is still raging.

    Ciena has recovered and is promoted to Captain by Grand Moff Randd and given command of the Star Destroyer Inflictor. Nash is promoted as her fleet commander. She now feels like there is no way out of this Empire she now hates. Although she feels no loyalty to the Empire any longer, she feels responsible for the hundreds of thousands of lives under her command.

    The Battle of Jakku begins.

    Thane and Kendy Idele are tasked with infiltrating a Star Destroyer to claim it for the Republic…the name of the ship…Inflictor.

    Once it is discovered by Ciena that they have been infiltrated, she attempts to engage the self-destruct sequence only to realize that it has been disabled by the Rebels. She orders all hands to abandon ship and decides to go down with the ship, crashing it into the surface of Jakku, finally finding a way for her to keep her honor and rid herself of Imperial service (now we know the name of the crashed ship from The Force Awakens teaser).

    Thane immediately recognizes her voice over the comm. After making sure Kendy finds an escape pod, he makes his way to the bridge to convince Ciena to leave with him. She refuses and urges him to leave. A fight ensues…Ciena realizing Thane will not leave without her, takes his blaster and attempts to stun him and drag him to a pod. Thane gains the upper hand, however, and stuns Ciena instead.

    They both escape and are found by Republic troops who then take Ciena into custody to be tried for her war crimes. Thane is positive that with such a need for good people in the New Republic that he can convince a few of his friends in high places within the New Republic to set her free. Although Ciena remains in prison, we leave their story with the hope that they will soon be completely reunited.

    The Imperial factions begin to disappear and it seems that the New Republic has finally won the war. However, unknown to the Republic, the factions have begun to unite once again and rebuild. Commander Nash, with his new assistant Dalven Kyrell (Thane’s brother), remains hopeful that they will be even stronger than before and finally crush the Rebellion once and for all. Thinking Ciena to have died on her ship, her death strengthens his resolve and his hatred for Thane Kyrell.
     
    #1 Hard Case, Sep 2, 2015
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2015
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  2. Ivanhoe1972

    Ivanhoe1972 Rebel Commander

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    Why do I get the feeling that Ciena Ree and Thane Kyrell both end up marooned on Jakku and have a baby named Rey?
     
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  3. Hard Case

    Hard Case Porg Whisperer
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    "Rey Kyrell" actually sounds really cool and I like your theory. I guess we'll find out Friday. :)
     
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  4. Admiral Petty

    Admiral Petty Force Sensitive

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    Hmm, that isn't something that I even considered when reading the synopsis. I kind of doubt that will end up being the case, but you've made me all the more curious to read the book now just the same. Glad its one of the books that I pre-ordered along with Aftermath and Smuggler's Run(wasn't that interested in that one til I discovered one of my favorite comic book authors, Greg Rucka was writing it, also the same guy writing the Shattered Empire comic).
     
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  5. Kyle

    Kyle Guest

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    I'm excited about all these titles. Doing eye exercises for all the reading I will be doing, starting with these YA novels, finishing with Aftermath
     
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  6. AlienofDoom

    AlienofDoom Rebel General

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    Okay... wow.
    I just finished Lost Stars and I absolutely loved it. I'm a sucker for tragic romance, and Grey does a really good job here with it, and it forms the best part of the book. Almost equally impressive though is how we get to see those major canon events from different perspectives. The destruction of the Death Star, the Battle of Hoth, etc. and so on. Not as the heroes who sweep in to save the day, but as those who have to deal with the consequences. And there's a moment near the very end of the story where I threw the book down and just paced for a minute saying "No Way!" over and over again, because I realised that (major end-story spoilers here people)
    Ciena was the one who crashed the Star Destroyer into Jakku
    It's an amazing moment.

    I was (as were many I assume) expecting Aftermath to be the big-man on campus with these Force Friday books, but (while I like Aftermath) Lost Stars completely blows it out of the water to overtake Lords of the Sith as my personal favourite book in the new canon. I highly recommend that people pick it up, even if you were holding off because it's a YA novel. It is, but it's also amazing.
     
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  7. LadyMusashi

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    So, I finished the book a couple of minutes ago. I have to admit, I wasn't particularly excited about the book since I read somewhere the novel was described as 'Romeo and Juliet of Star Wars'. I adore Shakespeare, but still I loathe Romeo and Juliet. So, I enjoyed the book much more than I expected.

    I was surprised that the author had
    let them live in the end. It surprised me and was a bit disappointing - that would have been such a great finale if they crashed together on Jakku. Or, maybe, I am just that sadistic. XD

    The author did a good job of humanizing both sides of the conflict. She did a good job answering questions like: Why would anyone join the Empire? Why would they remain loyal? Why people joined the Rebellion? Did they all believe in its causes? She did a great job giving nuance to most of the characters (except for a couple of fanatics, because, well, fanatics).

    Nothing significant was revealed in the book apropos The Force Awakens that we didn't know or suspected already. I have seen some people doubt Mon Mothma's
    plan for demilitarization (as seen in Aftermath).
    It could be that she learned caution.
    A month after Jakku, she stated this:
    Considering how the novel ended, smart decision.

    All in all, I enjoyed the novel, but I liked Aftermath more. This was a pleasant book, Aftermath excited me and made me smile. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
     
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  8. Hard Case

    Hard Case Porg Whisperer
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    I particularly liked this aspect of the narrative. Hardly any of the Imperials were represented as "evil" in this story. It was also interesting to see that even though some characters hated and disagreed with the Empire, they weren't all about the Rebellion either. Gray lived up to her name and really painted a "gray" picture of the politics of taking sides during the Galactic Civil War. As a kid it was always: The Empire is Evil and the Rebels are good. This novel showed us that it isn't that simple.
     
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  9. Paulo Henrique

    Paulo Henrique Rebel General

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    It will be released next month here in Brazil. You guys have made me more anxious to read it!
     
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    Trevor Rebellion Arms Supplier
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    Oh man!!! SMOKING review.....good job @Hard Case!!!
     
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    @Hard Case That was very well done. You've caught some details I missed (like the date, etc.). Excellent.
     
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  12. liespana

    liespana Rebel Official

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    Rey Kyrell!!!
     
  13. odmichael

    odmichael Rebel Official

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    Really nice review! I want to read it!
     
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    Qui-GON29 Rebel Commander

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    Outstanding review @Hard Case! It seems like a very well crafted story indeed. I regret now (in hindsight) having read all the spoilers, 'cause it really seems like a nice read! I'll pick it up anyway, thanks to your observations. ;)
     
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  15. Hard Case

    Hard Case Porg Whisperer
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    I saw this as a possibility before reading the novel. However, I seriously doubt that is the case now as Ciena is presented as a black woman (although light-skinned) in the book. Thane is a white man with reddish-blonde hair, so I guess with this pairing you could theoretically get offspring that looks like Rey.

    Interesting find: Claudia Gray posted on her pinterest account that she had done some mental casting for her characters when writing the book to help her picture them. She had actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw in mind when writing Ciena and actor Sam Reid for Thane. I guess she liked their performances in Belle. I haven't seen the film.

    Here are some of the others she mentally casted when writing the book:

    Lennie James (Paron Ree)
    Harry Shum, Jr. (Ved Foslo)
    Michelle Yeoh (The Contessa)
    Parminder Nagra (Kendy Idele)
     
    #15 Hard Case, Sep 9, 2015
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2015
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    Finn Tyrell? lol I'm sticking with Rey Tyrell as the main theory.
     
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  17. Hard Case

    Hard Case Porg Whisperer
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    I think Rey is more likely than Finn given the ethnic blend, but I doubt it's either one honestly. I think this story's main purpose was to show us a different side to the Empire. And of course as part of the Journey to SW:TFA, we had to get a reference in there for the film or lead in to it some way, but I think...
    ...the Star Destroyer on Jakku will be the only impact these characters have on that film (most of the story shows us their impact on the OT).
    I just don't think they'll go there with Rey, however I admit Rey Kyrell sounds like a great name - very Game of Thrones.
     
  18. Use the Falchion

    Use the Falchion Jedi Contrarian

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    Mild Spoilers Ahead (sorry, I don't know how to create those spoiler page thingy's yet...)

    I stayed up so late reading (and finishing) this book that I only got 2.5 hours of sleep. Worth it. I can't say whether or not I like it better than Aftermath, but both books made it to my top five favorite new canon book lists. I like how nicely this book fits into the saga of Star Wars; but that doesn't mean I didn't see problems. It felt like Ciena and Thane did EVERYTHING related to minor tasks in the books and movies. Tractor beam that captures Leia? On Hoth? Helping Vader at the end of A New Hope when he's stranded? The whole Endor battle (to the point where I honestly thought that Ciena was going to be on the shuttle that Luke took to get to the surface of Endor). These aren't bad things, but they felt a little contrived, or should I say, Forced? ;)

    Either way I loved the ending for both Thane and Ciena, and I'm now more excited for what's to come due to the ending of the book proper.
     
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  19. Hard Case

    Hard Case Porg Whisperer
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    I know what you mean. It was a little "forced", and it usually bugs me when authors do this, but I just enjoyed this book so much that it was easy to forgive. It kind of became a game with me - finding all of the tie-ins to the OT.

    As for the "spoiler" tag... you just click the insert button (a square with a plus sign inside) and select "spoiler". Type your spoilerific content in between the two sets of brackets with the word SPOILER inside. When you post, the content will appear under a spoiler tag.
     
    #19 Hard Case, Sep 9, 2015
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2015
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  20. Xaereth

    Xaereth Rebel Trooper

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    Kind of reminded me of Forest Gump, in that he was part of a ton of really important/pivotal moments and events in US history, while meeting a lot of people who influenced US culture. I didn't really mind the "forced" nature of this one though, that's how it was advertised, after all. :)

    @Hard Case Great review! Please do this for the other YA books so I don't have to pay money to listen to them on Audible (only "reading" I get done these days is via audio books, due to a looooong commute, :-/ )
     
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