SW7N Review: Smuggler’s Run, Moving Target, & The Weapon Of A Jedi Reviews.

JTTFA 1Pomojema here with a three-in-one review of the junior novels currently included in the Journey To The Force Awakens line – Smuggler’s Run: A Han Solo & Chewbaca Adventure by Greg Rucka, Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure by Jason Fry and Cecil Castellucci, and The Weapon Of A Jedi: A Luke Skywalker Adventure by Jason Fry.

 

 

I will start off by saying that if you want to learn the most about what the setting for the Sequel Trilogy is going to be like, the prologue and epilogue sections of these three novellas will probably be the most enlightening out of all of the Journey To The Force Awakens books. While prologue/epilogue chapters are all pretty brief, they manage to say a lot about the Resistance and the criminal underworld – which is something that Lost StarsAftermath, and Shattered Empire only hint at, since they are very distant prequels to the new movie. These three books form a spiritual trilogy in and of themselves, and that’s why I felt as though it was worth discussing them collectively as opposed to individually. In addition, all of these are fairly quick reads, so I thought that it would be best to cover them each quickly as opposed to going too in-depth. As a whole, considering that these books are targeted at kids in particular, I was surprised at the level of detail and depth that was tucked into these novellas – namely, the space battles, which bring up quite a few interesting aeronautical terms into the equation.

 

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Up first is the Han & Chewie novella – Smuggler’s Run. This is a pretty self-contained, swashbuckling, space-faring adventure – the kind of thing you’d expect from a story about the two Millennium Falcon pilots. The narrative itself, which is split between the two key characters and Alecia Beck, an interesting, calculating villainess introduced in the novel. It’s also really neat how the frame story ties into the ending – I won’t spoil it, of course, but the result is that everything snaps in nicely into place when everything comes together. A downside to the story is that it doesn’t really tell us anything new about Han and Chewie as characters – besides briefly alluding to the likely event of the re-canonization of their EU backstories – but it makes up for that by being a bliss to read for any fan of the pair. From start to finish, the book is a page-turner, and has the best pacing out of all three novellas.

 

Next is the Leia novella – Moving Target. This one was unexpectedly my favorite – it had a heavy emphasis on character development and how to live with hard decisions, and it’s story about sacrifice and questionable morality, which it handles well. Leia is shown as someone who really doesn’t like the fact that people have to die for her while she is forced by her superiors to do nothing – a conflict of quiet desperation and of personal courage. In a sense, I get the feeling that this book will come to encompass what could be the thematic core of the Sequel Trilogy as a whole. The book sets up Leia as a tactician first and and a warrior second, which I think made for a more interesting story than the standard “hero comes in and guns down the bad guys” type of narrative that Star Wars is known to have. The novel easily had the best ensemble of supporting characters – including a surprisingly snide Nien Nunb. Although this novella doesn’t really promise a continuation of the narrative, I would certainly hope that there is some kind of spiritual sequel to this book.

 

Hans-Solo-With-Princess-Leia-And-Luke-Skywalker-Star-Wars-800x70111Last on our list is the Luke novella – The Weapon Of A Jedi. In terms of what to compare it to, I would say that this felt like Heir To The Jedi Lite – many of the same beats are even brought up. Sadly, the actual Jedi training featured in the story was fairly dull by comparison by the story’s own limitations (since Luke only learns telepathy over the course of Heir To The Jedi, which takes place months afterward). While this book was my least favorite to read (and I liked Heir To The Jedi quite a bit), I will say that I felt as though it was the most enlightening out of the three – even if Luke himself does not appear in the prologue/epilogue, it places a lot of emphasis on his lightsaber and its legacy. It says a lot about how the writers – or rather, the Lucasfilm Story Group overseeing everything – are treating the Force itself, which is the key to pretty much everything in Star Wars. There’s even a little nod to what could very well be the Knights Of Ren tucked in there, if you know where to look. Sarco Plank’s implementation and subsequent characterization was interesting to see, and I can only hope that he is included somewhat prominently in Act One (or possibly Act Two) of The Force Awakens.

 

In short, while the three narratives aren’t exactly groundbreaking, they’re all fun reads that have interesting little elements teasing what we’ll see from the future of this amazing franchise. Each book seems to hint at potential continuations of these stories, and I hope that they are followed up on in some capacity – perhaps in Journey To Episode VIII, presuming that that’s going to be a thing. All three books are available for purchase right now. In addition, AftermathLost Stars, and the first issue of Shattered Empire are also on shelves right now, so it’s as good a time as any to begin the Journey To The Force Awakens.

 

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Grant has been a fan of Star Wars for as long as he can remember, having seen every movie on the big screen. When he’s not hard at work with his college studies, he keeps himself busy by reporting on all kinds of Star Wars news for SWNN and general movie news on the sister site, Movie News Net. He served as a frequent commentator on SWNN’s The Resistance Broadcast.

Grant Davis (Pomojema)

Grant has been a fan of Star Wars for as long as he can remember, having seen every movie on the big screen. When he’s not hard at work with his college studies, he keeps himself busy by reporting on all kinds of Star Wars news for SWNN and general movie news on the sister site, Movie News Net. He served as a frequent commentator on SWNN’s The Resistance Broadcast.

35 thoughts on “SW7N Review: Smuggler’s Run, Moving Target, & The Weapon Of A Jedi Reviews.

  • September 29, 2015 at 6:47 pm
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    All three of these were excellent I really like the “secret” revealed in Weapon of a Jedi

  • September 29, 2015 at 6:49 pm
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    I also found Leia’s “Moving Target” as the best of the three.

  • September 29, 2015 at 7:09 pm
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    “Moving Target” jumped the shark for me when they had the crew get into wacky “beachwear”, including “t-shirts” with logos, “purple shorts,” “flowered shirts,” “sunglasses,” a hat with the logo of a “local fishing charter,” and a reference to a two-piece swimsuit that looks like Leia’s slave outfit (this is set shortly before ROTJ). For those of you who haven’t read it, I’m not joking.

    • September 30, 2015 at 12:25 am
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      Man, this is exactly the kind of thing that’s been driving me nuts about the new SW books. Aftermath was full of this kind of thing too, and it yanks me right out of the story every time.

      True, in Alan Dean Foster’s Star Wars novelization, way back and the beginning, he did make references to a dog and “even a duck must learn to swim”. But there really was no “world of Star Wars” at the time he wrote that. It was just the novelized version of a movie screenplay that nobody had any clue was about to blow the roof offa the joint the way it did. Plus, it was a couple of throwaway lines early in the book.

      Where I first noticed this was in Heir to the Empire, when Luke is thinking about this amazing drink that Lando discovered in some far-flung star system – “hot chocolate”. That jumped out at me as being a far too obvious and pointless shout-out to us Earthlings, and it’s always bugged me. And then we’d periodically get something like that in the books or the films (I can’t be the only one who kept waiting for “Annie” Skywalker to burst out into a pouty rendition of “The sun’ll come out tomorrow…”).

      But ever since Disney bought LFL, I’ve noticed a LOT more of this. I try my best to block it out, because truth be told when it comes to Star Wars I’d rather just enjoy the story for what it is, if at all possible. But man, they aren’t just an occasional thing anymore, are they? It seems like this stuff happens multiple times in each new SW book that’s released nowadays.

      Seriously? Flowered shirts, logo-spattered t-shirts and caps, and “beachwear”? What’s next, Leia starring in a teen musical called “Beach Blanket Sabacc”? Oy…

      • September 30, 2015 at 12:41 am
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        “Heir to the Empire” was the first EU novel I ever read (and one of the few I have until now). That hot chocolate reference made me literally throw the book into the corner of the room without thinking. I was so excited to get more Star Wars after ROTJ and I couldn’t believe how horrible that reference was. I actually wanted to write to Zahn and tell him off for making a mockery of Star Wars – I eventually calmed down ;). It wasn’t just the real world reference, but the way he made it seem exotic until the “punchline.”
        I’ve never felt the films did this, but I hope the Story Group will soon realize how wrong this kind of stuff is for Canon material. I’m surprised they let these things pass so far. I thought the new Canon would eliminate stuff like the hit song “Vader’s many prosthetic parts” (From “Heir to the Jedi”)

        • September 30, 2015 at 12:55 am
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          “It wasn’t just the real world reference, but the way he made it seem exotic until the “punchline.” ”

          Exactly. It was the way the narrative built up to it that sort of outlined the thing in neon, rather than it being a momentary throwaway thing like Luke remembering a dog he’d once owned before passing out at the Tusken Raider’s feet in the ANH novelization.

          And now it seems as though there’s less and less of an effort to avoid Earth terms, names and idioms in the new SW books. IMHO, that needs to be a key part of the style guide from the Story Group. (e.g., it’s never “glass”, it’s “transparisteel”.) And if that means publishers submitting manuscripts to the Story Group for style QA, so be it. (In fact, I always kind of assumed that this was the case until I started seeing all of this Earth jargon.)

          • September 30, 2015 at 1:23 am
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            Funny, I never minded stuff like glass. To me things like “transparisteel” stand out more since they essentially replace a real world equivalent in order to be more sci-fi. Glass is something mundane and old enough to not stick out if it is a passing reference. I would assume they have glass in this universe and it is an English translation of the Basic word for it. If they made an effort to make glass seem exotic, that would trigger my distaste. Every one has a different level of tolerance.

          • September 30, 2015 at 3:38 pm
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            I think the transparisteel was created to explain the durability of viewports on interstellar vessels. It makes sense that you wouldn’t want to use something as potentially fragile as glass when constructing your ship. I always liked that creation myself, but to each his own. 🙂

          • September 30, 2015 at 3:59 pm
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            I think it’s hilarious how a lot of the writers intentionally avoid some things you’d expect to find, like restroom/bathroom/toilet etc. instead calling it the “refresher”, and in the same breath neglect to replace the reference that actually is awkward in its earthly state. The EU was notorious for this and not much has changed. There is virtually no core difference between Legends material and the new canon in method – the new stories just don’t contradict where we’ve been and where we’re going. That’s the only difference.

          • September 30, 2015 at 5:53 pm
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            Even hot chocolate and “caf” are back in canon.

        • September 30, 2015 at 3:21 pm
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          You threw away heir to the empire because of the chocholate reference? Really? It’s almost like judging a book from its cover…

          • September 30, 2015 at 5:34 pm
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            I didn’t really “throw it away,” I threw it reflexively like someone throwing a controller during an extremely frustrating game. Then I picked it back up.

            I expected it to be essentially Episode 7. I wasn’t digging it to that point anyway, but it completely threw me for a loop that it could have something that horribly written. I read the trilogy, so I didn’t refuse to read it. It isn’t anything like judging it by its cover because it is part of the writing style that the author chose. It was so fundamentally NOT Star Wars that it sucked all the enthusiasm out of me.

      • September 30, 2015 at 3:35 pm
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        I agree with you about the references in Moving Target and Heir to the Empire. What’s funny is that these “real world” references have the effect of making me realize I am spending time in a fictional world. It’s easy to get lost in a good story, but when we are reminded of real world things we didn’t expect to find in this fictional world, it pulls us right out of the story instead making it seem more real, which may have been the goal. That being said, I never minded the earth animal references as ESB itself has many earth animals as well. Dagobah is crawling with earthly looking snakes and lizards that seem to fit right in with the flying creatures and the swamp monsters. I guess with this in mind, it’s not hard to imagine a dog or a cat as well.

  • September 29, 2015 at 7:47 pm
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    FYI – The Jedi Temple of Eedit on Devaron (from Weapon of a Jedi) is also featured in The Clone Wars Season 3 episodes “Monster” and “Witches of the Mist” if you want to check it out.

  • September 29, 2015 at 8:09 pm
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    Thanks for the reviews you guys do – good to get a brief look at new canon material.

    That said, is there any way we could get some of the non-spoiled content from these books, um, spoiled? Maybe in the forums or something? I don’t make the time to read much these days, as my daily commute generally gives me a great amount of time for audio books. But, the audio books for these are a little too expensive for so little actual material. Better ways to spend money, etc.

    I’d like to know the content though.

    Again, I’m not suggesting that you spoil everything on this site or anything (I actually really appreciate this site’s sensitivity with spoilers). However, I’m guessing a lot of guys (and gals!) who read here would love a spoiler-full review of this. Or, even just a list of notable things, doesn’t even have to be a review! 🙂

    • September 30, 2015 at 3:51 pm
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      We have something in the works on this topic. 🙂

  • September 29, 2015 at 8:28 pm
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    my favourite of these was weapon of a jedi, currently I’m reading lost stars.mI like how these books turned out so far

  • September 29, 2015 at 9:03 pm
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    does anyone else think that Luke looks like William Zabka in The Weapon of the Jedi book?

    • September 30, 2015 at 2:55 am
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      Haha! CLEAVE THE LEG!

  • September 29, 2015 at 10:30 pm
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    In what way does Smuggler’s Run allude to re-canonization of the EU’s backstory for Han and Chewie? Haven’t read it yet, so I’m curious.

    • September 29, 2015 at 10:48 pm
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      I think it might refer to Han rescuing Chewie from slavery. There’s a good chance I’m wrong though.

  • September 30, 2015 at 12:00 am
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    I was very suprised how much I liked these books. The initial novels the new canon released fell very flat to me. I was a big EU fan and had been reading those books for two whole decades. When books such as A New Dawn, Heir to the Jedi and Tarkin came out I was ready to stop reading S W. I did not enjoy them at all.
    But am so happy to have picked up all of the JTTFA novels. Other than Aftermath they are all fantastic. Love the direction they are moving the galaxy. Am now even more excited to see The Force Awakens!!

  • September 30, 2015 at 12:03 am
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    All three of these sound like some fun light reading. I’m especially intrigued by the bit about the space battles being particularly well written. To me, this is and always has been such a huge part of Star Wars, and was what made Aaron Allston’s “X-Wing” series my favorite part of the old EU.

    My only gripe (and this is something I’ve been noticing overall since LFL/Disney began producing new Star Wars content) is this: Can we PLEASE get somebody in the Story Group to start taking new character names just a little more seriously? Alecia Beck, Rae Sloane, Norra Wexley, Ezra Bridger… sounds to me like the roster of a suburban book club. Yes, we had the occasional earthbound name in the films back in the day, but straight-up Earth names like “Owen Lars” were few and far between. IMHO, they need to start getting a little more creative and “Star Wars-ey” with their new character names, and to stop with this tendency to give key characters both first and last names that sound like something they grabbed out of the Anytown, USA phone book.

    • September 30, 2015 at 1:29 am
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      Interestingly though, when you come up with a Star Warsy name [which is very easy to do, btw] it can come off as generic and unimaginative. There’s a point when names like Rex Dengar and Thova Raef become gratuitous.

      ..those are made up names, btw.

      • September 30, 2015 at 3:40 pm
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        Sure, but you can’t just throw syllables together and have done with it either.

        There were some excellent names back in the day that didn’t sound like they came from the KOTOR name generator (and I agree that that has a certain GFFA genericism to it), nor did they sound like members of a small-town cross-stitch club.

        For instance…

        Lando Calrissian
        Obi Wan Kenobi
        Governor Tarkin
        General Reeikan
        Chewbacca
        Admirals Ozzel and Piett

        It just takes a bit more creativity and effort of thought on the part of the author, is all.

        • September 30, 2015 at 5:58 pm
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          I always thought of “nozzle” and “Ozzie” when I heard Ozzel. Piett made me think “petite” and “pet”.

      • September 30, 2015 at 4:29 pm
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        I think the current Story Group is doing a far better job with names than the bulk of the old, defunct EU. Throwing hyphens and apostrophes in willy-nilly does not a Star Wars name make.

    • September 30, 2015 at 6:57 pm
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      Just name them after your friendly assistant and your favorite album from 15 years ago. No need apparently to waste time on names. As long as one of them is a Skywalker, does Disney’s target audience even care? No they don’t. Just point at the people complaining and yell nerd.

  • September 30, 2015 at 1:23 am
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    If Aftermath reads like young-reader fan fiction, what are the junior novels going to read like?

    • September 30, 2015 at 7:10 pm
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      All four YA novels (if you include these three and Lost Stars) are very well written and contain excellent plots and character development.

  • September 30, 2015 at 2:43 am
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    Im interested to hear if anyone else possibly thinks Emmat might actually be Ezra. Other than lack of mentioned force abilties there just seems to be simalarities between the two personalities. The age would fit as would his importance to the rebellion. I know I am probably way wrong but is an idea

    • September 30, 2015 at 3:24 pm
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      I tell you why he can’t be: in the picture we get of ematt in smuggler’s run he looks 30-ish, while ezra eould be 19 by that time…

      • October 1, 2015 at 3:19 pm
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        I thought that picture looked strange because they say in the text repeatedly that he’s about 20. For the record, I don’t think he’s Ezra, but going by the writing rather than the illustration, the age wouldn’t be a problem.

        • October 1, 2015 at 4:02 pm
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          That’s a good catch. The text says that he looked to be “in his mid-twenties at the most”. He definitely looks 40+ in this picture. That being said, some people go gray a little early. Still though, it’s kind of strange. Ezra would only be 19 or 20 here, so I still doubt it’s him.

    • September 30, 2015 at 3:26 pm
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      The events of this book are only 4 years after the current Rebels timeline. There is no way that Ematt is Ezra.

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