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Friday, 23 August 2013

AFICIONADO REVIEW: 'STAR WARS - CRUCIBLE' NOVEL



STAR WARS: CRUCIBLE

A novel by Troy Denning

Published in UK hardback from CENTURY PUBLISHING


Reviewed by Scott Weller


Not yet ready to trade their lightsabers and blasters in for zimmer frames, or willing to enter the Coruscant old folks home, our original Classic Trilogy icons return for one last (?) adventure in Troy Denning's zippily paced action/adventure tale CRUCIBLE, out now in UK hardback from CENTURY PUBLISHING.

45 years on from the film saga and after the tumultuous events of the FATE OF THE JEDI which left the galaxy in a fractured state with the attack by the Sith, this footnote to that two parts good, one part bad book series has a despicable pair of evil, powerful alien twins- the Columi Qrephs- out to take over the galaxy from their mining operation/galactic trade company in deep space, alongside powerful help from an familiar and equally lethal fugitive enemy, with Luke, Han and Leia, plus a little help from friends old and relatively new, being the only people capable of stopping them. But not before the old guys, our true STAR WARS heroes, are put through one helluva wringer emotionally and physically. Han and Leia particularly have it the worse (its like the author was saying to himself, well, what seven shades of hell can I put them through today!), with the bizarre but intriguing aliens having a particularly old and personal grudge against the former mercenary space pilot. "Revenge is a dish best served cold, and it is very cold in space."

Making some sly yet affectionate references to our gang entering their senior years, and lending a kind of "It's not the years, its the mileage" mentality to them, Denning's books may not be one of the all-time classics of the STAR WARS book range, but the overall drama is told well enough to satisfy- our heroes are well captured, the action sequences are pretty big and effectively described (there's an epic fight to the death lightsaber battle which brings in new plot elements linked to the nature of the Force), and there are some further inventive ideas here and there to keep it all afloat (introducing vicious humanoid alien reptiles, Nargons, that are part cyborg, which, at first, prove effective henchmen, plus Han having to fight for his life over a very different kind of Sabacc game). Chuck in some Mandalorians, a vital link to THE CLONE WARS animated series, as well as other FATE continuity, and there's a confection that will surely please a lot of Expanded Universe fans.

Bringing closure to the FATE OF THE JEDI series, CRUCIBLE works well enough as a last-hurrah action piece than in providing any real kind of depthfully affectionate send-off to the characters. If this is indeed the very last book for our older, wiser, but no less heroic-to-the-core Classic Trilogy favourites in this particular time frame, then LUCAS BOOKS have made a wise decision to end it here and now (its well of story ideas now truly run dry IMHO), and on this mostly successful, crowd-pleasing note.

AFICIONADO RATING: 6.5 out of 10 


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