NEW EPISODE: Korgs ‘N’ Porgs


LIVE IN PERSON: This was a very exciting one to record. We cover a load of stuff going on currently in fandom and think you’ll probably dig at least a handful of these topics.

  • Rian Johnson getting his own Star Wars trilogy
  • Dark Universe officially canned
  • Disney and the future of streaming Marvel content
  • Thor: Ragnarok What did we think?
  • Amazon creating a LOTR series
  • Stranger Things 2 better than the first?
  • Xbox One X console gaming evolved
  • Assassin’s Creed Origins a return to form
  • Overwatch’s Moira is weebtastic
  • Last of Us 2 looks even more gut-wrenching
  • Battlefront 2 and the most down-voted Reddit comment

I will note, EA has recently removed the option to buy crystals since this episode was recorded. But will they be back? EA’s statement still states that this is a “temporary” move. We’ll have more info on this and all you geeky news to come. Also a friendly reminder to follow us on all social outlets! (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook)

Star Wars Battlefront: Twilight Company (Book Review)

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Much like the many of the new canon novels, Battlefront starts out a snail’s pace. However, unlike the other new novels, Battlefront does this set up in a way that highlights the visceral brutality that accompanies ground war troops as they slog their way through blaster fire, bio weaponry, and artillery. The slow set-up adds a rich layer to the story of Twilight Company’s tour of the galaxy, showcasing that war on the front lines is hell, even for those who have lived it their entire lives.

Ultimately, the slow set-up works in the novel’s favor, proving essential in setting up the characters. Every character is rich, complex and nuanced, especially its lifelong soldier, anti-hero protagonist as well as an Imperial governor turned Rebel informant. Named characters continually perish in the novel just as you grow to appreciate them, making this the only novel, thus far, that hit me emotionally. The settings are widely varied, from the jungles of Coyerti to the snowbanks of Hoth to the sweltering lava beds of Sullust, and gives you an idea of just how vast the Galactic Civil War is. Best of all, it re-canonizes Kuat and its (in)famous Star Destroyer shipyards.

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Star Wars: Darth Maul (Book Review)

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The Good: Great art, lots of dark side versus dark side action, a solid conclusion for the Shadow Collective and Mother Talzin, and a great show of Sidious’ presentation as a master manipulator and planner

The Bad: Darth Maul and the Mandarloians’ story ends on a head scratching cliffhanger, Dooku and Grievous continually being played as incompetent morons, and the Jedi show up in a plot they really have no business being included in

The Ugly: Dathomirian possession. What’s up with the Dathomir witches’ magicks, anyways?

Overall Verdict: A solid but slightly rushed conclusion to Darth Maul and Mother Talzin’s involvement in the Clone Wars that only leaves one major question unresolved: the fate of Maul and his Mandalorians.

Book reviewed by Space Dragon contributor Matt Pellegrino


Star Wars: Dark Disciple (Book Review)

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To begin, it’s best to put this novel in context. This novel was written from eight unproduced The Clone Wars scripts that would have take place over the course of Seasons 6 and 7. It follows the journey of Quinlan Vos, an energetic and whimsical Jedi Master often tasked with going undercover in the seediest parts of the galaxy, assigned with a dark task by the Jedi Council: the assassination of Count Dooku. At the suggestion of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Quinlan Vos seeks out Asajj Ventress in an attempt to ally with and learn from her experience as the Sith Lord’s spurned assassin and apprentice.
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Star Wars: Tarkin (Book Review)

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The Good: An in-depth and compelling background for Tarkin, Tarkin himself is expertly written, Tarkin’s relationships with Vader and, to a lesser extent, the Emperor are intriguing, and an ending that neatly sets-up the Tarkin we see in A New Hope.

The Bad: The plot by the antagonists is needlessly drawn out, the antagonists are underdeveloped and only serve to elevate Tarkin and Vader, and a mish-mash of poorly handled secondary characters that exist just to muddle the plot and add a twist.

The Ugly: Sheev. Why not just go full ham and call him Shiv?

Overall Verdict: As appreciable as the insight into Tarkin was, I feel this would have been better suited as a short story or novella than an entire novel. However, due to the format, its plot was needlessly plodding and mired in a mystery with a couple of twists that feel hollow.

Book reviewed by Space Dragon contributor Matt Pellegrino


 

Star Wars Aftermath: Life Debt (Review)


Picking up a few months after the events Aftermath, Life Debt immediately re-establishes the protagonists, Norra and Temmin ‘Snap’ Wexley, Jas Emari, Sinjir Rath Velus, Jom Barrell, and their murderous battle droid Mr. Bones, as a team seeking out and capturing high ranking Imperial officers that have been eluding the New Republic. However, after returning with their latest mark, Princess Leia Organa asks team leader Norra Wexley to track down her wayward husband, Han Solo and his Wookiee copilot, Chewbacca, who mysteriously disappeared after running off to Kashyyyk, the Wookiee homeworld, in an attempt to liberate it from the clutches of the Empire.
Life Debt also spends a significant amount of time establishing antagonist Rae Sloane as Grand Admiral of the Imperial Navy, whom is trapped in a game of wits, intrigue, and deception with her mysterious benefactor, Fleet Admiral Gallius Rax. Rax controls the events of the novel through a master plan that only begins to reveal itself at the novel’s end.

Unlike the more localized first novel, Life Debt is packed to the brim with galactic wide intrigue and conflict. Flitting back and forth between the main team, Leia, and Sloane, we get a clear picture of the post-RotJ state of the galaxy showcasing the flaws of the New Republic and what appears to be the sinister, secret beginnings of the First Order, buried in the death throes of the Empire. In addition, Aftermath’s interludes are back and just as intriguing as they were in that novel. From the shadowy Acolytes of the Beyond to more bizarre stories like the fate of the Rancor keeper from Jabba’s Palace, the interludes plant story seeds to be continued in Empire’s End and likely beyond. Best of all, Life Debt acts as a nexus for the new canon, drawing upon characters, planets and ships from other novels and comics. As a completionist, it was very satisfying to see all of the connections to the new canon, wrapped neatly into this already expansive tale.

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Star Wars: Aftermath (Book Review)

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This one was definitely a slippery slope. There would be chapters that pulled major interest, and others that would be down right boring. Chuck’s writing tends to break itself up to a point where you need to read everything in a steady flow. Taking many breaks will cause you to back track with the abundance of characters (new & old) in Aftermath.

Although, in the end I did care about Temmin, his family and his enemies.
The bits and pieces we do get from the familiar Star Wars characters is just enough to bridge the book. But honestly they could have been left out entirely.

This book really pushes the crumble of the old empire that we saw fall at the end of ‘Jedi’ and shows that there is something more menacing forming against the Rebel Alliance (just in time for Force Awakens!) But we fans knew this from the get go.

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Star Wars: Bloodlines (Book Review)

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Taking place six years before The Force Awakens, Bloodline follows Princess/Senator Leia Organa as she investigates a mysterious criminal cartel while also being intimately involved in the hyper-partisan political environment that is the norm in the New Republic senate. She’s joined by a very colorful cast of characters from a stoic assistant with a tragic secret, a hotshot pilot out to prove himself, a mousy intern with strong convictions, a vain senator with a hidden agenda, and, finally, Leia’s foil, Senator Ransolm Casterfo, a charismatic senator from the opposition who is deeper than his persona suggests.

Star Wars: A New Dawn (Book Review)

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The Good: Great introduction to Hera, Kanan and their ongoing relationship, secondary characters that grow to be endearing by the novel’s end, an interesting setting with a nice dichotomy between the planet Gorse and its moon Cynda, and an intriguing look at the more mundane aspects of the Empire’s vast logistical operations

The Bad: A villain who appears to be complex at first but devolves into a one dimensional thug, an ambitious but cookie cutter Imperial Captain who only becomes interesting at the very end of the story, a slow, dull pacing that only picks up near the last third of the book, and a secondary character who remains incredibly irritating until the second half of the book.

The Ugly: Acid baths. Gruesome…

Book reviewed by Space Dragon contributor Matt Pellegrino


Star Wars: Heir to the Jedi (Quick Book Review)

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The Good: Breezy pacing, appreciable insights into Luke’s development of the Force between ANH and TESB, an excellent ship, an interesting Givin supporting character, a plethora of unique settings, and a great Math joke

The Bad: A stock, forgettable love interest for Luke, an uneven to completely off-base voice for Luke (The novel is first-person from Luke’s perspective), no villains outside of stock Empire goons and nameless bounty hunters, and an ending that is anti-climactic and wraps up everything far too neatly.

The Ugly: Fexian Skullborers. Nightmare fuel…

Overall Verdict: A breezy, occasionally fun, but ultimately completely forgettable adventure between ANH and TESB. Unless you’re really interested in digging into Luke’s mind and how he developed his Force use before TESB, this is completely skippable.

Book reviewed by Space Dragon contributor Matt Pellegrino


 

Star Wars: Lords of the Sith (Book Review)

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In another attempt to fill in the Dark Times, Lords of the Sith tells a tale on Ryloth, the homeplanet of the Twi’leks, shortly after Revenge of the Sith as a group of rebels called the Free Ryloth movement attempt to take down Darth Vader and the Emperor on their visit to the turbulent planet. In addition, a pair of high ranking Imperial officers are pitted against each other on opposing sides, playing key roles in the confrontation between the rebels and their Sith Lord opponents.

Lords of the Sith suffers from what has plagued several of the new novels so far: an agonizingly slow first half and a mostly satisfying ending. Lords of the Sith fares better than two of its most similar kin, Tarkin and Heir to the Jedi, due to the excellent portrayals of Vader and the Emperor.

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Darth Vader: Vol. 1 (Book Review)

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Running concurrently with Star Wars Vol. 1, this comic places Vader front and center as he deals with the Emperor’s displeasure and secrets following the destruction of the Death Star. Vader himself comes across as strong, furious, and cunning, managing to stay convincingly ahead of all of his adversaries, but most of the problems that this comic faces comes from author Kieron Gillen’s secondary characters.

These include sinister parodies of Threepio and Artoo, a terrified, juvenile Indiana Jones, an underutilized General to rival Vader,and the Emperor coming up with a groan worthy plot to test his apprentice. While Vader feels as dangerous as ever, it feels like he’s strangely out of place among the odd characters and head-scratching plots that surround him. Furthermore, its ending felt slightly cheap after Star Wars Vol. 1’s final scene was nearly identical.

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Star Wars: Lost Stars (Book Review)

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This book was astonishing. For starters, this barely qualifies as a Young Adult book, dealing with headier material and more complex themes than most of the so-called Adult novels. Furthermore, it is an excellent retelling of the Original Trilogy (And beyond!); the main story involves a young boy and girl, both from the same planet but different social castes, winding their way through the universe, with the OT occurring in the background. It’s also a surprisingly touching romance with subtle links to the mythology of the galaxy.

Ultimately, it’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, if the titular characters were actually Romeo and Juliet. The pace and prose are breezy and the length is shorter than what it appears to be, thanks to larger type print, probably the biggest indications that this is meant as a YA novel, but don’t let that discourage you. This is, easily, the best new novel thus far, even outstripping the mostly great Twilight Company.

I don’t want to give too much away with this one, but if you’re an OT fan and are interested in a touching romance that stretches across a galaxy far, far away, pick this one up. You won’t regret it.

Book reviewed by Space Dragon contributor Matt Pellegrino

Star Wars 2016 Young Adult Novels (Review)

Here you will find four mini reviews on the new Star Wars books that came out a few weeks after The Force Awakens entitled, Before The Awakening. These are part of the NEW official expanded universe. Of course our interests were peaked! Space Dragon contributor Matt Pellegrino was the first to dive in and give us a look into some light Star Wars reading.


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THE WEAPON OF THE JEDI

Addressing my biggest concern with the last Luke outing, that being the length of the novel, The Weapon of a Jedi is a short novel about Luke discovering a ruined Jedi temple and learning how to use a lightsaber between ANH and ESB. At times dull and tedious due to long descriptions of lightsaber combat, the book still gives insight into Luke’s transformation from an impulsive farm boy to a focused, contemplative Jedi Knight. With a unique, but shallow villain and a heartwarming and heart-rending girl and her father as supporting cast members, this book is worth a look for Luke fans. Casual fans can safely skip this novel.


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BEFORE THE AWAKENING

This set of three short tales takes place appropriately just before The Force Awakens. Delving into the daily lives of Finn, Rey, and Poe, the former two offer some explanations for their motivations in TFA, as well as some of their skills, while the later gives a broad overview of his career as well as the state of the galaxy.

Both Finn and Rey’s stories suffer from meandering plots, both of which have unsatisfying endings, although the explanations for Rey’s piloting skills, Finn’s doubt in the First Order, and TR-8R/FN-2199’s relationship with Finn were appreciated. Poe’s story, in contrast, is excellent with a couple of nerve wracking dogfights with real stakes, a sorely needed explanation of the state of affairs between the New Republic, the First Order, and the Resistance, and a surprise appearance from a major character.

Poe’s story alone is worth the price of the book, but Rey and Finn’s stories also offer valuable insights into their characters for TFA fans that are hungry for more on these characters.

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