Empire and Rebellion: The New Big ThreeSeptember 13, 2013 at 12:24 pm | Posted in Books, Del Rey, Opinion, Star Wars, Star Wars Books | 2 Comments
Tags: empire and rebellion, honor among thieves, james s.a. corey, kevin hearne, martha wells, razor's edge
Del Rey and Lucasbooks is set to recapture the imaginations of fans with their new Star Wars series Empire and Rebellion. Starring the three most famous characters from the franchise—Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, and Princess Leia—each book is set during the familiar era of the original movies. With new Star Wars movies on the horizon, it’s the perfect time to tell stories focusing on the classic characters, a theme sure to appeal to new and old readers alike. Yet the series has been placed in the hands of four authors new to Star Wars: Martha Wells, Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck (aka James S.A. Corey), and Kevin Hearne. The big question is, what can readers expect?
For starters, a fresh perspective. Martha Wells is first on board with her upcoming Leia novel, Razor’s Edge. The book is set before the events of the fan favorite The Empire Strikes Back. Leia is leading a mission to obtain supplies for the completion of Echo Base. During this time period, the obvious villain is the Empire, however Razor’s Edge skirts the Imperials in favor of a less used set of villains: space pirates. Seeing Leia during this time period is also a refreshing break from the stories we typically get in the Expanded Universe. This isn’t a Leia who is married to Han Solo, has three kids or wields a lightsaber. This is Leia the Rebel freedom fighter, the Princess of Alderaan, and the frontline face of the Alliance. In this story, readers get to jump back in time to the Leia we fell in love with in the movies. We see her faced with challenges and forced to weigh the sacrifices of those decisions while never letting others fight her battles for her.
Razor’s Edge also exemplifies Martha Wells’ tendency to include seamless diversity. In her other novels such as The Cloud Roads or The Death of a Necromancer, she is no stranger to using a diverse cast of characters. Whether they are winged creatures covered in scales, or bisexual adventurers from a steampunk Victorian era, the casts are anything but dull. In this book, we see a true balance of female characters. Besides Leia in the starring role, there are two female antagonists and two primary, female, supporting characters. On top of that, there is a wide variety of skin colors for the cast, be it brown or orange. If you also take into account the aliens, it adds up to a very diverse cast, one that should please those readers who have been asking for more diversity.
Farther out in the release schedule is James S.A. Corey’s Honor Among Thieves. So far, James S.A. Corey have only co-written three books, all of them taking part in The Expanse series. If those books are an accurate measure of what we can expect in their Han novel, then readers need to start thinking along the lines of Matthew Stover and Paul S. Kemp. The books in The Expanse series are deep, character rich stories with tantalizing prose and sweeping plots. It’s science fiction at its best. If they can channel that same magic into Honor Among Thieves, we might see a Han story on par with Ann Crispin’s Han Solo Trilogy. With the release date currently penciled in for March 2014, readers will have a bit of wait. However, there is an excerpt at the end of Razor’s Edge which might whet readers’ appetites.
Then there is Kevin Hearne and his untitled Luke Skywalker novel. If you haven’t read Kevin’s Iron Druid Chronicles series, you need to go pick them up. Seriously, the first three books in the series are pure hilarious entertainment. They are also peppered with Star Wars references. One thing Kevin does well is mix in a healthy dose of humor into his stories. If Kevin can squeeze that same humor into his Luke novel, he might very well give Aaron Allston a run for his money. He’s definitely an author to keep an eye on.
“Good day,” she said, apparently not as pleased to have met me, and tossed her mane of luxurious hair over her red shoulder as she exited, prim and stately and Polish and oh so witchy.
<She’s kind of like a Mary Poppins just before she turns to the dark side of the Force,> Oberon said. He was still behind the counter, but he had had a good look at her as she exited. <Let go of your anger, Malina! There’s still good in you! The Emperor hasn’t driven it from you fully!>
I clearly need to get you some new videos to watch while I’m at work.
-from Hounded by Kevin Hearne
Between Wells, Corey and Hearne, Star Wars readers have a lot to look forward to. Empire and Rebellion may star the three most prevalent characters in the Expanded Universe, but with the time period and the fresh perspective of the writers, the stories are sure to be anything but the ordinary. With new humor, new diversity of casts, and new styles of prose, readers will have plenty to dive into and enjoy. Let’s just hope that there’s plenty more in the pipeline.