BOOK REVIEW: The Wit and Wisdom of Master Yoda by Yoda

The Wit and Wisdom of Master Yoda: Master Yoda QuotesThe Wit and Wisdom of Master Yoda: Master Yoda Quotes by Yoda

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

[I normally put a link here to the books I review, but wouldn’t want anyone to accidentally buy this one by mistake.]

This review is the same rant I put in my weekly reading review today. If you saw it there, don’t bother reading onward.

This book was a stinker, and I can’t recommend it for anyone–though its saving grace is that it’s slim and thus only wastes a tiny bit of one’s time. What the author apparently did was to watch a Star Wars movie marathon and pull every Yoda line out and collect them together. This is a sad effort in two ways. First, while Yoda isn’t a lead in the movies (and, therefore, has a limited number of lines), there’s a vast canon of Star Wars books, and it doesn’t look like the author trolled any of them for quotes. Second, some of the lines are neither witty nor wise. Occasionally, Yoda has a line equivalent to, “take a left at the second light,” and the author includes such banal quotes. Furthermore, some of the quotes appear a second time in either reduced or extended form. Beyond all these complaints, the author doesn’t even take the time to put together meaningful front matter to tell the reader something interesting that they don’t already know, and thus doesn’t establish his worth in producing such a book. (Also, he doesn’t seem to know accepted protocol for writing quotes inside quotes–i.e. use of single quotes. Which I guess means he probably didn’t just cut and paste all the quotes because then they would have been grammatically correct.) He also could have at least provided told us which movie each quote was from. It’s a lazy effort. It succeeds spectacularly in being lazy. If you’ve seen the movies (or have basic cable so that you can readily do so by way of one of the frequent Star Wars marathons) you’ll gain nothing from this book.

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BOOK REVIEW: Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn

Heir to the Empire (Star Wars: The Thrawn Trilogy, #1)Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Amazon page

Heir to the Empire is set about five years after the first movie trilogy (by release date, i.e. after Return of the Jedi.) It features many of the principal heroes of the first trilogy including: Luke, Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Lando Calrissian, R2-D2, and C-3PO. Obviously, gone are most of the bad guys from the movies, but in their place has risen Grand Admiral Thrawn—a master strategist who seeks to revive the Empire. Thrawn is portrayed more as a brilliant military man than a dastardly villain. This doesn’t mean he can’t be cold and villainous, but he also brings in a measure of intellect and rationality not seen in the movie universe. While it would appear that Luke is the last of the Jedi Knights, or the first of a new line if one prefers, that turns out to be not entirely true.

I enjoyed this book. I bought it during a Kindle sale on what Amazon considered to be the best Star Wars books. While I’d seen the movies, I hadn’t read any of ancillary works, and so I Googled to find out which of the books on Amazon’s list were considered by fans to be the best. Zahn’s Thrawn trilogy, and particularly this first installment, seemed to be on every fan’s list.

One of the great plot devices used in this book is a creature whose mere presence can nullify the force. This strips Luke’s powers away through a critical piece of the book. Yes, the introduction of this creature is deus ex machina, but it’s deus ex machina that challenges the protagonist–rather than making life easier for him–so it’s alright by me. Because Luke is the last of the known Jedi, he’s essentially a Superman among mere mortals, and so the book might have become tedious if Luke weren’t stripped to his native intellect and courage devoid of superpowers. Instead, he has to escape from the planet on which these creatures reside and help rescue Han and Lando in the process without any supernatural abilities.

As mentioned, this is the first book of a trilogy, and, therefore, it leaves many major issues unresolved. Multi-part series usually have less satisfying endings than a stand-alone book, and I can’t say it’s not true of this work. However, this first book of the Thrawn trilogy does contain a clear climax and a definitive tactical (battle-level) resolution.

The book intersperses chapters from the hero’s point of view (PoV) with those from the Thrawn’s ship. This book begins with a chapter from the enemy’s PoV, and so for Star Wars neophytes—such as myself—one enters into a whole new territory in which it’s not quite certain when or where one is in the Star Wars universe. However, in subsequent chapters Luke, Leia, and Han are introduced and we learn that Han and Leia are married and that Leia is pregnant, and this gives one insight into the timeline of the book. We also learn that while the Empire seems to have been destroyed, the Republic is on weak footing and is having trouble reestablishing itself.

The book introduces us to a couple of new characters that I understand will become established in the expanded Star Wars universe. The most intriguing and important of these is Mara Jade, the right hand woman of the most powerful smuggler in the known universe. We soon learn that Mara despises Luke Skywalker and wants nothing more than to dance on his grave. However, we don’t learn until much later why it is that she hates him, and we learn after a time during which the two are forced together by circumstances. Mara Jade is a force to be reckoned with. While she might not be a match for Luke the Jedi, she is more than a match for Luke stripped of his powers. It seems clear that Zahn is building a relationship between Luke and Mara with their interaction in this book. Luke is oblivious to why Mara dislikes him, or even who she is until he is explicitly told, but events force them to spend time together under trying circumstances.

All in all, I liked this book. I found it readable, and thought that it did a good job of maintaining tension throughout.

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TODAY’S RANT: Continuity Gaffes

For those unfamiliar, a continuity gaffe is a mistake in a movie in which something that shouldn’t change from one instant to the next does. They result from movies being shot over many days in an order unrelated to how the film unfurls before the viewer. Take an example, say a brawler is wearing a green shirt, they cut away to the other fighter, but when they flash back he’s an orangutan in a bikini. If it’s still not clear what I’m talking about, the YouTube clip below shows a horde of gaffes from the first Star Wars trilogy.

Now, from the title of this post, you probably think that I’m some sort of obsessive-compulsive nerd who catches every little niggling mistake in a movie. To this I say, I wish! I’m a not-the-least-bit-compulsive nerd. I don’t catch any movie continuity gaffes– not a single one. Sure, I can see them when they’re circled and the film is run in slow motion, but otherwise I’m clueless. This has made me wonder if there isn’t something defective with my brain. When they are pointed out they seem pretty glaring.

What really bothers me is not that I never catch a continuity gaffe in a movie, but rather that I catch them in my real life all the time. I’ll distinctly remember setting my keys down on the valet, but after a thorough search I’ll find them in the freezer. I’ll remember having written a paragraph, but when I come back to my laptop I find nothing but the cryptic message, “xzsawrwddd&&ppPPP.” I’ll put down Shakespeare’s Sonnets and when I pick the book back up, it’s a James Patterson novel.

I’ve developed two competing hypotheses to explain these gaffes. First, I’m in the Matrix, and Mr. Smith is corrupting the code. Second, my secretly super-intelligent cat is fucking with me.