Discussion in 'Literature' started by Cynical_Ben, Jan 2, 2014.
Wait, what were we talking about? I forget.
Cynical_Ben We're in including Mercy Kill in the read-thru, correct?
Indeed. I'm debating whether to tack I, Jedi on the end as well, since I've been looking for an excuse to read that book again. I think I might save that for the inevitable "Cynically groan at KJA's prose" thread to show how much better the plot of the JAT would be if it weren't written at a fifth-grade reading level.
That's a good question. It's indeed hard to classify as an X-Wing novel, even though it's clearly heavily dependent on the X-Wing series for emotional weight - and it has my very favorite X-Wing combat scene.
But I'm glad Mercy Kill is coming up. There should be no question that it belongs in a discussion of the X-Wing series as a whole, but it suffers from "released shortly before the sequel announcement and the collapse of the ongoing EU storyline" problems, so I just haven't seen many people discussing the connections (stylistic, character, moral, etc) with the other 9 books.
I might be looking forward to this a lot
You could definitely justify including I Jedi. With Corran as the protagonist and the appearance of the Rogues, it very much fits with those books. I'd say it will work better hear than in a KJA read through. Although, it would be a lot more fun there.
I always thought of it kind of as a standalone, halfway between X-wing and JAT and yet neither. That said, I like it, so I definitely would be on board with discussing it here.
Are we doing these books in the order they were written or the order they actually happened? That affects the order of Isard's Revenge vs I, Jedi, if we're doing both of them...
Eh, not really. I, Jedi takes place after Isard's Revenge, so it's really the "where are they now" coda to the series rather than taking place in the middle of it.
Speaking of which, I just finished the latter book this morning. I really don't understand all of the complaints about it. I like it quite a lot, mostly because it has so much of Booster, Mirax and Iella being awesome, Wedge and Janson and Hobbie being all together again, even Whistler and Gate's Excellent Adventure.
The biggest problem I have with it, purely a personal problem, mind you, is that it's not just a sequel book to the rest of the Rogue-based books, it also follows up a lot of the plots, characters, etc, from the X-Wing comic series. Prince-Admiral Krennel being the main returning face, along with Nrin, the Quarren pilot, but references to other events and characters from that series litter this book from cover to cover. I appreciate that Stackpole was trying to wrap up his stories (aside from Corran's) in one volume, but they miss their target on me because I haven't read them.
I'm also not overly fond of the idea that there are suddenly two Ysanne Isards lurking around. The clone angle feels a bit pat, an excuse to give the Rogues a familiar villain while still forcing them to team up with one of their greatest enemies. It's having the cake, and eating it too. Admitted, it is a decent twist to have the Rogues and the real Isard team up, but that's mitigated by the assumption by literally everyone that she's just playing them and isn't the least bit genuine about her intentions, and the fact that she does attempt another power grab at the end, again, feels a bit pat and predictable.
I would have preferred if she had been genuine in extending an olive branch to Wedge and co, being so uncharacteristically straightforward with them that it misled them to her true intentions, and after the New Republic took down Krennel she simply up and disappeared again, perhaps leaving them a message of appreciation that she knew only the Rogues and their friends could find. The ambiguity as to her death at the end is just a cliffhanger for the sake of it, there's no point to killing her twice more in this book (counting clones) only to hint that she might still not be dead.
Again, I did like this book, I felt it was well-paced and had a lot of good twists and turns, and it gave some of the side characters like Asyr, Gavin, Mirax and Booster some time to really shine, especially Booster. The scene where he bodily lifts Borsk Fey'lya up and slams him into the Errant Venture's bulkhead, beats him down, then tosses him out onto the deck is one of my favorite scenes in the series as a whole. And Stackpole does a good job bringing some of the humor from Allston's books into his own, there are a lot of good one-liners and references to Janson's ewok pranks to give the book much-needed levity.
Overall, Isard's Revenge isn't the best book in the series, and it really doesn't close much of the storyline that wasn't already closed at the end of Solo Command. But it is a solid read with good action and some great character work. Something I appreciate is that we even has references to Zahn's work: tying in the Rogues' appearance in the Thrawn books, hints at the plot of the Hand of Thrawn duology and the fractures just below the surface of the New Republic, and Talon Karrde's cameo where he insists that he's retired. I'm sure I missed a few, as well.
We'll be on Starfighters of Adumar next week.
I liked IR, too, but it just didn't live up to Allston's, and the first time reading it, it was utterly obvious that the writing style was totally different. I don't know why I didn't notice it going from BW to WS, but going from SC to IR was much different. It was jarring, honestly, to me anyways. It was a good book, an I really did enjoy the humor and the Corran action and Whistler/Gate's adventure, and Isard's end was really unexpected to me. Overall it was a good, but not great book. Certainly not as outstanding as SC, and maybe that's why the style change was so jarring.
I think you should definitely add I, Jedi to the list. It was what made me start reading the X-Wing books. (I'm halfway through The Krytos Trap, slowly making my way through the series. I've loved them, so far.) It kind of ruined some of the surprises for me, though, I guess.
Count me in for having been a fan of Isard's Revenge.
I didn't read the book when it came out; I read it a couple years after the invasion of Iraq, which turned out to be perfect timing because it made all the arguments about whether or not attacking Krennel was really such a good idea sound oddly familiar. I like that the New Republic's settling into its role as the big player in the galaxy and starting to have to deal with all the little dilemmas that come with that kind of power. Going after Zsinj was pretty clear-cut, since he was threatening both them and the Empire. But what happens after that? Does the New Republic get to target remaining warlords like Krennel, even if they're not posing a threat at the moment? After all, they're supposed to be okay with self-determination for their member systems. But then, is it really self-determination if they're living under a warlord who seized control by force?... etc.
I hadn't read any of the comics either, but it didn't bother me. Didn't even know there were comics at the time. I just figured it had been in some previous, non-X-wing book, and since I'm used to reading the EU out of order (heck, it's basically written out of order in the first place), it was no skin off my nose.
And that went completely over my head. Didn't realize until someone else pointed it out to me that there was any ambiguity about whether Isard had been left alive. (In my mind, she still didn't, and since she never resurfaced, it works for me).
The book had some great moments. Having Isard finally be brought down by Iella was sweet revenge. Booster beating the **** out of Borsk Fey'lya is the moment we've been waiting for ever since he first appeared, and a Crowning Moment of Awesome for old Booster ("I won't say I can't be bought, but I can't be bought by the likes of you.") The chapter with Isard and Corran arguing in the gym, which gives a couple insights into both of their heads. The Gavin and Asyr story had an interesting twist too, not a happily ever after story like Corran and Mirax but not as sad as Nrin and Ibitsam either. I was really happy to see it referenced later when I read the Dark Tide duology - nice to know she did manage to do some good, maybe get the ball rolling on changing her society.
Yeah, overall, I was a fan. One last showdown with Isard and a final wrap up of the Lusankya prisoners plotline.
What did you think about Isard's notion that the Emperor buried the Lusankya there and used the Force to wipe everyone's minds clean after the incident? It occurred to me when I was reading it that either way, it was exactly the sort of thing the Emperor would love to have people think he did (especially if it spread in whispered rumors through the ranks).
It would be like him to spread that sort of misinformation. I prefer the explanation what the ship was actually constructed there on Coruscant in utter secrecy, but I'm sure that one of the Fleet Junkies that frequent this thread probably has a better story.
It's interesting how Isard's attachment to the Lusankya leads to her downfall. She sees it as her ship, the best chance she has to continue to gather and secure a powerbase. The fact that Booster, Iella and Mirax predict her means that, for once, she let sentimentality override her pragmatism and didn't even consider that she might be compromised until it was too late. An oddly human touch for such an inhuman cypher of a character when we saw her previously.
I enjoy Isard's Revenge (I'm about halfway through my reread - in the middle of the Corvus Minor ambush right now), but I think my biggest problem is it's trying to do too many things - tie up the comics, tie up Stackpole's X-Wing books (which I think he did a better job with I, Jedi anyway), setup so many things, and do some fun character work (the Mirax/Booster stuff is something that is good, but doesn't seem to work very well with everything else that's going on). I did like seeing the Defenders make it into continuity, though the Rogue's attachment to the X-Wing is still fun (and I'm still irked at Shadows of Mindor for throwing in Defenders and getting their stats wrong just for the heck of it).
All in all, it's good, but after the way Allston juggled the plots, setups, canon nods and payoffs, and above all the ensemble character work, it is just a step down to just focus on Corran and his orbit again.
I think in Starships of the Galaxy Saga Edition the Lusanyka was said to have been disguised as a shield generator when it was lowered in,
I like Isard's Revenge, but I think it does suffer from the fact that Stackpole wrote a really great arc of four books with a big plot that wrapped up neatly. And then a couple years later, he unravels that wrap-up so that he can do it all over again in one book that's not really built organically out of anything in the prior arc and is mostly concerned with a random campaign against a different villain. It busts up the great climax of The Bacta War in favor of an anticlimax.
Now, sure, there were a few things set up in TBW to allow Isard to return -- Stackpole knew then what he was going to do -- but the plot of IR, aside from the loose end of the prisoners, doesn't really grow out of that series. It's not about Isard's next move, not about the Rogues immediately responding with a search for the prisoners that leads them to Isard's clone, or anything that the books set up. It's just jumping a few years, and it's trying to be Thrawn-era tie-in/DE retcon-transition/check-in with our maturing heroes/Krennel campaign/clone Isard saga all at once in one book, and it's too many disparate parts that don't click. Had it just been a sort of epilogue checking in on the heroes post-Thrawn and following the Krennel campaign, it still would have lacked a little oomph as an epilogue that's just standing alone, but it would have been tight and coherent. Or had it just been about tracking down the Lusankya prisoners and Isard and/or her clone, shortly after TBW, it would have worked, still building on the series. But as it is, it's just trying to do a little too much at once and suffering for it. Not that it's not fun, but the nature of its construction lends itself to a feeling of letdown -- you're getting an awkwardly placed and constructed epilogue that rehashes what you thought you'd already gotten.
I will say that you're wrong about the final ambiguity of Isard's fate. That's the best part of the book, and the best mind-**** in the EU. Because Isard isn't ambiguously out there to possibly strike again -- that would be lame. No, the ambiguity is, "Is she dead . . . or is she suffering for the rest of her life in an inescapable prison that will inevitably drive her completely insane?" Which is brilliant, especially since the answer is, "She's clearly suffering for the rest of her life in an inescapable prison that will inevitably drive her completely insane." Which is dark and awesome and indicated with just the right amount of blow-your-mind-when-you-realize-it subtlety.
And then she finally dies when the Lusankya plows into Czulkang Lah's ship.
And now a moment of silence for Aaron Allston.
I like the idea that Wedge causes her death without even knowing it. In the end, she's reduced to such utter insignificance that Wedge can issue the orders that kill her without even realizing what he's doing. The galaxy doesn't know, doesn't care.* All her grandiose schemes, the monstrous scale of death she's engineered, it all comes out to such absolute nothingness that her continued existence -- and its cessation -- has literally absolutely no meaning to the entire rest of the galaxy.
And Wedge still gets the kill.
And it's epic.
*Although I'm sure that Iella and General Cracken both got a good chuckle out of it when they realized what happened.
I can just imagine Cracken and Iella giggling like first graders for a whole week after that, and Wedge being all "seriously! What's the joke?" "Oh, you wouldn't get it..."
And yes, now that I've checked the nearest copy of Isard's Revenge, I agree with you - it's a great "ambiguous" ending. She clearly wasn't being set up to be used again, there was just ambiguity about how bad her punishment was.
Isard's Revenge will always have a special place in my heart, both for the opening that retold the Battle of Bilbringi and the final battle where Ackbar's forces trounce Krennel's in a awesome capital ship duel. It was the little details that made things so cool. Zahn's original telling of the Battle of Bilbringi was rather sparse. Stackpole kicked it up a notch, fleshing out nice little details. I remember being so happy when I realized that the Assault Frigates Liberty Star and Tyrant's Bane were the exact two frigates that Zahn described taking on a Golan Battle Station. He described, as Zahn did, the formation of Ackbar's fleet, with its core conical formation of Star Cruisers. He mentioned that the fleets smaller vessels were getting targeted by Thrawn's Star Destroyers. Basically, without adding a whole lot of new info, Stackpole fleshed out the battle and helped make it feel more like an "Endor Moment".
I was hopeful for the battle versus Thrawn at the start, but then he died right away. that was a disappointment.
There's also Stackpole poking fun at the "superweapon of the week" plots of the Bantam books, where poor Krennel is framed by Isard for developing a new one.
I imagine Iella went down there and visited her before the Lusankya's final mission. Isard, mad from all those years spent in isolation, begged to be released. Iella just chuckles and says, "Don't worry, you'll be released soon enough...and you'll also make an essential strike at our enemy. You should be proud, Isard." And she leaves, and Isard weeps all over the floor. I wonder if she was killed upon impact with Lah's ship or if a plasma ball blew out the side of her cell and sucked her into space first...