And we're up for the third and final Lando novel by L. Neil Smith. Wizard! - Some elements, especially Vuffi Raa's development and Gepta as the main villain, help make this series of books a trilogy. Do you feel like the books should have been more connected, or maybe less? - The other books featured semi-villains that supported the evil guys but were actually quite decent themselves. Police officers doing their job of beating up people they were dragging in for a talk. Here, I think we have a different take on characters. We do have Centrality navy characters who are on Gepta's side, but who are really just simple guys doing their jobs, not going out of their way to abuse power (except for taking bribes, but that's non-violent). Even the commander has to be blackmailed by Gepta, having his family threatened, to keep in line with the planned genocide of the Oswaft. Then we have the Renatasians, who get a face with Shanga, a guy who seems pretty decent except for his streak of violent revenge. Do we have a much more straightforward distinction of black and white here? People not being accomplice, but doing their jobs as long as they seem normal or going into shaky alliances without trust? The true evil guys - Gepta and Whett - show themselves to be utterly irredeemable. - Gepta - how do you like how he turned out? Since the second book established that he could take on any form, it's a nice twist to have his original form be something really strange and unexpected. Then again, wasn't it a big deal that he was hit in the eye in the last book? Shouldn't have hurt as much as being stomped on a toe, but who knows how that magic of solid and unsolid illusions truly works. - Lando and Vuffi against Gepta in a fairly traditional duel, isn't that really strange for an ancient wizard? Would a more metaphysical struggle of a wizard's power against a gambler's luck have been more or less rewarding? - Now, for the best part, the one that actually opens the novel: Lehesu. Isn't it great how we start with such an alien point of view? How do you like what Smith did with the Oswaft, how he executed the concept of huge manta in space? - Nitpicking: Why would such a strange lifeform that lives secluded from any other form of life be expert in decoding languages? Nitpicking mode off. - There's always a stranger fish: Vuffi Raa's race. Who come around in a kind of deus ex machina way. Would you have preferred them to be more integrated into the story, and not just come around as a kind of epilogue that "forces" Vuffi and Lando to split, effectively ending the series? Saving our little robot in one of many life-threatening spots? - Expanding a bit on the novel, what do you think about the place Vuffi's race got in canon? As the Silentium, fighting the fight that made the Vong the technophobic radicals they are? Since that implied retcon only came after the end of NJO, would you like new sources (e.g. novels) to expand on this idea, maybe by having a sect of Vong during the war find the Silentium's presence in this galaxy as a sign that their battle on this place is right, even destined? Or by having a (warrior caste) group find out later on and cause trouble again? - And finally, let's connect this to the August discussion of Dark Forces: Apparently, Vuffi did return to cruise with Lando again, since the two of them were to be found two years later on the luxury cruiser transporting Kyle after graduation. Nice end of the story? Necessary evil coming out of some author mixing his timetables up (IIRC, Dietz only mentions a droid, the audio drama identifies him as Vuffi)? If we have this precedence, should Vuffi come around and visit more often? Nearly anyone else reappears in canon. But, now, let's start this discussion before I bury you in starter questions! Any other discussion point is welcome. - Oh, almost forgot that one - real world reference! Explaining concepts by saying what people in our world would call them! What's your take on that? Lazy author, interesting literary take alerting the consciousness that it's all just a fairy tale that has happened "a long, long time ago"? We're not 100% set on what we'll discuss next month, but it'll probably a special Read Squadron set up discussion of Tales of the Jedi. Watch this place for further information!