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Lit The 181st Imperial Discussion Group: Tatooine Ghost!

Discussion in 'Literature' started by Grey1, Jul 2, 2013.

  1. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    Yippie!!! The 181st Imperial Discussion Group is back. And while everyone out there is contemplating how Troy Denning is setting up Episode VII in his latest novel and whether Crucible is that one thing that ruined Star Wars forever, we're taking an extended look into the past! Like we always do, I guess.

    So, Tatooine Ghost it is! Wizard!

    - Now, it's not just us looking into the past - the novel is also about Leia and Han looking into their past, i. e. the first two prequel movies. My starter question for this month is: how do we feel about EU bridging the gap between the movies, giving Leia knowledge about her family? Also, Troy Denning did the same for Episode III in Dark Nest, and to some extent in FOTJ for the Mortis episodes (another part of Anakin's life). How did other authors work with this topic - is Denning the most explicit user of prequel knowledge?

    - Also, fitting in with what we read about in I, Jedi (and will read again in the Jedi Academy Trilogy over the next three months) - why would there be common knowledge about Vader's original identity? Obviously Denning didn't go with the established version of next to nobody knowing about this. What are the consequences for the EU?
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  2. Jedi Ben Chosen One

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    One of the things this book has become infamous for is the whole Mine! motif that remains unclear despite over-use.
  3. Iron_lord Chosen One

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    It is a bit odd- especially given that Thrawn appears unaware that Luke and Leia are Vader's son and daughter in TTT, going by his sending Noghri after them.

    The scene in Tatooine Ghost that implied average Imperial commanders knew who Vader was, was on page 55:

    Mawbo finally got the crowd quieted and wasted no time opening the auction. "How about you, sir? Young Anakin went on to make quite a career for himself."

    Han was not surprised when the commander waved her off with a curt gesture. The officer was old enough to have served in the Imperial Navy during the height of Darth Vader's power, and the only people with more reason than the Rebels to fear Vader were the officers who served under him.

    However, I think there's a far more realistic in-universe reason for the officer to be disdainful. In the RoTS novelization, we find out that Kenobi & Skywalker were household names at the height of the Clone Wars- famous across the galaxy. If so- then, Imperial soldiers might recognize the name as that of one of the most famous Jedi- and thus- not something you want to associate yourself with.
  4. Jedi Ben Chosen One

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    And then later, CoO gives us Skywalker = Smith! :)
  5. Iron_lord Chosen One

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    Anakin Skywalker, however, may be better known, even if the name isn't completely unique.
    Last edited by Iron_lord, Jul 2, 2013
  6. instantdeath Force Ghost

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    If I may, I would like to carry a conversation from the other thread over to this one.

    For those that have read, or in my case are only aware of the broad events, of LOTF: does that series change your reading of this novel? Does it change your interpretation of the ending? What about the way you interpret the interaction between Han and Leia?

    For me, it's pretty inescapable. Reading the book having not read LOTF, I get the impression that Han is written to be the "voice of reason" in the novel. While the novel is undoubtedly centered around Leia and her personal journey, Han's there to ground her, to assure her that the worst is not going to happen. However, reading this novel with knowledge of the series, it now almost seems that Han is simply naive, that Leia was entirely justified in not having children.

    Now, I'm not trying to discredit the notion that Leia can be right about something and Han can be wrong. I'm not trying to say that having children is always the best path for one to take (I certainly don't plan to have children). But a huge theme of the novel is that Anakin was just a person, a person deprived of a normal childhood, a normal life. He was not born a monster, but he was shaped into one, through his own personal experiences. Han and Leia can give their children a good upbringing. The ending of the novel has Leia accept that the dark side was not inherently with Vader, and thus, would not make her children any more susceptible to it. I certainly find it a much more thematically fulfilling story to have Leia fear for her children, only to have them defy her worst fears and save the galaxy. And of course, they do just that in the NJO.

    I do like this novel, I just feel that, in a sense, its themes have been tainted. I wouldn't mind as much if it were another author that took things in the direction it went, but it just seems like Troy Denning set out to assassinate his own work.
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  7. Iron_lord Chosen One

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    Leia having fears for her children's future, seemed to be a recurring theme in the Bantam era. In Ambush at Corellia, we see how she's always a little worried that some ordinary childish naughtiness might be the first sign of The Dark Side's influence. And in Planet of Twilight, we see her having a vision of her children going Dark.
  8. instantdeath Force Ghost

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    Right, and I believe that's a poignant theme for sure- what mother doesn't fear for her child?- but I personally feel a much, much better resolution for that plotline, not to mention one that's more thematically appropriate for Star Wars, is for her fears to be just that: fears. For her children to exceed her greatest expectations and defy her fears.

    Believe me, I'm not eager to turn this into a LOTF discussion, though I'm personally finding them somewhat difficult to separate.
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  9. Iron_lord Chosen One

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    Denning did have Jaina hurling Force Lightning as early as Star By Star. Still- Dark Journey and to a lesser extent, maybe the Enemy Lines books seemed to be about her facing her own dark side and overcoming it.,
  10. AlyxDinas Force Ghost

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    The book's two years off from The Joiner King. One wonders how much Denning already had planned in his mind for Jacen. Though Leia's always dealt with the fear of what her children might become. It's present in TTT and Dark Empire so it's hard to say if Denning's trying to stay true to that or if he's giving himself things to work with later. The "Mine!" thing is a good example of the latter, considering how often it's recurred in his writing.
  11. JediAlly Force Ghost

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    I agree that this novel seemed to be the one where Leia overcame a major hurdle for herself. She accepted the truth of her father, but to her, her father was Darth Vader, not Anakin Skywalker. She accepted it like an answer on a line in a tax form, then file it away. She never took time to let it sink in and truly come to terms with it. It would be akin to how Luke had his brush with the dark side in Dark Empire, but he never took the time afterwards to deal with the mental and emotional scars from that encounter. Luke tried repeatedly to talk to Leia about it, but she refused to deal with it. She allowed concerns, real and imaginary, build up to the point where it was having an impact on her marriage with Han. She finally began to understand that her father wasn't born as Darth Vader by the end of the novel, and perhaps began to understand what happened to Anakin that made him into Darth Vader. That came to a conclusion during the Dark Nest Crisis when she saw R2's memories. She and Luke might not have gotten all the detailed files, but they got enough to get a general gist.

    I also consider this to be a "Valentine's Day theme" novel in that one of the key themes is the romance between the two main characters. Or in this case, the marriage between Han and Leia. I consider Survivor's Quest to be a similar novel in that we got to see the dynamics of Luke's and Mara's marriage.
  12. Dr. Steve Brule Force Ghost

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    I think it's more that it becomes unclear due to over-use. Taken on its own, I think it's pretty clear in TG. Although that makes me wonder, has any other author used/referred to "Mine" at all, or just Denning?

    And I think its muddling ties in with the issue that Instantdeath raises, in that I don't get the impression that Denning is out to deliberately muddy his own work, or assassinate his own ending to TG. I just genuinely get the sense he didn't recall it and didn't check back up on it. And while I also don't want to turn this into an LOTF thread, I do think it's a result of just the completely haphazard nature LOTF/FOTJ was (not) planned out ahead of time.

    Incidentally, I think Tatooine Ghost is also the origin of Denning's interest/use of Killiks, another factor (along with the Squibs, Mine, and the Solo dark-side taint) that comes to prominence in his Legacy-era work. (And actually, I think the concept of Killik Twilight/moss paintings comes from him misreading the Illustrated Star Wars Universe, where Killiks and Ob Khaddor originate. There, Khaddor was a grass painter, and as it's described in the text, it's very different from the type of art that KT is described as.)
  13. krtmd Force Ghost

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    We sort of touched on this in the other thread, so I've been thinking about it a bit already. I don't know if I think Leia was entirely justified - if she and Han hadn't had their children, there would have been no Anakin Solo to make his sacrifice in SBS, no Jaina to be the SOTJ (although I'm still not so sure what exactly that means...). Of course, Jacen's fall is bad, to be sure, but is it outweighed by the good their other children do?

    Also, I still think Han's take on it is essentially what all parents feel - it's a hope, a faith, a belief in the future.

    As a big Han and Leia fan, I have to say that TG is one of my favorite books. Although they get separated, as they always do, they manage to stay on the same planet for an entire novel. Also, implied sex.
  14. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

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    Until I read Recovery last week, Tatooine Ghost was the only Denning book I had ever read. I definitely got a good impression of his work from it. I haven't read his post-NJO work so I can't make any comparisons, but I definitely want to answer this question:

    I love it and would like to see the EU do this more often and do it well. I thought Tatooine Ghost did a great job with this...sending Leia to Tatooine, having her make the connection with Kitster and Wald, then with Beru's sister and finally, Shmi's diary, which she couldn't stop watching. It let her know who her father was and come to peace with it, at least sort of.

    One of my favorite parts of the book is the conversation she and Han have about the Tusken slaughter after she senses it through the Force.

    Not that I want to get into that super-contentious subject for the 8725th time but I thought that scene summed up both sides of the argument fairly well; and the book showed the over-arching consequences of Anakin's vengeful act, whether the AOTC viewer sympathizes with him during that act or not.

    I also liked the way the book answered a few questions: how was Cliegg able to buy Shmi's freedom? Why don't we see Shmi's grave on the Lars farm in ANH?

    And on @krtmd 's post: I'm a Han/Leia fan as well, and I agree.


    :D Now that is how to write a sex scene. Less is more.
    Last edited by anakinfansince1983, Jul 2, 2013
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  15. JediMara77 Chosen One

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    Yes. I haven't reread Tatooine Ghost in a long time, although I actually really like it. But I don't know if I could get through it now without wanting to throw the book against the wall.
  16. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    Thanks for excellent replies to the thread. I can see that there's a lot of interest in this book that reaches beyond its original insular prequel interest.

    But first, the prequel stuff... anakinfan, I basically share your feelings regarding the fact that it's cool to see some of this stuff (and it actually makes me want to watch the prequels and the original movies again at the same time), and to have it make a connection like all that promo material (posters, stickers, cereal toys) that stressed how the OT shows the younger generation, and how there's a connection from Anakin and Padmé smooching to Luke, and to Leia dating Han. But at the same time I think Denning could have made it more... natural. I was amused to find out again that the Podrace revelation happened in much the same way as Denning's prequel revelation in Dark Nest - someone's got a DVD of the movies around. Also, Shmi's journal - reading as if it had been an original young reader's tie-in book or a viral video campaign for ep2 - just happens to be found by someone else in time to be in this novel. The way of the Force, yes, but also a bit too... mundane with two other people being involved who know the Skywalkers and wanted to send it to them anyway. Make it mysterious, make it mythical!

    Which leads me to another point: while we stay pretty close to the main characters - Han and Leia - to the point that Chewie is doing so little that he's just about exiled to that eBook Denning wrote as a tie-in - the main characters move through a world of other characters with very little resources of their own. They aren't heroes, they are tourists. They need the Squibs to get the painting and to fin their way around Tatooine; the need the Darklighters to get through the desert; they need all kinds of people to know more about Anakin and Shmi. They need all kinds of people who do not just help or facilitate, like secondary characters in a story obviously would - they need those people to get anything done at all. Leia is written as somewhat naive, and too self-consciously ashamed of the fact that a piece of art should not be as important as the struggles of the simple people (when there are the McGuffin reason and the cultural reason to validate the search for the painting). And while Han's use of the rocket swoop did help find out about the Jawa connection, it's overshadowed by the fact that everyone already knows that the Jawas go to Anchorhead, which left me with the feeling that Han hadn't achieved anything at all except for filling another 50 pages.


    Buuuut... let's go to that other subject again: Mine. Because you brought something really intriguing to our doorstep, instantdeath! And yeah, I had never thought about that implication - how much did Denning have planned about Jacen's fall when he wrote this?

    I wouldn't say that Denning is asassinating his own ending by turning it upside down. If anything, I'd say that not only did Anakin Solo and Jaina do enough good do outweigh Jacen's bad deeds. Jacen did enough good of his own, and the way I understood the reports, Invincible made someone realize that Jacen's evil deeds really helped the galaxy reunite in peace or something like that. If anything, Denning is planting both seeds - you can't say that someone will be only evil, and that everything they'll do will have evil results. Therefore giving Leia a reason to have children. At the same time, assuming that he already knew where he'd like to go with Jacen in the future, he planted the destiny idea as well, so that it's no real surprise to find out that one of Leia's kids does indeed turn out bad in the end. It's turning a soap style "who could be evil now" twist into something more tragic, more epic, more premediated. In that way, it bookends the feelgood family story with a larger context. Which is generally good. For the record, I still think LOTF is dumb.

    This larger context is interesting in so far as there had never been a question why Leia had had children. There had been fears, yes - but when HTTE kicked off this wonderful thing called EU, everyone thought it was only natural that Han and Leia had kids. It had only taken so long because there had still been a war to fight, and they had only recently relocated to Coruscant (and then Courtship had dated the wedding to a fairly late point anyway). So, Denning is using the prequels to fundamentally work the Solo family history over, to create a bookend at the beginning that wants to be answered in the end. And he had already created an ending at that point: Anakin Solo sacrificing himself for the good of his Jedi family and the galaxy (killing hundreds of sandpeople-like Vong savages in the process, as I'd like to add).
  17. Gorefiend Chosen One

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    Han might just be drawing the wrong collusion here, of course he knows who Vader is, but Mawbo might really just be hinting at his Jedi career here to taunt the Commander.

    I recall liking the book when I read it back in the days, though it was really ages ago, so I would have to do a quick reread to comment further.
    Last edited by Gorefiend, Jul 7, 2013
  18. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    Oh yes, I wanted to give Iron_lord a star or something for that! Great idea! I seriously doubt that Denning had anything else in mind other than "everyone in the room knows Anakin is Vader", but since Anakin became a galactic war hero, that's a great retcon. Even if it's still a bit off since a famous Jedi general would only be of interest to an Imperial commander as a figure of military history; other than that, the Empire obviously only kept the star destroyers, not the Jedi. Anyway, let's assume it was just a taunt anyway - why would you want to have a photo of your favourite military leader as a soap box racing kid?
  19. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    One of the bigger topics I'd like to add this month is...

    - Thrawn. How does Denning write the blue demi-god? There's two ways in which Thrawn gets portrayed in here - obviously in person in the trooper ambush scene, but also as a strategist leading an operation to get a painting and to catch the rebels. Are both in character? And since we're at it -

    - Shortly before Heir To The Empire. This book has found a niche between some of the old Bantam books, ir prepares the pregnancy (if you ask me, it might even be intended to hint at the date of conception) and it introduces some elements that had their first appearance in HTTE before - Thrawn, Pellaeon, the Chimaera, the "newly efficient" Empire back from the brink. How does the book take its place in continuity? Does it seem to know about all the necessary scenarios, and the limitations that come with them?
  20. instantdeath Force Ghost

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    Jul 22, 2010
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    I was not at all impressed with Thrawn's inclusion. It was very much a "look at who I'm including!" cameo, rather than a cameo that managed to adequately use the character. In addition, I believe Denning managed to write the most confusing scene of the EU, when he had Thrawn somehow escape Chewie's choke hold, yet never bothered to tell us how he did it. He just did it because he's smart and stuff. Zahn is accused of "telling, not showing" in regard to Thrawn quite a bit, but he never does anything quite like what Denning did.
  21. Revanfan1 Chosen One

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    Jun 3, 2013
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    I still didn't quite understand the entire hotel firefight scene. That was just totally confusing to me. Something about water bottles and a backdoor, and Han sees red eyes (obviously we know what this means), but why does he decide to wear trooper armor and go down himself, and why is he commanding a firefight? Does he even have combat training? Is capturing Han and Leia really that important? And yes, how does he escape Chewbacca's chokehold?
  22. AlyxDinas Force Ghost

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    Jul 12, 2010
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    Between this and Side Trip, I can't decide which Thrawn usage I dislike more. For me, Thrawn is a thinker. Certainly, he does things. Outbound Flight does a good job with this but tossing on armor and slumming it with bucketheads? it doesn't really work for me. Especially since I think Denning said he was doing it as a form of troop assessment. But Thrawn can basically do that by looking at performance reports or, probably, looking at the soldier themselves.
  23. Dr. Steve Brule Force Ghost

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    I forget - is the implication (at least to us readers) of TG supposed to be that the reason Thrawn wants the Alderaanian grass painting is because it will give him insight into Leia's leadership of the Rebellion, and he doesn't know anything about the Shadow Cast codes at all, but all the heroes just assume it's the latter?
  24. Gorefiend Chosen One

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    Afaik it was hinted that Thrawn just want's it for art sake whilst the Rebels need the Shadow Cast key.

    Well there is Mist Encounter were he goes commando.

    It would be a nice bonus, after all he already has his Troops on location.


    Can't recall, might get back on that once I do my reread :)


    From what I recall there are a lot of continuity drops, the X-Wing books, Zsinj, Hapaes and Isolder, other Warlords, the state of the Empire, Isard, some Hutt background stuff from the Secrets of Tatooine sourcebook, as well as HTTE of course. So it seems have found a place :)
    Last edited by Gorefiend, Jul 9, 2013
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  25. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    I guess the fundamental problem here is that Denning has taken Thrawn from the toybox and wants to play with him. However, he's also chosen to never leave the rebels' point of view, and having Thrawn with a helmet on is as far as he can take the situation, plus a hint at red eyes to make it even more obvious for those who didn't get the implication when the Chimaera was mentioned or all that other stuff happened. Even then, I'd argue that he's going too far with the information Han and Leia get here. The Empire is turning more effective again, which will be a big thing in HTTE; there will be a mysterious leader, which will be a really big thing in HTTE; and that Imperial leader is an alien with glowing red eyes which is something absolutely unheard of in HTTE. But nobody will remember that Tatooine painting chase incident. Obviously. In a way, it's a soft continuity workover just like everyone suddenly knowing about Anakin having been Vader - stuff that's not all that obvious to the casual reader, and even works towards including only the knowledge of newer readers (because we've seen the movies, we know Anakin is Vader, duh).

    I think this basically fits Lucas' style of exploring backstory (prequels, Young Indy, TCW creating prequel episodes to its own episodes), but it shows that sometimes you just hit the wall when you step back. There's not really a prequel for Thrawn and the rebels meeting. And while Zahn has ways of exploring Thrawn's past, I think he fell into the same trap that one time Luke saw Mara with a lightsaber years before HTTE.

    Back when it came out someone in here said he'd expected Leia to get the painting in the end so that Thrawn would miss that one clue to foresee Leia's alderaanian approach of allying with the Noghri, which is what finally did him in. Which might have been great. But yeah, basically Thrawn is on a shopping tour while teaching his more efficient methods using any resistance a poor backwater planet might offer. And once someone wants to destroy the painting, he obviously reaches the conclusion that it's Leia and Han right away. He does stuff like that all the time in TTT. ;)

    I must say I was surprised at how well he's researched the spot. And seeing how a first hint at Thrawn is very possible in this timeframe (even if it should have been less memorable/informative to have HTTE's reactions still make sense), I'd guess Thrawn came first and the painting as the McGuffin came second. It could have been the hunt for the Galaxy Gun plans, you know.
    Last edited by Grey1, Jul 9, 2013
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