Discussion in 'Literature' started by Havac, Jul 13, 2011.
Average score: 129.35/15 = 8.62
Choices of One was a book I eagerly anticipated. After being disappointed by the mediocre Allegiance I had hoped that this book would recapture the magic of TTT. It doesn?t.
First, I found the story to be rather bland and, dare I say it, unimportant. The seemed to be a distinct lack of tension and it completely failed to hook me, something that most SW books are able to accomplish. Furthermore, the Rebellion characters were forced into the story. Their importance to the main line was nearly negligible and the pages used up on them could be easily put to better use by expanding the prowess of this new mysterious Warlord.
Now, of course, it?s not all bad. It had its moments like when Death Squadron comes in to ?save? the day. Honestly, this single scene was perhaps one of the most amazing in any novel and Vader perfectly echoes his chilling persona from the big screen. But these moments were largely offset by those worthy of a nice face palm. Examples include Luke getting his lightsaber stolen or worst of all Thrawn warning Palpatine about the natives on Endor? Ugh.
Anyway, overall despite how badly I wanted to like this I can?t give it anything over a 6/10.
Average score: 135.35/16 = 8.46
Not much to say that hasn't already been said.
I enjoyed this quite a bit, perhaps the best bit being the comment that Skywalker is a common name! So you can see it now can't you?
"Who blew up the Death Star?"
"Smith! John Smith!"
"Lying SCUM! Get the anal probe!"
"NO! It was Smith!"
.... "Lie detector checks out....."
.... "Lord Vader ain't going to be happy...."
.... "Email him the news?"
Average score: 144.35/17 = 8.49
Much like my attempts to read this novel I am at a loss of words. There was really nothing in the novel to speak of so I have little to say. Zahn phones in a hundred thousand words, picks up a check, and moves on. Tim, you need to stop living on the vapors of The Thrawn Trilogy. Think of something to say or just stop. I'll be kinder than Jedi Vince (No, I am not his sock) and award a 3/10. Tedium is a worse sin than simply awful.
My review of Choices of One:
Let's start with Thrawn. I found Thrawn to be rather jarring in CoO- but that's the entire point. The reader by this point has grown accustomed to the more sympathetic Thrawn portrayed in Outbound Flight, and alluded to in most of Zahn's works. Yet here we have something of a bridge between the idealist of OBF and the cold, calculating fascist of the Thrawn Trilogy. I'm glad to see that Zahn has no illusions about his pet character- for all of his high-minded ideals about protecting the galaxy against the Vong, this is still the same Thrawn who was willingly complicit in the enslavement of the Noghri, and who voices his admiration for Palpatine in the Thrawn Trilogy. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Zahn continues to write an excellent Luke Skywalker. There's a very good reason why Luke is so underpowered in Choices of One- he has had virtually no Jedi training, and is largely going off of what he thinks that a Jedi is supposed to be. This is still a very firmly ANH-era Luke, who is still at the beginning of his journey. I've said this in several other threads, but it bears mentioning again: Zahn has an excellent grasp of characterization, and of the logical outcomes of those characterizations.
I never felt that Mara came off as a Mary Sue in Choices of One- she's far more competent with the Force than Luke at this point, but she's supposed to be that way. Han, of course, is brilliant in the novel- I think this is one of the few times where we really get a demonstration of Han's vaunted leadership skills. Usually it's referenced after the fact, or secondhand, but here we have Han demonstrating exactly why Leia called him a "natural leader" in ESB.
I loved the Hand of Judgment in Allegiance, and Choices of One did not disappoint. They are competent, yet still entirely mortal. Which brings me to my next point about Zahn: the plots and situations of his novels are always logical and clearly thought-out, while still retaining dramatic tension. The Hand of Judgment surviving the Battle of Poln Major could have easily been handled in some annoyingly deus ex machina-fashion, instead of what ended up being included in the novel. The way Thrawn handles the battle of Poln Major is competent without stretching the boundaries of belief. Oh, and I totally believed that Lord Odo was Thrawn. I did find Thrawn setting up Hoth to be slightly stretching things, but not enough to be a major issue.
It has been a few months since I read the novel- a lot of this review is me going off of what I posted in my review on Reddit- so I can't comment as thoroughly as I'd like to. In any case, I give Choices of One a 9/10.
Average score: 156.35/19 = 8.23
Zahn never disappoints! Very well-written and excellent characterization as always. Surprised that some found it boring as I found the plot very intriguing and some of the situations very tense and exciting.
Average score: 166.35/20 = 8.32
Well, here's my thoughts.
Han and Leia! Enjoyed seeing their non-grimdark selves. Always a treat with any author, be it Stover, Denning, or Zahn. Chewbacca IMO is a character that only really comes across fully onscreen, but Zahn at least tries.
Also Kept me guessing as to who was doing what and why; I figured out Lord Odo=Esva before we actually got there, but just the fact that the book kept you thinking about that was impressive. Pellaeon had interesting stuff to do; it's good to read about him again, and to see the Chimaera-she hasn't been in a book in years, iirc. Zahn does a good job with the Empire in general, I think, even if he does try to set Thrawn on a pedestal...
Mara's characterization as the Emperor's Hand is great. I didn't particularly care for the obvious "let's see how close I can get them without actually meeting!!" aspect with Luke, but the simple blind hypocrisy of what she does (she murders people for an egotistical madman who's far, far worse than any of the petty white-collar criminals she's executed) is always interesting.
...which brings me to the annoying parts: Thrawn, to be exact, and the implication that he set up Hoth. The scene on Executor in TESB works so well because Vader effectively comes off as this supernatural being who just looks at an image from a probe droid and knows that that is where the Rebels are. Now it's because Thrawn set up what's honestly a pretty flimsy trap: There's probably tens of thousands of unoccupied frozen worlds in the galaxy. The Rebels could be on any of them. And to think Vader, the guy who let the Falcon escape to allow it to lead them to Yavin, would even be remotely surprised by this is just ridiculous, IMO, but Zahn has always seemed to dislike Vader, or at least set him up as a (not) opposite to Thrawn. Which simply doesn't work, because the two are far more alike than dissimilar, IMO. I just hope it's to show how hypocritical Thrawn is.
Luke should be a little more full of himself at this point-after all, a few years later he's leading a suicidal speeder attack on Hoth and thinking he can tangle with Vader, and of course, thinking he can argue with Yoda.
Would really like Zahn to change up his cast of characters. I had no idea why Car'das was in this novel. None.
I'll admit I had trouble maintaining interest through most of the storyline; I actually stopped reading several times, but when we finally got to the actual battle, it was great. 7 out of 10 for good battle scenes, a flimsy story, and several aggravating plot points.
I really liked choices. I absolutely adore Pelly who's great in the novel. I like how he stand up for his beliefs of what an Imperial officer should be like, even if he's got to deal with Lord Odo.
Han and Leia were at their bickering best. Her Worshipfuness and the nerf herder sure got along. *giggle*
Personally, I like how Luke struggles with his new life. Some peole might think he's too slow embracing his new abilities and position, but being somebody who always condiserd things like that difficult and time consuming, I think his battle perfectly normal. Especially when it's about life and death. You should enver take that easy.
Love the Hand of Judgement. I am happy for the end those guys got. Shows my naivite that I didn't think of that at the beginning. I was probably to busy to figure out the whole Odo thing.
Being a fangirl, there was not enough Thrawn in the novel for my taste. I liked when he appeard, though, as others mentione, I don't really know what Car'das was doing there. Except for the obvious. (Making the Odo+pilot = Thrawn+Cad'das mix-up possible.)
I'd like to see more of the mentioned Thrawn/Esva fights in the Unknown Regions.
I also want more books about 'young' Pellaeon.
What annoyed me most was, having an ebook, the fact that the novel proper stopped at 76% of the book and the rest being filled with useless babble. I felt **** **** ****! Extremely so.
So, 9/10 because despite being a great novel and messing with my head in a very fun way, there is still a little room towards perfection.
Average score: 182.35/22 = 8.29
I think I found this better than Allegiance but still pretty far away from the Zahn of old that always delivered.
For me the best parts of the novel revolved around Gilad Pellaeon. Zahn captured him really well, as he always has. I was a little concerned that the name "Gilad" might not even be seen in this book as I am uncertain who actually originated the name, but I give credit for its inclusion.
I also like how Zahn creates supporting charcters and goes out of his way to breath some real life into the crew of the Chimaera. We gets lots of characters who seem like they are real, as opposed to the habit of several other current authors who feel as though the only Imperial character worth a name is Jag Fel.
I really enjoyed Han, Leia and Luke in this book as well. Luke had an excellent balance of youth, uncertainty and raw ability, while Han and Leia's banter was all perfect. I also really liked the Wedge/Leia team up in the Snow Speeder.
Thrawn on the other hand I really found tiresome and boring. His whole plot with Esva was only confusing to me and to this point I'm not convinced that Thrawn isn't either actually Esva, or in association with Esva trying to teach the Empire some contrived lesson about his genius. Thta entire running conversation between Thrawn and Esva was really a little bit too Saturday morning cartoonish to me and it helps me to accept it more if t is actually some grand scheme under which Thrawn is pulling every string.
Also the whole Thrawn setting up Hoth, and Thrawn warning Palpatine about the Ewoks, well its clear where Zahn was going with this. Vader gets tricked into bringing his fleet to the battle and then gets schooled on where the rebels are going to be setting up their next secret base. It was just too much already.
Mara was aweful, but I didn't go into this novel expecting to like her. This good guy assassin persona just doesn't work for me at all. Nor do her Jedi Master like skills with a lightsaber.
The Hand of Judgement are even more pet characters who despite a few injuries escape once again unscathed because they are the baddest Stormtroopers in the galaxy. I seem to recall one line late in the book where it mentioned LaRone having taken like 11 blaster shots to his armor.
I seem to recall a lot of Stormtroopers going down after one blaster shot in the films and such, but then of course they are not the Hand of Judgement.
Average score: 187.35/23 = 8.15
I finally got my copy from the library Friday and powered through it over the weekend. The cover utterly sucks - Christ can someone cut Tom Jung or Drew Struzan a check and get some solid artwork please?
The best part of the book? It had a sense of fun about it, highlighting what a dreary pile of crap we've been fed over the last few years. It was a star wars book that wasn't painful or boring to sit through. It wasn't stretched out like the current story arc is (god, I would love a nice tight three part trilogy where something actually happens instead of this pointlessly padded 9 book arc).
So compared to getting punched in the face, I'd give Co1 20 out of 10. It rocked my smeg that awesomely.
I mostly agree with Robimus's review of the book, with a few points where I differ, mostly on Luke's portrayal. For one thing, Luke not even carrying a blaster in a book set less than a year post-ANH? Even by the time of The Empire Strikes Back- more than two years in the future as far as Choices of One is concerned- he was more likely to draw a blaster than his lightsaber, and we're supposed to believe he doesn't even carry one here?
Also, Luke felt more in 'What's that flashing?' mode than the guy who planned half the rescue of Princess Leia-mode. Just a bit off in terms of character arc- though definitely better than the abysmal portrayal he got in Allegiance.
I'll agree that Han and Leia were spot-on though. And again, pretty much everything else Robimus said in the above post applies.
5/10, if I'm being generous.
Average score: 192.35/24 = 8.01
I actually think Zahn's more recent works are better crafted, more reader friendly (not the same as dumbed down), and overall more interesting that his earlier Star Wars stuff.
I don't mean to detract from his initial Star Wars works, which I also really liked. But it was not until his more recent stuff--starting sometime around OF--that I have become entrenched as a Zahn fan.
I would like to see more work from him. He has an amazing way of branching out different and interesting storylines, connecting those stories, and bring them together into a coherent and satisfying conclusion, while simultaneously referring back to not only his own SW works, but incorporating other works from different SW authors (and the movies).
Not at easy juggling act.
In my mind, I would love to see Zahn, Stackpole, JJM, Drew K, Stover, and (I know this won't be popular), Traviss take the reigns and drive upcoming Star Wars lit.
I really like the Hand of Judgement. And for a book supposedly about Mara, I found her story the least compelling (although still excellent).
Zahn brought the awesomeness back to Han. I would like to see more of that (yes, I have heard of the upcoming Zahn book featuring Han).
I also really emjoyed Lord Odo (the big reveal wasn't that surprising--but so); ;he Chimera crew in general; and the roles of both Thrawn and Jorj.
Fun and clever read.
Average score: 201.35/25 = 8.05
Finally, a full novel with Thrawn that takes place in the Classic Era. What was he like when Palpatine was still in charge? Well that is answered to an extent here. But Thrawn is only part of this novel. Mara Jade and the Hand of Judgement return for one more adventure together, as do the Big Three of the Rebellion.
I liked the sense of realism behind the HoJ's predicament in the beginning of the novel. As deserters they are always on borrowed time and can only do so much with the stolen goods from the ISB ship. So of course they're going to follow Mara into action one last time. That they actually end up working for Thrawn is even better than going out in a bang. Now they can pass on their legacy throughout the Empire of the Hand. When Mara didn't see them after all of the action I felt her pain too, but at least she will never forget those five brave stormtroopers who set the bar at new levels for their former comrades. Rounding out the cast are the usual appearances of Han, Chewie, Leia and Luke. Han is given a lot of characterisation and is still struggling with his decision to join the Alliance and act more like a leader. The events of this novel lead him to make up his mind for good. After all, he's gotta appease Chewie. Luke has only known of his aptitude for the Force for nine months, so of course he's going to look like an amateur compared to Mara, who has been training since she was a young girl. Everyone is drawn to the Poln system for one reason or another, but it all seems to be the doing of the mysterious Nuso Esva. Until the twist at the end we never actually know that we see Esva, only his followers and pawns. His machinations are similar to Thrawn's in their complexity and cunning. No wonder they want to destroy one another.
Like in Allegiance, Zahn weaves a complicated mass of intrigue and delves into interlocking plotlines. Pellaeon is following the instructions of the mysterious Lord Odo, who is in fact Nuso Esva. This plot seems unrelated to what's going on in the Poln system, but as it turns out these double planets are the fulcrum of both Thrawn and Esva's master plans to eliminate each other. The Rebels are only there to provide a distraction so that Esva can execute his plans without much notice, but later Thrawn takes advantage of their presence to lure Vader and his fleet. The Rebel involvement also lures Mara to the scene, since they are supposedly being allowed to be on Poln with the governor's permission, but he is yet another pawn of Esva. Luke and the HoJ interact once again, and similar to in Allegiance Zahn really teases the whole Luke-Mara meeting thing.
I thought this novel had some minor pacing issues, in that not much seemed to happen until the conclusion, especially with Mara and the HoJ. It probably didn't help that Mara found the governor so soon and then things were drawn out to reach the end. The plot with Pellaeon and the Chimaera moved along fine enough, though. Also even though Thrawn is awesome I think it was a bit of a stretch when he concluded that the Rebels would be looking for a base in a cold environment, or when he advised Palpatine to pay heed to the so-called primitives of Endor. One other addition that would have added some tension and added depth would have been the death of one of the HoJ stormtroopers, like Grave or LaRone, but that's just me. Not to say I don't want them to have a happy ending, but it may have helped their development if they suffered such a great loss before the end of their current adventures.
I give Choices of One an 8.3 out of 10 for another solid adventure from the mind of Tim Zahn.
Average score: 209.65/26 = 8.06
8/10. I liked it.
Average score: 217.65/27 = 8.06
I rather enjoyed Choices of One, especially an interesting villain and a nice conspiracy to follow. Plus lots of Unknown Regions stuff, which in general is a area that should be explored more (though it might in future Zahn novels).
8/10 from me, and only because of a lack of starfighter action though the ?Snowspeeder? battle was rather fun as well.