Lit The JC Lit Reviews Special: SHADOW GAMES (Spoilers)

Discussion in 'Literature' started by Havac, Dec 4, 2011.

  1. Havac Some Guy Who Moderates Lit

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    star 7
    Not getting enough rogues in your Star Wars diet? Shadow Games is here with a double dose of smugglers!

    Some rules: rate Shadow Games on a scale of 1 to 10, supplementing your rating with a review, if you want to (It's not necessary but is highly encouraged). However, please do not rate or review the book until after you've read the whole thing. Thanks. :)

    Go for it.;)


    Some previous review threads:

    Republic Commando: Hard Contact, by Karen Traviss
    Shatterpoint, by Matthew Stover
    The Cestus Deception, by Steven Barnes
    Medstar I: Battle Surgeons, by Michael Reaves and Steve Perry
    Medstar II: Jedi Healer, by Michael Reaves and Steve Perry
    Jedi Trial, by David Sherman and Dan Cragg
    Yoda: Dark Rendezvous, by Sean Stewart
    Labyrinth of Evil, by James Luceno
    Revenge of the Sith, by Matthew Stover
    Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader by James Luceno
    Galaxies: The Ruins of Dantooine, by Veronica Whitney-Robinson
    Tatooine Ghost, by Troy Denning
    Survivor's Quest, by Timothy Zahn
    Enemy Lines I: Rebel Dream, by Aaron Allston
    Enemy Lines II: Rebel Stand, by Aaron Allston
    Traitor, by Matthew Stover
    Destiny's Way, by Walter Jon Williams
    Force Heretic I: Remnant, by Sean Williams and Shane Dix
    Force Heretic II: Refugee, by Sean Williams and Shane Dix
    Force Heretic III: Reunion, by Sean Williams and Shane Dix
    The Final Prophecy, by Greg Keyes
    The Unifying Force, by James Luceno
    Dark Nest I: The Joiner King, by Troy Denning
    Dark Nest II: The Unseen Queen, by Troy Denning
    Dark Nest III: The Swarm War, by Troy Denning
    Outbound Flight, by Timothy Zahn
    Republic Commando: Triple Zero, by Karen Traviss
    Legacy of the Force: Betrayal, by Aaron Allston
    Legacy of the Force: Bloodlines, by Karen Traviss
    Darth Bane: Path of Destruction, by Drew Karpyshyn
  2. Manisphere Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 25, 2007
    star 5
    Okay, how did I miss this thread? Secondly, how come everyone missed this thread? Well, perhaps the number I give this book will be the definitive review number as I may be the only person to review this book.



    He found his words. "Hitch is right about you. You do have a death wish."
    "No, I don't. Trust me." She stopped to face him. "That was my priest."
    -From Shadow Games.


    Shadow Games is quite literally true Star Wars pulp fiction. It accomplishes what I think Coruscant Nights didn't accomplish. It was an actual hard boiled mystery with fully developed characters and a flow and ending that made sense. Thankfully, Shadow Games was Force free so the authors were able to devote the book to being true to the genre. It's not the most complex mystery but it kept me interested right up to the last page.

    I have to say that I've always thought of Dash Rendar as a dufus. And he doesn't disappoint here. He's no Han Solo. The thing is that the authors don't try to fool us into believing he is a Han Solo. The fact that he isn't everything Han is only serves the story better. He's killable. He's not a superman. He's just a regular guy.

    I have to say in retrospect I was hoping for more of a shocker at the end. More of a twist. I wanted a little more Lady From Shanghai or Double Indemnity than I got. Once we had the final reveal there was little else to throw at us. Reaves and Bohnhoff did create a good book though. This is solid material that I feel may not appeal to many. It doesn't appeal to Fleet Junkies the way X-Wing books might, or clone troopers for the Clone Junkies (Is that a thing?). On the whole, I found its construction more sound and more enjoyable than FOTJ or the TOR books.

    As for continuity issues, I never pay detailed attention to that stuff. So it loses no points on that front.

    8.6
  3. Malachi108 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 8, 2009
    star 3
    The book was pretty good. I was pleasantly surprised to see the Bannistar Station - along with it's commander D'Vox and security chief Rishyk - from the Rebellion comics not just as a throwaway mention, but as a setting for a significant chunk of story - nice continuity touch there! The plot itself was pretty dense - and yes, very refreshing to have zero Force-users in ut (although as Deathtroopers proved, that's nod a guarantee of success by itself). What started as a bodyguard thingy turned into a classic mystery plot with a single mole among a group of people on a tight ship. Then the events went so weird, that the only sensible explanation was to have two different parties at work at the same time which later turned to three. And then we got to the action-paced part, and even after the big things seemed done, the way out was not as fast and easy as it appeared at first. Like someone pointed, when Dash recounts the events by the end it seems pretty wild indeed - there are lies upon lies, covered in layer upon layer of more deception - and the only explanation could be Thirty Gambit Pileup: The Mole was working for 4 different parties at once!

    I really liked the dynamic, with Dash having the POV for about 95% of the book. His relationship with Han is a good example: a rivalry is established early on and he's extremely reluctant to even let Han help with the cargo. When after a third of the novel they turn to Han for help again, Dash threatens to quit at first and the tensions between them run high. But once the hot action phase starts, they quickly develop a combat bond and Han no longer picks on Dash after Eaden's death - which served as a sad call-forward to Chewie's eventual passing. By the end they are the friends we glimpsed at Rebel Dawn and both stay out of Rebellion - Han for the same reason as in Rebel Dawn (it's too early for him) and Dash, initially the eager one, ironically never joins Rebellion at all. He helps them ferry cargoes, fights on Hoth, then the whole SOTE stuff happens and he even does some missions after Endor - but he's never in the danger of becoming a General or husband to the Head of the State.

    Speaking of the Rebellion, it seems the authors wanted it to be closer to ANH them 1 BBY dating allows: the stormtroopers are out of place on Tatooine and the mysterious cargo is strongly hinted to be related to Death Star - but luckily turns out not to be anything concrete at all - not to mention the Alderaan connection. There are some other weird continuity issues in there too: Lando isn't supposed to have anything to do with Cloud City or own Lacy Luck by then for just one example. To me it seems as if the authors got their info directly from The Holocron, Wookieepedia, Essential Guide or whatever - without checking the primary sources themselves. So while we get plenty of juicy references: obscure droids and weapons, use of planets and trade runs from The Awesome Atlas and other good throwaway mentions like the one of Chewie being with his family, we also got things like Xizor's history being common knowledge or Mandalorians having very close ties to Black Sun, which is weird.

    But the one who really shines here is LEEBO. I mean, he had some cheesy jokes in SOTE, but here he really cracks it to the full: not only does he provide sarcastic commentaries on every Rendar action, he flirts with the computer brain of a sleek Luxury Yacht, forms buddy relationships with other droids on the team and even gets himself a pet of his own - an MSE droid which he nicknames "Mousie"! The latter part really was heartwarming for me - the way Leebo cared about the small, unintelligible MSE, usually just ignored or kicked around by others just seemed... touching. I was relieved to see the little one through the end - let's hope someone can retcon him into SOTE proper! Oh, and did I mention that it was Leebo who both uncovered the Mole AND killed the only Big Bad in the story?

    I also couldn't help but noticed that the whole plot
  4. Havac Some Guy Who Moderates Lit

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    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Average score: 17.4/2 = 8.70
  5. Plaristes Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 2, 2007
    star 3
    The continuity gaffs annoyed me, as well as the strange assertion that the New Mandalorians have a Mandalore, but otherwise I enjoyed it, especially the nice inclusion of the Bannistar Station stuff. 8.5/10
  6. Havac Some Guy Who Moderates Lit

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    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Average score: 25.9/3 = 8.63
  7. Havac Some Guy Who Moderates Lit

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    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    The idea behind this book is great. The execution less so. It remains a sufficiently entertaining little thriller, but the prose is dull and the plotting awkward. We never get very far into the characters' heads, and the one character whose head we do get into, Dash, doesn't feel much like the Dash in any other sources. He's rarely cocky, and is essentially a passionate joiner right up until the end, where he says . . . he's not a joiner. Javul was annoying, and her plot role as a constantly lying cypher kept her from having any resonance as an actual character. The crew was not fleshed out, and was all just a bunch of humans anyway. Eaden's personality was that he had no personality, and the character was ultimately nothing but a space-filler. The wrap-up with the sabotage was incredibly dumb; this and Coruscant Nights have proven that Reaves should never write mystery. He can't give any depth to his mysteries themselves and is overly reliant on simply having a chance random infodump that solves the mystery whenever the book needs to end. The plot was way too thin and convenient.

    The whole thing felt shallow and stilted. The rampant continuity flubs and bits that rubbed up against the basic nature of the universe didn't help, and many of the namedrops were pure namedropping. Like Bannistar Station, which rather than a welcome reference proved utterly baffling and distracting to me the whole time, since I couldn't escape the knowledge that a galactic star was putting on a show . . . at a nowhere military refueling station. It's like Katy Perry showing up to do a show in an oil rig cafeteria. I just spent that whole sequence going "WTF?" to myself. Ultimately the book never particularly felt like it was set in the Star Wars universe -- it just lacked that feel. And I don't mean the lack of Jedi or unconventional subject matter, which was welcome -- the loose grasp of the universe and the generic nature of the story just never made it feel like a real Star Wars adventure.

    I really, really wanted to like it, but ultimately, aside from Leebo being entertaining and a few bright spots, this was a really awkward effort. It never got actively terrible, but it was always pretty mediocre. Let's call it a 6.
  8. Havac Some Guy Who Moderates Lit

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    star 7
    Average score: 31.9/4 = 7.98
  9. pronker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 28, 2007
    star 3
    It was pleasing enough. I have what seems to be an advantage in /not/ knowing Rendar or Charn or anyone, except Han. The Charn relationship with the Organa family was sort of funny, and naturally the namedropping came as no big surprise in such a book with secondary or tertiary interest characters. But the action found me 'with' them at each dizzying crawl up that rigging, and a nice bit of characterization for Charn was her religion; otherwise, I can agree that she was a stand-in for the Leia, Eaden was the Chewie, and Rendar was the Han. What occurred while reading was the thought that if Charn /had/ been a ditzy but street-smart entertainer with no Rebel status on the run from a bad relationship, I might have enjoyed her better. I liked Rendar pretty well, and for a SW book without my requisite Jedi/lightsabers/the Force interests, it was an entertaining way to spend time this holiday season. Therefore,

    8/10

  10. Havac Some Guy Who Moderates Lit

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    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Average score: 39.9/5 = 7.98
  11. Jedi Ben Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 19, 1999
    star 6
    Fun read.

    I like the return to the seedier elements of SW, that sense that it's a used universe - it isn't the shiny, antiseptic future that Trek and other shows depicted. While there's been talk of continuity muck-ups around Mandalorians, I'd say this uses continuity well in a general sense with how it weaves Vader and Xizor and the Emperor into the tale. The continual 'revelations' did feel quite forced in the end, how many stories can one person have? But the characters made it work which tends to be Reaves strong suit, as are the various conversations and banter.

    So, not the greatest work ever but it wasn't trying to be. What it was was a very entertaining read and I'll be looking forward to the next Corusant Nights book to continue Reaves' corner of the EU.

    Scoring is always difficult but let's go with 9/10.
  12. Todd the Jedi Mod and Sitcom Dad of SWTV - Vacationing and stuff

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    Oct 16, 2008
    star 5
    Michael Reaves' latest venture into the EU revisits a character who was originally written by Michael's frequent collaborator, Steve Perry. Dash Rendar, however, does not play the role of pilot, but rather of bodyguard to the famous holostar Javul Charn. Yet Javul keeps many secrets from Dash and his crew, involving connections to Black Sun and the Rebel Alliance. All this treachery leads Dash on an exciting adventure to exotic locales where he all his skills are put to the test.

    Dash was interesting playing both the role of bodyguard and detective. As more strange things occurred around Javul's road show he easily fell into the role of investigator, yet he couldn't ever figure out the entire truth behind the mysteries because of Javul's tendency to bend the truth. As it turns out the mystery is a pretty good one that kept me guessing, though in retrospect I should have foreseen who the saboteur was having read Reaves' last book with a mystery at the center of the plot. Eadan and Leebo were also fleshed out well in the multiple roles they served. Javul herself was interesting. She acted pretty much like I imagine some real-life pop stars act like. And of course Han was pretty much in character for this particular point in time.

    The plot moved along pretty well for most of the novel, sort of coming to an abrupt end, though. The huge mystery was revealed and then that was pretty much it. But until then the story was very gripping and fun to read. This book was a major step in fleshing out both holo-entertainment and even religion in the SW universe. Add in a bunch of well-placed references to continuity and this novel really did a good job at making the galaxy seem more mundane, a side we don't see too often because of the near-constant state of conflict. The variety of worlds visited was much welcome. Cool to see a planet from TCW in one of the novels. I didn't mind little continuity issues like Lando owning Cloud City or the mix-up of Mandalorians, since for me they didn't detract from the story at all.

    I give this a 9.3 out of 10 for an exciting adventure with a great ensemble cast and some good twists.
  13. Havac Some Guy Who Moderates Lit

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    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Average score: 58.2/7 = 8.31
  14. Krusty_the_Clone Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 4, 2006
    star 4
    9/10. I like Dash and Leebo. 2 of my favorite characters. Funniest star wars book I've read.
  15. Havac Some Guy Who Moderates Lit

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    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Average score: 67.2/8 = 8.40
  16. fistofan1 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 8, 2009
    star 4
    I have to say, this is the best Star Wars book I've read in a while. At first I had misgivings about Han being possibly shoehorned into the novel just for namedropping's sake, but he was a great addition. Star Wars has been focusing on Jedi, Sith and the Force so much lately that I had forgotten how much fun an adventure with average smugglers can be. I only had two real problems with the story, mainly the ending. I was expecting a big revelation, and the fact that all three suspected organizations were chasing Javul wasn't the reveal I was expecting. The only other thing I can think of that bothered me was the fact that almost all the original characters had to be related in some way to more well-known people. I enjoyed the Kit Fisto reference, but I don't see why Eaden had to be related to him. Giving members of the same species familial relationships shrinks the size of a very large galaxy. In addition, Javul being related to Leia felt really uneccesary...

    But of course, the journey is always more important to the destination. There was great action, plenty of laughs, and a good deal of focus on the characters. I especially enjoyed how Javul's various transitions made the way I saw her at the end of the novel drastically different than the way I imagined her at the beginning. For all that, I'd have to give the book a solid 9/10.
  17. Havac Some Guy Who Moderates Lit

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    star 7
    Average score: 76.2/9 = 8.47
  18. jmf4 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2008
    star 1
    Well written but the continuity issues and lack of suspense in the plot (partially due to the back cover giving away about 2/3 of the book) drag this book down a bit in my eyes. I'll give it 6.8/10.
  19. Havac Some Guy Who Moderates Lit

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    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Average score: 83/10 = 8.30
  20. Shepherd492 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 2, 2011
    star 1
  21. Havac Some Guy Who Moderates Lit

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    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Average score: 90.7/11 = 8.25
  22. Robimus Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 6, 2007
    star 5
    It took me a while to get through this one, mostly because I got sidetracked by the HTTE 20th Anniversay edition, but I did finish off and I kind of like it.

    The worst parts if this book were easily the general setting and timeline. As has been mentioned many a time there are all kinds of little timeline issues as well as a few canonical concerns. The biggest issue I had was with the idea that Tattoine was only a few sublight hours from Kessel, which made it closer than Nal Hutta - again only a few more hours away at sublight speeds. There is an Atlas for this stuff, please use it.:p

    Its strength is the central story it presents, kinda a sloppy mystery which we see through the eyes of Dash Rendar. I really liked Dash and Javul and thought their was some chemistry and decent writing that went into their interactions.

    Though the book has no Jedi, thats kinda misleading because we do get a Force sensitive character named Eaden who's a couple degrees removed from Kit Fisto, and a martial arts Master as well. The book suffers from a few of these concocted name drops and cameo's, teasing ideas like Leia unknowingly bad mouthing Han & the Falcon before she knows him.

    In addtion to the Dash/Javul storyline. I also really liked Leebo - who continues Reaves interest with the issues of droid sentience. The Anomid Assassin, Edge, also proved to be a fun villian - much better than Hitch Kriss who was Mandalorian in name only.


    6/10
  23. The_Forgotten_Jedi Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 12, 2010
    star 4
    I really enjoyed Shadow Games. It's certainly not the deepest novel, and I pretty much figured out the identity of the first mole from the dramatis personae, but it had a nice charm to it. I really liked Eaden Vrill, and it's always nice to get info on a new force order. My only major issue is that the ending didn't really seem like an ending to me. Something about it bugged me, but I'm not sure what. Otherwise, this was a good solid addition to the EU, continuity issues aside.

    8.5/10
  24. Havac Some Guy Who Moderates Lit

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    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Average score: 105.2/13 = 8.09
  25. LawgSkrak Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 23, 1999
    star 4
    What exactly are the continuity issues?