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Lit Best of the Bantam novels/duologies/trilogies?

Discussion in 'Literature' started by Ghost, Oct 21, 2023.

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Which are the best of the Bantam novels/duologies/trilogies?

  1. The Truce at Bakura (novel) - Tyers

    5.6%
  2. X-Wing (series) - Stackpole & Allston

    61.1%
  3. The Courtship of Princess Leia (novel) - Wolverton

    5.6%
  4. Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising, The Last Command (trilogy) - Zahn

    69.4%
  5. Jedi Search, Dark Apprentice, Children of the Force (trilogy) - Anderson

    11.1%
  6. I, Jedi (novel) - Stackpole

    27.8%
  7. Children of the Jedi, Darksaber, Planet of Twilight (trilogy) - Hambly & Anderson

    2.8%
  8. The Crystal Star (novel) - McIntyre

    5.6%
  9. The Black Fleet Crisis: Before the Storm, Shield of Lies, Tyrant's Test (trilogy) - Kube-McDowell

    22.2%
  10. The New Rebellion (novel) - Rusch

    2.8%
  11. Ambush at Corellia, Assault at Selonia, Showdown at Centerpoint (trilogy) - MacBride Allen

    11.1%
  12. Spectre of the Past & Vision of the Future (duology) - Zahn

    47.2%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Ghost

    Ghost Chosen One star 8

    Registered:
    Oct 13, 2003
    Which are the best of the Bantam novels/duologies/trilogies?
     
  2. Etav Byx

    Etav Byx Jedi Grand Master star 1

    Registered:
    Jul 28, 1998
    Zahn, Stackpole, and Alston. 'Nuff said! (But I would add Crispin's Solo trilogy too.)
     
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  3. Noash_Retrac

    Noash_Retrac Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 14, 2006
    Zahn's Thrawn Trilogy is number one with Stackpole/Allston's X-wing series a close second.
     
    Etav Byx likes this.
  4. Ghost

    Ghost Chosen One star 8

    Registered:
    Oct 13, 2003
    I thought of including more, but decided to limit to just those between ROTJ and NJO that were published before NJO (also the poll only allows so many options).
     
    Etav Byx likes this.
  5. Etav Byx

    Etav Byx Jedi Grand Master star 1

    Registered:
    Jul 28, 1998
    No complaints on my part -- you made it easy for me! Haha! That said, If you had included the Solo trilogy, I'd probably have to pic kit over I, Jedi. I'm a big Corran Horn & Stackpole fan, but the Solo trilogy is more story and AC Crispin wrote it so well.
     
    Ghost likes this.
  6. Jedimarine

    Jedimarine Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 13, 2001
    Fixed

    :-B
     
    Xammer and Ghost like this.
  7. Barriss_Coffee

    Barriss_Coffee Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2003
    While I don't consider a single one of the X-Wing novels the "best" Star Wars novel, as a whole I have more good memories from scenes in that series than any other.
     
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  8. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 29, 2005
    Looking at the post-ROTJ Bantam books, X-wing and TTT are the two obvious highlights, the 800-pound gorillas. TTT was a pitch-perfect followup that introduced outstanding new characters, an iconic villain, and a genuinely evolved setting, with the New Republic. It's really engaging and captures the spirit of the movies perfectly while moving the narrative forward. X-wing is just incredibly good, two authors with different but complementary styles developing all these fantastic characters operating at a more ordinary level, taking us through exciting campaigns and dramatic events with extremely well-developed characters we care a lot about, without the shields the main characters have.

    My other two choices are a little boring, as they're outgrowths of both choices. I, Jedi follows up X-wing by taking the richest, most human, most developed character in the EU, Corran Horn, and taking him through Jedi training, doing a better job of illustrating that training than the actual JAT did, while also giving us an undercover pirate storyline in which Corran's ever-present hubris once again gets its comeuppance. It's a really great, character-rich story. And I'm a big fan of HOT, a TTT follow-up which introduces a bunch of fantastic new ideas -- internal political tensions, an ingeniously deceitful Imperial ploy, peace negotiations, exploring the Unknown Regions -- and wraps them up together into a great thriller that brings the era to a suitable close while also projecting a new path forward.

    The one series that I would have liked to recognize, but just missed out with there only being four options, is the BFC. It's an excellent, maturely considered take on Star Wars, with serious geopolitical dilemmas, real personal crises for the characters, and a really cool sci-fi relic-ship plotline. It's got an all-time villain, some really striking ideas, and one of the best serious takes on the New Republic's challenges. But it doesn't make the top four because its Luke plotline, while incorporating really interesting ideas about Luke going through a kind of midlife crisis while searching for his heritage, is very draggy, and the three plotlines never merge as well as they should to justify being in the same trilogy.

    Other than those, there aren't a lot of post-ROTJ Bantam books that I would even hold up as being particularly good. Truce at Bakura is a good, solid novel with some interesting ideas, but I don't think Tyers gets the pacing quite right and it ends up being good, but not great. But it's the only one left I'd feel comfortable really calling good. COPL is ridiculous, terribly plotted, and much more fun than it ought to be, with a lot of good ideas mixed in with a lot of terrible ones and some pulpy fun amidst a general feeling that the book is a bloated drag. JAT is KJA's typical mix of really interesting underlying ideas with terrible, juvenile execution, and so is Darksaber. COTJ and POT both have the same Hambly characteristics: really interesting underlying ideas and themes buried under a foggy, languorous prose style and a plot that never musters any energy. Hambly sucks all the pulp energy out of her books without elevating her literary ideas to the level that would compensate for the books' total dullness. The Crystal Star has its fun bits, but it's a bizarrely-conceived, juvenile, unconscionably dull adventure. The New Rebellion is probably the outright worst of the lot, with idiotic plotting and premises married to dull writing. And the Corellian Trilogy is terribly paced, with a lot of pulpy good ideas mixed in with some lousy ones, unremarkable writing, and a general sense that RMA is just not getting the most out of his ideas. There is a lot to like and enjoy scattered throughout the Bantam era, but it's often contained in books that are badly flawed and often don't read that well. A lot of those ideas come off better in retrospect, or in Essential Guides where you can appreciate the idea of uniting the warlords into the Imperial Remnant without having to read KJA's prose.
     
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  9. Ackbar's Fishsticks

    Ackbar's Fishsticks Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 25, 2013
    Putting in my usual plug for the X-wing series: it's satisfying on a level that not many series are, because it's its own little corner of the Star Wars universe, only two authors really worked on most of its characters, and those authors mostly were on the same page and knew what they were doing. There isn't a never-ending stream of authors looking to get their hands on Wedge Antilles and Corran Horn and write the next chapter in their life like there is for Luke, Leia, and Han, which means you don't get a bunch of different and contradictory portrayals of them, and they aren't put through the same never-ending wringer for dramatic purpose as these others.
     
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  10. Xammer

    Xammer Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Jan 31, 2009
    I voted for:
    - Corellian trilogy, JAT - fun adventures with surprising worldbuilding
    - HOT - political thriller/mystery that somehow feels like a precursor to LOTF (wonder if the Bantam/Dark Horse invasion storyline which this was supposed to foreshadow would have been that good; by the way, the UR threats give me a strong Chapterhouse Dune / Foundation and Earth ending vibe)

    I also read from that list:
    - TTT - could barely focus, sorry, tried it again last year and couldn't even finish HTTE
    - Darksaber - same as JAT, would have voted for it if it were alone
    - I, Jedi - bored to death
     
  11. Jedimarine

    Jedimarine Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 13, 2001
    In truth, we are missing some of the gems of the era in the poll:

    Crispin's Solo Trilogy
    Jeter's Bounty Hunter Wars Trilogy is right up there near the top.
    Shadows of the Empire novelization is a classic.

    And the Tales book are GREAT fun, if each story in isolation could be a mixed bag.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2023
  12. TCF-1138

    TCF-1138 Anthology/Fan Films/NSA Mod & Ewok Enthusiast star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Sep 20, 2002
    The Thrawn Trilogy and Hand of Thrawn duology are really the best. But I also voted for The New Rebellion, a seriously underrated book IMO. I think Kueller is one of the better Villains of the Week of the Bantam era, and the OT Big Three feel more like themselves than in many of the other novels; especially Luke.
     
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  13. Jedimarine

    Jedimarine Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 13, 2001
    Gonna Play a little MadLibs with @TCF-1138 's post

    [face_peace]
     
  14. BLemelisk

    BLemelisk Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 19, 2003
    I still need to finish it, but I'm reading Black Fleet Crisis for the first time. It's a bit technical at times, but it's a breath of fresh air on the heels of some other more esoteric Bantams I've been reading lately.

    It doesn't feel like a movie as the Thrawn Trilogy did, more like a persistent and real place I'm hanging out in, so I voted for it.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2023
  15. Jedimarine

    Jedimarine Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 13, 2001
    I will give Black Fleet Crisis credit...it went to scale in a way other authors up to that point had struggled with.

    We often saw villains with a handful of ships and a few systems under their control.

    The Yevethra took over a star cluster and an entire fleet, in addition to their own ships.

    Add in the Galaxy spanning politics...Luke and Lando's separate Galaxy hopping adventures. It felt like the author knowingly used the benefit of 3 books to go big, as opposed to others who may have kept an eye on scale should the book be turned into a film script.
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2023
  16. BLemelisk

    BLemelisk Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 19, 2003
    @Jedimarine You're exactly right. It feels like he really did his homework and charted out the entire story from the beginning. Which is obviously the case, as the books all released a couple of months apart.

    His small anecdotal histories of colonies, species, and individuals feel natural as well.

    It reminds me of what Stephen Barnes attempted to do in Cestus Deception to a lesser degree of success. Maybe Shatterpoint is a closer relative.
     
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