Star Wars: Maul: Lockdown Review

This book ended up being the final novel released in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, aka Legends, timeline.
I have no clue if Joe Schreiber knew at the time he was writing it that he was the penning the swan song for an entire line of continuity or not, but none the less he was swinging for the fences.
The question at this point is did he get it over the wall or did he swing wild and fling his bat at the pitcher, slamming him in the face and unleashing a torrent of blood, causing a bench clearing brawl the likes of which have never been seen before or since that will go down in history as…I may have gotten carried away just then, and I don’t even like baseball, but I think you see my point…let’s answer that question in less gory detail.

Consider this your official ***Spoiler Alert***

Sidious sends Maul undercover into a prison to meet with a mysterious weapons dealer to get a device to further one of his many secret plans and bring forth the Sith takeover we all know is coming.
Through algorithmic match making, this prison is a hub of fights and high stakes betting that brings the attention of the galaxy and some of its more seedy underworldy types.

This is the 3rd and final of Joe Schreiber’s Star Wars novels and I’m trying to decide if this is better than the 1st or not.
The race is so damn tight.
Death Troopers brilliantly handled Han & Chewie appearances while mixing in some kickass Zombie attacks.
This has Maul, Sidious, Plagueis, and Jabba in Pre-Phantom Menace action.
He has a way of dealing with these legacy characters that makes them feel less like untouchable art pieces and more like action figures that are going to get beat up and thrown back in the toy box for the next writer to take out and toss around for a bit, and I mean that in the best possible way.

His handling of Maul is great, displaying the pure stoicism of this brutal fighter is spot on.
Sidious takes lightsabers and the Force out of the arsenal of the horn headed apprentice, to keep his dark side allegiance secret, and it gives us a great insight into how his mind works and how he has been trained to adapt.
We see a new detective side to him as well as we follow him chasing down leads and rumors in the prison, hunting the arms dealer and coming to multiple deadends.
He almost comes off like The Punisher in that respect, and I loved it.

There are twists aplenty, and not a one had that all too familiar feeling of “are you seriously gonna try this hokey shit?” that can often be found in books/story that try to be too clever or deep for their own good.
They all have an air of “aw hell, why didn’t I see that coming?” to them.
One unexpected twist I’ll share is when Darth Plagueis shows up and starts undermining the plans of Sidious, confronting him about it to pretty much let him know he’s aware of the ongoing shenanigans, and then he cooly moves past it to discuss the grand plan for the approaching Sith takeover.
It’s tense as hell and almost worth the price of admission alone.

Tip to tail, this is a damn good book.
And while I enjoy the new main continuity, I hope at some point in the future that Disney/Del Rey will open the door and let the EU/Legends continuity thrive again.
Because if this is the level of story they were pumping out at the end, there were plenty more great stories to come.

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Special thanks to @ACFerrell1976 for her editorial assistance.

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Star Wars: Ahsoka Review

She started as one of the most hated characters in Star Wars history.
After 5 and a half seasons of superb animation, she had become one of the most beloved characters in the entire franchise.
This untold tale of Ahsoka Tano in the fallout of Order 66 feels like it probably would have been a key part in the final Season of The Clone Wars, but the main questions are does this book do that spectacular series and character justice?

Heads up gang this is your official ***SPOILER WARNING***

No need for suspense, hell yeah it does!
The worst thing I can say about this book is the same thing we constantly said during Series 1 of The NerdBlitz Book Club, “Fuck, I wish this was animated!”.
Yes, it’s that damn good.

The plot is fairly simple, a year after Order 66, Ahsoka has abandoned her lightsabers and gone on the run from the Empire.
Moonlighting on an Outer Rim planet as a mechanic, she’s gotten pretty comfortable…until the Empire comes acallin’!
She steals a ship from the family that embraced her and heads for a moon so she doesn’t get discovered and cause even more havoc for innocents.

Tonally, this story really represents where it falls in the canon.
It’s somewhere between The Clone Wars and Rebels.
By that I mean it has darkness like the former, but not to the extent of the Maul arcs, and it is lighthearted like the latter, but not nearly as light as some of the chipper moments from Season 1.
E.K. has one hell of a balancing act here, too far one way or the other and you risk alienating a group of potential readership, but she hits the sweet spot.

Some of the things I truly love about this book are ties to the series that gave us Ahsoka and the series that brought her back to us.
One of the interstitial scenes actually takes us inside of Anakin’s mind on Christophsis, moments before Ahsoka entered his life.
A bit more light is shed on the process of bleeding lightsaber crystals to turn them red for Sith and their underlings.
We find out the fate of a planet from TCW, Ilum, that hundreds of generations of Jedi travel to to retrieve the kyber crystals for their lightsabers.
We meet another Inquisitor, The Sixth Brother.
We find out how she gets involved with the Rebellion, how and why she takes up the name Fulcrum, and most importantly we see her grow and gain her footing for the 1st time in her post-Jedi life.
All the moments we need to know about in her life are covered for sure.

Seeing the Empire come in and squash a moon under their collective boot, completely take over, and knowingly drain a planet of it’s resources to the point that the people who live there are better off just leaving helps paint the picture of how oppressive the Empire has become in such a short period as well.
That there is probably the thing I like best overall about this book, seeing those early days after Sidious took power.
It’s a time period that is sadly unexplored, and I fear it will be some time before we get more set in this era.

It really is a well written book that makes me hope E.K. gets another shot to play in the Star Wars sandbox, she hits the feeling of every era.
She plays well with all of the characters, including a cameo of a certain Prequel Jedi that I want more canon stories about.
If you like either of the big animated shows, read this.
If you want more Ahsoka stories, read this!
If you just want a good Star Wars story, read this damn book!

Episode 017: Off The Rails 2 – Dick Pillow

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In this episode, close your tray tables and put your seat back in its fully upright position cause they’re going off the rails…again!

The epic struggle that is Battleship continues as they talk about Doom’s brain damaged laughter, Fitz goes to a comedy club, then they dive in and have a thorough conversation about the balance of The Force, take a look at an Ahsoka theory, and then they review Scooby Apocalypse Issue 4.

Prepare for one of the greatest moments in Nerd Blitz history as a special guest joins the fellas for a sudden outburst of brutal honesty and an extra long FΩ©k This S#!t.

All that and so much more as the tangents fly free.

URL: Episode 017: Off The Rails 2 (Dick Pillow)
Direct Download: tnb017.mp3
YouTube: https://youtu.be/W8E8lhczxUg

This has been a feature of TS-D/JA Productions and JJ2E Media 2016