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Dooku: Lost Jedi by Cavan Scott

Did you ever hear the tragedy of Darth Plagueis The Wise? I thought not. It’s not a story the Jedi would tell you.

That’s okay. The amount of Star Wars media is as expansive as the universe in which the story takes place. It is hard to keep track of everything. While most people are familiar with the movies, there are books, TV shows- both live action and animated- comic books, and video games for all ages. These stories take place over thousands of years and tell the epic story of Jedi and Sith, times of peace, and times of war.

Disney recently announced that the universe would expand even more with a new era of books and comics coming out in August. A surprise to be sure, but a welcome one. The High Republic will take place approximately 200 years before Episode I: The Phantom Menace and introduce a lot of new characters and planets. I’ll just say it, I hope they do a better job at this era than the more recent trilogy.

When Disney acquired the rights for Star Wars in 2012, they took a lot of novels of the Expanded Universe considered canon, and rebranded it as “legends”’, and a new continuity would be established. It’s as if a million voices cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. A google search for “Star Wars Del Rey timeline” will lead to a website dedicated to the releases of stories considered canon in chronological order. Right now there are over 30 books on the list, as well as two TV shows, and the 9 movies in the franchise. My goal is to slowly go through this timeline, starting with the first book on the list: Dooku: Lost Jedi.

Dooku: Lost Jedi, written by Cavan Scott, provides some background for one of the more mysterious characters of the prequels (episodes 1-3): Count Dooku. His time in the movies is unfortunately limited, so it is nice to learn more about this complex character. Before he was a Sith Lord, and the leader of the Separatist, Count Dooku, or Darth Tyranus, was once a Jedi. Taken by the Jedi Order as a child, he showed promise and quickly became a driven student powerful in the Force. So powerful that he takes on a padawan of his own, Qui-Gon Jinn. But as time goes on, Dooku begins to question the ethics of the Jedi and becomes fascinated with Sith relics and the Jedi who studies them. This leads him to a dark path as he struggles to stay on the light side of the Force. It doesn’t help that he finds out his parents didn’t want him and forbid him from speaking to his sister, Jenza.

Though it centers around Dooku, the narrator of this story is Ventress, an assassin being trained in the dark side of the Force. She is tasked with finding Dooku’s lost sister. With an array of hologram recordings at her disposal to help her search, Ventress learns more about her troubled master and his reasons for leaving the Order. Like the prequel movies, we see how the Jedi can be flawed with their sometimes close-minded way of thinking. This book also does a great job at turning the fearsome Dooku into someone you can sympathize with. Ventress herself is a fairly complex character. She is constantly haunted by the ghost of her old master, whom she murdered. He stays with her and attempts to steer her in the right direction. As things progress, she struggles to take control of her own destiny or become completely consumed by Dooku and his unrelenting force.

The intended way to enjoy this is by listening to the audio book version, which features a full cast. With a length of about 6 and a half hours, it answers a lot of questions, but seems like there could have been more. Production-wise, it is extremely immersive. Between the full cast performance and wide range of sound effects and musical components, it is reminiscent of the radio dramatization NPR put out in the 1980s . If you want to listen to Dooku: Lost Jedi, you can check it out on Overdrive. For those that are not a fan of listening to books, there is also a screenplay adapted directly from the audio version. This would definitely be a fun book to get with a group of friends and read it out loud together.

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Star Wars : From a Certain Point of View by various authors

If you’re a nerd, there are pretty much two factions: Star Trek and Star Wars. I grew up on Star Trek. Sure, I watched Star Wars, but I was way more into Picard than Luke. However, I married into a Star Wars family. To keep up with family debates, I’ve had to do a little research into the Star Wars universe. When STAR WARS : FROM A CERTAIN POINT OF VIEW came across my desk, I knew I’d have to give it a look.

Star Wars : From a Certain Point of View is a collection of short stories from a variety of big name authors like Meg Cabot, Christie Golden, and Paul S. Kemp, along with a story from Wil Wheaton (who I know as Wesley Crusher from Star Trek). Each story is based on the Star Wars universe. In particular, this collection bridges the gap between the events of Rogue One and A New Hope. However, none of the stories focuses on the traditional heroes of the saga. Instead, we get the viewpoints of characters like a stormtrooper, Grand Moff Tarkin, and even the monster from the Death Star trash compactor.

Each story offers a unique perspective on the behind-the-scenes events of the original trilogy. These aren’t just filler stories, either. The authors involved have taken care to delve deeply into the characters and show the emotional background to some of the events from the series. Since it would take a few more words than I have here to review all 35 stories, I’ll share my thoughts on a few from the collection.

“The Bucket” by Christie Golden — TK-4601 is a young Stormtrooper who has been given an amazing opportunity: capture the rebel Princess Leia Organa. He is full of excitement at the prospect of helping crush the Rebellion. But when he does encounter her, it will change him forever. As a huge Carrie Fisher/Princess Leia fan, I loved this story for the way Golden describes Leia through the eyes of an enemy. She’s a force to be reckoned with. Those who underestimate Leia soon regret it, a fact not lost on TK-4601.

“Stories in the Sand” by Griffin McElroy — The Jawa are a species that lives their lives scouring the deserts of Tatooine for anything they can sell. Jot is a Jawa who doesn’t quite fit in. Smaller but smarter than his peers, he discovers a secret compartment that lets him scavenge videos from the droids he scraps. But one day, he discovers a video stored in a blue and white droid. A video of a young woman in white asking for help. Will Jot erase the video and sell the droid? Or will he help set into motion the entire plot of the movies we love so much? McElroy does a great job of exploring a species that initially seems to have very little depth. He also reminds us that even the smallest of us can make a big difference.

“Laina” by Wil Wheaton — Ryland, a member of the Rebel Alliance, must say goodbye to his infant daughter. He’s about to go on a dangerous mission and needs to know Laina will be safe. She will go to live with her aunts. Fair warning, this is a heart-wrenching story. Wheaton examines why a single father would risk everything and join what might seem like a lost cause. What could bring him to risk his life? A fair amount of revenge and a dash of hope.

I should end this by noting that I’m a fan of the new Star Wars movies. I find they fill me with a sense of hope. And that’s a word I associate this collection. These are stories of the everyday person (or Jawa or droid). I think I “get” my in-laws love of Star Wars. Much like my love of Star Trek, it’s about heroes and hope. And these stories remind us that it’s not just the Skywalker family who can make a difference: it’s all of us.

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Book review by: Leslie Hayes