Star Wars: Choices of One


It's been quite a while since I read a Star Wars book. More than six years, actually. After reading Matthew Stover's lackluster adaptation of the lackluster Revenge of the Sith, I was in no hurry to give another Star Wars book a shot.

But when the ARC for Timothy Zahn's Star Wars: Choices of One showed up in my mailbox, something about it piqued my curiosity. Zahn brought me back to Star Wars during my senior year of high school when Heir to the Empire was first released. And though I haven't read Zahn's Star Wars novels since Vision of the Future came out, I've always had a sweet spot in my heart for the author's work set in the Star Wars universe.

And since the story occurs between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, I knew I could read and enjoy this one without having read the countless Star Wars offering that have flooded the market over the years.

Here's the blurb:

The fate of the Rebellion rests on Luke Skywalker’s next move.

But have the rebels entered a safe harbor or a death trap?

Eight months after the Battle of Yavin, the Rebellion is in desperate need of a new base. So when Governor Ferrouz of Candoras Sector proposes an alliance, offering the Rebels sanctuary in return for protection against the alien warlord Nuso Esva, Luke, Leia, Han, and Chewie are sent to evaluate the deal.

Mara Jade, the Emperor’s Hand, is also heading for Candoras, along with the five renegade stormtroopers known as the Hand of Judgment. Their mission: to punish Ferrouz’s treason and smash the Rebels for good.

But in this treacherous game of betrayals within betrayals, a wild card is waiting to be played
.

I've read a lot of Star Wars books over the years, yet I feel that no other author has ever been able to truly capture George Lucas' vision the way Timothy Zahn managed to do. A couple of pages into Choices of One, and I was immediately drawn back to my youth and enjoying every minute of it.

Though readers familiar with the Star Wars universe may get more out of this novel, fans of the movies will nonetheless be in for a pleasant reading experience. Sure, you might be unaware of the existence of Mara Jade and the renegade stormtroopers known as the Hand of Justice, but the story features enough familiarity to satisfy anyone. And it might even entice some to go back and read a few other Zahn Star Wars titles. I know that's the case with me. . .

Set a few months following the Battle of Yavin, although the action takes place in a number of unknown systems, readers both old and new to the Star Wars universe will feel comfortable with the various environments featured in Choices of One. The worldbuilding doesn't intrude on the tale and remains in the background. Zahn provides what information one needs to follow the story's progress, but little else is needed.

The characterization was my favorite aspect of the novel. Understandably, Zahn has it a bit easy, what with his working with beloved protagonists from both the films and the multitude of books set in Lucas' universe. An innocent and do-gooder Luke who remains a kind-hearted dumbass; Han and Leia, bent on antagonizing one another because they cannot come to terms with the fact that they are attracted to each other; Chewie, whose succint growls carry a lot of meaning; a younger Thrawn, rising star among Imperial officers; Mara Jade, the Emperor's Hand; LaRone and his stormtrooper crew. Put all these ingredients together and the recipe can't be anything but good. Yet add to that an array of secondary characters comprising a pleasantly surprising supporting cast, and you have yourself a nice Star Wars romp!

As fun and entertaining as Choices of One turned out to be at the beginning, it seemed to suffer from a decidedly linear plot which would be a bit predictable. But with a won-over crowd, who would care, right? Wrong. Timothy Zahn switches gears in the middle, unveiling a more convulated and hence more satisfying story arc which added another dimension to this book. Moreover, the ending sets the stage for The Empire Strikes Back.

Choices of One will not blow your mind. But if you are looking for a fun read featuring familiar faces you have grown to love; if you are looking to recapture the essence of what made you fall in love with the first movie trilogy in the first place; then Choice of One just might be the perfect summer read you've been craving!

The final verdict: 7.75/10

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe

10 commentaires:

Sally Sapphire said...

Hmm - might be worth checking out. I haven't read much Star Wars, and haven't read Zahn since the Heir to the Empire trilogy, but I really liked what he did with the storyline.

Steve C said...

I loved Zahn's Thrawn trilogy and his two later books of The Hand of Thrawn. They're by far the best Star Wars books I've read, along with Brian Daley's Han Solo trilogy.

I used to buy one each year for my birthday, and the cool thing is I got another one in two weeks.

Brett said...

I was rather "meh" to most of Zahn's books. He's basically got a few pet characters - Thrawn, Mara Jade - and all his Star Wars novels are about them in some way.

I'd disagree that he captures Lucas's vision. Zahn always comes across as a minimalist, playing the down the size and scale of the conflict. If you want to see a book that really captures the feel of Star Wars, I'd read Matt Stover's novelization of Revenge of the Sith.

Brett said...

I should further explain -

I don't think Zahn ever really captures the epic, almost mythological feel of the movies themselves (particularly the Original Trilogy), in the way that Stover's novelization does. The Star Wars universe and conflict in his books feels much smaller.

Scott said...

I disagree...

Stover's adaptation of REVENGE OF THE SITH is not only a fantastic Star Wars book, but makes the movie story GOOD with better dialogue and motivations over all.

Patrick said...

I really didn't think much of Stover's REVENGE OF THE SITH. So much so that I kind of lost faith in the author back in 2005. I had a few of Stover's books on my pile and I donated them to my local library. Something about his style didn't work for me at all...

Brett said...

Stover's novelization can be a little jarring, simply because it's so incredibly over-the-top. But that's what the Star Wars series is - over-the-top. I think it does an excellent sense of showing the sheer momentousness of the events in Revenge of the Sith (an entire galaxy is falling into tyranny and darkness).

Anonymous said...

He wrote Revenge of the Sith much different than his other works in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Hard to take this review seriously when you start off bashing Stover's novelization of Episode III.

George Lucas could learn a thing or hundred from Stover.

Blake said...

Hard to take a comment seriously when you start off by bashing the reviewer because he didn't think much of Stover's adaptation of Episode 3...