Genre: Sci-Fi, Star Wars
Series: Empire and Rebellion #1
Publisher: Lucas Books (September 24, 2013)
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.
A long time ago in a galaxy far,
far away . . . .
EPISODE IV . . . and then some
It is a dark time for the Rebellion.
Although the Death Star has been
destroyed, Imperial troops have
driven the Rebel forces from
their hidden base and pursued
them far across the galaxy.
Evading the dreaded Imperial
Starfleet, the Rebel Alliance
has begun construction of
a new secret Rebel base
on the remote ice world
With few resources at their
disposable, Princess Leia and
Han Solo speed across the
galaxy. Their mission to
obtain the materials needed
to complete the secret
base before the Empire
discovers the Rebels.
As Razor’s Edge begins, the Rebellion finds itself in a precarious situation. While the Empire has taken a blow to its power and prestige in Episode IV, the Death Star’s destruction is merely a bloody nose for the Emperor and Lord Vader, and the Rebels are struggling to hide from the Imperials and find enough resources to actually build another base. To help obtain the needed materials, Leia naturally turns to the underworld, and who better to help her with that than Han Solo, professional smuggler and scoundrel. Thus, the opening pages of our story show our future couple on a mission to meet with some of Han’s old smuggler acquaintances.
Of course, things can’t stay simple for long. And it isn’t but a few pages into the novel that the ho-hum mission turns into a fight for Han and Leia’s lives, as their disguised freighter is attacked. The resulting fight is short but dramatic, showing us Leia in her element as a leader, and when the Rebels begin to suspect Imperial involvement in the ambush, it doesn’t surprise anyone. However, what does is that as soon as one catastrophe is averted another rears its head,. And this one comes in the form of a pirate ship, and not just any pirate but an Alderaanian pirate!
The book races forward from this point, pulling our heroes and readers from one fight to another while mixing in surprises, betrayals, and laughs. Throughout the adventures, Martha Wells does an excellent job of capturing the sheer fun of the Star Wars franchise, and it always seems that the iconic music is playing in your head, as Han or Leia narrowly escapes another brush with death.
Naturally, all our favorite characters make an appearance in the book: Leia and Han, of course, but also Luke and Chewie with R2-D2 and C-3PO showing up occasionally. All these iconic figures are new to their friendship, and the story does a great job of conveying how their trust in one another is still evolving and growing into what we see later on in Episode V and VI. But probably the best piece of characterization in the book is Princess Leia.
Throughout this story, a reader is shown a close up view of the princess’ incredible strength of character, and how she is determined to help lead the Rebel Alliance, even though she is still struggling to come to terms with the destruction of her whole world by the Death Star, and her knowledge that she played a major roll in Alderaan’s annihilation. When the Alderaanian pirate shows up at the beginning of the adventure, it serves as a catalyst for Martha Wells to explore these feelings even more, which adds a layer of reality to an otherwise straight-forward Star Wars romp.
But for long time fans of the Star Wars franchise, I believe your favorite scenes will be those where Han and Leia are bickering and pretending they are not attracted to one another. These moments are some of the most classic and comedic of the whole book, capturing the charm of their relationship. Indeed, one scene where our princess and smuggler are in a small closet together, trying to discuss important business while acting as if they are not attracted to one another is hilarious and reminds one of the sheer fun of Star Wars.
Now, there are things in this novel which did detract from its readability, and I feel I must point those things out in fairness to people wanting a “full” review of this book.
While Star Wars has always been about non-stop action and frenetic pacing, the really great books mixed in enough dramatic plot lines or non-action scenes to slow down the ride, allowing a reader to catch their breath before the roller coaster took another “plunge.” Razor’s Edge did not do this, but kept a reader dropping from one death defying crisis to another with nary a chance to recover. This tired me out eventually, making me look forward to the ride stopping.
Also, other than Han and Leia, there are not any other characters in the book who make much of an impression. Luke and Chewie play only minor roles in the story, and the other Rebels and pirates come off more as names than real, breathing characters. There is a very interesting “bad girl” character introduced here, but unfortunately, she never progressed much past the evil villain stage, though she had lots of potential.
When people read a Star Wars novel, they generally know what they are going to get, and Razor’s Edge delivers those high thrills, familiar characters, and comedic elements very well. While it doesn’t break any new ground, it is still a very enjoyable Star Wars book and is worth a try by any fan of the series.