About the Author:
Cavan Scott is a writer, editor and journalist. He lives near Bristol, England with his wife and two daughters.
AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:
3.2 out of 5
Doctor Who: The Shining Man
An original adventure featuring the Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and his companion Bill Potts. The Doctor and Bill begin investigating the disappearance of a woman near Manchester who was apparently taken by a strange creature called a Shining Man, with lank hair, a blank face and shining eyes. Strange events soon reveal that an ancient power has been awoken and is lashing out at the world around it.
This book actually follows up on an idea introduced in Torchwood on TV in that fairies and their 'ultra-terrestrial' world exist in parallel to our own. This allows Scott to give us a much more supernatural Who story than you may be used to. Truth be told, if I hadn't seen that episode of Torchwood, I probably would've struggled to reconcile the fairyland aspects of this story with the Doctor's rational and scientific modus operandi. However, I have seen that episode of Torchwood and, as a result, I actually really rather enjoyed this unusual adventure for the TARDIS travellers; taking the ideas introduced on Torchwood and developing them further.
Capaldi's Doctor is done justice here and I particularly enjoyed his petulant disregard of apparent authority figures whilst he simultaneously connects easily with the children Noah and Masie. Bill is okay, but she's a little edged-out by the introduction of some pretty good new characters, not least the vlogger Charlotte, who manages to outwit the Doctor.
As I say, this isn't your standard 'aliens causing trouble' Doctor Who story, but as someone who loves both Who and fairytales, I rather enjoyed it.
4 out of 5
Star Wars: Adventures In Wild Space - The Cold
Book five, the sixth book of the series (including the 'Prelude'), 18 BBY. Following a lead on their parents whereabouts, Lina, Milo, Crater and Morq are shot down on a frozen moon. Things get worse for them when Lina finds herself on the run from their arch-enemy Captain Korda and the others all become trapped in the depths of the ocean beneath the ice.
The previous book of the series, Tom Huddleston's 'The Dark', had been a disappointment for me and by comparison this one is much better. Scott's writing is a bit more dynamic than Huddleston's and his master stroke here is the introduction of the delightfully sarcastic droid RX-48. I was also immensely pleased by the inclusion of a familiar face in the book's epilogue.
That said, it has to be noted that, once again, this book doesn't advance the overarching plot of the series very far which makes most of what happens feel like a bit of a sideshow. On top of that, this book doesn't have the links to the larger Star Wars saga that I enjoyed so much in 'The Steal'.
3 out of 5
Star Wars: Adventures In Wild Space - The Escape
The first book of the younger reader Adventures in Wild Space series, 'The Escape' was released as part of World Book Day. Milo and Lina Graf are the children of galactic explorers and are on an uncharted world when their parents are suddenly arrested by the Galactic Empire.
Because its retail price was so low (£1 in the UK) this is an incredibly short book, coming in at 83 pages and is, really, little more than a teaser for the full-priced books of the series to follow. The pitiless marketing machine of Disney in action once again. Now, with the cynicism out of the way, on to reviewing the book itself!
The simple truth is that, whilst not a bad book, it's an entirely unremarkable one too. The characters, situation and writing are entirely generic. In fact, except for the change in names, the premise of this book is all too similar to John Whitman's Galaxy of Fear series in which there's an older sister, a younger brother, a droid babysitter and an absence of parents. The only significant difference between those books and this one was that this one wasn't as interesting.
So, an inoffensive but also uninspiring start to the series.
Followed by 'Adventures in Wild Space: The Snare'.
2 out of 5
Star Wars: Adventures In Wild Space - The Snare
The second book of the series, although billed as Book 1 due to 'The Escape' being a 'Prelude'. Here Lina and Milo Graf, along with their companions Morq and CR-8R, arrive on the planet Thune in search of help in their quest to find and rescue their parents. Instead they are confronted by their nemesis, Imperial Captain Korda.
What I liked about this book was the fact that the author begins to introduce the characters to the larger Star Wars universe. Where 'The Escape' had almost no familiar markers, here we get to see things like Klatooinians (from 'Return of the Jedi'), a Jablogian (from the 'Rebels' TV series) and an all-too-brief appearance by Darth Vader himself. This is also a far more dynamic book that its predecessor and I particularly enjoyed the boat/TIE Fighter chase through Thune City's Venice-like canals.
Whilst this book is a great improvement over the far shorter previous book, it nonetheless isn't a great book in and of itself. The problem is that this book reads more like a single chapter within a larger novel. Whilst I get that it's part of a series, I definitely think that each book of a series should provide a satisfying reading experience in and of itself. This one doesn't. And, call me cynical, but I can't help but wonder if the soulless marketing people at Disney have told Scott to deliberately sacrifice a feeling of completion in order to ensure that the subsequent books sell.
I will continue to read this series but to others I would say that if you're after similar stuff but, frankly, better then definitely choose either John Whitman's Galaxy of Fear series or the Young Jedi Knights series by Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta.
2 out of 5
Star Wars: Adventures In Wild Space - The Steal
Book four of the series set around 18 BBY (by EU reckoning). Following directly on from Tom Huddleston's 'The Nest', Milo and Lina arrive on Lothal in search of help from mysterious rebel broadcasters. However, they soon run afoul of gangsters and a sinister bounty hunter.
This book did exactly what I want a Star Wars tie-in book to do; add depth and detail to the larger Star Wars galaxy whilst simultaneously telling a story of its own. One of the problems I'd had with this series in general was that the Graf children's adventures were entirely inconsequential to the mythos of the Galaxy Far, Far Away; featuring entirely new characters exploring worlds that have never appeared before and likely never will again. However, this book takes us to Lothal, a planet central to the 'Rebels' TV series, where we meet some surprisingly familiar and significant characters. I'll try not to ruin too much, but a good indicator of this book actually having consequences for the larger saga is that it reveals how the smuggler Cikatro Vizago (from 'Rebels') gets his broken horn. It's a small thing, I know, but it's the kind of backstory development that I really love.
So, whilst it has to be acknowledged that this book, as a young adult novel, doesn't have a huge amount of depth and complexity, I can say that for the first time in the series the author hits all the right notes. The book ends on a massive cliffhanger, but here it feels like a natural thing rather than simply a tease.
4 out of 5
Star Wars: Dooku - Jedi Lost
The script of the audiodrama. During the Clone Wars Asajj Ventress is sent by Count Dooku to locate his sister Jenza. Whilst on the mission Asajj begins to learn the details of Dooku's past; his training as a Jedi, his relationship to his estranged family and his eventual fall to the dark side.
So, the elephant in the room is the fact that this book is a script and not a novel. I've read several scripts, screenplays and stageplays and they can sometimes be something of a chore, being forced into a medium for consumption by the general public that they were never intended for. I have to say, however, that this was definitely the most enjoyable such book I've read so far, with a combination of narration and 'stage' direction that actually tells the story well enough that the change in medium isn't so out of place. Would I have enjoyed this more as a prose novel? Absolutely. Does that mean it can't be enjoyed as it is? Not at all. But still, if you're not up for reading a script instead of prose, then don't be fooled into starting this one.
Aside from some scenes in James Luceno's brilliant 'Darth Plagueis' and part of 'Legacy of the Jedi' by Jude Watson (both now rendered non-canon by Evil Disney), we've never seen much exploration of Dooku's past, so it's great to get some here. Given his role of villain in the movies and the Clone Wars stories it was hard to understand how he could once have been not only a dedicated Jedi, but also a Master of the Jedi Council. Scott gives us a convincing version of young Dooku who already has a vague sense of superiority and entitlement but is still actually a great Jedi. Having it be Ventress that explores and reveals this period of Dooku's past is particularly poignant given her own fall to the dark side and her toxic relationship with her Sith Lord master. I also liked the fact that rather than just being inherently drawn to the dark side and always destined to be a villain, Dooku's clashes with the other Jedi are largely pretty justified and there's a great scene where he lectures Yoda about the Jedi's rules being directly responsible for a Master being corrupted in an attempt to hide a personal attachment (a nice bit of foreshadowing of exactly what will lead to the rise of Darth Vader).
The one major disappointment for me was that this book doesn't explore how Dooku became a Sith Lord or any of his dealings with Darth Sidious. We do get his first ever meeting with Senator Palpatine, but it's a short scene only made significant by the insider knowledge we have as readers (although I did like that it was Dooku's own apprentice, seemingly being groomed by Palpatine, who introduces them). I felt that some exploration of how Dooku went from leaving the Jedi to joining the Sith would've really made the Count's story feel complete in a way that it doesn't when this book ends.
4 out of 5