Wells, Martha

AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:

3 out of 5

(1 book)

Star Wars: Empire And Rebellion - Razor's Edge

2 ABY.  Whilst on a mission to a trade conference with potential allies for the Rebellion, Princess Leia and Han Solo encounter a group of pirates from Leia's homeworld of Alderaan.  Determined to turn them from their criminal life, Leia agrees to follow the pirates to a meeting deep inside pirate-controlled territory.

First off, going in I was not looking forward to a Leia-focused novel.  Almost every other book which features her during the Rebellion years simply seem to make her a snarky bitch, particularly where Han is concerned.  However, Wells has done an excellent job of genuinely capturing the spirits of both the Princess and the smuggler, as well as their relationship with each other.  Sure, they exchange verbal jabs but, unlike most other Star Wars stories featuring their interactions (I'm looking at you 'Honor Among Thieves'), you actually get a sense that these two people really are friends and have a great deal of respect for each other.  Also, where other books seem content to use the tired cliche of 'they say mean things to each other because they secretly fancy each other', Wells actually allows these two characters to be attracted to and flirty with each other.

It is with everything else that this book disappoints.  The plot is pretty thin; Leia surrendering herself to pirates just because they're from Alderaan and she wants to help them live a fulfilling life is a terribly contrived concept.  We're then taken to a pirate asteroid where we get seeming endless descriptions of dark and dirty tunnels.  Brilliant.  Then, out of nowhere, in the last act we're suddenly presented with a planet that has its own jamming field as a result of ancient technology but which the author doesn't leave enough time to really explain.

For all that the characterisations of the movie characters are spot on (even Luke, Chewie and Threepio are well done), there are no other characters in this book who prove to be at all interesting.  Even the one who turns out to be an Imperial spy has been a dick the whole book and therefore there's no emotional shock factor to the revelation.  The Alderaanian pirates and the Rebel extras are so weakly defined that it would've probably just been better to call them Pirate #1 or Rebel #2 and the villain of the piece is tiresome where she should have been terrifying.

Finally, the book opens with an attack by an Imperial warship which, when the Rebel escape, becomes dedicated to catching them.  Most of the book has passed by before these guys reappear and they never actually really become much of a threat (a handful of Rebels capture their entire ship).  I felt that, given the 'Empire and Rebellion' of the book's title page, these guys should've been the real antagonists rather than a slightly awkward afterthought.

Overall a largely disappointing book, but one which has absolutely the best-written representation of Han, Leia and their relationship in the Expanded Universe.

3 out of 5

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