About the Author:
A New York Times bestselling author, Sean Williams was born in South Australia where he now lives with his family.
AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:
3.3 out of 5
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
The novelisation of the computer game touted as the next chapter in the Star Wars saga, set 3 BBY. The story follows Darth Vader's secret Sith apprentice as he hunts down the last of the Jedi and suffers the inevitable betrayals of his dark master.
I've always said that game to book conversions never really work due to the very different natures of the media and, sadly, this book follows that trend. The chapters involve the apprentice (aka Starkiller aka Galen Marek) arriving at some new location, cutting and Force-pushing his way through a legion of minor enemies and then facing off against a more powerful 'boss' character. He then returns to his ship for his next assignment and the cycle starts again. There is an overwhelming sense of shallowness to this book and you can tell that it's because you don't get to take control and play the missions for yourself, the way the story was intended when it was envisioned.
Williams' biggest mistake is that he doesn't turn the differences in the media to his advantage, showing the inner thoughts that the game couldn't possibly. Sure, we get a bit of Juno and a bit of Starkiller, but never enough to actually believe there's thought processes linking their scripted-for-the-game dialogue at the end/beginning of each mission. The biggest disappointment on this front is that we don't get Darth Vader's perspective at all. There's a half-hearted afterthought of a comment from Starkiller about Vader wanting a son, but that's it. Considering that Vader is the core of the Star Wars saga I would've thought the emotional implications of him having a son-figure long before Luke comes along would be worth exploring.
Don't get me wrong, there are some really great concepts here, such as the Rebel Alliance being founded as Vader's weapon against the Emperor, but they're concepts created by someone else for the game. As a computer game 'The Force Unleashed' can be a lot of fun (albeit no 'Knights of the Old Republic'), but as a novel it just never really fell into place for me.
Followed by Joe Schreiber's 'Death Troopers'.
2 out of 5
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II
The novelisation of the sequel to 'The Force Unleashed' (rather obviously), set one year before 'A New Hope'. In the hopes of creating the perfect Sith Apprentice, Darth Vader has cloned Starkiller on Kamino but, plagued by memories of the original Starkiller's lover Juno Eclipse, one of these clones escapes and goes rogue, attempting to take up his predecessor's life.
With this book Williams does what he failed to do in the previous one, taking the basic plot of the game and expanding upon it. Although we do still get a great deal of the tedious hack-and-slash that forms Starkiller's story, we also get a great deal more introspection from the characters involved and, more importantly some great new scenes. Where this book really comes into its own are the scenes, not featured in the game, which show the activities of the newborn Rebel Alliance, including such momentous events as the recruitment of the planet Mon Calamari.
In addition to extra scenes, the author is also able to include characters not featured in the game but who make a welcome addition to the story of the Rebellion at this time; specifically, Commander Ackbar and a young pilot named Wedge Antilles.
Unfortunately, Williams is still bound by the plot of the game as well, which isn't always inspiring and ends in a rather frustrating cliffhanger. One that, with Disney's rebooting of Star Wars canon, will never be reconciled.
Overall a far superior book to the last one but which suffers from being based on the inferior of the two games. Still, it's got Yoda and Boba Fett in it...
Followed by 'Shadow Games' by Michael Reaves & Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff.
4 out of 5
Star Wars: The Old Republic - Fatal Alliance
Set in 3,643 BBY just before 'The Old Republic' MMO. Amid the uneasy peace between the Galactic Republic and the Sith Empire a new droid technology is discovered which at first has agents of both sides vying for control of it. Eventually, however, they must form an uneasy truce in order to combat the threat posed to the entire galaxy.
I was pleasantly surprised by this book, having feared that it would be little more than a glorified advert for TOR and still having Star Wars' other MMO tie-in, the dreadful 'Galaxies: The Ruins of Dantooine', in mind. Instead Williams does a good job of giving us a sense of the state of the galaxy through the eyes of the protagonists who find themselves adrift in it. There's a Padawan struggling to become a Knight, a disenfranchised former Special Ops soldier, a Sith Apprentice out to prove herself and an Imperial agent with increasingly conflicted loyalties. Thrown into this mix are two very different underworld characters; the ruthless Mandalorian Dao Stryver and the mysterious smuggler Jet Nebula (it is a shit name, I know).
Unfortunately, the plot is a little thin on the ground and full leaps of logic which leave gaping plot holes in their wake. In fact story of the hexes seems to be treated as an unfortunate necessity in order to set up the titular alliance on Sebaddon. But once the book gets there, it makes most of the shortcomings worthwhile. In particular I enjoyed seeing the Jedi Padawan forced to appreciate the power of Sith Lord Darth Chratis whilst the Sith Apprentice finds herself suitably impressed by fighting alongside Satele Shan, Grand Master of the Jedi Order.
Although I have to admit that the book certainly did pique my interest in the world of 'The Old Republic', there are times when the marketing element of this book become a little too obvious and painful. In fact, the eight main characters named in the book's Dramatis Personae all represent one of the player classes available in the game. Worse than this is the cringe-worthy summing up between Stryver and Nebula in the epilogue which pretty much reads as a cheesy 'We nee YOU to become a HERO' game advert.
Followed by Drew Karpyshyn's 'The Old Republic: Annihilation'.
4 out of 5