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From a Certain Point of View (Star Wars) Hardcover – October 3, 2017
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"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
Read the absorbing new psychological suspense thriller from acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Marisha Pessl. Learn more
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Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
MASTER AND APPRENTICE
Some believe the desert to be barren. This proves only that they do not know the desert.
Deep within the dunes dwell small insects that weave nets to trap one another, and burrowing snakes with scales the color of stones so that no hunter can find them. Seeds and spores from long-dead plants lie dormant in the warmth, waiting for the rainfall that comes once a year, or decade, or century, when they will burst into verdant life as brief as it is glorious. The heat of the suns sinks into the grains of sand until they glow, containing all the energy and possibility to become glass the color of jewels. All of these sing individual notes in the one great song of the Whills.
No place is barren of the Force, and they who are one with the Force can always find the possibility of life.
Awareness precedes consciousness. The warmth is luxuriated in and drawn upon before the mind is cognizant of doing so. Next comes the illusion of linear time. Only then does a sense of individuality arise, a remembrance of what was and what is, a knowledge of one’s self as separate from the Force. It provides a vantage point for experiencing the physical world in its complexity and ecstasy, but the pain of that separation is endurable only because unity will come again, and soon.
That fracture from the all, that memory of temporal existence, is most easily summed up with the word the fracture was once called by. The name.
The name is spoken by another. Qui-Gon has been summoned. He draws upon his memories of himself and takes shape, reassembling the form he last had in life. It seems to him that he feels flesh wrap around bones, hair and skin over flesh, robes over skin—and then, as naturally to him as though he had done so yesterday, he pulls down the hood of his Jedi cloak and looks upon his Padawan.
“Obi-Wan.” It is worth the travail of individual existence just to say that name again. So he says the other name, too. “Ben.”
Obi-Wan Kenobi’s hair has turned white. Lines have etched their traces along his forehead, around his blue eyes. He wears Jedi robes so worn and ragged as to be indistinguishable from the garb of the impoverished hermit he pretends to be. Most would walk past this man without a second glance. Yet while Qui-Gon perceives the physical realities of Obi-Wan’s appearance, he is not limited to human sight any longer. He also sees the confident general of the Clone Wars, the strong young Padawan who followed his master into battle, even the rebellious little boy at the Temple that no Master was in any hurry to train. They are all equally part of Obi-Wan, each stage of his existence vivid in this moment.
“You are afraid,” Qui-Gon says. He knows why; the events taking place around them are clearer to him than they are to Obi-Wan. “You seek your center. You need balance.”
The living find it difficult not to tell the dead that which they already know. Obi-Wan doesn’t even try. “There may be Imperial stormtroopers waiting for Luke at the Lars farm. If so—”
“Then you will rescue him.” Qui-Gon smiles. “Or he may rescue himself. Or the sister will find the brother instead.”
Obi-Wan cannot be so easily comforted. “Or he could be killed. Cut down while still hardly more than a boy.”
To Qui-Gon, all human lives now seem impossibly brief. Years are irrelevant. It is journeys through the Force that matter. Some must struggle for that knowledge through many decades; others are very nearly born with it. Most never begin the journey at all, no matter how long they live.
But Luke Skywalker . . .
“Luke has a great journey yet to go,” Qui-Gon says. “It does not end here.”
“You’ve seen this?”
Qui-Gon nods. This relieves Obi-Wan more than it should, because he cannot guess the shape that journey will take.
Their surroundings in the physical world become clearer—the endless dunes of Tatooine stretching out in every direction, a smoldering sandcrawler a hulk behind them, a dozen tiny Jawas dead. The memory of their fear and helplessness lances Qui-Gon’s consciousness, as does the meaninglessness of their deaths. Although Obi-Wan has been tending to the bodies, for the moment the Jawas are seen to only by two droids. The droids comfort Qui-Gon somewhat, because they are familiar; the Force has even seen fit to bring these two back to the place where it all began.
Time is a circle. The beginning is the end.
Obi-Wan murmurs, “Bail Organa sent Leia herself to summon me. When I saw her—saw Padmé in her so strongly, and even a little of Anakin, too—I knew my exile was nearly at an end. Would you believe I find it difficult to let it go?”
“You’ve adapted. You’ve had to. No wonder that the desert feels like home to you now, or that being a Jedi Knight has become foreign. But that can change, and faster than you might dream possible.” It will in fact be almost instantaneous, a transformation begun and completed the first time immediate danger beckons again. Qui-Gon looks forward to witnessing it.
“I’ve waited for this day for a very long time,” Obi-Wan says. “So long it feels as though I’ve waited for it my entire life. To have it endangered—now, just as the great work begins—so many factors are in play. The future is difficult to know, even more so than before.”
“Do you truly think your work has only just begun, my Padawan?” They have begun using that title between them again, in recognition of how much more Obi-Wan has yet to learn. It is strange, still, to think of death as only the beginning of wisdom.
Obi-Wan considers. “There were other great endeavors. Other challenges. But the Clone Wars were long ago. For nearly two decades, I have been little more than a shadow waiting to become a Jedi Knight again.”
Qui-Gon shakes his head. Already his physical self feels natural enough to him that he can express thought and emotion through gestures. “Battles and wars aren’t the measure of a Jedi. Anyone can fight, given a weapon and an enemy. Anyone can use a lightsaber, given due training or even good luck. But to stand and wait—to have so much patience and fortitude—that, Obi-Wan, is a greater achievement than you can know. Few could have accomplished it.”
Fewer still could have done so without turning to darkness. Sometimes, when Qui-Gon considers it, he is awed by his student’s steadfastness. Every person Obi-Wan ever truly loved—Anakin, Satine, Padmé, and Qui-Gon himself—came to a terrible end. Three of them died before his eyes; the other fell to a fate so bleak that death would’ve been a gift. The Jedi Order that provided the entire framework for Obi-Wan’s life was consumed by betrayal and slaughter. Every step of this long, unfulfilling journey is one Obi-Wan had to take alone . . . and yet he never faltered. As the rest of the galaxy burned, his path remained true. It is the kind of victory that most people never recognize and yet the bedrock all goodness is built upon.
Even Obi-Wan doesn’t see it. “You see me in a kinder light than most would, old friend.”
“I owe you that. After all, I’m the one who failed you.”
They have never spoken of this, not once in all Qui-Gon’s journeys into the mortal realm to commune with him. This is primarily because Qui-Gon thought his mistakes so wretched, so obvious, that Obi-Wan had wanted to spare him any discussion of it. Yet here, too, he has failed to do his Padawan justice.
“You weren’t ready to be a Jedi Master,” Qui-Gon admits. “You hadn’t even been knighted when I forced you to promise to train Anakin. Teaching a student so powerful, so old, so unused to our ways . . . that might’ve been beyond the reach of the greatest of us. To lay that burden at your feet when you were hardly more than a boy—”
“Anakin became a Jedi Knight,” Obi-Wan interjects, a thread of steel in his voice. “He served valiantly in the Clone Wars. His fall to darkness was more his choice than anyone else’s failure. Yes, I bear some responsibility—and perhaps you do, too—but Anakin had the training and the wisdom to choose a better path. He did not.”
All true. None of it any absolution for Qui-Gon’s own mistakes. But it is Obi-Wan who needs guidance now. These things can be discussed another time, when they’re beyond crude human language.
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I think my biggest complaint is that none of the stories got the time they deserved. In an effort to fit 40 stories in here, almost none of the authors were given the breathing room to really make something out of their idea. Next time, Star Wars, do a proper anthology with normal length stories, please. There are some ideas in this book that are astounding and deserve more attention.
One of the goals of this anthology (I assume) was to allow authors to experiment a bit, and to allow some new authors a crack at the Star Wars universe. Obviously, a lot of how people react to this book is going to depend upon people’s wants and expectations--perhaps more so than a novel. And I totally expect there will be people who strongly disagree with a rating or two (or twenty) of mine. But that’s why it’s MY review and not yours! :)
Since there are 40 stories, rather than listing each story, plus a rating, plus a comment or two, I’ve just grouped them into the following categories that roughly correlate to a five star rating system. Finally, the number in front of each story is the order in which the story appears in the book.
Okay, lot's to review--let's get crackin'!!
Five Stars: The Force is strong with this one.
Translation: The best of the best of the best.
8. “Master and Apprentice”
Thoughts: I always thought that Qui-Gon learning how to manifest as a Force ghost and communicating with Obi-wan was kinda stupid. But it’s excellent stories like this one that are changing my mind.
Thoughts: Wow. The destruction of Alderaan. That was by far the best story I’ve read yet. Well written. A new perspective (but one that dove-tailed nicely on Claudia Gray’s Leia: Princess of Alderaan). Emotional. Characters that sound like and act like adults. Whew. Good stuff.
30. “Time of Death”
Thoughts: I will say this for the editors: they gave all of the important stories to the best writers. Obi-wan has become one of my favorite characters over the years, and this new perspective on his death is death is very touching.
31. “There is Another”
Thoughts: The difference between the bad the stories and the excellent stories in this collection is enormous. Yoda, however, is still very small. I loved this story.
34. “Duty Roster”
Thoughts: There are some stories in this book that I would love to see put to film, big screen or small. This is one of them.
35. “Desert Son”
Thoughts: I always thought Pierce Brown was a bit over-rated (sorry, Pierce). But if he keeps writing like this, I will happily change my tune.
Thoughts: Holy crap, they saved the best for last. These final stories are just so damn fine.
Four Stars: Impressive. Most Impressive.
Translation: An excellent story that is either very well written or that adds something significant to the Star Wars canon. A must read.
6. “The Red One”
Thoughts: I think a lot of readers will say that I’m over-rating this story. Which might be true. But when I read the first few lines, I thought for sure I was going to give this on a Tribbles rating. But dammit, if the author didn’t just write the idea so well, that...droid feels...right here in my chest. Meh idea, but superbly written.
Thoughts: I admit I love this story specifically because I love John Jackson Miller’s Kenobi, and I was very sad to learn that it was not considered canon. However, this short story, which is canon, references very clearly most all of the events in Kenobi...which is about as close to being canon as you can get without “officially” being canon...right? I hope so.
13. “The Kloo Horn Cantina Caper”
Thoughts: Most of the experimental styles in this anthology are pretty bad: here, is a fantastic exception. A bit noir, a bit caper, a bit personality, a bit smug, but a lot of fun, and never overdone.
16. “The Secrets of Long Snoot”
Thoughts: Finally a story with a voice that sounds like it was written by an adult. Tragically, such voice in writing is rare in the Star Wars universe.
23. “Verge of Greatness”
Thoughts: Now THIS is how you get inside someone’s head for a scene that we’ve all already seen in the movie. Also, again, the characters sound like adult (it’s amazing how much that single fact elevates writing…), and the characters have voices that match, well, the characters. Nicely done Mr. Hidalgo.
37. “Contingency Plan”
Thoughts: I know that Star Wars in many ways is supposed to be fun. But Star Wars works best when it’s story and it’s characters are taken seriously. Wonderful story.
Three Stars: Not bad for a little furball.
Translation: A pretty solid story. You should read it.
Thoughts: We look a bit into the head of Captain Antilles, brave leader of of the Tantive IV and soon to be throat-choked by Darth Vader. Interesting story. Not badly written. Doesn’t add much of anything though.
2. “The Bucket”
Thoughts: A nice story about a stormtrooper with a tiny touch of a conscience. And here’s my odd gripe. I know that Disney et al. are trying to humanize the Empire. But you can’t make every stormtrooper and Imperial officer have a guilty conscience. Time to pull back a bit and make some Imperials that passionately believe in what they’re doing.
12. “We Don’t Serve Their Kind Here”
Thoughts: The barkeep’s past was just intriguing enough to make some connections to the Clone Wars without ever becoming melodramatic. Also...is this the third story wherein HAN. SHOT. FIRST...and Han was the ONLY one to shoot? What are you playing at here, Disney? I like it.
Thoughts: A standard, if touching, recording from a dad to a little girl explaining all about the Rebellion should he not live long enough to tell her himself.
25. “The Trigger”
Thoughts: The stormtrooper with a conscience done right. And Dr. Aphra to boot. Not too shabby.
28. “End of Watch”
Thoughts: Ever wonder what was going on at the other end of the line during Han Solo’s “boring conversation anyway”? Now you know.
Thoughts: I’m an English teacher. I’m a total sucker for Ian Doescher’s Star Wars: Verily, a New Hope. And I liked this one too.
Thoughts: You know how you choke up just a bit at the end of Star Wars as each X-wing and Y-wing get’s shot down? This brief, but very nice story, will do the same thing all over again.
38. “The Angle”
Thoughts: Just what the rating says: not bad for a little look into the life and times of Lando Calrissian.
39. “By Whatever Sun”
Thoughts: I’m curious to know just how much Ashley Eckstein contributed to the story. Either way, she and E.K. Johnston make a good team. Nicely done.
Two Stars: It could be worse.
Translation: A very meh, story, but it least it hasn’t sunk so low at to be grabbed by a dianoga and dragged away to the very bottom of the trash compactor. Only read it if the subject matter really interests you.
9. “Beru Whitesun Lars”
Thoughts: Sorry, but the voice doesn’t even remotely match what I think an elderly(ish) woman would sound like.
10. “The Luckless Rodian”
Thoughts: Too short a story. Greedo is kinda a wuss. HOWEVER...Han. Shot. First. BOOM! Does this make it canon? They’re trying, folks.
11. “Not for Nothing”
Thoughts: It’s about this point that I started to think, “I don’t want every character to have a back story,” because now it’s just starting to feel forced. Just let the band play, man.
17. “Born in the Storm”
Thoughts: ...but not by much. Have I mentioned yet that I want come competent Imperials? And that I want them to sound like adults? Yeah, there’s none of that here.
19. “Fully Operational”
Thoughts: Well written, but this is merely an extended scene of the Imperial chiefs of staff meeting with Vader and Tarkin in A New Hope. Nothing new is added.
21.“Change of Heart”
Thoughts: There’s nothing really wrong with this one except, as I’ve already said, someone needed to coordinate these stories better. Way too many of them are way too similar. For my thoughts on this story, see my thoughts from “The Bucket” because they’re basically the same story.
24. “Far too Remote”
Thoughts: I’m not really a good judge of artwork, so…a single-panel cartoon. Cute. And I’m glad it only took up one piece of paper.
29. “The Baptist”
Thoughts: I really struggle with these weird POV stories. I don’t need one about a Jawa, I don’t need one about a mouse droid, and I don’t need one about the dianoga.
Thoughts: The last story of the anthology is a joke. No, seriously, it is--it’s even mildly amusing. Which is fine, but I’d rather they started with it than put it at the very end. It feels really out of place at the end. Please don’t treat Star Wars like a joke, hm.
One Star: Tribbles.
Translation: A story of fluffy crap that feels woefully out of place in this Star Wars book, just like a tribble. No. Stop. Don’t read it. It’s really bad.
3. “The Sith of Datawork”
Thoughts: You know what doesn’t make Star Wars interesting? Even if the concept might be very plausible? Paper work. ‘Nough said.
4. “Stories in the Sand”
Thoughts: I don’t really wanna say why I found it stupid because it’s the whole premise of the story. So. It was just total fluff.
Thoughts: So a Tusken has to steal something from a sandcrawler. Alright. Then what happens? The answer: NOTHING. I literally don’t understand what I’m supposed to get from this story.
14. “Added Muscle”
Thoughts: Aaaaand...this is why I have my “Tribbles” rating. A story off all fluff and no substance. And the Fett dialogue was badly written.
15. “You Owe Me a Ride”
Thoughts: I dunno--maybe the Tribbles rating is a bit harsh, but after reading this dud, I’m forced to echo what a fellow reviewer said: apparently none of the authors coordinated their stories because after this story, I’m pretty sure every damn patron in the cantina is now in someway connected to Han Solo. It’s irritating. The galaxy is huge. It’s okay to have people at a bar, even one in Mos Eisley, who don’t know each other! Also, this is another story where literally nothing of consequence happens. Bad writing.
20. “An Incident Report”
Thoughts: Another whiney Imperial statement. And, really, we’re going accuse Vader of evangelizing? Really?!?! My eyes have never rolled so hard.
26. “Of MSE-6 and Men”
Thoughts: I just...I...what? How is this story a thing?!?! Was it supposed to be funny? Charming? Whitty? Romantic? Because in the end it was a whole lotta nothin’.
Thoughts: I’m being forced to read other reviews in order to come up with new ways to explain things. So yes, I read this somewhere else, but so many of these stories, including this one, just feel like bad fanfic.
Well, that’s it folks. Feel free to tell me in the comments where I’m right (obviously), and where I’m all wrong.
Overall I found the stories to be mildly entertaining.
There are too many pre-cantina Tatooine scenes.
I don't like the representation of Han as an immoral person.
SPOILERS FROM HERE ON DOWN
Raymus: I don't think I ever knew that was Captain Antilles' name.
I wonder why Tatooine was part of the original plan.
The ending is beautiful.
The Bucket: It's interesting to see from the mind of a stormtrooper, especially one who has no real knowledge of Leia. And we get some neat positives about having a bucket head.
The Sith of Datawork: This made me chuckle, a lot. Particularly the Imperial Naval Regulation 132.CAT.ch(22).
Stories in the Sand: This was my first real favorite story. It was beautiful and offered great information on the Jawas. I don't recall such info in Legends. McElroy did a fantastic job here and I have to laud him for this. There's even an appreciation for Tatooine's dunes and sands, which is unique.
I took my time reading this, soaked it up.
Reirin: OK I felt it was stupid that Tuskens would know of Neimodians and Kessel. Tahir didn't write bad; the characterization was not good at all. Plus, with JJM's Tusken story, this wasn't needed. He /gets/ Tuskens more than Tahir does.
Rites: Ah, here is a real Tusken story! I flipping LOVE that JJM included A'Yark, especially with her crystal eye. It made me giddy.
I like A'Koba, even with his arrogance. That's a youth for you.
Master and Apprentice: Oh, this was neat. Qui-Gon! I love that Claudia Gray brought in Obi-Wan's childhood...was that a nod to the <i>Jedi Apprentice</i> series?!
Though, Sabine is mentioned, and not Siri. So maybe not.
The Luckless Rodian: Hm. I don't like how hard Greedo is here. And who is Uncelta? This is another one where the writing wasn't bad, but the characterization seemed too harsh for me.
Not for Nothing: Figrin and the Modal Nodes! I...honestly feel like this is a near-retelling of Legends info, but from a different perspective and a little twist. I like it!
We Don't Serve Their Kind Here: Ugh, Wendig is perfect for a crass story with Wuher. Some of the language and harshness wasn't needed, but that's Wendig for you
Though I grudgingly have to like that he brought in Evazan's alias of Roofoo.
And that Obi-Wan pays for clean water. That was in <i>Kenobi</i>, IIRC.
He also brings in Jerriko, but I like Legends Jerriko better.
Wuher's past is interesting.
and sweet hell, the end. It wasn't needed to add in that the night manager is married to a female. It's not even necessary to say she's married. And this isn't me irritated at Wendig for his same-sex couples; I really like what he had done in "Aftermath." But in a short story, it's his F You to those who grumble against him.
The Kloo Horn Cantina Caper: The Muftak and Kabe were also more fun in Legends, but I liked them here.
It was SO. STUPID. to put in "The A-B-Cs." What the earth?! And clouds of fart?! Ugh. Just ugh. With this one, I liked the characterization and the story around the kloo horn and rent; Talz and math. But the writing was just bad and horribly jarred me out of the 'verse. And it was so bloody long (30 pages for no bloody reason) that it dragged. No other story is this long and it was a pointless one to allow to be so long.
Added Muscle: I had to chuckle at the PT Boba Fett snark.
I don't like that he took his helmet off with Jabba.
You Owe Me a Ride: Meh at the fact that the Tonnika sisters aren't Shada and Karoly. And they're bounty hunters, not con artists. *sighs*
The Secrets of Long Snoot: Oh this was fun, calming, and intriguing.
I forgot about Labria the Devaronian.
Born in the Storm: Holy hell this is worse than Wendig. "Freeze his balls off." "All the sand ever."
That is weird and stupid (yes, I'm using that word), and inane. Daniel Jose Older is...please never hire him again, Del Rey.
Laina: Oh man. This was heartbreaking.
Fully Operational: Well, I can actually empathize with Tagge. It's odd. But it was a GOOD story.
An Incident Report: I have to laugh at this. It's so interesting to see in Motti's mind too!
Change of Heart: Oh, I love this story. I find this so incredibly interesting. I like the silent Imperial's point-of-view and how stoic he must be; how he's able to read Leia because he's projecting his own thoughts on her and yet it's true. He learns to maintain a mask while defying Tarkin and choosing his own form of rebellion.
I must rewatch ANH.
Eclipse: This is beautiful and bittersweet. I love Breha's point of view.
Visaiya is indeed an awesome right hand.
Falena is a beautiful name.
I like that Leia was actually learned in Huttese and Shyriiwook.
The end is heart-wrenching.
Verge of Greatness: Yay, Pablo Hidalgo! And this kind of ties into "Change of Heart" in that we can see how Leia (and Krennic) rankled Tarkin.
We also see how the two men understood each other. And, in a way, underestimated the other.
I liked this one quite a bit.
Far Too Remote: THAT'S IT?! Yes, it's funny, but there should be more!
The Trigger: I found this to be quite cool. And it's Aphra!
This is quite philosophical and thought-provoking
Of MSE-6 and Men: This was so boring. A lot of Luke's lines were quoted but from different characters. And if Tarkin is the one with whom 421 has an affair, then it's triply stupid. And frelling creepy.
(I enjoyed the MSE point of view but that's about it).
End ofWatch: Interesting perspective of a Death Star hangar administrator.
The Baptist: That was weird. Like what was sloughed off Luke? And I kind of felt bad for the dianoga. It's unique and a story I enjoyed more than I expected.
Time of Death: I am glad that this is the first appearance of Neda the eopie because I wasn't sure if she was from <i>Kenobi</i> or not. Though I feel like some of the concepts were taken from that book. If so, then good job by Cavan Scott.
I don't like that it didn't feel like Obi-Wan at first. It was a bit OOC.
There is Another: Bah Yoda and his wanting Leia and continual focus on her. And yet, she is so freaking headstrong that she WOULD have made a great apprentice. This was almost poetic.
Palpatine: Oh this is so much fun, I love Ian Doescher. It makes sense that he'd wonder about the fate of Yoda - and Obi-Wan!
Sparks: Small sparks cause big fires.
I love the analogies and Dex's optimism.
Duty Roster: Jason Fry writing Fake Wedge is phenomenal. Perfect author choice! Col vs. Wedge makes me laugh out loud...and made me think of how others regard Wedge himself in the future (like in the X-Wing series).
I was fascinated and entranced by this. Not just because it's Col's point of view, but because we get to see in the minds of those on Yavin IV. 2nd favorite story.
Desert Son: This is perfectly Pierce Brown. He captures Bigg's mind, and his thoughts of being an 'older brother' to Luke perfectly.
AND THERE IS MENTION OF A DUCK. What's a duck?
Grounded: Is Greg Rucka a pilot (or was he)? He understands them, and their crew, so very well. He brings the reader into a pilot's mind and soul, and mentally exhausted me (not in a bad way, but in a pilot-type way).
I also didn't know that people could be multi-aces (as in, I didn't know there were names like quadruple ace).
I experienced the grief that the Chief, the Fighter Boss, carries with them with each death.
We learn of the harrowing week the Rebels (and the Chief, Nera Kase) had: Eadu, Scarif, Yavin IV.
This is a heavy, very heavy story. It's emotional. We learn of old and new characters, and their flight statuses.
Pastel graffiti, eh? Sabine?
I like the different possible futures that were laid out.
By Whatever Sun: This was decent. I like seeing an understanding of Leia beyond the ice princess persona people place on her.
Whills: That was bloody hilarious.
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