So, I actually finished this book a little while back, but I've been holding myself to my promise to review every book I read, and the only way for me to make an effective review is to not clutter my mind with other books, so I've not read anything for almost a week now, which has been painful, but that's what I get... Anyway...
So, Star Wars Geek, how'd you like...
Star Wars: Shadow Games
Star Wars: Shadow Games is Michael Reaves newest Star Wars collaboration since Death Star[1. Which was a wholly enjoyable read. EDITED the paragraph break here because there was a problem with the footnote mechanism -- Watson].
Shadow Games was co-written with Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff, an author whose name I'd not before heard (though, she's actually a rather impressive person). Prior to reading this, people told me only good things about the book, and I went in with pretty high expectations.
I wasn't disappointed.
Shadow Games is one of the best SW stand alone[2. I'm actually (theoretically) working on a longer piece which talks at length about the differences between Stand Alone fiction and Arc Based fiction in the SW universe, and its effect on the fandom. I enjoy both styles, though they feel different when read, but I know there are some people who lean more one way or the other.] novels I've read in a while, and set in the Rebellion Era, one of my favorite periods. Especially as stand alones do exceedingly well in it.
Shadow Games brings to the fore some areas of SW not previously explored much, such as the existence and function of the entertainment industry, as well as giving us a little more Han Solo and Dash Rendar at their smuggling prime. intrigue, mystery, and fast paced action all find themselves packed between a front and back cover, and the effect is great.
I'd give Shadow Games a 4 out of 5, give this book a read status. It's a great read for the reader fresh to the SW EU, just as well as the old hands, and it'll keep you guessing right up until the end.
(Continued with spoilers after the fold)
So, what was my biggest problem with this novel, you might ask yourself. And this time, it was continuity. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed it thoroughly, but the ending left me with a bit of a nagging feeling.
At the close of the story, we find Dash and Han on Tatooine. They split up, and Dash notices an increased amount of stormtrooper activity, but thinks nothing of it.
Of course, this is the nod and wink that this would be right before the events of Episode IV. Han went to the cantina to meet Chewie, who had been absent from the novel as he was off with his wife, who was giving birth to their son, Lumpy. Presumably, he'll go into the cantina, Chewie will come to him with a job offer, and they'll cart off Ben and Luke.
Unfortunately, Han Solo's adventures are well documented right before the events of Episode IV, in, well, The Han Solo Adventures[3. Not to be confused with the Adventures of Han Solo.] AND The Han Solo Trilogy. Between the two, there's pretty much every moment from Han getting stuck with Chewie to his visit to Chalmun's Cantina and his confrontation with Greedo. The last book of the Han Solo Trilogy (during which, incidentally, the entirety of the trilogy of the Han Solo Adventures takes place), ends with Han being warned that Greedo is looking for him while he walks into the cantina.
And it is perfectly legitimate to ret-con old works with newer ones[4. Though sometimes profoundly offensive, as in the clone wars re-reboot. Grumble.], and there is also the Infinities Universe concept[5. I thoroughly scoured Wookieepedia, and they don't actually have a page which talks about this concept and its usage. The closest analog would be in the EU page itself, which describes levels of cannon and the like.], which says that whenever you have official cannon which disagrees about any given fact or circumstance (for instance, a character dies in one book, but appears in a later one), you consider it an alternate universe and don't trouble yourself too much. (Essentially, this was invented to deal with the first official cannon non-movie star wars novel, Splinter of the Mind's Eye, which has SO MANY continuity errors, which are forgivable, given that at the time it was written, Episode V wasn't even done yet.)
As newer cannon is to be prefered, that makes at least the last book of the Han Solo trilogy infinities universe at best (which technically means is no longer cannon up for grabs to use.).
Of course, the end of the book is more a suggestion of a time than anything else, an increased presence of Stormtroopers doesn't have to mean this is after the Tantive IV was captured, but I have trouble thinking of any other reason why all of a sudden there'd be a big influx of stormies to Tatooine. There is nothing of value there as far as the Empire is concerned, shy of stolen Death Star plans or some such being there.
Now, it is possible (as it has been a few years since I've read those books) that there could possibly be a hint of wiggle room to have Han abscond for a week or two during that time without it really messing things up. I'd like to think as much.
However, the other continuity error that ties into all this is that the book starts with Dash Rendar trying to beat Han's Kessel Run trip of 12 par secs. Something he did right after dumping some spice and heading to Tatooine to run into Greedo.
Still, these are forgivable errors, given that they would probably only stick out to someone with too much time on his hands *coughs* and don't impede the actual reading of the story in any way.
This feels like more of an extended rant than a review, but understand that what I just said sums up all my problems with this book. Essentially just that this clashes a bit with a really old book many of you may never read.
So go check this book out. It's really worth the time :)
-Michael DiTommaso, the Star Wars Geek