Monday, 20 December 2010

Betrayal (Star Wars: Legacy of the Force - Book One)

Betrayal (Star Wars: Legacy of the Force, Book 1)Title: Betrayal
Author: Aaron Allston
Superseries: Star Wars
Series: Legacy of the Force (NB: not all by Aaron Allston)
Succeeded By: Bloodlines, by Karen Traviss


Score: 10/10
How likely I am to read the next in the Series: Added to my Christmas list already!


I loved the star wars films. From the first time I saw them they were my three favourite films. Then they made three more! Six fantastic movies (let's pretend Episode III was as good as the others). But then I discovered the Expanded Universe, and that's what really makes star wars. And this book is a perfect example.

I know that there are many people, some in my own family, who reject the expanded universe as not being "proper Star Wars". This isn't true. According to Aaron Allston's website, not just anyone can write a star wars novel. They are approached and asked if they would write a novel, and their ideas are closely scrutinised by LucasBooks to ensure they work with the star wars universe. The people who MADE "Proper Star Wars" approve them. Not sure if George Lucas reads them, he's probably too busy with the expanded universe TV series he's reportedly planning. I wonder if they'll be considered "proper star wars"?

Either way, whether you like the idea of the expanded universe or not, it exists, and utilises many famous and/or well-talented authors. Aaron Allston is one of them. This first book in the Legacy of the Force series is a fantastic introduction to a series, and a highly addictive novel. I won't call it a page-turner as I listened to the audiobook (more on that later), but whatever the equivalent is, this book has it.

The story has a basic premise of one government (Corellia - Han Solo's home planet) causing problems for a joint-government by not following the rules. The Jedi, as a peace-keeping force, get involved (Yes! Lightsabers!) and inevitably the dark side is discovered to be involved. The story is mainly about Jacen Solo and his investigations into the dark side presence, but Han and Leia allow Allston to add political intrigue into the book, and Luke and Jaina Solo get some X-Wing action as well. It's Han and Leia's involvement that I really enjoyed in the book though. As good as the dark side and space battles are, the politics is written expertly.

Han Solo, caught between supporting his homeworld and the Galactic Alliance, is written beautifully, as is Leia, as they weave through the plotting and intrigue of beauracracy between the warring opponents. The political situation is a s realistic as if it were being broadcast on television in reality, but on a larger scale. I find that the best books, Sci-fi or fantasy are those that have well written politics, which is something that even the original six stories lack (It IS kind of the backdrop of episodes II and III, but they're mainly about killing the bad guys).

I am reviewing this from an Audiobook version of the novel. I'm not sure that this makes it a fair review in comparison to my others or not. But I don't intend to do it again. That's not to say the audiobook was bad! In fact, there were some very distinct advantages to the audiobook. The Star Wars theme at the beginning is obvious, and gets you into the right mood. The woman who says where the chapter is set is amazing (I will forever read "Coronet, Corellia" in her voice), and the hum of lightsabers is fantastic. There are so many elements that the audiobook has that the book doesn't. Including music. It's not always there, but hearing the expertly chosen music as Jacen encounters the Sith, for example, throws the experience of the expanded universe into a completely new dimension.

But there is one disadvantage to this format. I read at a rate of roughly 130 pages per hour, if I enjoy what I'm reading. That would be between three and four hours to read the book. The Audiobook was 6 and a half hours. Twice as long. And it was a shortened version. The latter is why I won't use audiobooks much in future. They miss things out. Probably unimportant things, but the principle is still there.

This is a fantastic story. Some knowledge of the Expanded Universe would be useful, but not necessary (If you don't know who Jacen and Jaina are for example, it soon becomes apparent). Knowledge, however small, of the original star wars trilogy is essential (If you don't know who Han Solo is, Watch the films! - and this is the one occasion I would recommend the films over the books).

But I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed the films, It's one of the best Expanded Universe books that I've read, and while I wouldn't suggest it as an introduction to the expanded universe (A few stand-alone novels would be better), it wouldn't be out of place on any Sci-fi/fantasy lovers bookshelf. I don't know whether to recommend the audiobook or the written novel as the sound-effects add a lot to the story, but takes more time. For a slower reader, get the audio book. It's incredible. For the fast reader, get the book. Medium reader? Get both! In any case - get this book!

Wishful Thinking: Maybe the e-book format will soon allow the woman to say "Coronet, Corellia" when you start that chapter...

More Information

Main Protagonist(s): Male: Han, Luke, Jacen, Ben      Female: Leia, Jaina
Main Antagonist(s): Awkward Question. - It's a war - Many.
Main Relationships: Heterosexual
Genre: Sci-fi
Brief Synopsis: Given in review

ISBN: 978-0099491163
Amazon Link: Betrayal (Star Wars: Legacy of the Force, Book 1)
Pages: 496
First Published: 5 April 2007
Publisher: Arrow

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