Saturday Star Wars: Kanan The Last Padawan – Graphic Novel Review

I read this on the recommendation of a dear friend.

The first volume of Kanan, The Last Padawan is another excellent, heartbreaking story of the Jedi Purge and its consequences on those few padawans that made it through the cracks after Palpatine’s Order 66.

The first issue presents a very classic Clone Wars era story, with Kanan – his real name Caleb – fighting alongside Jedi master, Depa Billaba. I found the character of Billaba captured some of the finest in Jedi philosophy – her questioning the way the Jedi were forced into the command structure of the Republic’s army spoke to me of the underlying tension many of the wisest Jedi felt about their role in the Clone Wars. It reminds me of an older conflict in the universe, the Mandalorian Wars as spoken about in the video game Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II.

The character of Caleb Dune earned my sympathies time and again, in his fight to survive and leave his old self behind, forced to change for survival’s sake. It’s difficult to lose everything the way he does, to suddenly have every belief and creed you’ve held your entire life a threat to your life.

But onto lighter aspects of this first volume – the smuggler Janus Kasmir, the separatist general, I loved everything about both these supporting characters. Especially Kasmir, he had that “rogue with a heart of gold” nailed! *Spoilers* It was painful, though, seeing Caleb break with both of them, feeling he had to keep them safe by breaking the bond between him and them. */Spoilers* Such a funny thing, bonds – we define ourselves by them, but we often seek to break with them when we feel the need for change. Kanan wanted a break away from who he was – he saw that as his only way to survival; and so he did. It’s a small tragedy, but a tragedy nonetheless.

There’s an element that doesn’t quite make sense, now that I’ve thought on it – the two clones, former friends of Caleb and Billaba, doggedly chase the Jedi Padawan without any apparent oversight from Imperial authorities. I’ll chalk this up to the transition period between Republic and Empire but it’s still a crack in what is otherwise excellent storytelling.

I enjoyed Kanan – I loved the art by Pepe Larraz, and writer Greg Weisman does a very good job telling a fine Star Wars story, which offers plenty of context to one of Rebels‘ most likable cast members. My recommendation? If you’re looking for an action-packed story with plenty of fun elements, you can’t go wrong with this. My score for it is 4.25 stars. I will be reading Volume 02 soon!

Giant Days Vol. 02 by John Allison – Graphic Novel Review

If you missed out on my joyful review of the first volume of Giant Days, you can click here.

I barely began my reading of the second volume of the brilliant slice-of-life when already I found myself transformed by it! How, you ask – and I won’t just tell you, I’ll show you!

You see here how one Esther de Groot (my two-dimensional female self) denounces the monstrous injustices of modern, post-industrialist society, a system that seeps away anything and everything unique about human beings! RISE UP MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS, TO BLOODY REVOLUTION. It’s a funny pictury, is wot it is.

What happens in this second volume, then? The girls go to a Christmas prom before leaving for Christmas Break – for those of you unaware, before the corona, we had a little something called trah-veh-ling, I think, it’s been a long time – and off they go, enjoying their break; only, Susan gets in trouble with someone who has a grudge against her. Issue 06 is about the girls finding out just wot has happened to fierce, angry Susan, and, would you know it? Before too long, Esther has to use her drama field, the one we spoke about in the previous review.

Oh, and mustachio man threatens some guys with the most worker class threat I’ve ever read, and I love it.

Did I mention that he and Susan smoosh booties?

Meanwhile, the third one – wot’s her name again? She has a crisis of personality. Or is it a crisis of consistency?

Oh, I got it! It’s Petal.

…No, that doesn’t sound right. Anyway, I have to give it to Tulip here, she steals the show throughout the volume, especially when she transforms into a weird Texan who wants to smoke meats – don’t try that at home, kids, you can’t handle it – after watching plenty of Friday Night Lights. But Daisy’s greatest trait has to be her absolute commitment to whatever metaphor she makes use of:

All is well with Susan and Daisy, even as the two of them face myriad difficulties. At the core, they remain true to themselves.

Esther, however – she gets into a bit of a toxic relationship with a guy in his late 20’s, a TA in her English Lit class. I’ll not get into it, but by the end of it, our goth princess of doom’s got herself sorted, I’d say:

This manic grin’s wot I live for. It was entertaining to see lovey-dovey Esther, quite unhinged, though:

Well, then. This second volume’s got everything the first one had – the cheeky humour, the brilliant characters, the art that never fails to express said characters in ways thrilling and hilarious; in a word, the heart. This is another 5/5 read for me. Get it, read it, laugh your heart out. It’s therapy, and it works wonders.

And now, having pronounced this graphic novel fit to read, I go to my rest.

That’s right, it is!

Traitor’s Blade (The Greatcoats #01) by Sebastian de Castell – Book Review

This review originally appeared over at booknest.eu.

 It’s been months since I read Traitor’s Blade, and after deep consideration, I am ready to set out judgement from on high! Heed my words, all ye who have not read this one:

It’s quite good.

I have The Three Musketeers to blame for my love of swashbuckling tales of heroism, chivalry and political intrigue. Castell’s novel borrows heavily from Dumas’ classic, with its three muske—greatcoats, but it adds a little bit of magic, a dash of despair and misery, and plenty of hilarious, occasionally poignant dialogue. The result is a memorable opening chapter to an ambitious tale I look forward to exploring further.

Falcio val Mond is the First Cantor of the Greatcoats, the leader of a band of warriors meant to impose the King’s justice and hold the people of his realm to higher standards of justice. Only, the King is dead, his head rotting on a spike somewhere, and the Greatcoats are disbanded and loathed by all. I would not blame you if you thought, “Hey! That Falcio fella sure ain’t very good at his job.” I beg your pardon, but he is – you don’t know the half of it, and I am not about to explain it, that’d spoil the surprise! Falcio also happens to be the focalizer of the entire novel, and as the book progresses, both his present and past show us that Falcio is not to be fucked with. Why, oh why, do folks continue to insist that they must fuck with Falcio?

The prose isn’t the kind that’ll make your head spin with the ingenuity of its turns of phrase and complex figurative language – what it is offers plenty of thrills due to memorable sword-buckling, rapier-wielding, arrow-flying action. The other element that makes Castell’s prose memorable is the dialogue, especially between lead characters Falcio, Brasti and Kest. It is crackling, and a constant source of amusement. 

I’m fond of the characters – even the King, whose softness ultimately led to his death, I found myself liking. A minor character, the torturer, deserves commendation – Castell did something interesting there, and though I’ll save you the details, this is a character worth looking out for.

A very solid work on the audiobook by Joe Jameson – at almost thirteen hours, you need a narrator who knows what he’s doing and Jameson is just such a one. He’s got range, manages to give virtually all the cast unique and memorable voices. His voice grips you and doesn’t let go. I honestly couldn’t get enough of him, I must’ve listened through the book in two or three days. Apparently Jameson also does the Broken Empire audiobooks – might be that I’ve found myself a new narrator to look out for!

Five stars for the narration, four stars for the novel itself – I think I’ll bump this down to four stars despite my original rating of it – time gives a bit of perspective on that account, at least. What I didn’t necessarily mind at the time of listening to this, I now see as a lost opportunity – the worldbuilding leaves something to desire, and when I think of sections of the book, I come up blank.

You’ll enjoy this if:

  • You love the Three Musketeers;
  • You’re looking for adventure novels which tap into that delightful “fun dialogue + great action” combo;
  • You’re prone to walking around with the heads of your mortal enemies in sacks without remembering how those heads came to be in said sacks;
  • And more! Prob’ly.

Giant Days Vol. 01 by John Allison – Graphic Novel Review

This is my new comic book addiction, I just know it.

In this slice-of-life, first-year university friends and roommates Susan Ptolemy, Esther de Groot and Daisy Wooton have plenty to teach us about friendship, relationships and comedic timing. Also, holding grudges against moustachioed men.

In this story of doom and wonderful drama, Esther de Groot teaches us how to be goth as fuck.

In this adorable comic book by acclaimed comics creator, reality is rendered in a chortle-inducing way, thanks to likable leads whose vastly different personalities give birth to no end of misadventures. I am 99% sure that Esther is my long-lost, two-dimensional twin sister, with all the doom and gloom I’ve ever had at my disposal, and then some.

Esther is so much fun.

Italian doctors sure haven’t.

SO.

MUCH.

FUN! …And did I mention that she can also infiltrate the middle classes when she’s not busy melodramatically dying of some virus?

Esther is brilliant. Every single panel with her is gold. Ohyesitis! But! And this is real important — Susan and the other one are just as cool!

Okay, almost. I like wotshername, flower girl–Daisy, that’s it!– I like her drug-seeking behaviour. Strong role-models are important in these difficult, divisive times!

I love Polish medicine, too, Daisy. But be careful, once you run out of them–oh, no. Oh, it’s too late, innit?

At least the penguin ain’t talking back, is it?

And Susan?

Susan’s got that sly wit I’m crazy about. She’s the one with her feet firmly parted on the ground, the realist who looks out for her baby girls like a mama pigeon – hah, topical! – and she does a wonderful job of it.

…Most of the time.

It’s remarkably difficult not to fall in love with these three friends – and I, for one, have fallen head over heels for them and their whacky adventures. I’ll be digging into the next several volumes of Gone Days, and with everything else John Allison has done.

Also, the art is ace. Every panel is gorgeous.

I might be using Giant Days to work through some coronavirus-related ennui. Thanks for bearing with me.

Star Wars Sunday: Wot I’ve Got to Catch Up On! Comics and Books!

No matter how widely you read, there’s always new Star Wars titles to check out. I have no ambition of reading all of them; I don’t even have the desire to do so. Not all Star Wars releases are good – something the latest movie has reminded us all too well. But I refuse to dwell on the bad *glares in Mickey Mouse*; instead, I will look to works in the universe which might be worth looking at over the next few weeks!

Star Wars Kanan

I haven’t seen all of Rebels! If that’s not a reason for a black mark in my nerd resume, I don’t know what is. Maybe what I need is a shove…maybe what I need is to read more about one of the show’s main characters – Kanan.

Or maybe I’m going to read this because someone requested that I do, a unique new connection I’ve made, a young personage of unquestionable taste and one with whom I cannot wait to discuss every last page of this.

Dark Disciple by Christie Golden

Asajj Ventress is one of the most memorable characters of the Clone Wars era. Her evolution from Dooku’s apprentice and assassin to a suave bounty hunter should’ve seen its conclusion over an eight-episode arc in the last season arc of the

I was hoping that maybe Disney would animate part of this novel now that they brought back the Clone Wars for one last season but when I found out they would only be doing a 12 (13?) episode run, that hope was quickly dashed. Now that I’m finally catching up to the sixth season of the Clone Wars, the time is right to look to this novel, adapted into a proper story by franchise veteran writer Christie Golden.

Mace Windu: Jedi of the Republic

I’m not sure this title should be on the list.

The reason is, the art of this particular run is beyond bad. Look at Windu’s face in the third panel, in the last panel:

The droid’s fine, I guess…

I’m sorry, but this isn’t stylized, it’s just bad.

That said, I’ve heard the writing isn’t half bad, and I genuinely, unironically think old Mace is a badass – so I might bite the bullet and read through this. Plus, the cover art isn’t half bad:

A few Doctor Aphra Volumes

I love Aphra – even though she doesn’t carry a story as well on her own two feet as when she plays a second fiddle to Vader, this amoral archeologist is one of my favourite post-Disney additions to the universe, and her misadventures are a ceaseless source of entertainment. Last I read about Aphra, she had ended up in a well-guarded Imperial prison; I have to wonder, however will she get out?

This would be a great time to catch up with Aphra, as a brand new ongoing series is set to release anyday now! Or has it released already?

The New Darth Vader Run

Kieron Gillen’s Vader run is my favourite Star Wars comic book ever, closely followed by Soule’s take on the character post-Episode 3. Both were 25-issue runs, both had amazing art and fantastic character moments, and I can’t recommend them enough.

This new run has an intriguing concept – something-something, Vader is working with someone who looks like Padme Amidala – what, why, how?! No clue. I would like to find out, though. Yes, I very much would.

That said, I’m not sold on the interior art – compared with the two previous runs, this one leaves a little something to be desired. I’ve only seen a few pages, but this one will take me some persuadin’.

Which of these are any good? Which suck? Find out over the coming weeks and months, right here, on my Sunday (or Saturday!) Star Wars column!

Vengeance, Bloody Vengeance: Medea by Euripedes (Reading With the Greeks # 01)

I’m making a point of examining the great surviving tragedies of Ancient Greece. The time was right, I knew, when a Signet Classics edition of Euripides: Ten Plays looked at me invitingly from a shelf in the Sofia Airport bookstore this January. It’s a wonderful pocket edition, and it set me back by three euro. My piece of advice? Never miss out on a brand new book full of Ancient Greek goodness for this low a price.

In Medea, the tragic could not be of a more personal nature. This is a tale of a woman scorned, a wife betrayed by the father of her children, for whom she’s spilled the blood of countrymen and kin alike. Medea, child of king Aeëtes of Colchis and granddaughter of Circe, grew up in the territory of present-day Georgia. The easternmost shores of the Black Sea were, to the Hellenistic people, a “wild place” (Paul Roche, Introduction to Medea). Though she bears the blood of the sun god Helios, she is foreign to the inner world of Ancient Greece.

Having taken with Jason and his Argonauts, and aided the hero in his quest, Medea comes to the Hellenistic world proper a barbarian princess. Having butchered her brother and thrown the scraps of his corpse overboard to dissuade Aeëtes from pursuing the Argonauts, she has paid the blood price of loving the hero, Jason:

How dare they do to me what they have done!
O my father, my country, the land I abandoned,
Flagrantly killing my brother!

p.342, Euripides, Ten Plays, Signet Classics

Her rewards seem every inch worth this first blood sacrifice – she is married to the hero, and bears him children, two boys, no doubt a source of pride for any father. At the prologue of the play, the Nurse says about Medea’s role as a wife:

exile though she came
and been in everything Jason’s perfect foil–
in marriage that saving thing:
a woman who does not go against her man.

p. 337

What, to a hero’s ambition and thirst for riches, is a wife who can only offer “in everything [a] perfect foil*”? Jason’s eventual betrayal is designed to further his position – through marriage to princess Glauce of Corinth, he becomes the de facto inheritor of the great Greek kingdom. The beautiful young bride does not hurt, either: “This father does not love his sons. He loves his new wedding bed.”(340)

This is where Euripides’ tragedy picks up at, with Medea furious at the betrayal: “Don’t approach. Beware. Watch out || For her savage mood, destructive spleen; || Yes, and her implaccable will.”(340). The depth of this betrayal has driven her mad, or perhaps the need for recompense has. Looking at her children, hers are the “eyes of a mad bull.” (340)

Soon after the ruler of Corinth, King Creon himself, comes to her doorstep to order her and her sons banished from the kingdom on pain of death. His reason is “Fear…|| I’m afraid you’ll deal my child some lethal blow || … You are a woman of some knowledge || Versed in many unsavory arts.” (346) Medea time and again attempts to earn herself some small respite and eventually wearing him down and earning herself until the following dawn. It is a decision that will cost Creon, as he suspects when he at last takes pity on her:

My soul is not tyrannical enough.
My heart has often let me down . . .
So now, Medea
Though I know I take a false step:
have it your own way.

349

Creon’s hope that a day won’t be enough for the savage sorceress to perpetrate her ill intent against his daughter is foolhardy. Medea says as much once he leaves, in a speech I can only describe as bordering on the gleefuly wicked:

Friends,
I can think of several ways to bring their death about.
Which one shall I choose?
Shall I set their house of honeymoon alight,
or creep into the nuptial bower
and plunge a sharp knife through their innards?

No, there is a surer way,
one more direct;
for which I have a natural bent:
death by poison.
Yes, that is it.

350

Perhaps this is one of those main sources from whom the notion of poison as a woman’s weapon comes from? Certainly, it would make sense, particularly with what Medea tells herself at the end of this lengthy monologue: “Besides, you are a woman: || feeble when it comes to the sublime || marvelously inventive over crime.” (351) It’s a fascinating monologue this early on, one that shows at once the hurt of betrayal, the impish delight at the prospect of vengeance and the marginalised identity of Medea as a woman. I’m partial to these four lines in particular:

See how you are being treated
laughed at by the seed of Sisyphus and Jason:
you, the daughter of a king
and scion of the Sun.

How fucking good is that?! See the wounded pride, see how it urges her on, forces her hand to action like a thorn embedded deep in the heart of a wound. When Jason comes to try and persuade Medea to leave without creating any trouble, it’s like pouring gasoline on that self-same wound.

The scene, in the second episode of the play, is the first thing that’ll come to me whenever I think of gaslighting from now on. Jason explains:

Yet in spite of everything,
and patient to the last with someone I am fond of,
I come, Medea, to do what I can to help.

353

This is unusual cruelty, masked as benevolence. Before these words, Jason blames Medea for her words, tries to shame her, even – but she will neither be shamed or cowed by this oath-breaker:

Monster —
an epiteth too good for you.

This is not courage.
This is not being brave:
to look a victim in the eye whom you’ve betrayed
–somebody you loved–
this is a disease and the foulest that a man can have.

353

But hypocrisy is not so easily cured. Jason, who at one point claims that Medea’s sacrifices are far less compared to what their marriage has given her, eventually takes his leave, having done nothing so much as rekindling Medea’s fury to new heights.

She concocts her plan – the exact way in which she will take the life of Jason’s new bride. But this is too small a price to pay – and here, finally, is revealed the full depth of Medea’s severity:

But now, my whole tone changes:
a sob of pain for the next thing I must do.
I kill my sons–my own–
no one shall snatch them from me.
And when I have desolated Jason’s house beyond recall,
I shall escape from here,
fly from the murder of my little ones,
my mission done.

365

It is an unnatural act, a mother killing her children – yet Medea, in her savagery and her connection to the sun god Helios**, is bound to laws different and more ancient than those of the Ancient Greeks. Natural laws, what professor Daniel N. Pederson calls in his Great Ideas of Philosophy the law of revenge, “when the chthonic gods of the earth held sway…and the pleadings of the heart trump the demands of rationality.” Passion in this extremity is madness to the Ancient Greeks, and to us. To Medea, it is a power she cannot contest. It’s in her blood; the same force that bid her hack her brother to pieces for her lover now sees her commit an even more horrendous act to punish Jason – and, in a twisted way, reclaim her children. I repeat, again: “I kill my sons–my own– || no one shall snatch them from me.”

Medea, then, is aware of the personal cost of vengeance, and willing to pay it. Here is a woman capable of ruthlessness and savagery unimaginable to the Greeks, first stealing the lives of Jason’s new bride Glauce, and of her father Creon (the same Creon of Antigone fame), through deception worthy of the granddaughter of the sea witch Circe. Then, when the time comes to act, Medea has a moment of pure reflection:

The evil that I do, I understand full well.
But a passion drives me greater than my will.
Passion is the curse of man: it wreaks the greatest ill.

One of the greatest tragedies of this play is that this realization changes nothing. Medea goes through with it, her vengeance complete. She stays in Corinth just long enough to see Jason come to grips with her vengeance before flying off on the chariot of Helios, pulled by a pair of dragons, denying the father of their dead children even the last goodbye that comes with burying them. The play closes with the Chorus of Athenian women questioning the will of Zeus, wondering why the Olympians have willed this terrible thing to happen, as a disconsolate Jason walks away.

Medea is one of the tragedies of Ancient Greece in which a woman is imbued with the autonomous power to take her destiny in her own hands and deliver blow after blow to the one that has so abused her. It’s more than just a tale of vengeance in the face of infidelity. Medea doesn’t speak for herself alone – her voice is often the voice of the silent masses of women wronged and oppressed by men:

Of all creatures that can feel and think,
we women are the worst treated things alive.
To begin with,
we bid the highest price in dowries
just to buy some man
to be dictator of our bodies.
How that compounds the wrong!

p. 344-345

Hers is an extreme response brought about by the mute suffering of the many before her, a shout of warning and protest in the face of a time in which women are forced into what Pederson calls “a position of reclusive subservience.” It reflects the understanding of the Greek tragedians about the destructive powers of eros, erotic love; but it offers us also a different reading, one which seems not as alien as it first might.

Thanks for reading my essay! You should, without a doubt, read Medea. Me, I think I’ll tackle The Bacchae next!

*I wonder if the notion of the wife as her husband’s perfect foil is drawn out from the Ancient Greek and/or Platonic notion of man and woman as constitution one whole?
**Though I say “god,” Helios is of the older generation of pre-Olympian gods, the titans.

The Reviews To Come to the Reliquary in April 2020

With everything going on in the world right now, I find myself forced to write something like this in the hopes that I’ll keep to a stringent posting schedule, over here and at booknest.eu both.

Giant Days Vol. 01 by John Allison

This slice of life has a female version of me as one of the leads and I LOVE IT. It’s one of the most enjoyable comic books I’ve come across and an engaging read that lets me unwind. I’ve got thoughts about it, with pictures! It also has the most relevant message I’ve come across in print media regarding this crisis (despite the first volume’s release years ago):

See wot I mean?

Anno Dracula by Kim Newman

This alternate history take on Bram Stoker’s Dracula has no right to be as much fun as it is! What if Van Helsing, Jonathan Harker and co. had failed in their attempt to kill the Wallachian Count? Most of them are now dead, except for John Seward. Meanwhile, Dracula’s plans to spread vampirism have come to fruition, and then some – he is now the Prince Consort of Queen Victoria, and rules over the British Empire with a bloody fist and plenty of impalements.

It’s ridiculous fun in the way only alternate vampire history which manages at once to imitate Victorian literature’s language while being far more engaging.

Ubik by Philip K. Dick

Philip K. Dick’s novels are a guaranteed mind fuck. Don’t look at me like that’s a new piece of information you’re only now finding out about, it’s true! Ubik is about reality and our relationship with it, it’s about its malleability, and it’s the most the author’s tapped into existential horror – at least in my experience. Ubik‘s ending is unsettling and disconcerting to no end; it’s been four months since I was done with it, and yet…there’s no moving past something like that, my friends.

Traitor’s Blade by Sebastian De Castell

I listened to the audiobook version half a year ago and still I’ve not reviewed it! Deep disappointment plagues me over this one; it’s an excellent novel and the adventures of Falcio val Mond and his fellow Greatcoats deserves plenty of wonderful words of praise. It made me feel like I was a kid again, reading my copy of Duma’s The Three Musketeers. No wonder, as it draws inspiration from that timeless classic.

The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman

This novel is less a work of fantasy than a piece of philosophical fiction which makes use of fairy tale and fantasy conceits to great and powerful effect. The references in this book are numerless and run deeper than I’ve the knowledge to appreciate them. Books like this one, I am scared to review.

Carter’s opus is a brilliant work of postmodernist fiction with a powerful feminist message.

Mythos by Stephen Fry

Stephen Fry compared the titan Atlas to a Bulgarian weightlifter. Five out of five.

Blood of Empire

The closing chapter of one of my favourite series – fantastic, but with a rushed climax. I am having difficulty scoring this one.

The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill

I ❤ dragons. I ❤ tea. I </3 society.

2/3?

Good enough!

theartiswonderfulandilovethepremise

Welp, those are the books I’ve read that need reviewing. What about the ones I’ve yet to read? Gulp, there’s a lot of work to be done.

Sunday Star Wars: Kreia, the One-Woman Critique of the Force

Concept art of Kreia.

At the heart of the best-written video game based on the Star Wars universe is Kreia, a complex character who serves to voice criticism against, and complicate, the way we perceive the Force.

Kreia, known also as Darth Traya, was a Jedi Master turned Sith after her exile at the hands of the Jedi Council. Her best-known apprentice is the Jedi Knight Revan who led many Knights to arms in opposition to the Mandalorians in the Mandalorian Wars, circa 5,000 years before the events of the Original Trilogy. Revan is one of dozens of characters who deserve their own posts but we’ll leave him alone for now. Keep your eyes peeled over the next few weeks!

It wasn’t just he amongst Kreia’s apprentices to have left behind the Jedi’s role as peace-keepers in the Galaxy at large. All of her pupils followed, which contributed to the weakening of the Order and its eventual near-destruction, one of the closest times the Jedi have come near extinction. But let’s not open that can of worms either.

Kreia from the KOTORCG (Wookipedia tells me that’s the source)

At the core of Kreia is this: She hates the Force. The notion of it disgusts her. A power that runs through all living things, dictating and influencing their every choice in the search for balance in all things. The Force is destiny, with a will all its own. And isn’t destiny anathema to freedom?

Kreia is a humanist. I just realised this now, and considering the lives lost over her actions, I can see how you would doubt this – but she seeks the death of the Force, the end of its power over all living beings. She seeks to unchain the galaxy from a cyclical struggle between destiny, a fight that’s gone for untold millenia and, as we well know, shall continue to go on and on for millenia yet.

But for all that, this Grey Jedi – for I can think of no one who’d fit the title better than she – still made use of the Force. Was it because she sought to destroy it from within, or did it become a crutch? She herself is uncertain – though I like to think it was the former rather than the latter.

Kreia is the most deliciously complex character in Star Wars, and her role is Socrates-like in KotoR 2. No matter the choices you make she will question you, forcing you – as a character in the game and as a player outside it – to question, in turn, the preconceptions you’ve constructed about the way this universe operates.

Kreia is the reason I fell in love with Star Wars all the more as a teenager, and I bet that if I went back and played it now, I’ll find her even more endearing than before. Props to the amazing Chris Avellone, former lead writer for Obsidian Entertainment, for giving voice to such brilliant, engaging criticism of Star Wars all those years ago. I leave you with this, Kreia’s reason for hating the Force in her own words:

If you enjoyed this, please don’t forget to hit that like button, share the post on your socials and leave a comment to tell me what you think about Kreia! Come to think of it, Kreia wanted to prevent the Sequel Trilogy. #showerthoughts

The Die of Death by Kenneth B. Andersen – Book Review (#TheWrite Reads Blog Tour Edition!)

When I read The Devil’s Apprentice last year, I enjoyed it well enough, though I had a number of issues with some of the prose and saw the revelations coming from a mile away. How does its follow up compare? Read on to find out!

Bored Wallace And Gromit GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

The Die of Death follows up six months after the conclusion of Apprentice. Philip has been marked by his time in Hell – no longer the angelic boy he used to be, our young protagonist has made some new friends. Prone to mischevious behaviour and white lies, Philip is having a grand old time.

That is, until he is struck by lightning and finds himself down the familiar steps to Hell. It’s not there that he’s destined to go, however – because Mortimer, cantankerous old personification of Death that he is, has work for Philip.*

What The Devil’s Apprentice did well, this continues to do in the same vein. A return to Hell makes for plenty of fun, blood-curdling moments but the exploration of both the domain of Death and of Purgatory made for welcome additions to the tapestry of the underworld, or the afterlife, or wot-have-it. The characters remain true to themselves, and all the old, well-established characters make a comeback. They bring with them old friendships and adversarial relations, new revelations of forgotten crimes.

Perhaps what I enjoyed more here than in the previous book of the series has to do with the twists and turns. In Apprentice none of the revelations towards the closing third of the novel surprised me. Die held a few surprises I did not see coming, along with the ones I inferred. It’s a slyer novel than the one before it – and that’s something I can appreciate.

Mortimer, especially – old Death himself started off as someone I disliked and his standing with me only grew worse. Andersen, bless his talented writerly heart, turned it around!

Philip is more interesting by far in this one. The story flows better, the dialogue and prose are stronger. You will be surprised. This one does plenty right, and I’m happy to recommend it to people who enjoyed the previous one and to those who, like me, were on the fence at the prospect of reading the follow-up to the previous one.

My score for The Die of Death is a 4 out of 5 stars. It’s a fun second chapter, and I enjoyed it, and that’s all that matters.

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*Writing a variation of my name this many times makes me a touch more megalomaniacal than usual.

I’m not sure I’ll pick the next one up anytime soon – there’s another blog tour a little while from now, but I’ll admit to some reluctance on my part about participating. A case of oversaturation, perhaps.