Thursday, February 23, 2012

Review: Heir to the Empire

Heir to the Empire
Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I liked these. Much better quality than you might expect from one of these massive-universe collaborations, and it actually explains a few of the things that don't make much sense in the movies, in a way that doesn't feel too retconny. Some of our old friends are a little static, but Zahn introduces new characters that are interesting and fun. I particularly like Thrawn; in a universe that previously has pretty much been all about the Force and Evil Hooded Badguys Who Kick Puppies For Fun, a character that is smart and insightful and focused on winning not cruelty, but has no ability with the Force at all, is a far more interesting baddie.

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Review: The Book of D'ni

The Book of D'ni
The Book of D'ni by Rand Miller

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had some things to say about this book. Which I probably should have written down. A month ago. When I finished it.

There's a thing that I think of as a sort of Willing Momentum of Belief, which kicks in before conscious suspension of disbelief has to take over, where a character in a story is caught up in a situation where they should be asking questions but don't. Any normal human being in the same situation would ask these questions, but the character doesn't, because that's how they've been written. And because we're just along for the ride - passively looking over the character's shoulder - we don't ask those questions either, even though we would if we were there. I don't mean we ignore the questions; we don't even think to ask them in the first place, out of the sheer momentum of our belief in the character. When its done well, its a great way of covering up plot holes or minor inconsistencies without people even noticing them. The problem is, those things need to _stay_ hidden - the minute you trot it out as a revelation or plot twist later, I find myself looking at it thinking "well duh; I only didn't see that because you hid it from me by not having this otherwise-intelligent character notice it when they should have". And then I'm annoyed, because the author has basically trotted out a plot hole, given it a buff and a coat of gold paint, and expects me to be impressed by it.

I find the less-well-written (to my mind) mysteries fall for this trap a lot, and this book does too.

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