This is the first STAR WARS novel I’ve ever read. Not out of any literary snobbery, I have read numerous DOCTOR WHO spin-off books after all, but just because – I guess – I never got around to it.

There are two reasons I’ve jumped into this one as opposed to the (I understand, extremely well regarded) Timothy Zahn books or anything else of the older books.

Firstly, as the whole of that old extended universe which existed in the books passed me by when it was a going concern, it would seem contrary of me to leap into them now. If I hated the new films possibly I would, but I don’t. In fact, I saw THE LAST JEDI the other week and liked it even more the second time. There I said it.

And secondly: I enjoy Chuck Wendig’s online presence and how he’s always up for fighting for his point of view, and generally does it with good humour.

So, I was looking forward to this, and I was not disappointed.

STAR WARS films are sold as big space epics, but generally only centre around the one Skywalker family. If you think about it, they’re big and very small at the same time. But here Wendig pretty much misses out the Skywalkers, making his focus the rest of the universe and how its coping with the fall-out of this father/son battle.

What’s more, he creates really rounded characters – even among the bad guys. Especially among the bad guys. The villains here aren’t just jack-boot wearing Nazi clones. Yes they’re evil, but they are given rationale and proper motives and you come to understand why – in this great intergalactic duel – they think they’re actually the good guys.

And such is the depth of character, the epic scale and such are the new vistas this book opens up, that I found myself a bit annoyed in the end at the presence of Wedge Antilles – Denis Lawson, from the films.

Yes, his character is given more depth than his brief movie cameos, but the very fact of having him on the page seems like a hangover to the films. Wendig has blown open this universe and painted it so big and magnificent, that he should just be allowed to get on with taking his version in new and exciting directions. Using the mythos of STAR WARS, but populating it with new characters and new adventures, all without having to worry about what – say – Wicket the Ewok is up to now.

My debut novel, THE WANNABES – which has been out of print for a little while – is now available for free! A supernatural thriller of beautiful actresses and deadly ambition in London town, it’s well worth your time. You can get your copy here!

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