I gave qualified, but enthusiastic reviews to both the previous books in the series. The first one because it explored the wider universe and didn’t give much in the way of needless fan service by bringing in swathes of characters from the films; while the second I greatly enjoyed because of the depth Wendig was able to give to those in service to the Empire. They stopped being just jack-booted ciphers for hate and Nazism, and instead became people who believed in their cause as passionately as the rebels believed in theirs.
Well, unfortunately we get to the third book and both things I liked about its predecessors have now gone. There is plenty of Han and Leia action here, which is fine, although I found it a little distracting – as neither quite felt like the same person they did on the big screen. Then elsewhere our various imperials – once rich and depth-filled characters – are now running around on some ill-defined mission of revenge. It’s like the third of the original film trilogy. This one is definitely the worst.
Chuck Wendig has recently been fired by Disney, for various comments on twitter (in the afterward to the first book he actually credits his twitter presence with getting the job, so this is definitely a turnaround). That’s a real shame. Not that I expect to read any more STAR WARS fiction soon anyway, but with Disney buying Fox and becoming an entertainment juggernaut the likes of which the world has never really seen, this homogenisation of voices is a dangerous sign. Creatives are by nature unpredictable and opinionated people, and to get rid of the prickly ones will just leave only the blandest behind. Even if they do occasionally write bloated books and in their spare time engage in twitter wars, the likes of Wendig (and James Gunn) should be kept close and encouraged, as – even if they don’t always succeed – they are capable of brilliance.
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