Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Two More Reviews

Coming out of the work day today, I expected to finish reading A New Dawn and then to review it for this blog. I was very pleasantly surprised, therefore, to read online that the first regular episode of Rebels was available via iTunes. Because of that unexpected development, I have two reviews to share today.

Star Wars: A New Dawn
I'll start with the novel first, since it acts as a prequel to the TV series. This one particularly intrigued me because it is the first book to be published since Disney's implementation of a new Star Wars publishing canon.

As a quick aside, I have mixed feelings about the relegation of the existing Expanded Universe novels and comics to “Legends” status. Over the past thirty-five years I've spent a lot of time reading EU literature. Some of the books and comics I have really enjoyed. On the other hand, some of them have made me downright angry. When it has come to running Star Wars RPG campaigns, I've decided to cherry-pick the elements that I like, while leaving out those that don't sit well with me. This makes me more willing to accept the change, since it is essentially what the story group is doing as the new EU moves forward.

With that said, I enjoyed A New Dawn. While the plot was rather complicated, and only really became clear late in the book, I enjoyed the characters. I also liked the fact that, with two exceptions, I didn't know who might live or die. The two exceptions are, of course, Hera and Kanan, who I know will survive to star in the new TV series. Other characters were likable, too, but were open to suffering harm since they're not established members of the canon. I also enjoy John Jackson Miller's writing style, along with his approach of focusing on a small part of the galaxy for this story. Most notably, however, was the fact that the action in the story kept it moving; I could easily imagine this novel playing out as an Edge of the Empire session—albeit it complicated one.

Star Wars: Rebels—“Droids in Distress”
I don't think it's a spoiler to mention that two familiar mechanosapients make an appearance in this episode. I also liked the smaller homages to the original trilogy, details such as a familiar model of landspeeder, droids based on Ralph McQuarrie's original sketches, and the fact that Kanan's blaster looks like the one that Kenner packaged with the Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight Outfit action figure. Those details aside, this episode provided an engaging story; more importantly, it also provided interesting character development. We received some insight into Zeb's story, making him more than just the heavy who can tear it up during a brawl.

I also enjoyed the Firefly-esque vibe of how the crew seems to be living. While we know that they're going to fight the good fight, and take it to the Empire, they also need credits with which to feed themselves and keep the Ghost flying. To that end they're looking for jobs, and that adds extra plot hooks. Like the Edge of the Empire core rulebook suggests, it's good to keep the characters hungry.

The series is pretty to see, picking up with a developing style of animation right where Clone Wars ended. Most notably, there's a surprise cameo at the end of the episode which leaves me wondering how this thing is going to develop in the future, and excited to see the possibilities.


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