It happens regularly. Combat Pragmatist : A Stover staple. Continuity Nod : In the Hand of Thrawn Duology, there was a ship called Spirit of Mindor; the name Mindor had been mentioned since as a minor detail in several parts of the EU, and this book was the first to really take note of the world. Which then leaks out of every orifice in his body , turning first Cronal and then his entire ship into stone

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Timothy Zahn got it, Michael Stackpole got it. Greg Keyes understands it. A few others have come close. It shines through in everything he writes. Windu had to struggle with the indoctrination of decades in the Jedi Temple and was unable to face what he discovered.

This time he drug the characters through the hell that the movie only hinted at. We got to see why Anakin changed so suddenly, what Obi-Wan had to face inside his own mind at the betrayal of his closest friend.

When Matthew Stover writes Star Wars he lifts it high above the muck and half-imagined mess that most authors leave it in. His books shine amidst the others. Mindor is a planet in the system where the Empire developed their technology for Interdictor Cruisers, ships that project huge gravity wells used to keep enemy ships from jumping to Hyperspace. The result of all of this gravity research completely destroyed all the planets in the system except for Mindor, leaving a system sized asteroid field around the planet, and Mindor itself completely desolate.

Luke takes a special task force to Mindor to attack a small Imperial base run by a person who calls himself Shadowspawn. Nothing is as it seems and Shadowspawn is a mastermind of deception. Sun Tzu theorizes that the art of war is the art of deception. If that is true then Shadowspawn is a master artist. The characters are beautifully rendered in the text. This is more difficult than you might think, few authors can make Han sound like Han, and Lando sound like Lando.

The plot is intense. At several points throughout the book I found myself thinking that there was no way the characters could get out of the situation they were in. Then it got worse. It always got worse until my stomach was tied in a knot of anticipation and dread. All these things, however, are not what makes this book great.

What makes this book great is that Matthew Stover understands Star Wars and, even more importantly, he understands the Force. Towards the end of the book Luke is speaking with a character who is Force sensitive and very much steeped in the Dark Side of the Force, Kar Vastor. Because unlike the Knights of old This is the Force. There is no light side and dark side, there is the Force, and there are people. It is the people who are evil or good, not the Force. The Jedi of the Old Republic feared the dark more than anything.

It made them seethe with anger. There is no Hate, there is the Force. They feared the dark so much that they denied themselves the opportunity to love, to develop attachments and they hid it behind a veil of false compassion. Send me after Palpatine instead. He has sinned against the Jedi order, he has developed a friendship.

But, despite that friendship, despite fifteen years of fighting side by side Obi-Wan sees no alternative to killing his young friend. So much for the compassion of the Jedi, there is no attempt to help Anakin redeem himself, there is no attempt to understand his feelings.

Once Obi-Wan finds proof that Anakin has turned to the dark side he must be destroyed. There is no question about what is right. You were supposed to destroy the Sith, not join them. The Jedi do not even stop to question and examine the events that led up to this because they are afraid of what they might find — it is their fault.

Anakin is desperate to save Padme, he feels that he cannot live without her and he becomes a shell of his former self when she dies and Palpatine offers that to him — whether truthfully or not remains to be seen. If the Jedi had been willing to listen to Anakin, had paid attention to his problems he could have sought help from them instead of turning to the Sith for answers. Herein lies the key to the Force.

Luke Skywalker, upon hearing that Vader is his father and used to be the great Jedi hero, Anakin Skywalker, does not run off to kill him and destroy the Sith. Instead he goes to Vader, and turns himself in. Luke did not have time for all of the Jedi training that the Knights of old received. Because of that he missed the decades of indoctrinating mantras about compassion, and fear and anger.

He missed the platitudes about the dark side and because of that he outshines those Jedi like the sun outshines the stars. Because he does not fear the dark. He approaches Vader and Palpatine both with no fear. He was trained as a Jedi, he knows that once he turns to the dark side there is no coming back, there is no redemption.

Luke suffers from no such preconceptions. He does not fear it, but neither does he embrace it. There is one other aspect of this book that distinguishes it and makes it great. Luke refuses to kill. This changes the story into a beautiful orchestration of events. Rather than whipping out his lightsaber at the smallest sign of trouble Luke relies on the Force and his own cunning to get him through things that continually escalate until the end.

Few authors can pull off this kind of thing, but Matthew Stover does it beautifully. Despite being deep and intense and brutal, this book is also quite funny. The trio of Han, Leia, and Chewbacca is hard to beat for sarcasm and witty quips. There are even a few section from the point of view of R2-D2 which are quite entertaining. He is a very sarcastic little droid. It is also great to see Lando, back in action and pulling his weight as General Calrissian. This book was powerfully written.

His grasp of who the characters are is exceptional and bested only by the great Timothy Zahn. His understanding of the Force and what it is that makes Luke great is far beyond anything other authors have come close to. It is books like this that have made Star Wars great.


Battle of Mindor

Using the planet Mindor as a base of operations, his shadow stormtroopers committed acts of terrorism and piracy , in addition to wholesale slaughter against worlds allied to the New Republic—the successor to the Alliance to Restore the Republic. Shadowspawn also proclaimed himself as the new Galactic Emperor in attempt to breed fears of an Imperial—and Sith—resurgence. In response to this threat, the New Republic dispatched Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker—now a general —to free the worlds of the Inner Rim that Cronal had conquered, resulting in a protracted and bloody string of battles that left thousands dead. Seeking to lure Skywalker into a trap, Shadowspawn devised a trap for the Jedi by entrenching his forces on Mindor. Skywalker soon attacked the planet with the aid of the other Heroes of Yavin , and the pilots of Rogue Squadron. In the ensuing battle, Shadowspawn inflicted heavy casualties on the Republic and their Mandalorian allies at the expense of the lives of his own men. Rather than facing his foes by himself, he used meltmassif stones to control the minds of Pawns who assumed the role as decoys for the real Cronal.


Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor

In the first installment of the sequel trilogy, The Force Awakens , the opening crawl reveals that Luke Skywalker had mysteriously vanished some time in the thirty years after the destruction of the second Death Star. Luke went into hiding after his nephew and apprentice, Ben Solo, turned to the dark side and was later dubbed Kylo Ren. When Ren killed all of his fellow apprentices and ushered in the despotic reign of the First Order , Luke felt responsible, and disappeared. He then seals himself in his home, refusing to talk with Rey. However, when he sees Chewbacca without Han Solo and that Rey came on the Millennium Falcon, he inquires about what has gone on with his family. Rey asks Luke to train her in the ways of the Force.


Luke Skywalker

Timothy Zahn got it, Michael Stackpole got it. Greg Keyes understands it. A few others have come close. It shines through in everything he writes. Windu had to struggle with the indoctrination of decades in the Jedi Temple and was unable to face what he discovered.



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