The new collection of short stories from Disney Lucasfilm Press, Star Wars The Force Awakens: Tales From A Galaxy Far, Far Away Volume I: Aliens, is the work of author Landry Q. Walker, and provides some colorful insights into some of the inhabitants of Jakku, as well as Maz Kanata’s castle. There are six stories in all, with each one presenting a different genre; each individual story is crafted to fit the tone of the specific genre subset, and each is a delightful example of storytelling at its finest. From the old west, to a murder mystery, to a thrilling pirate adventure, and so on, Star Wars The Force Awakens: Tales From A Galaxy Far, Far Away Volume I: Aliens is an entertainment tour de force that will provide hours of enjoyment for fans of storytelling.
Note: Brief spoilers follow.
Each story is more engaging than one might originally suspect; while they do not relate to each other (other than taking place in a shared universe), they all have one thing in common, and that is the way Walker provides six separate captivating page turners. Each story is broken up into chapters, naturally, but each chapter is anywhere from a paragraph to four pages, which makes the 352 pages much less intimidating for the 8-12 age range that the book is geared towards.It’s a great format that is pleasant to digest, and that is appropriate, as it helps create a cinematic pace that many of these stories employ. Respectfully, however, I would disagree with that age range, mostly due to the tone of some of the stories. A closer examination of the six tales follows.
“High Noon on Jakku”
The first story centers on the enigmatic Constable Zuvio, the gray-sknned Kyuzo that was conspicuously absent from the final cut of The Force Awakens, but featured prominently in Force Friday merchandise. I was not sure if this was going to be a story or character that I was interested in, but now I’m sold, thanks to Walker’s characterization. This tale plays out much like a western, as the title might suggest. It centers around a renegade droid, and Zuvio’s somewhat conflicted pursuit of the droid. We learn a lot about Zuvio’s abilities and talents, and I found myself a sudden fan of the character. The tale is structured like a Taraninto western, as far as the chronology of the story, and is captivating, engaging and cool; a nice start to the book.
4 out of 5
“A Recipe For Death”
This is my favorite of the bunch. The protagonist here is Strono Tuggs, a.k.a. “Cookie”, the head chief of Maz Kanata’s castle. The story starts with the ghastly murder (hence my reluctance to recommend this particular story to younger readers) of Tuggs’ curmudgeonly sous chef, Robbs Ely. This leads to an Iron Chef type competition to determine who will replace the recently departed sous chef, with Strono Tuggs playing the role of detective. I won’t reveal the twist here (which was a bit of a letdown, surprisingly), but I will say the search for the murderer is well-conceived and a heck of a lot of fun. This Star Wars whodunit is worth the price of the book alone.
4 1/2 out of 5
“All Creatures Great And Small”
Ever since the J.J. Abrams Force For Change video which showcased that The Force Awakens was going to use practical effects, Bobbajo has installed a sense a child-like wonder in fans. This interest is used to great effect when creating the character of Bobbajo for this short story. This tale reveals that Bobbajo is a storyteller that uses his formidable talents to help ease the anxiety of the town of Reestkii, located 400 kilometers from the Niima Outpost on Jakku.
When a group of slavers arrives with malice in their hearts, Bobbajo tells the residents a tale that will have you looking at a crucial moment in Star Wars in a way you never expected. There are Easter eggs aplenty here, and you will no doubt smile alongside the children Bobbajo seeks to distract, as he seeks to ease their legitimate concerns over the invaders. This is a tale in every sense of the word, which has a bit of fun with canon verses legend. Another gem.
4 out of 5
“The Face Of Evil”
The book quickly turns from an exercise in storytelling to a journey into the macabre, as we transition to Takodana, and Maz Kanata’s castle.. A pair of Frigosian abominations, alongside their companion Drix, work for the seedier denizens of the criminal contingency, as they perform their surgical craft in a manner that hearkens back to Doctor Moreau or the creepier moments of Arsenic and Old Lace. However, none of the Cary Grant charm is here, as the trio works with a criminal named Ryn Biggleston to help her escape capture. It’s creepy and full of irony. It does not not fit my particular taste, but is well done. Fans of the horror genre will feel at home here.
2 1/2 out of 5
Yet again, another shift in genre, as the reader is transported to a Hitchcockian-style love story featuring Jakku’s resident playboy, Unkar Plutt. Jarring, right? But it works rather well. Two of Plutt’s underlings seek to undermine him, and concoct a scheme to steal his massive wealth. It then becomes a game of who is playing who, with some twists and turns added in for good measure. Who knew empathy could exist for some of these characters. You might be surprised.
3 out of 5
“The Crimson Corsair and the Lost Treasure of Count Dooku”
Honestly, could there be a cooler title than “The Crimson Corsair and the Lost Treasure of Count Dooku”? The last story in Star Wars The Force Awakens: Tales From A Galaxy Far, Far Away Volume I: Aliens focuses on Sidon Ithano, known as the Crimson Corsair to many in his circle of pirates, thugs, and criminals. He’s the character (with the oddly shaped red helmet) that Finn was originally going to leave Maz Kanata’s castle with, before Finn came to his senses, and joined the Resistance.
The story is ripe with adventure, as the title suggests. Ithano and his gang journey through the desert planet of Ponemah, to a region known as the Sea of Sand. It is believed that the lost treasure of Count Dooku is hidden here, and there are many interested parties en route. It’s a classic pirate tale that is full of clever twists and humor. At times, it’s downright hilarious, and also features the return of some great characters from the Clone Wars era. It’s a great story to end a great book.
4 1/2 out of 5
Overall, this is the most entertaining piece of Star Wars fiction since Dark Disciple. I truly could not put it down, and can not wait for Volume II. The different genres are presented in a manner that is invigorating, and will surely be a huge hit for Disney Lucasfilm Press.
4 1/2 out of 5
Note: A big thank you to Disney Lucasfilm Press for providing an advanced copy to review!Powered by Sidelines