Star Wars Expanded Universe

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I have grown up loving Star Wars. My older brothers loved it, and I loved it. I have spent my entire life loving it, so when I discovered the Expanded Universe around 1996, I was in heaven. Finally, the stories of my favorite fictional characters were being continued! Unfortunately, to go along with the wonders, there was an equal, or perhaps even greater number of disappointments. Without further beating around the bush, I present my rundown of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, in list form.

Timothy Zahn: He introduced two of my top three favorite Star Wars characters ever. Grand Admiral Thrawn and Mara Jade. The other favorite is obviously Luke Skywalker. Actually, the entire slew of characters that he introduced or gave more of a spotlight to, I really like. With the exception of Borsk Fey’lya. And that’s really not Zahn’s fault, it’s simply the character’s personality, which Zahn does a great job with. His story telling is great, and it is the closest thing to a ‘sucks you in’ movie experience, that I’ve encountered in Star Wars books. Nothing is really unbelievable in his books, though some issues were created when the prequel movies came out, with details on the clone wars and the timing of some events. But I easily ignore those issues, since I easily ignore the prequel movies. Also, keep in mind that Zahn’s characters are pretty much the only ones to have been extensively used in LucasArts video games. Thrawn has a big role in TIE Fighter, while you actually get to play as Mara Jade in Jedi Knight: Mysteries of the Sith. You can also, if you’re tricky, use her in Galactic BattleGrounds. They’re both featured in Rebellion… but then again, so is your grandmother and your neighbor’s dog.

Grand Admiral Thrawn: My third favorite Star Wars character ever. He embodies everything you want in an awesome character. Physically imposing, genius, subtle, polite but vicious, and gets you excited (not necessarily in the pants) whenever he’s back on the page. You never know what’s going to happen next, and you truly believe it’s because he’s THAT unpredictably awesome, and NOT because Zahn can write whatever random stuff he wants. I really wish Zahn would write a series of books following Thrawn’s journey through the Unknown Region and Chiss Territory. I would buy it up in a heart beat.

Mara Jade: She’s beautiful, she’s dangerous, and she is surrounded by mystery. Every bit of page time reveals more of her story, but leaves you asking even more questions about it. She is surrounded by conflict, both internal and external, and that almost always makes for interesting character development.

Floating Hutts with Death Star Plans: Kill it with fire.

Darksaber in General: It was just terrible. I don’t even want to talk about it. A friend made a comment about the “lightsaber shaped death star laser” featured in the book, and that brief description should be enough to turn off anyone from reading it.

The Deep Core: I know the galaxy is big, and the core is dense, but for the love of Yoda, how many secret Imperial superweapons and installations and Admirals are hidden there? I actually really like the Deep Core being used as an Imperial Remnant strong hold, but you’d think they’d get their egos together and organize, instead of one BattleGroup of Imperial Star Destroyers staying hidden for 12 years, while there’s also a Suncrusher hanging out for someone to come pick up, as well as an Eclipse-class Super Star Destroyer, and don’t forget! Five Sovereign-class Super Star Destroyers, all to be revealed at different times. If there was so much hardcore Imperial manpower and metal there, they should’ve been able to crush the Rebellion without so much as a second thought. Also, don’t forget the World Devastators. Whenever some new book is written, the author pulls yet another lost Imperial task force, recon unit, assassin, or superweapon out of the Deep Core. Oh, right. Modified Super Star Destroyer was there as well, that Daala requisitioned.

Incompetent Imperials: Okay. Everything we know about the Empire, says that they recruited only the BEST. Stormtroopers were the cream of the crop, officers were tactically smart and ruthlessly efficient. Flag officers were deserving of their position, and they were at least passable in their duties. Then certain EU books roll around and we have a bunch of chumps leading remaining Imperial groups, acting as Warlords or some such nonsense. Yeah, there’s going to be some opportunistic officers without a doubt, but… they generally still need to be semi-intelligent to pull off their leadership roles. Yet they act totally incompetent in many of these books. They make stupid decisions, that even the reader from the omniscient viewpoint can see as being dumb. They ignore intelligence data, and they are so blinded by hatred of ‘The Rebellion’ that they refuse to accept that the tide has turned, and they need to start engaging in guerrilla warfare, as opposed to immediately launching a full-scare assault that ends up wiping out their entire fleet. I realize that they’re the bad guys and the good guys always win in the end, but still. Give me better Imperial bad guys.

The Corporate Sector: Something that I feel we didn’t see nearly enough of, given the opportunity there. If ever there was a place for an Imperial revolt to take place, it would be there where all this awesome technology is being developed(presumably, at least. We can only assume that the corporations in the corporate sector have research labs there). Or hell, not even an Imperial revolt. General terrorism, wreaking havoc on the galaxy’s materialistic infrastructure and technology base. The Corporate Sector Authority might’ve been able to fend attacks off, but we don’t know, since we don’t really know how strong it was.

“Admiral” Daala: Pretty terrible. Grand Moff Tarkin’s brilliant secret strategist comes out of hiding after…what, ten years? Twelve? Proceeds to shatter an Imperial Remnant task force that included Gilad Pellaeon and a Super Star Destroyer, by showing none of the tactical brilliance that Tarkin supposedly liked. And I don’t think she was actually as good looking as the pages suggested. She had cool ship names, though. I’ll give her that.

write by Roderick

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