Razor’s Edge: Star Wars (Empire and Rebellion)
By Martha Wells; Read by January LaVoy
Publisher: Random House Audio
Publication Date: 24 September 2013
[UNABRIDGED] – 9 hours, 57 minutes
Times are desperate for the Rebel Alliance. Harassment by the Empire and a shortage of vital supplies are hindering completion of a new secret base on the ice planet Hoth. So when Mid Rim merchants offer much-needed materials for sale, Princess Leia Organa and Han Solo lead an Alliance delegation to negotiate a deal.But when treachery forces the rebel ship to flee into territory controlled by pirates, Leia makes a shocking discovery: the fierce marauders come from Leia’s homeworld of Alderaan, recently destroyed by the Death Star. These refugees have turned to pillaging and plundering to survive—and they are in debt to a pirate armada, which will gladly ransom the princess to the vengeful Empire . . . if they find out her true identity.
Struggling with intense feelings of guilt, loyalty, and betrayal, Leia is determined to help her wayward kinspeople, even as Imperial forces are closing in on her own crippled ship. Trapped between lethal cutthroats and brutal oppressors, Leia and Han, along with Luke, Chewbacca, and a battle-ready crew, must defy death—or embrace it—to keep the rebellion alive.
Considering that the Empire is the major force in the galaxy during this time period, I was surprised that they only play a minor part in this story. The Empire is there, but the majority of the story involves a group of pirates. The result is that you have lots of new characters to get to know during a time period when you’d potentially expect to be on more familiar ground. There are so many new characters that when they’re all finally together, Wells has to list all of them to describe who is doing what when the group splits up (this happens a few times and is kind of awkwardly worded). Don’t get me wrong, the book was full of the action and adventure you’d expect from a Star Wars book, it just didn’t really feel like a Star Wars book to me.
There were times in the book that it felt like I was being reminded that this was a Star Wars book – such as random lists of Star Wars races when a group passes by (2 Bith, a Rodian, and an Ithorian…or something like that happened a few times) or describing a messy office as looking like it was hit by an ion cannon (wouldn’t that just short circuit all their electronics? What would that actually look like?). The thing that really got me was that Han suddenly has a satchel he keeps having to grab or secure…is that supposed to be like Indiana Jones constantly having to grab his hat?
So why do they get roped in with these pirates? Now that is a good question. Leia is still coping with the loss of Alderaan and makes some rash/irrational/impulsive decisions based on those feelings. That would be fine except this is the same Leia that stared down Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin and lied to their faces while facing torture…I just didn’t buy that she would irrationally put the hopes of the Rebel Alliance on the line because of the actions of some people from Alderaan.
Overall, I’d say that this book is good for die hard Star Wars fans but not really the casual reader. I’d give a much stronger recommendation for Allegiance by Timothy Zahn since that was a much better ride that fit really well in the same time period.
As for the audio performance, I can’t say I’d give much of a higher recommendation on that part. I’m sure January LaVoy does a great job on other books, but she just didn’t fit this book very well. Every other Star Wars book I’ve listened to did a great job with impersonations of characters we all know but they weren’t very noticeable here. Most of the male characters sounded pretty similar to each other and the female characters’ voices sounded pretty similar to the narration voice.
Star Wars books are also normally known for their effects and music. The production was decent, but there were moments where some sound effects sounded more like a game of Galaga than Star Wars.
Posted by Tom Schreck