Star Wars: Crucible by Troy Denning – Advance Review [Bane of Kings]
Bane of Kings writes an Advance Review of the upcoming Crucible by Troy Denning, published by Del Ray Books with a release date of July 9 2013.
“A fun, fast paced take on some of Star Wars’ most iconic characters.” ~The Founding Fields
Despite all the Star Wars novels I’ve read, I still consider myself fairly new to the Expanded Universe. I’ve never read The Thrawn Trilogy by Timothy Zahn, and I’ve only read a couple of novels set post Return of the Jedi. That means missing out on The New Jedi Order series, and more, and I was a bit unsure about how much Cruicible would expand on past continuity on those novels. Would it be another Star Wars book that I didn’t understand due to the fact I haven’t read a lot in the universe? (See The Lost Tribe of the Sith – Spiral), or would be a standalone book with a few characters in the expanded universe, such as the descendants of Luke and the gang, thrown in. As it turns out, whilst the book’s main focus lies on Han, Lando, Luke and Leia, we still get appearances from characters like Ben Skywalker and Jania Solo, despite the fact that the main focus is on the original three protagonists.
Han Solo, Leia Organa Solo, and Luke Skywalker return in an all-new Star Wars adventure, which will challenge them in ways they never expected—and forever alter their understanding of life and the Force.
When Han and Leia Solo arrive at Lando Calrissian’s Outer Rim mining operation to help him thwart a hostile takeover, their aim is just to even up the odds and lay down the law. Then monstrous aliens arrive with a message, and mere threats escalate into violent sabotage with mass fatalities. When the dust settles, what began as corporate warfare becomes a battle with much higher stakes—and far deadlier consequences.
Now Han, Leia, and Luke team up once again in a quest to defeat a dangerous adversary bent on galaxy-wide domination. Only this time, the Empire is not the enemy. It is a pair of ruthless geniuses with a lethal ally and a lifelong vendetta against Han Solo. They will stop at nothing to control the lucrative Outer Rim mining trade—and ultimately the entire galactic economy. And when the murderous duo gets the drop on Han, he finds himself outgunned in the fight of his life. To save him, and the galaxy, Luke and Leia must brave a gauntlet of treachery, terrorism, and the untold power of an enigmatic artifact capable of bending space, time, and even the Force itself into an apocalyptic nightmare.
The action in Crucible is pretty entertaining. It’s a lot of fun to read, which is what I think a Star Wars novel should be. I know major Star Wars characters have been killed off in the past, case in point, Chewbacca, whose death I believe came in Vector Prime, a novel that I still haven’t read, but there was never any point during this novel where I felt that the characters that we’d grown to know and love would actually die, despite the constant level of threat applied to them.
The book, according to the Goodreads reviews, takes place after Fate of the Jedi and sets up presumably the next arc in the Star Wars series, if indeed, there will be one given the Disney takeover. The cast is quite small and focused, allowing for a smaller scale conflict and a tightly-packed read. Denning certainly delivers when he’s writing action, and the fast, page-turning writing really make Crucible entertaining. However, the book isn’t without its flaws though, and there are several things that you need to watch out for,
Firstly, the plot has lots of holes in it, one of the issues presented here is that the genius bad guy doesn’t end up being as intelligent as the character is presented as, completely robbing them of any credibility. They pretty much were beaten constantly right the way through the novel by our heroes, despite the fact that Han gets into some sticky situations.
Whilst I understood who the main characters were and had a larger sense of what was happening than with Spiral, I still couldn’t shake the feeling that perhaps I jumped into the deep end here and should be better off going back and reading through as much as the Expanded Universe novels as I can before delving into any books that are released that have been set following this. Some parts were confusing and others were left wanting me to work out how the characters had got to where they are now. I know the rough idea of what happens in the Star Wars Universe, but I would love to read what things they undertake in order to get to that point. There are also a lot of movie references in Crucible, right from the beginning where we find ourselves in a bar that reminds the characters involved of Mos Eisley. It’s a nod to the continuity, but do we really need to have that reference there? I could have certainly lived without it.
The best bit about this novel is probably seeing Luke, Han, Leia and Lando back in action as a team, and the action that they find themselves in throughout the book. Don’t expect anything too groundbreaking, for this novel is not a must read and it certainly isn’t the best jumping on point for a Star Wars book. But it’s fun, pacey and entertaining, basically filling the SW-tie in version of a Summer Movie Blockbuster.
PREVIOUS STAR WARS NOVEL: X-Wing: Mercy Kill by Aaron Allston