Star Wars – Empire and Rebellion: Razor’s Edge by Martha Wells – Advance Review [Bane of Kings]

Razor's Edge

Milo, aka “Bane of Kings” reviews Razor’s Edge by Martha Wells, the first novel in the multi-authored Empire and Rebellion series set inbetween the events of Episodes IV and V in the Star Wars saga. You can look out for this book on the 24th September, published by LucasBooks. 

“An excellent read. Martha Wells gets the Star Wars franchise back on track – a lot of fun is to be had here with a great focus on Princess Leia, making Razor’s Edge a book that fans will love.” ~Bane of Kings, The Founding Fields

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.

I went into Razor’s Edge with a lot of high hopes. Whilst I haven’t read any of Martha Wells’ non-Star Wars fiction, I understand she’s a highly praised author whose work I’ve been meaning to check out for a while now. Thus a Star Wars novel from her, and not just any Star Wars novel, but a book set inbetween the events of Episodes IV and V, my favourite two movies of the saga to date, focusing on my favourite characters of the franchise, Han and Leia, who are also among my favourite all-time favourite characters. Whilst Luke does play a role, it isn’t really as big as I had expected, and was actually quite surprised. However, his impact in the book is certainly felt, just as much as Han’s. However, both aren’t nearly given as much attention as Leia, who dominates the main point of view and is portrayed like the other two perfectly well, never once floating out of character, and Wells gets the characters just as well as the likes of John Jackson Miller and James Luceno or any other A-List Star Wars author, with her first novel for the franchise. (I’d throw Timothy Zahn in there as well, but I haven’t actually read any of his work yet). An amusing moment in the book came from the banter between Han and Leia, when they aren’t ready to admit that they’re attracted to another just yet, proving that the book doesn’t fall into the trap of being too grimdark, with some nice elements of humour splattered across the pages.

Razor's EdgeThe plot itself is pretty action packed and as unpredictable as a novel featuring characters from the films set in a period between the actual films can be – no matter what danger the three lead characters (and the rest of the characters such as Chewbacca and C3PO) find themselves in, we know they’ll make it out alive. However, the same cannot be said for any other character though – Wells does her best to make the book as unpredictable as ever, and even the outcome of the plot can be unpredictable in places. Action is used well, but don’t mistake this for a book filled with nothing but the shooting of blasters and the swinging of Luke’s lightsaber – and to Wells’ credit as an experienced author, she never manages to make the book feel like it’s moving slower during the non-action sequences, with the pacing nailed pretty much spot on.

If you think female characters are unappreciated in the Star Wars Universe, then you should look no further than Razor’s Edge. Wells not only offers a strong portrayal of Princess Leia, but deals with several other interesting female characters to boot that make the book much more engaging. As well as exploring the state of the Rebellion following the events of Episode IV (hint: It’s not a good one, despite their victory over the Empire in the Battle of Yavin), touching upon just how vital pretty much every mission has become for them. Other factions are explored too, but for a book in a series entitled Empire and Rebellion, it is almost surprising as to a relatively minor role that the Empire play in this book. But their presence certainly is felt, and whilst characters from that faction may not get as much page-time or focus as our main protagonists do, and they play a much bigger role in the book later on. Another element that Wells chooses to explore as well is what happened to the survivors of Alderaan, because even though the planet got wiped out, there was no possible way that Leia could have been the only person who wasn’t actually on the planet at the time. This nice touch allows for a few interesting aspects to come into play – particularly when you consider that her fellow people are now working as pirates in order to survive.

I think it’s safe to say that Razor’s Edge therefore, is a success. Martha Wells succeeds in sticking to canon, getting everybody in character throughout the book and bringing a great, well-paced read that sees the Empire and Rebellion series get off to a very strong start. Rest assured, if you’re a fan of the franchise – Martha Wells’ first outing is one that you won’t want to miss out on, and I eagerly await the next instalment in the Empire and Rebellion series, written by James S.A. Corey. 

VERDICT: 4/5

PREVIOUS STAR WARS BOOK: Splinter of the Mind’s Eye by Alan Dean Foster | NEXT STAR WARS BOOK: Empire and Rebellion #2Honour Among Thieves by James S.A. Corey (2014)

Milo, aka Bane of Kings, is a SFF/Comic reader, and watches a lot of TV. His favourite authors are Neil Gaiman, China Mieville, Jim Butcher, Brandon Sanderson & Iain M. Banks, whilst his favourite TV shows are Battlestar Galactica (2003), Person Of Interest, Firefly, Game of Thrones, & Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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