Guest Review: The Crystal Star (Star Wars) by Vonda McIntyre

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Book Review The Crystal Star (Star Wars) by Vonda McIntyre

Buy this Star Wars Book in paper or elec­tronic copy*

Andrew:
Orig­i­nally pub­lished at: http://www.rancorslovetoread.com/2009/08/andrew.html

1/5 Rancors – Vonda McIntyre has garnered many accolades over the course of her writing career, including the prestigious Hugo and Nebula awards. As such, I can only assume that Ms. McIntyre may have deliberately chosen to write The Crystal Star using simple language and short paragraphs, perhaps targeting a perceived audience of younger children. This book talks down to its reader, most painfully in the very long chapters dealing with the adventures of the Solo children. Names are continuously restated in place of pronouns, as if the reader might not have the attention span to remember which characters are present in a scene. Granted, the storyline does ultimately center around child characters to a large extent, but it feels underserved by being presented as if seen through the eyes of a child.

The events of The Crystal Star revolve around an intriguing area of space in which a white dwarf star is orbiting a black hole and slowly being drawn in by the immense spatial forces at work. Parked near this black hole is Crseih Station, an unpleasant radiation-baked locale used by both the Empire and smuggling groups throughout the decades. Luke Skywalker and Han Solo receive a strange message in an ancient language from Crseih warning of unspecified ominous doings at the station. They set off to investigate, while Princess Leia, currently Head of State of the New Republic, participates in a separate diplomatic mission with the three Solo children in tow. The children are kidnapped and taken aboard a giant worldship owned by Hethrir, a manipulative and cruel Firrerreo (and ex-Procurator of Justice for the Empire) with evil plans for the dozens of Force-sensitive kids he has stolen.

As I mentioned earlier, the Hethrir/children chapters feel interminable and occur too frequently throughout the story. There is a spark of interest in reading about Jacen and Jaina’s attempts to escape, but mostly this storyline just plods along, using very basic dialogue and concepts in an effort to present the story as seen by the children. It’s a fine line to walk, trying to write a child’s POV without coming across as childish, but here it doesn’t work and it certainly seems incongruent with most of the other Star Wars Expanded Universe. Also, Hethrir’s Empire Reborn idea does not have the grandeur or credibility to seem threatening: he’s just not enough of a powerful presence to engender any worry in the reader.

Paling next to Hethrir’s shortcomings as an adversary is the central villain of the book: Waru. Waru is a multi-dimensional slab of quivering meat covered in gold scales. He wishes to consume Force-sensitive children so he can gain enough power to return to his own dimension. Hethrir is helping feed him so he can gain additional power and insight in return. Waru is silly, there’s no two ways about it. In an attempt to make him threatening, Ms. McIntyre pulls one of the favored tricks of the Bantam era of Star Wars novels: she makes Luke weak and stupid. I’ve noticed over several of these books a consistent theme in depicting a laughably weak Luke, presumably in hopes of bolstering the new book-based characters or plots in comparison. The idea that Luke would be screaming at Han about perceived infidelity, generally acting irrationally, and is finally seduced by the promises of a giant gold meat-altar? Ick.

The Crystal Star is not a book I can recommend, except to the most avid Star Wars EU enthusiast.

Buy this Star Wars Book in paper or elec­tronic copy*

David:
Orig­i­nally pub­lished at: http://www.rancorslovetoread.com/2009/08/reading-crystal-star-by-vonda-mcintyre.html

1/5 Rancors – Reading The Crystal Star by Vonda McIntyre led me to wonder how selective the publishing companies were back in the nineties when it came to selecting authors’ works to be issued as official Star Wars novels. This book is simply not up to par. I found it to be a complete mishmash, and I had to force myself to wade through it. First of all, I just do not want to read a book where three-year-old and five-year-old kids have been ripped away from their parents and are in serious trouble. Then the plot of the book wanders all over the place, confusingly strange aliens with Godlike traits play a major role, and the small children lead a miraculous escape from the clutches of the book’s evil genius. Too much of the book is just impossible to accept. Obviously, being a Star Wars fan means a person has to suspend belief in reality as we currently understand it. However, Ms McIntyre goes way too far.

Key plot points – Han and Leia’s twins Jania and Jacen along with their younger brother Anakin are kidnapped. Chewie is seriously injured. Han and Luke have gone off on a guys’ vacation trip. Leia makes an effort to follow the kidnappers’ trail and stumbles onto a group of disabled refugee ships. We also have the charismatic alien Waru and a powerful Imperial officer who wants to restore the Empire. All of this might seem to bode well for a good tale, but it never comes together.

This is also another book in a stream of books that present Luke as a weak, confused character. The popular plot twist fifteen years ago seems to have been for Luke to lose his grasp of the Force. I cannot wait to read once again about Luke’s being a powerful Jedi and dealing with bad guys in an effective manner without whining.

I will give the author credit for making me laugh out loud once. She briefly has an alien described as a hairy being approach Han and beg for money. “Has it got a coin in its pocketses for me?” Then a few lines later the same hairy being says “They’re mine. Mine!” I took this as a tribute to Gollum from The Lord of the Rings. That was good, but not enough. The Crystal Star falls way short.

Buy this Star Wars Book in paper or elec­tronic copy*

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