Book Review – Path of Vengeance

Hello, everyone! Today I’m reviewing Path of Vengeance by Cavan Scott, which is the final book in phase two of Star Wars: The High Republic. I’m a huge fan of this series and have been wanting to get to this book since it first came out back in May. If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out my thoughts on the first book, Path of Deceit, as well.

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Book Review – Cataclysm

Hello, everyone! I feel like it has been forever since I’ve talked about Star Wars or The High Republic, but that ends today. 🙂 I finally finished reading Cataclysm by Lydia Kang, which is the follow-up adult novel to last year’s Convergence by Zoraida Cordova. Based on everything set up in this phase of The High Republic so far and the title of this novel, I expected to be blown away by a heart-pounding climax filled with action, clandestine schemes, and shocking demises. Did this book deliver? Read on to find out!

After the thrilling events of The High Republic: Convergence, the Jedi race to confront the Path of the Open Hand and end the Forever War.
After five years of conflict, the planets Eiram and E’ronoh are on the cusp of real peace. But when news breaks of a disaster at the treaty signing on Jedha, violence reignites on the beleaguered worlds. Together, the royal heirs of both planets—Phan-tu Zenn and Xiri A’lbaran—working alongside the Jedi, have uncovered evidence that the conflict is being orchestrated by outside forces, and all signs point to the mysterious Path of the Open Hand, whom the Jedi also suspect of causing the disaster on Jedha.
With time—and answers—in short supply, the Jedi must divide their focus between helping quell the renewed violence on Eiram and E’ronoh and investigating the Path. Among them is Gella Nattai, who turns to the one person she believes can unravel the mystery but the last person she wants to trust: Axel Greylark. The chancellor’s son, imprisoned for his crimes, has always sought to unburden himself of the weight of his family name. Will he reconcile with the Jedi and aid in their quest for justice and peace, or embrace the Path’s promise of true freedom?
As all roads lead to Dalna, Gella and her allies prepare to take on a foe unlike any they’ve ever faced. And it will take all of their trust in the Force, and in one another, to survive.

I have really enjoyed this phase of the High Republic storytelling, and this book was no exception. I think it may actually be my new favorite book from this era of Star Wars. It had so many great characters and a ton of pulse-pounding action. The vibes of the story actually reminded me quite a bit of The Rising Storm, another of my favorites. So, if you liked that phase one novel, you’ll likely enjoy this one too.

The stories of this phase have been building up to a large confrontation with the Path of the Open Hand, and I’ve been looking forward to learning more about their long-term goals and how they plan to achieve them. There was definitely a confrontation. lol. The back half of the book was a huge battle. The author did a fantastic job of describing the conflict and making it immersive despite having so many POVs to juggle. I also really loved the intrigue and buildup to the battle, maybe even more than the battle itself. That’s one of the things I’ve loved about the Path as a villain. They are secretive and feel like they are constantly in the background pulling the strings when you least expect it. The open warfare was new for them, and while I enjoyed the carnage, I think I preferred the group as a shadowy puppeteer than the arbiters of brute force seen in this book.

There were so many great characters, both returning and new, in this book. Phan-tu and Xiri were back, and I enjoyed seeing their marriage hit its stride despite the speed bumps caused by the unraveling of the peace negotiations. I wish there had been a bit more of them in the book, especially toward the end. The conclusion of the Eiram and E’ronoh conflict got swept aside off page because of everything going on with the battle at Dalna. I understand the decision was probably made for pacing reasons, but it still felt a bit cheap considering this entire phase pretty much revolved around the conflict between the two planets.

Gella and Axel were back, as well. I enjoyed their relationship in Convergence. Gella wanted so badly to trust Axel again despite everything he did. She believed he could be redeemed even though good judgment probably would have deemed otherwise. Axel was still his usual self, a privileged twat you hate to love. lol. He was also conflicted, though. I think deep down he always wanted to do the right thing, but that desire was constantly at war with his selfish nature and his resentment over the death of his father and his mother always prioritizing the galaxy over him. Speaking of his mother, Kyong was one of the breakout stars of this book. She had to come to terms with her failings as a mother and leader and make some really hard choices with huge ramifications.

There were so many other POVs in this book. I’d be here all day if I wrote about each of them. There were plenty of Jedi viewpoints, and I loved getting to see a certain little green someone in action. The youngling of the crew was actually super endearing, as well, and they made a cute duo. A new Path member was introduced. I thought he was a bit one-dimensional and too single-minded in his ambitions, especially when compared to the overarching sinister nature of the Path. I was disappointed that the Mother wasn’t in this story more, and I think using her as the main villain POV would have made more sense. I don’t feel like I learned much about the Path or its long term plan that I didn’t already know. It still feels like there is a lot of story to tell with only one YA book left to go.

Overall, the plot was interesting and exciting with so many gut-wrenching moments. I even shed a tear a few times. The High Republic authors have definitely not shied away from killing off important characters. So, make sure to have the tissues handy if you’re a crier. The story had some head-scratching decisions too, though. For example, why send a message to the prison in the first place if the chancellors didn’t agree to a change in accommodations? Also, what ended up happening with the levelers? They all seemed to magically disappear underground for no particular reason. Maybe there will be some answers to that in the last book. Despite my few qualms with it, I had a great time reading this story, and I’m sure other fans of the High Republic era will too. Therefore, I rate the book 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Book Review – Star Wars: Padawan

Hello there! Today I’m reviewing Padawan by Kiersten White, the most recent addition to the canon Star Wars books published by Disney.

Obi-Wan Kenobi struggles with his place in the Force as a young Padawan in this coming-of-age adventure!

Obi-Wan Kenobi really wants to be a good Padawan. The best Padawan, even. But that’s feeling more and more impossible with his new master, Qui-Gon Jinn. All of Obi-Wan’s friends are off training to be real Jedi, getting mission experience, while he’s still on Coruscant, practicing his forms and sitting in silent contemplation. Ever since Qui-Gon’s former master, Dooku, left the Order, it feels like Qui-Gon has been too busy trying to connect with the Force or arguing with the Jedi Council to properly train his Padawan.

When Obi-Wan finally convinces Qui-Gon to take him on a mission to a remote planet once explored by an ancient Jedi, his master doesn’t show up the morning they are to leave—so Obi-Wan impulsively takes off by himself. Upon arriving on the mysterious, lush planet, he encounters a group of teenagers with no adult supervision—and who all seem to have some connection to the Force. Free from the constraints of the Order, Obi-Wan joins them in their daring adventures, but the Padawan side of him keeps questioning the teens’ strange relationship to the Force, and to the verdant planet around them, and what all of it might mean to his future. Obi-Wan will test the limits of his relationship to the Jedi and to the Force in this exciting, yet soulful exploration of one of Star Wars’ most enduring heroes.

This book had some huge shoes to fill because I loved the Jedi Apprentice series as a child. So, the replacement of those stories with something new was always going to be a hard sell for me given the nostalgia factor of that series. However, I was pleasantly surprised by this book and enjoyed it quite a bit more than I anticipated.

Overall, it was a fun coming-of-age story for Obi-Wan. I was surprised at first by how anxious and afraid of failure this portrayal made him, but it worked really well for his age at the time and the scenario he experienced over the course of the story. He struggled to find his place within the Jedi order and overcompensated for his fear of failure by sticking rigidly to rules and trying to control everything. This unexpected adventure helped him learn to be present in the moment and trust in the force. There were interesting parallels between him and Anakin, and I could definitely see how some of Kenobi’s personality in the future could be rooted in the lessons he learned from his experiences in this story.

I really loved the setting for the story, as well. The ecosystem of the planet was fascinating and worked really well as a metaphor for the balance necessary for nature to thrive and the threat that uncontrolled human consumption has on that balance. Other relevant and timely themes were also explored in the story, including the potentially harmful effects of reliance upon tradition despite evidence to the contrary and the destructive nature of fear, greed, and lust for power. I also really liked the queer rep in the book and thought it was incorporated in a way that was perfect for these characters and their unique situation.

There was only one thing I wish this book had more of: Qui-Gon. He’s in a few scenes, and there was a ton of Obi-Wan contemplating the rocky start to his relationship with his master. However, Qui-Gon was missing from most of the book. I’m not gonna lie. I was a bit disappointed that the two of them didn’t go on this adventure together, but I’m not sure it would have worked out the same way or had the necessary impact on Obi-Wan if they had been together. So, I get why he was absent, but now I really want another story of the two of them together.

In conclusion, this was a fun coming-of-age romp where Obi-Wan had to find the balance within himself to overcome his fear of failing at the Jedi path. It had an interesting setting and compelling themes, but it didn’t quite give me everything I wanted from an Obi-Wan padawan story. Therefore, I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Mini Book Review – Victory’s Price

Hello, everyone! Today I’m reviewing the final installment of the Alphabet Squadron trilogy, Victory’s Price by Alexander Freed. I’ve had this one on my shelf for over a year, and it was on two different TBRs last year. I never got to it, though. So, I’m happy to have finally gotten around to it and finished off this trilogy.

The aces of the New Republic have one final chance to defeat the darkness of Shadow Wing in this thrilling conclusion to the Star Wars: Alphabet Squadron trilogy!

In the wake of Yrica Quell’s shocking decision—and one of the fiercest battles of their lives—the remnants of Alphabet Squadron seek answers and closure across a galaxy whose old war scars are threatening to reopen.

Soran Keize has returned to the tip of Shadow Wing’s spear. Operation Cinder, the terrifying protocol of planetary extermination that began in the twilight of the Imperial era, burns throughout the galaxy. Shadow Wing is no longer wounded prey fleeing the hunters of the New Republic. With its leader, its strength has returned, and its Star Destroyers and TIE squadrons lurk in the darkness between stars, carrying out the fallen Emperor’s final edict of destruction—as well as another, stranger mission, one Keize has championed not for the dying Empire, but for its loyal soldiers.

Alphabet Squadron’s ships are as ramshackle and damaged as their spirits, but they’ve always had one another. Now, as they face the might of Keize’s reborn juggernaut, they aren’t sure they even have that. How do you catch a shadow? How do you kill it? And when you’re finally victorious, who pays the price?

I haven’t always been the biggest fan of this series or of Freed’s dense narrative style, but I really enjoyed this book. I was surprised by how much I’ve come to care for these characters after feeling rather apathetic about the first book. Each of them had really great arcs in this story with a mix of many bad ass and emotional moments. I particularly liked all the Hera Syndulla content, and I think the author completely captured her essence. As always, Freed did a fantastic job of creating immersive space battle scenes that had me on the edge of my seat. There was lots of action throughout the book, and the pace kept things pretty intense. However, there were also plenty of great quieter moments between the characters, which gave this book a nice balance. I liked the focus on the New Republic and its struggle to gain control without resorting to becoming like the Empire. It explored the ongoing war in a way that wasn’t black and white while illustrating the humanity of both sides. This was definitely an interesting and tumultuous time period for the Star Wars galaxy, and I hope to see even more content from this era in the future. Overall, this book was an excellent conclusion that has shifted my feelings for the series in a more positive direction. Therefore, I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars.

Audiobook ARC Review – Queen’s Hope

I have been waiting on this book for what seems like forever! It was originally scheduled to be released last year, but the publication date got pushed back. I requested the audiobook through NetGalley a couple months ago and had honestly given up on it. Then Disney came through for me, and I almost yelped with excitement upon getting my approval email. 🙂 I dropped everything, downloaded the audiobook, and listened to the entire thing in one afternoon. Did it live up to my very high expectations? Read below to find out!

Padmé is adjusting to being a wartime senator during the Clone Wars. Her secret husband, Anakin Skywalker, is off fighting the war, and excels at being a wartime Jedi. In contrast, when Padmé gets the opportunity to see the casualties on the war-torn front lines, she is horrified. The stakes have never been higher for the galaxy, or for the newly-married couple.

Meanwhile, with Padmé on a secret mission, her handmaiden Sabé steps into the role of Senator Amidala, something no handmaiden has done for an extended period of time. While in the Senate, Sabé is equally horrified by the machinations that happen there. She comes face to face with a gut-wrenching decision as she realizes that she cannot fight a war this way, not even for Padmé.

And Chancellor Palpatine hovers over it all, manipulating the players to his own ends…

***Thank you to NetGalley and Disney Publishing for providing a copy of the audiobook. My review contains my honest thoughts about my reading experience.***

I love PadmĂ©. She is one of my favorite characters from Star Wars. So, to say I was excited about this finale to her book trilogy would be a massive understatement. This author has done a fabulous job in the past of capturing the essence of PadmĂ© with her words, and this book was no exception to that. I’ve always wondered about why PadmĂ© chose to be with Anakin given his cringeworthy attempts at romance in Attack of the Clones, and this story satisfied that curiosity. It provided a window into PadmĂ©’s mind before, during, and right after her wedding to Anakin, and I found the explanation for her decisions/feelings regarding their relationship to work well and make sense. I loved the snippets of Anakin and PadmĂ© being happy in love and at peace in each other’s presence, and they felt bittersweet knowing how their relationship would ultimately end in tragedy. The stories of the handmaidens also continued in this book, and I enjoyed seeing their growth as they stepped out of the shadow of Amidala. The relationship between PadmĂ© and SabĂ© was just as central to this story as the relationship between PadmĂ© and Anakin, and it highlighted just how much the two women have changed over the course of this trilogy of books as their found family has splintered to some degree as they have all grown up. The plot of the book felt inconsequential compared to the characterizations and relationships, but I did still enjoy it. It had a Clone Wars feel to it that kept my interest. I was floored whenever I realized it was PadmĂ© herself, or at least the voice actress who played her in the Clone Wars, narrating the audiobook. I didn’t know that prior to starting it, and it added another layer of awesomeness to the experience. Music and background noises were also inserted throughout the narration, and it really made the story come to life in a way that felt genuinely like Star Wars. I honestly cannot recommend this audiobook enough to all fans of PadmĂ©, The Clone Wars, and the prequel era of Star Wars. It was a short listen and will likely be one I revisit again many times in the future. Therefore, I rate it 5 out of 5 super biased stars. lol.