Sci-Fi Review: ‘Star Wars: Razor’s Edge’ by Martha Wells

The basic background.  It is Star Wars,  Leia is the protagonist, with Han and Luke taking role of support characters.  Set after A New Hope the rebels are trying to set up their new base on Hoth.  A supply deal is derailed by pirates.  From there, Star Wars stuff, only from Leia’s perspective.  Run, get captured, meet some Imperials, find the mole.  You know, Star Wars stuff?

Well look at that.  A few months back I wrote a small post about the horrendous state of the Star Wars Expanded Universe.  I had a great many complaints.  I was tired of seeing every book dealing with a new threat to the entire galaxy, bigger and scarier than the last!  I was tired of every book involving every single character; it was unrealistic and made the galaxy seem very, very small.  And as a person who wants to know how every story ends I was damn tired of reading horrible books because they held important info for the book I actually want to read.

And even though Razor’s Edge was already in development when I wrote that little post (it was probably already at the printers), I am going to pretend that the publisher read my post and rushed to it Martha Wells.  Because this book is everything I want in a new Star Wars book; in fact I think I may be in love.

Let’s go through it shall we?

1.  Smaller scale conflict – Holy mother of god, it turns out a good Star Wars book can involve nothing at all that is capable of destroying a planet, take over the galaxy, or even destroy it.  In fact if Leia fails in her mission it won’t even spell the end of the rebellion, just a major setback.  It is more believable and just as exciting.  It didn’t require an ever escalating sense of danger.  The threat never got so insane as to go over to silly.  I have always judged Star Wars books on whether or not they would work as a book without the setting behind them.  Razor’s Edge would be an interesting James Bond (Jane Bond?) in space adventure.  It passes this test with flying colors.

2.  Smaller cast- Sure the book has the big three (Han, Luke, Leia for those non SW geeks).  But they are all working toward the same goal from the start, rather than brought together by an increasing number of unbelievable coincidences.  And there was none of the “bring in Lando, and Wedge, and Ackbar, and..and..and..” that plagues so many EU books.

3. Prerequisite reading – NONE!  Oh, you could read the horrible novelization of A New Hope if you want but let’s be honest, if you have not watched Star Wars you’re not picking up EU books.  Chances are you can recite the movie by heart.  So you are not going to have any problem with this book.  Ironically the real reason I read this book was so I was ready for the Star Wars novel coming out by Daniel Abraham.  Now I feel Abraham and his partner have go their work cut out for them to match this one in quality.

So the book’s setup is everything I hoped for, but I forgot to talk about the book itself.  Sorry, got a little excited.

Wells is obviously a talented writer, though in the past I have personally had a hard time getting into her books for various reasons.  No issues this time, she had a quick pace that books like this require and did all the little things right.  Leia and Han had some great give and take.  The background cast had a bit more depth than a typical SW book.  Some minor prodding at tropes made me smile without going out of its way to be subversive.  (I particularly liked the doubting of an origin story, how could names of obscure systems stay true for thousands of years)?

So who would like this book?  I put it in the must read for fans of the EU.  It should appeal to fans of light sci-fi as it focus much more on the adventure and much less on the mystical jedi stuff (this is pre Luke meeting Yoda, the most we see is some feelings of intuition).  And maybe even anyone else looking for a quick read, there is a reason Wells is so respected; just because it is Star Wars doesn’t diminish that.

The best Star Wars book I have read in years (I know that is not saying much, but still.  It was a good book).

4 Stars

Review Copy received through NetGalley.  Then later won through Firstreads.

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