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Star Wars: The Fate of The Jedi (see series list below) are surprisingly (at least to me) well-written and remarkably well-produced audiobooks. While I doubt any will win the Pulitzer Prize for literature, they are consistently well-crafted stories which have unique nuances from each of their authors yet mesh well together and make some of the best use of sound, both music and effects, of any audiobooks I’ve heard. Breaking that down just a bit more, let’s look at some aspects that I believe are incorporated in all of the books: complex and conflicted characters, consistently rich and clever extensions to the Star Wars universe, well-woven, multiple storylines, and good pacing with a nice mix of intrigue/politics and action. So these are not potboiler, shoot-‘em-up action books nor are they simple character studies but rather are a nicely woven package within the confines of the Star Wars universe (although technically not canonical because Disney changed the timeline to be incompatible with the Expanded Universe (now Legends) with rich detail while still moving at a quick clip. A great example of complex (but not so conflicted) character is Natasi Daala. She is a true believer; she really thinks that order is the highest value which justifies almost any extreme action. Kenth Hamner represents a more convoluted character. Again, he is assured that he is right to the point he will not listen to his fellow Jedi and is willing to harm and, perhaps kill, colleagues to preserve his view of order and peace at all costs. While there are a few one-dimensional characters strewn throughout the series, they are rare and small roles.  [Similarly conflicted characters are found in Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath duo (soon to be part of a trilogy, currently consisting of Aftermath and Lifedebt]. Another true believer is the empire’s Adm. Rae Sloane. Once again, order is the highest value for her with the second being her running the show because that’s what’s best for the universe. Gaillus Rax has similar views and reminds us of the cleverness of the best of leaders on the wrong side, Admiral Thrawn.

– Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi” Apocalypse Trailer

In terms of world building, you have all of the diverse species, characters, and worlds which you’ve come to love in the Star Wars ‘verse. We sometimes forget how well the wonders are described. Here’s an example from Christie Golden’s Allies: Star Wars Legends (Fate of the Jedi):

What appeared on the screen was a vision of beauty. It looked like a geyser at the moment of eruption, captured forever in time, each finger of water, each splash, each droplet, frozen so that one could admire its power and grace. Swirling, turning, it was vibrant, creative motion somehow paused, and Taalon’s heart leapt. Like all the Sith Tribe, he put a great value on beauty, whether it be in the lines of a being’s face, the drape of a handmade garment, or the curve of a shikkar handle. This moved him to his core.

So whether you’re visiting Klatooine’s deserts. the lush, yet wickedly dangerous flora of Dathomir or Coruscant’s urban underworld, there are wonders aplenty as well as intriguing backdrops to the narrative.

Not only do these authors have to work with some known characters, a largely known universe, with a defined “history” to the Star Wars canon, they all have complex stories with at least two threads going simultaneously – a slave rebellion in the midst of Galactic Alliance – Jedi tensions whilst Luke and Ben are off attempting to unravel the mystery of Abeloth is but one example. Yikes. Yet these stories weave together organically with endings that never feel too forced. Speaking of endings, that’s another aspect that is well done. While each story sets up the next and they suck you into the series since you want to see how the story resolves in the next book, they never just leave you hanging. These always do a nice clean job of ending while hinting at the next stage. I hate cliff-hangers that just stop and these don’t.

 

marc_thompson

Marc Thompson

 

Marc Thompson does a fabulous job with all the books. Having a consistent narrator through each of them is a huge help to unifying the Fate of the Jedi series on audiobook. Honestly, he really is near the top pantheon narrators. His range of voices, pacing and nuance really bring alive the stories. At times, he does reuse a voice for different characters in different books but never within the same book. He is also able to retain the feel of the characters introduced in the movies whether is Han, Lando or Leia. Moreover, the consistent incorporation, in just the right measure and time, of music and sound effects really add (and never distracts) from the overall experience. This is a series I would really encourage listening to the audiobooks over simply reading the books, although both are great.

– Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi – Vortex Audio Clip Trailer

These books perpetuate the evil of sucking you in because they’re so good and because you want to know what happened before and after the book you’re in based on references and hints. Despite this “flaw” (doesn’t every series writer wish for the same problem of grabbing their audience and keeping them connected to the series until the end), these books, especially the audiobook present a cohesive series that is well researched and well validated in terms of the candidate is creating and so is one story finishes it leads right into the next story and then into the next and, man, you could just get lost in this little mini universe forever.

What I love:

  • Consistent, clear “canon”: There is continuity among the various stories, not only in the writing but in the narration. The uniqueness of each author is maintained but within the framework of the universe and what’s gone on before them.
  • The production, sound effects, music, and pacing. These are well-directed productions.
  • Marc Thompson. Not only does he perform the books well, not only does he bring out the voice of known characters like Han and Lando well, but he is internally consistent not only in the story but throughout the books. Lando sounds like Lando throughout.
  • These are fun, good stories in their own right, but are helped that this rich universe is well understood so they don’t have to reinvent the framework but may add to it with their own touches.

What I’m less fond of:

Really there is only one small issue: Mr. Thompson reuses characters voices. So Admiral Daala of Fate of the Jedi becomes Winter in Scoundrels. I know Scoundrels isn’t in the Fate series but it’s the example that comes to mind. This is pretty nit-picky anyway. Seriously, great performances in these books.

Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi Series:

Outcast (2009), by Aaron Allston

Omen (2009), by Christie Golden)

Abyss (2009), by Troy Denning

Backlash (2010), by Aaron Allston

Allies (2010), by Christie Golden

Vortex (2010), by Troy Denning

Conviction (2011), by Aaron Allston

Ascension (2011), by Christie Golden

Apocalypse (2012), by Troy Denning

Stories*  3.5/5
Characters  3/5
Phrasing 3/5
Pacing 4.5/5
World-building 4/5
Audio-production 5/5

 

*Avg for books in the series

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