No Fault in Lost Stars

Okay, I’m not saying Lost Stars is perfect or anything, but, I mean, that title is too clever to pass up…plus, I kinda thought going in that it was going to be the Star Wars equivalent of some kind of sappy love story like that (disclaimer:  I’ve neither read nor seen The Fault in Our Stars, so I’m making a stereotypical judgement based almost solely on the preview for the film…don’t try this at home), but, to my surprise, it wasn’t…not entirely, anyway. What it turned out to be was a true journey to The Force Awakens, in that you legitimately go on quite a journey with the two main characters, Romeo & Jul, er, I mean, Thane and Ciena (to be fair, they’re not that Romeo and Juliet-ish, especially since they don’t end up dying together at the end)…seriously, though, it’s a Forrest Gump-esque story where the protagonists find themselves involved with almost every major player and event throughout the original trilogy, and then are directly responsible for a now-famous image of Tatooine’s brother from another mother, Jakku. If you’ve been on the fence about this one since it’s a “young adult” novel (or however they categorize these things), I’d hop off the post and scuttle down to your favorite bookstore and pick it up; it’s an easy read (though a little long) that starts out slow but picks up and paces really well, especially in the last quarter or so. If you’re a true Star Wars fan (that’s right, calling you out, what!?!?), I think you’ll definitely enjoy it, and I also think it’s a fairly good icebreaker for anyone who’s familiar with the movies, the original trilogy in particular, and is looking to get started down the rabbit hole of the (new) expanded universe. So, yeah, anyway, I liked it, it was good, now I’m going to pick a few talking points and babble, enjoy!

Let’s get nitpicky!
Since I started by somewhat doting on the book, I thought I’d go over a couple things I found curious:  First off, there’s a class at the academy called “Core Worlds Classical Culture.” On it’s own, I see no issue with this; in fact, based on Palpatine’s lavish office at the senate building and his assumed wont to attend theatrical performances, it makes perfect sense (especially when you throw in the academy ball)…however, if you think about Mercurial Swift’s quote, “The Empire doesn’t much care for the performance arts,” from Aftermath and factor in the cold, industrial feel of the Emperor’s chamber on the second Death Star (though you could argue this is because it’s unfinished, but I would assume they would make completing his chamber a high priority once they realized he was coming), then it becomes a slight head scratcher…which is it? Is the Empire pro or anti-performance arts? My theory is they start out by staying status quo and keeping, I’ll say, “liberal arts” included in the academic curriculum, but, once the first Death Star is operational and they abolish the senate, part of tightening their grip includes removing what I would imagine would be considered “pointless” classes. Second, I think an opportunity is missed by failing to divulge the Empire’s plan to hunt down Alderaanians after the destruction of their planet and the subsequent destruction of the first Death Star. Now, under most circumstances pointing this out would be superfluous information, but one of the recurring characters, Nash Windrider (bitchin’ name, I have to admit, despite dancing a little close to “skywalker”), is an Alderaanian; a fact that is brought up on several occasions and not something merely mentioned in passing. My assumption is operation Alderaanian genocide must be on a need to know basis, and ex-Alderaanian Imperials don’t need to know, but I think it could have added more depth to Nash’s blind allegiance to the Empire by making him confront and rationalize away what amounts to basically the annihilation of not only his planet but all his people throughout the galaxy (save those linked to the Empire, of course).

The Empire was totally flaming!
Lots of exclamation points going on here…anyway, it appears that the flametroopers that look to figure prominently in at least one part of The Force Awakens are actually a unit that existed in the Empire, and are not a newly-created unit for the purposes of the First Order like I assumed them to be. However, with this knowledge in mind, I can think of at least two examples off the top of my head that flametroopers might have been utilized off-screen so we only saw the remnants of their destructive power instead of seeing them in action like we will in TFA:  the Lars homestead on Tatooine, and Tarkintown on Lothal. This makes it easy to believe (at least for me, anyway) that the Empire not only had such troopers at their disposal, but utilized them without the audience even knowing they existed.

Who is Sondiv Sella?…!
I felt like it needed the exclamation point…so, yeah, who is Sondiv Sella? There are rumors about a character in The Force Awakens with the same surname, but I don’t think that’s confirmed yet so I’m not going to speculate based on hearsay (not today, anyway)…besides, having possible progeny in the next chapter of the saga doesn’t really tell us who he/she is…hell, we don’t even know if Sondiv is a male or female…what we do know, however, is that he/she is singled out and mentioned by name along with Mon Mothma and Princess Leia instead of just being lumped into “other top officials,” so the importance of this character has definitely been predetermined…kinda like “guilty by association.” I’m willing to assume that since we don’t meet Sondiv in a military setting, that he/she is a political figure that’s become a standout since reinstating the senate, or was an effective ambassador/recruiter for the Rebellion to worlds ravaged by the Empire. I’m hoping we make Sondiv’s acquaintance during the upcoming second season of Rebels, but I’m not going to hold my breath about it. I think we’re more likely to find out from another book or perhaps he/she will show up in Shattered Empire. At any rate, I’m absolutely sure that Lost Stars won’t be the only time we hear the name Sondiv Sella.

Exactly what is going on here?!?!
Okay, so, there’s a short “rebel propaganda” holo near the very end of the book followed by a few pages about the Empire that drops three very interesting tidbits for such a small space:  there’s a treaty between the New Republic and what’s left of the Empire, the chancellor is keeping the starfleet “on a war footing for the foreseeable future,” and the Empire is massing its improved fleet and reorganizing in secret. Clearly we’ve made our way past the events of Aftermath as the senate is in full go mode and no treaty of any kind existed then…which begs the question:  who signed the treaty? Which then, grouped with the other tidbits I mentioned, begs several more questions:  Did the mystery admiral succeed in bringing the Empire together and then sign said treaty? Was it signed by this seemingly important Grand Moff Randd that Nash refers to? Are there still sects of the Empire that are fighting for control and only one such sect signed a treaty while others remain in hiding or actively fighting? Is Grand Moff Randd the secret weapon admiral? (I don’t think so) Is the group massing with the secret admiral and the group Nash is with the same group? If a major funding line was cut in Aftermath, how is the Empire making not only new ships, but updated, more advanced ships? And how are they doing it in secret? Also, why is the New Republic starfleet staying war-ready? Wasn’t Mon Mothma going to cut the military by 90%? Did she change her mind because of the Battle of Jakku or the prolonged fighting in general? Did she get voted down? Is she not acting chancellor anymore? Did her ideas about cutting the military gain her a vote of no confidence? I’m actually starting to think that the New Republic never fully gets control of the galaxy from the Empire, or that, perhaps, the Empire regains control under the moniker of the First Order…maybe the assumed roles are reversed in The Force Awakens and, unlike what many (myself included) have been expecting, the First Order is actually the main governing body for the galaxy and the Resistance is comprised of what little the New Republic managed to hold on to…that would be a shock to the system, I think, and I can’t decide if it’d feel too much like a rehash or if I like it because it’s surprisingly redundant…at any rate, I think it’s safe to say that, with the updates already being done to the TIEs, the Empire is making the transition to the First Order sooner than I would have expected, which leads me to believe they’re planning to make a move on the New Republic sooner than in The Force Awakens…does that go poorly and send the Empire limping away for a longer recovery period to then emerge as the First Order, or do they attack as the stronger, more organized First Order and create a prolonged schism in the galaxy that comes to a head in the new movie…

And there you have it! (Exclamations!) A few interesting takeaways from Lost Stars that doesn’t even include the well-told story of two star-crossed lovers from different parts of the same planet that end up on different sides of a galactic conflict. I think, barebones, the moral of this story is “you can take the girl from the valley, but you can’t take the valley from the girl.” As much as the Empire might have been successful in reprogramming someone like Nash, it was Ciena’s adherence to her cultural values and beliefs that kept her loyal to a cause she didn’t believe in. I would say she was loyal to a fault, but I’m sure there are those that would applaud her stick-to-itiveness. Either way, though, I hope you enjoyed the book and the post, now go out and find something else to read, and may the Force be with you…

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