Saturday, March 17, 2018

Star Wars Old Republic Novels #1 & #2: A Review

As mentioned in my Comic Spotlight on Darth Maul - Son of Dathomir, I have been reading through the Star Wars Expanded Universe, canon and Legends. Today, I wanted to start up Star Wars Saturday. Most likely this will not occur EVERY Saturday, but generally speaking, if there is a Saturday post, it will most likely be Star Wars themed! I never realized how much of a Star Wars fan I was until just a couple years ago, when The Force Awakens was first announced. I got crazy excited and after a quick reflection I realized I've basically been pretty crazy into Star Wars since I was a kid in elementary school. Until now though, I had only ever read half of one Star Wars novel, which was The Courtship of Princess Leia, a novel that was published in 1995. I had stumbled across it in my high school's library, but I never fully finished it. That was back between 2009 and 2012. I started reading full novels of Star Wars once I hit my college years (undergrad was 2012-2016, I started reading Star Wars fully in Spring of 2013) and haven't really stopped since. That being said, I have a LONG reading journey ahead of me in the galaxy far far away, and I'd like to take this blog along with me. I've already reviewed a few Star Wars themed materials, but now we're taking it through the reading list to the best of my abilities. Starting with The Old Republic.

The Knights of the Old Republic (referred to as KOTOR in Star Wars gamer circles) was originally an RPG game, for XBOX and PC, released in 2003, which I never played. I was not an XBOX gamer, preferring my Nintendo GameCube, GBA SP, and DS. I was only into certain PC games (Rollercoaster Tycoon, Zoo Tycoon, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, JumpStart, and Disney titles). That being said I had no familiarity with the Old Republic time of the Star Wars universe when I read these novels. The Old Republic series is made up of four novels by three authors. Since I didn't play the game and there was no movie made that was set in the times of the Old Republic, everything I know about it comes from these books. This review will discuss the first two, and the next two will go up next weekend.



Author: Drew Karpyshyn
Genre: Science Fiction --> Space Opera
Year of Publication:  2011


There's something out there: a juggernaut of evil bearing down to crush the Republic, unless one lone Jedi, shunned and reviled, can stop it.

10687840Revan: hero, traitor, conqueror, villain, savior. A Jedi who left Coruscant, to defeat Mandalorians and returned a disciple of the dark side, bent on destroying the Republic. The Jedi Council gave Revan his life back, but the price of redemption was high. His memories have been erased. All that's left are nightmares and deep, abiding fear. 

What exactly happened beyond the Outer Rim? Revan can't quite remember, yet can't entirely forget. Somehow he stumbled across a terrible secret that threatens the very existence of the Republic. With no idea what it is, or how to stop it, Revan may very well fail, for he's never faced a more powerful and diabolic enemy. But only death can stop him from trying. 


I can honestly say that this story was pretty gripping overall. This is the first book in the Old Republic series and while it isn't the best Star Wars novel I've ever read, or my favorite in the Old Republic series, it is still worth a read. It is also a worthy inclusion in the Star Wars expanded universe, even if as just a Legend. 

At first I had a bit of a hard time getting through the prologue because I honestly did not know anything about Revan before reading this book (having never played the game as mentioned above), so I had to catch up on some background with quick internet searches to feel secure in my reading ---this is just a reflection of me personally because if I feel I'm dropped in too easily without knowledge of a character, it can be distracting to my enjoyment of a novel---The prologue provided a generic summary, but that wasn't enough for me to feel like I really understood the character at the point he is supposed to be at in the novel. In time though, I latched onto Revan's character and also that of Lord Scourge as the story progressed. I found them both to be very interesting. 

 Revan and Scourge are on two separate paths: Revan is seeking out his lost memories and Scourge is trying to become stronger while being forced to sidestep into an arrangement with Darth Nyriss, a Sith on the Emperor's Council. The plots thicken as Revan goes farther into space and Scourge finds himself in plots against powerful figures, until their paths eventually converge.

I liked the characters, I liked the story and I found it largely enjoyable. I thought it was particularly interesting how Scourge changes after encountering Revan. His approach and mindset seem to shift significantly, or so it appeared to me. I enjoyed the action sequences, as they were easy for me to follow along with and visualize. I had a hard time trying to see how the final act was going to play out because it seemed to hit its highest point with only a few short chapters left. It seemed peculiar, but upon completing it I see why things happened the way they did, kind of. The ending is the part I am still trying to wrap my head around. I've been trying to decide how I feel about it and if it changes anything about how I had been enjoying the book. I can honestly say that I'm not entirely satisfied, but I understand it to a certain degree. I find it tragic in the long run to not have as much satisfaction in the end, since I was expecting a little more given the journey the book provided as a base. I'm interested to see how decisions made by characters here may play out in the long run for the Star Wars timeline, for the future of characters to come. I still think the ending felt overly rushed and that Revan's story should not have ended in this particular way, due to the fact that he is such an epic character for this time period. My main complaint is always going to be that blasted ending because it felt disjointed from the rest of the story and was much more rushed than any part of the book. All of the pacing was excellent before that.

Overall I enjoyed this book. I liked many elements of it and the writing style, while not masterful, was enough to get me latched to everything that was happening. All in all I thought it was good. I feel I'll have a better understanding of the Star Wars universe history as I progress through the reading orders. This book left me with a great respect for the character of Revan and I guess that is one of the coolest things this book had to offer: the character of Revan. I would be thrilled if there was ever a film made that involved Revan's story, but I would personally change up the ending and NOT make this particular version canon. I give Revan a 3 out of 5 stars.



Author: Paul S. Kemp
Genre: Science Fiction --> Space Opera
Year of Publication: 2011


The second novel set in the Old Republic era and based on the massively multiplayer online game Star Wars: The Old Republic ramps up the action and brings readers face-to-face for the first time with a Sith warrior to rival the most sinister of the Order's Dark Lords --- Darth Malgus, the mysterious, masked Sith of the wildly popular "Deceived" and "Hope" game trailers.

Malgus brought down the Jedi Temple on Coruscant in a brutal assault that shocked the galaxy. But if war crowned him the darkest of Sith heroes, peace would transform him into something far more heinous --- something Malgus would never want to be, but cannot stop, any more than he can stop the rogue Jedi fast approaching. 

Her name is Aryn Leneer --- and the lone Knight that Malgus cut down in the fierce battle for the Jedi Temple was her Master. And now she's going to find out what happened to him, even if it means breaking every rule in the book. 


Deceived takes a video game base and for someone who hasn't played the games, makes the story accessible. I've read reviews where lovers of the game hated this book, but since I never did and I just came for a good Star Wars story, I'm happy with what I got.

Malgus is a master of destruction, bringing down the Jedi Temple, and he does not want to see peace happen between the Empire and the Republic. His main flaw however, is that he cares for someone. In this book he has a female Twi'lek companion and its noted that he actually cares for her, but he has to downplay it in order to maintain proper appearances. This is one of the things that he struggles with. The companion, Eleena, isn't super interesting or well developed, but she definitely serves a purpose.

Zeerid is an ex-soldier turned cargo runner who wants only to give his young crippled daughter a better life and maybe a pair of decent legs again, and plans to do so by making one last round through a Sith blockade on Coruscant to deliver spice. He runs into Aryn, who is a Jedi, but goes rogue because she wants revenge on the Sith who killed her master. Zeerid and Aryn get caught up in some big poodoo and end up helping each other while trying to survive.

While the Jedi revenge plot has been done a few times, I was still really intrigued by this book, largely because of the quick pacing, solid balance between the plots of all three main characters, easy understanding of character motivations, and everything was really straightforward. There were strategic moves and it was thrilling without being too fast paced as to breeze by. The setting was highly familiar (Coruscant) and there were some familiar settings (Jedi Temple) despite it being after the Empire's strike on it. There was a limited mention of technology, while still showing that technology is advanced beyond ours as is usual for the Star Wars universe. The time moved quickly so we weren't having to slog through individual days just waiting to get somewhere. I also found the ending to be pretty concise and satisfying. There was nothing I actually despised about this book and not a whole lot I would complain about. While I can understand some peoples' dislike of it for different aspects (lack of personality for Malgus' companion, standard stories of revenge, mixed up emotions for Jedi and Sith), I was just able to read it and enjoy it for what it was. A novel based on a game I never played. I was just looking for a good time in the Star Wars universe, in a time I wasn't familiar with, and I feel like I got it. It was accessible, quick, and had solid characters to follow, even if they weren't ground or character- type breaking.

For me, Deceived gets 4 out of 5 stars.


The Old Republic series chronologically is off to a good start for me. Next weekend will wrap up my Old Republic reviews, discussing Fatal Alliance and Annihilation. Thanks for reading!!!!!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Master's Experience #10: Week 8

Time for Graduate School updates!

Last week was Week 8 in the current semester. It started off with a midterm exam for Indexing and Abstracting and ended with a discussion post regarding software for digital libraries. We read about open-source software and for this week's discussion I had to choose and learn about a specific digital library software. I chose CollectionSpace, which is a site predominantly designed for museums that allows quite a bit of customization depending on an organization's specialty (ex: anthropology, botanical gardens, art). I had to discuss features of the software and some of the technical components involved.

 I'm also working on a group project which involves putting together a collection of items in a digital library using Omeka, a collection website. My group came up with College Football as our digital library topic, so I'm actually really excited to see how this project turns out!

Reading stats for the week: 

Week 8: 139 pages

Running Semester Total: 1,421 pages

I'm currently on Spring Break so Week 9 updates will be up in around two weeks if I am able to maintain this schedule. I know this was a short update, but midterm work tends to be weighty for the grade, but brief in terms of discussion potential.

Thanks for reading!!!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Comic Spotlight: Oblivion Song #1

Hello everyone!

This week I've got another comic review post for y'all. On occasion I like to check out new comic series that are coming out. I particularly like to check for stand alone series that are not too far into their runs and exist outside of a universe continuity. This is why it will be rare for me to review anything DC or Marvel related that is actually CURRENT to the releases happening now (ex: DC Rebirth). I never read the New 52 or Marvel's Secret Wars, so I'd like to catch up with all of that before I cover any of the current series they are releasing WITHIN continuity.

Last Wednesday, a new series was released and I checked out the first issue. Here is my review:

Oblivion Song #1

Publisher: Image Comics
Rating: T+
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Illustrator: Lorenzo De Felici & Annalisa Leoni
Published: March 7, 2018

A decade ago, 300,000 citizens of Philadelphia were suddenly lost in Oblivion. The government made every attempt to recover them, but after many years, they gave up. Nathan Cole...won't. He makes daily trips, risking his life to try and rescue those still living in the apocalyptic hellscape of Oblivion. But maybe...Nathan is looking for something else? Why can't he resist the siren call of the Oblivion Song? 


Robert Kirkman is the creator/writer of The Walking Dead, which was a hit comic series before it moved to television, and which I have yet to read. This is apparently the first new series that Kirkman has done in about four years. 

Oblivion Song #1 opens with the protagonist of the story, Nathan Cole, in what appears to be a post-apocalyptic world where there is a stringy goo over buildings and monsters are roaming. He locates two people and uses a gun to shoot darts that make them disappear. He darts himself and we find out that he travels between two different places and brings the people from the apocalyptic place to the regular world. The basis seems to be that 10 years ago something occurred which is referred to as "the Transference" and the people lost during that were honored on a memorial stone with their names etched onto it. Nathan Cole has succeeded in bringing some people back. He used to have a program that would assist in rescues with more of a rescue team approach, but now the government refuses to fund it. Nathan is hellbent on finding and returning people, with the main motivation being that he hopes to find his brother, Ed, and bring him back. This issue ends with a bit of a cliffhanger and potential for the story to progress in very interesting ways. Additionally, this issue presents the general meaning of the series title, which was intriguing and I'm hoping that it is subtly nodded at throughout the series in more ways. I'm hoping that Oblivion Song becomes a deeper, encompassing meaning for the series than simply a placeholder for a singular aspect of the post-apocalyptic world we have been introduced to.

The story seems solid so far. The hero seems likable, albeit he does have personal motivations for doing what he does. Perhaps if he wasn't personally affected, he wouldn't be so deadset on bringing people back, but it is because he was affected that we have this story. That isn't the question to be wondering. The questions on my mind include: How did the Transference happen? How does the crossing over between the two worlds happen? What will he do without better funding? What was up with the people at the end? 

A lot of the strength of this story comes with the character designs presented and the style of the comic. It isn't hyper realistic, but it isn't cartoonish either. There is a really good color blend that isn't too dull or overly vibrant for the story being told. It sits right in the middle for me, so I find it pleasing. The design of each character is done in a way that makes for strong storytelling and differentiation in experience. Characters that have been in the apocalyptic zone, even if they are returned, are marked with distinct wrinkles on the face. When we see a couple in the other world at the start, their faces are almost wild seeming and edgy compared to people maintaining a normal existence. Additionally, through one of the main characters associated with Nathan, we see the shift in overall personality and the subtle trauma that still exists from having to survive in an unfamiliar landscape. There aren't literal scars, but there are indicators of personal scarring from the experience which is very well presented artistically. 

Note to Parents: I can honestly say this issue wasn't too bad as far as content goes. I saw one definite curse word, 2 potentials depending on your strictness, and not very much in terms of violence/gore (1 shriveled-ish corpse that isn't hyper detailed, sort of reminiscent of a more cartoony 1999 Mummy film style), but in future issues, this could increase, I am not sure and won't know until more issues are released. 

Thus far, I can honestly say that my interest is piqued and I would love to see what happens next. I think this story has a lot of potential, and I hope it ends up providing more suspense and intrigue as more issues are released. The one thing I would hate to see is this story become predictable or slow in its pace. I think it a steady increase is maintained and twists are presented well, this could be a very good run in the future. Issue #1 gets a 4 out of 5 from me. The previous Image comic sample issues I've read thus far have been very bizarre, so this is one of the first ones I have actually been genuinely interested in following more. 

Oblivion Song #2 is scheduled for release on April 11, 2018.   

If you liked this post, have read this issue, or are interested in it, leave a comment. If there are other comic series, old/new/upcoming that you would like to see reviewed here, let me know! 

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Clone Wars, Mandalorians, and Zabrak: REVIEWING Darth Maul - Son of Dathomir

I'm finally reviewing something after a long time of...not reviewing much of anything....

So here is a Star Wars Saturday post!!!

At the beginning of 2016, I started reading Star Wars novels regularly. I began with what is now known as the Legends series. I had read at least one novel previously in this list, but only for fun (Death Troopers). Just before I started reading them, I saw Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens and I realized that the timeline was not as straightforward as I may have believed when I was younger. What happened was actually a big deal to long time fans (which I can't say I really was at the time that it was all happening). Things that had happened were said to potentially NOT have happened within the universe and only select things were "Canon", which means that some things were officially confirmed to have happened and be within the timeline. Star Wars novels and TV shows were divided into Canon and Legends, particularly since new stories were being developed and released that directly interfered with previous canon (ex: Luke Skywalker used to be married and Leia and Han had different children than the son they currently have).

I found out about all of this and began with the Legends series, then as my interest began to be piqued by Rogue One I found myself wanting to actually read everything Canon. So I found a reading guide for both and here we are now.

One of the things that remained Canon was The Clone Wars, an animated show that ran from 2008-2013. I grew up without cable television, so I never had the opportunity to watch it. Enter my boyfriend and his Star Wars fascination, particularly with clones and you've got the recipe that led to me binge watching the show in its entirety within about a year's time (yes, bingeing for me takes longer than a couple weeks sometimes and I still count it as a binge since I focus on the one show alone as best I can).

Upon the conclusion of the show I was hooked and wanting more. On the Star Wars official website I ended up finding interviews with the writers and directors about where the show was headed, as well as incomplete story reels that could be watched despite them not being fully animated. Additionally, I discovered that some of the scripts for the show had been turned into other media (a novel and a comic), which brings us to today's post.

Darth Maul - Son of Dathomir 

Publisher: Dark Horse Books
Author: Jeremy Barlow
Illustrative Team: Juan Frigeri, Mauro Vargas, Wes Dzioba, Michael Heisler, Chris Scalf 
Published: 2014
Collects Star Wars: Darth Maul - Son of Dathomir #1-4 and Star Wars Tales #7-9


21532254Getting cut in half by Obi-Wan Kenobi and being rejected by his former Sith Master Darth Sidious isn't going to defeat Darth Maul. In fact, it only makes him mad enough to take on the galaxy - with an army of Mandalorians! After forming the Shadow Collective - a criminal organization composed of the Hutts, Black Sun, the Mandalorians, and the fearsome Nightbrothers - Maul wages war against Darth Sidious and his generals, Count Dooku and General Grievous!

Adapted from unproduced screenplays for Season 6 of The Clone Wars television show, this is the final chapter planned for Darth Maul' saga.

As the synopsis states, this comic was developed based on a script for an episode of The Clone Wars that was planned but never produced. I have no idea why, and have never been able to explain it, but Darth Maul has been one of my favorite Star Wars characters. I watched Episode I frequently as a kid and greatly enjoyed it. As a kid I didn't pay much attention to the political parts of the story, I just liked the grand settings, the exotic aliens, and the absolute beauty that is John Williams' score (Duel of the Fates = #1 for me). I was enthralled by the double blade that Maul wielded and even though he isn't a very developed character within the films, he was definitely intimidating and the lack of story about him made him all that much more interesting to me. He was just a scary looking dude with a lightsaber unlike any I had ever seen before and that was enough to convince me that he was pretty awesome. 

This extends so far as to become the basis for gifts over the last couple years including this mini plush:

This Lego set of the scene where my favorite Star Wars instrumental track occurs in the movie...set up exactly like how it is for Qui-Gonn's ultimate end, with Obi-Wan blocked by the red laser wall and everything. Also the very detailed Lego minifigure of Maul that was included in the set: 

(all gifts from my boyfriend, for separate occasions)

Fast forward to 2016, when I become aware of Disney XD's newest animated Star Wars show, Rebels. I was watching it with my sister and at some point we notice that Darth Maul is in it. I'm insanely confused, because all I had known was that he was cut in half in Episode I, never to return again. At this point I found out about The Clone Wars show being Canon and sharing a continuity with Rebels. So I backtracked. 

Darth Maul makes a comeback in The Clone Wars, which cleared up a lot...until I reached the end of the show and his arc was left incomplete. He had been with Lord Sidious and suddenly the show was over. Thankfully, the showrunners foresaw these issues long before I jumped in and they didn't want their work to go to waste. So that is where this comic volume comes into play. 

Darth Maul - Son of Dathomir is set after the end of Clone Wars and before the beginning of Rebels. Darth Maul is captured by Sidious, but had taken control of Death Watch, a group of Mandalorians seen as terrorists on the planet of Mandalore and created his own crime syndicate. This comic follows Maul as he tries to exact revenge on Darth Sidious for discarding him and Count Dooku as well as General Grievous for their involvement and general replacing of him at the Emperor's side. Maul comes from the planet of Dathomir, a planet known for breeding warriors and the Nightsisters (Ventress's home planet and people). He is a Zabrak, an alien species marked with tattoos of yellow or red shades mixed with black, and a ring of horns around the top of their heads. Zabrak from Dathomir are sometimes referred to as Nightbrothers. 

This was one of the best Star Wars comics I have read and one of the best storylines so far. It reads exactly like an episode of Clone Wars (which makes sense, since it was originally supposed to be one) and brought me to the point I needed to be so I can eventually get back to watching Rebels (my quest through Canon material has caused me to fall behind so no spoilers on that front please, I have to catch up). 

The art in this comic is very bright compared to the cover and is much more cartoony than the realistic cover. This to me was a plus, because that helps maintain the essence of The Clone Wars, despite this being a 2D art style whereas the show was rendered in 3D-ish CGI animation. Some of the things I enjoyed most were the art style, particularly the color vibrancy, the focus on Maul and what he had created, and the conclusion of arcs involving Mother Talzin. Additionally, the inclusion of Maul Mandalorian helmets was a huge bonus that I greatly enjoyed. I am very fond of the color schemes selected for the various Death Watch members in terms of armor and the design of the Zabrak-esque helmets. The attention to detail captures one of the things I have always enjoyed about Star Wars in general, the unique way that each alien or group reads as far as design and profile go. Star Wars is a story in a very large universe and the diversity presented and the variations on familiar designs is very entertaining to see, so I'm very appreciative of the detail present in this series. 

I am very pleased that the screenplay of the planned episode was translated into this collection of comics. It was the next best thing that could have happened since the show had to be cancelled. This is one of my favorite entries in the Star Wars Canon timeline thus far. I think this one played a lot to my personal interests and hit all the right notes for me to enjoy it enough to deem it as a 5 out of a possible 5. The art was sharp and bright, the story was well written and it was basically everything I wanted and hoped it would be.  

Thanks for reading my latest review! If this is liked, I might write more reviews for other Star Wars related materials...or I'll at least be sure to present the ones I liked the most in my reading through of both timelines, Canon and Legend. 

See you next post, and may the force be with you!  

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Updates & Master's Experience #9: Weeks 5-7

Hello everyone!

I'm back again with more general updates. I tend to post these quite a bit, because as time passes I'm always looking to improve things. I have said before that I am not revising any of my posts from past years in terms of writing style. However, that does not mean that I am not checking to be sure that links to images and videos still work

Thanks to my current work in my Master's program, I have learned a lot about search engines and about metadata, such as how it is embedded into websites. Due to this, I have finally learned a skill I should have known as a blogger a long time ago. I have finally learned how to embed things into my posts using the HTML code. So I'll be double checking my old movie posts for broken trailer links, that way they stay up to date. I'm using a new source for linking those (IMDB) because it is a site that I use rather frequently to check movie ratings (I watch more rated R movies than I used to so I check content warnings for things like gore in science fiction movies --> Aliens I'm looking at you!!!). I like the quality of their trailers and images, so this is where I will be sourcing from. As such, the videos will look different. They will present movie info and I have currently formatted the embedded sections to fit within the post size, which means if you click play on the trailer, it will appear small. Please just make them full screen should you be interested in them. I'm going to try to play with the frame size using the HTML coding to find a nice happy medium if possible, so until then, please just full screen them.

I haven't posted since February, but that is because things have gotten hectic yet again! Somehow life finds a way to intercept me and drag me along for a while before letting me catch a breather. Between school, reading, volunteering, and family engagements, its a wonder I remember to breathe sometimes.

Here are the latest updates for my MLIS studies: 

Week 5: I was working on a group paper which has now been graded (95/100), on the topic of the Future of Indexing for my Indexing and Abstracting course. Additionally, I had a paper due for my Information Organization course, which I got 100/100 on. I got pushed back on work due to the Colorado trip, but managed to get back on track pretty solidly. [185 pages]

Week 6: I was working on another index this week, as well as writing an abstract, for the group papers in my Indexing and Abstracting course. [121 pages]

Week 7: The big focus for last week was my semester long project for Information Organization. Its an IOP (Information Organization Project). Adequately named, but not very indicative of what is actually being done for it. Let's just say I had to write about 13 pages on a database that I am creating in theory and in an alternate form online. Also learned a lot about metadata and metadata standards. [139 pages]

I am currently in the middle of Week 8 so I have not completed this week's assignments or finished the readings. I wait to update at the end of the week since I can be sure everything has been taken care of.

My running total for the semester, based from Week 1-7, is now up to: 1282 pages

Beyond meeting school deadlines I am also working to meet Library Due Dates for books I have checked out! So lots of reading and studying happening. I've also had the awesome pleasure of getting to see Thor Ragnarok and Coco at a local movie theater (both of which I had been very excited for, for MONTHS). I'm super happy that Coco won two awards from the Academy, despite my not caring very much for award shows in general. I'm always happy when movies I enjoy get accolades, especially when they are so touching and emotion-inducing.