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Star Wars New Canon - Lost Stars: Romeo and Juliet...in SPACE!

I interrupted my read-through of Star Wars Legends stories because the library set aside a copy of one of new canon novels, Lost Stars, for me.

This was the fifth Star Wars novel I read that's part of the new canon.  When I say new canon, I'm referring to stories published in our after 2014 which are fully consistent with the new stories being told in the new movies  I've read the following new canon novels:


I've also read a number of canon comics, which I will discuss in a separate post.

Generally I've enjoyed the new canon novels.  Tarkin, Heir to the Jedi, and Lords of the Sith all tell small, targeted stories featuring Grand Moff Tarkin, Luke Skywalker, and Darth Vader, respectively (with Tarkin also presenting a detailed biography, and Lords of the Sith including Twi'lek freedom fighter Cham Syndulla, bridging his stories in the cartoons The Clone Wars and Rebels).  Aftermath is a bit grander in scope, setting up a trilogy depicting the year or so after the death of the Emperor at Endor (as seen in Return of the Jedi) until the eventual collapse of the Empire at Jakku (the starship graveyard we saw in The Force Awakens).  As I read these novels prior to starting the blog, and because my reading order was haphazard rather than in any clear order, I won't discuss them more than this.

Cover of Star Wars: Lost Stars. Image from Wookieepedia.

The focus on this post, however, will be Lost Stars, a young adult novel by Claudia Gray, her first (but not her last) for the Star Wars universe.

Story:

Lost Stars tells the stories of a young man named Thane and a young woman named Ciena.  They both grew up on the same planet, but in different cultures. Ciena was from a more rural society and was taught the importance of honour, duty, and loyalty above everything else.  Thane's society was a bit more modern and familiar feeling, though he himself grew up in a toxic home that he longed to escape.  They become friends and, practising together, become very skilled pilots.  They join the Imperial Academy on Coruscant, and become Imperial officers.

Thane Kyrell. Image from Wookieepedia.

A love story slowly develops as Thane and Ciena react differently to events in the galaxy.  Both are present when the Death Star destroys Alderaan; while Ciena disapproves, she understands the strategy behind it.  Thane is horrified, and seeing similar atrocities leads him to deserting the Empire and eventually joining the Rebel Alliance.  The two cross paths periodically, deeply in love but on opposite sides of the Galactic Civil War.

Ciena Ree.  Image from Wookieepedia.

Thoughts:

Lost Stars is very much a Romeo and Juliet story.  Ciena and Thane come from different cultural backgrounds, where their societies are at odds.  Thane joining the Rebellion reinforces this further.   Thane believes that the Empire is evil and he must oppose it, while Ciena, eventually reaching the same conclusion about the Empire, believes it's important to stay loyal.  Even in the beginning, it is clear that Ciena values her home and family, but wants with all of her heart to join the Empire.  Thane's priority is reversed; for him, joining the Empire is a way off of Jelucan and away from a terrible living situation.  The Empire wasn't the important part of his goal, so it is that much easier from him to change opinions when he sees the evil wrought by Imperial forces.  They continue to love each other despite these differences, but other forces, like war and culture, prevent them from coming together except for a couple of brief instances.

The book presents both sides of the Galactic Civil War extremely well.  Until the end, I found myself agreeing with Ciena and Thane at the same time.  Convincing the reader that both sides of an argument are equally valid, or that the villain of a story has good motivations and isn't truly evil, is the mark of a good writer.  I don't want to have one side that is completely relatable and the other totally alien; I want to understand both.  Claudia Gray makes me think that Imperial atrocities are horrifying, but that maybe the destruction of Alderaan could have prevented a greater war and might have been justified, had it had the desired effect.

It takes a good author to convincingly present the destruction of Alderaan as maybe a good thing.  Image from Wookieepedia.


I like the idea that Ciena and Thane are both present for much of what happens in Episodes IV, V, and VI.  Both bore witness to the destruction of Alderaan.  Ciena was present when the gunner chose not to blow up the escape pod over Tatooine, disabled the Millennium Falcon's hyperdrive on Cloud City, and was in the crowd during the Emperor's arrival at the Death Star II.  Thane was on the mission to search the abandoned Rebel outpost on Dantooine, flew a snowspeeder on Hoth, and helped destroy the Executor at Endor.  Both were present at Jakku (though I haven't read much about that battle yet).  Assigning some nameless roles from the films to Thane and Ciena, or having them be present for key things makes the story seem smaller, but in a charming way.  It helps make Thane and Ciena seem important in the Galactic context, despite not having major roles in the Star Wars saga.

Ciena is present.  She's in the same room as the guy who chooses not to shoot down the escape pod because it had no life readings.


I also loved how this novel continued efforts to build the world of Star Wars.  We spend a lot of time on Thane and Ciena's homeworld of Jelucan, which is an unimportant rock in space, but with two conflicting cultures, each welcoming Imperial occupation, though for different reasons.  We see how the Empire is controlling information, with anti-Republic teachings (a great example is a minor line in which a tutor droid teaches that Mace Windu started the Clone Wars by interrupting a perfectly legal criminal execution).  The worlds inside the Imperial Academy, Imperial Navy, and Rebel forces are well developed, and seem like real places in which we could live.  Any story that puts in the effort to world-build like this is worth some attention.

Overall, the love story of Thane and Ciena in Lost Stars was fun to read, and offered a glimpse into the lives of other people in the story of the Galactic Civil War.

Next Steps:

I will continue to read new canon novels, but I hesitate to interrupt my Legends readthrough, as such interruptions risk preventing me from ever finishing it.

I'll be dividing canon novels into a few categories to read next.  Some of these I'll read and discuss collectively, while others I might do one at a time.  Reading order will be haphazard, informed by mood, as well as a podcast I've been listening to, the Star Wars New Canon Book Club.

  • Tie-ins to The Clone Wars (currently re-watching the cartoon; will read these once I'm caught up)
    • Dark Disciple
    • Ahsoka
    • Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir (comic)
  • Tie-ins to Rogue One
    • Catalyst
    • Rebel Rising
    • Rogue One (novelization)
    • Battlefront II: Inferno Squad
  • Tie-ins to Rebels (will eventually wat
    • A New Dawn
    • Thrawn
  • Early Empire novels
    • Lords of the Sith
    • Tarkin
  • Tie-ins to the original trilogy
    • Lost Stars
    • Leia: Princess of Alderaan
    • Battlefront: Twilight Company
    • Heir to the Jedi
  • Aftermath trilogy (will probably finish these after I'm finished The Old Republic)
    • Aftermath
    • Aftermath: Life Debt
    • Aftermath: Empire's End
  • Tie-ins to the sequel trilogy
    • Bloodline (as I listen to the New Canon Book Club podcast, this is the next book being read)
    • The Force Awakens  (novelization)

I'll also be discussing comic books, and occasionally the plots of video games.  I've read many of these, and I'm re-reading them for this blog and to listen to the book club podcast.  These I'll likely discuss in small batches.  They include:

  • Ongoing:
    • Star Wars
    • Darth Vader
    • Kanan: The Last Padawan
    • Doctor Aphra
    • Poe Dameron
    • Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith
  • Miniseries and one-shots
    • Princess Leia
    • Lando
    • Obi-Wan and Anakin
    • Han Solo
    • Darth Maul
    • Shattered Empire (Journey to The Force Awakens)
    • Captain Phasma (Journey to The Last Jedi)
  • Games:
    • Battlefront (no story, but depicts various battles, including Jakku)
    • Battlefront II



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