The Mercenary – Petra Landon

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Author: Petra Landon
Series: The Araloka Chronicles #1
Pages: 203

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She’s a prisoner of the Imperial Forces. He’s a nomad with a private mercenary army. Can a desperate girl’s risky gamble and a fierce warrior’s love turn the tide of war and alter the balance of power in their slice of space?

In a distant corner of the galaxy, Sector Araloka burns in the flames of a deadly war. The Budheya people are one of the worst affected. Once the most advanced civilization in the quadrant, they now struggle under the cruel yoke of Ketaari occupation.

Saakshi
Imprisoned by the Ketaari Imperial Forces, a young Budheya girl is sent to a distant space station to work in an alehouse. For a girl who has known only hardship in her short life, things could be worse. Until an old foe walks into the alehouse.

Zoran
Zoran is Hadari’Kor – notoriously fierce mercenaries who only fight for hire. Drawn to a weary-eyed server girl, Zoran is forced to confront age-old traditions and question his role in the war.

The Rebel & The Mercenary
Alone, friendless and far from home, Saakshi makes a desperate gamble to trust an enigmatic stranger whose hot gaze haunts her dreams. The echoes of this unlikely alliance reverberate across the sector. As a relentless enemy hunts Saakshi, Zoran must fight with everything in his arsenal to protect her. When passion ignites amidst the embers of a smoldering war, will a warrior’s quest for justice bring a mighty Empire to its knees…

Not so long ago I won a signed paperback copy of this book. I have to thank the author for sending the book to Spain, even though I know that the delivery fees are not cheap at all. Among the Romane genres, Sci-Fi is maybe the least popular. Not many books are published under that genre and some of the ones that are released don’t look very interesting. In Spain is even worse. That genre doesn’t even exist. The few Sci-Fi Romance books that are translated are published as Paranormal… That mini-rant was to imply that I’m always glad to get a Sci-Fi Romance that looks like fun, so I was very happy when I won the giveaway.

The books tells the story of Saakshi, a Budheya prisioner of the brutal Ketaari Imperial Forces. She was sold as a slave to Pik, the owner of an alehouse in a space station in the middle of the neutral territory. Luckily for her, Pik is nice enough to treat her as respectfully as possible. In that forced job, she met Zoran, a Hadari’Kor mercenary. They never talked, but the attraction between them is pretty obvious. Everything was going fine, until a Ketaari soldier appears in the station and recognize Saakshi as a “former” rebel. The Unta-Golar thinks he can take advantage of his position to get sexual services from Saakshi. She obviously refuses. He doesn’t accept her answer and the threats begin. As you can imagine, the Budheya runs towards Zoran looking for help.

And that is how the story begins. It looked like it was going to be a fun romance book with lots of action and dangerous enemies, but it is not. Almost half of this book could be labelled as boring. During the first chapters, the characters get stuck in a loop and the story doesn’t go forwards. After Saakshi’s rescue, the pace of the book quickens but the action proves itself elusive. Every time there is going to be a battle, the author moves the focus to another place and we learn about the result of the conflict through comments by supporting characters. That’s a bit disappointing and my biggest issue with this book.

The characters are ok. I have enjoyed them most of the time. Saakshi’s behaviour along the book makes sense. It must be hard to trust someone after all her bad experiences in life. Zoran is the classic male character in Romance: a soft teddy bear wrapped in candy cane. Tough and yummy looking on the surface, but a sensitive and a loving guy on the inside. The supporting characters are also very nice and I hope to know more about them in future books. The most important question I have to resolve about them is this: Is Jolar single? And if so… Can I have his address? I have loved every single moment with that character. He is a hugger!! I’m sold!!

The wordbuilding of this book is also awesome. It’s simple, but rich and with lots of potential stories. We have two factions fighting for the control of the Araloka Sector: the Alliance (a.k.a. the good guys) and the Ketaari Empire. I guess in future books will explore more about the conflict. This one has been just an introduction. At least I hope there is more action in the following ones and that we can witness those situations.

The romance of the book is nothing out the ordinary. Girl meets boy. Boy flirts with girl. Boy and girl get together (very, very close). Boy leaves and girl gets sad. Boy comes back and all is fine again. The worst part about the romance has been some comments of Zoran. In a very passive way he forces Saakshi to live her life as he pleases. What she must do, what she must wear… He even makes the Budheya feel bad when she doesn’t follow his unspoken instructions… Thankfully doesn’t happen very often, so I will be nice and I will not consider Zoran a toxic boyfriend. But if I were her… I would be lap dancing in Jolar’s room all day!!

I can’t finish the review without commenting on the cover. It’s SO pretty!! I love the art, the colors and the font. It looks awesome in my shelf. Most of the covers in the Sci-Fi Romance genre are crap. Just big, headless guys showing off muscle. Sometimes with weird green or blue skin… So, yeah, the cover of The Mercenary deserves a comment to highlight the great piece of art.

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2018 – Book Gallery

 

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Ylesia – Walter Jon Williams

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Author: Walter Jon Williams
Series: Star Wars: The New Jedi Order #14.5
Pages: 121

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RIPE FOR THE PLUCKING

That’s Jedi Knight Kyp Durron’s opinion about the planet Ylesia, home base of the so-called Peace Brigade, a group of traitors dedicated to hindering the war efforts of the New Republic and hastening the ultimate victory of the merciless Yuuzhan Vong. Kyp’s plan calls for a lightning-fast strike, backed with overwhelming force, to destroy the Brigade’s offensive capabilities and teach prospective traitors that betrayal carries a heavy price. But young Jacen Solo, still bearing the scars of his imprisonment by the Yuuzhan Vong, has a better idea: a daring raid into the heart of Ylesia’s capital, with the objective of capturing the Brigade’s top leaders—including the newly sworn-in President, Thrackan Sal-Solo, cousin to Jacen and his twin, Jaina.

But unknown to the Jedi and the New Republic forces, Supreme Overlord Shimrra of the Yuuzhan Vong has dispatched reinforcements to the Ylesia system. Instead of a swift surgical strike, Jaina, Jacen, Kyp, and their comrades are about to find themselves locked in a desperate battle for survival, with the odds stacked against them and time running out…

There is not much to tell about this book. It’s a short story that takes place in the middle of the previous book, so the reader has to adapt their internal timetable to not get lost with this tale.

The book narrates the battle of Ylesia. The Yuuzhan Von obliterated the hutts living there and now the planet is controlled by the Peace Brigade (a.k.a. Vong Puppets). The new leader of that Brigade is not other than Thrackan Sal-Solo, cousin of Jacen and Jaina Solo. They are not friendly with each other… The New Republic has a plan to capture the Brigades’s leaders and make their trials public to rise the moral among the loyal followers of the New Republic. Obviously, nothing is simple when there are Vongs involved…

It’s an easy and well-paced read. Nothing remarkable, but a nice peek to that huge Universe that is Star Wars. Thankfully, the author doesn’t waste time trying to sell the plan to the readers with lots of political and military meetings (as in other books of this saga) and gets his hands dirty pretty fast. Not boring at all, but far from memorable. I guess I will remember that I have read this because it will forever saved on my Goodreads list…

In this okayish book there is a bright light that I have really enjoyed. Maybe it’s because I’m a huge fan of romance books, so the nods to Jaina’s relationship with Jagged Fel has made me smile from ear to ear. Han’s and Leia’s daughter is one of my favourite Star Wars characters. I was so pissed after the last book due to what Luke told her… I’m glad she is getting a bit of happines from the Imperial pilot. Let’s hope it last!! Romance and Star Wars are not usually best friends…

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2018 – Book Gallery

Destiny’s Way – Walter Jon Williams

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Author: Walter Jon Williams
Series: Star Wars: The New Jedi Order #14
Pages: 480

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In the war against the ruthless Yuuzhan Vong, the fall of Coruscant leaves the New Republic divided by internal strife and on their verge of bowing to conquest. But those who refuse to surrender – Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Leia Organa Solo and their children and comrades-in-arms are determined to seize victory against overwhelming odds.

Can I rant for a little while? Being this my blog, I guess I don’t need permission, so… rant it is!! My love for Star Wars started a long time ago in a very close place: the cinema next to my home. About 15 years ago, I started reading books and comics of this huge Universe. I didn’t know a word in English back then, so I had to wait for the Spanish translation. Even though I learned English (I get by at least), I kept buying Star Wars books in Spanish to support the awesome publisher called Alberto Santos. They made a great effort to bring us many Star Wars books in the best quality possible. For reasons unknown, they lost the rights to publish those books. Planeta DeAgostini (a huge publisher) got them and started publishing them thorugh their Timun Mas editorial. The nightmare began.

Albert Santos only could publish four or five books of The New Jedi Order saga before losing the rights. Planeta DeAgostini, instead of releasing the rest in bookshops, thought it would be “funnier” to publish the rest as a weekly kiosk collection… I got a few, but I missed most of them. The service to get back issues was crap :(. I cried a little bit. I love The New Jedi Order books so much!! I wanted them in Spanish so my brother could read them, too. I felt backstabbed, but I put my faith on the new releases by Timun Mas. BIIIIIIG mistake!! The quality of the books was shameful. Horrible translations. Grammatical mistakes in every single page. I even have a book where, during a whole chapter, Padme is treated as a man and Palpatine as a woman… They killed this collector of Star Wars books in Spanish. That moment is when I decided to read them in English and ignore Timun Mas’ shenanigans.

Buuut Disney bought Star Wars and took the decision to put the whole Expanded Universe in a Legacy box and make it non-official. I know I shouldn’t, but I felt cheated. It’s a pretty clever move to give them some freedom and the books are still there, but I felt I was loving a Star Wars of a parallel universe and my interest for the Star Wars books (old and new) decreased to almost nothing. I need to get my mojo back, and what better than the New Jedi Order to achieve that? I have yet several books to read to know how they defeat the Yuuzhan Vong (if they defeat them!!).

This books tells the next step of the war against the Yuuzhan Vong. Jacen and Vergere have escaped, Jaina is leaving behind her dark moments and the New Republic is about to build a new government in Mon Calamari. In that planet, the former Admiral Ackbar comes with a plan to defeat the Yuuzhan Vong once and for all. Or at least to put a big dent in their military resources. That plan need a bait: Jaina. She doesn’t know that part of the plan, by the way. Everything is being kept very secret.

I won’t spoil the end of the battle, but I must say this is maybe the happiest book so far. There are not big deaths that make you cry for days as in previous books. The list of casualties is so long… I can barely keep track of all the awesome characters that have met they end during this conflict.

This book has a bit of everything. The worst are all the space battles before the big one. All those fights against the Yuuzhan Vong feel the same. The New Republic doesn’t have many tactics to avoid the dovin basals of the enemy, so the description of them is rather repetitive. That’s not the fault of the writer. It has been like that for several books already. I enjoyed the most the political part, even though our beloved heroes have some behaviours that make me a bit angry. The blackmail to influence the election results… That is going to come back viciously!!

I have to confess that I kind of hate Luke in this book. The way he moves his former students as if they were mere chess pieces… Man, that’s cold. Jaina and Jacen are family!!! And the words he says to Jaina during the Jedi graduation… I was speechless. I wanted to punch him so hard!!! He has to be extra-nice in the next books if he wants my forgiveness!!

I’m also a bit scared with myself. I didn’t dislike the Alpha Red solution and I know I should. The Yuuzhan have brought so much pain to the galaxy that my empathy for them is non-existent.

I’ll keep reading this saga, because I need to know how they defeat the Yuuzhan Vong. I don’t know if I will read more books of the Legacy box after the New Jedi Order. It will all depend  on the reanimation of my inner Star Wars fanboy.

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2018 – Book Gallery