Star Wars Expanded Universe: Legacy of the Force #5 Sacrifice

A few notes before we begin:

Sacrifice is the fifth book in the Legacy of the Force series. It is also the 28th book published  by Del Rey after they took over the publishing arm of the Expanded Universe prior to the New Jedi Order series. The book was written by Karen Traviss.

This is the book where they kill off Mara Jade Skywalker. She is probably the most beloved EU character that does not appear in any of the movies. She had been a part of the EU since being introduced in he very first EU book trilogy. She dies here and while it probably does not outweigh the death of Chewbacca I submit that it is the second most traumatic death in the entire EU. She was around much longer than Anakin Solo and for me I was much more emotionally involved with her character.

Lotf-sacrifice

As the fifth book in a nine book series it is the middle of the Legacy of the Force series. There are four books before it and four after. In the four previous books we have seen Jacen Solo’s march to the dark side. In the previous four books we have seen Jacen struggle, and debate his dark turn. In this book he takes the final step into said darkness. First he stages what amounts to an illegal coup and topples the Galatic Alliance Government and installs himself as Co-Head of State. He also murders Mara Jade.

I like main character deaths as it raises the dramatic stakes for everyone who lives on. Think about Rogue One…those rebel sacrifices make A New Hope a much better movie. While I am not sure Mara was exactly the right character to die in certainly raises the stakes and lets us the readers know maybe no one is safe. My main complaint against the Expanded Universe as a whole is not enough main characters meet their rim fate. Of characters from the movies only Chewbacca dies, and of the main book characters Mara is the among the first to meet her grim end. Maybe Anakin Solo holds that distinction but having not read many of the Young Jedi Knights series I am not sure I count him. My main point here is that not enough main characters in the EU fave mortal peril and almost none of them fail that test…and that is just poor story telling.

The best thing about this book to me is the interactions we see between Mara and her son Ben. There is not enough of this in the EU as a whole as most of the movie heroes have families of their own. The relationship between the Solo’s and their children is not something we see a lot of…and that which we do see in the New Jedi Order Series was pretty insightful given where the authors take Jacen in the books that followed.

While I am not one to give a ton of specific spoilers in these reviews I do want to take a moment to talk about Luke Skywalker and his vengeance killing of Lumiya. This is an incredibly dark thing for the Grand Master of the Jedi order to do. While we have seen Luke fall to the dark side previous to this, this act is without a doubt the darkest thing we have seen Luke carry out. I am not sure how I feel about this but I know that this is something Luke struggles with throughout the rest of this series. I guess that makes it okay…but…

In other random notes I really wonder if Del Rey missed the boat by not publishing a book specifically about Jacen’s five-year sojourn though the Galaxy following the New Jedi Order series. I would like to see a book like that even though of the A Song of Ice and Fire style Star Wars books I am not a huge fan of any of them. I guess I would like to see more of the galaxy through Jacen’s eyes. I find his inner dialogue through the Legacy of the Force series very entertaining.

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Star Wars Expanded Universe: Legacy of the Force #4 Exile

A few notes before we begin:

Exile is the fourth book in the Legacy of the Force series. It is the 27th Star Wars book published b y Del Rey after they took over the publishing arm prior to the New Jedi Order series.

Exile was written by Aaron Allston who would write some 13 Expanded Universe books. This is his second LotF edition as he also penned the opening book in the series Betrayal.

By and large this book serves to move some pieces around to set up drama in the next book in this series. We see out characters being moved around the board as the Galaxy descends into further madness largely manipulated by Lumiya and Jacen Solo. That is not to say this is a bad book, because I found it quite enjoyable and the biggest thing we get here is a look at the story through the eyes of Ben Skywalker.

Lotf_exile

Ben gets sent on a mission by Jacen to see if he is worthy of being his Dark Side apprentice. Lumiya has suspicions that he is not and is actively trying to bump him off. I really enjoy this story line as I believe this is the first time we see Ben have a big chunk of story to himself and we start to see how he sees what is going on around him.

While I liked Ben’s flirtation with the Dark Side I think it would have been more interesting had he actually fallen. For me that is how I would have brought the Skywalker’s and Solo’s back together having to try to foil and/or turn the younger generation back to the light. I think ultimately that would have made more sense and been more interesting to read about.

Given Jacen’s recent success the Galactic Alliance Government asks Luke and the Jedi Council to make him a Master. This is done to draw yet another Darth Vader parallel. It smacks so much of the Prequel Trilogy that of all the things this series does to point out the Jacen is Vader reincarnate that this one fails as bad as Anakin’s acting in said trilogy. Maybe that’s just me but given all that Jacen has seen in his thirty-some years I could have bought him turning without such a heavy-handed leaning on Vader’s legacy.

With all of that being said this is not a bad book. As the fourth book in a nine book series in very much is a transition book as the narrative shifts us from the set up to the meat of the story. All of that stuff has to happen so we can get to Jacen as a full on Sith Lord and what that means for the Galaxy far far away.

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My Favorite Detroit Lions-Kick Returner Desmond Howard

I have been a fan of the Detroit Lions since 1989. That is about a lifetime and to be fair they have brought a lot of sadness and misery into my life. If pain makes one strong then Detroit Lions fans are among the strongest fans in the universe. However, when I think about my favorite sports moments a lot of good Lions memories are there. I am from Detroit, my kid was born in Detroit and I rep my city and its teams. That means I bleed silver and Honolulu blue. While I think that they are on the right track now that has not always been the case. Even though I wanted to do a top 25 list to be very honest the Matt “The Idiot” Millen years make that near impossible. With that in mind here are my twenty favorite Detroit Lions players from my 28 years of Lion fandom.

With that being said:

desmond

#15-KR #80 Desmond Howard

To be fair Desmond Howard did not accomplish a whole lot in three plus seasons as a member of the Detroit Lions. However, he did win a Heisman Trophy at Michigan and he was a Super Bowl MVP so getting him to finish out his NFL run with the Lions was really cool. Michigan football has always been a very big deal around where I live and having this guy with the Lions made all us Lions fans warm and fuzzy.

Let us also not forget that in his Lions debut he returned a kick to the house.

Other than that this is really a nostalgia pick. It was done on the cheap and to help sell tickets and there is nothing wrong with that. I have seen entire football leagues try and draft young local talent that can help a team establish a base. IN the wake of Barry Sanders retirement it was an okay move to bring this guy in even though he had been cut by the Green Bay Packers.

Read more about my Favorite Detroit Lions players here

My Favorite Detroit Lions-WR Golden Tate

I have been a fan of the Detroit Lions since 1989. That is about a lifetime and to be fair they have brought a lot of sadness and misery into my life. If pain makes one strong then Detroit Lions fans are among the strongest fans in the universe. However, when I think about my favorite sports moments a lot of good Lions memories are there. I am from Detroit, my kid was born in Detroit and I rep my city and its teams. That means I bleed silver and Honolulu blue. While I think that they are on the right track now that has not always been the case. Even though I wanted to do a top 25 list to be very honest the Matt “The Idiot” Millen years make that near impossible. With that in mind here are my twenty favorite Detroit Lions players from my 28 years of Lion fandom.

With that being said:

tate

#16-WR #15 Golden Tate

This is going to be somewhat of a controversial pick. It is hard to argue against production. Golden Tate has been very productive in his three years as a Detroit Lion. However, since he went to Notre Dame he already has one strike against him, he is also a free agent signing which is not a favorite thing here in Detroit, and we all remember those post game comments in 2015.

After a blowout loss to the Arizona Cardinals at home, where we saw Matthew Stafford get benched for poor play, Tate choose to call out the fans for their lack of support. Well ya know what Golden…FUCK YOU!! You have been here three years…some of us including me have been a fan of this team for a fucking lifetime and we have seen far too many fucking blowout loses at home. We are pretty sick of it. We have seen two hall of fame players waste their careers here. We have seen this team loose games it should win, and we have not seen a playoff victory of any kind since 1991. IN fact Ford Field, which the taxpayers helped pay for, has yet to host a Lions playoff game. So shut up…help the team win…and if anyone bought a ticket they are pretty entitled to boo your ass when your getting blown out at home.

Beyond that in three seasons Tate is 13th on the Lions all time receiving list. While it is fun to joke about all those receivers Matt “the idiot” Millen drafted just in my time as a Lions fan there have been more than a few great receivers on this team. Calvin Johnson,Herman Moore, Johnnie Morton, and Brett Perriman all come to mind. What makes Tate impressive is he has a higher catch percentage than all of them.

In the end is is a great possession receiver.He can help the offense move the chains and gets those tough yards to keep a drive alive. When he is paired with a legit deep threat and an above average QB well that should really be something…the 2017 Lions are going to have to score a lot of points since it seems the defense is not going to be what they call healthy for the coming NFL season.

Read more about my Favorite Detroit Lions players here

My Favorite Detroit Lions- Kick Returner Mel Gray

I have been a fan of the Detroit Lions since 1989. That is about a lifetime and to be fair they have brought a lot of sadness and misery into my life. If pain makes one strong then Detroit Lions fans are among the strongest fans in the universe. However, when I think about my favorite sports moments a lot of good Lions memories are there. I am from Detroit, my kid was born in Detroit and I rep my city and its teams. That means I bleed silver and Honolulu blue. While I think that they are on the right track now that has not always been the case. Even though I wanted to do a top 25 list to be very honest the Matt “The Idiot” Millen years make that near impossible. With that in mind here are my twenty favorite Detroit Lions players from my 28 years of Lion fandom.

With that being said:

gray

#17 Kick Returner #23 Mel Gray

I got interested in football in 1988. My mother was getting divorced and really I just needed the distraction. I had been a huge baseball fan for years prior to that. However they don’t play baseball in the winter. Needless to say that Christmas season was stressful and I ended up spending a lot of time with my extended family.  During one of those trips I got to watch the 1988 Holiday Bowl where one Barry Sanders ran for 222 yards and five touchdowns. When I heard that he was coming to play for my Detroit Lions I decided that I just had to watch.

While watching Barry was always exciting the guy I loved to watch play was Kick Returner Mel Gray. Granted we wouldn’t see his true potential till that magical run in 1991, but to me every time he touched the ball he seemed like he was about to break a big one. Gray has written the book of records for the Lions in terms of kick and punt returns.

Being a exciting piece of a team that has Barry Sanders says all we need to say about Gray. WHile it does seem said to list a lot of specialist on a list like this Matt “the idiot” Millen did run this team far longer that he should have and made a literal ton of bad personel decisions. If I were to do a list of favorite UFL players that list would be littered with guys Millen used top draft picks to attain.

Read more about my Favorite Detroit Lions players here

My Favorite Detroit Lions-QB Charlie Batch

I have been a fan of the Detroit Lions since 1989. That is about a lifetime and to be fair they have brought a lot of sadness and misery into my life. If pain makes one strong then Detroit Lions fans are among the strongest fans in the universe. However, when I think about my favorite sports moments a lot of good Lions memories are there. I am from Detroit, my kid was born in Detroit and I rep my city and its teams. That means I bleed silver and Honolulu blue. While I think that they are on the right track now that has not always been the case. Even though I wanted to do a top 25 list to be very honest the Matt “The Idiot” Millen years make that near impossible. With that in mind here are my twenty favorite Detroit Lions players from my 28 years of Lion fandom.

With that being said:

Charlie Batch runs with the ball

#18-QB #10 Charlie Batch

Let’s be real honest here. Charlie Batch was a very good backup Quarterback. However he got to be a starter here in Detroit because…well because Barry Sanders quit.

It was a weird time for the Detroit Lions. Wayne Fontes was finally fired and Bobby Ross was brought in and changed up the offense. This never sat well with Barry and a lot of his guys were allowed to leave. Ross wanted to run a power running game that he did not have the personnel for. That led to losing and frustration till Barry had had enough. Charlie Batch was given the reigns in part because he could play that hybrid QB/RB style to help the slumping running game and keep defenses off-balance.

That was a pretty good idea in theory however Batch was oft-injured and did not start all 16 games in the three years in was the Lions starting QB. It is the 2000 season I want to focus on here. Batch would have his lowest completion percentage that year but pass for the most yards. He would lead the Lions to the final game of the season where he would suffer another injury and the Lions would lose that game on a last-minute field goal. That would be the final straw for this era of the Lions. That off-season Matt “The Idiot” Millen would be brought in and he began his reign of destruction on the Lions roster and started personal beefs with more than a few players. Batch was one of them, and although he would start the 2001 season as the starter his days were numbered in Detroit.

In a little more than three seasons Batch passed for over 9,000 yards, completed 56 percent of his passes and have an overall record of 19-27. Those are not great numbers but given the fact that Batch was thought of as an underdog, and that he attended Eastern Michigan made him a fan favorite in Detroit.

Read more about my Favorite Detroit Lions players here

 

Star Wars Expanded Universe: Legacy of the Force #3 Tempest

A few notes before we begin:

Tempest is the third book in the Legacy of the Force series and the 26th book published by Del Rey after they took over the publishing of Star Wars books prior to the New Jedi Order series.

This edition was written by Troy Denning. That is important because not only was he a much celebrated author of the old Expanded Universe but because he wrote the Dark Nest Trilogy where he sets up Jacen Solo’s eventual fall to the dark side.

Tempest(LOF)

The best thing about this book is how we see the Skywalker-Solo clan ripped apart by the goings on on the Star Wars universe. We see Luke get into a pretty animated argument with Han, Mara Jade and Leia unable to keep those waters calm. We also see the new generation of Jedi (in the case Jacen and Ben Skywalker) battle Luke and Mara Jade. The clan that has kept peace sort of and been at the heart of solving numerous Galactic conflicts is being ripped apart at the seams.

Jacen seems to be done debating the merits of becoming a Sith Lord and taken the first few steps towards becoming his Grandfather. We also see him diluting himself that he is making a different choice than that of Darth Vader. He is not doing it for his love of Tenel Ka. However, it seems that we can argue that he is doing this to help provide his daughter, Alana, with a more safe and secure galaxy.

The political subplot sees the new Corellian government setting up a coup in the Hapes Consortium. Once Jacen hears that his lover and daughter have been threatened he heads to Hapes with Ben in his new Star Destroyer named for his deceased little brother Anakin.

The Corellians set up Han and Leia for an assassination attempt and once Jacen hears that they might be involved he issues warrants for their arrests. This leads to the inexperienced and heavily influenced Ben to try to arrest his Uncle Han at the most inappropriate time. In the end Jacen makes the choice to fire on a ship he knows contains his sister, his parents, and Ben. It is an holy crap moment and cements the fact that Jacen will soon become a Dark Lord of the Sith.

This books also sees the return of Jagged Fel. He is a great character and even though he has been humbled a lot by the fallout from the events in the Dark Nest Trilogy he is still doing typical Jag things. I love the Jag character and his relationship with Jaina Solo.

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