Author: Martha Wells
Publisher: Del Rey
Release date: September 24, 2013
This review contains minor spoilers.
Newcomer Martha Wells joins the Star Wars Expanded Universe with Empire and Rebellion: Razor’s Edge, the first in a trilogy of standalone novels focused on each of the Big Three. Razor’s Edge is a smaller, more personal story focused on Han and Leia. When a Rebel ship runs across a group of Alderaanian pirates while on a mission to pick up materials for Echo Base, Leia believes she can reason with them. Naturally, things don’t go as planned, forcing Leia and the pirates to form an uneasy relationship based on nostalgia and a bit of mutual respect in order to survive.
While the pirates’ planet of origin creates an interesting dynamic between the two factions, there was nothing particularly Alderaanian about them. Their attachment to Leia (and vice versa) is used as the driving force behind a number of decisions in the book, but there really wasn’t anything special about them overall.
Of course, this isn’t a big deal in the long run, since it provides a look at how Leia deals with the fallout from the destruction of her homeworld and her role in the Alliance. As the former Princess of Alderaan and a Rebel Alliance figurehead, Leia is forced to shoulder certain responsibilities whether she wants to or not. Wells does a good job of capturing Leia’s personality, from her banter with Han to her desire to be a part of the action regardless of her safety.
Luke and Chewbacca appear in the book as well, but they’re mostly sidelined. This is fine in theory (they don’t need to play a large role in every story) but it was strange to see Han Solo without his famous sidekick during this era, and Luke had almost nothing to contribute. Every time I thought they’d start to play a larger role, they were quickly pulled back again. In fact, Luke’s biggest scene could be described as an utter failure due to his inability to notice something painfully obvious. Although to be fair, when it came to this particular plot point, Han and Leia made similarly strange decisions as well.
In the end, Razor’s Edge is a fun Leia-centric addition to the EU, capping off a great year of Star Wars novels. It’s by no means perfect – in addition to the aforementioned issues, a few of the character names were similar enough to be confusing – but it’s very enjoyable overall. It’s also remarkably easy to get into, requiring no prior knowledge of the EU. If you’re a fan of Leia (and who’s not?) you’ll want to check out Razor’s Edge. And for a more Han-centric story, stay tuned for James S. A. Corey’s Empire and Rebellion: Honor Among Thieves.
Advanced Review Copy (ARC) courtesy of Del Rey. All staff members can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Review updated on January 27, 2014.