Star Wars: Empire’s End

Published Post author

Star Wars: Empire's End Book Cover Star Wars: Empire's End
Star Wars
Chuck Wendig
Sci-fi
Del Rey Books
February 21, 2017
Hardcover
423

Following "Star Wars: Aftermath" and "Star Wars: Life Debt," Chuck Wendig delivers the exhilarating conclusion to the "New York Times" bestselling trilogy set in the years between "Return of the Jedi" and "The Force Awakens."

 

Aftermath: Empire’s End is the third in a trilogy so this review will contain some spoilers regarding the first two books, Aftermath and Life Debt.

The Aftermath trilogy did not start off very well received. The first book was Disney’s first story in the new continuity taking place after Return of the Jedi. People expected lots of details and developments and such from it and the book just did not deliver that. The sequel, Life Debt, was a bit better because it had more meat on its bones. Neither of these books was necessarily bad in and of themselves; they just did not live up to the hype.

Now we get to Empire’s End, where things start to come together. We know that this book is going to feature the Battle of Jakku, which The Force Awakens told us was the Empire’s last stand. That one battle alone makes this novel important to the franchise as a whole. As do the villain Gallius Rex’s strategies during said battle, as he is carrying out orders from the late Emperor. But beyond that key battle, the stories of this trilogy just are not that interesting. If you are a diehard Star Wars fan that wants to know all the lore, you will get more enjoyment from this. For people who are more interested in the key details, not so much.

Empire’s End largely features the same cast of characters from the previous books. And Star Wars loves to mix and match their characters across stories. Sloane got her first appearance in the novel A New Dawn and popped up in the Kanan comics before becoming a central character here. Temmin is present at the mission briefing in The Force Awakens and popped up in the Poe Dameron comics. Letting the characters be fleshed out across multiple stories, even if they only have minor roles later on, really makes them feel more important and worth the pages spent on their development.

Like the previous two books, Empire’s End features little interludes throughout the story. We see various characters from across the movies doing stuff, but never in too much detail. For the first book, this made a lot of sense. Aftermath came out before Episode VII and Disney did not want to give too much away. These instances feel more like teases than real information but maybe Disney will expand on some of that later.

Try to think of this book as 3.5 out of 5. Independently it feels like it could be 4 stars for a big Star Wars fan, but the fact that you have to read the first two (much worse) books to understand this one just bogs Empire’s End down.

June 11, 2017

Emperor of Thorns (Broken Empire #3)

Published Post author

Emperor of Thorns Book Cover Emperor of Thorns
Broken Empire
Mark Lawrence
Fantasy
Ace
August 1, 2013
Hardcover
434

King Jorg Ancrath is twenty now—and king of seven nations. His goal—revenge against his father—has not yet been realized, and the demons that haunt him have only grown stronger. Yet no matter how tortured his path, he intends to take the next step in his upward climb.

Jorg would be emperor. It is a position not to be gained by the sword but rather by vote. And never in living memory has anyone secured a majority of the vote, leaving the Broken Empire long without a leader. Jorg plans to change that. He’s uncovered the lost technology of the land, and he won’t hesitate to use it.

But he soon finds an adversary standing in his way, a necromancer unlike any he has ever faced—a figure hated and feared even more than himself: the Dead King.

 

This review will contain spoilers for the first two books in the trilogy, Prince of Thorns and King of Thorns.

Emperor of Thorns, like the previous book, starts off a few years after its predecessor. Jorg is now 20 years old and ruler of 7 nations. This, coupled with his cruelty and unpredictability, makes him one of the more powerful rulers of the Broken Empire. The world that Mark Lawrence has built here is fantastic but it is really Jorg’s cruelty that makes this great. Fantasy books often have people who are heroes or, bare minimum, anti-heroes. Jorg is by no means either of those things.

Saying that Jorg is a villain would be a bit of a stretch, but not by much. We have seen him murder, torture, rape, lie, cheat, and steal with a smile on his face. But he does not act this way out of glee or a sick sense of satisfaction. Jorg’s demeanor is, “This dark world is ruled by monsters, so let me be the greatest monster.” Despite being a morally terrible person, Jorg does mellow out a bit as the trilogy progresses. He goes from “I will take what should be mine” to “the world needs a strong leader”. He just sees himself as the best candidate to be a leader who can kill the true villains.

The series was full of other wonderful characters as well, like Sir Makin and Gorgoth. While the story very much focuses on Jorg, we still get other character development. We see Jorg’s brothers and other people around him transition from soldiers to leaders, enemies to allies, and more. Making Jorg an unstoppable force through intellect and some dumb luck instead of making him a legendary warrior or prodigy mage is also a nice touch compared to some other fantasy series.

Like King of Thorns, Emperor of Thorns does feature flashbacks. These kick off where the previous flashbacks stopped, so they still take place between the first two books. The jumping around between these two times, and between multiple characters, can make things a bit muddled. I was almost tempted to read the flashback parts separate and then carry on and who knows, maybe the story would have seemed smoother that way. Despite that little bit of confusion, the Broken Empire Trilogy is truly a gem. The characters who are terrible yet “the good guys”, the combination post-apocalypse sci-fi/fantasy world, and Mark Lawrence knowing when to stop instead of milking a franchise for decades make this one of the best modern fantasy series.

June 4, 2017

Lindsey Stirling: Brave Enough

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Poster for the movie "Lindsey Stirling: Brave Enough"

Lindsey Stirling: Brave Enough

Her Story. Her Stage.

20171 h 15 min
Overview

Beginning on the eve of her thirtieth birthday, “Brave Enough,” documents violinist Lindsey Stirling over the past year as she comes to terms with the most challenging & traumatic events of her life. Through her art, she seeks to share a message of hope and courage and yet she must ask herself the question, “Am I Brave Enough?” Capturing her personal obstacles and breakthrough moments during the “Brave Enough,” tour, the film presents an intimate look at this one-of- a-kind artist and her spectacular live performances inspired by real-life heartbreak, joy, and love.

Metadata
Runtime 1 h 15 min
Release Date 17 May 2017
Details
Movie Media Other
Movie Status Available
Movie Rating Excellent

Brave Enough depicts the self-made career of the electro dancing violinist Lindsey Stirling. Whereas her book, The Only Pirate at the Party, was more about Lindsey’s childhood and how she got to where she is, Brave Enough focuses more on Lindsey today. The movie is a bit easier to understand if you already know a bit about her; there is only so much you can fit into a 70-minute film. Even if you go into this film blind, it is still a phenomenal story. The way that Lindsey has built herself up, how she always gets back up no matter how many times she falls down, is truly inspiring.

In her career, Lindsey has risked everything to succeed more than once. She played violin from the age of six and tried to find her way with general music. But when classical, country, and everything else did not work, she invented her own style. As a modern star, she was able to more or less make herself thanks to the digital age. Once her videos were on YouTube they went viral and started drawing a lot of attention. This, following her quarterfinalist status on America’s Got Talent, really threw her into the limelight.

But this was not an easy journey for her; she did not win America’s Got Talent and that devastated her at the time. You have to remember that she is a young woman and was even younger (23) when all this started. Throughout her musical career, and her life in general, she has had her share of hardship. She has battled against anorexia as well as the loss of her best friend and the loss of her father. Brave Enough shows there are days where Lindsey seems at a point where most other people would break, but she keeps going.

Throughout the film, Lindsey says that she is not a naturally brave person. The way she behaves is not instinct; it is how she has shaped herself. That resolve coupled with the help of her family and friends has helped her overcome every obstacle. She has transformed from a girl who looked lost and broken to a woman who is living her dreams. Life is not something that plays out perfectly but she has played it as masterfully as she plays the violin. As Lindsey herself puts it, “We can’t block ourselves from emotion. If you numb the bad, you numb the good.” She has followed that philosophy through and through because she has found the strength to be Brave Enough.

May 28, 2017

Killing Floor (Jack Reacher #1)

Published Post author

Killing Floor Book Cover Killing Floor
Jack Reacher
Lee Child
Thriller
Jove (originally Putnam)
October 30, 2012 (mass market); March 17, 1997 (original)
Paperback
524

Ex-military policeman Jack Reacher is a drifter. He’s just passing through Margrave, Georgia, and in less than an hour, he’s arrested for murder. Not much of a welcome. All Reacher knows is that he didn’t kill anybody. At least not here. Not lately. But he doesn’t stand a chance of convincing anyone. Not in Margrave, Georgia. Not a chance in hell.

 

Killing Floor is the first book in the 20+ year Jack Reacher series. If you had to describe this book in a single word, “thriller” would do nicely. Jack Reacher himself if your standard hero tough guy. Ex-military, a drifter, the man who never quits…you know the type. Whether tracking down clues to solve the mystery or taking out a room full of bad guys, Jack Reacher is your man. When some bad types mistake him for a hobo and try to make him a scapegoat, things get violent.

Everything you can expect to find in a 30-year old action movie can be found here. Jack Reacher, the hero with demigod level combat expertise. The one attractive woman in town who instantly shacks up with Reacher. Evil villains whose motivation is their own corporate interests. A small group of locals who want to help Reacher take back their town from the jowls of corruption. Gunfights, murder, mystery, vengeance, and everything else 80’s action movies were glorified for. Reacher himself makes for a good character because he is smart. Yes, he gets surprised a few times, but that is required in a thriller. He does have strong deductive reasoning from his military background as opposed to being a “just shoot everyone” action hero.

Bearing the action movies of yonder years’ style as its standard, the Killing Floor is not a realistic novel. There are plot holes, there are moments where Reacher pulls a rabbit out of a hat, and there are bits where sheer dumb luck saves the day. But you do not watch an action movie for deep, integral plots. You watch it so you can see evil, scheming people and their thugs get blown away by high caliber weaponry. Reacher himself is a hard mother-f’er who does not let anyone push him around. And he is more than willing to do a bit of pushing himself when someone ticks him off.

For readers who do like taking an analytical approach, this book is probably not for you. The writing is…ok. There are many spots where dialogue, grammar, etc. could have used some improvement. However, Lee Child has produced over 20 more of these things since Killing Floor came out so it is probably a fair assumption that the writing quality improves across the subsequent sequels. While the books did not blow me away, it is interesting enough to read the next one. So long as they stay action packed that will be good enough for me.

May 21, 2017

A Dance of Cloaks (Shadowdance #1)

Published Post author

A Dance of Cloaks Book Cover A Dance of Cloaks
Shadowdance
David Dalglish
Fantasy
Orbit (originally CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform)
October 8, 2013 (Orbit); August 16, 2010 (original)
Paperback
448

Thren Felhorn is the greatest assassin of his time. Marshalling the thieves’ guilds under his control, he declares war against the Trifect, an allegiance of wealthy and powerful nobles.

Aaron Felhorn has been groomed since birth to be Thren’s heir. Sent to kill the daughter of a priest, Aaron instead risks his own life to protect her from the wrath of his guild. In doing so, he glimpses a world beyond poison, daggers, and the iron control of his father.

Guilds twist and turn, trading allegiances for survival. The Trifect weakens, its reputation broken, its money dwindling. The players take sides as the war nears its end, and Thren puts in motion a plan to execute hundreds.

Only Aaron can stop the massacre and protect those he loves…

Assassin or protector; every choice has its consequences.

 

A Dance of Cloaks caught my eye when I found a copy of the second book, A Dance of Blades, at a book fair. “Magic and assassins,” I thought, “cool; maybe it will turn out better than Brent Week’s Night Angel trilogy did.” While the assassins are called thieves throughout the book, they are more so assassins. These are not the “if he doesn’t listen, send him a message” type of thieves. They are the “if he doesn’t listen, kill him and move on” types. They seem less interested in stealing than in just murdering everyone who does not bend the knee to them.

For a fantasy world, A Dance of Cloaks is fairly typical. Readers get a map in the front of the book, there are lots of complicated names of far-off places that get mentioned once in passing and never again, a few different types of magic exist (paladins, priest wizards, regular wizards, etc.), and so forth. David Dalglish’s works are in a shared universe, so maybe some of these places are more relevant in oAther books. As a nice touch, the main character did not have magic but is still competent. Fantasy gets old when every main character is awesome mostly because they have some kind of super-magic.

There is a fair amount of action in the story and it gets pretty bloody at times. This scales from combat sequences to outright torture of some characters. Most of it is not horrifically descriptive, but it is enough that some readers may be squeamish. A lot of the characters, being either thieves or evil rich people, are detestable human beings. Not quite King Joffrey level, but still pretty bad. A lot of these characters, unfortunately, stay the same throughout the book. It is mostly the younger ones, whose hearts have not been hardened by the war between thieves and the rich folk, who are able to change and get good character development.

The end of A Dance of Cloaks was…not the best. Things really start to get revved up and then just kind of stop. Since there are five sequels this makes sense, but you do not get a full story reading this book alone. Things get pretty chaotic and rushed towards the end and suddenly boom, it’s over. That being said, it is all enjoyable enough to read the next book. A Dance of Cloaks was not necessarily spectacular, but entertaining enough to build upon itself in the sequels.

May 14, 2017

The Magic of Recluce (Special 20th Anniversary Edition)

Published Post author

The Magic of Recluce Book Cover The Magic of Recluce
The Saga of Recluce
L.E. Modesitt Jr.
Fantasy
Tor Books
June 21, 2011 (originally April 1999)
Paperback
464

An epic adventure world that has so far spanned fifteen novels and has run for twenty years was launched in The Magic of Recluce, a triumph of fantasy. Young Lerris is dissatisfied with his life and trade, and yearns to find a place in the world better suited to his skills and temperament. But in Recluce a change in circumstances means taking one of two options: permanent exile from Recluce or the dangergeld, a complex, rule-laden wanderjahr in the lands beyond Recluce, with the aim of learning how the world works and what his place in it might be. Many do not survive. Lerris chooses dangergeld.

When Lerris is sent into intensive training for his quest, it soon becomes clear that he has a natural talent for magic. And he will need magic in the lands beyond, where the power of the Chaos Wizards reigns unchecked. Though it goes against all of his instincts, Lerris must learn to use his powers in an orderly way before his wanderjahr, or fall prey to Chaos.

This twentieth anniversary edition will feature an all-new cover and include the Recluce map, plus a new foreword from the author.

 

The Magic of Recluce (Special 20th Anniversary Edition) came to me thanks to a Goodreads giveaway.

L.E. Modesitt Jr. is a name that I am used to seeing. Going to a used book sale or any used book store and looking through the fantasy section without seeing his name seems impossible. So, when I happened to get this book via giveaway, I decided to give it a gander. “High fantasy at its best” is how I would describe the book. This is by no means a fast-paced book and that will deter some people. But for the reader looking for something more Tolkien than Rowling, it is truly excellent.

The magic system is largely what makes The Magic of Recluce so unique. This world has two magical forces; chaos and order. While they are generally seen as “chaos = bad, order = good”, this is not universally true. It falls more along the line of the Dungeons and Dragons alignment chart. You can be “Lawful Evil” or “Chaotic Good”, those individuals just tend to be rarer. Beyond that, the magic follows some typical light/dark principles. Chaos magic is more offensive, order is more defensive (destruction vs. creation/preservation). The only thing that may throw readers is that Chaos mages are called White mages and Order folks are Black mages, as opposed to the usual motif of black magic being destructive and white magic being healing spells and such.

The way magic is perceived shapes the Recluce and beyond. Recluce is the “land of Order”. Everything there is made from near-perfect Order. And anything (or anyone) who does not fit that bill is thrown out. This is where the main character, Lerris, finds himself. He lives in a place of pure Order and finds it really, really boring. The little journey of self-discovery this sends him on is not a fast-paced trip. There are some wizard battles and moments of action here and there, but in between are many pages about Lerris walking from town to town and such. If you have read any high fantasy before, you know what to expect.

High fantasy is not for everyone, but even people who find it grueling can enjoy this. It is as much of a coming of age story as a fantasy and shows that even wizards can just live life and do everyday things. Heroes do not spend every day saving the world; some days you just work so you can eat. The Magic of Recluce is book 1 in a long series so I imagine it gets even better from here.

May 7, 2017

Your Name

Published Post author

Poster for the movie "Your Name."

Your Name.

20161 h 46 min
Overview

High schoolers Mitsuha and Taki are complete strangers living separate lives. But one night, they suddenly switch places. Mitsuha wakes up in Taki’s body, and he in hers. This bizarre occurrence continues to happen randomly, and the two must adjust their lives around each other.

Metadata
Director Makoto Shinkai
Runtime 1 h 46 min
Release Date 26 August 2016
Details
Movie Media Cinema
Movie Status Available
Movie Rating Masterpiece

Your Name is a stunning film that ranks with the works of companies like Disney and Studio Ghibli. To say that it is a love story would be like saying Saving Private Ryan is “just a war movie”. It is a coming of age story about how people grow and our experiences shape who we are, even as we get older and the memories of those experiences begin to fade. The film shows the raw power contained within human emotions and how that power can overcome the passing of time. Your Name has the ability to captivate any audience, leaving you gripping the edge of your seat.

A summary of the movie might make it the story seem basic, yet it is anything but that. The movie is not action packed but the empathy you feel for the characters will keep your heart pounding. It is the relationship between the two main characters that drives the film but that branches out into so much more. There are very real stakes for both characters and the people around them. The story begins with what could be anything from a mysterious accident to an unexplained act of fate. Your Name plays itself out well with a mix of romance, comedy, drama, and more.

Many anime films, and anime in general, are defined by fantasy elements. The otherworldly creatures in Spirited Away, the titular Castle in the Sky, and so on and so forth. Most of the time these are grandiose, powerful elements that directly shape the story. While there is a fantasy element in Your Name, it is the story’s catalyst rather than its driving force. It is subtle enough that the story feels very close to reality. This is not something that could actually happen, but events such as these can occur. Life can end beautifully or tragically, with any mix of emotions along the way.

Saying that Your Name is one of the greatest films to date is no exaggeration. Not just one of the greatest anime films or family films, but one of the greatest films overall. From the storytelling itself to the characters, musical score, and artwork, Your Name is pieced together perfectly. The emotions here are real and viewers will not be sure how the film will end. It may be a family film, but the ending you expect may not play out like you would imagine. Your Name is truly nothing short of magnificent.

April 30, 2017

The Far Empty

Published Post author

The Far Empty Book Cover The Far Empty
J. Todd Scott
Mystery
G.P Putnam's Sons
June 9, 2016
Paperback
432

In this gritty crime debut set in the stark Texas borderlands, an unearthed skeleton will throw a small town into violent turmoil.

Seventeen-year-old Caleb Ross is adrift in the wake of the sudden disappearance of his mother more than a year ago, and is struggling to find his way out of the small Texas border town of Murfee. Chris Cherry is a newly minted sheriff’s deputy, a high school football hero who has reluctantly returned to his hometown. When skeletal remains are discovered in the surrounding badlands, the two are inexorably drawn together as their efforts to uncover Murfee’s darkest secrets lead them to the same terrifying suspect: Caleb’s father and Chris’s boss, the charismatic and feared Sheriff Standford “Judge” Ross. Dark, elegiac, and violent, The Far Empty is a modern Western, a story of loss and escape set along the sharp edge of the Texas border. Told by a longtime federal agent who knows the region, it’s a debut novel you won’t soon forget.

 

The Far Empty came into my possession thanks to a Goodreads giveaway.

The summary for The Far Empty describes the story as “a modern Western”, a pinpoint summary of the novel. Author J. Todd Scott’s descriptions paint a vivid imagery of the desolate Texas landscape. In west Texas near the border it is not exactly a peaceful area as the border is ripe with people coming into the US, both individuals seeking a better life in America as well as members of the cartels. Scott’s experience as a DEA agent shows throughout the whole novel and makes the story seem much more real.

There are a fair number of characters in the book and each chapter jumps between their perspectives. You have the tough-as-nails sheriff, his distant son, deputies that range from honorable to psychotic, and townsfolk who find themselves wrapped up in the dark secrets hiding underneath this seemingly pleasant little Texas town. The (fictional) town of Murphey is your stereotypical Texas town. Where the bulk of the town taxes are spent on high school football and the quarterbacks are living legends. The Varsity Blues syndrome at its finest. But beneath all of that there is conspiracy and danger.

This story starts out as a fairly standard mystery story. An unidentified body is found by a deputy and there is more to it than a normal John Doe. Is it an illegal immigrant who did not survive a trip across the border? Does it have something to do with the cartels? Could it be someone else entirely, and how exactly did they get there? The story is not paced perfectly but moves along steadily enough to keep audiences entertained. The shootouts and other action scenes are brief but intense following build-ups of drama.

The characters range pretty far across the board. Some of them are more developed than others; honestly, at one point I forgot that Caleb (the sheriff’s son) existed because there had not been a chapter from his perspective in so long and he had not done too much in the story up to that point. The big climax at the end of the story was also a bit predictable. It is what you would typically expect from this type of story and was foreshadowed pretty heavily. Even so, The Far Empty was a fantastic first book for J. Todd Scott and I look for to his future works.

April 23, 2017

Transformers: Retribution

Published Post author

Transformers: Retribution Book Cover Transformers: Retribution
Transformers
David J. Williams, Mark Williams
Sci-fi
Del Rey
January 28, 2014
Paperback
400

For decades, Transformers fans across the globe have marveled at the mighty clashes of Megatron and Optimus Prime, and speculated about their arrival on planet Earth. Now, in Transformers: Retribution, the prequel to the Transformers animated series, the epic odyssey of these two great warriors is finally revealed as Autobots and Decepticons battle one another . . . and the most diabolic foe they’ve ever encountered.

Aboard the Ark, Optimus Prime leads his Autobots through deep space, searching for the AllSpark so vital to their home planet, Cybertron. Megatron’s not far behind, and his Decepticons are itching for war. But a mysterious planet conceals an enemy far more cunning and powerful: the Quintessons. Masters of tyranny, technology, and twisted double crosses, the Quintessons are out to enslave both Autobots and Decepticons. Their deadly bag of tricks includes fiendish trials and a secret link all the way back to Cybertron, where Shockwave is wreaking havoc with supercomputer Vector Sigma. In the coming conflagration, Star Seekers, Wreckers, Alpha Trion, and Sharkticons all have their parts to play. For none can dodge the Quintesson juggernaut of evil, and none will escape the cataclysmic life-and-death battles that will catapult Autobots and Decepticons to Earth.

 

This review will contain some spoilers for the previous two books, Transformers: Exodus and Transformers: Exiles, as well as the related Transformers Prime television show and the video games War for Cybertron and Fall of Cybertron.

Transformers: Retribution brings a new author to this trilogy of books with David J. Williams and Mark Williams picking up where Alex Irvine left off. And it shows, it certainly shows. Retribution is a significant improvement over the last two installments, with clearer details and more attention paid to continuity. Despite that, having to continue the story from the mess that was Exodus and Exiles does prevent this story from doing as much as it could have stand-alone.

Picking up where Exiles left off, the Decepticons are in pursuit of the Autobots with the space pirates the Star Seekers after them both. The Star Seekers are one big issue with this book, as their story is left unresolved and they never popped up further down the continuity line in Prime. One other major issue with characters is the sudden appearance of the Aerialbots, a group of flying Autobots, on the Ark. The last book repeatedly showed Silverbolt as the only flying Autobot onboard, which constantly left the Autobots at a disadvantage against the flying Decepticon Seekers throughout the story. No explanation is given as to what the Aerialbots were busy with during Exiles.

All things considered, the transition from Irvine to the Williams went pretty smoothly. We were given lots of details that were nowhere to be found in the last two books, such as more descriptive action sequences and actual physical descriptions of the characters that Irvine never bothered with. Ultimately, having to clean up after Irvine was just too much for one book to do. If the Williams had more page space they probably could have done it, but even by the end of Retribution there is still a lot of time where who knows what happened between here and the start of Transformers Prime.

For die-hard Transformers fans, this book is recommended. While it is not the best, it is still part of the Aligned continuity family. Important bits of the lore that could still be relevant, as the Aligned universe is still being added to, are introduced here. Not to mention all the nods to the original Generation 1 series. But for general sci-fi fans or the casually interested, this trilogy can probably be skipped. Just play War for Cybertron and Fall of Cybertron instead.

April 16, 2017

Transformers: Exiles

Published Post author

Transformers: Exiles Book Cover Transformers: Exiles
Transformers
Alex Irvine
Sci-fi
Del Rey
October 4, 2011
Paperback
384

The epic battles between Optimus Prime and Megatron have long thrilled Transformers fans. But these two giants weren’t always great leaders and bitter foes. This new novel continues the electrifying saga that started with Transformers: Exodus, unveiling the origins of the conflict—the explosive events that unfolded before Optimus and Megatron arrived Earthside, forever altering the destiny of their kind.

Once allies, Optimus and Megatron are now enemies in a civil war. To prevent Cybertron from falling into Megatron’s hands, Optimus jettisons the planet’s heart, the AllSpark, into space, then sets out to find it with Megatron hot on his heels. Optimus is determined to defeat Megatron, bring the AllSpark home, and restore Cybertron to its former glory.

But a saboteur lurks aboard Optimus’s spaceship, and ahead lie lost colonies, some of them hostile. Optimus needs help of the highest caliber, but from whom? Heroes such as Solus, Nexus, and Vector Prime are just names from make-believe stories of long ago. Or are they? Maybe it’s time for Optimus Prime to find out. Maybe it’s the only chance he has to vanquish mighty Megatron.

 

This review will contain spoilers regarding the previous book, Transformers: Exodus, as well as the related Transformers Prime television show.

Transformers: Exiles picks up shortly after the end of Exodus, with the Autobots onboard the Ark on the run from the Decepticon warship, the Nemesis. Planet Cybertron has more or less gone into a coma after millions of years of war, forcing the still battling factions to take to the stars. Exiles was supposed to cover the same story as the video games War for Cybertron and Fall of Cybertron, but author Alex Irvine pretty much rewrote the story in his own image instead. If you have played those games and not read Exodus, you may be a little lost picking up Exiles.

As a series, Transformers is no stranger to continuity errors and a gratuitous amount of retconning. Like the previous book, Exiles feels rushed. We have the Autobots and Decepticons flying across the galaxy discovering lost civilizations who are involved in battles and other conflicts of their own in a single book. It makes planet-wide conflicts feel like small skirmishes.

The book also goes into the history of the original Transformers, the Thirteen Primes, and their artifacts. But this is, to a degree, a moot point. Over the course of the book Optimus finds pieces of an artifact that seems to be the Star Saber, the sword used by the leader of the Thirteen. But anyone who watched Transformers Prime knows that will not be the case, because the Star Saber shows up there. Characterization is not very good either (also like in Exodus). Characters are given practically no physical description and most of them are stereotypical. Autobots act heroic while Decepticons act like maniacs, except for major characters like Megatron and Optimus. It makes most of the dialogue seem very plain.

Following suit from Exodus, there are several errors in the book as well. At one point, Optimus mentions ejecting the AllSpark from Cybertron so Megatron could not infect it with Dark Energon. But back in Exodus, Optimus ejected it before Megatron had any Dark Energon. At another point, a spaceship magically appears out of nowhere after a flying Transformer had transported the characters previously. Overall this books rates the same as Exodus, which is not really a good thing. Exiles tries to do too much too fast and needs some editing, but does add a few important bits to the lore of the series. For a genuinely good Transformers read, stick to the comics.

April 9, 2017