And as you might be able to tell from the icon, I'm less than impressed.
In no way is my opinion of the book to reflect on my anticipation of your fic, though, Li. That, I'm still thrilled about. But as far as the book itself and Hambly's writing style - well. Had it been submitted to the Archive, I'd have rejected it.
Some things are interesting. Some are not. Some turns of phrase are lovely and evocative; most are far too flowery for my taste and I find my eyes glazing over.
By the time I reached chapter ten, I found myself so irked by certain aspects of the writing that I started keeping track of them. I'm now almost done with chapter sixteen, and I need a quick break. So here's my assessment of chapters 10-16, mostly divided into somewhat vague categories. Prepare yourself. Earthisms
There are way too many of these, imo. What annoys me more than anything (in this category) is that in some instances Hambly seems to go well out of her way to avoid using a word so common that it wouldn't register as an earthism to most readers ("shallow cakes of colored wax" instead of "candles" springs to mind, especially when she flat out called them candles almost immediately afterward), but then carelessly drops much more distinctive earthisms. I'm not counting the names of gemstones - I think she's named most of the ones you'd find in a jewelry store so far - since A) gemstones are an accepted part of life in the GFFA, and B) it makes sense for them to be so, since if there are planets compatible with human life, it stands to reason that those planets could also have the correct minerals and circumstances to produce certain gemstones. Other less forgivable earthisms include:
vanilla (were it by itself in this category, I'd let it slide since chocolate is canon, but when combined with so many others it bothers me)
A-size power cell (not AAA? what about nine-volt?)
slootheberry wrinkle cream (sloothe
foo-twitter failed onomatopoeia
hursh (to describe running water)
gronch (to describe Tusken speech)plot and/or narrative inconsistencies and/or implausibilities
- While Luke is aboard the Eye
, he suffers an ax wound to the thigh which results in severed tendons and an internal infection. He self-medicates with a pain reliever with the known side effect of reduced concentration. He goes without food or sleep for quite some time, remains physically active, and is under a great deal of stress. Despite this, and despite her own insistence on emphasizing how even the smallest exertion (physical or with the Force; they're both specifically mentioned) is a huge exhausting effort for him, Hambly has him acting like Super-Jedi. He influences people's minds, constantly attempts self-healing, heals others, levitates things, cuts down a bunch of Tusken Raiders, tries to get past the computer's parameters, climbs access ladders between decks, searches entire decks of the gigantic ship, and tries to rescue his two kidnapped friends, among other things. In between all of that, he finds the time and mental and emotional depth to fall madly in love with a dead woman whose spirit is trapped in the ship's computer. Color me befuddled.
- If Hambly specifically mentions the Force one more time (The Force,
Luke thought hazily. Got to use the Force
), I shall throw the book across the room. Okay, so I won't - but I'll want to. I anticipate wanting to quite frequently.
- Hambly switches too often between tags for the same character. Han goes from "Han" to "Solo" and back again in the space of a dozen paragraphs. In one brief scene, Mara is referred to as "Mara Jade", "Mara", "the smuggler", and "the woman who had been the Emperor's Hand". Enough already. That's a seriously amateur oversight.
- At one point, Mara says that she must look like one of the Nightsisters of Dathomir. A common phrase in the GFFA, or a spectacularly unoriginal and heavy-handed attempt to name drop from other EU books?
- Mara is referred to as wearing a shirt that "Leia recognized as belonging to Lando Calrissian". Leia's got Lando's wardrobe memorized now? Never even mind the character assassination of poor Mara. Zahn seriously had his work cut out for him retconning some of the rest of the EU's drivel when he wrote HoT.
- On page 188, we find the passage: "She was silent for a time, and looking at her, Leia wondered suddenly if that was what had drawn Mara to the Emperor in the first place: that Palpatine, Force-strong as he was, had been the only one who could teach Mara, the only one like herself that she knew." Interesting, that Hambly would know enough of the EU to mention the Nightsisters but not enough to know that Mara was taken as such a small child that she can't even remember her home or parents. "Drawn to the Emperor in the first place", indeed. Newsflash, Ms. Hambly: Mara didn't choose her servitude to Palpatine. In addition, one wonders why, if Mara had merely "been drawn" to Palpatine because she wanted to be taught, why he didn't just cut her down as he'd had all the Jedi cut down. Not to mention that even though Mara was unaware of the other Hands (way to piggyback on Zahn's ideas, O Bantam Authors Who Completely Draw Blanks When It Comes to Thinking of Original Plots), there's still at least one other Force-strong person who Mara knew very well indeed. Tall, dark, asthmatic, had a bad habit of choking the bearers of bad news. I'm sure we all remember him.
- On pages 190-1, Mara says: "No, they didn't use drugs." Four paragraphs later, she says of the same people, "(They'd) drug them with a hallucinogen like brain-jagger or Black Hole."
- Running short of stormtroopers and other guards, Palpatine and Vader resorted to drugging people senseless, using the dark side of the Force to burn the effects permanently into their brains, and locking them up with whatever needs to be guarded? Does this strike anyone else as singularly ineffective? I guess they were also running short of guard droids, guard animals, and booby traps.
- On page 202, it's mentioned that "Luke had taught Leia to break and reassemble a standard X-wing engine in a pinch". Hmm, why doesn't that sound right to me? Oh, maybe it's related to this passage on page 242, where Leia reflects that Luke had tried to teach her how to sense other beings with the Force "in her hectic intervals between trying to be a mother, trying to be a diplomat, trying to keep the New Republic from falling to pieces and her children from dismantling poor See-Threepio". Well, Force knows that with all those other demands on her time, learning to break and reassemble a standard X-wing engine would be high on Leia's to-do list. I am inspired. In intervals of my own hectic life (though vastly less hectic than Leia's, since unlike Leia, I don't have a husband to maintain a relationship with, children to raise, an interplanetary government to run, or Jedi training to absorb), I shall learn how to break and reassemble a standard F-16 engine in a pinch. I'm sure it'll come in handy some day.
- Coffee is called "coffee" instead of "caf". Hello, Bantam editors . . . pretentious wording
On page 202, Luke is spoken of as being "tired unto death". Huh? Even Palpatine, Padmé, and Leia in their full-blown politician modes didn't say "unto". But Luke, Tatooine farmboy and Rebel fighter pilot, is likely to be thinking it?miscellaneous weirdness
- Seeing Callista's image in the computer, Luke mentally sees her hair as being like "a thick-leaved tree in summer". Don't know about y'all, but I'm having a hard time figuring out exactly what that's supposed to mean, or why it's supposed to be flattering.
- On page 249: "Leia had more or less forgiven Qwi Xux, the Death Star's primary designer, when they had finally met, seeing the woman's stricken horror at what her abilities had wrought. It was a little hard to appreciate how anyone could be naive enough to believe Moff Tarkin's assurances that the Death Star was a mining implement, but she understood that the Omwat woman had been raised in a carefully constructed maze of ignorance, coercion, and lies.
And when she had seen the truth, she had had the courage to follow where it led her - not something everyone did."
Huh. Sound like any other EU character you know? I'm not blaming this particular inconsistency on Hambly, since - up to now, at least - she hasn't maligned Mara beyond bumping her out of the possibility of being Luke's love interest and posing her in Lando's clothes. (It physically hurt to type that sentence.) And for all I know, the fans who argue so passionately that Mara can never be excused nor redeemed for her actions as Emperor's Hand feel just as strongly about Qwi Xux. But I've been saying exactly this about Mara for years now (the difference being that while brainwashed, Mara was never the monumental idiot that Qwi Xux had to be to believe she was just designing a giant shovel), and it's nearly always rejected. Yet here it is in profic about that lovely little bubble-brained savant, Qwi Xux, who was directly responsible for more deaths than Mara could ever have dreamed of accomplishing. Argh doesn't quite cover it. just plain idiocy
- Gamorreans hurl the insult of "prissy-butt". Uh-huh
. . .
- Han wears a sarong? o.O
- Leia's aunts owned pittens named Taffy (EARTHISM!), Winkie, and Fluffy???
- One of Leia's aunts was named Rouge. There's just no reaction for that but *wince* . . .
I think that when I finish the Callista trilogy, I'll reread TTT or HoT. I'll need an anti-squee antidote by then.