Hello friends, and happy weekend!
I’ve been away for awhile. My 86-year-old mom, who broke her hip some six weeks ago, passed away on Oct. 3rd. It was a fairly quick, but painful, decline, and it was the most difficult time of my life (and I’ve been through some stuff). I needed some time to process everything and grieve, and while that will continue for a long while yet, part of me knew that I wanted to get back to blogging soon. One of the things that kept me sane during Mom’s situation, besides my wonderful family, was continuing to read and watch all the stories that I love. It’s pure escapism, yes, but the point is I found small nuggets of joy during a very dark time.
And so, here’s a few of the things that saved me (and I really mean that) the past few months:
First off, let’s talk about Andor. I knew I was probably going to like this show when it was announced, and when I saw the first trailers, I knew I was going to love it. And it really has surpassed all of my expectations. I can’t say that I love it more than, say Obi-Wan Kenobi or The Mandalorian. I just love it differently. Or rather, for different reasons. Andor is the show that I knew Star Wars could be, if its approach changed. It’s “serious” Star Wars. It’s gritty, it’s mature (but not in a Rated-R kind of way; its maturity lies in suggestiveness), it’s political-thriller-noir. In a word, it’s sophisticated, without a lot of the camp or pulp that can define so many Star Wars projects (which I also love, by the way). It’s a slow burn that leads up to explosive violence, and then starts over again.
Andor is different–it doesn’t feel like Star Wars, somehow, but it’s also undeniably Star Wars, if that makes sense. And that might push a lot of people away, while others embrace it. From what I can tell, I’m not seeing any hate towards it, but if you love it, you really love it, or if not, it’s just not your cup of tea. And that’s fine. But I’m totally engrossed and invested, and can’t wait to see the next episode. Oh, and I love the music!
If I’m going to nitpick, it’s something that another blogger pointed out and that I hadn’t really thought about until she did: there aren’t many aliens in this show. There’s a plethora of humans, and on the Empire side I can understand that, since they’re so xenophobic. But everywhere else? Not many. There’s that tall furry guy on Farrix that Cassian talked to, and quite a few in the background on that resort planet he went to. And…that’s it? Now that it’s been pointed out, their absence is glaring to me. Huh. Maybe more will show up in later episodes.
The other show I’ve been watching is The Rings of Power. Season One just ended, and now I have to wait a long time for Season Two, lol. I’m one of the viewers that absolutely loved it. I know there are criticisms, and complaints that it mangles Tolkien’s work. I’m no Tolkien expert, so maybe that’s why I don’t give a fig and love the series. I’m a huge fan of Peter Jackson’s movies, and I’ve read The Lord of the Rings. I’ve tried to read The Silmarillion several times, and simply gave up after awhile. It’s more of a history book rather than a novel, and that just doesn’t work for me. Sorry. But it’s still on my shelf as a kind of reference.
Anyway, I think the writers did what they could to distill the Second Age into something watchable, and it worked for me. I loved all the story arcs, and didn’t feel there were too many. I loved the young versions of Galadriel and Elrond. The supporting characters were wonderful. I especially loved the friendship between Elrond and Durin. I could watch them all day, lol. Arondir was another favorite. I was totally heartbroken that a certain someone turned out to be Sauron, but in hindsight (and a rewatch) it’s not surprising. Some people thought the Harfoots were silly, but I found them charming. What can I say, I’m easily entertained, lol.
One thing that sticks in my craw is that no one can survive a pyroclastic flow from an erupted volcano. We’re talking thousands of degrees here, people. Fantasy show or not, that’s just not within the realm of believability, from a simple biological perspective. But that’s my only nitpick. Otherwise, it’s just a gorgeous and entertaining show.
I also watched all six episodes of Tales of the Jedi. This was a fun group of animated shorts that focused on key moments in the lives of two Jedi during the prequel era: Count Dooku and Ahsoka Tano. At first glance, they seem like very different people, but they have one thing in common: they both became disillusioned with the Jedi and left the Order. But the choices they made leading up to their departure, as well as afterward, show their differences. I loved both story arcs, but we already know quite a bit about Ahsoka; it was Count Dooku’s story that was really interesting. I never read Dooku: Jedi Lost (but I might do so now), but besides that, there really wasn’t that much out there that shed any light on his character and what, exactly, led up to him leaving the Jedi and turning to Sidious. I find I understand his character much better now, and maybe even feel a little bit sorry for him (but only a little). As for Ahsoka, her last episode was a kind of distilled version of the Ahsoka novel, and I’m okay with that. Oh, and Yaddle! It was so cool seeing her in action.
Onto books: I read and loved the Star Wars High Republic novel Path of Deceit, by Justina Ireland and Tessa Gratton. (I originally thought I was going to wait a bit on the High Republic books, but who am I kidding?) It’s a YA novel, the first book out of Phase 2, which takes place 150 years before the events of Phase 1. It takes place on Dalna, a familiar planet from Phase 1, and concerns mostly the two young protagonists: Kevmo Zink, a male Pantoran who is Padawan to Jedi Knight Zallah Macri; and Marda Ro, an Evereni female who is a member of the Force cult The Path of the Open Hand. The Path believes that the Force must be “free,” meaning it should not be manipulated in any way, including, of course, the way the Jedi use the Force. It’s considered a sacrilege. The Jedi are on Dalna investigating the theft of a Force artifact, which happens to have been stolen by the Path (they call it “liberating” the Force by keeping these artifacts from those who would use them).
Kevmo and Marda form an instant attraction, but Marda has a hard time reconciling his Force use, and Kevmo needs to be reminded about attachments from his master. I knew their feelings for each other would only lead to ruin, and I was right. No spoilers, but it’s not a happy ending. And the fact that Marda’s last name is Ro (the same as the main villain in Phase 1) doesn’t bode well, either. I might do a book review in another post later, because I really enjoyed this one and there’s so much to discuss.
On my Kindle, I finished Crash of Fate, by Zoraida Cordova (who happens to be the author of the next HR novel, Convergence, out on November 22nd). This is a YA novel that takes place during the sequel era, at Black Spire Outpost on Batuu. I really enjoyed Black Spire by Delilah Dawson, an adult novel that takes place on Batuu as well, so I thought I’d revisit it. The book was fine–two young people who grew up on Batuu together are reunited years later and fall in love, all the while having adventures together at the Outpost. We see familiar faces and places of the planet, and it’s fun but ultimately rather forgettable. They do eventually run into some Resistance members that have taken up residence there from the book Black Spire, but they’re just making a delivery and it’s a very brief moment. I kind of wish the Resistance played a bigger part in the story, or maybe even seen Vi Moradi. Oh well. At the end of the book it’s implied that the two young people may join the Resistance, but that’s it.
In between Star Wars books I’ve been reading The Broken Earth series by J.K. Nemisin. I’m on the second book of the trilogy, The Obelisk Gate. This series is so absorbing; it’s unlike anything I’ve read before. I can’t even begin to explain it, and this post has gone on long enough, lol, so I’ll just say if you like apocalyptic fantasy, or African-inspired fantasy like the stories of Nnedi Okorafor, you’ll want to read this.
Anyway, that’s what’s been keeping me afloat during this sad time of my life. I thought I wouldn’t be able to focus on anything because of my grief, but I just turned to these things even more fiercely. Mom would have wanted it that way.