Star Wars: Lost Stars by Claudia Grey (Egmont)

The reign of the Galactic Empire has reached the Outer Rim of Jelucan, where aristocratic Thane Kyrell and rural villager Ciena Ree bond over their love of flying. Enrolling at the Imperial Academy is nothing less than a dream come true for both of them. But Thane sours on the dream when he sees firsthand the horrific tactics the Empire uses to maintain its ironclad rule.

Bitter and disillusioned, he joins the fledging Rebellion–putting Ciena in an unbearable position between her loyalty to the Empire and her love for the man she’s known since childhood.

Now on opposite sides of the war, will these friends turned foes ever find a way to be together, or will duty tear them–and the galaxy–apart?

I’ve been looking to find this book for ages and was finally able to get ahold of a copy whilst I was in the Forbidden Planet Store in London, I knew It would take me long to start reading and I quickly devoured through its pages on the journey home, and was really blown away by what may be the best Star Wars novel from the new Expanded Universe so far.

The book itself adopts a very Romeo and Juliet feel to Star Wars as it Forrest Gumps its way through the events of the Original Trilogy, featuring several cameos from various major players in both the Empire and the Rebel Alliance. Whilst Luke, Han and Leia are referenced in name only, characters like Grand Moff Tarkin, Darth Vader, Wedge Antilles In the hands of another writer it might be seen as though they are trying to cram in so many big names just for the sake of it but no, every appearance works and everybody is portrayed in character.

Claudia Grey’s newcomers are both perfect additions to the Star Wars Universe as well, as we start on the planet of Jelucan, on the Outer Rim, where the Empire has just reached the planet. It’s interesting that at the start when the characters are both young and idealistic how the Empire is presented in an entirely different light from the films, viewed through two children’s eyes. These two children are the aristocrat Thane Kyrell and the rural villager Ciena Ree, who share nothing in common at first aside from their love of flying, and quickly become fast friends as they move up the Imperial Academy. However, once the events of A New Hope happen, with the Death Star destroying Alderaan, the characters, particularly Thane, starts to have doubts about the Empire, and eventually quits, leaving Ciena behind.

It was very interesting reading about the Point of View from the Imperial side of things which is a rarity in Star Wars fiction, especially in the new canon. Usually the rule of thumb means that the Imperials are presented as the bad guys, but peel back behind the curtain and the shades of grey become clearer. Ciena, whilst remaining with the Empire from her arrival on Jelucan to its downfall and then even at the Battle of Jakku, which is featured as a backdrop to the events in The Force Awakens – Rey’s home planet – is not necessarily a villain herself. Unlike Thane she’s more in the background and isn’t at the forefront of the many Imperial atrocities, preferring to believe in a galaxy where at least the Empire brings Order rather than Chaos. These two characters are extremely well defined personality wise and leave a lasting impression on the audience, and I strongly hope that this is not the last we see of these two characters in the Star Wars Universe.

The action takes us to pretty much every location that was visited in the Original Trilogy for brief periods of time and shows us what was happening just to the left of say, the Imperials who were responsible for letting R2D2 and C3P0 getting away from Tantvine IV at the beginning of A New Hope, and also takes us into the action on the Battle of Hoth, as well as Endor. The action is well written and the romance is handled strongly, not overwhelming the plot. It avoids the normal tropes and offers compelling reasons why characters might join both the Empire or the Rebellion, keeping a diverse list of characters that develop well overtime.

In conclusion then, Lost Stars is a very solid book that’s definitely worth a read. It’s great to see that Claudia Grey will be writing more novels in the new Star Wars Universe going forward and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next – Goodreads has it labelled as Bloodline: New Republic, which should be a very interesting read indeed.  I’m also inclined to check out her non-Star Wars novels as well, A Thousand Pieces of You looks pretty interesting and has an amazing cover on top of that. Certainly something to keep an eye on.

VERDICT: 9/10

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