Times are desperate for the Rebel Alliance.
Harassment by the Empire and a shortage of vital supplies are hindering completion of a
new secret base on the ice planet Hoth. So when Mid Rim merchants offer much-needed
materials for sale, Princess Leia Organa and Han Solo lead an Alliance delegation to
negotiate a deal.
But when treachery forces the rebel ship to flee into territory controlled by pirates,
Leia makes a shocking discovery: the fierce marauders come from Leia’s homeworld of
Alderaan, recently destroyed by the Death Star. These refugees have turned to pillaging
and plundering to survive—and they are in debt to a pirate armada, which will gladly
ransom the princess to the vengeful Empire...if they find out her true identity.
Struggling with intense feelings of guilt, loyalty, and betrayal, Leia is determined to
help her wayward kinspeople, even as Imperial forces are closing in on her own crippled
ship. Trapped between lethal cutthroats and brutal oppressors, Leia and Han, along with
Luke, Chewbacca, and a battle-ready crew, must defy death—or embrace it—to keep the
After the over-the-boards success and widespread acclaim of Kenobi there's a higher level of expectation
weighing down upon the first chapter of the Empire and Rebellion series Razor's Edge.
Luckily for the reading audience, the author and the Empire and Rebellion series, Martha
Wells gets the series off to a great start.
Having not read any of Martha Wells' previous novels I went in not knowing
what to expect, as every author has their own sensibilities and styles, but Wells has an
easy to read flowing style that swiftly latches on to the characters core traits and makes
the read a smooth experience. As a former fan fiction writer she's well versed in
exploring points, expanding upon them and fleshing them out, and that's what she does here
as the story expands on Leia's regrets and sense of loss after the destruction of
Alderaan, much like Brian Woods is doing over at Dark Horse with his Star Wars title. It's clear early on that Leia is
the focus of this first chapter in Empire and Rebellion, and given its place in the
timeline there couldn't be a better period to explore the last Princess of Alderaan.
Wells clearly 'gets' Leia, in the same way Jackson got Kenobi and Stover got Anakin
Skywalker. We read the book from her point of view, focusing on the very things Leia
would turn her lasers on to. Early in the book she is huffing and puffing at Han Solo,
who is portrayed in a very fresh and different manner, not the brash, wise-cracking cocky
pilot it's all too easy to write but a more thoughtful and attentive character. Amost
like the hen-pecked husband who can't do wrong for doing right. It's funny to see that
it's Leia who has fallen into the habit of raising an eyebrow before Solo has even had the
chance to do something crazy.
The novel concentrates very much on Leia, Han and to a lesser degree Luke as they
attempt to secure supplies vital to the completion of Echo Base. A somewhat rash on-the-
spot decision by Leia throws the mission into jeopardy as she encounters some fellow
Alderaanian survivors and from there the plot veers left into pirate territory as the
Empire close in and Leia must balance her responsibilites to the survival of the Rebellion
with that of her fellow Alderaan survivors, who have gone down a wayward path she is
somewhat repulsed by. There's no doubt this first chapter is a Leia story, and a strong
one for it. While not twisting, dodging and weaving like a Timothy Zahn novel - who else
can throw in as many curveballs as Zahn? - the more linear tale gives time to develop the
bridge between Star Wars and Empire as Han and Leia confront and deny
their attraction to each other and continue to build the bickering relationship we arrive
at in Episode V.
The story is also complemented by a large number of female characters, unusual in and
of itself and given the current high level of discussion on female fans quite pertinent.
But the characters are strong, well drawn and developed and as such, while it could have
easily felt like positive discrimination to have such a large female contingent, it
doesn't. The characters are exactly that - characters - and they serve the story well.
In short, it's not because they are female characters that they make the story better. And
besides, it makes little difference to Leia if they are male, female, green, hairy, short
or thin. She deals with all in an even manner, as befitting her training and status as a
An interesting angle is the price of victory. Defeating the Empire in the Battle of
Yavin and destroying the Death Star was the second major step in taking back the galaxy,
but the audacity of that victory has led to the Empire is hunting them down, chasing them
hard and making life more difficult than ever. Every victory is a precious one, even the
seemingly small victories such as securing supplies, and it weighs on them throughout the
book. Leia takes an awful risk doing what she does when they encounter the pirates, and
it could have cost them dearly.
So, Razor's Edge is a success, bridging the gap in Han and Leia's relationship between
Episodes IV and V and adding some on-the-nose characterisation to boot. The second
chapter in the Empire and Rebellion series, Honor Among Thieves by James S.A. Corey can't
arrive quickly enough.
Many thanks as always to Random House for the advance review copy.
For more Jedi News book reviews click here.