Nixxa And The General

You guys voted and the result was unanimous! So today I’m posting the first small snippet of my Star Wars themed story, Nixxa and the General, a collection of short stories about a stolen ship-rat who knows nothing but darkness and the menacing man who might just give her the galaxy… Now this isn’t exactly a fanfic because there are no cross-over characters or locales or anything, it’s just more of the basic setting and the sci-fi feel that I don’t usually work with (I’m a historical fantasy romance writer so space is a big change for me!) and FULL WARNING: this is a steamy story so it might be posted on A03 in full instead of my actual analytical blog, I haven’t quite decided yet, but if the response is positive then f*ck it, we’ll just post it here lol! So if you like the intro and want more on the blog itself be sure to let me know in the comments!

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Nixxa and the General

She lay across the bed, her heart beating like a siren in her ears. The silken wisps of silver-grey cloth they’d clothed her in glided across her newly scrubbed skin, touching her in a thousand intimate places yet leaving nothing truly covered. Not that there was any point in hiding her body now, she reasoned, her eyes flickering to the door as her breath quickened instinctively. When would he arrive? this man whose bed she now occupied, the stranger she’d been chosen and stolen for.

The man, whoever he was, would be someone of little importance. That much she knew. Anyone of consequence could afford the experienced beauties of the Courtesan Class, those beguiling women born and bred to give up their bodies in the most carnal fashion. Only men of the lower ranks, soldiers too poor to rise or too cheap to pay, stole women from the bowels of the Dark City. She’d known many who’d disappeared for a day, two, maybe three before returning with a few coins or bruises or stories to tell around the glow of the photon beams. It was too common an occurrence to be frightened of, but still, she’d never been taken. Until now. With hair the color of dirty grease and skin coated in twenty some-odd years of grime, she faded into the blackness of the Dark City effortlessly and was easily over-looked. Or so she thought.

She looked at the pale skin of her exposed wrist. She hadn’t known the color of her own skin until they’d stripped her bare and bathed her to within an inch of her life, scrubbing her places she never thought needed scrubbing. Plunging her in pools of water – actual glistening water – before dousing her with some sort of bubbly concoction that was supposed to clean her from the outside in while the drink they gave her worked from the inside out. She’d felt funny then, itchy as though a thousand insect legs crawled across her, inside her, eating away at something she hadn’t even known was there. Though once it passed, she felt better, stronger than she ever remembered feeling before. Then they’d started over, scrubbing, dousing, and cleaning every inch of her until someone pronounced her clean.

They’d then attacked her hair, meticulously brushing and drying it before pressing one more strange drink into her hand. It was white with a sharp bitter smell rising from the metal cup. She’d hesitated, but the woman giving the orders was unused to being questioned. Drink it, she ordered. She drank. This time it was a needle piercing her belly, penetrating into the very depth of her femininity and she understood without being told that she would produce no children in her lifetime. It was a sudden loss, and not one she felt too keenly, at least not yet. Perhaps she would feel differently when all this was over, but just now she had other things to occupy her thoughts beyond the thought of phantom children she’d never wanted.

Now she waited, alone with her own thoughts in this strange place, so far beyond the world she knew. He was no one, she reminded herself, no one. But the quiet splendor of the room, the softness of the bedding that molded to her, and the pleasing scent that still clung to her skin and hair spoke of wealth, and wealth inevitably led to position, even someone as lowly as she knew this. She wasn’t sure why, but this thought more than any other frightened her. Why would someone with means, with power want a ship-rat for a bedfellow? Who was waiting on the other side of that damnable door?

**********

The door of his chamber opened with a soft whir, illuminating the darkness within, the silence he craved, and the woman stretched across the far side of his bed. He paused, confused until he remembered ordering a woman to be brought to him this evening. He’d been in a temper  and spoke before thinking about the reality of coming home to a stranger in the only private space he had aboard this blasted starship. He bit back a groan, what the hell was he to do with her now. She couldn’t stay here. He wouldn’t allow her fear to contaminate this space, his space. Damn it.

A curt dismissal was on the tip of his tongue when she moved suddenly, rising up on one arm, watching him as he watched her. A dark nimbus of ebony hair fell in gentle waves around her face, sliding down her neck and spilling over her shoulders, a stark contrast to the otherwise paleness of her skin. But it was her eyes that grabbed him, silenced him even before he spoke. There was no fear in their depths, just curiosity, intelligence, recognition, and just the smallest portion of apprehension. She knew him, or knew of him, and still there was no fear. One black brow raised questioningly and he realized he was still in the doorway staring. He stepped inside and the door closed behind him, taking the light with it, plunging them into absolute pitch. Only the darkness wasn’t complete, she marred it, radiating light from her crystalline skin. Stars, but he could see every inch of her.

A familiar tightening pulled from the pit of his stomach. With a silent growl he strode further into the room, tired of feeling like a stranger in his own chambers. She didn’t stir, but watched him. Let her watch. She’d get nothing from him. Let her watch.

 

Alright guys, make sure to let me know if you want more Nixxa and the General on the Whimsical Mutterings page!

The Journey Continues: Attack of the Clones

It was a year chock-full of Harry Potter hysteria, marching band performances, swoon-worthy new crushes, and general over-the-top middle-school histrionics when Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, finally soared into theaters in May of 2002. Three months shy of my thirteenth birthday and with the end of seventh grade looming on the horizon, I was in that dreamy/dopey stage of life where everything was epic and larger than life and I didn’t understand half of what my peers were talking about, but it was fun just being in the conversations. It’s easy to look back on this time of my life and cringe at the ridiculous nature of how everything was so dramatic and completely larger than life all the time, but in reality that’s what made it so great. And the same goes for the movie itself. Yes it’s cheesy and over-the-top and I spent half the movie cringing from second-hand humiliation but my God that’s what makes it so amazing.

My biggest (and most awkward and therefore embarrassing) memory of AOTC releasing happened a few days after seeing the movie in the theater. A fellow classmate mentioned how many times Anakin and Padme “made out” and as I had the completely wrong idea of what that phrase meant, I was horrified and vehemently denied it, like what movie did you watch?! I know, I’m still getting red-faced thinking back on it now, but I was a Harry Potter obsessed band-geek walking cliché, I wasn’t up on all the dating terminology. Suffice it to say, I was completely confused and then epically embarrassed to discover that it just meant kissing…

Sigh, don’t you just miss middle-school?!


Anyway – despite my lack of dating knowledge, I was and always have been a sucker for romance (the more extravagant and angsty the better) and this movie with its idyllic picnic sequence and forbidden love tension just fed my melodramatic pre-teen soul. Han and Leia had a love that burned bright and true in the original trilogy, but Anakin and Padme’s suppressed desire rattled the damn stars. This is the type of drama I LIVED for, and between AOTC and Moulin Rouge, it was a damn fine time to be alive. If at any point Anakin had sung a ballad to Padme declaring his undying love and devotion like Moulin Rouge’s Come What May, I may have actually perished.

In a lot of ways this second movie – and especially the characterization of Ani – encapsulated who I was when I watched it for the first time – endearingly awkward and sweet, full of hope for the future and the promise of adventure. But beneath the surface, there’s the churning of fate and the inescapability of time as the first tugs of destiny pull you toward the path of adulthood. There’s fear and resentment and anger but it’s tempered with the brightest of joys and the thrill of experiencing so many life-altering firsts. First love, first solo trip, first time making decisions for yourself, and of course, the first true dose of epic humiliation.

Overall, Attack of the Clones was a whirlwind, wild ride of all out emotions and danger and drama, and frankly some of the most gorgeous fashion statements I’ve ever seen in my entire life. (I’m looking at YOU lake dress!!!) I laughed, I cried, I cringed, and almost twenty years later, I’m still enraptured by the beauty of it all, of the forbidden love between a Jedi and a Senator that couldn’t be denied, and the tragic-and-yet unbreakable bond between Anakin and Obi-Wan that runs just as deeply. It marks the end of Anakin’s youth, the end of his innocence, and sets the stage for the inevitable enactment of his destiny. And as someone transitioning into adulthood at the time myself, I could totally relate. This is the phase of life where everything is possible, where you’re invincible and at your most vulnerable, and every emotion is a torrent that threatens to consume you. This is middle school my friends, and damn wasn’t it a magical time to be alive.

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The Phantom Menace: A Light in the Darkness

“Are you an angel?” — Anakin Skywalker

Before May of 1999, it was hard to imagine Darth Vader having any sort of relationship with a woman that would lead to her having his kids – you know, back when he was a suited-up, mechanical cyborg-man bent on destroying all the good in the galaxy – but watching little Ani meet Padme for the first time was like seeing the hands of fate in motion. He’s so unflinchingly emotive, everything he feels and thinks he says, and right from the get-go he understands Padme is important to him and has no qualms about expressing that. True love, soulmates, Force-bonded, whatever you want to call it, these two are meant to be and their love is so powerful it changes the face of the entire galaxy for generations to come, and in more ways than one. But it’s the genesis of this love, its very own origin story if you will, that we finally get to see in The Phantom Menace and it’s as beautiful as it is heartbreaking.

“There was no father. I carried him, I gave birth, I raised him. I can’t explain what happened.” – Shmi Skywalker

Anakin was a child of the Force itself, made manifest to complete a destiny that was already written in the darkness of the stars. It crafted Anakin, creating every facet of his personality to be the one who bought balance to the warring sides of its supposed-practitioners. It gave him Shmi, a loving, intelligent mother to instill in him the desire and drive to act as his conscious saw fit. It made him a slave, so that he recognized and understood the slow-burning hatred of being controlled and oppressed. It made him powerful enough to attract the attention of those who might otherwise overlook him. And finally, when the time was right, the Force ensured an unbelievably strong, powerhouse of a person came into Anakin’s life at the exact right time.

Fate can be cruel, but it can also be kind.

Now personally, I believe that Anakin was always meant to destroy the Sith and the Jedi, because balance does not mean wiping out one side so the other can become more powerful and be left completely unchecked. Balance means evening out the playing field, or in more drastic cases, wiping it clean to start completely over again. I never understood how the Jedi interpreted that prophecy any other way considering the amount of time they spent meditating and seeking the will of the Force (I mean talk about narcissism am I right) but I don’t want to dwell too much on the subject because that’s another post entirely. The basis of my thought just needs to be explained for the rest to make relative sense.

The Force crafted Ani – knowing exactly what was going to happen later and what he was going to have to do – and there is great cruelty in that, creating something to purposely make it suffer for your own ends. But the Force is neither good nor evil, malicious nor kind, it’s that middle-ground in between that just is. It is the balance. So alongside that cruelty there is compassion, and it is that compassion that brought Anakin and Padme together. Despite the looming darkness of the future, they were given this time to bask in the light. Yes, they would both live incredibly harrowing, painful, and ultimately short lives, but they would also know the greatest joy and beauty that can ever be found in life: love. Deep, everlasting, pure love.

Knowing the death and despair that was to come, the Force provided a short span of years – the calm before the deadliest of storms – to know that they were absolutely loved heart and soul and it all began here in The Phantom Menace when Ani walked into the Watto’s junk shop and found Padme waiting for him. He recognized something in her immediately, and voiced it. He was brave enough to speak out, and Padme was brave enough to reciprocate. Anakin needed to know this love, needed to feel it soul-deep, because only the absolute fear of losing it would ever make him turn so far from the light and reach out instead for the darkness inside him. Even in compassion there is cruelty, and there can be no cruelty without compassion. Balance.

But for now in The Phantom Menace, the scale is tipped in our favor. And in the bright heat of desert-swept Tatooine and jubilant celebration of lush Naboo, we can revel in the triumphant light of hope and blossoming love for as long as we possibly can.

 

 

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Nine Moments We Need To See In Star Wars Episode IX!!!

Alrighty Starfighters, it’s 2019 and you know what that means…Episode IX is finally nigh!

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We’ve just got a few short months before Kylo Ren, Rey, Finn, Poe, and the incomparable BB-8 return to our screens and finish out the Skywalker saga and I am just SO READY!!! Star Wars and that galaxy far, far away have been a part of my life since before I can remember and after 29 years together the Skywalker’s, the Kenobi’s, and all the rest definitely feel like family at this point — a dysfunctional, dramatic-ass family that has like zero chill but hey you know, family is family.

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Like most Star Wars fans, I have great expectations for Episode IX. 2015’s The Force Awakens was thrilling and heart-pounding, it gave us so much but also took something precious in turn. The next generation of heroes and villains breathed new life into the galaxy and seeing them fight alongside and against the original trio was just mesmerizing. The Last Jedi was sweeping, epic, and mysterious in all the best ways, revealing so much but leaving countless more questions in its wake. For the first time, hero and foe fought back to back, reaching across the cosmos and darkness to understand…to connect.

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And now it’s time to deliver on all that’s been promised over the past two films – if not the entire saga – and there are things I’m just so ready to finally see! Obviously no two fans want the same exact things, we all see the movies and characters differently, but I figured I’d go ahead and share with you guys the things I MOST want to see in this final Skywalker movie! So, without further ado…PUNCH IT CHEWIE!!!

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1) Let’s start with Finn – who is the heart and soul of this new era!!! – I would love to see this stormtrooper-turned-resistance-hero inspire his old troops to abandon the First Order and ultimately lead them to revolution Mockingjay style! We see a hint of this in the deleted scenes for The Last Jedi, but it really needs to be shown on screen. Finn is undeniable proof that these troopers are just people, people who Hux admits were trained and programed from BIRTH to follow orders, so if Finn can reject his training and strike out on his own, why can’t he help the others to follow suite? Alongside this, I’ve long had the theory that the troopers are comprised of stolen Force sensitive children, so what better way to symbolize the freedom of the galaxy and beginning anew than to have these stolen conduits of the Force be released into the cosmos to discover for themselves which path they wish to tread.

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2) I would also love to see him reconnect with his family in some way. Perhaps it’s just the dramatic writer in me, but the idea that Finn’s family have searched the galaxy over for him since he was taken by the First Order just makes my heart hurt! There are so many ways to introduce his family – they could be nameless like Rey’s parents, or could connect to some other characters we’ve already met, for instance Lando Calrissian, Mr. King of the Capes himself, is coming back into play in this film, perhaps Finn is a relative of his. I’ve also heard rumors that Lando may be accompanied by a daughter (?) so maybe they’ve come in search of a missing son/brother?! I don’t know, stranger things have certainly happened in this galactic universe. Personally, I like the idea of Finn being the son of Ciena Ree and Thane Kyrell, the two leads of Claudia Gray’s Lost Stars novel, which was released before The Force Awakens. It would make his parents vague enough for non-readers to not question but throw an interesting loop in there for those who are familiar with the book! And I mean, how awesome would it be to meet a child of these two star-crossed pilots and to know that their story truly connects to the sequel trilogy!

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3) Speaking of Lando, I desperately want to see him interact with Kylo/Ben! We’ve already seen Ben and his Unca Wanwo in Daniel Jose Older’s Last Shot novel and their relationship was ADORABLE. I mean Little Starfighter…no more needs to be said. But really, could Kylo turn to his Uncle for help or advice, seeking paternal figure now that he’s finally freed himself from Snoke or maybe Lando himself can initiates the contact. Either way, putting these two together is a powerful reminder of the horrors of Kylo’s past, it would force him to confront what he’s done and what they both have lost WITHOUT causing him to panic like he does whenever Luke is present.

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4) Another reunion I’m hoping to see is Leia and Kylo/Ben’s. I think the movies kind of skip over how long it’s been since Leia has actually seen Ben, but Bloodline by Claudia Gray establishes that she was trying to get in contact with her son and Luke YEARS before the First Order officially arose. So, we’re probably talking about a good ten-year separation by the time The Force Awakens even begins…bring that boy home! Ideally, I would have loved to see them together on-screen but under the circumstances, it would still be highly emotional and cathartic to have a reunion planned offscreen perhaps with a message being received by Ben that his mother is on her way. That way we know it happens and the reunion can take place however the viewer wants it to. And as others have pointed out, the Skywalker downfall started with Anakin having to leave his mother, it should be resolved with Kylo coming home to his.

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5) And since I took it back to the prequel era for a moment, I would totally like to return to Naboo for the final act of the saga. It’s the place the story truly began, it’s the legacy and home of Ben’s ancestors, and it’s just downright gorgeous. I can picture no more beautiful or meaningful an ending than to have Ben and Rey start a life in that lush, peaceful place, surrounded by sunlight, glimmering water, and the gentle hues of healing green.

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6) For this happy ending to occur though, (and what I am most excited about and desperately hope to see!) we need the REYLO REVEAL!!! More than anything else, I want to see these two lost souls come together and fully admit their feelings for one another. The Force Awakens pitted them together as adversaries and the The Last Jedi brought them together as allies (albeit still with unresolved issues) but now it’s time to see them fully acknowledge and accept that there is something between them. These two belong together, they are the living representation of the Force and it’s need to find balance and the films have been dropping hints like crazy that this is the endgame but now I want confirmation people! (And if we’re putting it all out there, I would LOVE to see the balance of the force represented in a child of theirs, preferably a daughter!)

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7) I also want there to be a defined Reylo score in the film, I mean Across the Stars and Han Solo and the Princess (aka Han and Leia) are ICONIC. They are some of the most memorable and sweeping songs in the entire franchise, evoking so much emotion and truth each time you hear them and dammit I am ready for a Reylo equivalent!

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8) But for this great Reylo ending to be possible, we need to see Rey acknowledge that the Jedi order and its strict ass teachings were flawed and dangerous, just as much as the Sith teachings were, and have her (and Kylo) comprehend that the middle ground (or Grey Jedi) path is the one that is needed. Kylo already wants to get rid of both the Sith and the Jedi, and even though most categorize him as the “villain” I actually think it’s going to be Rey that has a hard time letting go of the Jedi teachings. Being all light or all dark is not realistic, it’s not healthy, and if the prequels taught us anything it’s that not allowing yourself to see both sides of a story is lethal. I don’t want to see a resurgence of the Jedi order, I think their time has passed, and the galaxy is all the better for it. Let Rey and Kylo find a middle ground together, let them live their lives with love and compassion and understanding and flexibility. He needs to recognize the light within himself as valid and move towards it and she needs to recognize the darkness inside and accept it.

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9) And finally, I want to see Anakin reach out to his grandson and truly connect with Kylo so that for better or worse, Kylo can understand Anakin’s truths. I think because so much was kept hidden about Vader/Anakin after the fall of the empire in this canon timeline (which Claudia Gray’s Bloodlines touches on) that Kylo has no real concept of who is grandfather actually was. Snoke uses Vader to influence Kylo and push him to be the type of person that Snoke wants him to be, but is he ever told of Anakin? What better way to demonstrate that there are always two sides to every story and to have Kylo confront and accept his past and actively move towards a more hopeful and forgiving future than to have him come face to face with Anakin Skywalker himself?! This interaction would tie the story together perfectly, merging the beginning of the story with the ending, and for those that believe that Kylo is Anakin reborn it offers up some mighty intriguing ideas!

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And there you guys have it, a breakdown of those moments that I’m most looking forward to and hoping to see on screen this December when we venture once more into that galaxy far, far away! It was surprisingly hard to narrow everything down and put into words all that I hope to see, but wow was it fun! So now, what about you, are there any moments that you’re looking forward to that I didn’t list? Are there things on my list that you’re looking forward to as well? What are you most looking forward to seeing in this final installment of the Skywalker saga? Let me know down in the comments and as always: May the Force be with you!

Top 5 Canon Star Wars Novels

Alright starfighters, let’s start the new year off right! Now as much as I love the Star Wars movies themselves (and my stars and starships do I LOVE them!), they admittedly only span a certain amount of time with my favorite characters and plot points. They only have so much time and most people don’t care enought to invest in a seven or eight hour movie, but dammit I’m greedy and I want to know more! I mean there are so many questions that need to be answered!!!

What was Leia doing before The Force Awakens? What was it like for her being a teenage senator responsible for millions of lives while also becoming one of the most reknowed Rebel Leaders? And what in the galaxy drove people to join the Empire, how did they justify working in that environment?!

I could go on forever but I think you get my point 😉

The films give us so much, but they can’t be everywhere at once. That’s where the books come in! Now I’ve been reading Star Wars books since I was in the fifth grade and found the Jedi Apprentice books at a school book fair by accident, but for this list I’m going to narrow my favorites down to the new wave of canon books that have been released since The Force Awakens was announced.

So in no particular order, I present to you… my favorites!

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1) Lost Stars by Claudia Gray — Lost Stars is the first of the new-wave books that I came across and absolutely loved! It’s always risky for me picking up a SW book that is centered on characters I’m not familiar with since for me at least, SW IS its characters and I get very attached to specific people, but this book was a revelation! Set in the early years after the rise of the Empire we follow two young pilots as they chase their shared dream of flying the best ships the galaxy has to offer. Ciena Ree and Thane give us an inside view of what it was like growing up during Palpatine’s reign and how the Empire conned the best of its citizens into a life of dishonor. From backwater worlds, to imperial academies on gleaming Coruscant, to the Death Star itself, and even the bridge of a Star Destroyer during the final battle of Jakku, this book takes you on one wild ride with two protagonists who are deeply in love but fighting on opposite sides of one of the biggest wars the galaxy has ever seen. The stakes are high and love and honor are on the line!

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2) Bloodline by Claudia Gray — Leia is one hell of an epic woman, let’s just make that clear. Princess, Rebel Leader, Spy, Senator, she wears a lot of hats. But what does she do when she’s not out rescuing Han Solo from Bounty hunters and Hutts or saving the Galaxy from the stranglehold of the Empire? What does a warrior like her do when the battle is finally done and the war won? Get back to work to make the galaxy a better place, that’s what. One senate meeting at a time. This book sets us down a few years before TFA in a time just before Leia’s world comes crashing down around her. You can’t help but feel a near-suffocating desperate hopelessness while you read this one knowing that unbeknownst to our beloved Princess, she is witnessing the birth of the next great evil in her galaxy and possibly the end of her relative happiness in life. This book beautifully walks that fine line of telling it’s own story and subtly setting us up for the first sequel film. It’s breathtaking and heartbreaking. Leia’s strength shines as strong as ever, but we see the cracks starting to form around her. A battle is coming, but can she see it in time?

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3) Last Shot: A Han and Lando novel by Daniel Jose Older — I WANTED NOTHING MORE THAN TO SEE HAN AND BABY BEN/KYLO TOGETHER AND THIS BOOK DELIVERED!!! Ahem… Sorry about that, but as a Kylo fan I was desperate for more information regarding his life, especially relating to Han and while that isn’t the entire focus of this book, it is a wonderful part of it! Baby Ben and Han are just soooo precious and I demand more content with them! But all that aside, the majority of this book is set in varying points of time with Han, Lando, and a few other rather frightening characters while they race against the clock to fix a deadly mistake they both made in the past. As someone who is easily spooked by the thought of a robot apocalypse, this book actually scared the hell out of me at times. Honestly. There is some creepy sh*t going on, and while it was sometimes hard to follow with all the jumps in time, when it comes down to it this book PERFECTLY captures Han and Lando’s respective voices. It was almost uncanny. Really, excellent job!

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4) Most Wanted by Rae Carson — As someone who LOVED Solo: A Star Wars Story, I was eager to delve into the lives of Han and Qi’ra before we see them escape Corellia in the opening scenes of the film. What were their lives like in that murky underground gang, what were they to each other really, and perhaps most important to me, who is this Qi’ra girl? This book answers all these questions and so much more. Fast paced and thrilling we meet these unforgettable characters before they actually become the characters we know. Han isn’t the Han we see in ANH or even Solo yet and Qi’ra is just as compelling and beguiling as she was on-screen. I was left with the sensation of knowing these two people so much better but still having no idea how their story together will ultimately end.

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5) Leia, Princess of Alderaan by Claudia Gray — How does one top Bloodline you ask? Well let me tell you! This book IS Leia as she becomes the rebel leader princess we all know and love! Coming of age to be named heir to the Alderaanian throne, Leia must prove herself to her parents, her people, the galaxy at large, and most importantly to herself. Witness a girl who knows nothing but the strength and power of love as she starts to discover the hardships of those around her and struggles to find a way to help that won’t result in more devastation. This is the Leia I never knew I needed, this is a princess who isn’t as confident, isn’t as sure how to accomplish all that must be done, but still has that fiery determination to try. There were moments I literally gasped, moments I squealed in delight, and moments like reading the very last line where I felt such devastating despair at all that was about to come for one of my favorite SW characters 😭

And there you have it my starfighters, my top five favorite canon Star Wars books! I have a few more on my to-be-read list (The Aftermath trilogy) and a few that I liked just fine but these are the ones that really gave me those wonderful, epic SW feels. What about you guys, which of the new canon novels do you like best? Is there one you’d recommend I read? Let me know in the comments and remember: may the Force be with you!