Originally posted on The Canon Rebel - May 2nd 2015
Very Minor Spoilers Ahead
An odd place to start? Possibly, but I wanted to begin my blog by posting about lesser known page-turners first. I will write on the four books released by Del Rey after I’ve re-read them but I wanted to give this series, authored by Jason Fry, some well deserved praise first.
A brief synopsis:
The two main characters are Zare Leonis and his girlfriend Merei Spanjaf (who is one hell of a character). Zare finds out his sister has disappeared from the Imperial Academy under mysterious circumstances. The first book, Edge of the Galaxy, follows them through their final year of school before heading off to the academies of their choice. This happens amongst a lot of “Grav-Ball” and great chases from Imperials through the grasslands of Lothal. The second book, Rebel in the Ranks, concentrates on Zare at the Imperial Academy and his adventures with Ezra of Rebels fame. Meanwhile, Merei hacks into anything that may help them both from afar be it legal or very much illegal.
These books are aimed at children, that is obvious, however, don’t let that put you off as they have a lot of depth to them and frankly they’re good enjoyable reads too! In an interview with Rebels Report Jason Fry stated that he aims to “writes books for kids and not be too simplistic”*. He achieves that as I was more than happy to spend a few of hours reading through both books and ending them with a more than satisfied sigh and a longing for the next one in the series.
So what about these two characters mentioned above? Zare is a born leader. He is the captain of his schools Grav-Ball team (think American Football with a Star Wars twist). His interaction and encouragement of is team mates in Edge of the Galaxy is inspiring. That continues in Rebel in the Ranks, where in the opening arc, he helps his fellow imperial cadets as they struggle through all the tests the Empire can throw in their path.** He leads from the front and any leader, be it of the Dark side or the Light, should always do that.
What really stood out to me is his courage. During Edge of the Galaxy there is a case of horrendous discrimination and Zare doesn’t stand for it – he puts the potential of massive personal cost aside and stands upright to the face of injustice. I commend Fry for this as my children (way in the future) will hopefully learn these same lessons when I read them these books. (Which I would certainly recommend any parent to do).
On to Merei…oh what a character! She has to be my favourite new character introduced to Star Wars. During the recent Force Awakens panel at Celebration, Kathleen Kennedy promised us more woman in leading roles and Marei answers that promise. She’s intelligent, witty and brave. The things she does in the second book are nothing short of miraculous and the cliffhanger ending is all about her which tore me up inside!
These two characters are wonderful additions to the Star Wars universe and I cannot wait to see how the story ends in the final two books.
What else is of note in these books? Fry doesn’t hold back! Even though it is off the page he most definitely hints at the slaughter of a lot of innocent people by The Empire. Wow. Was I expecting that when I picked the book up? No. Not one bit. Does it make it more realistic and characteristic of The Empire during the Rebels time period? Every single bit. I applaud Fry for taking these actions and it really does drive home how evil we all know The Empire to be.
Finally, these books are relatively short, both hitting the 170 page mark, thats a tight window to put a lot of story in, something Fry succeeds at. I have mentioned two characters in this post, there are many more that help drive these stories. Beck in the Edge of the Galaxy is a high note as is the valour and wisdom of Zare’s mother. The fact I can say these things after just 170 pages of reading shows how good a job Jason Fry did.
Would I recommend them? Whole-heartedly – they’re fun quick reads that enable the planet of Lothal to grow. Enjoy them to yourselves or reading to your children, but most of all enjoy them. I certainly did.
If you have read these already you may want to know when the final two are released, Imperial Injustice is released in early July and The Secret Academy follows in October.
Thanks for reading and have a great Star Wars Day!
**Look out for the Band of Brothers references through this arc of the story!