Category Archives: Books

Remembering: Harry Potter

On June 26, Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone is published.

J.K. Rowling had faced dozens of rejections before the book was finally picked up, in August of 1996.

The book would launch the writing career of Rowling as she continued the series into seven books.

Those books would help inspire a new desire to read, renew publisher’s interest in producing children’s fiction, and bring wizardry fully into the nerd world.

They would also span a series of movies that would introduce previously unknown children actors who would then continue on to be some of the top stars.

Excerpt From Star Wars: Battlefront II: Inferno Squad

Today we have an excerpt from Star Wars: Battlefront II: Inferno Squad, which is by Christie Golden.

It was originally posted at USA Today.

The excerpt focuses on Lieutenant Iden Versio, during the Battle of Yavin.

As we know that the book takes place after the battle, this is likely a prologue or maybe from the very first chapter.

We also know that the book is a prequel to Star Wars: Battlefront II the video game, which follows Versio as she leads Inferno Squad after the Battle of Endor.

“Attention, pilots,” came the voice of her commander, Kela Neerik, in Iden’s ear, and for a brief, beautiful instant Iden thought her squad commander was going to explain what was going on. But all Neerik said was, “Death Star is now six minutes out from target.”

Iden bit her lip, wondering if she should speak up. Don’t. Don’t, she told herself, but the words had a life of their own. Before she realized it, out they had come.

“Respectfully, Commander, with only six minutes until the entire moon’s destruction, why are we out here? Surely thirty one-person ships won’t be able to do anything resembling damage to the Death Star in that amount of time.”

“Lieutenant Versio” — Neerik’s voice was as cold as space — “don’t assume your father’s position gives you special privileges. We are here because Lord Vader ordered us to be here. Perhaps you’d like to put your question to him personally when we return to the station? I’m sure he’d be delighted to explain his military strategy to you.”

Iden felt a cold knot in her stomach at the thought of a “personal” conversation with Lord Vader. She’d never met him, thankfully, but she had heard too many chilling rumors.

“No, Commander, that won’t be necessary.”

“I thought not. Do your duty, Lieutenant Versio.”

Iden frowned, then let it go. She did not need to understand the rebels; she needed only to destroy them.

She targeted the nearest X-wing and fired. Green lasers sliced through the enemy ship, and then only pieces and a flaring sheet of flame remained.

As if they sensed her renewed resolve, the rebel pilots suddenly upped their game. There was a brief flash at the corner of Iden’s vi­sion, and when she turned to look, she realized with sick surprise that this time the debris hurtling off in all directions was black.

Iden didn’t know who had just died. TIE fighters were so uniform as to be practically indistinguishable from one another. Their pilots weren’t supposed to think of their ships in the warm, fuzzy way the rebels were reported to do. A ship was a ship was a ship. And Iden understood that, as far as most in the Empire were concerned, a pilot was a pilot was a pilot: as expendable and interchangeable as the ships they flew.

We all serve at the pleasure of the Emperor, her father had drilled into her since she was old enough to comprehend what an emperor was. None of us is indispensable. Iden had certainly seen Imperial ships shot down before. This was war, and she was a soldier. But in­dispensable be damned.

The half smile she’d been wearing during most of the combat van­ished, and Iden pressed her lips together angrily. She veered, perhaps a touch too violently, to the right and targeted another X-wing. In mere seconds it exploded into a yellow-orange fireball.

“Gotcha, you—” she muttered.

“No commentary, Versio,” warned Neerik, her voice rising a little; more hot than cold, now.

Iden targeted the closest Y-wing, locked onto it, and blew it to pieces. Watching the fragments of the starfighter hurtling wildly was some small compensation for the deaths of her fellow pilots.

“Death Star is two minutes to target. Be aware of your distance from the planet.”

Ah, so that was why Neerik was giving the countdown. Iden had to give the pilot of a nearby Y-wing credit for courage, albeit of the foolish kind; the ship was now racing away from the Death Star at top speed. Were they heading back to Yavin’s moon, nobly choosing to die with their base, or were they just trying to evade her?

Not happening, Iden thought, and continued her pursuit. She got the vessel in her sights and fired. She didn’t slow as the ship exploded, but simply pulled back and looped up and over the fireball and de­bris, snug in her crash webbing, and smoothly dipped the TIE fighter in front of the Y-wing for the perfect shot.

The pale moon-shape of the Death Star loomed behind the vessel, its gargantuan size making the rebel ship look like the toys she’d been allowed to play with as a child. The Y-wing was making for Yavin as fast as it could, swerving erratically enough that Iden frowned as she tried to get a lock on it.

A sudden scalding brightness filled her vision.

Temporarily blinded, Iden hurtled wildly, her TIE fighter tum­bling out of control. As her vision returned, she realized debris was coming at her as intensely as if she had suddenly materialized inside an asteroid field. Her focus, always powerful, narrowed to laserlike precision as she frantically dodged and swerved, maneuvering around the biggest pieces and wishing with all her being that TIE fighters had shields.

Iden pivoted and tumbled, breathing the mercifully still-flowing oxygen deeply and rhythmically. But she knew in her heart it was just a matter of time. There was too much debris, some of it the size of a standard escape pod, some of it as small as her clenched fist, and she was right in the thick of it. The smaller pieces were pelting her TIE fighter already. Sooner or later, one of the big chunks would hit her, and both Senior Lieutenant Iden Versio and her ship would be noth­ing more than smears on what was left of Yavin’s moon.

Somehow, she’d wandered too close to the Death Star’s target and had gotten swept up in the chaotic sweep of its destruction—exactly what her commander had been warning her against.

But how was that possible?

“Mayday, mayday,” Iden shouted, unable to keep her voice calm as she desperately dipped and dived to avoid disaster. “This is TIE Sigma Three requesting assistance. Repeat, this is TIE Sigma Three request­ing assistance, do you copy, over?”

Silence. Absolute, cold, terrifying silence.

Star Wars: Battlefront II: Inferno Squad is due out on July 25.

Tolkien’s Beren and Luthien Released

It’s been about 100 years since JRR Tolkien started writing his stories of Beren and Luthien.

Now their story has been released in a book edited by Christopher Tolkien and illustrated by Alan Lee.

Christopher took Beren and Luthien’s story from the Silmarillion and spliced all the other mentions of them from his father’s other books, stories, and poems.

The combination is what came together for this new book, which takes place in Middle Earth about 6,500 years before The Lord of The Rings.

For those unfamiliar, Beren is a human and Luthien is an elvish princess and the two fall in love.

To prove his worth, Beren is sent on a quest by Luthien’s father King Thingol.

His quest is to recover one of the Silmarils from the Dark Lord Morgoth.

Ken Liu Writing The Legends of Luke Skywalker for Star Wars

Disney and Star Wars continue to announce books that will fill gaps in their new universe.

One of those will be written by Ken Liu and called The Legends of Luke Skywalker.

It is a “collection of myths and tall tales about the legendary Jedi Luke Skywalker.”

The book will apparently be told by various characters, each of whom saw Luke doing something, somewhere in the galaxy.

As it is listed as being part of the Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi series, we can expect that it will be set between the events of Return of The Jedi and whatever destruction Kylo Ren caused to the Jedi.

The Legends of Luke Skywalker is set for release on October 31.

Upcoming Children’s Book Be A Star, Wonderwoman

A new superhero children’s book is coming soon called Be A Star, Wonderwoman.

It is written by Michael Dahl and illustrated by Omar Lozano.

In the book, “a young girl faces the ultimate challenge: school! Follow along as she demonstrates her greatest superpower (sharing), overcomes her worst fear (the playground), and conquers her archenemy (the spelling test). With courage, kindness, and other heroic traits of DC Comics’ Wonder Woman, she’ll turn a difficult school day into an AMAZING ADVENTURE!”

Be A Star, Wonderwoman is set for release on June 1.

Star Wars: Leia Princess of Alderaan a Prequel to A New Hope

Disney and Star Wars continue to expand their new universe with books.

Claudia Gray is penning one for young adults entitled Star Wars: Leia Princess of Alderaan.

Not many details have been released yet, but this book will focus on our favorite princess in a time period we’ve not seen her in before.

It is set as a prequel to A New Hope, showing what sixteen-year-old Leia was up to.

Presumably, it will show Leia as the Alderaanian representative to the Galactic Senate, as that is what she was at the beginning of A New Hope.

We also expect it to end right before A New Hope begins, possibly even involving some of the events of Rogue One.

Oddly it is listed as part of the Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi series.

This is odd because it makes little sense for a book before Episode IV to be part of a book series explaining Episode VIII.

However, this inclusion into that series suggests that there will be someone or something important to The Last Jedi, whether obvious or not.

Star Wars: Leia Princess of Alderaan is set for a September 1 release.

The Book of Swords Includes a New George R. R. Martin Game of Thrones Short Story

George R. R. Martin is going to release a new Game of Thrones short story.

The Sons of The Dragon will be a historical story about the second and third Targaryen kings.

Aenys I Targaryen is celebrated as one of the wisest kings Westeros ever knew, while Maegor the Cruel is one of the worst.

It will be in an anthology edited by Gardner Dozios and entitled The Book of Swords.

According to Penguin Random House, the anthology will contain sixteen stories, each by a different author.

All of the stories are set in worlds filled with sorcery and swords.

The sixteen stories and authors are:

The Best Man Wins by K. J. Parker
His Father’s Sword by Robin Hobb
The Hidden Girl by Ken Liu
The Sword of Destiny by Matthew Hughes
‘I Am a Handsome Man,’ Said Apollo Crow by Kate Elliott
The Triumph of Virtue by Walter Jon Williams
The Mocking Tower by Daniel Abraham
Hrunting by C. J. Cherryh
A Long, Cold Trail by Garth Nix
When I Was a Highwayman by Ellen Kushner
The Smoke of Gold Is Glory by Scott Lynch
The Colgrid Conundrum by Rich Larson
The King’s Evil by Elizabeth Bear
Waterfalling by Lavie Tidhar
The Sword Tyraste by Cecelia Holland
The Sons of the Dragon by George R. R. Martin

The Book of Swords is set for release on October 10.