Thursday, February 23, 2012

Breaking News! Live Show Info!

Hello Travelers of the Jundland Wastes! The Traveling the Jundland Wastes Podcast will record a live show with a public audience on Tuesday, March 27, 2012 from 6:15PM - 7:45PM in the Cynthia B. Fox Community Room at the Sharon Public Library, 11 North Main Street in the center of Sharon,MA. TJW Podcast host Mark has the honor of interviewing New York Times best selling Star Wars author Ryder Windham.

This will be Ryders first appearance on the podcast. He will discuss some of his more recent titles such as The Wrath of Darth Maul and the upcoming conclusion to his four part Secret Missions series titled Star Wars The Clone Wars: Guardians of the Chiss Key. We will also discuss his phenomenal reference books The Complete Vader and The Millennium Falcon Owner's Workshop Manual.

In addition, the TJW Podcast will also welcome members of the New England 501st Garrison! We are thrilled to have the support of these Stormtroopers and I cannot wait to see them at the event! Come and celebrate the Star Wars expanded universe at this live event!

Please take note that books will not be sold at this event.

Stay tuned for more updates!

All the best,

Mark
Co-host of the TJW Podcast

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Favorite EU Characters, KOTOR and Revan

Favorite Expanded Universe Characters
Have you ever found yourself wondering who your favorite Jedi or Sith is from the entire Star Wars universe? It seems like a question that is not answerable. Depending on what movie was coming out (or being re-released) or what Expanded Universe literature I am currently reading seems to influence my decision. But after some deep thought on the matter I think that Qui Gon-Jinn is my favorite light side wielder of the Force from the movies.

And if I had to choose an Expanded Universe character, I would have to go with Luke's sexy red-headed gal pal and wife. Mara Jade Skywalker is number one on my list. And it seems appropriate that if Luke Skywalker is our hero of the original trilogy, his Jedi wife deserves the title of number one Expanded Universe character...at least on my list. Interestingly, I just learned that Hasbro will be making a Mara Jade figure for the Vintage Collection line in 2013.

I have a theory that the character of Mara Jade was the key influence that changed the Jedi and Sith from being an "all boys club". The prequel trilogy has a number of prominent female Force users and the Expanded Universe is ripe with adventures of Jedi and Sith gals.

Knights of the Old Republic, Revan and Bastila
Since 2003 I have been so enthralled with stories from the Old Republic era. The Knights of the Old Republic video games was my entry into stories that took place a couple thousand years prior to the Skywalker story line. The Tales of the Jedi series also gave me a chance to see events which highlighted the adventures of Jedi and Sith like Ulic Qel Droma, Exar Kun and Naga Sadow.

If Mara Jade has the gold medal on my Expanded Universe list, then Bastila Shan and Darth Revan are tied for the silver medal. If you have not tried Knights of the Old Republic video game then you are missing out, in my opinion, on one of the best Expanded Universe stories. Who would have thought that the best story would come out of a video game and not one of the hundreds of books or comics?

The story of Bastila Shan and Darth Revan is a grand story of struggling to stay on the light side of the Force, redeeming oneself from the dark side of the Force and finding the key to defeating evil. The story somewhat continues in the Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords but if your time is short you can skip this game. The third part of the story of Revan and Bastila is chronicled in the recently released novel titled Revan by Drew Karpyshyn.

This novel is my number one pick for 2011 (or maybe 2012 if you have not read it yet :). Karpyshyn's writing style is true to the genre and he knows how important a strong story, engaging characters and keeping that special Star Wars essence flowing throughout the pages. I know a Star Wars novel is working for me when I can almost hear the John Williams score playing in my head while reading. Or even the music from the KOTOR video game. I had always hoped that the story of Revan and Bastila would be released as a role playing game similar to the first two games.

But the novel is a great read and stands well as the third part of this story arc. We are reintroduced to characters from the video games and meet some great new characters as well. We see some new planets and systems as well as those that we have become familiar with. Revan is such a deep character and his struggles and triumphs are examined closely in this story.

Karpyshyn, who authored the Darth Bane trilogy of novels, is one of those special authors who is able to bring the magic and majestic lore of the movies onto the printed page of a novel (or the spoken dialogue of a video game). He knows what makes a good Star Wars story and he does not disappoint in his latest novel.

So get to the library, go to your bookstore or order your copy of the novel from Amazon.com. It is a must read for Expanded Universe fans. Are you a fan the Knights of the Old Republic? Did you play the video game or read any books or comics that have made you a fan of the universe dated a couple thousand years BBY? Let us know! Email us your comments to: jundlandwastespodcast@gmail.com.

Keep traveling the Jundland Wastes with us!

All the best,

Mark
Co-host of the TJW Podcast/Blog

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Wrath Of Darth Maul - TJW Podcast Review

FYI: This is a spoiler free review of the novel!

Darth Maul is back in a big way this year. More then any other Expanded Universe story, the return of Darth Maul is probably the biggest Star Wars story arc for 2012. The 3D version of the Phantom Menace is hitting theaters this week, we know that Darth Maul is returning to the Clone Wars animated series later this year, the Expanded Universe is ripe with Sith titles in a big way this year (check out my previous blogpost about some of these Sith titles) and our first look at a post-Episode 1 Darth Maul appears in Ryder Windham's latest installment in his Star Wars biography series with The Wrath of Darth Maul.

Unlike his other biographies of Anakin, Obi Wan and Luke, this is a much darker tale that gives the reader a glimpse into the infamous Rule of Two relationship between Maul and his master Darth Sidious.

While reading this novel I kept thinking back to when Sidious/Palpatine retold the story of Darth Plagueis to Anakin in the opera house in Episode 3. I always felt like I was eavesdropping on their conversation. And I still get chills when Sidious/Palpatine tells the tale of how his master failed and died at the hand of his apprentice.

There were times in The Wrath of Darth Maul that I felt like I was that unseen witness during those interactions between the master and apprentice. The Darth Plagueis novel by James Luceno (which I have only started this week) and the Darth Bane novels by Drew Karpyshyn also give us great insight into the Rule of Two. But I think the difference with Ryder's novel, is the fact that we start out knowing both the stories and fates of Sidious and Maul from a plethora of Expanded Universe material as well as the movies. So it would only make sense that we are more connected to these characters and can feel the greater impact of tales woven within this novel. There are hints and subtleties throughout the story that made me say, "Wow! Now that sheds a whole new light on what happens later on!"

The background of Darth Maul from a young child, through adolescence and to his ascension as a Dark Lord of the Sith gives the character depth and added dimension that cannot be comprehended from just watching Episode 1. Like Darth Vader, Maul can be seen as the end product of manipulation, abuse and hatred (all good prerequisites for becoming a Sith Lord). At the same time, he is not just a mindless monster or guard dog for Sidious. He has doubts about his training, his required obedience and I believe he despises Sidious on an unconscious level (and even on a very conscious level as well at times) for turning him into this double bladed lightsaber wielding weapon of destruction. And believe it or not, you might even feel a sense of empathy for Maul by the time you finish this novel.

As with the previous biographies, the book is a work of art on its own. The image of a hooded Maul appears on the slipcase. You take the slipcase off and you see Maul in all his glory complete with spiked horns and a gruesome smile of sorts. The backcovers shows Maul with his double bladed lightsaber ready for action. I am sure the softcover version will be released later this year at a lower price point, but I would encourage everyone to spend the extra couple dollars and get this hardcover version. I still go back to the previous novels and go back and forth looking at the art on the covers.

Stay tuned for my reviews of Revan by Drew Karpyshyn and Darth Plagueis by James Luceno. The Sith Lords invade this year and the Traveling the Jundland Wastes Podcast and Blog will have analysis of these great titles! I am awaiting the arrival of my Sith holocron with Daniel Wallace's Book of Sith which goes on sale tomorrow, February 10, 2012. The pictures and videos of this Sith holocron and book looks fantastic. But I am sure it will be even better when I can open it up myself. Stay tuned for more on this title as well.

And we will have more information coming soon about our live show in March! We would love to meet you! And let us know what you think about any of these new Sith titles coming out this year. Email us at: jundlandwastespodcast@gmail.com.

The sands of Jundland Wastes have mysteries ready to be discovered! Join us on our journey!

Mark
Co-host of TJW Podcast