Ossus Library Index Star Wars Timeline

ALL TIMELINES


ALL TIMELINES

AMBUSH AT CORELLIA

A novel by Roger MacBride-Allen (1995, Bantam Spectra)
Book 1 of the Corellian Trilogy
18 years after Star Wars: A New Hope

A terrorist group takes advantage of a trade meeting on Corellia to overthrow the government, trapping the Millennium Falcon there, as Lando goes searching for a rich wife.

 

 

4 stars

Read October 6th to 13th, 2009 for the second time.  
    This was a fun Star Wars adventure -or the start of one, anyway. It lacks the finesse of most recent Star Wars novels, and drags a little too long on the internal thoughts and dilemmas of the main characters, but it was also refreshing, in that it could move at a leisurely pace, and give us some nice character moments that felt very real.

The book is a quick, simple read. The author doesn't try to make things too complicated, and the fact that he will tell the story over three books means he can focus on what the characters are thinking for a fair amount. Unfortunately, he stays in their heads for a while too long. The characters bring up so many alternative theories about what they should do that it gets annoying. It's probably a realistic portrayal of what our subconscious minds go through ever time we make a decision, but I don't think it needs to be vocalized every time.

Then there is the turn of phrase "that Corellian guy", or other similar phrases, like "that Luke person". It is used way too often, by way too many different characters.

But there was a lot to like here, even if not much actually happens. The author is able to ramp up the tension, so that it is quite fun to get through it to the climax, which occurs at the very end of the book -since this is book one of three, it's allowed to do that.

Lando's story is the easiest to cover first. He mysteriously invites Luke to his new home in Dometown, a city he helped finance in an enormous cavern under Coruscant's surface. There he asks Luke to join him in his new enterprise- the search for a rich wife. Why work for money when he could marry into it? But he doesn't just want money for its own sake. He wants to invest it, to create things. Mon Mothma had urged Luke to take on this opportunity with Lando, so he cautiously does. Mothma thought Luke was drifting off into becoming a hermit. Apparently the authors at this point didn't know what to do with Luke as a Jedi Master. Somehow Leia beats him in a lightsaber duel, which I think is meant to show not only that she has potential, but that he is losing his way. Mothma feels that Luke should go into politics. Little did she know what was to come!

Little did the authors, either, as he says that nobody has heard of the Empire in years. Surely the Hand of Thrawn duology was in the works by now, but I guess they didn't realize that Admiral Pellaeon was still on Bastion.

The author plays up Lando's apparent hatred of droids, even though he had a droid in the pre-A New Hope adventures. He does not welcome C3PO or R2D2's advice, and all of the droids' scenes are played for comedy. Fortunately, the droids play a minor role, except in one instance, when they save Lando's life by telling him what a life-witch is just as he is about to marry her -he would have been bonded to her for five years, able to fulfill as many dreams as he could, after which he would die.

The second woman he goes to see was married a few weeks earlier -oops! And the third is Tendra Risant, from Saccoria, in the Corellian system. Tendra, of course, is miraculously still alive by the end of the Legacy of the Jedi series, Fury at least, and is finally pregnant there. Lando does not immediately fall in love with Tendra, but has an incredible time just talking with her. They get along really well. The important part of what takes place on Saccoria is that Lando and Luke get thrown off the planet by the Triad government.

Lando's next stop is Corellia, but his ship is stopped by the giant interdiction field, which Luke feels they must report to Coruscant, so they turn around.

For their part, the New Republic Intelligence agency knows that something is wrong at Corellia. Their agents keep disappearing. So agent Kalenda secretly approaches Han, warning him that he and his family might be in danger. She also tells him that the New Republic does not have any ships to fight with, if something should happen. I think this is the most ridiculous thing to believe. Where are all the ships from the Black Fleet Crisis? Didn't they learn anything back then?

A lot of time is spent giving us an inside view of Han and Leia's image of family. Sometimes this was tiring, and felt a little like filler, but it did give us a baseline for how they would react if their family was actually put in danger. And by the end of the book, they are all split up, so we can imagine what their reactions are going to be.

When they arrive at Corellia, they feel something is wrong, so Han jumps out of hyperspace early, and is caught in a very strange and poorly organized attack on them, which the Corellian defense force "destroys". It is obviously faked, but nobody can figure out why.

Han and Leia play sightseers for a while. Han goes out exploring, and discovers that the prosperous Corellia he grew up on is gone. Having isolated itself even during the Imperial years, and worse since the Emperor died, the system has become very poor, so that there is very little sustaining it. Their Drall tutor (one of two other species that share the Corellian system, the other being Selonians), Ebrihim, invites them to see an archaeological dig, as apparently this is a new science to Corellians. I find it difficult to believe they have no interest in their remote past, even if they have such good records.

The author takes on the difficult task of writing from the children's' point of view. Jacen and Jaina are nine years old, Anakin is seven. They are all written as if they were five at some points. Some of the things they do are definitely child-like, and their opinions are very much as I would expect a five-year-old to think, but I don't think they actually reason through as much as these kids do. Through most of the book, the twins are Anakin's caretakers, while Anakin actually finds a hidden room in the archaeological site. Having read the book before, I know what it is, but for this first book in the trilogy, it is left mysterious.

Unrest grows on Corellia. Han is taken by a group of people called the Human League, but is then released. Somebody recognized Han as trying to pose as their hidden leader, when apparently nobody in the Human League had seen the hidden leader. That could have been made more clear.

When they finally start the trade conference, hardly any traders actually show up. Mara Jade does, though, and gives Leia a message cube she was delivered on her way to some trading stop. It contains a list of star positions, and an image of a star going nova, a type of star that cannot ever go nova. The message claims responsibility for blowing up the star, and says more will follow if their unspecified demands are not met.

Then the interdiction field goes up, and a system-wide jamming field also goes up. Thrackan Sal-Solo, Han's cousin and near-lookalike (and whom Han remarks was evil as a child) claims that he blew up the star, orders all aliens off Corellia, and takes on the title of Diktat, leader of the Corellian system.

In the aftermath of this, riots start among all species and on all five inhabited planets in the Corellian system. Han decides to use Kalenda, who arrived on Corellia first, so she steals a ship while Han creates a diversion. She manages to get out of the system with the starburster information just before the interdiction field goes up, and Han is then captured.

And this is where the book ends. I don't know if the Force was actually used in this book, except for a couple of isolated moments. Anakin uses it instinctively, and I think they had high hopes for him in the future (whether they actually panned out or not is open to debate, as he only really had a brilliant Force moment in Star By Star). Luke can sense something is wrong with the life-witch and the interdiction field. Jacen uses it to smooth out their footprints after they leave the secret chamber. Somehow that doesn't matter -it allow us to focus on the other characters. There is one lightsaber fight, a training exercise between Luke and Leia (why is the lightsaber he gives her red?).

Although it is simply written, and contains a lot of information that I wished had been glossed over a little more, it did manage to ramp up the tension, and was very interesting. It made me want to read the next book in the series, as opposed to any of the nine books in the Legacy of the Force series. I vaguely remember some events from the next book, and will continue straight into it -why not!

 

 

4 stars

Also read September 21st to 26th, 1995  
   

Back to Top

All Star Wars material and covers are Copyright Lucasfilm Ltd and the publishers.
All reviews and page designs at this site Copyright (c)  by Warren Dunn, all rights reserved.