Christianity · Faith · Film · Movies

Everything is Not Fine

w3LxiVYdWWRvEVdn5RYq6jIqkb1It was no surprise to me last night that at the Oscars the movie Everything Everywhere All At Once was crowned the best movie of 2022. In fact, it seemed apropos for the spirit of the age we live in. 

Everything Everywhere All At Once is simultaneously one of the most truthful movies of all time, yet by the end, one of the most trite. The film perfectly articulates Friedrich Nietzsche’s nihilism in a way even he would be proud of. In a godless multiverse of unlimited possibility, where a person will live out every single choice ever possible or impossible (who knew there was one where you have hotdogs for fingers) the movie rightly shows the pointless, hopeless nature of such an existence. There is no meaning or purpose because nothing matters, there are no consequences. It brings to mind the writer of Ecclesiastics when he says, 

Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun? A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it rises. The wind blows to the south and goes around to the north; around and around goes the wind, and on its circuits the wind returns. All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full; to the place where the streams flow, there they flow again. All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Ecclesiastics 1:2-9

The movie echos what humanity has known for a very long time, without something to hold on to, outside ourselves, life is meaningless. The film’s message is bleak, yet 100% accurate in its diagnosis of a godless universe or multiverse. 

Channeling the spirit of the age the film tries to pull off its biggest trick by being the very definition of gaslighting. It does this by trying to pretend that regardless of the message we’ve just spent most of the movie witnessing, we should be nice to people, love our families, even when things don’t make sense. (Because as the movie shows so effectively, nothing does make sense, ever). It is an audacious move. Yes, yes, the movie just showed you, how futile all of existence is, in any universe but you should still be nice to people, try and love people who are close to you. It’s absurdist to the extreme, yet it feels right in a world where gaslighting people and asking them to ignore what is right in front of their face is a way of life. Love is absolutely meaningless if there is no meaning. If there is nothing that matters, if there are no consequences because there is no one to be accountable to and in one universe you chose to love, in the next you’ll chose hate, the choices lead to the exact same place, nothing. 

But what if things were not so? What if love was not just some etherial human idea but a person. What is love, it is God because God himself is love. Therefore, if God is love, love has definition outside humanity. So, what is love? Timothy Keller says, 

“The problem is that if you want a loving God, you have to have an angry God. Please think about it. Loving people can get angry, not in spite of their love but because of it. In fact, the more closely and deeply you love people in your life, the angrier you can get. Have you noticed that? When you see people who are harmed or abused, you get mad. If you see people abusing themselves, you get mad at them, out of love. Your senses of love and justice are activated together, not in opposition to each other. If you see people destroying themselves or destroying other people and you don’t get mad, it’s because you don’t care. You’re too absorbed in yourself, too cynical, too hard. The more loving you are, the more ferociously angry you will be at whatever harms your beloved. And the greater the harm, the more resolute your opposition will be…So it makes no sense to say, ‘I don’t want a wrathful God, I want a loving God.’ If God is loving and good, he must be angry at evil—angry enough to do something about it.” ¹

Love is God being angry enough about our helpless, meaningless lives to do something about it. The Apostle Paul makes this point when he says in Romans, “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

So what is love? Again I turn to Keller,

“It bears repeating: All love, all real, life-changing love, is substitutionary sacrifice. You have never loved a broken person, you have never loved a guilty person, you have never loved a hurting person except through substitutionary sacrifice.” ²

Everything Everywhere All At Once brilliantly shows us that in a godless world, there is no hope but thanks be to God that we don’t actually live in that world. We live in one where God himself stepped into time to do what we could never do. He took our bleakness and made blessing, our irrelevance and gave us relevance. There is not truth in being gaslit. Being “nice” in a world with no God is pointless. 

“How can we escape this self-referential trap and truly become unselfish? If secularism, psychology, and relativism on the one hand and religion and moralism on the other don’t actually give us what we need to be unselfish, what does? The answer is, we need to look somewhere else besides ourselves. We need to look at Jesus. If he is indeed a substitutionary sacrifice, if he has paid for our sins, if he has proved to our insecure, skittish little hearts that we are worth everything to him, then we have everything we need in him. It’s all a gift to us by grace. We don’t do good things in order to connect to God or to feel better about ourselves. What a meager upgrade to our self-image these good deeds would bring, compared with what we receive from understanding why Jesus died for us and how much he loves us. If you really understand the cross, you are blasted out into the world in joyful humility. Now you do not need to help people, but you want to help them, to resemble the One who did so much for you, to bring him delightWhether you think they are worthy of your service doesn’t come into it. Only the gospel gives you a motivation for unselfish living that doesn’t rob you of the benefits of unselfishness even as you enact it.” ³

There is an answer that is better than willful ignorance, it is the knowledge that there is a God that is everywhere, all at once. In fact there is nowhere we could go where he is not. The Psalmist says, “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!” We live in a universe of consequence with a God who is love and there is nothing outside is preview. We don’t have to earn his love because as the Apostle John says, in the first letter bearing his name, “ There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.” Our love is therefore given meaning, because God being love, gives it meaning. And that is something that makes life worth living, even when it doesn’t make sense.

  1. Keller, Timothy. “The Cup.” Essay. In King’s Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus, 176–77. New York, NY: Dutton Redeemer, 2011.

  2. Keller, Timothy. “The Feast.” Essay. In King’s Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus, 168–68. New York, NY: Dutton Redeemer, 2011.

  3. Keller, Timothy. “The Ransom.” Essay. In King’s Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus, 151–51. New York, NY: Dutton Redeemer, 2011.


The Best & Worst of 2022

best and worst

Best Movies

The Batman

Downton Abbey: A New Era

Top Gun: Maverick

Jurassic World Dominion 


Three Thousand Years of Longing


The Menu

The Fabelmans


Avatar: The Way of Water

The Banshees of Inisherin

Worst: Morbius, Thor: Love and Thunder

Most Disappointing: Everything Everywhere All At Once, The Northman

Best Books

Biblical Critical Theory: by Christopher Watkin

Analog Church: by Jay Y. Kim

Live Your Truth (and Other Lies): by Alisa Childers

Dominion : How the Christian Revolution Remade the World: by Tom Holland

The Ink Black Heart: by Robert Galbraith 

The Godfather: by Mario Puzo

Reenchanting Humanity: by Owen Strachan

Faithfully Different: by Natasha Crain

The Sinking City: by Christine Cohen

The Wisdom Pyramid: by Brett McCracken 

Thrawn Ascendancy: Lesser Evil: by Timothy Zahn

A Secular Age: by Charles Taylor 

Worst: Path of Deceit, Queen’s Hope, Wagon Train to the Stars, Midnight Horizon, Ship of the Line

Streaming Movies

Thirteen Lives 

The Adam Project 


Worst: The Bubble

TV Shows

House of the Dragon


Star Trek: Strange New Worlds

The Gilded Age

The Offer


Stranger Things Season 4


Tales of the Jedi

Tulsa King

Worst: She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, Rings of Power

Music: Artists and Albums I Found

Midnights – Taylor Swift 

Bell Bottom Country – Lainey Wilson

Shane Smith & the Saints

Caedmon’s Call 2022

Hollow Coves


Kings Kaleidoscope

Andor · Disney · Star Wars · Uncategorized

Andor: The Star Wars We Need

An article from Fulcrum agent Ashla.

There was a world before Star Wars, and there is the world since. 


45 years after the release of George Lucas’ “New Hope” the galaxy far, far away is as ubiquitous as taxes and pancakes. The way we consume entertainment has changed, sure, in part because of the creative, technical and commercial revolution Star Wars itself ushered in – an irony not lost on me. We have access to more content than ever and live in a golden age of escapism; block-busting intellectual properties are on every screen, every channel, every week. This also means a crowded landscape and desensitized viewership that makes it harder for daring storytelling to stand out. In a world where each new series or movie is ‘an event’, how can anything stand out and make an impact?

Enter Andor.


First off, the series features some of, if not the best filmmaking on streaming this year. A storyteller is god of the world they build. As such they have the power and responsibility to leave nothing to chance. Because visual storytelling combines so many creative and technical disciplines, the task in that medium is even more critical and Herculean. Identifying the purpose is an objective means of judging the skills of a filmmaker as well as the quality of their work, and Andor’s score is nearly perfect on every one of those levels. 

From writing to the final touches of post production, everything informs a point: the blocking of characters in a scene, the timing of a cut, the varying styles of each opening music cue – even the choice of color schemes in costumes… The whole series is driven by a sense of purpose that speaks of an artist in full control of their craft. There is no fan service here, no gimmick. 

When a TIE fighter appears on screen for the first time, the preceding sound of its engines in an otherwise quiet scene compounds the reaction of the characters on the ground, and underlines the threat. The menace is real, evil is an invisible mechanized steamroller that doesn’t discriminate between targets, like a killer drone over the skies of Kabul or Kiev.

Now let’s explore Andor’s place on the Star Wars canvas. Some say the series doesn’t fall in with the tone of Star Wars stories, that Andor is too dark, too serious. 

I wouldn’t watch the series with a seven year old, no – but not because it’s “too grown-up”. Andor is no more violent or graphic than other Star Wars series or movies, in fact less so. There’s not a severed limb, smoldering skeleton or murdered child in sight in any episode. A young child would likely just miss the finer, more important points of the story. At ten or twelve years of age however, I would argue the series is must-see viewing and provides a critical gateway for children to understand the world they are growing into.

Star Wars is a modern reimagining of Flash Gordon, yes. It’s romance, it’s fast and fun, even goofy sometimes. But Star Wars is also politics, mythology, spirituality, moral ethics and life lessons. Star Wars is unafraid to tackle big ideas. It’s a story meant for children first, but one that does not talk down to them or shy from showing life for what it is.

It can be as straightforward as rescuing a princess, or as heady as learning your own father is a mass murderer. George Lucas’ two trilogies and their animated companion piece, The Clone Wars, defined the boundaries of the Star Wars sand box as a vast well of ideas bound by rules and a language that Andor identifies to perfection.

One of the central tenets of Star Wars is the question of ends justifying the means. Right is right and wrong is wrong, but man slides between the two like a dancing flame. The saga is replete with examples of bad people capable of redemption, and good people falling from grace. Andor seizes on this notion and makes it the driving heart of its story, building a game board on which every character and decision becomes an opportunity to showcase a repeating Star Wars coda: “you’ll find many of the truths we cling to, depend on our point of view”; “there are heroes and villains on both sides”.


Andor also features another cornerstone theme of the greater Star Wars story, the influence of role models on who we become. The first principal characters we are introduced to are Cassian Andor and Syril Karn. They are antagonists and polar opposites on the story’s axis. One believes in nothing, the other is a fanatic. While Andor follows an organic route to commitment and a cause, Syril keeps the blinds up and doubles down against all odds. In both cases, the characters are molded and their destiny is set in motion by a parent: one who inspires, the other who beats down.

But the best thing about Andor is perhaps not the skill behind its making, or its tasteful understanding of Star Wars thematics. No, the best thing about Andor is that it expands the boundaries of the Star Wars language. 

George Lucas gave us a timeless mythology to live by. Andor shows us how that message applies to real life, today. When “A New Hope” came out in 1977 the world was coming out of a series of storms. Star Wars was a takeaway, a blueprint to show us how to pick ourselves up and move on.

Today the storm looms ahead, not behind and Andor is a call to arms as much as a warning: like Karis Nemik’s manifesto or Maarva’s poignant speech in the season finale, the story of Andor identifies the threat we face, what it will take, reminding us that if we keep faith, the battle is already won no matter the cost.

If that isn’t the pure spirit of Star Wars, I don’t know what is.


You can listen to The 602 Club review of Andor: Season One here.

Book Reviews · Books · Star Wars · The High Republic

Star Wars: Convergence – Review

81vgJJCltwLThis review is going to be a little different, as the reviewer I have to get something off my chest first before diving into the latest book in The High Republic‘s second phase. This series was teased all through 2020 as Project Luminous. When it was finally announced what the project was going to entail, I was excited. I love the Jedi and the thought of seeing them at their peak was something I was ready for. As we got closer, my excitement grew because the art for the series looked fantastic. Then came the release of the first book, Light of the JediI was disappointed. The book was just too cluttered with characters and it felt like being thrown in the deep end of a pool with no idea how to swim. The Mandalorian had created a blueprint for how to tell new Star Wars stories with characters you did not know, start off small and progressively build out from there. Sadly, The High Republic took the complete opposite approach.

This series also had another issue, it was taking place between the adult line of books, young adult, middle grade, comics and even picture books. Every subsequent release seemed to have more characters that made caring about any of them difficult. It may be cliché but to say but it was like being in front of a fire hydrant.

As the first phase of the series came to a close it was announced that the second phase would go back another 150 years into the past. So, every character you’d finally started to get a sense of, every story line you’d finally gotten a chance to get your head around was just gone. To make matters worse, the first two books in phase two have been frustratingly uninteresting and dull.

Enter Convergence by Zoraida Córdova. This third book in the second phase of The High Republic has finally delivered what I’d hoped this series would be from the beginning. Córdova has started off small. There are a manageable amount of characters in the book and even of those, she focuses on an even smaller core. Then, the story itself is classic Star Wars,taking a couple different genres that readers are all familiar with and using them to craft her tale. And if that was not enough, the themes of the book are the heart of George Lucas’ creation, the fight between selfishness and selflessness on a micro and macro scale.

For this reviewer, The High Republic series should have begun like this. The story is compelling and drew me in with each successive page. The characters felt real and made me want more of them, for the first time in the series. Phase two is a third over and this is the first time I’ve felt invested in this series at all. This story has not only done the job of telling a good tale but has also set up well, what is coming next! I’m thankful to Zoraida Córdova for helping me finally find an “in” to The High Republic, I hope the upcoming stories will continue the trend.

I do have some minor quibbles with the book and they come at the end of the story. I hope that the way it ends does not mean we don’t see the main Jedi protagonist again (she was a character I want to see more of). Even with these minor frustrations, Convergence is rated 4 out of 5 stars.

This review was completed with a review copy of Convergence from Del Rey Publishing.

This review originally appeared on The Star Wars Report.

Movie Review · Movies

The Menu – Review

menu_ver3_xlgThe Menu is a wickedly satirical, dark comedy about the parasitic cycle of consumeristic relationships between the givers and the takers in life. Yet in all honesty, these two are not mutually exclusive. Since everyone plays the part of one or the other at some point during their lives, many times switching from hour to hour, between the two. The film illuminates the problem of stripping all life of any meaning beyond our own making and in doing so the modern world has turned all relationships into economic calculations. Further, the movie brilliantly portrays the ways in which humans use each other, taking advantage of one another as if we’re all just choosing from a menu to get what we want and then discarding each other like a dirty paper napkins. And let’s be honest, in this godless world, the pursuit of more of what we want is all that matters, so even if a little human sacrifice is necessary to procure it, we’ll tolerated it.

The movie doesn’t stop there as it exposes our world. In deconstructing everything, by disenchanting what was once enchanted, life has lost all joy, happiness and purpose. Even the simple pleasures like a meal have become status symbols and therefore savorless.

There is a faint spark of hope in the movie. One can still recover the pleasures of life if they remember that it is the simple things that make it worth living. Seeing another person, not as a commodity, but as a fellow being with dignity, who deserves love, gratitude and respect. In doing so, it reveals how our relationships are meant to be a dance of blessing, as each person uses their gifts and talents to enrich the other.

Sadly not enough people understand this and for most it is too late. Guilt rears its ugly head with the knowledge that our sin is insurmountable and must be cleansed. Yet this makes no sense, for we are sure the material is all there is, which produces one nihilistic answer, suicidal immolation. Leaving those remaining to dine on ashes, with little hope that anything can ever change.

The cast of The Menu is devilishly good. Ralph Fiennes serves up a delicious performance as the premiere chef at the ultra exclusive restaurant, Hawthorne. Nicholas Hoult is perfect as the foodie devotee to the famous chef and Anya Taylor-Joy continues to prove how versatile she can be as the suspicious escort for Hoult’s fanboy. The Menu is full of things to make you think about while doing it in  fiendishly fun ways. It is rated 4 out of 5 stars.

Christianity · Music · Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift the Theologian

FhPkjB9XwAEgTgpTaylor Swift has been a force in music since the release of her self-titled album in 2006. With each successive album, her fame, allure and cultural impact has grown. On October 21st, 2022, she released her latest album Midnights which has already sold over a million copies and shattered Billboard records where the entire top ten was ensconced by songs from the album. And if that was not enough, her latest tour that begins in 2023 is selling out stadiums and crashing Ticketmaster servers.

Just in case there was not enough for Swifties to devour, Taylor has been releasing remixes of her first single from Midnights, Anti-Hero. Being the fan I am, I’ve of course bought these tracks and been listening to them. But in the listening, something began to stand out to me, Taylor is actually saying something very interesting in Anti-Hero, in fact it is actually a Truth as old as humanity. Let’s walk through the song and I’ll show you want I mean. 

She begins, “I have this thing where I get older, but just never wiser”. Who can’t relate to this. How many of us have promised, “Oh, I am never doing that again”. “That was the last… hit, drink, one night stand, look at porn…”. The list is endless. We like to pretend we’ve changed or evolved and yet we are like a dog returning to its vomit. Gross right?! But it is the truth. 

She continues to diagnose the problem,

Midnights become my afternoons
When my depression works the graveyard shift
All of the people I’ve ghosted stand there in the room
I should not be left to my own devices
They come with prices and vices, I end up in crisis
(Tale as old as time)
I wake up screaming from dreaming
One day I’ll watch as you’re leaving
‘Cause you got tired of my scheming
(For the last time)

Her inability to change or grow works itself out in depression, leading her to remember all the ways she’s mistreated others. The fear of being rejected that has lead her to see others walk out the door, because she cannot stop scheming and just be herself. In fact it is that scheming to try and hold on to someone that has lead them to leave. As she says, it is a tale as old as time. We want people to love us, know us and yet we can’t seem to stop hurting them and ourselves in the process. It is a never-ending carousel of relational sabotage we can’t seem to get off.

We’ll get to the chorus in due time but the next verse accentuates the problem.

Sometimes I feel like everybody is a sexy baby
And I’m a monster on the hill
Too big to hang out
Slowly lurching toward your favorite city
Pierced through the heart but never killed
Did you hear my covert narcissism
I disguise as altruism like some kind of congressman?
(Tale as old as time)
I wake up screaming from dreaming
One day I’ll watch as you’re leaving and life will lose all its meaning
(For the last time)

No matter how thin she is, not matter what she looks like on the outside, she knows intrinsically it is never good enough. Even her “good works” are a lie. She echoes Isaiah when he says, “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like filthy rags.” And what dives this? It is her fear of rejection, her desire to be know and loved. 

If that was not bad enough, she goes on. 

I have this dream my daughter-in-law kills me for the money
She thinks I left them in the will
The family gathers ’round and reads it
And then someone screams out
“She’s laughing up at us from hell!”

Even her subconscious knows she is not good enough to the extent that it places her in hell! Which leads us to the chorus where she brings it all together and labels the problem correctly.

It’s me
I’m the problem, it’s me
(I’m the problem, it’s me)
At teatime
Everybody agrees
I’ll stare directly at the sun, but never in the mirror
It must be exhausting always rooting for the anti-hero  

Taylor nails it. She’s the problem. In fact, even at her best, she is even the hero of her own story, she’s an anti-hero. And if we are being honest, at the worst she and we, are villains in our own story. In so many ways, this song echoes the Apostle Paul when he says in Romans, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Paul in Romans also talks about how we all innately know that God is there through his creation and how even the Law only points to our deficiencies, unable to save us because we can never keep it perfectly. Hi, it’s me, I’m the problem, it’s me. 

Taylor is famous for her songs about failed romance. Anti-Hero encapsulates her desire to be known and loved when she says, “I wake up screaming from dreaming, One day I’ll watch as you’re leaving and life will lose all its meaning”. Relationships are her god. But again, she’s the problem. Timothy Keller paints the picture well when he says, 

“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.”

What Taylor is looking for cannot be found in a human being. Not person can sustain the weight of being everything to another person. No matter the person, they are going to let us down. Heck, she even rightly points out, we will let ourselves down, so much so that we’re not heroes, we’re at best, anti-heroes. The Psalmist points this our perfectly when they write, “It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes.”

The Apostle Paul helps answer the question Taylor is asking in Ephesians 2, 

 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—  among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

She gets part of the answer, she’s the problem, we are our own problem. We are dead, but we know this is not the way things are suppose to be. Not only are we dead, but we are enemies of the only one that can fix the problem we know is there. You see, we are not meant to be the hero of our own story, but the problem is, we all try to be. Genesis helps us by reminding us, “In the beginning, God”. We’re not the hero of the story because we’re not the first and the last, the beginning and the end, the alpha and omega, God is. And this is comforting news, because otherwise we will spend our lives, toiling away, trying to be what we were never meant to be.

Then Paul gives us the answer, with the best words in the Bible, “But God”. You see, he loved us before we first loved him, to paraphrase the Apostle John and he sent the one person that could make right what we could not. Not only does he save us, but he promises the very thing Taylor longs for the very most, to never leave us. Jesus promises, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” Ultimate love from one who ultimately knows us better than we could ever know ourselves. Jesus is the hero we need, want and long for. Jesus knows our villainy, our anti-hero natures, yet he still freely offers everlasting love, acceptance and salvation. Talk about good news! 

Book Reviews · Books · Star Wars

Star Wars: The Princess and the Scoundrel – Review

91toAFP-EzL-2The courtship of Princess Leia has been covered before in Star Wars. But with the old expanded universe having been made legends, the story was ripe for the re-telling. Thankfully Beth Revis, who’s previous Star Wars story, Rebel Risingwas fantastic, is up to the challenge in, The Princess and the Scoundrel.

Revis nails the characters of Han and Leia and she doesn’t take the easy road with either of them. Both of them are damaged individuals who have learned to cope with life by pushing aside their pain and never stopping long enough to deal with the trauma. On top of that, they’ve become fiercely independent people, to a fault. Their love for one another and choice to marry doesn’t magically bring about healing. In fact, it actually exacerbates their issues by bringing them to the surface. Revis deftly handles their relationship, allowing the characters some painful refection on who they are and who they want to be, especially if they want to make this marriage work.

One of the best parts of the book, outside the character work, is the way the story delves into the tentative first days of a fledgling new republic. The Emperor and Vader may be gone, the second Death Star may be destroyed but that doesn’t mean the Empire is history. The war is far from over. It is nice that fans are finally getting a peak at the foundation of the new republic. One can only hope that this time period will get more books to flesh out this story.

There are a lot of nice surprises and easter eggs for those that have been reading the new canon novels from the beginning. As a reviewer, I could go into some depth on it all, but books like this should be read and experienced rather than ruined in a review. The Princess and the Scoundrel is a fun book that is worth the read and rated 4 out of 5 stars!

This review was completed using a copy of The Princess and the Scoundrel provided by Del Rey Press.

This review originally appeared on The Star Wars Report.

Book Reviews · Books · Star Wars

Star Wars: Shadow of the Sith – Review

shadow-of-the-sith-1171187817Since The Force Awakens was released in December of 2015, which kicked off the Sequel Trilogy of Star Wars, fans have had questions. In many ways, each subsequent film added more questions than they answered. The literature around the series created even more questions, as they were always dancing around the upcoming films and diverging storylines of different directors, never able to give the answers fans craved. Thankfully, first time Star Wars author Adam Christopher has been tasked with taking the dangling threads from the films and the literature and working to bring some of them together into a more cohesive tapestry.

Shadow of the Sith tells a three strand story. First is the story of Rey and her parents, their background, how they fled from Ochi of Bestoon, hid Rey on Jakku and end up dead at the hands of the old Jedi hunter. The second is about Luke and Lando. Lando continues the hunt for his kidnapped daughter which leads him to overhear something that brings him to Luke. Luke, teaching at his temple on Ossus, has been having nightmares about a planet and a shadow growing in the dark side. The third strand is Ochi and his quest to find the planet of Exegal so that he might be reborn whole.

As each of these three stories comes together, Christopher is able to many weave in strands from the films, books and comics to give readers a clearer foundation to the story of the Sequel Trilogy, especially its finale. The book works overtime to make things fit together, with as much solidarity as possible.

Regardless the question of whether or not a book like this should have been needed, Christopher is up to the challenge. The characters feel wonderful as Luke especially shines in the story. He’s everything you could want from Jedi Master Luke Skywalker. For fans longing for answers to the Sequel Trilogy era, this book delivers. Hopefully this will not be the last fans see of Adam Christopher in Star Wars literature. Shadow of the Sith is rated 4 out of 5 stars.

This review was completed using a copy of Shadow of the Sith provided by Del Rey Press.

This review originally appeared on The Star Wars Report

Book Reviews · Books · Star Wars

Star Wars: Brotherhood – Review

81GcMcJNOBL-2There are Heroes on both sides. Evil is everywhere.

The Clone War rages across the galaxy in the wake of Geonosis and continues to spread like wildfire. And just as it seems that things could not get worse, Cato Neimoidia suffers a terrifying terrorist attack on it’s capital city and first evidence points to the Republic being involved. Newly appointed member of the Jedi Council, Master Obi-Wan Kenobi proposes a plan to the Republic and the Neimoidians that he go to alone to investigate, with the hope of deescalating tensions and proving the Republic’s innocence.

Mike Chen’s Brotherhood brings the early days of The Clone Wars to life in stunning detail. The fog of war has already descended as hatred and extremism are already being stoked on all sides of the conflict. As these biases are enflamed, the truth seems to be becoming less important, as emotions reign. Chen’s work here is magnificent in revealing the opening lines of Revenge of the Sith, “There are Heroes on both sides. Evil is everywhere.” With the malaise of war, obfuscation becomes the rule. There is so much to say here but in all honesty, it’s best left for the reader to experience it as read in the story and not have spoiled in a review!

Brotherhood also brings to life the characters of Obi-Wan and Anakin perfectly. That’s right, I said perfectly. Chen brings them to life in ways that make you feel as though you’re watching an episode of The Clone Wars. There is some fantastic character building happening for these characters as Anakin struggles with marriage, a new hand and his place in the Order after his promotion to Jedi Knight. One of the true highlights is the way Anakin and Padme’s early days as a married couple is written. It is refreshing to see this finally given the exploration it is due. And lest you think that Obi-Wan is forgotten, Chen digs into his promotion to the Council, his struggle in how to deal with Anakin as a peer and his feelings towards Qui-Gon and Satine.

There is so much good in this book, it is an example of exactly what a Star Wars book should be. Mike Chen has given fans a gift and literarily the best lead-in to the Obi-Wan Kenobi show, coming on Disney+ that one could hope for. One can only hope that Star Wars literature gives us more novels like this in the future. Brotherhood is rated 5 out of 5 sun-dragons.

This review was completed using a copy of Brotherhood provided by Del Rey Press.

This review originally appeared on The Star Wars Report.

Book Reviews · Books · Star Wars

The Art of Star Wars: The Mandalorian: Season Two – Review

91+5a2Dr+5LThe Mandalorian‘s first season introduced everyone to the post Return of the Jedi universe in Star Wars, while at the same time giving us new characters and focusing on the fan-favorite, Mandalorian culture. Yet with everything that season one was able to accomplish it was nothing compared to what season two would bring.

The second season of The Mandalorian built upon the foundation of the first while expanding it in surprising ways. It would bring back already beloved characters like The Child, Cara Dune, Greef Karga, the Armorer, while also giving fans their first taste of Bo-Katan and Ahsoka in live action. And if that was not enough, the season would see the return of The Mandalorian’s inspiration, Boba Fett.

With so much incredible ground to cover, author Phil Szostak had his work cut out for him. The Art of Star Wars: The Mandalorian: Season Two does an admirable job. Like the first installment, the book has a forward by Doug Chiang, and introduction and a list of who’s who in the production of the show. Then, each episode is given a brief yet detailed description behind the thought-process that went into making it. Then, the real fun begins, as the production artwork for that episode is lovingly laid out with notes on many of the pieces, giving insight into the artist’s thoughts about its creation.

The book is full of great nuggets from the creators and artists about season two.  Fans will enjoy pouring over every detail of the return of characters like Ahsoka, Bo-Katan and Boba Fett. There are so many neat revelations, which this review could go over in detail, but why ruin it here, when it is much more fun to experience by reading it yourself. There are a few pieces of art in this book that I would personally love to have offered for sale! I cannot recommend this book more highly, I give it 5 out of 5 stars!

This review was completed with a review copy of The Art of Star Wars: The Mandalorian: Season Two from Abrams Books.

This review originally appeared on The Star Wars Report.