Review of Razor’s Edge by Martha Wells

17345202Title: Razor’s Edge (Star Wars: Empire and Rebellion #1)

Author: Martha Wells

Publisher: LucasBooks/Del Rey-Spectra

Format: e-ARC

Where I Received the Title: NetGalley


I have read several novels in the Star Wars universe, but the time period surrounding the original trilogy holds a special place in my heart. And it seems appropriate to note that my favorite is the Han Solo trilogy by A.C. Crispin, who sadly succumbed to cancer earlier this month. Not only did she brilliantly capture the character of Han Solo, but she showed how a back-story and plot can be tied-in to an already existing narrative (something Lucas even struggled with in the prequel trilogy).

Martha Well’s novel, Razor’s Edge, is also part of a trilogy. The other two volumes are Honor Among Thieves by James S.A. Corey (!) and an untitled Luke Skywalker novel by Kevin Hearne. I mention this because knowledge of the trilogy sets a theme for each title. In the case of Razor’s Edge, it’s a book about Leia.

Leia has always been a strong character in the Star Wars universe. For much of it, she is unaware of her jedi heritage; however, she consistently demonstrates strong leadership skills and a keen sensibility. If the original trilogy can be faulted, it is that it teeters on the edge of falling into misogynist tropes. In episode IV, Leia is a damsel in distress, but when she is “rescued,” we see her taking the initiative to save Luke and Han from death. In episode VI, she is a bikini-clad slave to the overbearing Jabba before she chokes him to death. These paint Leia as an unlikely hero, simply because she is a woman or princess. In Razor’s Edge, Wells doesn’t waste time flirting with these played-out plot devices and starts us right in the action with Leia as a leader.

The story takes place shortly after Episode IV when the rebel alliance is scattered and thinned out. The Empire, despite losing their secret weapon, is deep and strong. To reconcile their situation, Leia leads a ship of rebels to procure materials for their secret base on Hoth. They steer clear of the Empire, but unfortunately the galaxy is still a dangerous place and they find themselves captured by space pirates. To Leia’s surprise, they are from her home planet of Alderaan. She must find out the motives behind their capture and her crew must outsmart and outfight their way to freedom.

The challenge in writing a novel in this time period is that it is constrained by a tight and well-known Star Wars history, but Wells’ story arc is satisfying. Razor’s Edge is filled with action scene after action scene, which allows us to see Leia demonstrate her leadership and show that she is willing to make the hard decisions that others apparently aren’t able to make. The scenes are good, but the continuous fast pace left my mind numb toward the novel’s conclusion.

I found that Razor’s Edge was a nice addition to the Star Wars universe, highlighted by Wells’ strong characterization of Leia. I would rank it better than most and worth reading for those who share in the nostalgia of the original trilogy. Also for fans of James S.A. Corey and the Expanse trilogy, this book will likely tie into the Han Solo novel that will be released in March of 2014.

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