Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Review: Thrawn: Alliances

Thrawn: Alliances Thrawn: Alliances by Timothy Zahn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An ambitious book with some great ideas that ultimately doesn’t come together as tightly as one would like. Still, I enjoyed it. Thrawn is a great character, one of my favorite Star Wars characters. The setting of the book both in the midst of the Clone Wars and also in the time period before the Battle of Yavin, and going back and forth between these throughout the book was a great choice on how to tell the story. The parallels between the interactions of Anakin and Thrawn and then Vader and Thrawn were fun to play with. And then also seeing Vader react to and struggle with the memories of his old self was a neat spin (Anytime we can get inside that helmet and see what Vader is thinking is fun).

But the plots in both story lines tended more towards the convoluted. This is in part because in order for Thrawn to do his thing, a lot of pieces need to be moving in the background and everyone else has to be seemingly unaware of these. But with two story lines and all that intrigue, it was just a bit too much. I was also a bit let down on how the stories ultimately came together.

Another weakness is that Vader and Thrawn’s interactions got a little tiresome and predictable. And man did I forget how whiny Anakin could be.

That said, the story adds interesting elements to the Star Wars universe: in particular some new aspects of the Force. And, did I mention Thrawn?

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Sunday, September 01, 2019

Review: The New Trail of Tears: How Washington Is Destroying American Indians

The New Trail of Tears: How Washington Is Destroying American Indians The New Trail of Tears: How Washington Is Destroying American Indians by Naomi Schaefer Riley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a fascinating and disturbing book. Riley details the terrible ways in which the policies of the US and the Canada continue to screw over the indigenous peoples of North America. She focuses on property rights issues, education, child welfare, and criminal issues. Many of the current policies in place in these areas, often well-intentioned, have exacerbated previous injustices or created new ones. Too many of the anecdotes Riley reports are terrible and horrifying. Others are frustrating and maddening. This book will make you sad and angry.

Riley does discuss some proposals for possible solutions, but not in any detail (and its not always clear these proposals are much better). This is a weakness, but not a damning one. I took the point of the book as more diagnosis than treatment. Most people, like myself, are ignorant of most of these policies and laws that are doing real damage and injustice, and so this is more about shining sunlight on these.

(Note on the audio: this was mixed. The reader was good, but there were issues with sound quality. At times the voice sounded too mechanical or too flat. It seemed to be that the equalizer settings were changing throughout, creating varying quality.)

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