Monday, January 10, 2011

Review: Red Harvest by Joe Schreiber (Spoiler Free)


Joe Schreiber delivers a gore filled follow up to his previous Star Wars horror novel Death Troopers, in this Old Republic era novel.  Was it a bloody good 
novel, or just  plain bloody?





 I) SETTING

Red Harvest is set in 3645 BBY, primarily at the Sith Academy on Odacer-Faustin, there are also a limited number of scenes on Marfa at the site of a Jedi Agriculture Corps lab facility.


Joe Schreiber, author of Red Harvest




II) Unofficial Dramatis Personae:

Hestizo "Zo" Trace, Agricultural Corps Jedi
Dail'Niss, Neti Sith Librarian
Murakami Orchid (Sentient plant)
Rojo Trace, Male Jedi Knight
Pergus Frode, Sith Academy Mechanic
HK, HK Droid (Model # unknown)

Mnah Ra'at, Sith Academy Student
Xat Hracken, Sith Combat Master

Darth Scabrous, Sith Lord, Head of Academy
Dranok, Male Human,Bounty Hunter

Wim Nickter, Sith Acolyte
Lord Shak'Weth, Sith Blademaster
Rance Lussk, Sith Acolyte
Tulkh, Whiphid Bounty Hunter
Jura Ostrogoth, Sith Acolyte
Scopique, Zabrak Sith Acolyte
Kindra, Female Sith Acolyte

III) STORY

One of the biggest early criticisms of Red Harvest has been the length of the novel.  At 242 pages of story (Story starts on page 3 an ends on 244), this novel clocks in as one of the slimmest of Star Wars hardcovers.  It should be noted that Death Troopers was also very slim, at 232 pages (starting on page 3 and ending on page 234).  Though Death Troopers seems to be printed on a thicker stock of paper and also includes a longer excerpt from Fate of the Jedi: Outcast on pages 236 through 265.  The excerpt in Red Harvest is from John Jackson Miller's forthcoming Star Wars novel: Knight Errant and goes from pages 247 to 256.  So in reality Red Harvest is actually longer then Death Troopers in terms of page count, it is just produced in such a way to feel very thin.

As Yoda would say, "Size matters not," what matters is whether the story was satisfying and in the end was it worth the money you paid for it.  In my mind both of Joe Schreibers' novels where very good in their own right, but they feel less like Star Wars then the traditional EU novel.  The concept that a virus could cause a zombie like transformation is hardly the weirdest thing that has been created in the Expanded Universe, and I am not sure how to describe the tension that I feel between these works and other EU works, except in terms of  "feeling like Star Wars" and "not feeling like Star Wars."  All that being said, I actually liked Red Harvest a lot more then I liked Death Troopers and I think it felt more like a Star Wars story the Death Troopers did.

While Red Harvest is a relatively short novel, it doesn't feel like one.  While we have a ton of characters and received multiple points of view, the key is that there is really just one major plot line once everyone gets to Odacer-Faustin.  The star of this novel is really the exponentially expanding virus outbreak and the book is made up of how this rapidly expanding virus effects and interacts with the different characters that are introduced.  No subplots on politics or slavery in this one, its a tooth and nails fight for your life against a seemingly endless army of zombies that have the training and ability to use the force.  If that doesn't sound like a fair fight to you, its because its  not.

Schreiber creates great dramatic tension by crafting a virus that is highly transmissible the are or aren't they infected, plays a large part in much of the novel as characters undergo changes.

There are some very interesting characters and very cool scenes in this novel.  While I was slightly disappointed with Darth Scabrous, who turns out to be rather dumb about his master plan.  Once he reveals what he is up to, there are some pretty big flaws in his plan that seemingly could have been solved before things got out of hand.

I favorite characters in no particular order Mnah Ra'at (Sith Acolyte), Dail'Niss (Sith Librarian), HK Droid, and the bounty hunter Tulkh.  Ra'at is cool because what he lacks in physicality he makes up for in pluck and determination.  Dail'Niss is an interesting character, a bit like an evil Ent from Lord of the Rings.  HK is interesting because of his self awareness and self preservation instincts that kick in, and well the cool weapons are nice too.  Tulkh is just an interesting character a hulking Whiphid with a bad attitude and who is very handy with a spear.     


There are some weird parts of the book, my least favorite is the use of the orchid later in the novel and how it is used against the Sith zombies.

By far my favorite thing in the book is the Tauntauns, I won't spoil it for those who haven't read the novel, but if you thought Luke and Han had a bad experience with Tauntauns, you haven't seen anything yet. 


IV) CONCLUSIONS

Overall, Joe Schreiber crafts a fun book, that is full of over the top gore.  Its not particularly scary, though there are a few interesting twists and surprising fates for certain characters.  I enjoyed it, but I am not sure how it really fits into the EU and it feels like a horror novel set in the Star Wars universe instead of a Star Wars novel with horror in it. 

 I give Red Harvest 7.0 out of 10 lightsabers.

Read Chapter Previews 1-8 below and decide if Red Harvest is for you...

Download Red Harvest Chapter 1: Here
Download Red Harvest Chapter 2: Here
Download Red Harvest Chapter 3: Here
Download Red Harvest Chapter 4: Here
Download Red Harvest Chapter 5: Here
Download Red Harvest Chapter 6: Here
Download Red Harvest Chapter 7: Here
Download Red Harvest Chapter 8: Here

Order Red Harvest from Amazon.com: Here

Follow Joe Schreiber: Twitter @joeschreiber1 and his blog, http://www.scaryparent.blogspot.com/

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