Rebel Stand (Enemy Lines, #2) - Aaron Allston "I don't want to discourage your curiosity, but I have to remind you, if something goes wrong, this is an exceptionally embarassing way to die."

When we last checked into our favorite galaxy far, far away under fire from an alien invasion force, Luke and Mara were on Coruscant for a recon mission and Borleias was hunkering down for war. In Rebel Stand, Luke and Mara find someone on Coruscant who is even more scary than the Yuuzhan Vong and Jaina the Trickster Goddess helps secure a great big victory for the New Republic.

NOTE: Based on audiobook and novel.

First off, I'm going to complain about the audiobook. So if you don't want to hear me gripe, skip this part.

I understand these audiobooks are abridged, but frak it, does that mean completely omitting half the plot in the novel just so that the entire thing can fit on two two-sided cassettes? Just like how most (all!) of the Coruscant plot-line is omitted from the enormous, Star by Star, here most of the battle on Borleias, the resolution of Tam the spy, the tricks of Jaina the Trickster Goddess, and Han and Leia's exploits are gone. Nothing. Nada. When I read this as a young teen, the battle of Borleias was one of the only space battles recounted in a novel that sparked creativity and inspired me to make a (crude, disgusting, horrible) drawing. What happens to Tam? What are Han and Leia doing? And what about Jaina, her tricks, and her budding romance with Jag (BTW, I forgot to mention in the last review that Allston can totally write romance)? Or what about all the HUMOR that Allston is known for? Oh, no, sorry, they're not important. Instead, let's focus on Luke and Mara's recon mission to Coruscant, the mystery of Nyax and that damn Viqi Shesh and her stupid (and unfulfilled) quest to escape. GAH!

Okay, thanks for your patience. Now, back to the review--or what I can review.

In case you didn't read that huge paragraph rant, I want to say that this review, like my review for Star by Star, is going to be peppered with gaps that the audiobook skipped and my memory forgot from its first reading.

Allston definitely writes his characters well. Luke, Mara, Tahiri, Wedge, Jaina...all are in fine form, great friends whom I love to watch as they battle the fierce Yuuzhan Vong. I can't think of a single character he wrote that was bad.

The story was pretty interesting. I liked the return of Irek Ismaren to Star Wars continuity, even if Children of the Jedi (his debut) wasn't my favorite novel. I thought it a bit crazy to have him take up such a huge chunk of the story, but (again) that is a complaint more towards the audiobook. It was nice to see Luke, Mara, and Tahiri banding together to fight him. Of course, I always like to see more about Tahiri. She's a really interesting character.

Space battles were well-done, as was the trickery of Jaina the Trickster Goddess. Of course, Allston wrote several X-Wing books, so that should come as a no-brainer. If there was anything I didn't like, it was the death of a prominent Yuuzhan Vong at the end of the book. Once again, authors create a Yuuzhan Vong villain solely for their book and then kill him or her off by the end. It's aggravating.

It was also great how the New Republic won and lost at the same time. On one hand, they lost Borleias to the Yuuzhan Vong; on the other, they destroyed a worldship using Lusankya. It was obvious by how it was written that Allston had intended for this destruction to be THE big indication that the tide was turning, and he did it well. Of course, I couldn't help but also note that technically, the New Republic has been doing quite a bit of winning since Vector Prime. In fact, if you switch the Yuuzhan Vong and the New Republic, this book is a good example of how the earlier books should have been written. The New Republic should have "defeated" Helska, but the more prominent story was about how they lost "X". At least, that's my two cents.

Even with the abridged audiobook chopping this to pieces, I was still able to see the great story Allston wrote. It's a great book, exciting, funny, intense, and for those who have hated how the Yuuzhan Vong are unstoppable, this is the book that assures you otherwise.