The New Rebellion - Kristine Kathryn Rusch Luke and Leia feel a disturbance just moments before the great Senate Hall explodes. Luke senses that Brakiss, one of his former students turned Dark has something to do with it, and he leaves to seek him out. Han, who had been meeting with a smuggler with apparent knowledge of the explosion, leaves for Smuggler's Run to learn more about this plot, leaving Leia at home to protect Han from negative implications and to balance the power held precariously by the former Imperial senators who now populate the senate.

NOTE: This is a review based on the audio book and what I remember from reading the actual novel years ago.

I Liked:
I was afraid going into this book. Terrified at the outcome, terrified to read yet another subpar Star Wars novel. But I was pleasantly surprised at what Rusch gives us. The New Rebellion is a rather enjoyable novel.
Rusch firstly pulls us into the novel really quickly. She introduces her new character, Kueller, and ties in Brakiss from the Young Jedi Knights series. Not a chapter later, the Senate explodes. This was a good move, the audience didn't really need a huge build up like we did in the Black Fleet Crisis or the Thrawn Trilogy.
The story isn't hugely complicated, yet is different and unique. For fear of giving spoilers, I won't reveal the source of the explosions, but it is not a superweapon and has a very believable grounding. The story then follows the three (four, if you include the bad guys) subplots: Leia, Han, and Luke. These are well done, exceedingly, and all tie into the main plot perfectly. Leia stays on Coruscant for a while until she and Wedge leave for Almania. Han decides, after speaking with a smuggler who promptly dies, to head to Smuggler's Run. Lando then goes after Han, at Leia's request. Lastly, Luke leaves to seek out Brakiss. Through his interactions with Cole Fardreamer, we set off another thread, where Cole leaves with R2-D2 and C-3PO. Unlike with other books (namely, the Black Fleet Crisis), all the plots tie in with each other and don't go branching off in other, strange, disconnected ways. Not to mention, each plot thread makes sense for each character on it. Leia isn't going to Smuggler's Run and Han isn't after Brakiss or some other strange combination.
I was impressed with how Rusch handled the characters. Han was a perfectly balance of smuggler and general. I liked how Leia was biased against the former Imperials who were joining the Senate (and how Rusch didn't fall back on having them be portrayed as bad guys--in many ways, Leia is the "bad guy" for being so biased). And I want to applaud Rusch's Luke. While I do have reservations (see below), Luke is much, much, much better written than in almost every other book. He was powerful, he was smart, he was a Jedi. I could believe that this was the Luke in the movies. Cole Fardreamer was an interesting character, if too Luke Skywalker for my liking. I did enjoy seeing Rusch include Mara Jade and Talon Karrde, two characters who are continually overlooked in EU. I thought they were adequately done.

I Didn't Like:
How is it that so many people are from Tatooine or there are Tatooine references? This book has two of them: Cole Fardreamer is from Tatooine (hence the last name) and the smugglers import Jawas from Tatooine to clean equipment. I am really beginning to doubt Luke's whiny "If there's a bright center to the universe, you're on the planet that it's farthest from."
While Rusch does a much better job than many other authors, she still falls back on crippling Luke to make him, I guess, more manageable. Here, Luke falls and breaks his ankle. Of course, he can't get away to fix it up. Oh, no, he has to walk all over the place, climb ladders, battle with a broken ankle. Good grief.
One of my few complaints about the audiobook was how the narrator gave Wedge Antilles an inexplicable Scottish accent. I didn't even know who he was personifying until I finally caught a "Wedge" and did a double take. What is even stranger is that I never recall the narrator in the Jedi Academy Trilogy audiobooks Wedge having a Scottish accent and Wedge certainly didn't have a Scottish accent in the movie.
Rusch doesn't do a particularly impressive job with the ysalamiri. She almost makes the animal generate a motion sickness field. Mara gets headaches in the field, Kueller suddenly acts stupid, Luke and Leia get sick...you catch my drift. My impression of the ysalamiri is that they push back the Force. You could sense the darkness in the Force, and, once inside, you couldn't sense the Force and were as if blinded. None of the symptoms have ever included "nausea, vomiting, migraines, and stupidity".
I thought the plot was really creative, but the payoff at the end is very weak and lacking. I couldn't help but be disappointed at the outcome.
The battle sequences were not particularly brilliant. Wedge takes a leap of faith and starts blasting at his allies to learn that the crew of the Star Destroyers are the stupidest droids that money can buy. I can't believe Kueller would have purchased droids without the ability to think strategically and tactically for the sole purpose of crewing his fleet. He should have sprung for the upgrade. Luke and Leia fight against Kueller, and while them working together is awesome, the actual battle is pretty lame. It goes something like this:
"Kueller smashed his lightsaber at Luke. Luke blocked, then blocked, then parried. Leia shot at Kueller and Kueller ducked."
*yawn*
But by far the worst part I found was the antagonists/villains. Brakiss and Kueller are just not up to the task. Not only am I amazed that both were former Jedi students (Luke has a bad success rate, huh?), but I was astounded that, yet again, Kueller wants Luke and Leia as his minions just for the heck of it. Oh-kay. That makes zero sense. Kueller was upset at Leia because his parents die, but now he wants to turn Luke and Leia to the Dark Side? I just don't get that line of logic. I think also Rusch attempted to make him minutely sympathetic, but it failed. Kueller is too pathetic, too evil, too maniacal laugh for me to feel sorry about his family. Also, kinda hard to overlook the mass murder to enact revenge (we *are* looking at you, Kyp Durron).
Brakiss is no better. I felt he was more whiny brat than an actual force. He was easily manipulated by Kueller, when that felt odd. Don't you remember what this guy looked like under the mask? Pillsbury Dough Boy? So why are you always cowering in fear? And having him get kidnapped as a baby by the Imperials--wow, it's almost as if the Imperials are bad now.

Dialogue/Sexual Situations/Violence:
Minimal (I don't recall any).
Han and Leia have some time alone towards the end.
There is a senate explosion, Luke fights pink bubbles, Kueller threatens to set off more explosions.

Overall:
One of the better books of this era, The New Rebellion has a lot going for it. Good story that doesn't rely on superweapons, good character interpretations, interesting developments. Not too fond of the bad guys, who are instantly forgettable, but this is one book that won't have you clutching your head in agony when you finish reading it.