Before the Storm - Michael P. Kube-McDowell "What have you done with *Fill-in-the-Blank*?"
Luke Skywalker feels that he no longer can feel the Force the same way and decides to leave and search out a life of hermitude, like Obi-Wan and Yoda. However, a woman penetrates his fortress, with stories of his mother. Luke ventures out to find out more.
Lando is bored stiff and goes to Admiral Drayson, chief of Alpha Blue, for an interesting mission. Lando then gathers a team of Lobot, C-3PO, and R2-D2 to investigate a mysterious "ghost" ship.
Leia Organa Solo attempts to make an alliance with Viceroy Nil Spaar, Leader of the Duskan League and a Yevethan. But things turn for the worse very, very quickly...

I Liked:
Although not fond of how Lando aquires his mission, I do like the mission in general. In fact, I wish it had been divorced from this novel completely (because I've read the series, I know it has little to no import on the main story) and made into its own novel, like in the days of the Han Solo Adventures by Brian Daley.
Han and Leia again appear as good parents, and I can't tell you how happy I am for that. Han even goes so far as to take an "easy" assignment so he can stay on Coruscant with his kids (with a further tie-in to the events of The Crystal Star--I love it when authors do tie-ins!!).
Han and Luke have a conversation about why Yoda and Obi-Wan became hermits (all of it retconned by this point). I thought Luke's discoveries or thoughts were interesting, and they did cast new light on Yoda and Obi-Wan (and the old Jedi Order in general).

I Didn't Like:
There are three stories here. One I don't mind, but has no bearing on the main story. One is okay (particularly by the end of this book, I found), but it hinges on Leia acting wildly out of character. The last is horrific and makes me want to sharped my teeth on a blackboard.
Firstly, the characters. The ones that stand out particularly horrible are Leia and Luke. Leia loses all sense and military keenness, giving valuable intel to a non-ally, Nil Spaar. She then refuses to listen to her counselors, including Admiral Ackbar. Now, I could understand if she wouldn't listen to a young counselor, but Ackbar?! He's got a lot of sense and she's worked with him for years! Is she really so hard up with a tenuous alliance with the Yevetha that she will put her opinon over his at all odds? What happened to her common sense? Or, as Han put it best: "Who was that person and what have you done with Leia?"
As for Luke, I could go on for years. What man creates an order then leaves it a mere two years later? How could he be so powerful to create a fortress from scratch and yet need to be a hermit? Why would he leave his siste when she needed him most, only to return to dig her for more information on his mother? Why the big hurry to find his mother now? Why isn't HE helping with this crisis?
As you can see, the characters tie in very, very closely to the plots. Lando has to act like a super-spy to penetrate Admiral Drayson's uber secret office. I didn't know there was training for that at Smuggler's Academy! Was that "How to Penetrate an Uber Secret Office 101"? And much of the Yevethan conflict could have been averted had Leia got her head out of her you-know-what and started using her brain instead of her hippie waving peace flag. As for Luke, bah, he's a lost cause. I have no idea why he was included in here. It seems like everyone wants to make him super strong in the Force yet a wuss at the same time (bowing to the whims of Akanah, who has to be the worst girlfriend he has ever had).
Speaking of Akanah, can you spell "Annoying"? Well, that's how you spell Akanah! I thought Callista was bad, no, Akanah is worse! She whines about Luke using the Force to protect them from people who try to kill them, bursts in on his sanctuary and lies about his mother (no secret to those of us who have seen the prequels). What is it with Luke and hooking up with these whiny women? Get a grip, Luke! You're a Jedi Master!
And about the title: "Before the Storm" could not be more apt. The action only happens at the very, very end and only is briefly seen. Now, if this were a long series, like the New Jedi Order, then this book would have worked perfectly. But for a trilogy? Uh, not so much.

Dialogue/Sexual Situations/Violence:
Perhaps a d*** or h*** once in a while.
Luke travels with Akanah (and I'm sure there is some "Woohoo-ing" going on in the interim).
People die in the conflict, but it's only the beginning so you don't see much.

With a fresh view in mind, I can easily say that this book is still bad. Characters don't act like themselves. Two plot threads don't have anything to do with the main one. And while the political machinations are interesting and Lando's plot is kinda interesting, do I really want to read through yet another bad Luke plot to get to it or read Leia ignoring everyone she cares about? The answer is: Not really.