Star Wars: Planet of Twilight
Bantam Books. $22.95
A message arrived shortly before Leia left on her latest diplomatic mission, warning her of danger. Leia went anyway, but Luke hitched a ride at the last minute, believing the note to be from his beloved but absent Callista.
Now Leia has been kidnapped. A plague called the Death Seed begins a deadly sweep from planet to planet; Han and Lando try to get a rescue started, but keep being distracted by other disasters; and Threepio and Artoo are stolen, stranded, and left to their own devices (now there's a scary thought).
On the planet Nam Chorios, Luke knows nothing of this. He can find only muddled clues to Callista's whereabouts, and there are echoes in the Force of something odd. Also, the Force itself on Nam Chorios behaves very strangely.
Barbara Hambly's first "Star Wars" novel, Children of the Jedi, was surprisingly delightful: almost pure Hambly rather than mere "Star Wars." She returns with Planet of Twilight, a less distinctive offering, but nonetheless a strong entry in the popular multi-author series.
Planet of Twilight shows off the best of Hambly's strengths -- humor, romance, mystery -- but also demonstrates the shortcomings of working in someone else's trademarked universe. (Children of the Jedi somehow managed to avoid these problems.)
The most obvious hazard lies in the need and/or inclination to include all major characters, and the obligation to use them without changing them. Therefore, in Planet of Twilight, we have Han Solo engaging in awkwardly extraneous adventures (stretched relevance, at best), although you might argue this fits within his character. One can speculate that, in an original work, Hambly would have given Leia's husband the reasons to wait responsibly, however much inclined not to, at home; or even, given the character Ligeus, that Leia would not have been married at all.
As for changing a character, George Lucas has obviously said "NO" to the romance between Luke and Callista, which Hambly introduced in Children of the Jedi. Hambly patches this together as best she can: Callista makes her excuses to Luke and leaves, and Luke eventually, if reluctantly, agrees. Hambly makes this as reversible as possible, and even contrives for another reunion to serve as a model for a possible happier ending in the future -- a hopeful little message to George Lucas that "hey, it's okay if you decide to change your mind about this later." At least nobody killed Callista off, undoubtedly the easiest way to dispose of an inconvenient character.
The purist Hambly fan is well advised not to dismiss either Children of the Jedi or Planet of Twilight as mere "media tie-in." New Hambly novels are too infrequent as it is.
"Star Wars" novels by Barbara Hambly:
Reviews of other Star Wars novels
This review copyright 1997 by Wendy Morris