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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

A new era of exciting adventures and shocking revelations continues to unfold, as the legendary Star Wars saga sweeps forward into astonishing new territory.

Civil war looms as the fledgling Galactic Alliance confronts a growing number of rebellious worlds–and the approaching war is tearing the Skywalker and Solo families apart. Han and Leia return to Han’s homeworld, Corellia, the heart of the resistance. Their children, Jacen and Jaina, are soldiers in the Galactic Alliance’s campaign to crush the insurgents.

Jacen, now a complete master of the Force, has his own plans to bring order to the galaxy. Guided by his Sith mentor, Lumiya, and with Luke’s young son Ben at his side, Jacen embarks on the same path that his grandfather Darth Vader once did. And while Han and Leia watch their only son become a stranger, a secret assassin entangles the couple with a dreaded name from Han’s past: Boba Fett. In the new galactic order, friends and enemies are no longer what they seem. . . .

Excerpt

Chief of State's reception suite, Senate Building, Coruscant, ten days after the raid on Centerpoint Station.

The worst thing about being thirteen years old was that one moment you were expected to be an adult, and the next everyone treated you like a child again.

Ben Skywalker – thirteen and confused about what was expected of him – sat trying to be patient in the reception of Chief Cal Omas's offices in the Senate building, taking his lead from his cousin Jacen Solo. It was the kind of office designed to make you feel like you didn't matter: a whole apartment could have slipped into the space between the outer doors and the wall of Omas's personal office. Ben almost expected to see tangled balls of misura vine rolling across the spotless pale blue carpet, driven by a distant wind. He couldn't see the point of all that empty space.

But the Senate building had been occupied and changed out of all recognition by the Yuuzhan Vong, Jacen said. Architects, designers and an army of construction droids had taken years to wipe away all traces of the Yuuzhan Vong invasion and restore the building to the way it had been. Ben tried to listen in the Force for the echoes of the aliens and their weird living technology, and thought he heard unrecognizable sounds. He shuddered and tried to occupy himself with the holozines stacked on the low greelwood table.

The 'zines were all very dull current affairs weeklies and political analysis, and one of them displayed an image of Jacen. Ben picked it up and activated it, smiling at the next image of a rotating Centerpoint Station, which didn't look quite so good in real life since he had helped sabotage it.

It's good to feel part of something important.

The holoreport featured clips of Corellian news of the raid on Centerpoint, but it didn't mention Ben, and he wasn't sure if that upset him or not. Some recognition would have been nice; but the Corellian sources that were quoted were pretty rude about Jacen, calling him a traitor and a terrorist. The reporter's voice seemed to fill the room even though the volume was set to minimum and the carpet and tapestries on the walls muffled the sound.

The report wasn’t very kind about Uncle Han, either. A middle-aged man Ben didn’t recognize was telling the reporter what he thought. “So he calls himself a Corellian. But forget that bloodstripe on his uniform pants – it might as well be a big yellow streak down his back, because Han Solo is just a Galactic Alliance puppet. He’s betrayed Corellia by sitting on his backside doing whatever his Alliance buddies tell him to. And his son’s just the same.”

Jacen seemed embarrassed. Maybe he was more upset for his dad. Ben would have been.

"You should use an ear-piece to listen to those privately," said Jacen.

"But you're famous." Ben offered him the holozine. "Want to see?"

Jacen raised one eyebrow and seemed more worried about his meeting with Chief Omas. "Fine, but I could do without Thrackan Sal-Solo using me to humiliate my father in front of Corellia. You realize he gave all this information to the media, don't you?"

"Yeah, of course I do. But if we're not ashamed of it, why does it matter? We did the right thing for the Galactic Alliance. Centerpoint Station was a threat to everyone."

Jacen turned his head very slowly with that half-smile that Ben had learned meant he was impressed. "But a lot of worlds are taking Corellia's side now. So do you think those stories do any harm or not?"

Ben could always spot a test now. He knew he had to say what he believed: there was no point trying to be too clever. He wanted to learn from Jacen so badly that it burned him up. "Some worlds will always go against the Alliance anyway. So we might as well let the people on our side know we're taking action. Makes them feel safer."

Jacen nodded approvingly and Ben felt a little Force touch somewhere in his mind as if Jacen were patting him on the head. "That's very perceptive. I think you're right."

"Everyone will know you're doing your best to stop a war, anyway." Ben put the holozine back on the table and glanced at the rest of the titles. "There seem to be more pictures of you than anyone."

Jacen's smile faded for a moment and he glanced towards the doors of Omas's office, looking as if he was willing the head of the Galactic Alliance to finish his meeting and come out. Ben began to pick up what had caught Jacen's attention: there was a definite sense of conflict, of people arguing, and it was almost as clear as hearing it if you knew how to listen in the Force. Ben did now. Jacen was a good teacher.

Ben concentrated on Jacen's face. He looked a lot older lately. Sometimes he looked almost as old as Dad. "What's happening?"

"Heavyweight politics," said Jacen, barely audible.

He put his fingers almost to his lips, a very discreet gesture; it wasn't obvious to anyone else – anyone else in this case being only the aide at the desk outside Omas's grand double doors – but Ben took the hint. Be quiet.

He was suddenly worried about letting Jacen down. Chief Omas wasn't a stranger; the man knew his father, and Ben had been brought to meet him at a state celebration -- pretty much all Ben remembered of that affair was feeling very small in a sea of tall people having conversations he didn't understand. But Ben wanted to be seen as Jacen's apprentice, not as Luke Skywalker's son, the heir to the dynasty as one of the guests had called him. It was hard being the son of two Jedi Masters who everyone referred to as "legends". Ben had lost count of the times he had felt invisible.

"Chief Omas won't keep you, Jedi Solo," said the aide, tilting her head slightly towards the closed doors of Omas's office itself. "He's with Admiral Niathal at the moment."

I'm invisible again, thought Ben.

He composed himself and sat down with his hands folded in his lap, a mirror of Jacen's own posture. He tried to count the number of different species of animal depicted on the huge tapestry that covered part of the wall opposite. What he had first thought was just a mass of random color was actually thousands of overlapping images of every animal he could imagine from across the galaxy – across the whole Galactic Alliance.

Eventually the doors parted and Niathal strode out, radiating annoyance. Chief Omas appeared in the doorway behind her and forced a smile. "Ah, Jacen," he said. "I'm sorry to keep you. Won't you come in? And Ben. I'm glad you could make it, too."

Niathal glanced at Jacen as if she didn't recognize him. He acknowledged her with a slight bow of his head.

"Admiral," he smiled. "A pleasure to see you."

Niathal turned a little more to the side, the equivalent of a very frank stare for a Mon Calamari, a species with side-set eyes, and scrutinized both of them. "You did a very fine job at Centerpoint Station, sir. And you, young man."

My name's Ben. But he had learned a little diplomacy now. "Thank you, ma'am."

Omas beckoned Jacen forward and Ben followed meekly. Omas did not make the tired comment that Ben had grown since he'd last seen him, nor did he look past him when he was talking to Jacen. The Chief met his eyes. It was both unsettling and exciting to be treated as an adult; Ben concentrated hard on what was being said.

Omas sat behind his desk rather than in the chair opposite them, as if he were taking cover. "So what brings you here, Jacen?"

"I have a proposal."

"Go ahead."

"Crippling Centerpoint Station only bought us time with Corellia. We might have a few months at most before it's operational again, and then we're back where we began but with a much more aggrieved Corellia that's gathering more support."

"Is this an extrapolation from what you see in the Force, Jacen?"

"No, it's just obvious to the point of inevitability."

Ben felt Omas teeter on the edge of reacting. It was as if the two men were having an argument without any of sign of it in their words or their voices.

"Go on," said Omas.

"Now is the only time we'll have for pre-emptive action, before any real opposition to the Galactic Alliance has chance to organize. Corellia, Commenor and Chasin need complete dissuasion, very public dissuasion to make a point to other governments about the need for unity – and a complete neutralization of their capacity to fight a war. The destruction of their shipyards."

Ben was glad Jacen had said destruction. It was the first clue he'd had of what dissuasion actually meant.

"This," said Omas slowly, "is not unlike another conversation I've just had."

The way he said conversation made it clear what he'd been arguing about with Niathal. So she wanted to take action, exactly as Jacen did. "We've slapped Corellia and made a martyr to a cause," said Jacen. "An armed martyr to an armed cause."

"But Corellia has seen what we're made of, and that'll make them think twice."

"And we've now seen what they're made of," said Jacen. "And I have thought twice. If you give me command of a battle group, I can destroy the main shipyards and put an end to this now. If Corellia can be brought to heel, it sends the message that no single planet is bigger than the Alliance."

"You're asking me to declare war, Jacen, and that's something I'd never get Senate backing to do. And I know where the Jedi Council stands on this."

"War's coming anyway. If you draw a weapon on a Corellian, you'd better be prepared to use it. We drew it when we took out Centerpoint."

Omas was doing a good job of disguising his fear, but Ben could feel it. It didn't feel as if he was afraid of Jacen, but it was a vague and formless dread, as if events were drowning him.

"Talking of Corellians, would this attack not drive a huge wedge between you and your father?"

"It might well," said Jacen. "But I'm a Jedi, and it's precisely that kind of personal motivation we're trained to disregard."

"I'll take it under advisement."

"I'll take that as a no." Jacen seemed perfectly calm. "I can tell you, with the certainty of the Force, that failing to stamp out dissent completely now will result in the deaths of billions in the coming years. We stand on a tipping point where we can choose chaos or order."

Omas meshed his fingers, hands on the desk, and stared at them both. "I agree we have a volatile situation here. Yes, this is a tipping point. But I think that escalating military action will be what tips us over into war, not what limits it. I remember the Empire, Jacen. I lived through it. And I dread seeing us become that kind of government."

Jacen just gave Omas a little nod of the head and stood up to leave. "Thank you for listening to my concerns."

They took the long walk back to the Senate lobby, down a broad corridor lined with blue and honey-gold marble inlay, and traveled down to the ground floor in a turbolift with walls so highly polished they were almost an amber mirror.

"Is politics always like that?" said Ben. "Why don't you both say what you mean?"

Jacen laughed. "Then it wouldn't be politics, would it?"

"And why does everyone keep saying, 'Oh, I remember the Empire...'? Uncle Han says it was bad, and so does Chief Omas. If they're both afraid of the same thing, why are they on opposite sides?"

Jacen seemed to find it very funny. Ben was embarrassed.

"I was only asking, Jacen."

"I'm not laughing at you. It's just very refreshing to hear someone cut through the nonsense and ask real questions."

"So what are you going to do next?"

Jacen checked his comlink. "Dad's still not responding. I need to clear the air with him. He’s angry about Centerpoint."

"I meant about Chief Omas."

"We'll be patient. The solution will become clear – to both of us."

"You and Omas."

"No, you and me."

Ben was delighted that Jacen seemed to take his opinions seriously. He was more determined than ever to conduct himself like a man, and not a boy. He knew now that he would never play again.

They crossed through the forest of pillars of the Senate lobby and emerged into the hazy sunshine that bathed the plaza.

Strung out in a ragged line, a group of around two hundred people had gathered to protest in front of the Senate building. Dozens of Coruscant Security Force officers had formed a loose line in front of the building, but it looked peaceful. The occasional shout of "Corellia's not your colony!" made it clear who the protesters were. Coruscant was home to beings from almost every planet in the galaxy, and even when war seemed to be coming, they stayed here. Ben found that...odd. Wars were about front lines and distant planets, not about people who looked a lot like him and who almost lived next door.

"Something tells me we'd better not stop and sign autographs," said Ben.

Jacen stopped to look back at the protest. "How many Corellians do you think live in Galactic City?" One of the beings in the crowd had projected a huge holo-image onto the face of the Senate building: it read CORELLIA HAS A RIGHT TO SELF-DEFENSE. "Five million? Five billion?"

"Do you think they're dangerous?"

"I'm simply thinking what a complicated war this will be for Coruscant because so many Corellians live here."

"But we're not at war. Yet."

"Not as far as governments are concerned," said Jacen. "But feel what's around you."

Ben's Force senses were a fraction of Jacen's, trained in not much more than physical skills and the beginnings of true meditation. He closed his eyes. He felt the vague tingling at the back of his throat, the hint of something dangerous but far away. The slight breeze across the plaza swept scents of foliage with it. The protest continued, now a little noisier, but still peaceful.

"I can feel a threat, but it's a long way away." Ben opened his eyes, worried that he had answered the wrong question. "Like a really bad storm coming. Nothing more."

"Exactly," said Jacen. "Billions of unsettled, unhappy people ready to fight. People who want things to be settled. People who need peace."

"And that's our job, right?"

"Yes," said Jacen. "That's our job."

"And I'll be working with you."

Ben wanted to make sure. He was learning his first lesson in what Jacen called expedience. Ten days ago he had been a commando, a hero, a real soldier who had helped sabotage Centerpoint Station and enraged the Corellian government. Now he had to be quiet and speak when he was spoken to. He needed to know if Jacen would only treat him as an adult when it suited him, like his father did.

On some planets, you were a man at thirteen and that was that; no going back, and no worrying about what your parents would say. Mandalorian boys became warriors after trials at thirteen, supervised by their fathers. Jedi were trained from childhood too, but trials took an awful lot longer than that. Ben knew he wouldn't be a Knight until he was well into his twenties.

It seemed like a lifetime away. Suddenly he envied Mandalorian boys he would probably never meet.

"Yes," said Jacen at last. "Of course you will. It's not always going to be easy, but you can handle it. I know you can. Some of the things we'll talk about have to be kept between us, but that's the way with military matters. Are you ready for that?"

As if he would discuss anything with his father. He wasn't even comfortable discussing some things with his mother these days. "Like Admiral Niathal?"

Jacen smiled. Ben had guessed right again. "Yes, like the Admiral, who I think is going to be an ally of ours."

"I understand, Jacen. I know this is serious."

"Good. That's what I needed to hear."

Ben basked in Jacen's approval but knew that wasn't the right thing to feel when they were talking about war. He was now very clear about the huge gulf between practicing with his lightsaber – which was a game – and then having to fight for real. People had already died. More would die in the future. Once the excitement of battle had worn off, he had thought about that a lot.

Right then, he wanted to know what had really happened to Brisha, the strange woman he hadn't much liked on first sight, and the Jedi called Nelani, whom they had traveled with. Jacen would say only that they had been killed – no details, no explanation – but Ben recalled none of it even though he was certain that he had been somewhere with them.

Did Jacen tell Dad, and not me?

It was eating at him. He hated not remembering things that felt important, and this did feel serious and worth remembering.

"Something's bothering you," said Jacen, as they walked away, leaving the Coruscanti protest behind them.

Yes: Brisha and Nelani. But Ben decided that part of growing up was knowing when to do as you were told, not like a child who didn't know any better, but as a soldier who understood that sometimes there were things you didn't need to know.

"Nothing important," he said. "Nothing at all."
Karen Traviss|Author Q&A

About Karen Traviss

Karen Traviss - Bloodlines: Star Wars (Legacy of the Force)
Karen Traviss is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of three previous Star Wars: Republic Commando novels: Hard Contact, Triple Zero, and True Colors; three Star Wars: Legacy of the Force novels: Bloodlines, Revelation, and Sacrifice; as well as City of Pearl, Crossing the Line, The World Before, Matriarch, Ally, and Judge. A former defense correspondent and TV and newspaper journalist, Traviss has also worked as a police press officer, an advertising copywriter, and a journalism lecturer. Her short stories have appeared in Asimov’s, Realms of Fantasy, On Spec, and Star Wars Insider. She lives in Devizes, England.

Author Q&A

Interview with Karen Traviss author of Star Wars: Legacy of the Force: Bloodlines

Question: Bloodlines is the second novel in the Legacy of the Force storyline, a nine-book arc that picks up several years after the defeat of the Yuuzhan Vong. The Yuuzhan Vong were an external threat, from outside the galaxy. This time the threat to the Jedi and the Republic comes from within, both literally and figuratively, with a rebellion centered at Corellia that threatens civil war not only across the Republic but in the Solo and Skywalker clans, and Jacen's disturbing embrace of the dark side. Did you and the other writers, Aaron Allston and Troy Denning, work out the plot of this arc together? What considerations led you to make the choices you made, and what degree of input and control was there from the folks at LucasBooks?

Karen Traviss: It’s a classic team effort. We sat in a meeting room at the Lucasfilm offices at Big Rock Ranch in California for a day–I flew out from the UK specially for the meeting–and we didn’t finish until we had a complete story arc that covered nine books. Much tea and choc chip muffins were consumed, I can tell you. The whole gang brainstormed–LFL Licensing people, Del Rey, and authors–and kicked ideas around: then it all went on a whiteboard and we sliced it nine ways. And I begged LFL to let me bring back Boba, so I was utterly delighted when they said yes.
It’s the opposite end of the spectrum from the way I tackled the Republic Commando novels, which were virgin territory, and I was the only one writing them. I like that variety in my working day. I really enjoy kicking stuff around with other creatives, and everyone now knows I’m a retcon addict. Retcon is retroactive continuity–the science of making stuff fit and getting better stories out of it. Retconning isn't about changing existing continuity: it's about taking seemingly contradictory issues that coexist in continuity already, due to errors or oversights, or even gaps, and finding a way to make it all work together, so that no piece of the continuity is ignored. Forget Sudoku and Rubik’s cubes–retcon is my Olympic mental gymnastics of choice.

Q: At the end of the previous novel, Betrayal, Jacen Solo has just killed a fellow Jedi in cold blood and embarked on the path to becoming a Sith master under the tutelage of Lumiya, an old adversary from Luke's past. I'm sure I'm not the only reader who wants to slap some sense into him! Yet it must be a fascinating challenge for you to attempt a sympathetic portrayal of a Jedi's corruption, especially with Jacen believing that he is only doing what is necessary to bring peace and order to the galaxy.

KT:I don’t aim for sympathetic or unsympathetic, actually: I aim for real, and even with a character that isn’t built by me–when I create characters, I build them from the ground up with a psych profile–I let them do the living and the talking. How does a clever, morally aware man go down the path that Jacen does? By self-delusion and self- justification. Jacen already has a high opinion of his powers and judgment, and that’s not misplaced: the man is good at his work. But he just disconnects from the outside world once too often and starts to see himself as having this mission to save the galaxy, and only he can do it...you watch the drift from good intentions to what he sees as necessary evils to all-out self-justification. Sadly, in my previous careers–as a journalist and later a spin doc working with politicians–I saw that very human pattern of behavior time after time after time. And I can watch it now in politicians in my own UK government: I won’t get too political here, but the capacity of those with power to make themselves believe in their own purity of purpose even when it’s obvious to those around them that they’re going bad and beyond bad is staggering to behold. They really do shift into a parallel world that only they can see, and shut out all dissent as they focus on what they want it believe and hear. Some of them start out corrupt and opportunistic, and some get sucked into it.

Getting into Jacen Solo’s head was one of the most unpleasant experiences I’ve ever had. When I write, it’s very tight third person POV–there’s no narrator. It’s all the characters’ own voices, seeing the world as they see it with no real help from me, and I just report what they see. Letting go in order to do that is very much like method acting, actors have told me. You become that character for the time being. And boy, was it scary being Jacen. It all seems utterly logical and inevitable to him–and, like all people who do terrible things, he has no sense of his own evil.

A wise friend described the slide into a personal delusional hell like Jacen’s as stemming from a deep-down belief that you’re the focus of the universe about which everyone else’s destiny pivots. And, of course, that’s exactly what Jacen thinks: only he can save the galaxy.

I was so freaked by being in his head that when I switched point-of-view characters, I wanted to launder my brain. It was so easy a trap to slip into. Anyone could do it in the right circumstances. That’s what makes evil–if we can use that value-laden word–so dangerous. It’s not rare, handed only to demons; it’s lurking in all of us, and it’s pretty banal.

Q: You're no stranger to the Star Wars universe. How did you begin writing Star Wars books?

KT: Well, I am a stranger, really. I’m a total newbie. I’ve only been in print for just over two years (March 2004, when my first novel, City of Pearl, came out), and Bloodlines is my third Star Wars novel. I’ve just written a lot in a very short time.

I was asked if I wanted to write Star Wars completely out of the blue in late 2003. I didn’t even know what a tie-in entailed, in fact. Del Rey and Lucasfilm had seen advance copies of my book–City of Pearl wasn’t even published when they approached me–and said they thought I’d fit in okay. Then I got the call in late February 2004 to do the first Republic Commando novel.

I knew absolutely nothing about the universe, too, although I’d seen the movies, and I think coming to it stone cold gave me a different take on it. I had no preconceived notions, and I wasn’t raised on it. I fell in love with Star Wars’ complexity and its gray areas, which are perfect for a writer like me. I’m a journalist by background, so I take a neutral stance and just report what I see: I hate guiding readers and telling them what to think and who to like and dislike. I just want to show them what’s there and let them make up their own minds, which is something Star Wars enables very easily.

Q: You seem to have a special affinity for the character of Boba Fett.

KT:He’s a gift if you love writing flawed characters. I don’t write heroes or villains–I can’t see people that clearly differentiated–and Boba has so many flaws woven in with his brilliance that I could unpick his psychological profile for weeks and still not get bored.

The man is both a mess and an inspiration. He’s had the childhood from hell. No mother figure, and don’t tell me Taun We is any substitute: a cloistered existence: a father who, frankly, has a lot of strange emotional baggage himself: and then he sees Dad, the center of his life and his sole focus, killed in front of him. Paging Dr. Freud, Dr. Freud please pick up...and yet he still wins. He doesn’t just survive, he excels. He’s seen as a villain, but he has an unshakeable sense of honor and a rigid moral code. And he’s defined wholly by one thing: his relationship with his father, cut short before its time. Even his desire to excel as a bounty hunter is, I’m convinced, a legacy of his need to please his father and live up to his expectations.

So that makes a 70-plus-year-old Boba a fascinating character to write. He worships Jango as the perfect example of fatherhood, and yet he’s abandoned his own wife and child–because no human with his upbringing could ever really relate well to others, especially women. He’s made a fortune (more than once) but has no real use for it. He’s used to being the best in the galaxy at a very physical profession, but mortality and age are creeping up on him. How does he handle that? How does he come to terms with the legacy he’ll leave behind, such as it is?

The secondary fascination is how he handles the role of Mandalore. I’ve done a lot of work on Mandalorians, and even developed the culture and a working language for LFL, and the variety of styles of leadership over the centuries is striking. But Boba doesn’t speak Mandalorian (I stuck with the literal continuity there), and he’s still a working bounty hunter while in office, so to speak. That tells you not only a great deal about him, but also about the Mandalorians themselves.

It’s a fiction goldmine for me. I never tire of Boba or the Mandalorians.

Q: You mentioned City of Pearl, the first novel in your acclaimed Wess'har Wars series. Those books offer a hard sf look at the complications of first contact distinguished by complex world building and an unsentimental focus on the evolving–in more ways than one!–relationship between a human female, Shan Frankland, and an alien male, Aras. Some critics have complained that your view of humanity in this series is misanthropic . . . which seems like a parochial criticism for a reader of science fiction to make! But it's true that humanity does not exactly distinguish itself by its collective actions in these books.

KT: I don’t think either point is accurate, actually. Reviews–professional reviews–haven’t complained about the portrayal of humanity in the series at all; quite the opposite, in fact. I think you mean a couple of Amazon reviews, which isn’t quite the same thing. I just describe the kind of human that I saw every working day for decades, and if it isn’t pretty, that’s the reader’s interpretation of it. Just as many readers have found a message of hope and human decency in the books. And the series isn’t focused on Shan and Aras–there are six books in the story arc and a big cast, and they get equal air time.

But it’s all unsentimental, I’ll give you that. Like I said, I just build the characters from scratch, put them in the scenario, and let the model run. The interaction between the characters is the plot. That’s all there is to it, really. The behavior of individuals and organizations is the way real ones behave: no heroes, and no villains, just people who are mixed bags of good and bad elements. The alien races are treated exactly the same way. But if you’ve been raised on the kind of SF where humans are top dog, and the aliens are always evil invaders, then my books are going to disturb that certainty. But I do that in Star Wars, too. Because I wasn’t steeped in the Star Wars culture to begin with, I found pretty bad things in the Jedi and some good in Vader, which comes from the journalistic approach I take. I don’t know how to do anything else beyond asking awkward questions, I suppose. All my stuff is about the politics of identity at some level, and the lines we draw–the point beyond which we abandon decency, and how we handle the moral dilemmas that our science and technology create for us..

Q: Do you finish writing a tie-in before embarking on the next original book, or do you prefer to have multiple projects going at the same time?


KT: I split my time pretty well equally between tie-ins and my own-copyright books. The schedules mean I don’t usually have an unbroken run at a book–sometimes I’ll have to stop mid-manuscript and switch to another book because I need to do revisions and copyedits. But I can handle switching between books and even to short fiction and related features like the work I do for Star Wars Insider. I can either partition my mental hard drive and switch the other work off completely in my head, or let it stay in my conscious brain: with the latter, I find that sparks all kinds of useful ideas for the other work. The more you write, the more you write...sounds crazy, but once the creative juices kick off, they keep the process going. You know what they say: if you want something done, ask a busy person. It’s about momentum.

Q: One of the fascinating things about the Legacy series so far is how it reveals the fault lines that have always existed in the relationships of the Solo and Skywalker families: between husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, parents and children. That's certainly at the heart of Bloodlines.

KT: I’m not sure the fault lines are the issue, actually. But what’s great in one part of your life can turn out to be exactly the same thing that isn’t so great later. Real people don’t change that much at a fundamental level–although we show growth and epiphany in character arcs, of course, because that’s the nature of fiction–but the circumstances shift and what was your saving grace in your youth can make you a liability in your middle years and older. Take Han–his stubborn independence was terrific when the Empire needed overthrowing, but decades later, when the Solos and Skywalkers are part of the ruling elite themselves, the power brokers, he’s a problem for Luke. Whatever happened to the farm boy and the space bum? They grew up, and the galaxy changed.

Bloodlines is more about the pain that families can cause you, and how you can’t ever walk away from family completely. Only people you love and trust can hurt you, and most of the characters find that out in spades.

Q: I understand that you and your fellow writers are working in sequence on the series: first Allston, then you, then Denning, and so on. How closely do you three keep in touch? And are you already writing book five?

KT: Yes, it’s a juggling act. We stay in touch by e-mail, but the real anchors are the editors, Shelly Shapiro at Del Rey and Sue Rostoni at Lucasfilm. Readers might think that it’s a simple sequential thing–that each author reads what the previous one has written and picks up from it–but it can’t work that way at all. We’ve all got different work commitments, and we all write a different speeds. I’m naturally a very fast, immersive writer–four or five weeks per book now I’m writing full time, and that’s for all my novels, not just Star Wars–and I already have contractual commitments to other publishers built around the Legacy schedule that mean I can’t wait for someone to finish their book before I deliver mine. I have to turn it in on the due date and get on with the next book. That’s where the real discipline of writing as a team comes in: you stick to the outline you agreed with Lucasfilm and Del Rey, and you let everyone know if you need to change stuff. No surprises. Of course, that can’t possibly cover every single line in a book, so the editors are there playing long stop and fielding detail that might get missed. The creases get ironed out on revisions. The key to it is communicating throughout the process.

Q: What other projects are you working on now?

KT: I’m finishing the fifth book in my Wess’har series for HarperCollins, and then I’ll be going back to Sacrifice, LOTF #5. At the moment my schedule means I’ll probably switch to another series after that–can’t mention that one yet–and then I’ll go back to book six of the Wess’har arc, which is the final book in that six-part story. Then it’s back to Legacy again. That takes me to March 1, 2007, but somehow in that period I also have to fit in short fiction and what I’ll just call Other Projects at this stage...

If I had three wishes, they’d all be: "Get more sleep."


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