I recently read the three Middle Grade Star Wars books that focus on the classic trilogy heroes. These books featured new adventures for your favorite characters.
Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adveventure by Cecil Castellucci and Jason Fry
Moving Target was set just before Return of the Jedi, and told the tale of Leia and a group of Rebels that go on a mission to distract the Empire from what the Rebellion is really up to.We are introduced to three new characters who help Leia. Lochmarcha, a Dressellian commando whose job it is to make sure Leia lives through the mission, Kidi Aleri, a female Cerean communication expert, and Antrot, a tech expert. Nien Nunb serves as their pilot.
Their mission: go to three planets in the Outer Rim far away from where the Rebel fleet is meeting up and preparing for the Battle of Endor and recruit as many as possible for a rendezvous at a different location. This mission is top secret, with only Leia knowing they are a diversion and that if any ships do show to the rendezvous, they will potentially be sacrificed to the Empire. She is, in essence, a moving target for the Empire to follow. If their mission succeeds, the Rebels will have time to plan their attack on Endor before the Empire finds out and hopefully end the Empire once and for all. If they fail, it could mean the end of the Rebellion instead.
Besides the mission, Leia is also dealing with the fact that people seem to be willing to die to protect her. Lochmarcha says his orders are to protect her at all costs, and she witnesses others willing to sacrifice themselves for her safety. Leia hates this, and vows not to let their sacrifice be in vain.
She also is still dealing with the aftermath of Han being frozen in carbonite. She is dealing with the search for him, and hoping that he is still alive. In the end, she is faced with the choice of doing her duty or following her heart.
Smuggler’s Run: A Han Solo and Chewbacca Adventure by Greg Rucka
This adventure is set after the battle of Yavin. Han and Chewie are scheduled to leave, when Princess Leia asks him to go on a mission to save a Rebel operative in charge of scouting locations for potential bases and keep him from falling into Imperial hands. Reluctantly, he agrees.
Han and Chewie find their new friend being hunted by a ruthless Imperial Agent, at the same time they are being hunted by Bounty Hunters intent on collecting the bounty on their heads, dead or alive. The three of them team up to make it back to the Alliance rendezvous, but they might need a little help from some unlikely friends. If they make it, the Rebellion’s secrets will be saved, if not, the Empire will find out what they need to find the Alliance and destroy them once and for all.
Weapon of a Jedi: A Luke Skywalker Adventure by Jason Fry
The final book in the set features Luke Skywalker as he learns to listen to the Force and let it guide him. On a mission for the Alliance, he’s ship is damaged and he is forced to land in a remote village on the planet Devaron. The jungle around the village seems to be calling to him, and he realizes the Force is trying to tell him something. With the help of a Devaronian girl and a mysterious stranger, he embarks on a quest through the jungle and finds and old Jedi Temple. But when Imperials find out he’s there, his skill with the Force and a lightsaber will be tested.
I really liked the Princess Leia and Han Solo stories. They were the right balance of action, suspense, and humor, with a hint of romance. The characters introduced were diverse in species as well as personality, and I really liked on or two of them. I loved the aha moment when I realized this was how they acquired the shuttle Tyderium in Moving Target. Seeing the beginnings of Han’s transformation from smuggler to hero was great too.
As for the Luke one, I really didn’t care for it. It was slow I thought, and I wasn’t as interested in the plot. I don’t know if that’s because I’ve never been a big Luke fan, or something else I can’t put my finger on. It just wasn’t for me. But, I’m still glad I read it.
Each of these are great editions to any library’s juvenile fiction section. They are great reads for young fans, and it’s so refreshing to see Star Wars books for middle grade readers that can be seen as either a standalones or a series. We see so many easy readers and storybooks, but not enough books for older kids (the Jedi Academy series being a current exception).
Overall, I five the first two Four Lightsabers, and the third Three Lightsabers. I’m currently reading Lost Stars by Claudia Gray, which is the first YA Star Wars book since the Young Jedi Knights series in the late ’90s and early ’00s.