The Callista Trilogy: Planet of Twilight

File:Planet of twilight.jpgIn my continuing exploration of the Star Wars universe, I wound up the Callistra Trilogy with Planet of Twilight by Barbara Hambly.  I thoroughly enjoyed Hambly’s first book, Children of the Jedi, and was disappointed by the second in the trilogy, Darksaber, authored by Kevin J. Anderson.  Book three brought us back to Hambly, and it showed–and I was quite pleased by that fact.

The book opens eight months after the previous one, as Luke searches for his lost love, Callista, who has gone off on her own quest in search of her lost Jedi powers.  Luke’s search and Leia’s political responsibilities bring both of them to Nam Chorios, a former prison planet where the religious-cult majority insists on isolationism, over the objections of the minority of more recent colonists.  The minority political leader captures Leia, while Luke explores very strange operations of the Force on the planet, and hunts for clues to Callista’s trail.

It was such a relief after Darksaber to come back to Hambly’s characterization.  The characters had depth again.  You can feel Luke’s pain at losing Callista, and it feels both real and appropriate–not vaguely self-indulgent, the way the focus on their relationship felt in the last book.  I have a feeling there are those who would object to his focus on Callista when he has larger responsibilities (like an Academy to run), but really, I think it’s just human to balance something personally important against something that’s logically important.  And at the risk of a slight spoiler, ultimately the novel is about how Luke accepts his path going forward.

There’s also some good delving into Leia’s character.  Children of the Jedi had a lot about her past on Alderaan.  This one has more about some of her plans and her fears, and delves into the rarely-addressed fact that she’s the child of Darth Vader as much as Luke is.

Most of the book is in either Leia’s or Luke’s point of view, and between their differing experiences we get to explore some very strange mysteries and very strange characters–including a Hutt with Force-ability, and some truly creepy bug creatures.  It gets pretty gross in spots, and I likely would have been ill with a movie, but it wasn’t too bad in text.  I enjoyed the reveal of the mystery and weird aliens are among the hallmarks of Star Wars.

Han, Lando and Chewie all have small roles here, trying to figure out what happened to Leia, and though they don’t have a big part, it’s enough that they don’t become conspicious by their absence, if that makes sense.  Threepio and Artoo, meanwhile, manage to get lost and provide some excellent comic relief as they try to sort themselves out.  Artoo, of course, is calm throughout; Threepio, not so much!

I got a little muddled in here with politics on various planets, and some arching plotlines involving plague and multiple revolutions.  But the main focus was on the primary characters, so I didn’t worry too much about the larger politics, and that seemed to go all right.

I found this a satisfying end to the trilogy.  I won’t claim it was brilliant, but it was put together well, has good portrayals of the characters, some clever twists, and all in all, an enjoyable read.  And somehow it’s making me want to rewatch Return of the Jedi

Author’s Site:

Buy it here: Planet of Twilight

4 thoughts on “The Callista Trilogy: Planet of Twilight

  1. I’m so glad that the last book turned things around for you, especially after the disappointment of book 2. It is a shame that Hambly wasn’t tapped to do all three books. I’m sure the decision at the time was probably based on trying to get the books out in a timely fashion but it is unfortunate that they couldn’t make it work to just do a single author trilogy.

    1. It was nice to end the trilogy on a high note. I’m sure there was a perfectly reasonable reason for the author-switch at the time…but it does seem like an odd decision when following a clear character arc.

  2. How do you find reading books that are set in movie universes? Created from those movie worlds, I mean. I almost bought some Star Trek books recently, but I always think that I am going where the original writer didn’t want to go, so why does someone else get to? I know a lot of people read them, but I always wonder, how much from the original story in the creator’s mind (whichever universe it is) does it stray? And that always ends up bothering me. I wish it didn’t, because I suspect I’d enjoy a lot of them. Have you come across anything in your readings that has set off your alarm bells? or, do the original creators have a final say in anything published in their worlds? Maybe I’ll have to go check this out! lol

    Anyway it seemed you enjoyed this book, and quite enjoy reading these.

    I’m sorry it took me so long to come here, I was checking my comments for the last month on my blog and realized I wanted to come find you. You’re on my blog roll now. I’ll be around! 🙂 I like how you review and what you are reading.

    1. Hi Susan–really interesting question about expanded universe novels. The mere fact of Star Trek or Star Wars novels doesn’t bother me…I do think the original creators have given at least general approval for more stories, though I don’t know how much policing is going on over specific novels. The Star Wars novels are impressively consistent, though, so someone must be paying attention!

      I don’t know how Lucas feels about it, but I think Roddenberry approved of other people telling stories. There’s a very old short story collection with an introduction by Roddenberry, talking about how wonderful he thinks it is that other people are engaging with the Star Trek universe, how it’s obvious that it’s become so special to them, and that he really likes seeing that. Paraphrased, obviously, but it was something to that effect! And Trek especially seems designed to keep telling more stories.

      I haven’t run across much that’s really bothered me in the novels, though of course sometimes the characterization is better than other times. I get more alarm bells from some of the Trek movies, actually!

      Anyway…I’m glad you decided to drop by, and I look forward to more thought-provoking comments in the future–but no pressure! 🙂

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