Monday, January 22, 2024

Between Books - Star Wars: Crimson Climb


Audiobook cover showing Qi'ra standing in front of the Crimson Dawn symbol, a red circle half filled

Am I the bad guy in fandom? Star Wars High Republic titles have failed me. It’s left me feeling like I’ve been sitting on my front porch yelling at the kids to get off my Star Wars front yard! For Pete’s sake, I’ve been reading Star Trek books! Can my Grumpy Dwarf attitude ever find relief?

Star Wars: Crimson Climb by E.K. Johnston starts right where the movie Star Wars: Solo ends. Han Solo’s first love Qi’ra has made her move to take the leadership of the criminal organization Crimson Dawn. We enter the immediate moment after, right at the top of the syndicate. What happens next is not the question that Johnston explores! Instead, this book answers a question that we may have had when we watched the movie, how did Qi’ra move from a human scumrat in the White Worms of Correllia, where she met Han, to the right-hand of the leader of a powerful crime family? Star Wars: Crimson Climb moves the readers from Solo’s escape from Correllia and the impact it had on Qi’ra’s standings in the White Worms. From that moment, we follow her as she ages, leaves the White Worms, and matures from the savvy girl to the wise and powerful woman that Han meets again years later. Johnston takes us into Qi’ra’s mind as she navigates the capers and obstacles in her way, and we better understand the character's depth.

I liked it. But why?

I think a big piece of it is simply, it’s well-written. Johnston does a great job of giving us a story with tension, action, internal struggle, and emotional depth. Could this book work outside of the Star Wars galaxy? I think a lot of it could and would. It does help that we already have an introduction to Qi’ra and unanswered questions, but maybe that just allowed for some shortcuts for setup. But honestly, I was tense and stressed, and Johnston even gives us the ending of the book by having the start and end align with Star Wars: Solo and I’ve read comics that go beyond that moment.

I also think that using Qi’ra who moviegoers have already seen as smart and conflicted and tied to one of the big three Star Wars heroes helps a lot. We may never get a sequel to payoff events on the screen for Star Wars: Solo but the movie left us with questions and maybe a desire to know more. Now with Marvel Comics, who have featured an older more powerful Qi’ra, and this book which fills in gaps with the movie, we can find some satisfaction in open questions. Additionally, having seen her and supporting characters and settings on screen, I think it really helps to settle the mind by providing mental images that help tell not distract from the story.

Confession time! The High Republic brought me to a point where I also didn’t read this volume but listened as an audiobook. Narrator Olivia Hack does a wonderful voice of changing voice tone, dialect, and volume to the extent that you sometimes forget it’s unjust one narrator. Additionally, the production includes a soundtrack and audio cues that make this a super enjoyable audio adventure.

Yes, I do like Star Wars, see how I feel about Star Wars: Crimson Climb by E.K. Johnston. It’s a story full of tension, especially emotional, set in the high-paced Star Wars criminal element! I enjoyed the adventure, especially as an audiobook full of audio production elements that supported a solid story. 


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