Forces of Destiny: The Leia Chronicles by Emma Carlson Berne

Forces of Destiny: The Leia Chronicles written by Emma Carlson Berne
     This is a youngish reader re-telling of the following Leia-centric Forces of Destiny episodes: "Ewok Escape," "Imperial Feast," and "Bounty of Trouble" in that order. I'm not sure why they didn't put them chronologically--all they would have to do is place "Bounty of Trouble" in front...oh well. Regardless, it was easy to tell the timeline without referring to Wookieepedia simply due to Leia's dress in "Bounty of Trouble."
     This was a wonderful re-telling that went far beyond the borders of the stories we see in the actual episodes. So much more information was divulged that it felt as if I was getting a fuller and more in-depth picture of the events at hand--a lovely surprise. Additionally, the episode re-tellings are flanked by "A Message from Maz" on both the front and back ends where the old pirate speaks of trust and friendship.

"Ewok Escape"
     First off, I love Leia's thought description of Wicket, "His face was appealingly smushed, with a stubby black nose." So cute!
     The first few pages of this story give us all the backstory we need on the Rebels' adventures in Return of the Jedi and set us up perfectly for the introduction of Wicket. So you wouldn't even have to have seen the movie for this story to make sense.
     Is it just me, or is it odd that it takes the stormtroopers a good minute or so to notice that one of the captured Ewoks is holding a spear?? Strange...
     Weird editing error, one paragraph states, "the vine released just as quickly" while the next paragraph states, "Leia leapt down off the vine, her friend right behind her." According to the episode, she and Wicket just released the vine and that was it. Hmmm...
     The next part (after the stormtrooper/vine incident) is where things really get juicy with added content. Leia walks to Bright Tree Village with the three Ewoks, and her first viewing of the village from the ground below is truly delightful. "There, far above her head, a beautiful village soared, with huts, bridges, fences, all perched as if by magic in the treetops. Furry creatures trotted to and fro, calling to each other, carrying piles of cloth, baskets, bundles of sticks. As Leia watched, a group of young creatures swung across the clearing on vines, their high-pitched laughter echoing through the trees." And the lovely descriptions continue as she enters into the Ewoks' home and meets Chief Chirpa.
     She then has an entire interaction with Chief Chirpa that is not in the episode which leads to the Ewoks providing her with delicious food and finding her a bed to sleep in after her adventure-filled day. They even massage her face with oil! It isn't until she wakes up from her much-needed nap that she receives the gift of the dress and spear.

"Imperial Feast"
     We start this one right away with extra content. The celebration post-Death Star destruction is in full swing and everybody is dancing the night away. During the party, Leia gives Wicket some much needed praise, "Your tribe was amazing. Thank you. We couldn't have done it without you--I mean that." Then we get a joyous reunion between Leia and Luke. And I loved this little tidbit, "Threepio was dancing with Chief Chirpa" Haha!! I can totally see it!! In fact, this scene goes into detail with what everyone was doing during the celebration. It's so heartfelt and so much fun to see so much incredible joy after such a fantastic win!
     Then after a brief moment of camaraderie between Han and Chewie, we get the scene from the episode of them watching the Ewoks trying to cook the stormtroopers except this has some great added details about the Ewoks chopping up vegetables and waving knives at the troopers.
     We then get some backstory on Hera and are into the scene where Han has to say, "The Ghost is a superior ship to the Falcon." There's a LOT of added dialogue in this re-telling as well that really adds depth to the story. And apparently R2 and Chopper are having a very lively exchange during the whole scene. Also, once the ration sticks are brought back to the Ewoks, they are quite reluctant to give in to this new form of food.
     This was probably the best re-telling of the three with so much extra dialogue, descriptive visuals, and thoughts/feelings behind everything that was said and done.

"Bounty of Trouble"
     This one again starts right off the bat with new extra content. Sabine is on the Ghost wary of having to work with Leia, someone she barely knows. This story takes place after "A Princess on Lothal" when Leia managed to fake the Rebels making off with her Alderaanian ships, but besides that they haven't really worked with each other at all. Then we get a glimpse into what Leia was doing before the data tape exchange. She was in an Imperial shuttle nearing Garel City, assessing the situation as she was surrounded by stormtroopers. I'm still not sure how Leia managed to stash the datatape in the wall terminal of the spaceport, but I guess in Star Wars so many things are never fully explained... As to why Leia was on Garel, she was there to discuss the refugee housing situation on Wobani!
     I love this description of Leia's feelings on her predicament: "Her whole being itched to be out there on the ground, blaster in hand, fighting with the Rebellion. Instead she was skulking around on the inside, pretending to be loyal to the Empire, making nice with the commanders. Still, she was working for the Rebellion. She just had to be content working undercover."
     So they only had seven minutes to switch ships in an effort to throw bounty hunters off Leia's trail...she used those seven minutes for the datatape exchange with Sabine.
     The whole scene where Sabine is waiting on Leia and finally meets up with her is drawn out in the re-telling and doesn't quite match what is seen on-screen, at least from my perspective, so that was a little confusing.
     Again, is it just me, or is it weird that Sabine keeps taking off and putting back on her helmet? Wouldn't it be more efficient and safer if she just kept it on throughout?
     The rest of this one is pretty much a straight re-telling of the episode.

     So all-in-all, I quite enjoyed this book! The re-tellings for the most part were enhanced and extended versions of the episodes that added real meat to the short two and a half minute clips we get. Definitely recommend this to those who are aching for any and all canon content, but also recommend this to any youngling who loves reading and wants to get more out of the adorable Forces of Destiny short episodes. A worthy addition for sure!

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