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Wolverton ( Serpent Catch ) attempts to add nuance and intrigue to the smash-bang atmosphere that propelled to the stratosphere the Star War movies and Timothy Zahn's three books set in that universe. Readers of the present installment, whose events occur after the films but before Zahn's works, likely already know who Princess Leia will marry, so Wolverton deserves high marks just for making the journey along the road to the inevitable interesting. He generally avoids comic book-style action and artificial climaxes such as having a major character appear to die only to be redeemed at the last moment, but his concentration on familiar characters is disappointing. Though there is plenty of graphic violence, true depth is lacking. All in all, the novel raises expectations for Wolverton's future works once he moves on to other things. 375,000 first printing; TV advertising. (Apr.)

Still at war with the Empire, the fledgling New Republic receives an offer of alliance with the 63 worlds of the Hapes Consortium, provided that Princess Leia will marry its heir, Prince Isolder. As Gen. Han Solo and Isolder fight a cosmic battle for Leia's heart, the discovery of a conspiracy of dark-force wielders lures Luke, Han, Leia, and Isolder to a rendezvous with danger on the mysterious planet Dathomir. Wolverton ( On My Way to Paradise , LJ 12/89) is a vivid scene builder, capturing the cinematic flavor of the Star Wars universe while expanding on the outer reaches of the galaxy. Regrettably, his characterizations just miss the mark. There will probably be a demand for this title despite its shortcomings. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 1/94.

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