lost Stars is a classic love story. This might not appeal to some, as it was nearly off putting to me before I started the book. But it’s a love story set upon the backdrop of Imperial service, honor, love, and sacrifice. As much as the love story between the two main characters is the driving force behind the book, it’s actually an incredibly powerful vehicle to highlight the lives of subjects of the Empire.
The story follows Thane Kyrell and Ciena Ree from their meeting in childhood as they follow their dreams to serve the Empire, only to come to the realization that their dreams were actually other peoples’ nightmares. The struggle each of them endures follows is drastically different, slowly forcing them onto either side of the conflict.
The way both characters develop over the course of the story is a thing of beauty. Lost Stars takes place a few years before Episode IV, and ends around a year after Episode VI. In that time Thane and Ciena discover what happens when childhood dreams become a reality, and how they deal with the increasingly harsh realities of their lives ends up ripping their hearts to pieces.
What I loved most about Lost Stars was the glimpse it gave on the lives of people living under the rule of the Empire. Some truly buy into the propaganda, while others know better, but keep quiet under threat of punishment. While there have always been parallels between the Empire and the Nazis, never before has the portrait been painted so clearly as when told through the eyes of those who lived through the indoctrination, and the eventually became enlightened to it.
The most intriguing part of Lost Stars is how the story of Thane and Ciena intertwines so tightly with Episodes IV-VI. Literally every major battle throughout the original trilogy sees these two take part in some capacity, on one side or the other. It’s a great decision that not only brings validity to this book, but forces those who read it to forever look at the original trilogy a little differently.
I wasn’t certain when I started Lost Stars that I’d like it as much as I do. It turned out to be a great read that offered new insight onto something I thought I knew very well. Forcing us to take a look at the Empire from within makes everything about Star Wars so much more real and emotionally fulfilling. I would go so far as to say Lost Stars is even better than Star Wars: Aftermath. Whereas Aftermath is very much a starting point for all canon after Return of the Jedi, Lost Stars fills in the gaps of existing canon in a powerful, touching way.