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Book Review: Life Day Treasury

While we're a bit out of Life Day season, a little while back I read George Mann and Cavan Scott's Life Day Treasury, a collection of short stories about Life Day and similar celebrations all around the Star Wars galaxy. I am a huge fan of anything Life Day, whether it's the original Star Wars Holiday Special, it's LEGO counterpart, or episodes of Young Jedi Adventures- so that along with the fact that I adore George Mann's Myths & Fables and Dark Legends meant this book was a great read for me.

I totally recommend this book to anyone who enjoys anthology story collections from Star Wars, and the heartwarming stories are especially great if you're looking to get into some holiday spirit come wintertime.

Spoilers ahead for Life Day Treasury by George Mann & Cavan Scott.

The first story is "A Coruscant Solstice," and it was not a story I expected to find here yet one I loved. This story is about none other than the High Republic's beloved Stellan Gios, who explores Coruscant on Solstice Tide celebrations. I loved the descriptions of Coruscant being filled with twinkling lights, aromas of delicious foods, and joy. But what was really special about this story was how Stellan Gios embodied the best of the Jedi. A young boy pickpockets a bracelet from a woman, and Stellan gives chase, though he finds himself surprised by the fact that the boy is stealing because he is being harassed by a gang of older children. And not only that, but when Stellan follows the boy home he sees that the boy lives along with his sick grandmother in a small hovel, and they're struggling. Despite the situation, the boy offers Stellan to join them for dinner, and he accepts, and offers to bring the boy and his grandmother to the Temple so that they can help them. It's a really sweet story and I think it shows who the Jedi are at their best, and that good Jedi care about the regular people of the galaxy and will go out of their way to help them in any situation. Stellan's interactions with the boy and his grandmother were touching, and go to show just how incredible of a character he is.

"An Old Hope" is about a droid on Tatooine named LA-R1 who gets snatched up by jawas. We learn about how all of the droids in the jawa sandcrawlers talk to each other- some being stuck for a long time, while others get sold quickly. The conversations betwen all of the droids were really interesting, and the way some droids still try to hold onto hope was really touching. We learn about the legend of the Oil-Bringer, a mythical figure for droids who spreads "cybernetic cheer" and helps droids in need. LA-R1 takes it into his own hands to help the Oil-Bringer with his mission, using his own resources to maintain and lubricate his fellow droids while they sleep. When the sandcrawler is attacked by a creature, all of the other droids escaped, but drained by how he worked to help the others, LA-R1 isn't able to go with them, and is left behind- until a bearded man who is able to remove a restraining bolt with the wave of a hand finds him to take him back to his master. Is it Obi-Wan Kenobi? Is it the Oil-Bringer? It doesn't matter- what matters is how people (and droids) use the spirit of these stories to inspire and help each other. I think this was one of my favorite stories, as the focus on droids was heartwarming and lovely.

"The Kindling" is about some rebels under an Imperial occupation and on the run from stormtroopers. One of them, Fanya, stops to carefully gather some moss, and tells a story to her antsy companion about a Twi'lek village who fought off a Sith Lord by keeping their spirits high and using twigs and moss from the forest. Just as the stormtroopers catch up to them, Fanya uses the moss she was gathering to create a flare to temporarily blind the stormtroopers, allowing their escape. I loved the story of the Twi'lek village, it was a classic Star Wars story about never giving up hope and everyone coming together for a greater cause, and it gave us an interesting look at some Twi'lek traditions.

"The Kroolok" is an Ewok holiday story, so I was already hooked. It's a story about Wicket, Weechee and Princess Kneesa sneaking out of the village during the snowy night, despite being warned by the older Ewoks about a monster lurking in the woods this time of year. The Ewoks run into the monster... only it turns out to be Weechee in a silly costume trying to scare the younger Ewoks. However, strange footprints and a loud bellow of the real monster appear from the woods, and all of the Ewoks run home frightened. Except... it was all simmply Logray the shaman and Chief Chirpa pulling the stunt to try and keep the Ewoks from going too far into the woods and having a little bit of holiday fun in what is apparently an age-old Ewok tradition. This story was totally adorable, and really reminded me of the 80s Ewoks cartoon with all of the characters, their dynamics and the hijinks they all get up to. If you liked the Ewoks cartoon, I really think this story would be a great read for you.

"The Song of Winter's Heart" was a really touching story. We start with two young Alderaanian children, best friends, playing in the snow and singing holiday songs. As they get older, however, the two men go very separate ways- one ending up in the Empire and one joining the Rebellion. Despite the differences, the two meet on the battlefield, only to recognize each other through humming the Alderaanian holiday songs. The two sit in the snow, talk and play games all night on the battlefields, before going their separate ways. This was a really beautiful and emotional story, and I really connected with the characters in it and felt for them. The ending was bittersweet and left open, which I did really like. No matter how many times it's done, I will always love the Star Wars stories of relationships split across the Imperial/Rebel line- they're just always incredibly fascinating to read for me.

"The Spirit of Life Day" was another one of my favorite stories in this book. The story is about a town where Life Day is not a day of joy, but one of grief and fear, as a terrible massacre in the Clone Wars happened on Life Day. The people of the town all lock their doors and hide away from ghosts every Life Day. Though one young girl's pet voorpak scrambles out the door on Life Day, and she chases after him, but the ghostly apparitions of the massacre's victims and the droids appear. The girl is afraid, but one of them speaks to her, explaining that Life Day was once one of the most joyous days of the year, and it is only grief that haunts the town, not vengeful spirits. The young girl runs through the streets, trying to spread joy and remind everybody of what Life Day is really about. And from that day on, the town celebrates Life Day better than anyone else. It's a truly classic holiday story just through a Star Wars lens, and I totally adored it.

"Reflection Day" is a story on Jedha, about a holiday where people look into Kyber Mirrors for a glimpse at their future and to understand the Force better. Within this story is a beautiful love story about two strangers who are on Jedha on Reflection Day, and how it is their connection with each other that really reflects the spirit of Reflection Day. I really liked how Reflection Day wasn't really just about any magic the mirrors hold, but how the spirit of the holiday and the connections people make because of it are what make it so special. It was a really sweet story, and added to what we know about Jedha when it was in its prime.

"The Tree of Life" is the last story of the book, and naturally there was no better way to finish off Life Day Treasury than by going back to the beginning with a story about Lumpawaroo on Kashyyk. He prefers to go by Waroo over Lumpy now (which is certainly fair), and the family (Malla and Itchy included) are once again hoping that Chewbacca will make it home for Life Day. Waroo isn't all that into Life Day, as he misses his dad and feels like he's out of place surrounded by the hopefulness and joy of Life Day. While the ceremony goes on he tries to take his family's orb to the tree, but drops and breaks it. Waroo is devastated, but Chewie arrives to comfort his son. Chewie takes him back to the Falcon, and Han helps them replace the orb with an old bulb that they're able to use in its stead. Even though it's not a traditional orb, the family all loves it and puts it on the tree with the others. The story is heartwarming, and I really loved getting this look at Chewie's family again. It felt like a wonderful expansion on the original Holiday Special, and I'm glad we live in an age of Star Wars where we're able to write such beatiful stories based on it.

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