||This was "er" in Star Wars, or perhaps
MASH. The medical crew is well defined, there are various interesting
and bizarre casualties, some of the doctors and nurses become
romantically involved, and at the end of it all, nothing much happens.
However, this was a good ride, generally.
I became anxious for something to happen around the halfway point, and
the shuttle explosion didn't solve that, mainly because the doctors were
not involved in the investigation, and it appeared that nobody else was,
Even in the cases of the medical staff,
however, all we saw was simply day-to-day living, the drudgery of a
hospital in a war zone. There were no real patients who we could watch
recover, and only Jos ever really gained a revelation about the idea
that clones could be treated as people (and then droids, as well).
Unfortunately, all of this has been done before, and it wasn't very
interesting. A clone became more than just a clone- an individual - just
one book ago in this series, in The Cestus Deception. Luke treats the
droids like real people from the moment he acquires them in
A New Hope
-and Anakin does the same thing with R2D2 in
Revenge of the Sith. We
learned how bad war was on another dreary planet in
The only thing to hold our interest
were the characters, and fortunately, they were distinct and well
defined. They seemed to have real personalities, not just stock traits.
As with the previous Star Wars book by Michael Reaves,
Shadow Hunter, the banter between the characters was snappy and fun. The
new droid with a personality was obviously from that book, as well,
though he seems to have lost his memory and is regaining it in pieces.
One day he might remember Darth Maul.
Even the Hutt Filba got in some snappy
banter, especially with the Sullustan reporter Den. Poor Filba, however,
became too much of a liability to Black Sun, so they poisoned him for
stealing too much of the magical bota.
It always seems to be the small and
empty worlds that get fought over. This one was seemingly worthless
until we found out that the drug bota, which could be harvested only on
this planet, worked like a miracle on a wide variety of species, and so
was prized by everyone in the galaxy -but the doctors were not allowed
to use it for their patients on the planet where it grew. It does beg
the question of why we have never heard of it, or will not hear of it a
generation later. I suspect that the supply will be destroyed by the
There were a few specific plot points
addressed by this novel. One is the Teras Kasi master, Phow Ji, who
professes to have beaten a Jedi Master in combat. I never played the
Teras Kasi video game, so I don't know anything about that marital art,
but I am glad it just wasn't described as being the absolute in martial
arts here. I don't understand why Barriss would avoid using the Force,
just to make a "fair fight". She was sure that he didn't want to kill
her, but that doesn't justify putting herself at risk, anyway. By the
end of the book, he dies from a random laser blast, and Barriss saves him
with the Force. He becomes so enraged that he goes on a huge rampage
against enemy forces, in order to die in a blaze of glory.
There is also the issue of the spy,
which is not properly addressed, probably because it will come to
fruition in the sequel, Jedi Healer. Den takes an interest in Filba,
knowing that the requisition manager was pilfering supplies, and having
a grudge against the Hutt. But when he discovers that the Medstar
Admiral is part of the scam, he backs off and turns his attention to
Phow Ji, whom he then turns into a hero by accident by his news story.
The admiral has plans to retire to his home planet, having made millions
of credits from selling his stolen bota. But when Black Sun comes
calling, he doesn't stand a chance against the trained assassin (the
Nedji, anyway; he easily skewered the human). I don't really know what
the point of the admiral's story was, because, like everything else in
this book, it didn't amount to anything.
The spy was treated obviously as an
anonymous person whom we have observed interact with the regulars-
perhaps even is a regular character, but not one with whom we have
shared thoughts. The obvious choices are the droid with personality, and
Tolk, the facial reader with whom Jos falls in love.
Other than that, the book was mostly
quiet moments where people simply interacted. They used a lot of
expressions that were unique to the Star Wars galaxy, but were instantly
recognizable to us in our everyday lives. I liked the way they were
given a Star Wars twist. Although we might not know what a healthy alien
of some sort would look like, or how healthy he might be, at least we
understand what Jos is referring to when he says a patient is "as
healthy as a ...".
In other cases, the authors make
questionable choices in their expressions. Why would anybody in this
time period know of the obscure worlds known as Hoth and Dagobah, and
Naboo is a small, insignificant world, where the everyday person
wouldn't know what the swamps were like. The worlds were obscure in the
"original trilogy" universe for a reason: people didn't want to be
found, so they chose worlds that nobody knew about.
Then we come to Barriss Offee, the Jedi
Padawan that we last saw in the novels in The Approaching Storm, prequel
to Attack of the Clones. In general, I like her. I don't agree with all
of her intuitions of the Force, especially when she "opens a conduit",
which is a very strange way of looking at it. But I really liked the way
she struggles with trying to be "enlightened". Anakin never seemed to
have trouble killing, even when he was young in
Rogue Planet or The Path
to Truth. Perhaps it is this that makes him less interesting. His murder
of Count Dooku is the only time we have seen him show something like
remorse; his guilt over Mace Windu's death didn't last long.
Barriss seems afraid to use the Force
except when healing people. Like so many other Jedi, she is surprised
far too often, and ordinary people seem to have thought shields that she
cannot penetrate. I believe that the Force is something that the Jedi
used unconsciously, so that they could never be surprised completely by
actions. I just hope she continues to struggle with her issues, and actually becomes
useful in the sequel.
In general, this was an enjoyable book,
though not a single spectacular thing happened. One of the main
characters dies when they are relocating the hospital. In the aftermath,
Jos and Tolk finally get together, dispensing with the strange and
archaic beliefs the Correllians apparently have at this point in the
timeline. Other than
that, the only casualties are the clones, and they require a lot of
medical technobabble to fix straight.