Ossus Library Index Star Wars Timeline




A novel by John Whitman (1997, Bantam Skylark)
Galaxy of Fear, Book 2
Soon after Star Wars: A New Hope

Zak is nearly killed when the dead come back to life on a planet known for its curse.




Read on December 9th, 2002  
    Has the author hit his stride, or was I in a better mood while reading this book? There was almost no exposition, and nobody pauses in a contrived manner to allow the heroes to escape.

The author still talks down to his audience, but also seems to be writing for an older group than in the last book. This is encouraging, as perhaps the previous book was a little harder to write, being the first in this series.

This book takes us into Zak's mind, where Eaten Alive dealt mostly with Tash. The adults behave the same in both books. In both cases, Hoole doesn't believe them, and doesn't even investigate, assuming right away that the boy has been getting in trouble. In both cases, there was no casual evidence after the fact; all traces had disappeared. There is also a local guide in both cases who is in on the whole thing, corrupted, who at first appears sympathetic, yet does nothing to help them. I will never trust the locals in this series again!

If this series is going to continue like this, the adults, especially Hoole, must admit that these kids have a knack for sensing the things that are wrong on the planets they visit, and drawing them out. I will be very disappointed if Hoole keeps dismissing their fears in all twelve books. Admittedly, he did agree to dig up Dr. Evazan, which is a good start.

I don't recall enough of Dr. Evazan's story in the Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina, but I thought he lived on with the Aqualish for many years, trying to fix the arm cut off by Obi-Wan. If so, then this tale conflicts with that one -let's assume that the tale actually finished right before this one picks up...

Evazan is another link in the mystery that is Hoole, and his connection to the scientists working for the Empire. Hoole and the mysterious scientist obviously know one another, and perhaps worked together at one time. Hoole is looking for the other, while the mysterious character is trying to kill Hoole.

The reason for the stop on Necropolis is to buy a new starship, lost at the end of Eaten Alive. The planet cannot, of course, be a normal stop, and Han Solo drops them off with a shiver! Necropolis has a legend that says if the people forget the ways of the dead, the dead will rise up in anger. This is just what happens when Zak is dared to go into the cemetery so that he can join a group of young people. We are told that Zak feels that these people are true friends, even though they don't treat him as such. He arrives in the center of the cemetery, the origin of the curse, in time to see some of Evazan's zombies rise out of the ground.

Nobody believes him, even when Evazan himself is killed by Boba Fett.  Fett sounded so much like a robot, and although the mystery and emotionless task of his work seemed well portrayed, the character seemed a lot less interesting, and more of a plot device. He does, though, have some funny lines, like when he hates to have to kill people twice, repeating his work!

Evazan, alive again, eventually kidnaps Zak. Through the zombie of his new friend, who also died that night in the cemetery, he injects Zak with the potion that will bring him back to life after he is killed -buried alive because he is put into a near-death coma. Strange how nobody could tell that he was still alive, with all the technology that the Star Wars universe possesses. If Zak's friend was alive by the same method, who did Evazan possess all of his faculties, while the other remained a (barely) controlled drone?

Evazan tests his zombies against Hoole's shape-shifting forms, and then against Boba Fett, who both lose. Unfortunately, the droid who takes care of Zak and Tash whips up an antidote that immediately kills the zombies, which comes right out of the blue. Sure, Deevee is an intelligent droid (with some occasional funny sarcastic remarks), but this strains credibility, especially with equipment being constantly damaged by Boba Fett's blasts at the zombies. Why does there have to be an antidote all the time? He even finds a way to inject it into the soil, leaving us with the statement that the dead would never bother Necropolis again.

So we have covered being eaten alive, buried alive, and zombies. There are obviously many more things that people are scared by, which we will undoubtedly see in the next books.

I liked the way we were able to see the characters think and act here, for the most part, they were not stupid, and didn't do too many things out of the ordinary. Zak had a good explanation for accepting the dare, with his vivid dreams about his parents, and his wish to revive them with the "curse".

Thankfully, we got rid of almost all mention of the skimboard, but Zak still has his jargon phrase "prime", akin to "wizard" in The Phantom Menace. On another note, do we really have to end every single chapter with a cliff-hanger?

These two kids must have really great stomachs. People die around them all through these books, and they barely bat an eye. Sure, they cried when Zak's friend was murdered, but when the Crypt keeper falls dead at their feet, they make "oh, well" motions! Presumably, they never saw people die before the ones in Eaten Alive.

At the end of the last book, the problem was solved as the planet seemed to devour itself, yet we saw another of its kind appear at the end -possibly just to scare us. This time, Zak exhibits the strange twitch that was evidence of the re-animation process Dr. Evazan used to create his army.  Will we see a follow-up on either of these? The title of the next book indicates that perhaps Zak will cause a plague, but I doubt it. More likely, it is the scientist's third step in his ultimate weapon, as Hoole's niece and nephew destroy them one after another!


Back to Top

All Star Wars material and covers are Copyright Lucasfilm Ltd and the publishers.
All reviews and page designs at this site Copyright (c)  by Warren Dunn, all rights reserved.