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A novel by John Whitman (1998, Bantam Skylark)
Galaxy of Fear, Book 11
2 years after Star Wars: A New Hope

While resting on Dantooine, Tash encounters some strange people, as well as a double of herself and Darth Vader.



Read September 10th to 11th, 2004  
    This book seemed to lack a proper focus, but it continued to develop Tash's ability with the Force.

I like the continued use of Dantooine in the Star Wars universe. The tribal Dantari people were also explored in The Jedi Academy Trilogy, where, I believe, they were wiped out along with the colony established there. As I recall, the Dantari were seen to have had previous contact with technological people in those books, and this might be one instance of that.

Unfortunately, we don't spend enough time with the Dantari, though the author packs in the information while we are with them. Although Hoole was an anthropologist, he didn't mind establishing contact with these people, even disrupting their religious and political system. The one Dantari that we meet is the one who takes offence to the intruders. The tribal garoo Maga sees the disruption that Tash, Zak and Hoole have on his people. I don't think he is upset that they have undermined his authority, like Hoole says. I think he knows that they will disrupt the lives of the Dantari, then disappear, and he will have to fill in the emptiness they leave behind. He likes the stability and predictability of a routine life.

That relationship was well drawn through the first half of the book, and it was very interesting. Once the title characters came into play, however, the story became muddled and a little dull. It took half the book to get to the point where Tash enters the ancient Jedi ruins (from the Knights of the Old Republic comic series, though I don't recall which specific title).

The people Tash discovers in the old Rebel Base are very strange. We learn later that they were cloned bodies, but without a mindscan, they had no real personalities. It was funny to see how they had built a replica of a starship out of scrap metal, wood, and grass! And they expected it to fly into space! When they discover that Hoole has a ship, they become very excited. But when a clone of Vader shows up, they send the ship off in remote control far away.

Most of the story takes place from Tash's point of view. Now that she has the ability to move things with the Force, we get to see her deal with the Dark Side. She knows that something is wrong when she uses the Force in anger, but without guidance and training, she doesn't know why. I really liked her query as to whether the Jedi used anger to fine-tune their use of the Force. But I found her progression too quick -soon afterward, she is calling anger-Force the Dark Side, probably the first she ever heard of the term. She shies away from it immediately after calling it that.

However, her clones had no trouble using the Dark Side of the Force. One of them used her influence with the Dantari to capture them. Several others tried to kill her, along with clones of Zak. I loved the way she used her change of clothing to an advantage, jumping into the mob and pretending to be one of the clones! Her confusion about whether she was a clone or not was one twist too many for me, as the other clone was in her original clothing, and doubting herself, as well.

When they are all captured by the clones except the real Tash, the real Darth Vader shows up, and battles his clone. Everybody is distracted enough that Tash can free them, but Hoole does battle with one of his clones, too. I find it rather convenient that one clone shows up at a time, except when necessary. Hoole's battle would have been even more tough if he had to battle more than one clone.

When it inevitably comes time to choose between the two Hoole's, Tash makes a cool choice- claim to shoot both of them, hoping the real one would know she wouldn't do such a thing. It works, and she shoots the clone, recovering the ship's remote activator. I was surprised at how easily Tash was able to fire the blaster. I doubt she would have recalled that they were on the stun setting. She was ready to kill the clone. Of course, she watched so many people die in the last book without a second thought, so maybe she is growing immune to it.

Another way Tash could have told the difference between the two Hoole's was to ask him to input the code for the ship. She used the same trick with the Zak clone earlier, and it worked beautifully.

Vader, for his part, plans to study the clones of Zak and Tash, to determine why they keep interfering with his plans. Will he show up in the last book? I doubt it. I don't like the way the author keeps each of the stories so open-ended, without any follow-up. Is he setting the stage for potential future stories? Again, I doubt it. I think it is just part of the horror-type of genre, to show that our heroes didn't succeed as much as they thought they did. Vader has a working clone machine now, though.

I also wonder why we never hear from Tash Arranda again. She didn't exist for Jedi Search, so that can be excused. But Star By Star and many other New Jedi Order books brought in some of the really obscure Jedi, but not her. Surely after their last encounter, Luke would have gone searching for her as a potential student.

I wish we could have stayed with more study of the Dantari, instead of the clones of the old Rebels from DNA left on the walls of the old base. I suppose we wouldn't have had the Fear part of the Galaxy of Fear if we had stayed with them longer, though. Maga could have played some part in that, I'm sure. I did like the resolution between Tash and Maga, though. He sees in her eyes how she is telling the truth about her clones, and she finds out that she really should respect him, even though he seems more primitive. He managed to overcome his fear of the old ruins to rescue his people, whom the Vader clone was going to use for genetic diversity.

Not one of the best books in the series, because of its confusing and unfocused storyline, it nonetheless explored Tash's growing Force-sensitivity, and allowed us to see her doubts about its use.


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