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A novel by Jude Watson (2006, Scholastic Paperbacks)
The Last of the Jedi, Book 4
19 years before and Star Wars: A New Hope

An Imperial agent searches for clues to Padme's true cause of death, while Ferus wonders how he will stop the man when he is stuck on a prison world.




Read March 20th to 23rd, 2015, in hardcover  
    This was another intense outing, even darker than what came before it, and dealt with some tough issues like living in prison, death of a community, and murder.

Spoiler review:

As with the previous book, this novel was kept pretty simple, and as such, it allowed the characters to drive it. We get three points of view, as Ferus is on a prison planet, thinking of escape, Trever is involved in helping survivors of Solace’s group escape, and Malorum heads to Naboo to find out what secret Padmé took to her grave.

The look into the Empire’s new prison world, which is presumably making components for the Death Star, was interesting, and made me wonder if such prisons would have existed in the old Republic, unbeknownst to the general public. Here, the people work until they die. There is a bit of a contradiction here, though, as the guards are said to be super-strict and watchful, yet it’s obvious that they don’t listen in on the conversations that take place in the sparse cells between roommates, or even when performing mining operations. They don’t interrupt when Prisoner 67 steals Ferus’ food and barely so when Ferus takes it back. They can’t figure out that one of the prisoners had stolen a data card, or where the data card is thrown from when it saves Ferus’ life, knocking Prisoner 67 out.

Although Ferus greets Clive Flax as somebody he’s known for a while, I was trying to figure out if he ever appeared in the young reader novels before. Unlike Dexter Jetster, apparently he is not an old friend revisiting the series. He is very resourceful, and after Ferus’s roommate pretends to get sick, because he thinks Ferus will get both of them killed, Clive maneuvers his way to be the new roommate. They discuss plans for escape, as Clive knows a supply shuttle will conveniently be arriving the next day.

In the morning, Clive pretends that Ferus is trying to kill him, so the Jedi is taken to be disposed of, but of course Ferus uses the Force to escape and meet Clive at the shuttle, which they commandeer and escape in, pursued by perimeter ships…

Meanwhile, back on Coruscant, Trever and Solace have returned to her lair, only to find that Malorum’s forces arrived ahead of them, and are massacring the group of Erased. Most of the survivors are from Dexter’s group, but Solace leads them to a hidden ship (another one), capable of going to hyperspace. I find it a little too contrived that she would have two ships, one that eats through permacrete that can get them into the Jedi Temple silently, and another that can go to another solar system. It seems very easy for them to figure out where the latest prison world has been created, so that they can go there, and arrive at exactly the same moment that Ferus and Clive are escaping. Solace destroys the pursuers, and they all go to a secret refueling point to figure out what to do next.

Of course, based on the title of the book, we know at some point they need to get to Naboo. Malorum gets there first, and questions everybody about Padmé’s burial. It is obvious where this is going, unfortunately, but that doesn’t detract too much from the actual story. There is a strong Imperial presence on Naboo now, but it seems to be limited to a single base –and of course, every stormtrooper and commander must be inside that base when it blows up (a little sarcasm, here). The actual Naboo, including all minor officials, give him the runaround on what they know, always being polite about it, until he forces somebody to give up a little bit of information that he didn’t know –that Padmé's grandmother prepared her body for burial. He goes to visit her in the lake country.

I didn’t like the fact that Malorum knew Darth Vader was Anakin Skywalker, though it should be obvious that somebody would have figured it out (not including Xizor of the dreadful Bounty Hunter Wars). But it struck me as wrong, anyway. Similarly, I didn’t think Obi-Wan had given Ferus any details on where he was isolating himself, but Ferus knows that he is on Tattooine. With that kind of information, it seems likely that someone else would be able to get it from him.

One of Solace’s team found out about Malorum’s trip to Naboo, so Ferus and the gang follow him there, arriving only after Malorum kills the grandmother, seeing through the Force that she suspected the babies hadn’t died with Padme, and that Anakin was the father. It would be stunning information if Malorum was able to give it to the Emperor before Vader found out, which is why Ferus asked the Queen for a communications blackout. Ferus is unable to stop Malorum from escaping, but he gets back to Theed quickly with the help of the Gungans -the Clone Wars TV series made it seem like Boss Nass wasn't in power anymore, but that could be oversimplifying things. Ferus devises a plan that would destroy the Imperial garrison by making it look like an accident, and he fights Malorum in the same halls where Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon fought Darth Maul. Eventually, Malorum falls through the same shaft –I just hope he isn’t resurrected the way Maul was in the Clone Wars TV series.

Ferus’ mission to Coruscant is now complete, as Malorum is dead, and Solace agrees to join him in starting a Rebellion. I guess the next part is to turn it into something substantial.

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