Not very interesting, with three plots that seem to be disjointed, a mission
that is paradoxically not resolved, and an intrusion into podracing that seems
I was pretty ambivalent about this book. It had some ups and downs, but
didn't really go high up or far down. It was sort of middle of the road,
neither impressing me nor did I dislike it.
I did enjoy the beginning, with A'Sharad being tested by the Dark Lady.
Is she the same one who lost Vergere in Rogue Planet? I don't remember.
She's not given a name here, but she did appear in Outlander, since she trained Aurra Sing. That mini-plotline was given a
small appearance here, and
will undoubtedly become of greater importance in future installments. It
is not mentioned why A'Sharad, Ki Adi Mundi's Padawan, is being tested.
Presumably he would be "too old to begin the training" as Yoda said of Luke in
Empire, so in order to let him in the ranks of Jedi Padawans, his knowledge
needs to be tested. The Dark Woman's methods are tough, but she pushes him
to the edge, where he might have struck her down in anger, showing a potential
for the Dark Side. But A'Sharad keeps his cool, blocking her advances with
his two lightsabers, and reversing their positions when she pins him to the
wall. She defeats him, of course, but he passes the test marvelously.
She leaves somehow, through a magical corridor, in the only part of this segment
that I did not like. It appears that she disappeared through a shimmering
curtain, as does Quinlan Voss later in the story on Nar Shadda. Why, and
what kind of teleportation do the Jedi possess?
Regardless, the story doesn't stick around to investigate, and that's good. A'Sharad's training continues when they reach Malastare. Here the Senator Aks Moe has agreed to host peace talks between the inhabitants of Lannik.
One set is a group of terrorists, who have been at it for nearly a generation,
it seems. The terrorists feign to be tired of fighting, and want peace.
In fact, this is only a ruse to get close to the prince.
The most interesting part of the negotiations is A'Sharad's impatience, and
his nervousness at being in a city. It is interesting to see how A'Sharad
is always trying to be outside, whether it's on Coruscant or on Malastare.
He smells the desert on the latter planet, and obviously longs to be out there.
This means he is a little over-sensitive, and he can detect betrayal earlier
than the others. Unfortunately, after a talk with Ki Adi Mundi and Plo
Koon, A'Sharad virtually disappears for the rest of the book.
In what seems like a decision of the writers, only members of the Jedi
Council are chosen to go, and A'Sharad is the only Padawan to join them.
Don't the other members of the Jedi Council have Padawans? Ki doesn't get
much to do, and neither does Plo Koon. Mace Windu gets to look and talk
stern, but he seems mischaracterized some of the time. He says he thought
the Dark Woman was dead, and didn't recognize Quinlan Voss. Isn't he the
head of the order? Yoda, who is not on this mission (because we are to
think these guys could be in mortal danger, and we know that Yoda must
survive), is also poorly
written. He has always been portrayed as speaking in a very precise
manner. His "backwards" phrasing has a natural ring to it. Here,
everything was backwards. He has never said "with you, may the Force be"
before. Some things he can get right. Yaddle is the same way, even
when suppressing the violent wills of Gammorean guards.
The story, from the Jedi point of view, is about Even Piell, whose homeworld
is the one involved in the dispute, and Adi Gallia, whose Corellian parents
tried to settle the same dispute when she was young. Piell
single-handedly stopped suicide bombers from destroying the Prince (why not
King?) and the Corellian delegation.
We don't get to know what the war is about, but it must be about power.
There is a new Prince of Lannik now, and he seems to only want pleasures of the
flesh, and has no interest in the welfare of his planet. But he seems to
enjoy his power, and fights against the terrorists. The negotiations break
down before they even get started -actually, they get started while the reader
is subjected to podraces, but they break down soon after we return. Mace
Windu calls a break in the proceedings, and they are all taken back to their
And here is where the podracing comes into the front of the story.
Thanks to a brief appearance by Anakin Skywalker, we know that there is a big
podrace on Malastare right now! It is even bigger than the Boonta Eve race
he was in on Tatooine. I blew through all the pages that contained
podracing very quickly. Although the colors were vibrant, compared to the
rest of the book, they were completely superfluous -filler material. I
think it was supposed to give us a bit of comedy, but it failed. Large,
full-page drawings of the podraces did not inspire me, and neither did watching
Sebulba reign down terror on his competitors. Though we do learn that he
was charged for his misconduct on Tatooine. We also learn how the dugs are
subjugated by the Gran on Malastare. Interesting -is it only because
Sebulba is a good podracer that he is allowed off-planet?
The Jedi are ferried back to their hotel with the advisor to the Prince.
This is a man who served the Prince's father, and who knows Even Piell.
But the man is so distraught by the new Prince that he has actually joined with
the terrorists! Why he decides to blow up the Jedi is beyond me. He
and his guards are strapped with bombs, but the Jedi escape rather easily,
making themselves a nuisance to Sebulba as he travels underneath them as they
If the terrorists wanted to get rid of the Prince, why destroy the Jedi? It looks
like the authors wanted to frame the deaths of the Jedi on the Prince, but then
why attack the Prince while he is relaxing? Was this their backup plan?
If so, it seems that this backup would have worked better than the original.
For since the Jedi were now aware of the terrorists' involvement, they came to the
help of the Prince. If they had been unaware, the Prince could have been
Which leads to another cliché of the story: the lead terrorist doesn't kill
the Prince, but decides that a slow death would be better. How the giant
dog-monsters would have been a slower death is beyond me. At the end of
the story, they ripped that man apart rather quickly. Painfully, but
quickly. And I'm sure Zug could have found inventive and painful ways to
deal the death blow. But since he decided to bring in the monsters, he
leaves time for the Jedi to rescue the Prince. Though the Prince doesn't
seem too grateful: and all he wants to do is get back to his pleasurable
And so the mission to Malastare is over! Just like that. We know
that behind the scenes, Aks Moe, Zug (who dies by flying into a podracer
engine), and a Ffib priest (whatever that is -it's not explained) were
conspiring, but I don't know what their ultimate goal was. It seemed like
it was the death of the Jedi, but it could have been the death of the Prince,
And so they leave Malastare. But Mace is unhappy about the appearance
of the Akk Dogs, which are from his home planet (which is also never given a
name, conveniently). He travels to Nar Shadda to investigate.
My favorite character in this installment was Adi Gallia. She was drawn
so beautifully, and she looks the most interesting, as well. I love her
headgear. She is truly a beautiful woman. I liked the way she
fought, as well. She and Even fought side-by-side when attacked at the
spaceport on Malastare, and did a truly inspired job, even if she did utter some
But she doesn't follow Mace to Nar Shadda, unfortunately. This chapter
seems completely unrelated to what came before it. There is no follow-up to
any of what happened on Malastare, except for the Akk Dogs. Mace and Depa
Billaba, another Council member who followed him, rescue an old and senile woman
on Nar Shadda. She tells them where to find his Akk Dogs, along with help
from Quinlan Voss, but they are attacked as they reach the lowest levels of Nar
Down there, a gladiatorial circus is being presented, where the authors also
decide to show some poor attempts at humor. I did chuckle a little when
the gladiator's arm was torn off by the announcer, but how was he able to
replace it? What kind of species does that? The "circus" is
sponsored by Gargonn the Hutt, whom I think reappears in a later book, though I
can't be sure. Was he the inept Hutt in the middle of
Regardless, he only has half a head, and is slowly re-growing it. Gross! Mace
indicates that he might have a whole head in another century, which would put
him halfway healed in the time of the New Jedi Order.
Crash-landing in the ring, Mace and Depa are forced to fight the Akk Dogs,
who have been so distorted physically and mentally that Mace can no longer even
communicate with them, as he would have been able to do on his home planet, and
as he did on Malastare.
They are saved by a riot that breaks out over a bet on the lives of the Jedi
that went sour. A Devaronian better, who won on the podraces on Tatooine
when Anakin won the race, ends up running for his life as Sebulba leads a group
who want their winnings after the Jedi are not slaughtered so quickly. The
Jedi leap out of the ring and confront Gargonn, who implicates the owner of the
circus of importing the Akk Dogs.
Strangely enough, after capturing the owner, they are convinced that the
illegal trade is over. Why? Is this the only importer? And how
would they know, only having been on Nar Shadda for a matter of hours?
In fact, there are so many loose threads that this entire book would look
like an old rag. A priest was captured on Malastare, but we never learn of
what involvement he had. Was the whole thing set up by the Sith?
They are mentioned several times, mostly as a warning against trusting people,
but we never see behind the scenes to confirm this.
What purpose did the assassination attempt on Sebulba serve? He
obviously survived, but is he even aware of the attempt? And what happens
next to the assassin? The mini-plot is left hanging.
I also want to know how long it took Mace to get to Nar Shadda. The
Devaronian had an issue of Podracing Quarterly, which had the
results from Malastare -in print form. I wish my magazines could be that
up-to-date. Sebulba also had time to get there from Malastare.
Something seems amiss.
The art was well-drawn, except for several instances where Mace looked more
like a ten-year-old than a grand Jedi Master. I liked the grand chambers
on Malastare. Most of the characters were drawn really well, also.
One exception was Yoda. Yuck- he was ugly here! Adi Gallia, however,
was wonderful, even when she was drawn green-skinned. And at least the
podraces were colorful, giving at least some merit to those pages.
The story was rather disjointed, however. There were many meaningless
things going on, from the podraces to the strange exchange of lightsabers in the
Jedi Council. And way too little was accomplished. It felt like the
story was running in place. It left me feeling like nobody could decide on
what it should have been about. In the end, I have decided that it was not
really about anything, except for the opening sequences, where A'Sharad learned
some lessons. Hopefully we will see him put them to good use in later