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A graphic novel by Kevin J. Anderson, Dario Carrasco, Jr., and Duncan Fegredo (1998, Dark Horse Comics)
Book 2 of the Tales of the Jedi
5000 years before Star Wars: A New Hope

Jori's warnings about an imminent attack go unheeded until the Sith arrive, ready for war.



3 stars

Read on June 29th, 2002 for the second time  
    A compelling installment in the Tales of the Jedi series, this book was better than its predecessor, in both art and story terms. However, I still didn't like many of the characters involved, especially the heroes.

While the art was much more vibrant than in Golden Age of the Sith, and gave much more detail in close-ups, whenever we get a large fleet, or surface, or anything in the distance, really, whatever is being depicted looks more like a bunch of scribbled lines. But the art is a definite step up in quality than the previous installment. One part that I especially enjoyed was the fading of Naga Sadow's illusions on Coruscant.  Their transparent bodies were nicely superimposed against nearby buildings. The rest of Coruscant, however, formed a very busy backdrop! But that's a single-city building, so I expect it to be busy.

The story revolves around three plots, which eventually merge. We have Jori returning from the Sith Empire, running into obstacles in delivering her warning. We have Empress Teta and her Jedi defenders, and we have Naga Sadow, leading the invasion.

Once again, I was impressed with the buildup this book presented into the story, instead of rushing directly into the conflict. Jori's trip back to Cinnagar is quiet, though anxious, and it pales compared to the cold welcome that she receives. After having stolen their ship back from the Hutt in the last book, and having blasted their way from the planet into hyperspace, she is now arrested and put into jail. After a quick hearing, where everybody scoffs at her story of the Sith, she is sent to a prison colony world, to give hard labor for her crimes. She doesn't take long to steal a freighter and escape, however, and sneaks in to see Empress Teta herself!

Naga Sadow turns into a typical really eeevil person here. For some reason, which I cannot fathom, he mentally tortures Gav, Jori's brother. Gav destroys Ludo Kresh's ship, not knowing that was going to be the effect of pressing that button. Sadow constantly thrashes the Republic, not even convincingly convincing Gav that the Republic deserves it. (The dialog "This deal is getting worse all the time" is a cheap rip-off, when Gav never even made a deal with Sadow!)  And when they finally emerge from hyperspace, they destroy the Starbreaker 12, his old ship, while he thinks Jori might still be on board. Of course, it's the mercenary business-man who wanted them dead in the last book, but that is of no consequence. Gav has an attachment to the ship itself. No wonder he turns on Sadow by the end. If he hadn't been so mean and evil, Sadow might have won the war.

But the war is not convincingly portrayed. How many worlds did Sadow attack? Coruscant is the obvious target, as are the worlds under Teta's control, because they are closest to the Sith Empire. But it looks like they spent more troops on Teta's worlds than the capital of the Republic. The battles did not have the impact that they should have. It helped having a Jedi on each planet who we could identify with, but that wasn't enough. It was pretty much nameless slaughter, and one that we were not really emotionally attached to.

And when Gav, who for some reason is leading the assault on Cinnagar, lands to find Jori, he ends up killing the Hutt who had given them refuge when they were younger. Jori flies into a rage, and Gav leaves in guilt, hoping to stop the battle by destroying Sadow's ship. For Sadow is using Sith magic to create illusions, making his army seem much larger than it actually was.

But Gav, being the naive person he is, doesn't complete the job, and ends up exchanging places with the Sith Lord, dying as the star goes into a flare cycle. Teta's fleet follows Sadow back to the Sith Empire, but Sadow gets there first, and is ambushed by Ludo Kresh, who has taken over control of the Empire while the Dark Lord was away. Kresh doesn't last long, however, as he is rammed, and then Empress Teta shows up, and destroys Sadow's fleet.

But Sadow makes a last run for it, and is believed destroyed between two stars, while he escapes to Yavin IV. There, of course, a thousand years later, he will instruct Freedon Nadd and Exar Kun in the Sith ways.

Back on Coruscant, the illusions of the Sith fail, and the Jedi prevail. But in the Empress Teta system, we don't hear of the illusions failing, as it appears that almost all of the troops and ships were real. A mightier real force in that system? That doesn't make sense.

Odan-Urr is on that planet, and watches as his master makes a mighty sacrifice to kill many Massassi by venting his atmosphere, because the air that he breathes is cyanogenic -but oxygen is poisonous to him. The sacrifice is not worth it, though, because he only killed a small part of the force, and reinforcements arrived from Teta soon afterwards.

In the wake of the war against the Sith, Jori reopens the service shop that the Hutt had owned, Odan-Urr discovers a Sith holocron, and decides to create a Jedi Library on Ossus (a place near my heart!).

One of the problems that I have with a small region trying to conquer the Republic is the size their forces must be. Where did Sadow get all the information about the location of key Republic worlds? From the Starbreaker? Then why did he need the homing beacon? We saw the battle on three worlds, but it is stated that the Sith attacked the entire Republic at once. That's a mighty force! And I am sure some of those forces must have had easy victories. It would have been nice to see one of those places where the Sith won. And then, Sadow orders them to retreat. That must have been a rude shock. But all we see is a "battered fleet".  We hear nothing about the victories the Sith must have had.

It would have been a better story if the Sith had taken the Republic region by region, like the Yuuzhan Vong of the New Jedi Order. If they had taken over Empress Teta's worlds, and secured them, they would have been much better off. So the threat seems like less of a threat the way the story actually unfolded, and the large scale seems unlikely.

As for the characters, Gav and Jori were naive and whiny. I never liked them. Odan-Urr was better, but we didn't get to see much of him. Naga Sadow didn't fare much better, as he was too busy being "eeevil". Most of the story was spent giving us large ships and grand battles than to worry about characters.

But those battles, many of them, anyway, were well drawn, and enjoyable. I liked the spacecraft design, and the scene with the Jedi igniting their lightsabers on Coruscant was cool. I think Odan-Urr's battle meditation didn't work this time because he had doubts, and by his attitude, it looked like the meditation was being used on him, instead!

In other words, the book was fun, with some cool battles, some great art, but not much more than that. It was not a real story, but a conclusion to a story. That's not bad at all, just less than it could have been. Still, I did enjoy it, and it definitely worth reading. All the Tales of the Jedi are some of the best comic work in the Star Wars Universe.



4 stars

Also read on August 23rd, 1998  
    Action, treachery, Jedi winning against seemingly overwhelming odds.  This was a Star Wars book!  Well scripted, good art.  I still have trouble believing the Jedi could forget the Sith powers, though, and nobody knows about the illusion tricks.  

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