||Not really much of a conclusion to the
series, but it does provide some closure to Tash's part of the story.
Seeing Yoda on the cover of this book, I
was very apprehensive going in. As far as I know, this is the only book
that has Yoda meeting people while in his exile on Dagobah. As far as I'm
concerned, Yoda is slightly delirious in The Empire Strikes Back because
he hasn't been in a social situation for a very, very long time. I don't
think it was entirely an act on his part. Even given his social contact,
it seems like a writer's convenience to put the research settlement so
close to his home. Surely Luke would have come across battle damage, and
the settlement in his training, if they were so close to the Dark Tree?
Fortunately, the author makes much of
the story seem plausible, which is an amazing feat in itself. Yoda must
also know that training Tash, so young and not yet wise in the ways of
the galaxy, is very dangerous -for her and for the Force. Although he
says there is another student coming, he really only trains Luke through
So why are Tash, Zack and Hoole on
Dagobah to begin with? Once again, they are hiding from the Empire.
Vader took out a bounty on their heads -something I didn't expect even
after the end of the last book. They travel to the research laboratory
where Hoole used to work, and find Dagobah on a list of planets that
have been surveyed, but not explored. I find it difficult that Zak would
find computer disks boring. Would he prefer more of the excitement that
they have encountered over the last eleven books?
Their ship is destroyed by Boba Fett in
orbit around the lab, but they get out in an escape pod. This part of
the book, especially their first fight with Fett, was particularly
interesting and well presented. It was also unexpected, which I enjoy.
Some smugglers who were also looking for a hiding place take the
information on Dagobah, and Hoole joins them.
From the initial survey information, I
don't think Hoole would have realistically taken them there. Did he
really think the kids would grow up on a backwater planet with no
technology or social interactions, after living on Alderaan all their lives? They would have
gone nuts. I think a better place to hide would have been Coruscant,
where they could disappear forever, and still live decent lives.
Tash and the smugglers have a much
easier time on Dagobah than Luke ever did (except for the people who
died, of course). Yoda told Zak and Tash his name right away. The
smugglers and Boba Fett landed easily in the swamp, even though the
smugglers' ship initially sank. Of course, all these people were a lot more
patient than Luke ever was through Empire. He saw what he expected to
see, where Tash was very open to new possibilities.
While the original research team, and
the ship that tried to rescue them, had all died, Hoole and the others
met the Children, descendents of those people. Although they were very
accommodating, they seemed a little strange, as have all the people Tash
and Zack meet. It was clear to me from the very first strip of meat that
the Children were cannibals. Maybe that's why Yoda never taught them
anything. On the other hand, when some of them enter the Dark Tree, a
simple video showed them the error of their ways, and they were redeemed
forever, along with the Children who didn't see the video, so it seems
like a simple task for a Jedi Master.
Yoda takes Tash away in order to teach
Zak a lesson, which is something that I appreciated, too. Zak has felt
useless since the last book. Tash, with the Force, and being older, has
been doing a lot to help them hide from the Empire. Zak can only tag
along. Yoda allows him to solve the mystery of the Children. Zak follows
the clues quite well. He realizes that the famished Children have been
feasting every time somebody dies. I find it strange that the Children
seemed to be ashamed of this, hiding it from the strangers. The only
explanation I could come up with is that they were hiding it because
they didn't want to scare their new food supply away. By the way they
were killing and amputating, I can't see how they were redeemed so
Even Boba Fett is captured, after he
battles a swamp serpent to unconsciousness. Zak helps him escape, and
they go find Tash and Yoda. Zak falls into the Dark Tree, where he
discovers that he has Force potential, as well.
Baba Fett, for his part, is almost as
inept as he was in Return of the Jedi. His blasters won't work properly
in the swamp, so he uses his cable weapons, which Yoda deflects easily,
while still maintaining his disguise as a senile imp.
Doing what he wanted to do with these
characters, the author had no choice but to pull the stunts that he did
at the end, to get them out of the situations. He called Fett away to
Hoth so that they wouldn't be captured, and had Yoda decline to teach
Tash in the Force because another student was coming. I wonder how they
could have left so soon before Luke arrived.
The dialog in this book, as with
previous instalments, could have used some work. It felt too raw, not
well thought out. I find it frustrating when Zak or Tash say something,
and everybody accepts their theories without question. "Maybe it's...",
they would say, followed by the adults saying "then, I suppose we should
do this..." They always turn out to be right, of course, but it could
easily be something else entirely.
I suppose the logical place for Hoole
and the children to end up is with the Rebellion. Hunted as they are,
they will find no real rest. What a way to grow up, though... Joining
with the Rebellion, however, makes it almost certain that Luke would
come across them again at some point.
And the Children? No, they weren't
around when Luke arrived. The smugglers (those who survived) relocated
them somewhere back in civilization.
In all, this book is about the same
quality as the series as a whole. I found it to be entertaining, though
it didn't really do anything new. Still, anything that takes the story
away from Luke, Leia and Han is a treat, because those characters have
already seen the galaxy through so many crises. After twelve books, the
same could now be said of Tash, Zak, and Hoole.