||It's too bad this story was as dull as
it was. I think it could have been more. Unfortunately, I am not a fan
of film-noir, and this, like the Medstar duology (Battle Surgeons,
Healer), written in part by the same author, attempts to be such a
story (though it didn't really succeed at that, either).
The story features characters we've
seen in other books, almost exclusively. We have Dun Dhur and I-five,
who we met during Battle Surgeons. They are on a search for the son of
Lorn Pavan, the man who I-five adventured with in the enjoyable
Hunter. Jax Pavan is a Jedi who became a Knight just as the Clone Wars
were ending, and is now on the run. Den and I-Five find Jax in the den
of Rokko the Hutt, as they are running out of options. It's the kind of
plotting that is too metropolitan for me. As they search for Jax, they
find hundreds of people named Jax Pavan in one sector of Coruscant.
Probably true, but not very interesting.
Nick Rostu is from Harun Kal, and even
helped Mace Windu in the barely tolerable Shatterpoint. He is witness to
the death of Even Piell, Jedi Master, at the hands of the clone
stormtroopers (who are actually called stormtroopers here, even though
it's only a few months after the events of Attack of the Clones). Nick
delivers a message to Jax about his former master's mission, which sends
Jax out to find a strange droid with information vital to the fledgling
Rebel Alliance. This is where Jax contacts another Force-user, part of a
strange outcast group of Jedi dropouts. I have a lot of doubt such a
group would exist, especially given the very specific number of busts
lining the Jedi archive -in Attack of the Clones (the novel), it is said
there were only twenty of these, which I also have trouble believing.
Regardless, these Force users don't use lightsabers, and instead use
their talents to perfect their blaster skills. Jax goes to see Rokko the
Hutt, knowing the gangster would eventually hear something about it.
After saving Jax's life, Nick is then
taken to see Darth Vader's personal aide, a being who hates humans but
studies the Force, named Rhinann. Rhinann is charged with finding Jax,
for some unknown reason, and uses Nick to track him down.
Then we have Prince Xizor (from
of the Empire) and Kaird, an avian-like species, both rising stars in
Black Sun, and competitors to becoming the next Vigo. Xizor sets a trap
for Kaird, who falls for it, and is forced to accept the duty of trying
to kill Xizor, as the Falleen is sent to find the Rebel droid. Kaird
misses, and is captured by Xizor, who shows him how he is trying to
create a humaniform droid that can take somebody's appearance and
memories, the obvious predecessor of Guri.
They all meet up on the other side of
Coruscant, where Xizor is doing some super-secret work, including his
droid. This is an area of Coruscant that has rabid droids, which fight
each other and tear apart any organic lifeforms. Of course, the droids
attack the groups when they arrive. Xizor uses his pheromones to trick
Nick into leading him to where Jax and the others are hiding.
Darth Vader arrives, as Jax and Xizor
do battle. Jax ends up with a light whip, but often temporarily loses
his connection to the Force. I have trouble accepting the explanation
that he hid too long away from the Force for fear of Vader finding him,
and that he's trying too hard. As with all stress-related problems, the
Force returns to him when he relaxes. Yuck.
The Rebel droid ends up being a hoax, a plan
by Vader to obtain Jax. He never ends up having anything valuable. Jax
and I-Five set up a huge explosion that their ship barely escapes, and
Xizor is defeated, but will obviously become Vigo instead of Kaird.
Vader abandons his shuttle and its crew to the explosion as he catapults
away in an escape pod. Considering how loyal Anakin Skywalker was to his
soldiers, I have trouble believing he has changed so much in only a few
months. By the time of A New Hope, yes, but not now.
As for Rhinann, he stole a Sith
holocron from Vader just before defecting to Jax, the same one Jax's
father and I-Five were transporting back on Shadow Hunter, when they met
up with Darth Maul.
It seemed that the first hundred pages
or so were written when the author was in a completely different mood.
In the first part of the book, it was as if he went out of his way to
find unusual words to describe a situation, words that I actually had to
look up, though I could guess at many of the meanings. That was annoying
enough, but the author became inconsistent in that after the first
hundred pages or so, they disappeared completely (which actually made
the book more readable)!
Was the ending disappointing? I can see
how the droid being a plant might be, to some. Unfortunately, I figured
that out earlier, to a point, and didn't find that it was too bad an
idea, after all. The story, however, just wasn't fully interesting
enough to keep me reading night after night. Unfortunately, that also
makes the review less than interesting, because I just didn't feel like
reviewing it, and I'm sorry for that.