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A novel by Jude Watson (2008, Scholastic Paperbacks)
The Last of the Jedi, Book 9
19 years before and Star Wars: A New Hope

Ferus investigates a possible Force-sensitive baby on Alderaan, and the Empire starts to crack down on resistance cells.





Read February 29th to March 1st, 2016  
    Given the premise, that somebody reported on an Alderaanian toddler, the story was well-written, and the playout was realistic, until the stereotypical betrayal of a family member.

Spoiler review:

In the last book, Ferus found out about a bunch of people who were informed on to possibly be Force-sensitive. One of those was a toddler on Alderaan, which he dismissed. Somehow Ferus can still communicate with Obi-Wan, which seems really risky. Obi-Wan, however, tells him that he must go investigate, and so he does, followed along with an Imperial Inquisator. Although Bail Organa is suitably rude to them, I would have expected something a little more aggressive after Ferus leaves, or their first meeting alone, commenting on how he had been a Jedi, and was now betraying them. Instead, the characters grimace at each other, and when Ferus does come to the palace alone, Bail listens to him attentively, not even worrying if Ferus is trustworthy.

Ferus does some investigating, while the Inquisitor does some interrogating. It turns out that Leia saved her baby-sitter when a fence overlooking a cliff broke. The toddler didn’t even realize what she was doing, of course, but an informant saw it and reported the incident. Ferus finds the lookout spot, and discovers that the informant was actually a father who was forced into the job, who has a family, and was looking at the wrong place at the wrong time. Moreover, the Inquisitor knows that he is the informant, while Ferus did not at the time, which makes for an interesting observation about the trust the Empire actually puts in him.

There is another subplot going on at Alderaan, which misleads both the readers and Ferus, nearly leading to disaster. I think Vader and the Emperor’s secret mission, the one Ferus briefly heard about in the last few books, is to bring all the resistances together, then crush them all. Ferus finds that somebody inside the palace must be passing information on to Vader, who arrives looking for an excuse to put an Imperial governor in place. It turns out to be a trusted family member, which I thought was a little too obvious. In any case, they find out about a planned setup for the Empire to “find” stashes of weapons in the market. But they replace the crates with food, so the Empire is embarrassed, which I’m not sure is much better, as they should now be looking out for some kind of retribution from Vader.

Clive is still searching for information about the mysterious Flame, and it looks like she is now an inadvertent Imperial double-agent. I say “inadvertent” because in the last book, we got her point of view, and it seemed like she was genuinely interested in helping the resistance. However, all of her holdings went into a secret Imperial account, so I’m not sure what to make of this. I fully expect the Empire to destroy the budding resistance in the next book, based on the signs we see here. Bail Organa should remain free because he hasn’t yet decided to join, though he is wavering after Ferus’ visit. By the end of the book, Dex’s safehouse is attacked, and although it looks like most people escaped, we don’t get to see the aftermath (except in Vader gloating to Ferus). It is at this moment that Ferus remembers a fellow Padawan using the same language to sneer at him, and he realizes that Darth Vader must actually be Anakin Skywalker. Although necessary for the plot, and I’m sure the Force helps him make his leaps of logic here, it seems like an unlikely revelation, given the slightness of the clues. But the final book in the series is coming next, so I expect a final showdown.

One last plot in this book deals with the rescue of Jenna Zan Arbor’s assistant, and the ruination of Vader’s secret remedy to his thoughts about Padme, the ones he wants to banish so much. Trever is assisted by the Jedi Ry Gaul (who was a common companion to Ferus and Anakin in the Jedi Quest novels). The assistant helped Trever escape on Bellassa in Secret Weapon, and took the blame for Lune Divinian escaping the Coruscant medical facility in the last book. So it’s nice that they give her a chance to escape, herself. The end up injecting Zan Arbor with a full dose of her own memory-wiping serum, destroying all of her memories. As with other books of this sort, it looks like she didn’t keep any backups, even on her primary computer.

It was nice to see Alderaan, as I don’t recall any other stories actually taking place on that world. But I have to say that the cover is stupid. Leia looks almost grown up, with even the same hairstyle as in A New Hope! The rest of the book seems to be mostly setup for grand finale

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