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A novel by Karen Traviss (2009, Del Rey)
The Clone Wars, book 3
Set 20 years before Star Wars: A New Hope

When a field agent is stuck in hostile territory, a Republic captain must decide if rescuing her could be a conflict of interest.




Read January 11th to 20th, 2016  
    A descent story about a rescue of a field agent and the conflict of personal attachment. Unfortunately, the author’s prejudice against the Jedi shines through way too bright, obviously stemming from the other anti-Jedi novels she has written.

Spoiler review:

This author likes to explore the individuality of the clone troopers, and that’s a worthwhile exploration. In Hard Contact, we meet a young clone who finds himself in unexpected situations, and a young Jedi who pairs up with him, finally realizing that he is unique, even if he does share the same genetic material as all his brothers. In the follow-up novels, the author explores the idea of a culture, and brings it to bear through Mandalore, because that’s where Jango Fett was from. But at some point, she decided that the Jedi were bad, that they all treated the clones worse than droids, and didn’t think of them as living creatures. Even the main Jedi characters in those novels forsake their Jedi heritage and go rogue, doing Jedi stuff, but not answering to the Jedi Council. I can’t believe that at all. In the Clone Wars TV series, just about every Jedi we meet treats the clones with respect; everybody is doing their job, and is doing it well.

This book continues the anti-Jedi sentiment from Order 66, though it precedes it in the timeline. Back in Order 66, the author introduced an alternate Jedi sect, led by Master Altis, and to whom Calista (from Children of the Jedi) was a member. That group reappears here, and causes both Anakin and Ahsoka to get confused and rethink their views, even though we never get a sense of this reflection in the TV series or in Revenge of the Sith, especially in the scene where Anakin seeks Yoda’s help on his attachments.

The entire story is about attachment, whether it’s Anakin to Padme, Anakin and Ahsoka to Rex and the other clones, or Pellaeon to Hallena, the spy who they are supposed to go rescue. In that way, attachment is heavily explored in the context of war and the Jedi beliefs –at least those espoused by the Jedi Council. At one point, Pellaeon wonders if Yoda is right (Yoda takes a lot of the blame for the concept of attachment leading to the Dark Side (where does that come from?) –I wonder if he was spurned by an ex-lover at some point 900 years ago), because he wonders often if he is risking his crew for his own personal feelings. Would he go through the actions again for somebody else? Yes, he decides.

The story is made more entertaining by the fact that Pellaeon is out with a skeleton crew on an experimental ship that keeps malfunctioning, but of course they are the only ones within range to help with the rescue (when according to The Empire Strikes Back, it only takes a few seconds to get “to the other side of the galaxy by now!”). Anakin is off with Padme, so he ships Ahsoka out with Rex to stop her from asking questions. It’s clear here that Rex knows about Anakin’s love for the senator, and I think Ahsoka suspects so, too.

Rex, in addition to babysitting Ahsoka, has a few new clone recruits to train. When they decide to do their extraction of Hallena, one of them dies, which affects everyone on the team, including Hallena, Ahsoka and Altis, none of whom think of the downed soldier as an expendable asset.

Hallena, for her part, did what she could to determine the roots of the insurgence on JanFathal, but she was sent in too late. She made contact her first day on new shadow-job, and became part of the insurgence immediately. But when the Separatists began their attack, she could do nothing, and her comlink betrayed her, so she was taken captive. She has sad thoughts about her captors when the clones kill them, but I assume that’s due to the prisoners’ syndrome, though in a war zone, everybody is fighting either for or against change, depending on their beliefs –it doesn’t make them bad guys.

The clones successfully extract Hallena, but their ship is being pursued, and Pelleaon’s ship is under attack, so he jumps temporarily out of the system. Unfortunately, the central computer is not working properly, so they jumped way off course. Fortunately, more of Altis’ Jedi show up, and using the Force, they direct the ship to the correct coordinates after effecting some repairs.

Meanwhile, Anakin arrives, and helps the clones get back to the surface to wait out the return of Pellaeon and their ship out of there. They use subterfuge tactics to commandeer a more powerful escape ship, and get out by the time their ride comes back.

Callista is here shown to have an affinity for computers, which would link in with Children of the Jedi, where she actually merges her consciousness with one of the Empire’s ultimate weapons. By the end of this story, she gets the weapons online by sending her mind through its systems, and almost succumbs to the joy of it. I guess she’s prone to that sort of attachment…

The final battle allows Pellaeon to escape, and marks the question of how many people should die to bring one spy back alive? I asked the same question in Attack of the Clones, where so many Jedi died just trying to rescue Anakin, Obi-Wan and Padme. There are no answers, but Hallena goes her own way, leaving Pellaeon to wonder if relationships are such a good idea, after all.

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