||In general, I quite liked the stories
presented in this book, even though I have never been a huge fan of
Quinlan Vos. I wish the Clone Wars as shown in the novels were as
The first story in
this collection is Show of Force. Apparently, the Bounty Hunter's Guild
has started accepting bounties on Jedi, and they only require a Jedi's lightsaber to prove that they killed some Jedi. After a nasty attack on
a disputed planet, some Jedi nearly die, so Mace Windu decides that they
should take a message to the Guild. The Guild seems to be undecided on
whether the Jedi bounties are a good thing or not. The way that Mace
decides to send a message to them is pretty cool, if rather predictable.
Mace spreads a rumor that he is coming alone to deal with the Guild.
Other Jedi, including Kit Fisto, Saesee Tin and another, come along
apparently incognito. They do a lot of destruction, and eventually deal
with the leader's bodyguard and the leader herself. The second in
command takes over, promising to cancel all Jedi bounties. The one who
took out the bounties happens to be a Twi'lek whom the Jedi had dealt
severe blows financially in the past, acting on his own against orders
from Count Dooku. While Mace goes after the Twi'lek, Dooku dispatches
Quinlan Vos to kill the traitor. Mace and his colleagues don't like what
they find when they arrive.
The artwork for this story was quite
dark, but with lots of contrast, which I liked. That gave it more detail
than the usual comics, and more texture. The action moments were nicely
depicted, as were quiet moments, like the reference to
Mace's comatose former Padawan in the Jedi garden.
In the second story, Forever Young, we
get a rather lackluster tale about Anakin, who seems to think that some
Jedi, some Padawans-turned-Knights after their Masters were killed in
the Clone Wars, are too young to be going on suicide missions. The Jedi
in question, a young woman who looks too much like Padmé, distracts
Anakin. I disagree that Anakin was simply thinking that she was just too
young, but rather has some notion about women in battle. I think he
really was looking at how beautiful she was, and how that beauty would
be lost. The mission wasn't supposed to be suicide, but of course it is.
Apparently only a Jedi engineer can figure out where to place the
explosives accurately enough to destroy the new Geonosian base of
operations. All she does, though, is locate the central reactor and
blow it up. When she is trapped, Anakin disobeys orders and goes after
her, knowing he can save her. After being admonished, however, for doing
so by Obi-Wan and the trapped Jedi, he turns around. This obviously sets
up for one of the later stories in this collection, one where he doesn't
The artwork here is more like a set of
colored pencil sketches. While not my favorite type of art, the artists
managed to capture a lot of detail, and it actually felt refreshing
after the deep colors of the previous story.
Armor continues the story of Quinlan Vos, and his attempts to conquer the Dark Side from within. The story
leaves him questioning whether he actually has gone too far, that he was
willing to kill his own Padawan. Unlike Anakin in
Revenge of the Sith,
however, he holds no animosity toward Aayla Secura, and so does not
conclude the battle.
The story is a prequel to
Heir to the
Empire, the Grand Admiral Thrawn trilogy. We get to see the ship laden
with poisonous gases crash to the planet Honoghr, and the teams sent to
recover the logs. Because of the Clone Wars, of course, nobody tried to
pick up the pieces, but obviously Palpatine gained knowledge of the
Noghri through either Aayla Secura's report or Dooku through Vos. The
Noghri do a very effective job of killing the people trying to recover
the logs. When Secura shows up, so does Vos. They team up to defeat the
Noghri, and escape into the swamps. Vos leads them into a dead end,
however, intending to escape on his own. Neither Secura nor the clone
trooper with her let him go so easily. To the clone, Vos is a traitor
and therefore an enemy. Secura still thinks he can be redeemed. She
fights him for a while, but then does as Ben did in
A New Hope, dropping
her lightsaber so that Vos could kill her if he really wanted to.
Instead, he leaves in his ship, and Secura and the clone escape on their
Any story that has the beautiful and
sexy Aayla Secura in it, drawn so exquisitely, is going to be at least somewhat
enjoyable. The authors obviously think so too, putting her on the cover
like they did. The artwork takes on the dark and high contrast tones
again, which is perfect for the dark story they are telling.
The last story is the longest, and is
thus the most engaging. Dreadnaughts of Rendili tells three
tales, which are fairly well intertwined. First, we get Anakin finally
doing some daring stunts while disabling the dreadnaughts of the title.
In doing so, he disobeys the orders of the other Jedi, but, of course,
succeeds. The Jedi negotiation team surrenders way too fast, but I
suppose that is in the interests of peace and less violence. The spirit
is there, but it is counter to what we've seen from most Jedi. It was
nice to see Dodonna as a younger man.
The second story concerns Obi-Wan and
Asajj Ventress. She toys with him until rescue comes. In the meantime,
he fights a rancor and two dark Jedi, including Ventress, again. She is
out for revenge, and despite the good looking lightsaber battles, it is
getting tiring. The third story enters here, as well, as Ventress is
actually hunting Quinlan Vos when Obi-Wan arrives at the derelict
cruiser. Vos uses Obi-Wan's ship to escape, but comes back for him.
There is a large interplay about Vos' loyalties. Vos tells of how he has
reconsidered his position and his willingness to infiltrate Dooku's
inner circle after his encounter with Aayla Secura. Ventress' hunt of
him says that he actually is in disfavor with Dooku. He rescues Obi-Wan
from Ventress and then helps Anakin with the dreadnaughts. Vos is
forgiven by the Jedi Council, but we learn privately that he might still
be in league with Dooku. Based on the one line comment from
the Sith, I believe that Vos must be playing Dooku, but whether he will
remember which side he is on remains to be seen.
While we visit Coruscant to see Vos
redeemed, Anakin gets a private holo-message from Padmé, as she is away
on a mission of her own. Ventress interrupts, however, and Anakin uses
the Dark Side to throw her down a pit. It seems like closure for
Ventress, but as I understand it, the next book contains the real
closure, as Obi-Wan hunts her. It's better that way, I think, as Ventress has always hunted
Obi-Wan. This is likely how Palpatine learns that Anakin is ready to
join the Dark Side, even if he can feel the boy's hatred and anger when
they are together.
Reports of people nearly killed by the soon-to-be Sith Lord surely hold
some credibility. Interestingly enough, it appears that Ventress gives
Anakin his facial scar. I don't see where she struck him across the eye
with her lightsaber, but he doesn't appear to have the scar when
fighting against the dreadnaughts, nor when he is viewing Padmé's
message. But is is quite clear after the fight with Ventress. General
Grievous also appears for the first time, I believe, rescuing Ventress
so that she could get to Coruscant.
These four stories held my interest
throughout. They show credible people whom we have grown to know and
love (and hate), doing extreme deeds required in war. Some are
frustrated, some are confused. The older Jedi actually know what they
are doing, which is amazing in itself. I keep saying this, but I wish
the Clone Wars novels could keep up this kind of storytelling. So far, I
haven't seen it.