||As always, the book was well written,
and got through to the emotions of the characters, but neither the
story, nor the extras were very compelling.
Maybe I'm just getting tired of this
series, but I find that there is very little growth here, and very
little new to explore. Perhaps it is a good thing that this series is
ending, and moving on to the next generation.
This book is really a story about
Qui-Gon getting back on his feet. Although I'm grateful for the
stand-alone nature of the story, I am surprised and doubtful that
Qui-Gon's feelings of loss for Tahl could be wrapped up in a single
The Jedi are sent to a planet where a
single witness is ready to testify and bring down a criminal empire that
controls a planet. As implausible as this seems, it gets less and less
plausible the more we learn about these criminals. Why would evidence
matter to them? Surely they control the police on the planet, as well?
Would the Senate send in the Jedi? It turns out that after Lena
testifies to the Senate, the criminals are simply arrested. Clean and
tidy -too much so for my tastes.
Once again, Obi-Wan takes charge of the
mission, but this time it is Qui-Gon who is following his lead, still
lost in mourning. It is only when Obi-Wan's wisdom starts to go astray
that Qui-Gon takes over, and Obi-Wan resents him for it. For the most
part, though, Qui-Gon lets his apprentice do his thing, and he even goes
along with some recommendations that he disagrees with.
When they arrive on the planet, they
discover that their witness has no evidence to present. Her husband, who
was originally supposed to testify against the rest of his family, was
recently killed, so she decided to take his place. Both Qui-Gon and
Obi-Wan see the strength in this woman, who is ready to risk her life. I,
see a naive and incapable woman who is given this ability simply by the
author, not by the character's natural instinct. Everything that Lena
says and does, with the exception of some sudden bouts of knowledge,
says that she is not a smart enough person to pull off what she pulls
The Jedi tell her right off that they
will not gather evidence for her (even though Obi-Wan professes that her
cause is just), yet they follow her around as she collects evidence.
There is very little difference between those two acts, except having
Lena do it is less efficient. They follow her to her apartment, which
has been ransacked, then to her mother-in-law's house, then back to the
hideout, then search for her in a gigantic man-made garden, and back
At her mother-in-law's house, we
experience a scene that even the Jedi should not have believed, with
Zanita swooning as she "suddenly" realizes that yes (!) it was her eldest
son who killed her youngest! We are told again and again by the voice of
Qui-Gon or Obi-Wan that people are trustworthy. Where is the Force to
guide their intuition? Zanita didn't seem honest or trustworthy, and she
was the only one who knew Lena was at the house, so is the only one who
could have caused the statue to fall onto their speeder and destroy it.
How convenient was it that although "Lena carried herself with such
authority that nobody questioned her", nobody questioned the appearance
of two Jedi walking around the house? Zanita makes another appearance
as a hostage of her other sons, but the Jedi outmatch them.
Unfortunately, Lena's cousin Mica was killed in that encounter.
I didn't trust Lena for a moment, which
was apparently unfounded, because she does what she says she was going
to do. Once she figures out what the package sent by her dead husband
means (I figured it out very soon afterwards), she goes and gets the
datapad that contains all sorts of information that could destroy the
Once again, Obi-Wan has his judgement
clouded by a teenaged beauty, convinced that she is genuine, scared and
trustworthy. It happens time and again, so I don't know why Qui-Gon made
such a big deal out of it. Yes, Obi-Wan was infatuated with Lena, but he
is always taking the side of the teens in this series, and is not always
I wondered at one point if Lena
possessed some sort of mind control, as she even sways Qui-Gon at the
end. The author wrote her character as if she wasn't to be trusted, but
perhaps that was because she really was genuine. Lena, however,
was really a mirror to Qui-Gon, as he tried to deal with the loss of
Tahl. Lena misses her husband, but (we are told by the author) she is
strong in his absence, carrying on his legacy. In the end, Qui-Gon
decides that this is what he must do, as well. He saw a relationship
similar to the one he and Tahl had also destroyed, but this time from
This book was published around the same
time as Attack of the Clones came out in theatres, and it is
in some cool aspects. Jocasta Nu, the Jedi archivist, takes on a
prominent role in telling the Jedi about the conditions on the planet,
essentially briefing them. Another interesting scene shows how mindful
to his duty Obi-Wan is. He doesn't contradict his master in front of
other people, but asks Qui-Gon to speak with him out of the room.
Contrast this to what Anakin does at the beginning of the movie.
The Jedi in this book seem more like
normal people than ever. It looks as if the Force has deserted them for
the most part. Since when are Jedi out of breath? In
The Empire Strikes
Back, Yoda specifically said that the Force could keep his energy level
high, as opposed to what the Hand of Thrawn
duology would tell us. Why
did Qui-Gon need to see in the dark? Surely he could sense Lena without
lighting his blade? Qui-Gon's intuition that the ship they were supposed
to board was not safe wasn't ascribed to the Force, either, since he
found the name of the star-liner on the thug who tried to kill Lena. It
should have been the Force that warned him the Senator could not be
trusted. Obi-Wan couldn't even sense the dangers to himself
and to Zanita at the end.
Speaking of that final scene, while it
was a cliché to see Zanita attack Lena and reveal herself as the leader
of the criminal organization, it had to happen in order to keep the
story neat and tidy. What I disagree with, and what I have said again
and again, is that Zanita should not have committed suicide. It is not
in her character. So many characters have committed suicide in this
series, where it was unnecessary. There have been seventeen books, and
we have never seen Obi-Wan kill. I think that needed to be addressed in
this series somehow, and this was another missed opportunity.
Fortunately, the book was very
readable, and even the characters that I didn't like gave us some
interesting action. The one thing that has been extremely consistent in
this series is the writing style, which is very enjoyable.