Ossus Library Index Star Wars Timeline




A novel by James Luceno (2005, Del Rey)
Set 19 years before Star Wars: A New Hope

Darth Vader, full of bitterness over his new condition, gains strength as he tracks a small group of Jedi who survived Order 66.




Read August 4th to 10th, 2008  
    I found this book to be a difficult read. As far as I can tell, though, the story was okay, and the characters were fairly well developed. I don't know why I had trouble getting through page after page.

Yet I also found the story less than engaging. We get a Jedi outcast, strong in the Force, put together with a Padawan who just lost her master, on the run for their lives. Shryne can't stay away from being a Jedi, though he doesn't feel like the Force is with him. It seemed that he was the strongest of the Force-users we saw, and the only one able to stand up to Vader in combat. He wants to abandon the Jedi Order, which has been destroyed, especially when the smuggler who gets him offworld turns out to be his mother. But a coincidental meeting -set up by Palpatine- with Vader teases him back, through the wrong assumptions. Though Vader is obsessed with the Jedi, more than likely because of what they will think of him after what he did (it was always about appearances for Anakin), the Emperor isn't bothered by them. So when Shryne meets Vader on Alderaan, and Vader kills the Senator they are trying to smuggle offworld (and nearly kills his mother in the process), he decides somebody must try to destroy Vader.

On the other side is Starstone, the young Padawan who wants to regroup and take Palpatine and Vader down by reforming the Jedi Order. She uses the means at her disposal to contact other Jedi, two of whom are killed by Vader on Kashyyyk. She doesn't understand Obi-Wan's message for the Jedi to go into hiding, nor Shryne for wanting to obey it. It isn't until the end that she realizes the truth -that the Emperor will use any excuse to subjugate a planet, especially if they appear to be harboring Jedi.

The story actually improves slightly upon Revenge of the Sith. That novel was terrific, but it couldn't escape the holes left by the movie script. Here, we revisit several key scenes. The novel opens with the end of the war, as the clone troopers turn against their Jedi leaders. One group of clones questions the orders, however, and springs a trap before the Jedi walk into it. Or rather, don't walk into it. They were attuned enough to the Force that they felt the trap, and they knew the clones were setting it for them. In the movie, we see only Yoda and Ki-Adi Mundi sense the betrayal. Obi-Wan was lucky, in that his clones were poor shots. Aayla Secura and others were killed without even knowing something was wrong. I don't understand, then, the need for the clones to have disobeyed orders, except that it gives Shryne and the others a little more information. But it does showcase how some Jedi should have survived.

We also get Anakin-turned-Vader, still adjusting to his role as a Sith Apprentice. He is still the Anakin from Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith: always having excuses as to why he isn't doing his best. In Attack of the Clones, Obi-Wan was holding him back. In Revenge of the Sith, the Jedi Council is plotting against him. Here, his new suit is restrictive, and the medical droids did a poor job. If only he had designed the suit... The emotions are pure Anakin, and he whines constantly. Yet he has lost his confidence, for obvious reasons. The Emperor pits him against the Jedi to bring out his anger and hatred. But it takes the entire book to do that, and in the end, I don't see how he achieved it. Shryne taunts him about being a little too dependent on machinery, the only taunt Shryne makes, and that seems to drive Vader over the edge. Yet when that occurred, we didn't get the emotions at all. We were outsiders, and Vader didn't seem any more angry than before. I also don't know why Shryne was surprised that Vader could rip up the bridge boards, as even the Jedi could do that -witness Yoda's manipulations in Attack of the Clones.

Anakin also reflects on what being a Sith means to him, now that Padmé is dead. He joined the Sith to learn a particular skill, and killed a Jedi Master to do it. But he realized his ambition, and had already decided to gain power for himself and Padmé, then kill Palpatine. He knew the Jedi would never understand his decision, and would hunt him down to prevent him from learning the skill he needed. So the only way to prevent that was to kill them. Even the younglings, he was convinced in his paranoia, would never forgive him, so they had to die, too. The weak part that comes out of this, though, is that Vader apparently knows how Palpatine invented and manipulated the war. In Revenge of the Sith, Palpatine was careful to tell Anakin how the Jedi had betrayed them. Even as a Sith apprentice, I have trouble believing Palpatine told him everything, or that Anakin could discover it all.

Some discrepancies are also resolved on Kashyyyk, at least as far as I'm concerned. I wondered where the tall forests were, when the only action we saw in the movie was around a lake. Apparently the tree cities are a little deeper in. But that didn't protect the wookies when Vader attacked. Raining turbolaser bombardment across the planet, he destroyed the cities, destroying their infrastructure, and making them the first slaves of the Empire. I don't see how that action made Vader a fearsome commander to be respected, however, as he was only following the recommendations made by his officers, which he refused to take in the first place.

There is a lot of name-dropping, which I always enjoy. We follow Bail Organa as he tries to tread carefully between the Empire and protecting Leia by not bringing attention to himself as a potential rebel. Chewbacca and Tarfur make appearances on Kashyyyk, of course, and Chewie escapes his homeworld to live as a refugee. Tarkin needs slaves, such as wookies, to help create the Death Star, thus he enters into an agreement with Vader. C3PO and R2D2 make bumbling appearances in the Temple on Alderaan. Even Obi-Wan gets a scene, where he realizes Vader is still alive. Qui-Gon's overwhelming knowledge seemed a little too contrived, though, in telling him to sit tight. Obi-Wan realizes exactly what happened on Kashyyyk, with Jedi trying to recreate the Order. We also get brief appearances by Armand Isard and Sate Pestage.

The lightsaber battle at the end, between Shryne and Vader, was very well written, and I quite enjoyed it. If only the rest of the book held up a little more, I would have been happy. After reading Darth Bane: Path of Destruction, we learned a lot about the Dark Side of the Force. This book didn't do quite as good a job in showing how somebody like Anakin could adapt to it. Palpatine often references the Rule of Two, but doesn't do quite as convincing job as Bane did. The author, who had two poorly-written books at the beginning of the New Jedi Order, redeemed himself incredibly with its great finale, and again with Labyrinth of Evil, the prequel to the last movie. This sequel wasn't quite up to that standard.


Back to Top

All Star Wars material and covers are Copyright Lucasfilm Ltd and the publishers.
All reviews and page designs at this site Copyright (c)  by Warren Dunn, all rights reserved.