||So poorly written, that it makes me
wonder what book I read six years ago. There were just barely enough
good moments to make this book worthwhile, for die-hard fans.
This story is very simplistic, especially
compared to today's Star Wars books, from which I mean the New Jedi
Order. Those books are able to tell a grand story, and tell it in such a
way that it is very exciting, especially lately. This book doesn't reach
for any goal, except to have Luke, Lando and Leia do as many of the
things we hear of in Return of the Jedi.
Worse, though, is the author's writing
style. I don't think I've seen many that are more annoying than this
(the New Jedi Order Agents of Chaos comes to mind most recently). The
author can't seem to use full sentences, especially when the characters
are thinking. Why does the thought have to be "Turned out the carrier
was just a rumor", when it should start with "IT turned out..."? It
happens so often, and it is obviously on purpose, that it is very
annoying. Still more annoying is the way the characters are constantly
thinking "well," or "oh, well". I wouldn't be surprised if half the
thoughts in the whole book had some form of "well" in them!
Much of the book also feels forced. The
rivalry between Vader and Xizor is written so that it looks petty. These
two are too powerful to be dealing with such trivial matters. How did
Vader expect to discredit Xizor by showing the Emperor a video or the
Falleen killing somebody? Vader kills people all the time, including his
own officers! Hiding information from the Emperor? While the Emperor is
not all-powerful, he can easily know when he being betrayed. Vader
thinks the man can't read minds. Why not? Vader and Luke read each
others' minds in Return of the Jedi.
I also disagree that Vader was anything
but loyal to the Emperor right up to the moment when he killed his
master, but that is my opinion, and I can handle another take on the
matter. Still, when he agreed to trap Luke, there was no hint that he
wanted Luke to himself, as Xizor imagines. I even believe the words
"join me... we can destroy the Emperor" was simply a seduction and a
lie, but again, I can understand if others disagree.
The entire plot of this novel revolves
around Xizor's desire to kill Luke, so that Vader would be discredited
in front of the Emperor. I can't figure out how Vader would lose
prestige over delivering a dead Luke, as he already told the Emperor
that Luke would join them or die. Xizor also has a lot of faith in the
fairness of the Emperor, even as he is saying that the man could kill on
a whim. Plotting behind the Emperor's back and having him find out about
it is a sure road to death, though the author doesn't write it that way.
I don't understand why it took so long for the Emperor to find out about
the plots of these two, either. Both Xizor and Vader look for proof
about what the other is doing, as if that would have made a difference.
Both also note that they don't need proof to kill a subordinate.
Finally, the characters don't feel
right. I'll admit that I like Luke and Leia a lot better now, in the New
Jedi Order, than I did when they were less mature, so I am biased.
Everybody seems to be very childish, though. Who actually thinks about
themselves the way that Luke and Leia do in this book? Do rich and
powerful people actually think about their money and power all the time,
comparing it to others? Do they flaunt it to themselves as well
as to others?
One of the purposes of this book was to
look at how Luke, Lando, Chewie and Leia went in search of recapturing
Han, but that gets the least time. There is one action setup, where the
Falcon is flown at tree level on Gall, where Boba Fett's ship has been
spotted, but it feels more like a video game (presumably it was a large
part of the game), without a real point. Luke, Wedge and Rogue Squadron
sounded like a bunch of teens at an arcade compared to other
star-fighter battles we've seen.
Luke spends some time on Tatooine,
building a lightsaber at Ben's house (it's a good thing nobody tried to
open that instruction book, or it would have been vaporized long before
Luke ever knew it existed!), and trying to avoid getting killed by a
swoop gang. The book sounds like it is medieval fantasy when Luke
manages to shatter an axe with his lightsaber. Shouldn't it have sliced
Luke is captured by bounty hunters
after capturing the Death Star II information for the Bothans. This is
definitely the sloppiest way for "many Bothans" to die. With the help of
Lando, he manages to get away before Vader arrives to collect him. Vader
puts on a show of trying to get the plans back, and nearly ends up
chasing the inoperative Millennium Falcon through an asteroid cluster!
This is only one of many rip-offs from the movies that were probably
intended to make this book feel like it was one of the movies.
Most of the book is dedicated to
infiltrating Black Sun, the immense criminal organization run by Xizor.
Leia, Lando and Chewie wait for a long time on Rodia, when finally Guri,
the humaniform robot assassin and Xizor's bodyguard finally shows up.
After a stalemate (which was one of the more interesting parts of the
book), Guri takes Leia and Chewie to Coruscant to meet with Xizor. Leia
wants to see if Black Sun can find out who is trying to kill Luke, where
Xizor thinks she knows that he is behind the plot. I really liked that
misunderstanding, so it's too bad that it only lasted one chapter before
Xizor stops caring.
The Falleen can emit powerful pheromones
to seduce members of the opposite sex, and Xizor takes full advantage of
that. Why does he have to justify the fact that he already dumped one
mistress before seducing Leia? Criminals are not usually portrayed as
being monogamous. Anyway, Xizor is not happy when Leia is able to rebuff
him after releasing her anger. She is probably using the Dark Side of
the Force, without even knowing it.
It seems strange that Leia was so
incautious in her dealings with Black Sun. All she knew was that it was
a criminal organization, and that Xizor was its head. She didn't expect
a woman as a negotiator. Why not? She didn't ask for an identity check
on Xizor when she only heard his voice. That could have been anyone in
the whole Galaxy! Then she trusted Guri all the way to Coruscant. At
least we know where Leia obtained the bounty hunter costume she uses in
Return of the Jedi. Leia also didn't do any research about the Falleen,
or else she would have known right away about the pheromones. What
happened to knowing an enemy before waking into a known trap? Very
sloppy on Leia's part.
The only part of the book that I truly
liked was the climax inside Xizor's castle (it's actually called a
castle!). The gang infiltrates the castle through the waste system and
kills many more guards than is plausible, yet it was very exciting,
especially when they finally escape. I don't know why Lando threw the
thermal detonator into the garbage chute in the first place (it was
mean-spirited, though he knew Black Sun would come after them one day if
he didn't, and it was suicide if the Falcon didn't arrive, which was a
good possibility), but it made for a lot of excitement as everybody
tried to escape. Once again, though, Leia is inconsistent, wanting Chewie
to get Luke away from the trap at one moment, then glad Luke is coming to
rescue her in the next. Luke, meanwhile, drops his lightsaber to fight
hand-to-hand with Guri. Where did this come from?
The droids flying the Falcon, around
buildings and away from patrols and such was much more funny than I
remembered it being. I think the key was showing it from an external
point of view, through the communicator, instead of from their eyes.
Actually, the droids were pretty well-written most of the time, but only
when the author refrained from explicitly saying that they were funny. I
especially liked the way C3PO stood up to Chewbacca, saying that he
wouldn't play any more holoboard games if the Wookie ripped his arms
off! Han must have made that remark more than once, because Leia had
heard it, and she wasn't in that scene in A New Hope. Chewie's gambling
was a high point of the book, as well, especially when he ended up
playing C3PO again because everybody else was afraid to gamble with him!
There were a number of small things
that I also enjoyed in this book. Was this the first presence of the
Barabels, who would become great Jedi as of
Star By Star? I also liked Xizor telling Jabba the Hutt to speak Basic, not putting up with Huttese.
Jabba is sly enough that he probably could speak Basic!
The actual ending of the book brought
back my disgust with the author, as the battle over Coruscant, between
the Falcon (why was Luke flying, and not Lando, who knew the ship much
better?), Vader's forces and Xizor's ships, was typical of the other
battles here, and barely worth mentioning.
Of course, Dash Rendar is "killed".
Who? That's my reaction. He is truly annoying as a character, more so
than he was to Luke and the others. He pops up whenever somebody needs
to be saved, like Luke among the swoops, at the gardener/ spy's place,
in Xizor's castle, and in the final battle. However, as shown in
of the Empire: Evolution, he is very much alive.
It's also interesting to note that with
all of their adventures with Black Sun on Coruscant, they missed Boba
Fett's arrival on Tatooine, which is what they started the book waiting
for! For some reason, the author doesn't even mention that! In fact, the
last time Luke was on Tatooine, he couldn't have done anything to rescue
Han because he didn't know how to contact Leia, Lando or Chewbacca!
Dash, however, knew where to find her later on, though, after the Bothan
The Bothans seemed to have
multiple-personalities, depending who was talking. They seem to have a
spynet larger than that of the Empire and Black Sun individually (would
those organizations put up with that?), and they sell to the highest
bidder. However, they are also loyal to the Rebel Alliance, yet Leia thinks
Black Sun would know who is killing Luke better than they would.
As much as the characters seemed to be
out of character, I did appreciate the differences between the younger
Luke and the mature Luke, as seen in
Destiny's Way. He was impulsive
in The Empire Strikes Back, but more patient in
Return of the Jedi
(though he was idealistic there). Here, he is definitely still in the
frame of mind from the former film. It is easy to forget that he liked
to take chances and enjoyed the thrill of the fights and chases. His
thoughts were poorly written, but the character managed to peek through,
The only truly interesting thing about
Xizor was his lack of understanding of the Force. He indicates that he
was alive before the Jedi were wiped out, yet he still doesn't recognize
how Luke is blocking his blaster shots. He consistently underestimates
the Emperor and Vader (as if is his first time doing these kinds of
political manipulations). Even as he dies (as Vader blasts his skyhook
from the sky -though we are never specifically told that he was killed),
he doesn't understand that the Force is more powerful than he will ever
be. Very interesting.
I honestly cannot figure out why I
liked this book so much the first time I read it. The author's style was
so poor that it made the book rather annoying to read. The plot was so
full of holes that I'm amazed the book didn't fall to pieces in my
hands. This book documents everything that needs to fall into place
between Empire and Jedi, and it has some good moments interspersed among
its pages. Even with so little good to say about it, I am feeling
generous, and so the grade had been rounded up. There is enough here to
recommend, but just barely.