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Short stories by Jude Watson, Matthew Stover, and Timothy Zahn (2003, Del Rey)
21 years before Star Wars: A New Hope

The Jedi discover a Separatist fleet of ships, a clone trooper survives a battle, and another is rescued by a Jedi Master.




Read on July 21st, 2004  
    The three stories featured in this collection are really micro-stories, and are not long enough to give us any plot, character, or situation depth. As a result, they don't tell us much of anything, and are not particularly interesting.

The first story, written from the Jedi Quest perspective, but during the Clone Wars, is Storm Fleet Warning, and features Obi-Wan and Anakin scouting out a planet where they encountered a small fleet of Separatist warships. The trick is that these warships are small enough to pass as freighters. The two Jedi go planetside for a moment, just long enough to talk with one of Qui-Gon Jinn's old contacts and learn where the fleet is going -to coerce a population into allowing a Separatist headquarters on that planet. When the fleet suddenly takes off (why, so soon after landing?), Anakin spontaneously follows, with Obi-Wan in tow. Once again, Anakin's lack of thought nearly gets them killed, but they enter an asteroid swarm (isn't that getting old?) and destroy a couple of ships. Anakin says the two lost ships will slow the fleet down, maybe enough to get the Republic navy out to the destination planet. Again, I ask why? If they had to do paperwork, I'd say fine, but I doubt these people care. They would jump into hyperspace and be gone, either content that they weren't being followed, or worried that their attackers were still around. There was no reason for them to think that the two Jedi ships had been destroyed. In all, there just wasn't enough to this story.

The second story takes place during Shatterpoint, which didn't enamour me to it to begin with. Equipment is written in exactly the same tone as the novel it comes from, and set me even further against it. Told from a "rebel without a cause" perspective, it deals with a clone trooper who was in the failed trip to the surface to pick up Mace Windu. The gunship he was a gunner for was hit, and his gun bubble set free in space. He heard all the communications, and watched all of his comrades get hit. After pondering the "equipment" he was riding on, he was saved from falling into the atmosphere by some rescue troopers. He fires his remaining shot at a droid starfighter that was pursuing his nearly disabled former gunship, and they all get picked up. After a few days in orbit, the Republic picked them up. The beginning of this story was complicated by way too much technical information, from the long designations of several clone troopers, to the model of ships they were all using. Yuck. The rest was just not very interesting. Thankfully, this story was also quite short.

The third story, Duel, is a strange tale. A trooper, who doesn't seem to be a clone, because he actually has a name, is waiting for death, the lone survivor of a group that had infiltrated a Separatist camp. Apparently, the separatists wanted him alive so that they can figure out how he got in, and fix the weakness. Alright, whatever. It seems like a flimsy excuse, but it actually brings Yoda out to rescue him. Yoda does another miraculous and energetic duel with a hoop-like destroyer droid, which neither of them win, and both go off to think about strategy. I found it amazing that Yoda could actually fend off everything that was thrown at him, but I suppose anything is possible with that little green guy. The droid actually knew it was evenly-matched! Yoda brings the trooper through a hole in the wall into a tunnel-like cavern, and sets up a trap for the droid under an unstable stone arch. The trap was way too obvious from a narrative standpoint, as the trooper actually thinks that he doesn't remember seeing an arch at that location... Still, this story was the high-point of the collection, which isn't saying much.

The cover claims that there are "three exciting tales". I claim that none of them were actually exciting, and only one was even mildly interesting. I sure hope the clone wars authors can do a better job from here on.


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