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A novel by Karen Traviss (2007, Del Rey)
Republic Commando, Book 3
Set 20 years before Star Wars: A New Hope

Etain and Jusik struggle to maintain Jedi detachment, while Skirata searches to prolong the lives of the clones, and several troopers wonder about life outside the army.



Read March 24th to April 9th, 2010.  
    I think my rating for Triple Zero is too high, because I don't remember liking that book very much. This one is much better, but still has many of the same problems I'm starting to identify with Karen Traviss, unfortunately.

My main dislike about her books, whether they are Bloodlines, Revelation, or these Republic Commando novels, and to a lesser extent Sacrifice, is that she treats the Jedi Order as an obsolete group whose special powers are irrelevant in Galactic society. In all of her books, the Jedi are a nuisance, and they always have to rethink their way, often considering giving up their Jedi ways because other ways are better, most notably the Mandalorian way. Even Jaina had to go outside her Jedi training in Revelation, for some unknown reason, so that she could learn from Mandalorians.

In this book, we continue to follow Etain, who has truly lost her way due to attachments, specifically that she is pregnant. Somehow Skirata has managed to exile her Qillura, where she had her first mission in Hard Contact. She thinks she is hiding her condition, but the locals know, as does her commando squad leader. I don't like the locals here as created as a species, who are termed undetectable by the Jedi. All this does is bring the Jedi down to normal human status on this planet, because Etain can be surprised. Are they life or not? If so, then the Jedi should be able to detect them or their effect on the life around them. Etain even starts thinking like a commando, in that she ridicules her own need to satisfy her moral obligation before attacking the farmers she is to relocate, giving them every opportunity to surrender. The fact that she misses the danger posed by the minefield shows how far gone she is -a liability to her troops because she doesn't use her Jedi senses, instead relying on her inexperienced knowledge of tactics.

Etain spends most of the book pining for Darman, who doesn't know he is to be a father. Indeed, by the end of the book everybody knows the baby is his except him. Every character in the book is filled with doubt about the role the clones are meant to take in the war and afterwards. Darman and his squad are particularly pensive about this, especially since they discover a clone commando who has deserted the army. The hindsight of Revenge of the Sith is readily apparent, perhaps too much so, in this book. So many people realize that there has been no provision for the clones after the war, and the clones are frustrated because the politicians -specifically the Chancellor -are ignoring good intelligence and spreading the Republic forces too thin, as well as engaging the clones in seemingly pointless missions. Darman's mission is a case in point. As on Qillara, the natives here feel exploited and want to take over from the human population, so the Republic is helping them. It seems strange that Palpatine would sanction so many anti-human activities. In the middle of it, they find the AWOL clone, and discover a commando team has been sent to assassinate him. We don't get to see the end of this campaign, however, as Fi is mortally wounded during the attack, and is taken up to the orbiting cruiser, where we get to see how wounded clones are really treated. Although Skirata would be proud, I find it strange that any commander would sanction a commando squad abandoning the battle to see their comrade through his medical treatment.

Jusik, the other Jedi of the novel, whom we met in Triple Zero, has also gone native, in that he has embraced all things Mandalorian. He misleads Delta squad in order to help Skirata track down Ko Sai, the renegade Kaminoan scientist. He also heals Fi, somewhat, when the commando is fatally wounded. Even though Fi is pronounced brain dead, he is mysteriously transferred to a Republic hospital on Coruscant, but has to be rescued by Bessany (Ordo's girlfriend) because they are going to stop his treatment. There is no care for injured clones, part of a conspiracy that obviously leads all the way to the top. Fi ends up on Mandalore, where he may or may not fully recover, but will be able to try. At the end of the book, Jusik leaves the Jedi Order, not even determined to join a rimsoo unit like in Medstar.

Skirata's story is the most profound, though it doesn't have much depth, either. He is searching for a way to extend the clones' lives, and to fund a retirement home or escape from the army when the war ends. His arch-rival Vau, who also trained clones on Kamino, robs a bank, and gives the money to Skirata. Skirata and his Nulls track down Ko Sai and capture her, frustrating Delta Squad who arrives there only days later. Torturing her does nothing, so Etain offers her a sample of her baby's chord blood when he is born. Ko Sai begins the research into stopping the clones' aging, but kills herself before it is complete. We meet Etain's baby, Venku, as a grown man, of course in Revelation.

I'm not sure whose True Colors the book is referring to. Perhaps the true nature of the clones as humans, when the galaxy (except for every one of the characters in this book) think of them as robots who bleed. Perhaps the true nature of the conspiracy, which seems to lead into the Chancellor's office. Maybe even the true colors of the two Jedi in this book, who show their non-traditional side.

There is even a small paragraph on Order 66 as a header to one of the last chapters. I have doubts that the orders would be so clear on killing Jedi. I really think this was something that was conditioned into the clones' brains, because the movie showed it as such a clear-cut reaction on the part of the troopers. Obviously the next book in the series will deal with the moral ramifications the movie couldn't even start to show.

It is the depth of characters that carries this book, not its plot. Unfortunately, since I don't like the characters, it's harder to enjoy the book. But I can appreciate the way the characters are written, even if I don't believe in the motivations of the Jedi. Interestingly, I agree with their sentiments, in a way -I don't think the Jedi should have become generals in a war, and even before I knew the true nature of the war, I thought the Jedi might be fighting on the wrong side. Both the Republic and the Jedi of this era are corrupt, even if they mean well.


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