||It was really nice to return to the
Yuuzhan Vong war, especially after suffering through the Legacy of the
Jedi series. From The Unifying Force, we
know that the Mandalorians were liberating various species from the
Vong, and killing as many Vong as they possibly could. From
Sacrifice, we know that the Yuuzhan Vong
didn't take well to the Mandalorians doing this, and ravaged their
Now we get the story that
Nom Anor approached the Mandalorians to create chaos on various worlds
before the invasion began in Vector Prime.
Goran Bevin, seen here for probably the first time (and a main character
in the Karen Traviss Legacy books) shows up here as a point of view,
where he observes Boba Fett as Mandalore. I've mentioned this before,
but after reading the Bounty Hunter Wars, I vowed to put down any book
containing the word "barve". This one has a few references to the word,
but I didn't put it down.
Like the other Karen Traviss novels,
this story is very well written, and focuses on the Mandalorians. They
like the pay Nom Anor gives them, but start to feel uncomfortable at
destabilizing world governments. Yet they do the work until Nom Anor
brings them to the rendezvous point with the invading fleet.
When they observe what the Vong truly
are, and their organic technology, they are disgusted. Fett and Bevin
are invited on board, where they are fascinated but repelled by the
weapons and ships and other stuff. I liked Fett's unique perspective,
where he keeps referring to the inside of the ships as stomachs,
thinking of the Sarlacc at the same time! I guess he should know!
They also get to observe some of the
religious (I think?) caste members implant a couple of humans with
organic devices, for which their hatred of the Vong grows and they even
want to put the victims out of their misery.
From that moment on, they vow to take
their revenge on the Yuuzhan Vong, and even as they continue
destabilizing governments, they try to pass their inside information on
to the New Republic. However, given the source of the information, the
New Republic doesn't believe them, so world after world continues to
fall to the invasion fleet. On one mission, they find a Jedi, whom they
save from a Vong warrior, and pass more information on to, and who
From then on, we are supposed to
believe that the Mandalorians were vital to the New Republic
intelligence service. I have trouble with that, but this author always
overstates the role and prowess of the Mandalorians, while underplaying
others like the Jedi. We even get a point of view from Nom Anor, who
admires their strength and courage, while reviling their need for
mechanical devices. But he knows the Mandalorians will be tough to
recruit, to lose their independence, and make serve the Yuuzhan Vong.
Everybody knows Mandalore will be hit hard when the time comes. But the
Mandalorians are capable of melting into the woodwork, and will survive.
There are a few minor characters in the
story, as well, a mother and daughter who have just entered service as
the father/husband just died. So the girl gets a coming-of-age drink and
loses her mother on the mission that saved the Jedi. This highlights
another aspect of Mandalorian culture, where nobody is ever left alone.
If only Fett had known or cared enough when he was young; he would have
never been so lonely. But all he knew was his father, and so he became
the man he is.
It was nice to return to a simpler
time, when the authors didn't try to make things so subtle, which became
boring or annoying. This story gave us another glimpse into the
Mandalorians in a time of transition.