||As is usual with this author, there was a lot going
on, and it was all very intense. For the conclusion to a 9 book series,
it did manage to tie up many of the complicated plot threads, but it
kept way too many open for the future stories, and even ended on a
pessimistic note, both on a personal level for Ben Skywalker, and the
galaxy at large.
I wonder if the authors are planning to create another
endless war between the Jedi and the Sith, the way the one in the Old
Republic novels seems to be drawn up (and of which
Knight Errant was
part). After the New Jedi Order, which was in my opinion the pinnacle of
Star Wars novels, we had the strange Swarm War, followed by two series
based on the Sith, and it seems that the Sith are sticking around pretty
much for good.
Denning brings back the Killiks in this novel, as
Raynar and a couple more Jedi visit them to learn what they know of
Abeloth's species. There are some odd references here, making it seem
like they have visited several Killik hives, but then as if it's the
first time they've seen the Killiks since The Swarm War.
It turns out that the Thuruht hive was the one that
imprisoned Abeloth the last time, building Centerpoint Station and its
counterpart in the Maw cluster of black holes. Abeloth served the
Celestial beings from the Clone Wars animated series, the father, son
and daughter who lived to balance the Force. It was never clear what
that actually meant in the TV series. And what kind of balance were they
keeping? If they all died, including the Dark Side son, why does Luke
feel that the galaxy is turning to the dark? I also find it strange that
Luke could so easily check mission reports from the Clone Wars, after
Palpatine's purge of the Jedi (wouldn't he also purge the Temple?), and
the Yuuzhan Vong invasion, which supposedly destroyed everything, and
which is miraculously restored in this series.
Anyway, Abeloth was a mortal who drank from the font
of power and became somewhat immortal. According to the Killiks, she
escapes every time civilization is destabilized (such as with 5000 years
of war between the Jedi and Sith), and peaks when the flow of the Force is changed dramatically, the
way Jacen supposedly did when he replaced the Dark Man with Allana on
the throne of balance in his vision. I can't find anything convincing in
the text where this is explained. Better to say simply that she was due
to escape after the last Sith War 5000 years and 1000 years before,
combined with the current crises.
There is another small subplot where Jag resolves his
conflict with Daala, but Daala's response is never really seen. An
Abeloth avatar enters the broken moon where Daala and her fleet are
hiding, promising the Admiral that she could win a general election. Jag
sabotages Daala's chances of winning, just the way that Daala sabotaged
his, so that a third person could win and become Chief of State of the
Empire. He finally gets to marry Jaina in the epilog!
Tahiri battles Abeloth's avatar with Boba Fett (who is
still searching for the cure to the disease that keeps him off his
homeworld) at a small asteroid base. There were some great scenes, and I
think some really good Fett moments. The setup was something this author
does really well, with great descriptions of locations, details, and
thoughts. It makes reading these stories worthwhile, even though there
are plenty of questionable things going on. By the end, Tahiri and Fett
defeat Abeloth, and a Star Destroyer destroys the asteroid.
The main thrust of the novel, however, is the Jedi
attempt to retake the Jedi Temple after Abeloth brings all the Sith back
within its' boundaries. The novel changes pace and direction several
times. Once, it even wanted to be a world war one movie, where it takes
bodies and bodies to advance a couple of hundred meters. Unfortunately,
the body count was rather ridiculous, because it was almost entirely
Sith, and none of the dead belonged to any Jedi that were known to the
readers. Then it turned into Corran, Valin and Jysella, Luke, Ben and
Jaina (as well as Vestara) against thousands of Sith within the temple.
At one point, they are all nearly dead, from exhaustion, burns,
Force-weariness, and who-knows-what else. But they keep fighting, and
they keep winning, against Sith who presumably are fresh. It shows how
much stronger the Light Side of the Force really is! Actually, it was
more of a joke than anything, perhaps a homage to old-style cartoons.
But even though the locations changed, and sometimes the scenario, it
was repetitive enough to get a little boring.
My favorite part, I think, was the coordinated attack
on all the Sith senators and military commanders, where Luke, Ben and
Vestara kill the highest-ranking Sith on Coruscant. I wish I could have
seen more, except that the author decided to get quirky at some points.
When they enter the temple, and things start to go wrong
-their entry into the Temple
is abruptly sabotaged- everybody except Ben believes it was Vestara who
betrayed them. It seems really strange that nobody could detect
Abeloth's presence, even amid the darkness of thousands of Sith in the
Temple. It was actually Abeloth who read into the future with the Force.
Vestara gets separated from the Jedi, and launches out
on her own. She had decided at the end of Ascension that she would not
make a good Jedi, but she knows that she has to run from the Sith, too,
as she killed their leader several books back. The chase scene in the
lower levels of the Temple made me think of a Scooby-Doo cartoon, as
Vestara, injured, manages to outrun a dozen or more Sith in their prime.
The entire attack on the Temple makes it look like the
Lost Tribe of the Sith has only a few members who know anything at all
about the Force. This actually starts in the very first chapter, where
Barv infiltrates the customs line. He states that he shouldn't use the
Force and telegraph his presence, but he uses it all the time, from
silent communication to influencing minds. In the attack on the temple,
the Sith can't hit anything with their lightsabers, and their
Force-lightning is much, much weaker than Palpatine's or Dooku's. They
can't even shoot blasters into the dark corridors while chasing after Vestara!
Meanwhile, the Jedi are expert marksmen, can usually deflect the
Force-lightning, and kill hundreds of Sith, if not more.
Han and Leia start the book evacuating the Jedi
students off Ossus. Didn't they end the last book by encountering
hostile life-forms in Coruscant's undercity? Regardless, they reach
Ossus only a few hours (or maybe minutes?) before the Sith attack,
carrying off the entire occupants and much of the equipment. One ship
gets lost, then shows up again after the Sith are defeated, only to make
a suicide run against Tenel Ka's flagship -proving that it had been
captured. They lose many Jedi students, instructors and their families
on that ship when they are forced to disable it, and the Sith destroy it
Han and Leia play a pivotal role, though, in Ben and Vestara's
ultimate breakup. Delivering Barv to the Jedi Temple so that Jedi can
warn Saba's children of Allana's vision that their nest will be
discovered, Han and Leia end up in the wrong place at the wrong time.
All throughout this series of novels, nobody has known about Allana's
true identity. I thought it was specifically mentioned that Ben and
Jaina and all the others had no idea she was Tenel Ka's daughter. It
seems unlikely that Jaina wouldn't figure it out, given how close she
was to her brother. But in this novel, it seems that everyone knows!
Certainly all the Jedi, and even Vestara figures it out quickly after a
stupid slip by Luke. So when Vestara is cornered at an airlock
evacuation point, she manages to get it open just as Allana (who stowed
aboard the Falcon) is descending the ramp. Vestara tries to use that
information as a bargaining chip with the Sith who have cornered her,
and leads an attack that ultimately gets Barv killed. Later, through a series
of fire-fights, Han, Leia and Allana manage to save Tesar's nest. But
Jaina will eventually find out and tell Ben -and he'll believe her.
Luke, Jaina (made a Jedi Master!) and the others make
it out of the Temple, but Ben is captured, and Abeloth unleashes a
horrible sequence of earthquakes and causes volcanoes to erupt from Coruscant,
causing fear and panic, both of which feed her and make her stronger.
Ship takes Ben, Vestara and Abeloth back to the Maw, where they are
supposed to drink from the Font of Power and recreate the family of the
Father, Son and Daughter. Ben refuses, but in order to save herself,
Vestara considers it.
Luke enters the dream state from Abyss and battles Abeloth there, with the help of a Dark Man whom he first saw in his
dreams back in Betrayal. (How long ago was this all planned, or were the
seeds of an unknown plot planted in different places so the authors
could use them whenever they wanted, however they wanted, in the future?)
Luke is grievously injured (of course), but together, he and the Dark
Man succeed in
killing the spiritual avatar of Abeloth, in part because Ben and Vestara
are battling another avatar in the Maw, and Saba kills the one in the
Jedi Temple, with help from Jaina.
The ending is bittersweet, which is getting tiresome,
and not really what I want in my Star Wars novels. It looks like Abeloth
is trying to rematerialize, as some Jedi have seen strange Force
apparitions since her "death". Vestara escapes in Ship, presumably to
join the One Sith that we briefly saw in the Legacy of the Force series.
The Jedi have been voted off Coruscant, rightly so, I think, because
they did indeed let the Sith invade, then came back to do battle, which
spilled out into the Coruscant cityscape, and killed possibly billions
So it looks like the Jedi and Sith will continue to do
battle in the near and long-term future. The Jedi will go into hiding,
but hopefully will not abandon their roles as guardians of peace, and
not just against the Sith. Are we going to parallel the Knights of the
Old Republic novels? Hopefully the stories and themes will not repeat
between that series and the future ones involving Luke, Han and Leia,
and their kids.
As a side note, I was quite pleased that despite the
ridiculousness of the survival rate of the Jedi compared to the Sith,
that no major second-generation characters were killed. But just like
Luke's hope for a peaceful civilization filled with Jedi is fading, so
is my hope that the future series can hold my interest. I really hope
that I'm wrong.