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A novel by Christie Golden (2011, Del Rey)
Book 8 in Fate of the Jedi
42 years after Star Wars: A New Hope

The Jedi search various Sith worlds trying to find Abeloth, and when they leave Coruscant, conspiracies are revealed and replaced as the Sith take over the Senate.




Read  August 29th to September 7th, 2012 in Hardcover  
    A lot happens in this novel, as the focus of politics shifts. I still think Luke is searching various worlds just so the authors can showcase them, for what purpose I don't know. The characters involved in the plot to seize control of the Galactic Alliance are almost caricatures because of their evil nature. On the other hand, there is a lot to like in this book, in terms of action, development, and sheer scope. I think it's time the main characters (meaning Luke, Leia and Han) started to act instead of reacting, though they were written quite well in this book. As the next book is the last in the series, I suppose that will happen soon.

Spoiler review:

It's funny how different parts of this novel struck me differently. Sometimes I preferred to be with Luke, while at other times in the book, the actions of the Jedi made me wonder why they were included at all. Sometimes I enjoyed the politics, while at other times, I was upset at the author for pushing things in the directions they were taking, which seemed anything but natural.

The first thing that struck me throughout the novel is that the people who are portrayed as bad guys are so well aware of their evil and self-centered viewpoints. I have trouble believing that people who do evil such as this are so self-aware; rather, I have a feeling that they are too focused on what they are doing, that they don't realize or simply don't care about those they do evil to. I seriously doubt that they vocalize or even think of how their ambitions are debasing others. I think they would be more like Daala, thinking they were doing their best, based on their own model of "good", and with their own prejudices. On the other hand, I don't know any people like that, so I could be completely wrong, here!

The "club" of conspirators meets often to discuss how things are going, and though it's a little fun at the beginning, it does get tedious after a while. I could almost see the characters as caricatures in a comic book, with their evil cackles and mischievous grins. But Lecercen goes back the Empire, and finds Daala there, and she knows all his secrets, including the fact that he started the secret organization that caused all of the slave revolts. She offers him the chance to join her, and he does. Han and Leia obtain information on Daala's whereabouts and the conspiracy (through the squibs -I remember them vaguely, but not where we last saw them), and pass this on to Jag, who departs to confront her. The battle between her ships and his is very entertaining, though it ends on a cliff-hanger that I have doubts will be properly followed up in the next (and last) book. Jag's flagship is destroyed, but he is rescued. The Empire of the Hand is revealed, though one of the Chiss ships is destroyed way too easily. Tahiri, who turned herself in to Han and Leia, departs with Jag (to be tried in an Imperial court, since she murdered an Imperial Head of State, though the Republic doesn't know this, yet). Daala and the remaining Moffs who support her barricade themselves within the remains of a small moon, ingeniously using an interdictor cruiser to move its pieces into place to surround the damaged fleet.

Luke, Ben, Jaina and Vestara spend the novel world-hopping, from old Sith destination to old Sith destination. They reason that Abeloth would want to visit places where Sith energy still resided. The hardest part of this novel is that their search is so unfocused and that in the end, they do not find Abeloth or Ship! Korriban is familiar from way back in Dark Lords of the Sith, and was last seen in Inferno and related novels as the base of the One Sith that last summoned Ship in Fate of the Jedi. I understand that those Sith resurfaced in the Legacy comics from Dark Horse (a hundred years hence?), but the fact remains that they were on Korriban. How could the beasts in the Valley of the Dark Lords tell Vestara that there had been no Sith on the planet for so long when the Legacy of the Force novels took place only a few years earlier?

The second planet they visit is Dromund Kaas. Kyle Katarn flirted with the Dark Side back in Rebel Agent and Jedi Knight, but I don't know if this is the same planet, or if there were other short stories with him turning Dark. Luke says that Mara also visited the place. Regardless, this is a turning point in the story for Vestara, in that her father and a bunch of Sith Sabers are waiting for them, showing that Abeloth did visit the place, after all. Vestara is forced to kill her father, seeing that he is insane by Abeloth's manipulation. After that, she asks Luke and Ben if she can become a Jedi.

Vestara and Ben are shown as two teens in love. It's a little sappy, but in a good way. I think any such romance would be a little immature, so it is rather uncomfortable some of the time, but it doesn't get in the way of the story. Everybody is skeptical, but Luke dissects her mind with the Force, and determines she can be trained, so everyone welcomes her.

Unfortunately, she shows her true Sith upbringing when they visit the next planet, Upekzar. Vestara is put in the unfortunate position of having to save Ben from the hallucinations and hunger of the beast in the caves, and she does so at any cost, because she truly does love him. She selfishly injures the third Jedi who is with them, and allows the beast to feed on her life energy, allowing Ben to survive. Ben thinks he sees the lightsaber marks on the other Jedi, but then wonders if it could have just been the hallucinations. Vestara knows he will hate her when he eventually learns what she did...

The rest of the political subplot reveals how the new government deals with the influx of new senators, and how the Sith infiltrate the Senate. The Senate's refusal to act due to the overthrow of the Chief of State forces Leia (acting for Saba), Treen and Dorvan (who took over for Parvin of the army) to make all the decisions. Instead of long debates, which is probably what the new member planets needed, they make these decisions based on a few words, and their feelings in the matter. There doesn't seem to be any research involved at all, even for planets that are not fully stabilized from their insurrections. In Conviction, though, wasn't only one planet offered membership -Klatooine, if they managed to get their act together?

So we have three new and prominent senators: Suldar, Padnel Ovin, and Roki Kem, who enters last. Suldar is "seduced" by the conspirators, while silently plotting on his own -he is actually Sith High Lord Workan. He is able to enter the Senate when Luke decides to move all the Jedi off Coruscant, in a bold move that I think was a very good idea (and something I've been advocating for quite a while, especially during the siege). His real motive, however, is to lure the Sith into a trap. Unfortunately, I think his plan backfires, because the Sith have brought the Senate under their control in an incredibly short amount of time, even to the point of arresting Leia, who is still trying to help Dorvan.

Padnel Ovin, former terrorist, is elected as interim Chief of State, when everyone expected Dorvan to win. As with the creation of the Clone Army in Attack of the Clones, I don't understand why this can be done so quickly, while everyone claims it would take way too long to set up elections. Apparently all the old senators, who have been ruling for a very long time, fall instantly under the sway of the Sith, which is something I have a lot of trouble believing.

Roki Kem was an inspirational leader on her planet, but Abeloth found the love her people had for her to be too seductive, so she took over this person's body. When she comes to Coruscant, she is adored by everyone, which makes her even more powerful. Through a series of Senatorial events, she, the newest senator, becomes Chief of State. She kills Ovin, seduces Workan, and captures Dorvan, who helped Leia escape before the new vote. The revelation that Kem is actually Abeloth is a surprise to the characters, but the readers know about it much earlier on. That, of course, gives the "revelation" much less impact, and if we were supposed to get joy from seeing the Sith tricked, I think it should have been written differently.

So many promising new characters die in this book, that I find it quite sad. There was Ovin, who could have been a great political figure, as well as most people from the Imperial conspiracy, and even Vestara's parents, her father to her own hand. Grand Sith Master Vol, leader of the Lost Tribe, was killed when his overconfidence took him to Coruscant in an attempt to kill Roki Kem, who was of course Abeloth. At least Admiral Bwua'tu has awakened, though only a select few know about this.

Abeloth was invited to Kesh at the beginning of the novel, but ended up destroying the main crystal city, including Vestara's mother, and almost Lord Vol. The Sith made a big deal out of her arrival, and planned to show her who the real power on Kesh was, but they vastly underestimated her. I wonder if Luke underestimates her, too. At one point, the author, from Luke's point of view, states that Abeloth could not stand against all the Jedi together. I wonder.

Finally, there is the Sith invasion of the Jedi temple. This book contains several errors, most of which are harmless. But I don't like the way these authors seem to be completely ignoring so much that happened in the Yuuzhan Vong war. This one has addressed the Vong growth in the Coruscant undercity (but I wonder how Han and Leia got there so quickly from the prison level, which appears to be at the same level as the senate). But when everybody talks about the Jedi temple, from the Jedi to the Sith, they say how it is so ancient and filled with history. We don't know what happened to the Jedi temple after the Jedi were exterminated in Revenge of the Sith. It seems unlikely that Palpatine left it untouched, waiting for the Jedi to return. The fact that it first reappeared during the Yuuzhan Vong war was a result of the movie The Phantom Menace coming out at the same time, but was probably brought into the continuity retroactively. I don't remember if the authors mentioned anything about rebuilding it at that time, to "explain" its absence, but I think that would be justified. Regardless, the temple was destroyed during the Yuuzhan Vong invasion, and the Force Nexus really did some damage in Rebel Stand. There is nothing ancient about the current temple.

The Sith are having trouble with the Temple, however, as Saba's offspring, still sealed up in the depths of the temple for some unknown reason (I thought it was spawning back in Vortex, but now I'm not so sure), are successfully attacking in that area. And now Abeloth announces her plans to move into the temple. I wonder if Luke will have to destroy it again to get rid of her!

This novel is such a whirlwind, as so much happens to advance various plots. Luke seems further behind than ever, and the conspiracy that we've spent so much time developing has fallen apart, mostly. The Sith, who still think they are so powerful, have succumbed to Abeloth, which makes them seem weak. I wonder why the authors decided to include both the Lost Tribe of the Sith and Abeloth. Both are enemy to Luke and the Jedi, but I can't see the point of the Sith expansion. The Lost Tribe could have been such a cool concept, but, like so many other villainous societies, they seem to have fizzled out. I hope Denning can revitalize them in the last book of this series.


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