||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.
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
The second planet they visit is Dromund Kaas. Kyle
Katarn flirted with the Dark Side back in Rebel Agent and
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
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
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
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.