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A novel by Aaron Allston (2006, Del Rey)
Book 1 in The Legacy of the Force
37 years after Star Wars: A New Hope

As the Jedi try to stop war from breaking out between Corellia and the Galactic Alliance, Han fights for its independence and Jacen searches for some dangerous answers.




Read December 4th to 12th, 2007  
    A little rough around the edges, but with a good story at its heart. This was a Jacen novel, and I mean the new Jacen, the one who decided to follow Vergere's teachings  after Traitor, and who delved into alternative views of the Force, whatever that means, in Dark Nest. Luke, Han and the other characters get good development as well, which makes for a pretty well rounded novel.

The main plot continues the growth pains of the Galactic Alliance. After the Yuuzhan Vong war, petty disputes grew again between rival worlds. That was hinted at in the Dark Nest trilogy. Now, Corellia is trying to break free of the Galactic Alliance. Actually, more than that, they actually want all the benefits of being part of the "GA", without any of the responsibilities. They are building a secret fleet, and have started to reactivate Centerpoint Station, the focal point of Showdown at Centerpoint, and a disastrous usage against the Yuuzhan Vong that destroyed too many allies ships in Jedi Eclipse. At the helm of all this is Thrackan Sal-Solo, Han's cousin, President of Corellia.

Han is tired of the GA trying to enforce its will on its member states. If Corellia wants independence, he thinks, then give it to them. But he also has issues with the Corellian government for trying to get stuff for free from the GA. When communications with Corellia start to become sporadic, he figures the military is going to do something. He and Leia track down hints about personnel and ship movements, including the Jedi, and they go to warn the Corellian government.

The Jedi part of the military mission against Corellia involves four teams. Jaina, Zek and some others try to kidnap the Prime Minister of the Corellian system, while Tahiri and some others try to kidnap Thrackan Sal-Solo. Neither part works because they know the Jedi are coming for them. When Han and Leia eventually learn about this, they feel really guilty, until they realize that the traps were set to kill Jedi specifically, whereas they informed the Prime Minister about a general military attack. Still, I had trouble with them even going through with that part of their plan. It was the only scenario that seemed out of character. Meanwhile Luke and Mara are in X-Wings with the rest of the GA fleet, and their main purpose is to extract the Jedi teams.

The most important mission belongs to Jacen Solo and Ben Skywalker, his Padawan. They infiltrate Centerpoint Station to attempt to destroy it. Needless to say, nothing goes as planned, as Sal-Solo is waiting for them, again using weapons specifically for killing Jedi, like sonic waves with wide dispersal, and heavy explosives in bulk. Jacen fails at his part of the mission, being held up by those forces. Ben, who followed after a short interval, was not discovered, and managed to make his way all the way to his destination, the control center for the station. I liked the way he wanted to be treated like a grown man, but realized how well he could fall back on the child still inside him. At thirteen years old, he is still young enough to be patronized by the adults who he encounters. He is not ready to encounter a droid that believes it is Anakin Solo, his cousin who died back in Star by Star during the Yuuzhan Vong war. Because the station would respond only to Anakin after he turned it on in Jedi Eclipse, Sal-Solo and his scientists figured out a way to reconstruct his brain patterns so the station would recognize "him". The droid was truly innocent, and Ben is right to be haunted by the fact that he had to make it kill itself so the galaxy could be potentially saved.

The military mission is a complete failure, as the Corellian fleet shows up right after the GA fleet is committed to the attack, and foil any chance it has at succeeding. The commander in charge, who in hindsight is most likely being manipulated by the unseen bad guy here (more on that later), decides to make a beachhead for the GA on Tralus, a sparsely populated world in the Corellian system. When the peace settles, politics takes over, so that the GA cannot remove the fleet without showing weakness to other systems that are inclined to separate, and the Corellian pride will not allow them to accept a fleet occupying one of their planets.

A conference is called to negotiate a way out of the difficulty, but it is sabotaged on the first night. I liked the way that Pellaeon and the Corellian Prime Minister played out the politics, as well as all of the political problems the conference created, like the GA head of state required to stay out of the situation because he was too high up -the Corellian Prime Minister needed somebody her equal in the political hierarchy to negotiate with.

The first taste of the Dark Side of the Force appears at the conference, and the Corellian conflict, which took up so much of the book during its first half, suddenly becomes less important. The Jedi do a great job of deflecting the troops that were sent against them; just reading the pages and pages dedicated to this was engrossing. After the battle, however, the Prime Minister is dead, leaving the crisis unresolved (Pellaeon would have been dead, too, if not for the suggestion of using a double in his assigned bed).

At this point, Luke, Mara and Jaina become minor characters, and the focus shifts to Jacen, Han and Wedge. Wedge was taken by GA intelligence to a safe room just before the military conflict, so that he would not interfere on the side of the Corellians, as he is Corellian and he lives there. He escapes, and is very angry about what happened. He joins the Corellian government as a war advisor, but tries desperately to keep the peace, especially since his daughter is part of the force occupying Tralus. He concocts a plan to retake the planet from the GA, with the minimum loss of life. This was after listening to a horrific plan created by Sal-Solo. Han and Wedge secretly fly the mission successfully, with a lot of really cool tricks and some tricky flying to avoid shooting down either Jaina or Syal Antilles.

Jacen and Ben, meanwhile, trace a message hidden in a set of tassels left behind in the airlock where the people entered the conference with the motive of killing the Jedi, the Corellian Prime Minister and Admiral Pellaeon. He ends up at the university planet Lorrd, where the translation essentially outlines his eventual fate. After a bizarre set of events involving people trying to kill themselves and others, claiming to see ghosts of former loved ones and Jedi long dead (like Aayla Secura), the source of the Dark Side energy comes out into the open. Shira Brie, once known as Lumiya in the old Marvel comics, has brought Jacen through a series of tests so she can show him his true destiny: that of a Sith.

It appears that Lumiya is like Palpatine, able to hide her true dark nature from the Jedi. Jacen and Ben don't feel any darkness in her, nor do they detect her lies. She takes them to an asteroid which she had made into her home, which is a source of Dark Side energy. This author likes to delve into strange and magical elements that belong better to a fantasy setting. In Rebel Stand, he created a massive Force well under the location of the original Jedi temple on Coruscant. Here, some evil mynocks somehow learned to use the dark side of the force, but died out because of it, but left their imprint in the rocks. She also offers an explanation for why there seem to be so many dark side users in this Star Wars universe, where the Sith are only supposed to number two. She tells Jacen how there were many candidates, like herself, who failed to become Sith. I have a lot of trouble believing that any of those potential candidates could fail and live, based on what we know of the Sith. She indicates that we don't know the Sith at all, and gives an example, which could be made up for Jacen's benefit, of a wealthy man who mastered the Sith teachings but didn't become corrupted by it. Lumiya's failure apparently is due to the fact that she lost so much of her body to Luke's lasers in the comics. Vader apparently didn't master the Sith ways fully, either, because he lost so much to his encounter with Obi-Wan in Revenge of the Sith.

All of her arguments are interesting, and Jacen decides that they merit further investigation. I wonder, though, how much he is actually bothered by what he has to do to allow that investigation to follow. He once again alters Ben's memory of what happened, and he has to kill the fellow Jedi with them, so convinced is he that he can see the future, and he will end up killing Luke if Nelani lives. I'm not sure I like Jacen's ability to look into the future with the Force. It is dangerously close to Paul Atreides' abilities in Dune Messiah, and defeats the purpose of the future always being in motion. Jacen is trying to fix the future, much as Leto did in God Emperor of Dune.

Knowing something about the books that follow, I figured out early on that Luke's "man who doesn't exist" was Jacen, but I figured it was a Jacen who could look back into the past, much as he did in The Joiner King. But I thought the Force user who was manipulating events was the Dark Jedi who escaped at the end of The Swarm War. Actually, I'm glad she isn't.

The author has set up a good story, and has some great character development, but I wasn't too fond of his narrative abilities. He delves way too deep into the details, giving us far too much information about the minutia of... well, everything. It dragged the story nearly to a halt in several places. In his page-long (or more) description of the station where the conference was being held, we get too much history to really care about, except, perhaps, if we will play a role-playing game. That sort of information belongs in a Galaxy Guide.

On the other hand, the chapters-long narrative of the military movement (it wasn't really an attack, more of a show of force that failed) against Corellia was riveting, for the most part, so there are types of stories this author is best at. And when this author is telling the story, we know that Wedge will be part of it! Also, the writer is really funny. It was a lot of fun to see tongue-in-cheek references to everything, from serious to outrageous. The focus on the characters was also really appreciated. Each character felt unique, and had a certain set of values, to which they adhered. We now get a really good look at what it means to have attachments, and possibly why the Jedi of the Old Republic forbid such things. We know of Anakin Skywalker's fall due to his attachments. But here, Leia picks her husband over the Galactic Alliance, something she would never have done before the Yuuzhan Vong war. Luke, on the other hand, is very worried about his son Ben, but allows the good of everything else go above his attachment. What will Jacen's attachments cause him to do?

So where do we go from here? Jacen is the same one here as the one in The Swarm War who believes that Anakin Skywalker was right to want to protect his unborn child from any menace, and at any cost, in the snippets from Revenge of the Sith. We know his path is running towards the Dark Side, but the journey will not, I think, be as straight as it was for Anakin. I also find it amazing at how much more powerful Luke's Jedi are compared to those of the Old Republic. Lumiya was right in that respect, that they really did need a fresh start to stop the complacency and arrogance. I wish we would get a sense of what the direction of the Jedi really is. Every series seems to give it a new direction, either to self-reflection, ends-justifies-the-means, or a complete separation of Light and Dark. Jacen is the only one who meddles in all aspects. We'll see if his desire to protect his secret daughter turns him to evil, or if there really is such a thing as a benevolent Sith.

Is the Corellian conflict finished? It doesn't seem like that part of the story was concluded, either. For now, it is interesting enough that I wonder what will happen in future novels.


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