While the book was very well written, and quite engaging in some spots, I
never bought enough into the aristocratic houses for Leia's part of the story,
or the tremendous Force-powers that Luke, Cray and Callista needed on their side
of the story.
I had trouble with quite a bit of this novel, but mostly in
isolated chunks. In between, I thought it was very well written, and the author
was very descriptive, with many analogies that were fun, but
not intrusive. The atmosphere of both stories were extremely well visualized
by the author, though at times I had trouble with the garden gondolas, and I got
lost more than Luke on the Eye of Palpatine. It is obvious that the author likes
creepy tunnels. Between Han and Chewie's flight in the Well and Leia's escape
through the tunnels, and Luke's travels through the dark corridors of the ship,
we get our fill of them, here. And that's not to mention Leia's path through the
tunnel full of Drochs in Planet of Twilight,
by the same author!
I also like to see my characters grow through a story. Unfortunately, it took
half the book for Luke to do any growing. Once taken aboard the battle-ship,
still suffering from a concussion he suffered on approach to it, he suffers a
crippling leg injury, which keeps him from top performance. But he somehow
manages to complete everything on time, despite the author's protests that he is
at the limits of his powers. Considering the healing we saw in
The Courtship of
Princess Leia, I wonder why Luke couldn't heal himself better here.
I can't help but wonder what kind of cat-and-mouse game we could have had
between all the occupants of the ship, the Will, and a fully functional Luke.
Ah, well. The only growth that Luke saw was his inability to let go of Callista,
when he didn't even really know her to begin with.
The rest of the action on the Eye of Palpatine, sent to wipe out a Jedi
settlement thirty years ago and mysteriously stopped before it could fulfill its
secret mission, was mainly humorous, even while it was being desperate.
The conditioning of the gamorreans and affytechans can only be taken as a
comedic note, in the midst of the "real" dangers that Luke and his apprentice
Cray, faced. The kitonaks, talz and tripods were not well conditioned, and
mostly stayed out of the way, and were used as more comedy, especially from C3PO
("trading recipes"? HA!). The jawas came out of their conditioning very quickly,
and continued to scavenge around the ship, effectively disassembling it from the
inside. I liked the author's dig at species that damage their environment
without noticing that they are dooming their future. And the sand people were
used as foils for Luke's plans, who didn't seem to be conditioned, either.
I guess most of those species were not suited to the Empire's indoctrination.
My biggest question in this regard, however, is why there were only three humans
on board? Luke, Cray and the former stormtrooper Triv could not have been the
only humans in the vicinity of the lander -and they were all picked up on the
same planet! How did the lander get jawas and sand people at the same time? They
don't normally mix, any more than sand people and humans would. But I suppose it
made it easier for Luke to get his job done that way.
We see how well the indoctrination can take hold with the gamorreans. The two
tribes that started fighting each other before the ship captured them continued
to do so afterwards. But this time, they think the others are Rebel spies
or saboteurs. So when Cray is captured, and seems unable to use the Force even
after the indoctrination wears off (why is that?), Triv also disappears, and
seems to change sides in the struggle when he reappears at the end of the book.
Why didn't they think he was a Rebel, since he was having lunch with Cray?
There was a lot of confusion in this book on that spaceship, especially with
regards to where the characters were at any given time. Luke had to levitate
himself up the laundry chutes to get to the upper levels. But the gamorreans had
their base of operations there, and they managed to come to the mess hall (one
of several, I have to assume), capture Cray, and return. I'm sure they didn't
use the laundry chute. Surely they patrolled the ship, like their rivals did?
After the incident in the mess hall, they are never seen on the main level
again. And what about all the other species? Luke met them on all different
levels. The kitonaks were even on a different level when Luke first met them,
and they could barely move. Luke was even injured on an upper level by the
Tuskin Raiders, but C3PO managed to haul him over to sick bay.
Another problem I had with the plot is Luke's inability to think of using his
lightsaber at any time except in desperate need. I assume he didn't use it in
front of the gamorreans because of their indoctrination against the Jedi. But
that is only an assumption- it's never mentioned, and Luke's lightsaber is
clipped back on his belt after the mess hall battle, anyways. But it seems
like the lightsaber would have been much more effective in everything he did,
even to the point of cutting through the blast doors. Yes, it would have cost
time, but it would have been worth it if he found Cray there.
Cray Mingla seemed, at first, to be the outlet for the author's rage against
the female stereotype. She is the "impossible" woman, brought down to size. She
wears "impractical shoes", and all the make-up. I do wonder why the
author thinks it
should be an impressive feat to create a braid without a mirror -Joanne can do
it easily and in no time. Even though she is a Jedi, and has enough Force
ability to complete the destruction of the ship at the end, Cray doesn't seem to
have the ability to rescue herself from her captors.
But it is Cray who grows the most in this part of the story. Being a computer
expert, she was able to transfer the memories from her lover's dying body into a
droid one, and fully expected him to be able to reacquire his use of the Force
sometime soon. By the end, seeing him beside her the entire time in her
captivity, but unable to do anything because of a restraining bolt, she realizes
that he is no longer human. Nichos makes the same discovery, and stays with Cray
to destroy the ship. I really wonder why he was able to produce the coordinates
for the Eye of Palpatine, though, when he was just a child when he lived
at Plett's Well (or Plawal), and nobody knew of the
battleship. It is never explained how he knew this, which is a major fault in
the beginning of the book.
Callista is also a mixed bag, mainly because of her lack of definition. She
seems a lot like Ben's spirit, but still inhabits the computer, to open doors
and such. I wondered how she could suddenly speak, after being
part of the computer for so long and having to talk initially using only the
screen. But she is not recognized as such, so I don't know.
I don't really have much to say about her as a spirit form. I don't really
understand Luke's love for her, except that he has been awfully lonely. He had a
love interest that he wasn't allowed to keep in The Truce at Bakura. Here, I
like the price they had to pay for their love. Of course, knowing what happens
in Darksaber and Planet of Twilight, Luke doesn't get to keep
Callista, either. But
this time, it is because of her inadequacies -when transferring into Cray's body, she lost
her ability to manipulate the Force. The transfer itself was a bit of a stretch,
but is made up for by the sacrifice.
It really seems strange that Leia is the one who goes in search of the
children of the Jedi, instead of Luke. At any other time, in every other story,
any hint of a potential Force-sensitive would have had Luke on a spaceship as
fast as he could get there.
But here it is Leia, with Han, R2D2 and Chewbacca in her wake. The search
takes them to the worthless planet of Belsavis, where an old Jedi named Plett had built a
safe house for the Jedi thirty years ago. Of course, the timetable means that
the Eye of Palpatine was going to destroy this place, so the suspense of it is
how (not if) Luke will destroy it before it gets there.
This part of the plot revolves around Leia's incredible memory. She is able
to recall the face of somebody she met for a brief instant in the "Emperor's
court" eleven years ago. Is she
really that good?
Even if she is, I have trouble with the idea of Palpatine taking concubines,
or even holding court at all, in the way that it is described here. It looks as
if we have gone back to the Middle Ages. Especially after
Attack of the Clones,
I cannot see Palpatine as a sexual predator.
But every aspect of Leia's experience, after being caught by Roganda Ismaren and
her son Irek, deals with the court, of the Ancient Houses as if they were from
the Dune universe. Leia is able to play upon the haughtiness the Senex Lords
feel to her advantage. I don't really think it is necessary, either. It just
seems out of place in this universe, and in the book.
However, one other aspect that doesn't really fit with the rest of the Star
Wars continuity works very well, here. That is how Leia comes to grips with the
designers of the Death Star. It's a wonder that they are still alive at all, but
one by one they are disappearing, or showing up dead. And of course Leia is not
sad about that. She would bring them to justice if she could. She wants to send
vigilantes after them, but that would be a misuse of her power as head of state.
But just as she came to terms with Vader being her father in
The Truce at Bakura,
she does the same here with those people, even though many of them are dead now.
She even gets to read the lengthy apology by one of them in her cell. I just
wonder how they are related to the Geonosians... or to the man Tarkin destroyed
in Rogue Planet...
The villain, the one who has restarted up the mission of the Eye of Palpatine, is Irek. He has a brain implant that allows him to use his own
Force-sensitivity to affect mechanicals. I don't know where it has ever said
that the Force could not affect mechanicals, but apparently Irek is an anomaly.
He causes all sorts of droid malfunctions on Belsavis, most notably instructing
R2D2 to kill Han and Leia as they slept. And he thinks he can control the Eye
when it arrives. He notices his control slipping when R2 escapes after Leia is
caught -because Chewie rewired him after the attack. And that proves to be his
undoing. Because the jawas have done such damage to the wiring and layout of the
Eye of Palpatine, he has no control.
Leia has an out-of-body experience that seems to be magical, rather than Star
Wars based. But I expect that the drug they used on her, combined with her
Force-sensitivity, allowed this to happen. Without it, she would not have
gathered all the information she needed. But I wonder what happens to the Senex
Lords after this book? Are they part of the New Republic or not? Did they fall,
to the Yuuzhan Vong?
In any case, Leia provides many new Jedi toys from the old fortress, which
are also never used again, even though they should be. But Roganda and Irek
disappear, escaping in the confusion of the arrival of the battleship. The chase
and fight between Leia and Irek, among a couple of others, was very well
written. It was exciting, and an effective way to bring together two
enemies, one who has trained in the Force, and one who has just barely a grip on
it. It really tied up the end of the book, which looked like it was about
Unfortunately, there was a lot of swearing in this book. While others,
notably the Rogue Squadron books, have used "sithspawn" as their swear (I
dislike that, as well), this author creates her own. For a time, everything is
listed in the soldiers' language as "festering". We all know what they are
really saying, and I disagree with its use at all in the Star Wars universe.
There is also a lot of technobabble at the beginning. Since most of the rest
of the book reads like a fantasy, with magic popping up in the guise of the
Force, this looks more like an attempt to create some science in this science
fiction. But I wonder if we really need to know all the droid types and the
different medicines and their properties? We could have easily been simply told that
Luke was trying to access the computers, instead of wondering why he was
using DOS or UNIX commands on these computers...
A lot of Star Wars authors don't know what to do with the Solo kids. After
reading about their toddler years in other books, I am glad that this author
decided to do away with them for most of this story. But I wonder why Winter
gets to be the baby sitter. I guess it's a high-tech security service, but what
a waste of her skills. She used to be a great intelligence gathering unit
all by herself -one that kept the Empire at bay. I think she would start
to feel underused at some point. Fortunately, we were spared any baby-sitting by
C3PO, who is used only for comedy in those instances. He gets the better deal in
this book. Even so, he is not used as well as he could have been. But "Mrs.
Biggs"? Everybody -especially C3PO, knows that Biggs' last name is Darklighter!
That's almost as bad as the droid asking what Chewbacca says in the
the Jedi radio drama!
Even though there were many questionable plot points, and a confusing array
of things happening, the book was very well written, as I keep mentioning. The climax was especially
well done. Normally, when I was getting bored with the way Luke was being
handled, Leia's part of the story was better-written, and vice-versa. For the
most part, the book was entertaining. Many authors don't know quite what to do
with the Force, and overuse it. That applies here, too, especially where the
author's favorite art of levitation takes place. However, the rest of it is
moderately well used, and I wonder if Luke didn't underuse it.
This was one of the first books to allow the enemy to live after it was all
over, and it was refreshing back then. We also got some insight into how the
Jedi might have been, and a few toys and an expert from that time. It is
unfortunate that none of these have been used since then. And aside from the
Head of State being missing for days, all of the main characters were well used,
also. Since Thrawn's comment to Mara Jade that she was simply "one of the
Emperor's Hands", we have wondered if he was just trying to get to her or if he
knew something. It appears that he was right. Mara, what was she doing
sleeping in Lando's shirts, with him in the same room? Is that ever explained?)
I enjoyed revisiting this jaunt into the first generation of Star Wars books
after the originals, and it seems to be up to the same caliber as the new
generation, or even a little better. But it wasn't great, and I can see how
somebody could get a little bored with it. That almost happened to me, but the
writing would improve to snatch me back at just those moments. That's a good