||There is very little memorable about
this novel. It is not bad, by any means, but it is not good, either.
When sitting down to write the one-line summary, above, I had to look
through the opening pages of the book again to recall what happened.
What is the book about? It seems to be
meant to move the pieces around a little more, after what occurred in
Tempest. Jacen spends a little bit of time agonizing about whether
he made the correct decision firing on the Millennium Falcon. He decides
that based on the information he had, it was the right thing to do. This
shows how far removed he is from the citizens he is trying to protect by
becoming a Sith. The right thing to do would be to better verify the
information. As Lumiya states at the end of the book, he has to learn to
use his feelings.
Feelings are generally missing from
this novel. The writing is precise and emotionless. The narrator is
thoroughly detached from the story. It seems apparent that the author
either had sketches of the things he was describing, or could visualize
them entirely in his mind. Because everything is described in detail
with respect to everything else. While it allows the reader to visualize
the object or place as well, it also takes the heart out of the story.
The alternative way of doing this is to describe things from a
character's point of view, which only rarely happens here.
As with all Allston novels, Wedge
features prominently. After opposing the tactics the Corellian
government tried to use against Hapan Queen Mother Tenel Ka in the last
book, he is asked to step down from his position as Admiral. Within
minutes, an attempt is made to assassinate him, but he expects that, so
is ready when it comes. Corran Horn also appears to take him to safety.
When Han and Leia realize Wedge might need rescuing, they also make
planetfall on Corellia, are discovered, and break away. It was almost
worth nothing, except that they were berthed in the same place as Wedge
Han and Leia didn't stay lost for long
after jumping to an unknown hyperspace destination at the end of the
last book. This author obviously didn't want to tell that tale, so we
pick up as they arrive at one of Lando's starship repair stations. Lando,
for no reason except that he wants some adventure in his life, joins
That is the main problem with this
novel. Aside from the way that nothing much happens, characters only
make decisions because the author wishes them to. There is no other
logical or emotional motivation. However, the author balances this with
his characteristic humor, especially from the characters of Wedge and
Lando. Sometimes they were hilarious, either with bad jokes or their
sarcastic way of thinking.
Luke and Mara are still trying to
figure out how the war is being manipulated, but to no avail. They worry
a lot about Ben, who goes missing. Luke's relationship with Jacen is
starting to wear on me. At one point, Leia suggests that if Luke would
argue against Booster Terrik's star destroyer entering the interdiction
zone, Jacen would allow it out of spite. How would Luke make that
argument without being obvious about his motives? Then, later, he shows
up on the Errant Venture, and Jacen doesn't even question him about it.
As far as events go, the crazy admiral
from Betrayal is back momentarily, as Lumiya's projected ghost of his dead wife
tells him to allow the Bothan and Commenorian fleets to join that of
Corellia, so showing up on a single Galactic Alliance battleship and
evacuating all the air, killing its crew, he manages to do this. Huh?
For a story to be enjoyable, it has to be credible, and something like
this simply breaks the credibility. Suddenly, the Corellian system has
three fleets (are there any remnants of Corellia's fleet?), and
the Galactic Alliance is beaten back. The damage they inflict to
Centerpoint Station is vague, at best. It is definitely not destroyed.
Lumiya takes the entire book to heal of
the wounds Luke inflicted on her in Tempest. But it appears that the
battle was for nothing, because nothing comes of the results. When Luke
and Lumiya meet again, at the end, she offers him peace. Was that to
confuse him, like it confused the authors? Because it came out of
nowhere. As tired as I was of one-shot villains in the early Star Wars
books, I am really getting tired of the way the bad guys constantly get
away at the end of the current books.
Ben's story should have been a
fantastic emotional journey, only we got it from a dumbed-down
perspective. After being forced away from Jacen's side in the last book
(with Jacen being so obviously insincerely sincere), he gets a secret
message from Jacen telling him to steal a Sith necklace from a Tendrando
arms office who know nothing about how it could make somebody invisible
to the Force. The first thing this shows is that there are Jedi or
Padawans who look up to Jacen, and who are undermining Luke's authority.
The author doesn't hint at any of this, probably because it comes from
Ben's perspective, and Ben wouldn't even think of that. The other
strange thing is that Ben doesn't even associate Tendrando with Lando.
He might not know Lando personally, but he would know of the man,
surely? If not, why couldn't the author have picked another no name
company instead? It seems awkward.
Through a series of bad decisions and
immature analysis, Ben steals credit chips, breaks into the building,
steals a ship after assaulting a port authority, and goes to the planet
Ziost, where the Sith originated from. All of this is a test by Lumiya,
authorized by Jacen, to test Ben somehow. When his ship is destroyed, he
has to make his way to a dark side fortress, to get another way offworld.
At some points, I thought he was going to realize how wrong Jacen is, as
he compares his decisions with what Jacen would do. But at other times,
he does exactly what Jacen would do -put the mission first, at any cost.
This is not the kind of person I want to associate with the Star Wars
universe. Jacen is one thing, knowingly allowing himself to be misguided
into an uncaring situation. It's too bad Wedge's comment at the
beginning of the book didn't sting him more. But I hate reading about
stupid, naive people like Ben Skywalker.
Ben attacks a helpless man, who had
been hired to bring the necklace to Ziost. Then he nearly kills the
man's daughter. He abandons her because of his mission, but then
realizes that he can't accept that kind of responsibility. So he takes
her with him, even though his supplies will last only half as long. The
girl was necessary in keeping Ben grounded, otherwise he might take his
hints from Jacen, and perform the mission at any cost.
Ben finds an old Sith ship that
responds to his thoughts, which destroys his pursuers, and takes him
back to Coruscant. It seems inevitable that Jacen and Lumiya will come
to own this strange but powerful ship.
Back in the rest of the galaxy, the combined rebel systems meet to
elect a supreme commander, but as Han says when he gets the information,
it is most likely a trap. So why does everybody go in so blindly and
willingly? I have no idea. The climax of the book was shaped around the
meeting, which was a trap. Alema Rar goes there because she thinks Leia
will be there. When Leia arrives, and Mara with Luke, to save Jacen, she
orders her ship to strike the old space station to kill them. Leia almost
dies, but the others manage to drag her to safety. Jacen leaves without
a second look when the opportunity presents itself, and he coordinates
the rest of the battle, which ends in a draw. For the Alliance ships
were hiding in the gas giant waiting to spring a trap, while the
Corellian and other fleets were planting mines and closing off escape
routes. The question is what did the rebel systems expect to gain from
that? Everybody says they would try to take Coruscant. But Coruscant has
only been taken twice before, so that any attack force would be unable
to occupy the planet. So why bother, except as a political statement? If
Corellia and the others actually only wanted independence, what would
attacking Coruscant gain them?
Anyway, this book was not much more than a book to rearrange a few
players, and had no major breakthroughs. I hardly expect Jacen to kill
Han or Leia, as he callously states at the end of the book. But I hope
it just isn't Ben or Tenel Ka. Actually, I would expect it to be Tenel
Ka, because Jacen has already stated that he would never hurt
her. We all know that when a character vehemently states the word
never, it almost always comes to pass. Time, and presumably the next
book, from its title, will tell.