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A novel by Aaron Allston (2007, Del Rey)
Book 4 in The Legacy of the Force
37 years after Star Wars: A New Hope

Wedge and Jacen deal with the aftermath of the assassination attempt on Tenel Ka, as Ben goes on his own journey, and Jaina searches for Alema Rar.




Read September 25th to October 1st, 2008  
    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 and Iella.

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 them.

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.


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