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A novel by Aaron Allston (2007, Del Rey)
Book 7 in The Legacy of the Force
37 years after Star Wars: A New Hope

Jacen kidnaps his daughter to blackmail Hapes back into the Alliance, while Luke and the Jedi prepare to confront him and destroy Centerpoint station.



Read January 8th to 17th, 2008  
    As expected, this book couldn't live up to what came before it, nor did it really have anything interesting to say. The two action sequences, though, kept it from getting dull just when it was threatening to do so.

So the first of three intertwined trilogies ends. Did we see Wedge, Syal, Lumiya's asteroid, or Centerpoint Station in books other than those written by Aaron Allston? Not much, if at all. In the first book of this "trilogy", Betrayal, the Corellians start up Centerpoint station, while Ben and Jacen sabotaged it. Here, Jacen is directing his team against it, while Ben helps distract Jacen so it can be destroyed, and they are on opposite sides. The novel ends with only slight progress from where it started, which could be an achievement of sorts.

Why is Jacen directing the attack against Centerpoint station? Because the Corellians tried to use it against him. Events come to a point twice in this novel, and there are really three plots in each half. The first half of the book is very slow, as Jacen kidnaps Allana, his and Tenel Ka's daughter, from under her nose, and even allows a bomb to explode in the same hangar bay as his former lover, knowing she could have been killed by it. The Jedi feint an attack against Jacen as he returns to Coruscant, with Master Kyle Katarn nearly being killed (I thought they were going to kill off another fan-favorite character). But all they wanted to do was plant a tracer on him. It seems strange to me, though, to think that Jacen never even sent his cloak out to be washed during the course of this book.

Han and Leia create fire-breaks to try and stop the fires raging out of control on Kashyyyk. There they encounter Alema Rar (never my favorite character), but not the real thing, as she has learned how to use the projection equipment Lumiya used -but only in the Allston trilogy. Han, Leia, Jaina and Jag decide they have to do something about Alema, once and for all.

Things start to pick up when Jacen -sorry: Caedus - and Niathal get a request for the cessation of hostilities with the Corellians. Suspecting a trap, Jacen brings a fleet with him, only a short hyperspace jump away. At the same time, Leia and the others decide to dock with the Anakin Solo in order to download the travel logs from Jacen's shuttle, luckily the same one he used when he was lured to Lumiya's asteroid. Leia arouses Jacen's pride talking about politics with him, until the actual negotiations begin. The Corellians come to the meeting with very old ships, and when the spring the trap, they use even older ships, with aging pilots. Leia senses that the negotiator is almost alone on her flagship, which is unheard of. Something strange is going on... Meanwhile, Luke and the Jedi launch an almost invisible attack on the Anakin Solo.

I wonder if it was a good idea for the author to let the secret out about this section of the book when he did. We knew long before the characters did what was going to happen, so when Leia disappears and Jacen leaves the ship with Allana in a snubfighter (fearing a similar attack to what he did to Tenel Ka's hangar bay), it almost feels like a cliché. Jacen has to get away, of course, so he can't die when the weapon is fired. I thought, though, it would be a good idea for his flagship to be destroyed, but it wasn't. Leia arouses Jacen's fears, so he leaves the ship -if it wasn't for her, Jacen would be dead. But at the same time, Luke arrives; he and his wingmates use the tracer to discover where Jacen is and nearly destroy his craft. But Luke feels Allana in the same ship, and he calls off the attack. He allows Syal Antilles to chase him away.

Jacen, meanwhile, is so fearful about Allana, that it's good to see he still has some feelings left. But they are the same feelings Anakin Skywalker had about Padmé. As Luke brilliantly says at one point, attachment is not love or caring for another person. Attachment is holding onto it so hard and fearing to- or never wanting to- let it go. Allana experiences so much death through the Force as the battle progresses, that she actually passes out.

At this point, Jacen has asked for the help of his flagship, which seems overly extravagant, even for him. But the Anakin Solo must be out of the engagement zone when the beam from Centerpoint station passes through, so the story dictates that he call it away. Of course, the enemy ships were so pathetic that it didn't even change the balance of the battle.

Jacen, being one to take any opportunity for more control, now, decides that Centerpoint station must be his, so he can easily quell any rebellion. It's his own Death Star! At this point, everybody regroups.

Alema Rar, meanwhile, has taken up residence in Lumiya's residence, and her reluctant Sith allies don't like that. They decide to blow it up. So as Jaina, Zekk and Jag infiltrate the facility, they go about setting explosives. Jag uses armor sent to Han by Boba Fett (for use against Jacen, which he won't use), made of the toughest material in the galaxy, it seems, which was rediscovered back in Sacrifice. It can even withstand a lightsaber strike, which saves Jag's life numerous times as he confronts his enemy. It takes all three of them to wear her down. Zekk, drawing on his dark inner self from way back in the Shadow Academy days, communicates with the Sith ship, sending it away. That it goes back to Ziost while being followed by the mysterious Sith is a matter for future stories, presumably. Zekk is then useless, as he starts being consumed by the Dark Side of the asteroid.

Jaina confronts Alema and wears her down some more, but it is Jag who finally gets to battle her, crushing her throat in a very Vader-like image. Then the asteroid explodes. Jaina gets Zekk to safety, but Jag is caught very close to it. He rides out much of the rest of the story in a medical bay, though seems healthy by the end. Jaina decides she needs to sharpen her skills in another way, and goes to seek Boba Fett. I don't know why she feels she needs a way to hunt her brother. Luke has been doing a great job of figuring out where he is and baiting traps throughout the last few books. She doesn't know what Sword of the Jedi means, but she knows in her heart that she has to face her brother to end his Sith ways.

The battle for Centerpoint station is the grand climax of the book. Kyp Durron and a former Centerpoint scientist go inside to sabotage the thing, which in the end implodes, as they overwrote its database to make it think every star was located at its heart. They all get off in time. How did they get on board? Jacen's GAG troopers blasted their way in, and they pretended they were GAG troopers, following the real ones in.

The setup for this mission, from the Jedi point of view, is to let the enemy do the work. Kyp did that on the station. Luke and Ben do that on the Star Destroyer. Tycho Celchu brings Syal and Wedge Antilles to the not-so-secret Jedi base on Endor (of which Jacen is unaware). Tycho's shuttle is used, somewhat against his will, to infiltrate the Anakin Solo. Tycho's loyalties are strangely divided. He knows about the Jedi base, but doesn't tell his superiors. He thinks Jacen's rule is a reign of terror. But when the Jedi shuttle lands, he races into the docking bay to warn Jacen about the Jedi plan. The story wants to save him from Jacen's torture, but doesn't want him to ruin the plan, so he is shot by his own panicked troops, to survive in a medical bay later on. I didn't think Tycho and Wedge's exchange on Endor was funny in the least, but it is typical of Allston's humor.

But Luke and Ben are not on Jacen's star destroyer to kill him, as he thinks, and as they know he must think. They are stalling for time, allowing Leia and Han to rescue Allana. They battle through YVH droids, secure doors and troopers in record time. I thought they should have bided their time to give Leia more of it. Still, Leia and Han succeed, and make a run for the Falcon, piloted by Jag. Luke, Ben and Saba (another of my favorite characters) confront Jacen. Saba is seriously injured, but fortunately not killed. Ben learns some interesting techniques for disposing of YVH droids, which are the new equivalent of the Trade Federation destroyer droids. Obi-Wan could have learned from this young Jedi.

There is a strange statement in this novel about how Jedi cannot predict droid movements because they cannot feel droid intent in the Force. But a Jedi attuned to the Force can predict danger, and the origin of that danger. So in a way, they can predict droid movements.

Jacen's terror and anger-filled chase through the Star Destroyer to their exit point is somehow slower than Luke and Ben's, but only because he goes to Allana's room before chasing them down. His despair at losing his daughter mirrors Tenel Ka's despair in the first pages. In typical Sith fashion, despite what he keeps telling himself, he takes his anger out on his subordinates. Actually, he chokes to death the woman who pointed out that he was wearing the tracer the Jedi planted on him, and whom he promoted only a few chapters before. Jacen's version of a meritocracy is to promote people who show initiative and further his cause, and kill those who don't. There is no simple demotion. Jacen's definition of Light/Dark seems to have drifted since Traitor and The Dark Nest, where he found that it was intent rather than a strict light/dark definition. Here, he identifies light and dark energy separately.

The authors of these books are finding ways to keep the story interesting, mostly, by varying the circumstances in which Jacen has to lose his battles. He fought Luke in Inferno, and only survived because Ben was about to turn to the Dark Side, and Luke called off the attack. Here, Ben and Luke are solid as rocks, in the light side, but they don't press the attack once the goal of securing Allana has been achieved. Now both Lumiya and Alema Rar are dead, as their usefulness has come to an end, and they would be a nuisance to the remainder of the story.

I expect to get the conclusion of the Boba Fett story in the next book. It seems like Jaina will be featured a lot, as well. I hope the authors can improve the pace to the end of the series, and make it a little better than this.


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