||Good, but not great, and it certainly didn't live up
to expectations as the final book in a nine book series. Was this a
paperback novel (I have a hardcover version), because it certainly felt
like it. Jaina's fight with Jacen at the beginning of the book was well
done, but his defeat at the end was lackluster. Typical of this series,
too, is that the ending for all is bittersweet.
The book has only three points of view, I think, and Jaina's is really
the only important one. As the book starts, she is on a reconnaissance
mission with Boba Fett at one of the Verpine colony asteroids, while the
Imperials, unharnessed by the death of Pellaeon in
intent on acquiring Verpine technology by force. This sets the stage for
everything that follows.
I was surprised to see Jaina and Jacen's conflict
occur so early in the book. Although it was obvious that she couldn't
kill him until the end, at times during the fight I wondered if she
would end up killing him, anyway. When Jaina asks the Jedi Council for
permission to go after Jacen, because she wants to do things by the book
this time, I wondered when the authors would give up on these plot
devices. Even the Jedi Masters had trouble believing this was Jaina
asking, and I wondered what else they would decide to do if they refused
her. There goes her training with Fett! Luke's claim that he would turn
to the Dark Side if he killed Jacen is probably the hardest thing for me
to swallow in this novel. If the Jedi had destroyed Caedus' fighter in
the last book, instead of trying to capture it, how would Luke have gone
Dark? They have had innumerable chances to kill him, but the Jedi have
not even tried. The one time they faced Jacen directly, they were only
trying to plant a tracer on his cloak, so it was just a feint.
Having said that, Luke is obviously the most powerful
person ever to have roamed the galaxy. He has mastered all of the Force
techniques we know of, including Shatterpoint, and transferring his aura
and spirit to Jaina, sort of like a personalized battle meditation. I
think this is very dangerous. Luke has grown immensely powerful during
this series, it's a wonder there are things he still can't do. I worry
about the future of Star Wars books, now.
Jaina's descent to the Verpine asteroid was standard
stuff, and I wonder that nobody has learned not to put Han, Leia and
Luke all on the same ship, yet. Any sense of danger is muted by the fact
that they can't kill the three people central to the Original Trilogy.
And unless the Dark Horse Comics Legacy series is to be removed from
Star Wars continuity, or Luke gets married again, they can't kill Ben,
either, as there is a Skywalker in that series.
I liked Jacen's confusion at who he was fighting in
the asteroid. His is the second point of view. He managed to wound Mirta
Gev pretty early on, killing her husband and the other Mandalorians with
her. But the Mandalorians almost ruined Jaina's mission, and perhaps
they did. They killed lots of Moffs, but there were enough left over to
still rule the Empire. Jaina used a sharpshooter gun to wound Jacen, but
it took a lightsaber strike to sever his arm. Throughout the rest of the
book, it was unclear, except in a couple of spots, if that left any
scars on Jacen, his personality or his command. Luke disguised Jaina in
his own aura, so that Jacen thought he was facing Luke, even when Jaina
appeared directly in front of him.
Earlier in the novel, Ben met up with his old friend
Shevu from intelligence, who confirms that Jacen is on the Verpine
asteroid. But meeting him is a trap, and both Shevu and Ben are captured
by Tahiri. I still can't stand Tahiri any more, and I really can't stand
the way she is used in this series. Why did she become a Sith? I still
don't know. I see no motivation at all. It looks like she was promised
that Anakin could be brought back from the dead by changing the past,
like Anakin was told he could prevent Padmé's death in
Revenge of the
Sith. I didn't believe Anakin's turn to the Dark Side because of that,
and Tahiri's is much, much weaker. Shouldn't she have found someone in
her life by now, anyway? I still think she should have stayed with the
Yuuzhan Vong for a while longer. Tahiri tortures Shevu to death, though
she is appalled by it, and Ben sparks her into a rage, after which he
overpowers her and escapes. At one point, she tries to seduce him! Sex
has always been a part of Denning's novels, but here it was just plain
weird. I was wondering how deep into porn he would go (it did manage to
stay clean, though). Even when she is told point-blank by Jacen
how he manipulated her, she still tries to blow up the Jedi base of
operations near the end, which doesn't make sense, from any motivational
point of view.
The end of the book, in typical Denning style, is a
huge battle. The Jedi have moved to a spot in the Transitory Mists near
Tenel Ka's homeworld of Hapes. Jacen follows the Dathomiri blood trail
to Jaina, since some of his blood splattered across her face and neck
when she severed his arm. Tenel Ka shows up to help the Jedi fight
against his fleet, which carries the remaining Imperial Moffs, as well.
The Jedi fight in space, Zekk is lost (but presumed
not dead), and Jaina boards the Anakin Solo. Luke, as is usual in this
series, does a lot of nothing. Jaina finds Mirta Gev, not yet recovered
from her torture sessions, but leaves her to go find Jacen. Jacen has
just killed Tenel Ka's father, Prince Isolder, and wants to incinerate
the body, so she finds him in the incinerator room, where all prisoners
who have died from torture go. Why does Jacen kill Isolder? Because the
authors have opened another large can of worms that I hope they never
use again: the Imperials have perfected an airborne toxin that can kill
people with specific genes. They used it against the warrior caste of
Verpines, they poisoned Fett's world of Mandalore to him and Mirta Gev,
and they used it to attack Tenel Ka. Jacen killed Isolder to prevent the
Imperials from obtaining any of Alanna's DNA, and thus killing her, too.
But he was too late. Most of the royal family was killed in that attack,
but Tenel Ka and Allana escape. Only Tenel Ka tells everybody that
Allana was killed, and has Han and Leia adopt her, to keep her safe.
Not only has this series mixed up the galaxy, it has
killed so many of the most interesting characters, and has thrown all
responsibility out the window. Tenel Ka was raised in the atmosphere
Allana was being raised in. She knows there are dangers, but she
survived, and now she doesn't want to give Allana even a fighting chance
at being Queen of Hapes. I don't even understand these characters, any
And the final fight between the twins? Both have
attained incredible power, so that Jacen can hold her at bay even when
conflicted about the information that a deadly virus is on the way to
Tenel Ka and Allana, he has one arm, and Jaina has stabbed him through
the abdomen and leg with her lightsaber. Then she does kill him, and it
is very much anticlimactic.
It is also tragic, because he doesn't want to fight
her, wanting to send the message instead, and Jaina stops him from doing
that. In the end, Jaina feels that he wasn't evil, because of the way he
sent the message through a Force-thought, instead.
The epilog of the book should have been a
hundred pages instead of six. The aftermath of the war is not believable
in any sense. With Jacen dead, everybody capitulates. Jag is put in
charge of the Empire, to watch as the Moffs make amends instead of
paying a price with their lives. Going from an unknown, except possibly
in a twenty-five year old memory, Daala is suddenly elected Chancellor
of the Galactic Alliance. How did she do this? How long has it really
been since the war ended? We went from a galaxy in tatters, to Jacen
being killed, the war ending, and a new chief of state being elected.
Shouldn't it have been somebody from the Senate, somebody who was known
to the delegates? How did she campaign? And Daala has promised everybody
a galaxy of peace. And everybody has agreed, being so sick of war that
they will do anything to get peace. We are led to believe that Darth
Caedus' legacy will be that he achieved galactic peace, after all. Blah.
Will the Corellians now sit back and lend their support to the Galactic
Alliance's military, as they refused to do in Betrayal? Then was it all
worth it? What was this series about, then?
The answer for me is no. Although most of the writing
in this series was impressive, with great character studies, the plot
and its execution were not something I wanted to read about, nor do I
think the characters were treated fairly. There was a lot of boring
stuff here, and the darkness was overpowering. Until we are told
(instead of being shown) that the galaxy is united at the very end,
there is little hope in this entire series. Not only that, but the most
important plot pieces are brought about by magical convenience, as
contrived as any plot could be, using technology or powers that I hope
we never see again in the Star Wars Universe.
I think this series failed, and hope that the Fate of
the Jedi gives us something better. Given that the same authors are
involved, I am not hopeful. At least this book was entertaining, if not
great, it still had some really good moments.